Counter-terrorism police have started a probe into the murder of a Syrian cleric who was found with bullet wounds in a car in London, a media report said on Thursday.

According to police reports, Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, was found in a Volkswagen W Passat car on Tuesday with gunshot wounds to his chest. The car was found at a street in Wembley, northwest London.

The Metropolitan Police Service said its officers remained "open-minded" about a motive for the murder, BBC reported.

Counter-terrorism detectives have started conducting inquiries because of their expertise in investigations with international dimensions, Scotland Yard said.

He was a former imam at the An-noor Masjid mosque in Acton, London.

Arwani was born in Syria and is believed to have attended protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime outside London’s Embassy of Syria in 2012.

Arwani had claimed he had been forced to flee Syria in 1982 because the country’s regime sentenced him to death for photographing damage in his home city of Hama. He had recently complained of death threats, sources said.

A post-mortem examination is due to take place on Thursday.