British prosecutors have charged 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali with the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess after he was stabbed to death last week while he was holding a constituency meeting at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
In a statement released on Thursday, Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division said that “we will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations.”
“He has also been charged with the preparation of terrorist acts. This follows a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police in its investigation,” Price added.
Price also commented that “The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Ali are active and that he has the right to a fair trial.”
Tory lawmaker Sir David Amess was brutally stabbed to death last Friday at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex while he was holding a constituency surgery. The Metropolitan Police declared hours later it was a “terrorist incident” with a “potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”
Fears over lawmakers’ safety were heightened in the wake of the attack. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel
said on Wednesday that the threat level currently facing MPs had been raised from ‘moderate’ to ‘substantial’.
After the murder, media reports emerged that the suspected killer had been radicalised by extremist content online – including YouTube videos by Islamic State-supporting convicted hate preacher Anjem Choudary.
The reports sparked concern that long lockdowns during the Covid
pandemic could have led to other people being radicalised. Former government adviser on terrorism Richard Kemp told The Mirror that there had long been concerns that the “threat from so-called bedroom radicals would escalate because of...lockdowns.”
Amess’ murder also prompted discussion about protecting MPs from online hate. Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab
remarked earlier this week that the torrent of cyber abuse lawmakers face is “out of control.” The justice secretary also said there was “a case” for removing online anonymity, as internet users should not be able to use it to “abuse their position on social media.”
The Conservative MP’s stabbing adds to a grim list of attacks on British lawmakers. Jo Cox, an MP for the Labour Party, was murdered by a right-wing extremist in 2016. Stephen Timms, a minister in Tony Blair’s government, survived a knife attack in East London in 2010, also during a constituency meeting.