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A ‘cold and calculating’ terrorist refused to stand in the dock on ‘religious grounds’ as he was today found guilty of stabbing Sir David Amess to death with a £20 Argos knife – with the jury taking just 18 minutes to reach its verdict.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, admitted to carrying out the attack and plotting to kill other MPs including Michael Gove but denied murder on the basis he was ‘protecting’ other Muslims in Syria – a claim that was rejected by the court. 

Sir David’s family – sat almost within arm’s length of the Old Bailey dock – remained silent throughout as the jury foreman read out the unanimous guilty verdicts. 

London-born Ali, who did not dispute much of the ‘overwhelming’ evidence, will be sentenced on Wednesday for murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

The school drop-out secretly plotted his murderous act of terrorism for many years despite being referred to Prevent. 

He is the latest in a string of Islamist terrorists to have been referred to the controversial anti-terror programme only to go on to carry out a murderous attack in recent years. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Sir David Amess was a beloved colleague, public servant and friend who championed the city of Southend in everything he did.

‘My thoughts today remain with Julia, the Amess family and all those who knew and loved him.’   

Islamic State fanatic Ali Harbi Ali, 26, seen in a mugshot released today

Islamic State fanatic Ali Harbi Ali, 26, seen in a mugshot released today

Ali in court today, where he refused to stand up while hearing his verdict for 'religious reasons'

Ali in court today, where he refused to stand up while hearing his verdict for 'religious reasons'

Islamic State fanatic Ali Harbi Ali, 26, seen in a mugshot released today (left) and in a sketch from court today, right – where he refused to stand up while hearing his verdict for ‘religious reasons’ 

The 26-year-old stabbed Sir David more than 20 times with a foot-long carving knife at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

The 26-year-old stabbed Sir David more than 20 times with a foot-long carving knife at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

The 26-year-old stabbed Sir David more than 20 times with a foot-long carving knife at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex 

Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, said Ali’s crimes had only achieved a much wider awareness of the ‘decency’ of Sir David and the causes he championed.

Why was Ali allowed to give evidence despite admitting to killing? 

 By Duncan Gardham for MailOnline

Even though Ali admitted the killing, he denied murder, and was therefore allowed to give evidence in his defence.

He claimed that he had been acting to defend ‘the Muslims’ in Syria but, following legal argument, the judge ruled that he had no defence in law.

Mr Justice Sweeney told them: ‘Having considered the defendant’s account, taken at its height, in his favour, I direct you as matter of law, the killing was neither in lawful self-defence, nor in the lawful defence of another, nor in the prevention of a crime.

‘No other defence arises. Nevertheless, the defendant is in your charge and it remains for you to be sure that all three elements of the offence have been proved.’ 

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In a statement on Twitter, he said: ‘The terrorist who killed Sir David Amess has been found guilty of his murder. There was no other possible verdict. Like the killing of Jo, all it has achieved politically has been to allow millions of people to learn about David’s decency & the causes he cared about.

‘The terrorist will rot in jail and die in ignominy. David’s name will be remembered, especially by the people of Southend who he served.

‘Terrorists may cite different ideologies. But what unites them is their desire for infamy, their cowardly attacks on the unarmed and the total failure to advance their cause. All of my thoughts & love are with David’s family today.’  

In response to the guilty verdict, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey tweeted: ‘Good. Justice delivered though we will never have Sir David back.’ 

The 26-year-old Islamic State fanatic carried out his attack at the veteran MP’s constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year.

Ali told the trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die because he had voted in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

The court heard that Ali became known to authorities around this time as his school performance plunged and he was referred to the Government’s Prevent strategy, but continued plotting in secret.

The so-called ‘lone wolf’ sent a manifesto on WhatsApp to family and friends seeking to justify his actions around the time of the attack, and told Sir David he was ‘sorry’ before plunging the knife into him, causing the politician to scream.

The Tory backbencher died at the scene.

