British MP stabbing suspect identified, was known to counter-terrorism program: report

The suspect in Friday’s fatal stabbing of British Member of Parliament Sir David Amess was identified Saturday as 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali.

Police told the BBC Ali, a British national believed to be of Somali descent, was being held under the UK’s Terrorism Act, after he was initially arrested at the scene on murder charges. Under British law, that allows them to keep him in custody until Friday before official charges must be filed.

Amess, 69, was killed Friday while holding a regular weekly meeting with constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, about 40 miles east of London. The Conservative MP, first elected in 1983, was stabbed multiple times.

Police said in a statement that a knife used in the attack was recovered at the scene. As part of the investigation, three addresses in the London area were searched on Saturday.

According to the BBC, Ali was referred a few years ago to the country’s counter-terrorism program, called Prevent, which works to stop people being radicalized. It’s not clear how long he spent in the program, and he was never a formal “subject of interest” to the Security Service, MI5, the outlet reported.

Floral tributes are seen outside the Houses of Parliament after British MP David Amess was stabbed to death during a meeting with constituents.
REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The Telegraph reported that Amess, a father of five, had received an “upsetting” threat in the days before the fatal attack. The threat was reported to police, but the news outlet said cops were not linking the threat to his death.

Ali is believed to have acted alone, The Telegraph reported.

A candlelit vigil was held in Leigh-on Sea on Saturday night to mark the life of Amess. Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of many officials who paid respects to Amess at the church where he was killed.

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