Terror suspect posed as Christian before killing MP David Amess, court told | UK news

An alleged Islamic terrorist feigned an interest in churches and Christianity before killing the MP David Amess, a court has heard.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, denies the murder of the Southend West MP during a constituency surgery in a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on 15 October last year.

A jury at his Old Bailey trial heard that Ali posed as a Christian who was about to move into the area in order secure a meeting with Amess. At the meeting he stabbed Sir David 21 times and waved before he was stopped by unarmed police officers, jurors were told.

On Tuesday, the prosecutor, Tom Little QC, took the jury through a timeline of events leading up to the 69-year-old Tory MP’s death.

Little said that on 27 September, Ali, whom the jury heard was a trained radiographer, emailed Amess’s office to ask about a meeting.

He wrote: “I will be moving to the area from a Labour-held constituency and wanted to get to know my future MP. Since I work in healthcare, I would like to know his plans, if any, for the hospital and workers.

He added: “Also, as someone interested in Christianity, I have seen many churches in my area losing attendances and struggle with upkeep, eventually becoming at risk of being demolished or repurposed. I wanted to know if the situation in Southend is similar and, if so, what are the solutions.”

Ali concluded the email by saying: “Looking forward to seeing you soon. If all appointments are taken, let me know if there’s a cancellation. I’ll be in the local area and will be able to drop by.”

Amess’s assistant, Rebecca Hayton, responded to Ali’s emails by requesting his address and full name to check he was a constituent. After he emailed a Southend postcode he was given an appointment on 15 October. Confirming the appointment, he said he would be brief. He emailed: “I don’t really know how long the appointments are but I don’t think I’ll take too long.”

On Monday, Little had told the jury that Ali was a “fanatical radicalised Islamist terrorist” who stabbed Amess in the neck after seeing an Islamic State video on how to carry out a stabbing attack.

On Tuesday, the court heard that police pieced together Ali activities before the alleged attack from hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and data from his laptop and mobile phone.

The jury was told that Ali had looked up a webpage about Amess on 22 July last year and three hours later he was near the Houses of Parliament.

His web history also showed searches last September relating to the housing minister Michael Gove, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and the London MP Mike Freer, jurors heard.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of Ali travelling by train from his Kentish Town home in north London to Leigh-on-Sea, wearing a long khaki jacket, a black backpack slung over his right shoulder, blue trainers and black trousers.

Around the time of the alleged attack, Ali sent a message to family and friend that appeared to have been drafted days before, the court was told.

In it, he said the attack was “for the sake of Allah”, jurors heard. He allegedly wrote: “I apologise to my family for deceiving them for so long. I would have preferred hijrah so as not to harm you, but I could not. The obligations upon me to take revenge for the blood of Muslims were too great. The shame of abiding in the very lands that carry out these horrendous acts against my brothers and sisters was too much.”

Ali then spent 14 minutes on the phone to his sister, ending the call when he was confronted and arrested by two plainclothes police officers arriving at the scene.

The trial continues.

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