Knife-wielding Ali was later apprehended by two police officers armed only with batons and spray. They have since been handed bravery awards.

Ali (seen after his arrest) told the Old Bailey trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die as a result of voting in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015

Ali (seen after his arrest) told the Old Bailey trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die as a result of voting in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015

Ali (seen after his arrest) told the Old Bailey trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die as a result of voting in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015

Unarmed officers who tackled terrorist are given bravery award 

The two unarmed police officers who tackled Sir David Amess’s murderer Ali Harbi Ali have been given a bravery award, Essex Police said.

Pc Ryan Curtis and Pc Scott James were awarded the Merit Star – Essex Police’s highest accolade since 2020 – in a private ceremony in November.

The pair recalled the moment they arrived on the scene at the Belfairs Methodist Church.

Pc James said: ‘No one knew if there were any other members of the public inside with the attacker. At this point we knew there was no option other than for Ryan and I to go inside without Taser or firearms support.

‘We couldn’t stand outside if there was a chance other people were getting attacked and we also wanted to get paramedics inside the building as soon as possible to save Sir David.

‘Our biggest fear that day was that there were other defenceless people inside with Sir David waiting for the police to come through the door – so any fears we had were put to one side.’

Pc Curtis told of the moment Ali walked towards them holding the murder weapon.

In a statement through Essex Police, he said: ‘Once we got inside, we shouted at the suspect to drop the weapon and he refused and then he started walking towards us with the knife.

‘We didn’t know what he was going to do, we knew he might attempt to attack us, but we had to stop him getting past us as there were other members of the public outside. We carried on shouting at him and trying to persuade him to stop and eventually he dropped the weapon allowing us to arrest him.’

Pc Curtis added: ‘We are not heroes – we did what any other officer would have that day. We only wish we could have done more and we continue to think of both Sir David and his family.’ 

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Essex Police Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said: ‘They’ve basically gone in armed with a stick – something that appears smaller than a deodorant can – to deal with a man that has just committed an absolutely heinous act, still armed with that knife.

‘I think it’s an astounding act of bravery.’

Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC said the murder was ‘the most appalling tragedy’, particularly for the Amess family, and an ‘attack on democracy’.

He said: ‘I’m obviously pleased that at the end of what must have been a very difficult trial for Sir David Amess’s family, justice has been served and this individual will now pay the price for his crimes.’

The court heard that ‘model student’ Ali had become self-radicalised in 2014, going on to drop out of university, abandoning ambitions for a career in medicine.

Ali, who came from an influential Somali family and said he had a childhood ‘full of love and care’, considered travelling to Syria to fight but by 2019 had opted for an attack in Britain.

He bought a £20 knife from Argos six years ago which he carried in his bag throughout summer 2021 as he ‘scoped out’ possible targets, jurors heard.

He carried out reconnaissance on the Houses of Parliament but found police there were ‘armed to the teeth’.

Ali researched MPs online including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

He staked out the west London home of Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove six times and wrote detailed notes on how he might get to him.

Scenarios included mingling with media, bumping into him jogging, ringing his doorbell, and causing a scene to ‘lure’ him out.

Ali rejected the plan after Mr Gove split up with his wife and was thought to have moved out of the family home.

The attacker later told police: ‘It was… so convenient to go to that address but I just, I don’t know why I didn’t do that one.’

Ali, from Kentish Town, north London, was also spotted lurking outside Finchley MP Mike Freer’s constituency office, jurors were told.

By September last year, Ali had settled on Sir David as an easy target after seeing his upcoming surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on Twitter. He made an appointment through the MP’s office, falsely claiming he was moving to the area and was interested in churches.

Ali is also accused of preparing acts of terrorism by targeting MPs Michael Gove and Mike Freer between May 1 2019 and September this year

Ali is also accused of preparing acts of terrorism by targeting MPs Michael Gove and Mike Freer between May 1 2019 and September this year

Ali is also accused of preparing acts of terrorism by targeting MPs Michael Gove and Mike Freer between May 1 2019 and September this year

On the morning of October 15, he was caught on CCTV as he made his way by foot and train to Essex.

