A jury has convicted Ali Harbi Ali for the murder of Catholic Minister of Parliament Sir David Amess and for preparing acts of terrorism.
Ali, 26, of Kentish Town in north London, is a British citizen of Somali descent. He has said he was motivated by targeting MPs who had voted in favor of airstrikes in Syria.
Amess, a Catholic and a Minister of Parliament for the Conservative Party, was stabbed more than 20 times during the Oct. 15, 2021 attack. The MP was meeting with constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Paramedics attended to Amess for more than two-and-a-half hours before an air ambulance arrived to take him to a hospital. He died at the age of 69.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Ali had scouted and planned possible attacks on other MPs, including a cabinet minister he believed to be “a harm to Muslims.”
Ali had decided to attend the meeting after finding it on Twitter. He presented himself as a National Health Service employee moving to the area.
Ali had been a “model student” but became radicalized in 2014 and dropped out of university, where he had been on a path to a medical career. He told the court that he had wanted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State but had found it too difficult.
He said he had no regrets about killing Ames.
The jury took 18 minutes to reach its verdict.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in an April 11 post to Twitter, paid tribute to Amess and voiced sympathy for his widow and family.
“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.”
Police turned away a Catholic priest seeking to anoint the dying Amess. The priest instead prayed a rosary outside the building where the crime took place. The lack of access to Last Rites caused much commentary and concern, and police guidelines in the U.K. were changed to allow clergy to assist badly injured crime victims.
Amess had served in Parliament since 1983. He was a champion of pro-life causes. He established an All-Party Parliamentary Group for relations with the Holy See in 2006 and was instrumental in arranging Benedict XVI’s visit to Parliament in September 2010.
At the Nov. 23, 2021 funeral Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, read a message from Pope Francis that praised Amess for his “years of devoted public service guided by his strong Catholic faith and evidenced in his deep concern for the poor and the disadvantaged, his commitment to the defense of God’s gift of life, and his efforts to foster understanding and cooperation with the Holy See in its universal mission.”
“Commending Sir David’s soul to the loving mercy of Jesus Christ our Savior, the Holy Father prays that all who honor his memory will be confirmed in the resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat evil with good, and to help build a society of ever greater justice, fraternity, and solidarity,” the message said.