British police have charged a 25 year-old man with the murder of a Conservative lawmaker. He claimed that the act was terrorism and that he was supporting the Islamic State group.
Prosecutors claimed that Ali Harbi Ali was a Londoner of Somali descent who attacked David Amess last Wednesday in Leigh-on-Sea. Prosecutors claim Ali attacked Amess because he voted for air strikes against Syria.
Amess was 69 years old and was attending a routine meeting with constituents when he was attacked and killed. The killing shaken a nation used to face-to face contact with its leaders. It raised concerns about extremism. It also rattled British politicians who claim they are subject to increasing levels of vitriole and abuse while performing their duties.
On Thursday, James Cable, a prosecutor at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court, stated that Ali had planned to kill a lawmaker in 2012 and first focused on two other politicians, before choosing Amess.
Ali was not asked to plead guilty at the preliminary hearing. It lasted less that 15 minutes. As he entered court, he smiled at his lawyers and only spoke to confirm his name and address. He was placed under arrest until the next hearing.
Nick Price, Crown Prosecution Service, stated that the murder had a terrorist link. He said it was motivated by both religious and ideological motives.
Matt Jukes, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations, stated that “no additional arrests were made” and that they are not looking for anyone else in connection to the incident.
Jukes stated that detectives had searched for several London addresses, analyzed computers and reviewed CCTV footage in the course of their investigation.
Amess, who was a Parliamentary member for nearly 40 years, died in 2015. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 2015. This raised security concerns among British politicians who are known for being open to their constituents.
Five years ago, Jo Cox, a Labour Party lawmaker, was shot and stabbed by a far right extremist. Cox was the first British lawmaker killed in Northern Ireland since a peace agreement ended large-scale violence nearly 30 years ago.
British politicians are provided with protection by the armed police while they are in Parliament, but not in their homes.
Priti Patel, Home Secretary, told the House of Commons Wednesday that intelligence officers had raised the threat level for politicians to “substantial” from “moderate.” However she stated that there was no “specific and imminent threat.”
On Monday, a special session of Parliament heard appeals for social media companies to stop the spread of hate online that has poisoned political discourse.
Amess was a social conservative, who opposed abortion and fought for animal rights. He also strongly supported Britain’s exit the European Union. His civility, humor, and dedication to his constituency in Southend West, 40-miles (60 km) east of London made him a favorite even among his political adversaries.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated that he hoped Amess’ loved ones would receive “the justice they deserve as quickly as possible.”
He said, “What we should not do is to be intimidated or murdered into changing the manner we conduct our parliamentary business” “Which, I believe, is the last thing David Amess would have wanted.”