Within minutes of meeting Sir David, Ali pulled out a 12in carving knife and stabbed him more than 20 times.

He waved the bloody knife and threatened to kill the MP’s two female aides and a couple who had arrived for their own appointment.

Sir David’s assistant Julie Cushion told jurors that Ali appeared ‘self-satisfied’ after the killing.

In police interview, he spoke calmly about his terror plot and admitted allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group.

He told officers that Sir David immediately suspected a ‘sting’, having been duped into talking about a fake drug called ‘cake’ in the television series Brass Eye.

Ali went on: ‘I felt like one minute I was sat down at the table talking to him and the next he was, sort of, dead.

‘But, yeah, it’s probably one of the strangest days… of my life now, you know?’

Jurors were told Ali had no mental health issues and he accepted much of the evidence against him.

Sir David was killed five years after Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency.

His death led to renewed concern around the safety of MPs.  

How Prevent failed to stop David Amess killer: Islamist ‘lone wolf’ Ali Harbi Ali was able to secretly plot his murderous act for years despite being referred to ‘politically-correct’ anti-terror programme 

David Amess’s killer Ali Harbi Ali secretly plotted his murderous act of terrorism for years despite being referred to Prevent – in yet another failure for the controversial anti-terror programme.  

The 26-year-old Londoner radicalised himself by consuming extremist material online before he fatally stabbed Conservative MP Sir David Amess. 

The Met said Ali ‘spent some time’ in Prevent before coming out of it ‘by his own admission’. 

A long overdue review of Prevent is currently being carried out by former Charity Commission chair William Shawcross. It has previously been criticised for a ‘politically correct’ focus on right-wing terrorism rather than its more dangerous Islamist equivalent. 

Ali is the latest of a series of Islamist terrorists in recent years to have been referred to the government’s flagship anti-terror programme only to go on to carry out an attack.  

Khairi Saadallah, 27, fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, in a Reading park in June 2020.

Prevent officials were warned he could carry out a ‘London Bridge-style attack’, but he was assessed and found to have ‘no fixed ideology’, the Independent reported. 

Another terrorist referred to Prevent was Sudesh Amman, who stabbed two people in Streatham, south London, last February. However, a panel decided his case did not require intervention.

Usman Khan, 28, who stabbed two young graduates to death after a prisoner rehabilitation event on London Bridge, had come into contact with Prevent officers who had ‘no specific training’ in handling terrorists, an inquest heard.

Parsons Green bomber Ahmed Hassan was also referred to the anti-terror scheme 20 months before he planted a device on the Tube that injured 50 people during rush hour in 2017.

Khairi Saadallah, 27, fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, in a Reading park in June 2020. Prevent officials were warned he could carry out a 'London Bridge-style attack', but he was assessed and found to have 'no fixed ideology', according to reports

Khairi Saadallah, 27, fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, in a Reading park in June 2020. Prevent officials were warned he could carry out a 'London Bridge-style attack', but he was assessed and found to have 'no fixed ideology', according to reports

Sudesh Amman, who stabbed two people in Streatham, south London, last February. However, a panel decided his case did not require intervention

Sudesh Amman, who stabbed two people in Streatham, south London, last February. However, a panel decided his case did not require intervention

Reading attacker Khairi Saadallah, 27, (left) was assessed by Prevent officials but found to have ‘no fixed ideology’, according to reports. Sudesh Amman, who stabbed two people in Streatham, south London, last February. However, a panel decided his case did not require intervention

Usman Khan, 28, who stabbed two young graduates to death after a prisoner rehabilitation event on London Bridge, had come into contact with Prevent officers who had 'no specific training' in handling terrorists, an inquest heard

Usman Khan, 28, who stabbed two young graduates to death after a prisoner rehabilitation event on London Bridge, had come into contact with Prevent officers who had 'no specific training' in handling terrorists, an inquest heard

