Rashad Cooper
Khalid Rashad (L) hired a Leslie Cooper (R) to kill Syrian-born imam Abdul Hadi Arwani Police handout

A Muslim convert has been found guilty of ordering the contract killing of a Syrian-born Imam in an attempt to gain control of a west London mosque. Khalid Rashad, 63, was jailed for life earlier in 2016 after hiring a former soldier to kill Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, as they fought for control of the An Noor Cultural and Community Centre in Acton.

Rashad, who is the brother of Liz Mitchell, lead singer in the 1970s band Boney M, had hired Leslie Cooper, 38, a former soldier from Harlesden, North West London, who killed the victim using a Mac-10 sub-machine gun.

Arwani's bullet-ridden body was found at the wheel of his car in a secluded street in Wembley on 7 April 2015. At the time of the murder, it had been suspected that he was killed after it emerged that he was an outspoken opponent of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.

The convictions could not be reported until Wednesday, 19 October, as Rashad was to face a second trial for hiding explosives and military-grade ammunition in a shed in his back garden, reportedly near the Wembley Stadium.

During the first trial, held in January of this year, Rashad, formerly known as Burnell Mitchell, claimed he had been approached by MI5 to act as a spy on the local community, but he had snubbed their approaches. The pair were jailed for life, both with minimum prison terms of 32 years.

In the second trial, Rashad was also found guilty of possessing explosives and two counts of possessing ammunition. Judge Gerald Gordon jailed him for an additional 10 years, to run concurrently with his life sentence.

Abdul Hadi Arwani
Abdul Hadi Arwani, a Syrian preacher at An-Noor Mosque in Acton, was found with a gunshot wound to his chest. YouTube

The court had heard that the feud between Rashad and Arwani began after Rashad took the title of "Emir" or ruler and accused Arwani, 48, of favouring Arab Muslims over Jamaican converts like himself.

Both men had previously sat on the mosque's board of directors and helped organise a £1m purchase of new premises in 2005. But in 2011 Arwani was accused of trying to keep a £20,000 donation from the United Arab Emirates royal family and was ejected from the centre by Rashad, who had worked at the mosque for 20 years.

The dispute was due to be heard at the High Court only for Arwani to be shot dead in the weeks before.

Mac 10
The Mac-10 sub-machine gun found in Cooper's home Police handout

When Cooper — who was also born in Jamaica and had served with the Princess of Wales Regiment in Iraq — was arrested, police officers discovered the Mac-10 sub-machine gun used to kill Arwani. With the magazine and the silencer attached, it was wrapped in a Marks and Spencer bag in a picnic basket.

There is no suggestion Rashad was involved in terrorism.

Rashad Cooper 1
The plastic explosives found in Rashad's home Police handout