I have taken this from the Guardian, as they are the most blunt in their headline of emphasising that this murder was an act of terrorism.
A man has been convicted at the Old Bailey of the terrorist assassination of the Conservative MP Sir David Amess.
Ali Harbi Ali, 26, stabbed Amess to death on 15 October 2021, fuelled by Islamic State propaganda and having spent at least two years researching which MP to murder.
Ali was being radicalised in 2014 at the same time he was going through Prevent, the official UK anti-radicalisation scheme. The Guardian understands that in 2015, while Ali was becoming an adherent of terrorist violence, Prevent assessed he did not pose a significant danger of terrorist violence and his case was closed. (as an aside there is a report this morning that MI5 didn’t notice that Salman Abedi was a dangerous terrorist, and he went on to murder 22 people at Manchester Arena. Maybe the death of one of their own might concentrate the minds of government where the deaths of 22 mostly girls and women hasn’t yet)
The jury at the Old Bailey in central London convicted Ali of the murder of Amess and planning other attacks against MPs after under 20 minutes of deliberation.
He refused to stand as the unanimous verdicts were delivered.
He had planned an attack for two years, since May 2019, supposedly angered by western actions in Syria. He had carried out reconnaissance on other MPs, even scouting the home of Michael Gove.
He loitered around the Houses of Parliament on several occasions looking for a chance to strike. Counter-terrorism officials believe he acted alone. Don’t they always act ‘alone’? They might act ‘alone’ but they don’t act in a vacuum.
The issue of whether the level of danger Ali posed was properly assessed may be an issue for the inquest into Amess’s death, expected at a future date. Once Ali was referred to Prevent, he was assessed as being of sufficient concern that he was seen by the Channel programme – reserved for those at greatest risk of radicalisation.
Police and security sources have given little detail about his involvement with Prevent, which was first revealed by the Guardian.
DCS Dominic Murphy said after the verdicts: “He spent some time in Prevent and then came out of Prevent and by his own admission, carried on his activity in secret over many years, forming his plan and conducting reconnaissance and focusing his efforts on many MPs.”
A government commissioned review of Prevent is expected to be published this month or next. Of course Muslim groups claim Prevent is Islamophobic, whereas Prevent and the government generally insist that they spend a lot of time dealing with ‘far-right’ extremism, which they consider a problem.
Ali will be sentenced on Wednesday and the Crown may ask the court to impose a whole-life tariff, meaning he will never be released.
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