After just 18 minutes of deliberation, a British court has found an Islamic State sympathizer guilty of stabbing Conservative MP David Amess to death.
The 26-year-old Ali Harbi Ali was convicted of murder and preparing acts of terrorism by a unanimous jury at the Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, in London. The killer carried out the cold and calculating murder at the Conservative MP's constituency in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Oct. 15, 2021. The MP for Southend West suffered more than 20 stab wounds in a vicious and frenzied attack that was an assassination for terrorist purposes, the court found.
The defendant refused to stand in the dock as the jury delivered their verdict. Ali's sentence is to be announced Wednesday. Ali sent a long message on Whatsapp to his contacts claiming that he had committed an attack to take revenge for those killed in airstrikes on Isis-held territories.
The attacker had told the court he did not regret stabbing Amess more than 20 times because Parliament had voted to conduct airstrikes in Syria in 2014 and 2015. He also said he had wanted to join the Islamic State in Syria but had not been to fulfill that. If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn't have done it, said Ali, who has been described as a lone wolf.
Ali, from Kentish Town, north London, had been plotting the murder since May 2019 and had researched other potential targets including Conservative minister Michael Gove and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. But he later told police he dropped those plans to target Amess after an announcement of his one-on-one meetings with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea. Ali made an appointment with Amess by pretending he was a local healthcare worker looking for churches, it was reported. Amess' aide Rebecca Hayton said that Ali had been relaxed and chatty before he said sorry and pulled out the knife to stab the politician.
Tom Little, one of the prosecutors in the case, had described the attack as a cold and calculated murder during the trial. It was a murder carried out by a young man who for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalized Islamist terrorist, Little said. This was nothing less than an assassination for terrorist purposes.
I've done it because of Syria, Ali said after the attack. I've done it because of the innocent people. I've done it because of the bombing. He deserved to die.