Parsons Green bomber Ahmed Hassan was also referred to the anti-terror scheme 20 months before he planted a device on the Tube that injured 50 people during rush hour in 2017

Parsons Green bomber Ahmed Hassan was also referred to the anti-terror scheme 20 months before he planted a device on the Tube that injured 50 people during rush hour in 2017

Usman Khan, 28, (left) who stabbed two young graduates to death after a prisoner rehabilitation event on London Bridge, had come into contact with Prevent officers who had ‘no specific training’ in handling terrorists, an inquest heard. Parsons Green bomber Ahmed Hassan was also referred to the anti-terror scheme 20 months before he planted a device on the Tube that injured 50 people during rush hour in 2017

Professor Ian Acheson, Senior Advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, said today: ‘We know Ali had contact with Prevent services in 2016. The inquest to follow must be allowed to look into the performance of that system in forensic detail and see what can be done to improve it.

‘Far too many people who have contact with Prevent and our prisons go on to commit acts of heinous violence. We must do everything we can to turn these actions into ‘never’ events. 

‘The worst thing we can possibly do now is think that the brutal slaying of David Amess by a man with a twisted ideology is just the price we pay for an open society.’ 

Recent attacks by Islamist terrorists who had been referred to Prevent  

SOUTHEND – October 15, 2021: Tory MP Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend while attending a constituency surgery. Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was referred to Prevent seven years ago. 

READING – June 20, 2020: Khairi Saadallah, 27, fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, in a knife attack at a town centre park. He later admitted the murders and was sentenced to a whole life order in prison. The Reading Refugee Support Group warned Prevent officials he could carry out a ‘London Bridge-style attack’. However, he was found to not have a ‘fixed ideology, the Independent reported. 

STREATHAM – February 2, 2020: Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police after stabbing two people on a busy street in the south London area of Streatham while wearing a fake suicide vest. He was referred to Prevent but the panel decided his case did not require intervention. 

LONDON BRIDGE – November 29, 2019: Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were stabbed to death by Usman Khan, 28, at a prisoner rehabilitation event. A man and two women were also injured before Khan, who was released from prison on licence in December 2018, was shot dead by armed officers on the bridge. An inquest heard his Prevent officers had ‘no specific training’ in handling terrorists. 

PARSONS GREEN – September 15, 2017: Ahmed Hassan’s homemade bomb partially exploded on a London Underground rush hour train, injuring more than 50 people. He was sentenced to life with a minimum jail term of 34 years. He was referred to Prevent 20 months before he planted the bomb.  

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A long overdue review of Prevent is currently being carried out by former Charity Commission chair William Shawcross 

It is expected to conclude that the programme is being undermined by activists who are opposed to its very existence being allowed to decide if individuals need to be deradicalised.

Some authorities in the southeast of England have even appointed Prevent coordinators who are against the strategy entirely, sources told the Times

Sir William is set to call on the Home Office to appoint Prevent coordinators directly rather than leaving it down to local councils.  

Prevent officials have also being accused of diverting too many resources towards suspected far-right extremists despite Islamist radicals posing a ‘far greater threat’. 

Ian Acheson, a former prison governor and senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, said the official narrative that the far-right is the fastest growing threat is a ‘comfort blanket’ obscuring the ‘patently more potent threat of Islamist extremism’. 

‘The body count does not lie,’ he said.   

Following his conviction, Detective Chief Superintendent Dominic Murphy, said Ali had been involved with the Prevent deradicalisation programme in 2014.

He said: ‘By Ali’s own admission, and through our thorough investigation, we’ve identified that Ali was subject to Prevent in 2014.

‘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.

‘We say he was the true example of a committed terrorist and exactly the type of people that we should be focusing our efforts on.’

Mr Murphy said Ali did not engage with anyone else as part of the plot and conducted the attack entirely alone.

‘By his own admission, he spent an awful lot of time on the internet as part of his radicalisation journey and his research into conducting this attack,’ he said.

