The man who says he was the husband of murdered Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim has spoken of how she feared she would be killed by a professional hitman, allegedly hired by her former lover Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an Egyptian businessman with close ties to the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
Riyadh Alazzawi said that police in London were warned of the threats to Tamim, but failed to act. The couple spent 18 months in London living in fear, he told UK paper The Sunday Times.
"I was there to protect her, but was doing it all by myself," claimed Alazzawi. "I didn’t get any help." He said Talaat Moustafa had offered Tamim $50 million to lure her away - and threatened to pay $1 million to have her killed if she refused.
Alazzawi said he met Tamim in the London department store Harrods two years ago. She was already receiving some threats to her life and he, a world kickboxing champion, had offered to help protect her. The couple became close and married last year, he says.
Tamim was murdered in Dubai on July 28. Her body was found with multiple stab wounds and her throat had been cut. Prosecutors have charged Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an Egyptian businessman and a ruling party member of the upper house of the Egyptian parliament with arranging to pay an ex-policeman, Muhsen Al-Sukkari, $2 million to travel to Dubai and kill her. Both men may face the death penalty if convicted.
Alazzawi described how he and Tamim were routinely followed, harassed and subjected to a series of telephone threats while living in London. He believed the threats came from Talaat Moustafa, who had previously had an affair with Tamim, and men who said they were acting on his behalf.
"Suzan told me that he had phoned her and said that if she left me and went to marry him he would pay her $50m. He then said that if she refused he would then kill her with $1m," said Alazzawi.
On another occasion, Alazzawi alleged that Talaat Moustafa had phoned him at the couple’s flat in Knightsbridge. "He said forget about this girl. I'll kill her and kill you if you don't give me the girl." Later Alazzawi claimed he was telephoned by a man who said he had been sent to Britain by Talaat Moustafa to shoot him.
In a statement to his lawyer, Shahrokh Mireskandari, made five months before Tamim’s murder, Alazzawi said: "The hitman explained he had been sent to this country especially to kill [me]. He said he was not on his own but part of a big team of people working on this.
"The hitman explained that the only reason he was doing this job was because he had been paid [$100,000] already and would be paid more money after the shooting." The alleged assassin said he had tipped off Alazzawi because he had decided not to carry out the murder.
According to Alazzawi, the couple reported these threats to the Metropolitan police. They provided officers with a tape recording of several of the telephone threats, including one from the alleged hitman.
Officers arranged for them to have a panic alarm installed, and told them to keep in regular touch. But otherwise, Alazzawi claimed, they failed to act decisively on the information by warning off Talaat Moustafa.
"Suzan went to see the police officer dealing with the case," said Alazzawi. "She told her: 'Today I'm alive, tomorrow I may be dead. Why can't you help me?' The officer responded by stating that Talaat was a senior government figure in Egypt."
Talaat Moustafa had tried unsuccessfully to sue her in a Geneva court earlier this year for the return of millions of pounds worth of cash and gifts he claimed to have given her, the paper also reported.
The paper quoted a spokesman for Scotland Yard as saying that allegations it had received were investigated, and no criminal offence within its jurisdiction had emerged. Alazzawi said detectives had recently taken a statement: "They told me the murder had happened abroad," he said. "But this case began in London."