Conservative MP David Amess was stabbed 21 times in a terrorist “assassination” by a “fanatical Islamist” who also scouted the home of Michael Gove and researched a string of MPs including Keir Starmer as he plotted to kill, incited by Islamic State propaganda, a court has heard.
Ali Harbi Ali, 26, denies the murder of Amess, 69, on October 15th, 2021 as the MP held a constituency surgery in Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.
The jury heard that Amess was stabbed in his face, legs, torso, and also his hands as the veteran MP tried to defend himself, possibly trying to grab the knife.
As Amess lay dying after being stabbed with “severe” force, Ali had said: “I want him dead. I want every parliament minister who signed up for the bombing of Syria who agreed to the Iraqi war to die.”
The court heard that Ali waited for police to arrive, believing officers would be armed and shoot him dead, turning him into a martyr.
Opening the case before the jury at the Old Bailey, Tom Little QC for the prosecution, said Ali had bought the knife he used to stab Amess five years earlier and the murder of the MP was “an attack on democracy”.
Little said Ali had carried out the murder “because of a warped and twisted and violent ideology” and that he “for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalised Islamist terrorist”.
Amess was attacked in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, as he held an advice surgery for those from his Southend West constituency. The jury was told Ali traveled across London and on to Essex, armed with the knife he would use. Little said: “This was nothing less than an assassination for terrorist purposes.”
Ali also denies preparing terrorists attacks, which Little said he had been planning since May 2019. “He had for a number of years been determined to carry out an act of domestic terrorism,” he said. “From at least May 2019 he researched and planned potential attacks on members of parliament and the Houses of Parliament.
“This included specific reconnaissance trips to a constituency surgery of Mike Freer MP and six visits to the home address of Michael Gove MP. “
The jury were told he considered killing Gove while he was out jogging or kicking his front door in, and visited his street.
The jury heard that on the day of the attack, Ali had a midday appointment at Amess’s surgery.
Before the meeting, he appeared “relaxed and chatty” and then sat across a table from Amess.
Little said the two men talked: “The defendant then said he wanted to talk about foreign affairs. He said that he knew Sir David had initially supported the Iraq war but had changed his mind. Sir David looked confused at this.
“The defendant’s mobile telephone rang or made a notification sound such as when receiving a message or messages. He said, ‘Sorry’ and then pulled out a knife and stabbed Sir David Amess. Sir David screamed. The defendant stabbed him again. Indeed he stabbed him multiple times in a vicious and frenzied attack.”
Aides to Amess fled the room and shouted for police to be called.
The jury heard that two people arriving for a later appointment saw an aide to Amess, Julie Cushion, shouting: “Help me. He’s been stabbed. There’s a man with a knife.”
‘I killed him’
Little said the defendant was seen by two people in the church: “He was waving a knife around saying: ‘I killed him, I killed him.’ The knife was covered in blood.”
Police who arrived found Ali with a phone in one hand, having spoken to his sister after the attack, and the bloodied knife in the other.
Officers who were unarmed managed to detain Ali, who was arrested.
The jury heard how in a police interview, Ali said: “I mean, I guess yeah, I killed an MP, and I done it.”
Asked about that comment and what it meant, Ali said: “Oh God, I sound stupid there. Nah? The way I worded it. It sounds like a Little Britain episode. Um, I just ? yeah, it sounded like what a terrorist act is. I went into an MP’s surgery and I killed him, so with the idea of vengeance in a way, so I ? guess we’ll get into that.”
The jury were told that Ali, immediately after the stabbing, sent a message to friends and family explaining the attack, claiming it was “for Allah”, and wrote about Zionists and attacks on Islamic State in Syria by the west.
Ali, the court heard, carried out internet research as he looked for an MP to kill. Little said Ali said in police interview: “I don’t want to make it seem like I had some sort of personal vendetta against him. It was him and those who voted with him, y’know?”
Ali had previously visited the constituency office in north London of Mike Freer MP and been spotted peering in through a window. Searches of his electronic devices showed research on lawmakers including Dominic Raab, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Ben Wallace.
Little said mental health would not form any part of Ali’s defence. The prosecutor said: “At the time of the killing and in interview, the defendant made clear, crystal clear, that the killing of Sir David was in revenge.
“In other words, that he had taken the law into his own hands despite living in a democratic society. That is, we say, no defence.”
The trial continues. - Guardian