A BRADFORD cab driver, who yesterday admitted murdering a shopkeeper after driving to Glasgow to confront him, was described by a former work colleague as deeply religious but not fanatical.
Tanveer Ahmed, 32, of Toller, pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to murdering popular businessman Asad Shah, who died after he was found with stab wounds outside his shop.
The court heard that Ahmed, a Sunni Muslim, drove from Bradford to Glasgow on March 24 believing that Mr Shah, 40, had “disrespected” the Prophet Muhammad.
On the way he had watched online footage of Mr Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim, and commented: “Something needs to be done, it needs nipped in the bud.”
When Ahmed arrived at his victim’s shop he engaged him in a discussion, before pulling out a knife and attacking him.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson, of Police Scotland, said the murder of Mr Shah - a peaceful family man, hardworking businessman and well-loved member of the community - was “the result of an extreme act of violence; an attack which was concluded within the space of four minutes.”
ACC Johnson added: “It is clear that the actions of Tanveer Ahmed were motivated by his religious beliefs.”
The senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Smith, said they had worked closely with West Yorkshire Police to understand the full background to Tanveer Ahmed and his reason for travelling to Glasgow on the night of Mr Shah’s murder.
He said a number of witnesses went to help Mr Shah. “But the swift and ferocious nature of the attack meant there was little they could do to save him.”
He added: “Ahmed’s compliance in the immediate aftermath of the attack was in stark contrast to the level of violence shown during the confrontation.”
Mr Shah’s father and mother, Syed and Sadiqua, his wife Khalida and his six brothers and sisters spelled out their pain in a victim’s statement given to the Crown.
They said: “We have little hope of ever having a normal life again. Most of the family unable to live with this turmoil, pain and fear has taken a decision to leave Scotland for ever.”
All nine people said they had changed the way they behave.
“This horrific incident has left us feeling very insecure and fearful.
“We struggle with even simple things like being out in public places, something that we used to routinely enjoy.
“We find it hard to communicate with people, even with our friends. We are no longer as open and affectionate as we were before.
“We never thought that we could be in danger here and ironically our father came to Scotland because he was told it would be safe for his family.”
Mr Shah’s wife, Khalida, the statement added, “has been brutally deprived of a life and companionship with her soulmate and kindred spirit, the love her life.
“She now lives a life of isolation and solitude, despite all of the support and care from the family. “
The statement says that Mr Shah’s brother, who witnesses the incident, “is constantly reliving the terrible event every day and every night.”
Several members of the family are undergoing therapy.
Zulfi Karim, of Bradford Council for Mosques, said Ahmed attended a number of Bradford mosques but belonged to the peaceful sufi Islam section of the religion.
He said: “We are becoming less tolerant, on all sides, when we are different to each other. But this is a one off incident which was absolutely down to the individual. Bradford is a cohesive and tolerant city.”
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A former colleague, who worked with Ahmed at a Bradford minicab firm, said: “He was just a normal guy. I was shocked when I found out it was him.
“When I worked with him he was a big, friendly giant. He never raised his voice, he didn’t look threatening.The other drivers never had a disagreement with him.
“He used to come in to work looking clean and fresh and smelling nice. He was probably the last person in the whole office you would have expected to do something like this.
“He was a decent guy. He was deeply religious, but not fanatical. He said to me on a couple of occasions, ‘You should pray’.”
But a former private hire official told how Ahmed had refused to accept a Bradford Council decision to take his car off the road because of faults with it.
He said: “He wanted reasons why they were failing him. But he was in the wrong. The car had a few major problems. I knew the vehicle was faulty and things needed doing to it.
I told him that’s how it was, but he was very difficult. He seemed more concerned for himself than the potential danger to the public. In the end he got it fixed.”
“He rang me with another issue but I didn’t answer the phone.I didn’t want to get involved with him.”
Ahmed will return to court for sentencing on August 9.