British police on Thursday charged a 25-year-old man with the murder of lawmaker David Amess and the preparation of terrorist acts.
Ali Harbi Ali, a Briton of Somali heritage, stabbed 69-year-old veteran Conservative politician Amess to death Friday at a constituency surgery in a church in his Southend constituency in Essex, a county in southeastern England. He was arrested at the scene of the crime.
“We will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations,” said Nick Price, head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division of Crown Prosecution Service. “He has also been charged with the preparation of terrorist acts.”
Amess was the second member of the parliament (MP) in Britain to be murdered within five years. Yorkshire MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right extremist in 2016.
The latest killing has reopened a debate about the safety of MPs as they conduct meetings with their constituents.
Many MPs insist on face-to-face meetings with constituents to discuss their problems and issues, known as a surgery, which is one of the hallmarks of political life in Britain.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel told lawmakers on Wednesday night that the threat to their safety following the killing of Amess was assessed by intelligence chiefs as “substantial”, meaning an attack is “likely”.
The threat against MPs was previously deemed to be “moderate”, meaning an attack is “possible but not likely”.
Patel said she would ensure that security and intelligence agencies as well as counter-terror police would see the change “reflected in their operational posture”.