British MP’s killer has been referred to anti-terrorism program, reports show

The assailant who fatally stabbed UK lawmaker David Amess has been referred to an official counterterrorism program for those at risk of radicalization, media reported.

Police said on Saturday night that detectives had until Friday, October 22 to interview the suspect after his arrest under the terrorism law, which allowed them to extend his detention.

Veteran Conservative MP David Amess, 69, was speaking with voters at a church in the small town of Leigh-on-Sea in east London when he was stabbed to death on Friday.

Police said they were investigating “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”. The investigation is being carried out by the Counter Terrorism Command of Scotland Yard.

The BBC said it had received confirmation from Whitehall officials that the man’s name is Ali Harbi Ali.

Ali, a British citizen of Somali descent, was referred to Prevent, the UK program for those suspected of being at risk of radicalization, a few years ago, the BBC reported.

It is believed that Ali did not spend long in the program, which is voluntary, and was never officially a “subject of interest” to MI5, the internal security agency, the BBC said.

Police and security services believe the attacker acted alone and “self-radicalized,” the Sunday Times reported, while he may have been inspired by Al-Shabaab, Islamists linked to al- Qaeda in Somalia.

Ali’s father, Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to the Somali Prime Minister, confirmed to the Sunday Times that his son was in detention, adding: “I feel very traumatized”.

Police said they searched three addresses in the London area as part of a “quick investigation”.

The Sun tabloid reported that the assailant stabbed Amess several times in the presence of two women, before sitting down and waiting for the police to arrive.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported that he made an appointment a week in advance.

On Saturday evening, hundreds of mourners attended a candlelight vigil at a sports field near the crime scene, observing a minute of silence in memory of the MP.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had visited the crime scene earlier on Saturday to pay tribute, laying wreaths outside the church with Opposition Leader Labor leader Keir Starmer in a rare demonstration of unity.

Residents, including members of the Muslim community, also piled up bouquets next to the police gang.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel pay floral tributes as they arrive at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on- Sea, England, Saturday. | AFP-JIJI

British politicians were stunned by the very public attack, which recalled the murder of a pro-EU lawmaker before the Brexit referendum.

In June 2016, Labor MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist, prompting calls for action against what lawmakers have called a “rising tide” of public abuse and threats against women. elected.

Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday ordered police to review security arrangements for the 650 MPs and the Sunday Times reported that each MP could be afforded security protection when meeting the public.

“We will continue.… We live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be intimidated by any individual,” Patel told reporters after laying a wreath for his fellow Member of Parliament for Essex.

Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP who tried to save a stabbed police officer in a 2017 terror attack near Parliament, asked on Twitter for a temporary break from surgeries or face-to-face meetings with voters, until that the safety review has been completed. .

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle in The Observer wrote that “we need to take stock” and consider whether the security measures introduced after Cox’s murder are “adequate to protect members, staff and voters, in particular. especially during surgeries “.

Members of Parliament and their staff have already been attacked, although this is rare.

But their security was brought to the fore by Brexit, which stoked deep political divisions and led to outbursts of angry partisan rhetoric.

The Cox killer repeatedly shouted ‘Britain first’ before shooting and stabbing the 41-year-old MP outside her constituency meeting near Leeds in northern England.

A specialized police unit created to investigate threats against MPs following Cox’s murder said 678 crimes against lawmakers were reported between 2016 and 2020.

Amess, a Brexit supporter, had written about public harassment and online abuse in his book “Ayes & Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster”, published last year.

“These growing attacks have instead spoiled the great British tradition of people meeting openly with their elected politicians,” he said.

MPs had to install security cameras and only meet voters by appointment, he added.

Unlike some MPs, Amess posted voter meeting times on Twitter and held them in public places, while asking people to book in advance.

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