British police charged Ali Harbi Ali, 25, with the murder of lawmaker David Amess, who was stabbed to death on Friday at a meeting in his constituency, saying it was an act of terrorism.
Amess’s murder has shocked Britain’s political establishment, coming five years after another lawmaker was murdered, prompting calls for increased safety for members of parliament.
“We will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations,” Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division.
“He has also been charged with the preparation of terrorist acts. This follows a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police in its investigation.”
The accused is due to appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ court later on Thursday.
‘Huge level of public interest’
“There has been considerable speculation in the media about the background, history and motivation of the man now charged,” said Matt Jukes, London police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations.
“I understand the huge level of public interest in this case, but now a charge has been brought, it is vitally important that everyone exercises restraint when commenting on it publicly, to ensure future court proceedings are not prejudiced in any way.”
The death of Amess, who had served in parliament for decades and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2015, has shocked Britain, especially its politicians, who pride themselves on being accessible to their constituents. It has prompted conversations at the highest levels about how the country protects its leaders and grapples with extremism at home.
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.