David Amess Murderer: What We Know So Far About Somali Suspect
15:40 GMT 17.10.2021 (Updated: 15:16 GMT 28.05.2023)
The murder of Southend West MP Sir David Amess in a stabbing attack on Friday has left residents of the Essex town and politicians in shock. Tributes have been paid to him by members of all major parties.
Details are emerging of the identity and past of the man who murdered a Conservative backbench MP in his Essex constituency.
The suspect in the killing of Sir David Amess
was named on Saturday as Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old Somali man who lived in London.
Ali stabbed the 69-year-old veteran Conservative parliamentarian repeatedly as he was meeting constituents at his weekly MP's "surgery" at a Methodist church on Friday in the quiet Thames estuary town of Leigh-on-Sea.
Police arrested the suspect at the scene as paramedics tried desperately to save Sir David's life — suggesting that he made no attempt to escape.
London's Metropolitan Police Service announced on Saturday that the crime is being treated as a terrorist incident
, and that it was taking over the investigation from Essex Police.
Son of Former Government PR Chief
Ali has been identified as the son of Harbi Ali Kullane, now a resident of London, who describes himself on his Twitter account
as a "Former Director of Media and Communication" to Somalia's ex-prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
"I’m feeling very traumatised. It’s not something that I expected or even dreamt of", Kullane told The Sunday Times from his sister's house in north London, adding: "This is nothing to do with my work for the Somali government".
No motive has yet been suggested for the crime. But the Conservative government has been criticised by some opposition parties and liberal and left-wing media for its attempts to crack down on people-trafficking across the English Channel and North Sea from France. Many of those arriving on rubber dinghies in south-east England from camps in northern France are from Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan.
Amess was a leading member of the parliamentary Conservative Friends of Israel group. But he was also among the 30 Tory MPs who voted against military action against Syria in 2013 under David Cameron's government, and expressed regret at voting for the UK's involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The backbencher was also a staunch supporter of Brexit.
Authorities have revealed that Ali had previously been referred to the government's Prevent programme for monitoring "radicalisation" that may lead to recruitment for terrorist activities. But he was reportedly never under investigation or surveillance by MI5, the UK's counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism service.
16 October 2021, 08:55 GMT
Prevent was set up in 2003 as part of the CONTEST strategy, drawn up under former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair's government following his decision to commit troops to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan — and later Iraq.
Prevent has long been controversial, drawing accusations that it cast its net far too wide and stigmatised and alienated
Britain's large and settled Muslim population.
Shami Chakrabarti, then director of civil rights NGO Liberty, called Prevent "the biggest domestic spying programme targeting the thoughts and beliefs of the innocent in Britain in modern times", adding: "The spying is directed at people because of their religion, and not because of their behaviour".
In 2017, the University of Reading flagged an essay entitled Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution by the late left-wing academic Norman Geras as potentially harmful under Prevent rules, and advised students not to download and read it on their personal electronic devices or where it could be seen by those "not prepared to view it".