A 25-year-old man has been charged with the murder of British politician Sir David Amess.
Ali Harbi Ali, of north London, was charged with murder and “the preparation of terrorist acts” on Oct. 21, the Metropolitan Police stated. The charges were authorized by the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division (SCCTD), the police said.
Ali was arrested on Oct. 15 after Amess, a 69-year-old Member of Parliament (MP) for Southend West, was fatally stabbed while meeting with local voters at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea. He remains in custody and is due to appear at the Old Bailey court in London on Oct. 22.
Matt Jukes, assistant commissioner for specialist operations, called the charge “a significant milestone.”
Jukes extended his “deepest condolences” to Amess’s family, friends, and colleagues and asked for restraint in speculation over the background, history, and motivation of the defendant in order to ensure future court proceedings are “not prejudiced in any way.”
Nick Price, head of the SCCTD, said the CPS “will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations.”
He also reminded “all concerned” that the legal proceeding is ongoing and that Ali has the right to a fair trial.
According to a previous report by The Sunday Times, Ali is the British-born son of Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to the prime minister of Somalia. The newspaper reported that Kullane had confirmed that his son was in police custody and said he was “very traumatized” by what happened.
“It’s not something that I expected or even dreamt of,” Kullane said, The Sunday Times reported.
The killing of Amess marked the second fatal attack on a sitting British lawmaker in their constituency within the past five years. In 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in her small-town constituency in a fatal shooting a week ahead of the Brexit referendum by Neo-Nazi Thomas Mair.
Before that, Labour MP Stephen Timms survived a stabbing in his constituency office in 2010 by Islamic extremist Roshonara Choudhry.
In 2017, a police officer and four pedestrians were killed in a terrorist attack targeting Westminster by British-born Islamic terrorist Khalid Masood.
Politicians across the political spectrum have said they’ve received threats during their careers.
Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs on Oct. 20 that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, a branch of MI5, had raised the threat level facing Members of the House to “substantial.”
Patel assured MPs that security and intelligence agencies and counterterror police will ensure the change is “properly reflected in their operational posture” and urged MPs to make use of the resources available to them to ensure their safety and the safety of their staff and the public.