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Terrorism alleged in UK lawmaker's killing

by JILL LAWLESS AND DANICA KIRKA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | October 22, 2021 at 3:48 a.m.
A television camera outside Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON -- British police Thursday charged a 25-year-old man with the murder of a Conservative lawmaker, alleging that the killing was an act of terrorism by a supporter of the Islamic State group.

Prosecutors said Ali Harbi Ali, a man from London with Somali heritage, had "religious and ideological motivations" when he attacked David Amess last week in the town of Leigh-on-Sea. Prosecutors allege Ali targeted Amess because the lawmaker had voted for airstrikes on Syria.

The slaying took place as Amess, 69, attended a routine meeting with his constituents. The slaying shook a nation accustomed to having face-to-face contact with its leaders, heightened concerns about extremism and rattled British politicians, who say they face increasing levels of vitriol and abuse as they perform their jobs.

At a briefing hearing at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday, prosecutor James Cable said Ali began planning to kill a lawmaker two years ago, and initially focused on two other politicians before choosing Amess.

Ali was not asked to enter a plea at the preliminary hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes. He smiled at his legal team as he entered the court and spoke only to confirm his name, age, and address. He was ordered detained until the next hearing.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » arkansasonline.com/1022amess/]

Nick Price of the Crown Prosecution Service said the murder "has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations."

Matt Jukes, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, said "no other arrests have been made and at this time we are not seeking anybody else in relation to this incident."

Jukes said detectives had analyzed computers, searched several London addresses and reviewed CCTV footage as part of the investigation.

The death of Amess, who had served in Parliament for almost 40 years and was knighted in 2015, escalated concerns about security among Britain's politicians, who pride themselves on being accessible to their constituents. They are protected by armed police when they are in Parliament but generally are not given such protection in their home districts.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons Wednesday that intelligence officers had upgraded the threat level for politicians from "moderate" to "substantial," though she said there was no "specific or imminent threat."

A special session of the House of Commons resounded with appeals Monday to force social media giants to do more to prevent the spread of online hate that has poisoned political discourse.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped Amess' loved ones would "get the justice they deserve as fast as possible."

"What we must not do is be intimidated by this appalling murder into changing the way we conduct our parliamentary business or the way we work in our constituencies," he said. "Which I think is the last thing that David Amess would've wanted."

A police van leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A police van leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A police van leaves Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A police van leaves Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Floral tributes and pictures of British Member of Parliament David Amess lie placed outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. British lawmaker David Amess was killed on Friday during a meeting with constituents at the Belfairs Methodist church, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Floral tributes and pictures of British Member of Parliament David Amess lie placed outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. British lawmaker David Amess was killed on Friday during a meeting with constituents at the Belfairs Methodist church, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes gives a statement outside New Scotland Yard in London in connection of the death of British lawmaker David Amess, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (James Manning/PA via AP)
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes gives a statement outside New Scotland Yard in London in connection of the death of British lawmaker David Amess, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (James Manning/PA via AP)
FILE - In this  Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 file photo, an image of murdered British Conservative lawmaker David Amess is displayed near the altar in St Peters Catholic Church before a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 file photo, an image of murdered British Conservative lawmaker David Amess is displayed near the altar in St Peters Catholic Church before a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes gives a statement outside New Scotland Yard in London in connection of the death of British lawmaker David Amess, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (James Manning/PA via AP)
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes gives a statement outside New Scotland Yard in London in connection of the death of British lawmaker David Amess, in London, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. British authorities say a man has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism in the stabbing of a Conservative lawmaker who was killed as he met constituents at a church hall last week Police say Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, has been charged in the death of David Amess. (James Manning/PA via AP)

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