Alleged murderer of UK MP David Amess tells court he killed to 'prevent harm' to Muslims

Ali Harbi Ali, who denies preparing terrorist acts and murder, told jurors in London he had no regrets over his actions

The man accused of murdering British MP Sir David Amess told a court he killed him in a church last year to stop him “harming Muslims” in Syria.

Ali Harbi Ali told jurors at the Old Bailey in London he had no regrets over his actions and that he had hoped to “send a message” to other MPs.

Mr Ali, 26, stabbed Amess more than 20 times with a 30-centimetre carving knife at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, shortly after midday on October 15, 2021, the court was told. The politician died at the scene.

The university dropout, who said he had a Christian upbringing, told jurors he was motivated to kill the veteran Southend West Conservative and father-of-five because he was among the MPs who voted in favour of bombing Syria in 2014 and 2015.

Mr Ali described himself as a “moderate Muslim” who carried out the domestic attack because he did not get to fight with ISIS in Syria.

Giving evidence on Thursday, the London-born accused said of the killing: “I decided to do it because I felt that if I could kill someone who made decisions to kill Muslims, it could prevent further harm to those Muslims."

Asked by defence counsel Tracy Ayling QC what difference killing Amess would make, Ali said: “For one, he can’t vote again.

“If he ‘had previous’ for doing votes like that, he won’t do it in the future. And perhaps send a message to his colleagues.

“You need a certain amount of votes … so it’s one off the list.”

Ali said he “deeply” regretted not being able to join ISIS and did not think the killing was wrong.

People hold a memorial service for British MP David Amess outside the Houses of Parliament in London. AP.

Asked if he had any regrets about the events of October 15, 2021, he replied: “No. If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn’t have done it," he said.

“I consider myself a Muslim who went out and killed someone who killed Muslims.”

Prosecutor Tom Little QC asked: “You don’t regard yourself as a radical?”

Mr Ali replied: “I am a moderate Muslim.”

The accused, wearing a dark top and trousers rowed back on previous comments the court heard he made to police that killing Sir David was an act of “terror”, instead comparing his actions with MPs who voted for air strikes in Syria.

“I don’t think I would use those words now," he told the court.

“If I was to use that word [terrorist] on myself, I would expect the British politicians who bombed Syria to use that word on themselves.”

Mr Ali, flanked by three security guards throughout his 80-minute appearance in the witness box, told the court he had expected to die “a martyr” when police arrived at the scene of the killing but dropped his knife when he realised the officers were not carrying guns.

He described his childhood in south London as “full of love and care”, but said he felt “obligated to do something” after seeing coverage of the Arab uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in the 2010s.

Mr Ali had managed to arrange an appointment with Amess, 69, by duping the politician’s office staff into believing he was a healthcare worker moving to the area and wished to discuss local matters, the court heard.

The trial previously heard how Mr Ali allegedly spent years hatching his plot, researching a number of potential high-profile political targets including Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Sir Keir Starmer, before settling on Amess.

Mr Ali, from Kentish Town, north London, denies preparing terrorist acts and murder.

The trial was adjourned until Monday for closing speeches.

Updated: April 07, 2022, 3:28 PM
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