U.K. police charge 25-year-old man with murder of MP David Amess
Ali Harbi Ali remanded in custody after court appearance
British police on Thursday charged a 25-year-old Londoner with stabbing a lawmaker to death in a church, a case that has raised fears about the safety of elected politicians.
Prosecutor James Cable told the court that Ali Harbi Ali, the son of an ex-media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia, was an ISIS supporter who had for years planned to kill a member of Parliament.
Amess, a member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party, was stabbed repeatedly on Friday in the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, northeast of London, where he had been meeting constituents. Paramedics tried to save his life on the floor of the church.
Ali has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism, police said.
Appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, Ali spoke only to confirm his name, age and address. He was remanded in custody and will appear at the Old Bailey criminal court on Friday.
"Ali considered himself affiliated to Islamic State," Cable told the court.
Earlier, Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service's special crime and counterterrorism division, said in a statement the killing "has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations."
Amess, married with five children, was first elected to Parliament to represent the town of Basildon in 1983, and then nearby Southend West in 1997. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2015 for his public service.
Amess's family said he was a patriot and a man of peace.
"So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness," they said in a statement.
Matt Jukes, London police's assistant commissioner for specialist operations, cautioned against speculation about Ali's motivations.
"It is vitally important that everyone exercises restraint when commenting on it publicly, to ensure future court proceedings are not prejudiced in any way," Jukes said.
He said no other arrests had been made and police were not looking for any other people in connection with the homicide.
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Priti Patel said the terrorism threat level to lawmakers was now deemed substantial, which means an attack is considered likely.
The slaying came five years after Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right extremist. Cox was the first British lawmaker to be killed since a peace accord ended large-scale Northern Ireland violence almost 30 years earlier.
With files from The Associated Press