Man arrested after murder of Assad critic in London

British police say they have received historical child sex abuse claims against 261 public figures, including 76 politicians, as they respond to a surge in complaints sparked by the Jimmy Savile scandal (AFP Photo/Carl Court)

London (AFP) - A man has been arrested in connection with the murder in London of an imam who was a critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, police said Monday.

Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, was found in his car with gunshot wounds to the chest in Wembley, northwest London, on Tuesday. The investigation into his death is being handled by counter-terrorism police.

Scotland Yard said a 36-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and remains in police custody. They had previously given the man's age as 46.

Arwani reportedly fled Syria as a teenager after surviving the 1982 Hama massacre, in which the current president's father Hafez al-Assad sent troops to brutally crush an Islamist-led uprising.

From 2005 to 2011 Arwani was a preacher at a mosque in Acton, west London.

Police say they are "open-minded" about the motive for his killing.

Arwani's son Murhaf called his murder a "heinous" crime and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

"We know that it won't bring our father back to us but it may help to deliver justice to those who killed him," he added.