(New York, N.Y.) — Last Friday, Conservative British MP David Amess was stabbed to death while meeting with constituents. The suspect, Ali Harbi Ali, is a British citizen. Ali had previously been referred to the government program Prevent, which works to divert individuals away from extremism, after he displayed concerning behavior. Authorities are investigating the incident as an act of terror. Police are also looking into possible ties to Islamist extremism, after Ali’s friends reportedly said he had been radicalized from watching videos of internationally designated Islamist cleric and convicted ISIS supporter Anjem Choudary.
Choudary was released from prison in 2018 after serving half of his sentence. More than 20 of the government restrictions placed on Choudary’s communications expired on July 19, 2021, including a ban on public speaking. Choudary subsequently opened accounts on multiple social media platforms and began posting Islamist diatribes calling for the creation of an Islamic caliphate ruled under sharia law. For years before his 2014 arrest, Choudary’s Islamist speeches, anti-Western rhetoric, and declared support for foreign Islamist movements such as ISIS drew the attention of British authorities, who connected Choudary to multiple terrorist-related cases in the United Kingdom and Europe. Ali reportedly began watching Choudary’s videos on YouTube while in high school. The day after the attack, Choudary suggested Amess had been targeted for voicing support for Israel. According to preliminary investigations, however, Ali allegedly chose Amess randomly because he had been able to arrange an in-person meeting with the politician.
After taking Ali into custody on Friday, police subsequently detained him under the United Kingdom’s Terror Act and transferred him to London. The following day, authorities obtained a warrant to detain Ali for an additional week before they are required to charge him. Ali is the son of Harbi Ali Kullane, a former media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia who has participated in multiple anti-terrorism campaigns against Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Amess is the second British lawmaker to be killed in the past five years. Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a white supremacist and neo-Nazi outside of a constituency meeting in 2016 in West Yorkshire.
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s United Kingdom: Extremism and Terrorism resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Ali Harbi Ali resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Anjem Choudary resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Anjem Choudary’s Ties to Extremists resource, please click here.