Mr Murphy, from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, declined to speculate on whether there were any missed opportunities to stop Ali.

He said the issue would be examined in more depth at any future inquest into the death Sir David.

After Ali launched his attack in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, he was apprehended by two officers armed with batons, the Old Bailey had heard.

Ali captured on CCTV walking around the gates of the Houses of Parliament on September 22 last year - around a month before the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess in Essex

Ali captured on CCTV walking around the gates of the Houses of Parliament on September 22 last year - around a month before the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess in Essex

Ali captured on CCTV walking around the gates of the Houses of Parliament on September 22 last year – around a month before the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess in Essex

Ali walking along Whitehall, on CCTV footage released by police

Ali walking along Whitehall, on CCTV footage released by police

Ali set up a meeting with Sir David at his constituency surgery, at the Methodist church

Ali set up a meeting with Sir David at his constituency surgery, at the Methodist church

Ali walking along Whitehall, (left) and near to Portcullis House (right) on CCTV footage released by police

Mr Murphy said: ‘The Essex officers that attended on that day showed immense bravery, challenging an armed terrorist at the scene of a crime.’

The senior officer hailed the members of public who called 999 while remaining ‘extremely calm’ in ‘very harrowing circumstances’.

In his police interview, Ali went on to give a detailed account of his terrorist activities to officers who ‘did an amazing job’.

On the wider investigation that followed, he said: ‘It would be tempting to think this was a relatively simple investigation, given that he was at the scene and armed with a knife.

‘But every investigation into a terrorist is really complex, very, very detailed, and needs to be methodical. And that is what has happened here.’

Despite Ali’s apparent confession to police, he had pleaded not guilty to murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

Giving evidence, he appeared unrepentant and said he killed Sir David to stop him ‘harming Muslims’ in Syria.

Mr Murphy said: ‘I’ve worked in counter-terrorism for 16 years, I found Ali Harbi Ali’s behaviour in court to be quite disgraceful and disrespectful to his victims.

‘I think it’s a measure of him as an individual and I’m pleased to say that on his conviction, he’ll be hopefully spending a considerable amount of time in prison.’

Ali said he had an 'interest in Christianity' and wanted to discuss the 'solutions' to declining church attendances

Ali said he had an 'interest in Christianity' and wanted to discuss the 'solutions' to declining church attendances

Ali said he had an ‘interest in Christianity’ and wanted to discuss the ‘solutions’ to declining church attendances

He went on: ‘I hope Ali Harbi Ali’s conviction will help the family (of Sir David) to bring some closure to the dreadful events that have happened.

‘It’s important to remember that Ali Harbi Ali’s attack was an attack against democracy.

‘Sir David was helping the community of Essex at the time of his murder and so I hope this trial helps to bring some closure for the family.’

Paying tribute to the veteran parliamentarian, he said: ‘If ever there was an example of a committed public servant, Sir David is that example, with a loving family and committing his life to the communities of Essex.’

Before the killing, Ali had rejected an earlier plan to attack other MPs at the Houses of Parliament.

He even scoped out the west London home of Cabinet Minister Michael Gove on repeated occasions after arming himself with a knife.

Mr Murphy declined to give details of MPs’ reaction on being told they were targets, but said they co-operated ‘fully’ with the police investigation.

He added: ‘We provided them with some advice, support and guidance.’

Mr Murphy said counter-terrorism police would continue to work with governments and media and internet firms to prevent others being radicalised online.

He also appealed to the public to remain vigilant and report any concerns.

‘Policing in counter-terrorism is about working closely with the public, and the friends and families of those that might be vulnerable to radicalization.’

He added that ‘public vigilance’ played a key role in disrupting terrorism.

Anyone with concerns can contact the website actearly.uk.           

