Sir David Amess killer found guilty of murder and preparing terrorist acts

Ali Harbi Ali tells court he has no regrets about killing long-serving British MP

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A terrorist has been found guilty of murdering British MP Sir David Amess and plotting to attack other politicians including Michael Gove.

ISIS fanatic Ali Harbi Ali, 26, carried out the “cold and calculating” murder at the veteran MP’s constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year.

He told the trial at the Old Bailey in London that he had no regrets about the murder and said Amess deserved to die as a result of voting in the UK Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

A jury deliberated for only 18 minutes to find Ali guilty of murder and preparing for terrorist acts.

Ali sent a manifesto on WhatsApp to family and friends seeking to justify his actions around the time of the attack. He told Amess he was “sorry” before plunging the knife into him, causing the politician to scream.

He died at the scene.

Knife-wielding Ali was later apprehended by two police officers armed only with batons and spray.

Essex Police Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow praised his officers’ “astounding bravery” in tackling Ali.

“They’ve basically gone in armed with a stick – something that appears smaller than a deodorant can – to deal with a man that has just committed an absolutely heinous act, still armed with that knife," he said.

“I think it’s an astounding act of bravery.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC said the murder was “the most appalling tragedy”, particularly for the Amess family, and an “attack on democracy”.

“I’m obviously pleased that at the end of what must have been a very difficult trial for Sir David Amess’s family, justice has been served and this individual will now pay the price for his crimes," he said.

In a statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Sir David Amess was a beloved colleague, public servant and friend who championed the city of Southend in everything he did. My thoughts today remain with Julia, the Amess family and all those who knew and loved him.”

The court heard how London-born Ali had become self-radicalised in 2014, going on to drop out of university and abandoning ambitions for a career in medicine.

Ali, who came from an influential Somali family and said he had a childhood “full of love and care”, considered travelling to Syria to fight but by 2019 had opted for an attack in Britain.

Ali bought a £20 knife from Argos six years ago, which he carried in his bag throughout the summer of 2021 as he “scoped out” potential targets, jurors heard.

He carried out reconnaissance on the Houses of Parliament but there he found police were “armed to the teeth”.

Ali carried out online research on MPs including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

He staked out the west London home of Levelling Up Secretary Mr Gove six times and wrote detailed notes on how he might get to him.

Scenarios included mingling with media, bumping into him jogging, ringing his doorbell, and causing a scene to “lure” him out.

Ali rejected the plan after Mr Gove split up with his wife and was thought to have moved out of the family home.

He was later to tell police: “It was ... so convenient to go to that address but I just, I don’t know why I didn’t do that one.”

Ali, from Kentish Town, north London, was spotted lurking outside Finchley MP Mike Freer’s constituency office, jurors were told.

By September last year, Ali had settled on Amess as an easy target after seeing a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea advertised on Twitter.

He made an appointment through the MP’s office, falsely claiming he was moving to the area and was interested in churches.

On the morning of October 15, 2021, he was caught on CCTV as he made his way by foot and train to Essex.

Within minutes of meeting Sir David, Ali pulled out a 30-centimetre carving knife and stabbed him more than 20 times.

He waved the bloody knife and threatened to kill the MP’s two female aides, as well as a couple who had arrived for their appointment.

Amess’s assistant Julie Cushion told jurors that Ali had appeared “self-satisfied” after the brutal killing.

In a police interview, Ali spoke calmly about his terrorist plot and admitted allegiance to ISIS.

He told officers that he thought Amess had immediately suspected a “sting”, having been duped into talking about a fake drug “cake” in the TV series Brass Eye.

“I felt like one minute I was sat down at the table talking to him and the next he was, sort of, dead," Ali said.

“But, yeah, it’s probably one of the strangest days … of my life now, you know?”

Jurors were told Ali had no mental health issues and he accepted much of the evidence against him.

Amess was killed five years after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency.

His death led to renewed concern around the safety of British MPs.

Ali will be sentenced at a later date and the crown could ask for a whole-life tariff, under which he will never be released, to be imposed.

Updated: April 11, 2022, 3:11 PM