• Monday, Dec 06, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:15 am

‘UK MP murder suspect was on de-radicalization scheme’

  • Published at 11:04 pm October 17th, 2021
British Lawmaker David Amess
This undated photo shows slain Conservative MP for Southend West, David Amess, posing for an official portrait photograph at the Houses of Parliament in London AFP

Veteran Conservative David Amess, 69, was stabbed to death on Friday

British counter-terrorism police on Sunday probed the murder of a British MP as reports said the suspected attacker had been referred to an official de-radicalization program.

Veteran Conservative David Amess, 69, was stabbed to death on Friday as he met voters at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London, in the second such attack on an MP in just over five years.

Mourners continued to heap flowers beside the police tape sealing off the Methodist church where Amess, the local MP since 1997, was killed.

Police have declared the crime a terrorist incident and said they are investigating "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

They have detained a 25-year-old man under the Terrorism Act, which allowed them to extend his detention for questioning until Friday.

He has not been charged. The investigation is being led by Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command.

Detectives said on Saturday they were searching three addresses in the London area in a "fast-paced investigation."

On Sunday, police stood on guard in front of a three-storey house in a quiet street in the north London district of Kentish Town. 

They had set up a tent in the front garden and blue-gloved officers were working inside, an AFP journalist saw.

A woman living nearby told AFP she did not think the suspect lived there.

"We know the family, they are lovely people. They have three sons but they are older" (than the suspect), said the woman, who did not give her name.

A local man walking his dog, 47-year-old Benjamin, said police "were already here on Sunday all day". He described the area as "a very nice neighbourhood, very calm."

British media, citing unnamed official sources, identified the suspect as Ali Harbi Ali, a British national of Somali descent who had been referred to Prevent, the official counter-terrorist scheme for those thought to be at risk of radicalization.

Ali was believed not to have spent long on the program, which is voluntary, and was never formally a "subject of interest" to MI5, the domestic security agency, BBC said.

The suspected attacker remained at the scene after stabbing Amess multiple times, British media reported.

Police and security services believe he acted alone and was "self-radicalized," The Sunday Times said, while adding he may have been inspired by Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Somalia.

Ali's father, named as Harbi Ali Kullane and said to be a former adviser to the prime minister of Somalia, confirmed to The Sunday Times that his son was in custody, adding: "I'm feeling very traumatized." 

Interior minister Priti Patel said the Prevent program that reportedly had the suspect in its sights is currently under independent review.

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