From football-loving aspiring doctor to terrorist who murder David Amess: How Ali Harbi Ali descended down spiral of self-radicalisation after watching videos of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad’s brutal Syrian regime 

Vivek Chaudhary for MailOnline 

The killer of Sir David Amess was a football-loving aspiring doctor who descended down the spiral of self-radicalisation after watching ISIS propaganda and Bashar al-Assad’s brutality in Syria.  

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, grew up in Croydon, South London with his mother and three siblings, where neighbours described him as a ‘happy boy’ who often played football in the street.

Ali attended Parish Church Junior and Infant school – now Minster Junior – in Croydon, which was a short walk from his home, and he is thought to be one of the first Muslim pupils in the Christian School.

He was later joined there by his two sisters and brother with teachers recalling that Ali and his siblings all took part in Christian practice, despite their Muslim faith. 

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was born in Britain and grew up in Croydon, South London with his mother and three siblings, where neighbours described him as a 'happy boy'

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was born in Britain and grew up in Croydon, South London with his mother and three siblings, where neighbours described him as a 'happy boy'

Ali walking between Leigh-on-Sea railway station and Belfairs Methodist Church on the day he murdered Sir David

Ali walking between Leigh-on-Sea railway station and Belfairs Methodist Church on the day he murdered Sir David

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was born in Britain and grew up in Croydon, South London with his mother and three siblings, where neighbours described him as a ‘happy boy’. He is seen while younger, left; and travelling to Southend to murder Sir David (right)

Prosecution of Nazi-obsessed terrorist who murdered Jo Cox helped Crown build a ‘strong case’ against Ali

 The prosecution of MP Jo Cox’s killer helped bring a ‘strong case’ when tragedy struck for a second time, Max Hill QC has said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions reflected on the murders of two MPs in five years as veteran Conservative Sir David Amess’s killer was brought to justice.

Mr Hill said: ‘I think it’s inevitable that, today of all days, we think back to the tragic murder of Jo Cox.

‘And we reflect on the fact that this is the second time in five years that we’ve seen such an attack at the heart of our democracy, although I do want to emphasise these cases are extremely rare.’

Jo (pictured) was shot and stabbed by far-Right fanatic Thomas Mair six years ago as she walked to a meeting with constituents. She was just 41

Jo (pictured) was shot and stabbed by far-Right fanatic Thomas Mair six years ago as she walked to a meeting with constituents. She was just 41

Jo (pictured) was shot and stabbed by far-Right fanatic Thomas Mair six years ago as she walked to a meeting with constituents. She was just 41

The experience of prosecuting Thomas Mair for Ms Cox’s murder in November 2016 proved useful in preparing the case against Ali Harbi Ali six years later.

Batley and Spen Labour MP Ms Cox was stabbed and shot by far-right extremist Mair in Birstall, West Yorkshire, just days before the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

Southend MP Sir David was stabbed by Islamic State fanatic Ali at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, last October in twisted revenge for a vote on Syrian air strikes.

Even though the ideology was different, there were some striking similarities between the two defendants.

Both were home-grown terrorists who chose to strike at the heart of British democracy.

Both were found guilty following Old Bailey trials in which the vast majority of the evidence against them went unchallenged.

Mr Hill said: ‘I think it’s very rare that we see crimes committed exactly in these circumstances.

‘By definition, any previous experience of a similar case is going to help both investigators and prosecutors when building a strong case in court.’

In his first court appearance, Mair’s extremist views were clear when he stated: ‘My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’

And, on his arrest, Ali calmly described to police his long-running plot to kill Government minister Michael Gove before launching his frenzied attack on Sir David, whom he regarded as an easier target.

The experience of prosecuting Thomas Mair for Ms Cox's murder in November 2016 proved useful in preparing the case against Ali Harbi Ali six years later, England's top prosecutor said

The experience of prosecuting Thomas Mair for Ms Cox's murder in November 2016 proved useful in preparing the case against Ali Harbi Ali six years later, England's top prosecutor said

The experience of prosecuting Thomas Mair for Ms Cox’s murder in November 2016 proved useful in preparing the case against Ali Harbi Ali six years later, England’s top prosecutor said 

As in Mair’s case, the lack of a positive defence nevertheless meant the prosecution had to prove Ali’s guilt ‘without question’.

