A London jury on Monday unanimously found Islamic State supporter Ali Harbi Ali guilty of the murder of British lawmaker David Amess in a vicious stabbing attack in October last year.
Ali told the trial he had no regrets killing Amess, a father of five, after he voted in parliament for airstrikes in Syria in 2014 and 2015.
Old Bailey Court in London heard Ali, 26, stabbed Amess more than 20 times with a foot-long carving knife in Leigh-on-Sea, south-east England.
It took just 18 minutes for the jury to reach a verdict on the charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism. He is to be tried on Wednesday.
Members of Amess’ family were in court as the verdict was read, during which Ali refused to appear on religious grounds.
Ali, from north London, made an appointment with Amess, 69, telling the politician’s office that he was a medical professional and wanted to talk about local issues.
Ali, armed with a knife, was apprehended at the scene of the murder in a church by two police officers armed only with truncheons and aerosols.
He had sent a manifesto to his family and friends in an attempt to justify his actions at the time of the attack.
The court heard Ali said ‘sorry’ to Amess before killing him, after which his assistant Julie Cushion said he seemed ‘satisfied with himself’.
In police interviews, Ali said Amess suspected a ‘sting’, having been duped in the 1990s by talking about a drug ‘cake’ invented during a satirical TV series.
“I felt like one minute I was sitting at the table talking to him and the next he was kind of dead,” Ali told police.
“But, yeah, this is probably one of the weirdest days…of my life right now, you know?”
Jurors were told Ali had no mental health issues and he accepted much of the evidence against him.
The murder was the second murder of a British MP in five years and sparked calls for better security for elected officials.
In 2016, a right-wing extremist who shouted ‘Britain First’ shot and stabbed Labor lawmaker Jo Cox to death during the heated build-up to the Brexit referendum.
The court heard how Ali self-radicalized in 2014, dropping out of college, abandoning his career ambitions in medicine.
Ali, who came from a Somali family and said he had a childhood “full of love and care”, considered going to Syria to fight but instead opted for an attack in Britain.
Six years ago, he bought a knife that he carried in his bag throughout the summer of 2021 as he “searched” for possible targets, jurors heard.
“Desire for infamy”
He explored parliament but found police “armed to the teeth” there, the court heard.
Ali researched other MPs online, including senior Tory Michael Gove.
He staked Gove’s home in London, but rejected plans to assassinate him after Gove separated from his wife and moved out of the family home.
Amess was a longtime MP in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party.
The widower of murdered MP Cox said after Ali’s verdict that all the murder accomplished politically was “to let millions of people know of David’s decency and the causes close to his heart”.
“Terrorists can cite different ideologies. But what unites them is their desire for infamy, their cowardly attacks on unarmed people and their utter failure to advance their cause,” Brendan Cox tweeted.
A post-mortem examination showed Amess suffered 21 stab wounds to the face, arms, legs and torso, as well as wounds to both hands consistent with his defence, the court heard.
Hundreds of locals traveled to the seaside town of Southend to pay their respects after his death.
Pope Francis hailed the Catholic lawmaker’s “dedicated public service” in a special message read at his funeral.