Trial opens into knife murder of British lawmaker Amess

Associated Press

London – A man who stabbed a veteran British lawmaker to death last year while he was meeting with voters was a “committed Islamist terrorist” who had spent years researching and planning potential attacks on lawmakers, a prosecutor said Monday.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, appeared in the dock Monday at London’s Central Criminal Court as a trial opened into the murder of Conservative lawmaker David Amess, who was attacked on Oct. 16 during a routine meeting with constituents in a church hall in the town of Leigh-on-Sea in eastern England.

This court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Ali Harbi Ali in the dock at the Old Bailey accused of stabbing to death Conservative MP for Southend West David Amess, in London, Monday March 21, 2022.

Ali, a London man with Somali heritage, denies charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

A photograph of slain member of parliament David Amess is carried into Westminster Cathedral ahead of a Requiem Mass for Amess, central London, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Tom Little said the case was “nothing less than an assassination” carried out because of a “warped and twisted and violent ideology.”

“It was a murder carried out by that young man who for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalised Islamist terrorist,” he said.

Little said Ali bought the knife used to attack Amess five years earlier, and that Ali tricked his way into meeting Amess by pretending to be one of his constituents.

Amess, 69, had been a member of Parliament since 1983. He was pronounced dead at the scene after the stabbing. His slaying shook the nation and sparked calls for increased police protection for politicians as they carry out their work.

The prosecutor also said that Ali had researched and planned attacks on lawmakers and the Parliament building from at least 2019. The research included reconnaissance trips targeting work and home addresses of two other lawmakers, Mike Freer and Cabinet member Michael Gove, he added.

The trial is expected to last for three weeks.