Mr Hill said: ‘In this country, we afford everybody who wants it the guarantee of a fair trial and this individual, just like anybody else, was entitled by his own choice to plead not guilty.

‘Our job was to prove without question that he was guilty, not only of this murder, but of the preparation for terrorism, which went on for many months before this atrocity.

‘We can never control what a defendant may say, at the start, middle or end of the investigation process.’

Ms Cox’s killer was simply charged with her murder, but in Ali’s case a terrorism offence was included to reflect his long-running plot to target an MP.

Mr Hill confirmed that whatever the charge, both atrocities were clearly acts of terrorism.

He said: ‘Here we were in no hesitation that this was an act of terrorism, just as was the case in the tragic murder of Jo Cox.’

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One teacher said: ‘They were quite happy at a Christian school and took part in our regular worship.

‘Ali wasn’t a high-flyer, but was a hard-working child, especially good at maths. We had plenty of naughty boys, but he wasn’t one of them. 

‘I would never have said he was on course for anything other than a positive outcome. He wasn’t an isolated child and engaged with his classmates.’

Teachers and former pupils described him as a ‘bright’ and ‘likeable’ boy who enjoyed playing chess and football. 

Ali stayed on at school, intending eventually to study medicine, but his work and attendance went downhill in the last two years, and he achieved three A-levels with D and E grades.

He enrolled at City University for a degree in radiotherapy but dropped out in September 2016 for ‘personal reasons’, jurors heard. 

Ali’s father, Harbi Ali Kullane was a former media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia and is considered one of the leading figures in the British-Somali community.

Mr Kullane did not live with his family in London but divided his time between the UK, Kenya and Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where he and his family are well known.

He is also said to have played a pivotal role in anti-extremism programmes in Mogadishu and according to reports, had faced death threats from the Al-Shabaab terror movement, which controls parts of Somalia for his opposition to them.

Following Ali’s arrest, Mr Kullane spoke of his shock at the killing of David Amess saying that it had left him ‘very traumatised.’

Ali’s family are well respected within the British-Somali community with friends describing them as ‘liberal, open minded’ and not ‘particularly religious.’

They also enjoy extensive contacts amongst powerful politicians from within Somalia

At the time of his arrest, Ali was living with an aunt and two cousins in Kentish Town, North London while his father stayed with his sister just a few miles away in Wood Green, North London.

Despite having never been in trouble with police before, the court heard how he had been self-radicalised from 2014.

Ali considered travelling to fight in Syria but by 2019 had settled on an attack in Britain.

His plans were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The following year, Ali set about researching various MPs as potential targets, carrying out repeated reconnaissance on the Houses of Parliament.

He focused on two particular MPs, visiting Government minister Michael Gove’s west London home and Finchley MP Mike Freer’s constituency office.

Ali switched his attention to Sir David after finding out about his constituency meeting on Twitter.

He went to meet him in Leigh-on-Sea armed with a £20 carving knife he had bought in preparation from Argos some six years before.

According to witnesses, Ali wanted to be shot and killed by armed police after killing Sir David so he could die a ‘martyr’.

On his arrest, he admitted it was a terrorist attack, saying ‘I guess yeah, I killed an MP.’

The defendant, who described himself as a ‘moderate Muslim’, said it was in ‘revenge’ for UK support for air strikes in Syria.

Ali told police he had got instructions on how to carry out a knife attack from watching ISIS videos.

He had also downloaded images of the ISIS executioner known as ‘Jihadi John’, along with words encouraging ‘lone wolf’ attacks. 

He showed no remorse for the killing, saying it was ‘justified’, but expressed concern for the impact on his family.

Ali said: ‘Most of the worry today has, sort of, been about my family, how they’re taking it, how they’re affected by it, y’know?

‘The only reason I dropped the knife in front of the police officer was ‘cos my sister was on the phone crying her eyes out.’

He said he became radicalised after watching videos of brutality carried out by Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC described Ali as a ‘committed, fanatical, radicalised Islamist terrorist’.

He said the defendant committed a ‘cold and calculated murder’ because of a ‘warped and twisted and violent ideology’.

Ali had denied preparing for terrorist acts and murder, although his legal team declined to cross-examination witnesses and did not contest the basic facts.

Jurors were also told Ali had no mental health issues that would affect the case.

Ali was described by a former neighbour in Croydon as ‘just a normal lad.’

The resident said: ‘He seemed like a nice kid. He was just a down-to-earth kid who went to school and came back again.’

However, Ali had not lived in south London for years and his family are thought to have left the area in the wake of the atrocity.    

Timeline: Terrorist spent years scoping out targets before brutally murdering Sir David Amess and bought a knife from Argos 

Here are the key events leading up to the murder of Sir David Amess:

2014: Ali Harbi Ali considers travelling to Syria to join Islamic State but does not go.

2016: Around this time Ali buys a 12-in knife from Argos, which he used to kill Sir David.

2017: He decides to carry out an attack in the United Kingdom.

From May 2019: Ali notes down an MP’s home address and an attack plan, and saves it on his mobile phone.

2020: The terror plan is disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

March to July 2021: Ali stakes out the west London home address of Government Minister Michael Gove six times.

July to September: He visits the House of Parliament six times.

September 17: Ali carries out more hostile reconnaissance outside Mike Freer MP’s constituency surgery in Finchley, north London.

September 27: Ali finds out about Sir David’s constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex and emails to make an appointment claiming to be moving to the area. Following an email exchange with aide Rebecca Hayton, an appointment is fixed for noon on October 15.

October 15: At 8.40am, Ali sets off from his home in Kentish Town. He travels by foot and train to Gospel Oak Station and Barking, arriving at Leigh-On-Sea at 10.22am.

At 10am Sir David Amess begins his constituency surgery at the Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea. He is accompanied by two staff, Ms Hayton and Julie Cushion.

Between 10.28am and 11.50am, Ali is captured on CCTV walking around Leigh-on-Sea, arriving at the church shortly before noon.

Just after 12noon, Ms Hayton escorts Ali to meet the MP in a vestry office.

Ali tells Sir David he wants to talk about foreign affairs before stabbing him 21 times. Shortly before or after Ali sends a WhatsApp message to friends and family explaining his attack ‘in the name of Allah’.

At 12.07pm, Essex Police receive a report of the incident from Ms Cushion.

At 12.13pm, Constituent Yvonne Eaves calls 999 and describes how she and partner Darren King were being threatened by Ali.

While Ms Eaves is on the phone, Pc Scott James and Pc Ryan Curtis, who are armed with batons, arrive at the church and apprehend 26-year-old Ali, who drops the 12-inch long carving knife.

At 1.10pm, Sir David is pronounced dead.

October 18: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces Southend will be granted city status.

– Lady Julia Amess makes an emotional visit the church in Leigh-on-Sea.

October 21: Ali Harbi Ali, from Kentish Town, London, is charged with murder.

October 22: The defendant appears at the Old Bailey by video-link from high-security Belmarsh prison.

– MPs are offered a security guard for constituency surgeries following a review into their safety.

October 27: An inquest into the death of Sir David is opened and adjourned.

November 15: The UK’s terrorism threat level is raised after two attacks in a month.

November 22: A private funeral takes place for Sir David in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

November 23: The Pope praises Sir David’s years of ‘devoted public service’ in a message read at a Westminster Cathedral service.

December 21: Ali appears at the Old Bailey for a plea hearing charged with murder and preparation of terrorist acts.

March 2022: Ali goes on trial accused of preparing terrorist acts and murder.

April 11 2022: A jury deliberated for just 18 minutes to find Ali guilty of murder and preparing for terrorist acts. 

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Source: Daily Mail

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