The Somalian father of the suspected terrorist alleged to have killed Conservative MP Sir David Amess in Friday’s horrific knife attack in Essex while meeting his constituents said he had been left ‘traumatised’ by the shock of his son being arrested for the crime.
Harbi Ali Kullane, a former communications advisor to the Prime Minister of Somalia, spoke to The Sunday Times to confirm that his British-born son Ali Harbi Ali, 25, was in police custody following the stabbing at Sir David’s constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.
Speaking at his sister’s home in North London, Kullane told the paper that counter-terrorism police from Scotland Yard had visited him, adding: ‘I’m feeling very traumatised. It’s not something that I expected or ever dreamt of.’
As police continued to question a 25-year-old British man of Somalian descent last night, security sources told The Mail on Sunday that the attacker had booked an appointment at Sir David’s surgery before allegedly stabbing the politician 17 times.
Ali may have lived in Sir David’s Southend West constituency in the past, but his most recent residence is believed to be in London, where counter-terrorism officers have been carrying out searches at three addresses since Friday’s attack. The security services are providing assistance to Scotland Yard, which is leading the investigation.
Last night, detectives were granted a warrant of further detention, allowing them to keep Ali in custody until next Friday, October 22.
Police were photographed standing guard outside the North London council house where Ali lives. It is in a street of £2million three-storey townhouses where neighbours include broadcaster Giles Coren and, formerly, the late actor Roger Lloyd Pack, who played Trigger in Only Fools And Horses.
Sir David, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, met the public every fortnight and advertised the details on his parliamentary website. Shortly before his killing, one Minister told the MoS that the Government feared a wave of fresh terror attacks as the country emerged from the Covid pandemic, due to an ‘epidemic’ of ‘bedroom radicals’ who spent lockdown hunched over computers plotting atrocities.
As Westminster reverberated with shock yesterday:
- Sir David’s grieving family were comforting each other at the house of his wife Julia’s mother, four miles from the scene, where they were too upset to comment.
- A friend of Sir David’s personal assistant, Julia Cushion, who witnessed the attack, said: ‘She’s very, very upset. She’s a mess.’
- Former Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood called for face-to-face meetings to be put on hold pending a security review, but Ms Patel said a balance was needed and that MPs should not be ‘cowed’ by terrorists;
- Muslims from Southend’s mosques called the murder an ‘indefensible atrocity’;
- Somali leaders also condemned the ‘senseless murder which has shocked communities across the country’;
- A Labour source said the party will not be standing a candidate in the by-election for Sir David’s seat out of respect, and nor will the Lib Dems.
Harbi Ali Kullane, a former communications advisor to the Prime Minister of Somalia, spoke to The Sunday Times to confirm that his British-born son Ali Harbi Ali, 25, was in police custody following the stabbing at Conservative MP Sir David Amess’ constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea
Pictured: Police outside the home of the suspect in Kentish Town on Saturday night
Police officers attend following the stabbing of UK Conservative MP Sir David Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery on October 15t, in Leigh-on-Sea
The Prime Minister lays a wreath of flowers at the foot of a tree in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and Sir Keir Starmer stands behind him
Well-wishers attend a candle-lit vigil in memory of the Conservative MP David Amess, who was fatally stabbed the previous day, in Leigh-on-Sea
Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer, Priti Patel and Sir Lyndsay Hoyle arrive to the scene of Sir David Amess’s killing in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex to pay tribute Saturday
Members of the public attend a vigil for Sir David on the field where an air ambulance landed as paramedics tried to save the MP for Southend West, after he was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
Police officers stand nearby as crowds gather in darkness at Belfairs sports ground in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Saturday evening to honour the 69-year-old Tory MP, who was killed while meeting constituents yesterday
David Amess murder suspect lives on sought-after North London street which used to be home to actor Roger Lloyd Pack who played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses
Suspect Ali Harbi Ali lives on a sought-after North London street, which is also home to restaurant critic Giles Coren.
The tree-lined road, where properties sell for around £2 million, was also previously home to the late Only Fools And Horses actor Roger Lloyd Pack, who lived there for 27 years until his death in 2014.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who yesterday laid a wreath for Sir David Amess at the scene of his murder in Leigh-on-Sea, lives just streets away in trendy Kentish Town.
He is also the MP for the area where Ali lives with his father in their council-owned flat.
The road, populated with Victorian terrace houses, most of which have three storeys, is described as ‘vibrant’ and ‘close knit’. It lies in the London Borough of Camden.
Other high-profile names with addresses nearby include former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and the late Labour Minister Tessa Jowell.
Ali – who had not been charged last night – is being questioned by police to establish whether he had links to radical Islamic groups. Whitehall insiders said Ali was not known to MI5, although he is thought to have been targeted by Prevent, the Government deradicalisation programme, some years ago.
It is understood that initial indications point to the attacker being a ‘lone wolf’ who had ‘self-radicalised’ ahead of the attack at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea at Friday lunchtime.
Sources said that the suspect lived in London and travelled to Essex by train to carry out the attack. He had apparently told Sir David’s constituency staffers that he had recently moved to the area.
Ali was yesterday moved from Southend and taken for questioning to a specialised higher-security unit for terror suspects in London. A post mortem on Sir David has also been conducted.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: ‘Late on Friday, whilst in police custody, the man was subsequently further detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and he is now being held at a London police station.
‘On Saturday, detectives were granted a warrant of further detention at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, allowing them to keep the man in custody until October 22, when the warrant expires. As part of the fast-paced investigation, officers have attended three addresses in the London area and conducted searches. One of these searches has concluded and the others are ongoing. A post-mortem examination has taken place today.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid flowers at the scene of the fatal stabbing yesterday along with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
The shocking attack, which came five years after the murder of MP Jo Cox, ignited fresh concerns over the protection of parliamentarians.
Sir Lindsay is preparing to launch a review of MPs’ security arrangements amid complaints about a postcode lottery for MPs, with some police forces offering more support than others during their regular constituency meeting.
He told Channel 4 News: ‘In the end, we have to ensure that democracy survives. These people don’t like our values. They want to stop us carrying out our duties. They cannot win and must not win.’
His review is expected to consider calls to provide a police guard for all MPs’ local surgeries as the ‘only solution’, along with airport-style security. But the move is likely to be resisted by some MPs.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Sir Lindsay made what will be construed as a thinly veiled reference to Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner describing Tories as ‘scum’. He says: ‘The quality of political discourse has to change. The conversation has to be kinder and based on respect… The hate, which drives these attacks, has to end.’
The National Police Chiefs’ Council is contacting all MPs about security, while Ms Patel said she had asked all forces to review safety arrangements for MPs immediately. She will make a statement to Parliament tomorrow.
People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea
People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago
Blue balloons were handed out at a vigil in Southend on Saturday afternoon as constituents paid tribute
Preacher Anjem Choudary sparks fury by suggesting Sir David Amess may have been killed for being ‘pro-Israel’
Hate preacher Anjem Choudary was condemned last night for suggesting David Amess may have been killed for being ‘pro-Israel’.
The extremist said Sir David could also have been killed for being a member of the Tory Party, which has been in power for over a decade, during which time Britain has conducted military operations in Muslim countries.
Choudary made the callous comments a day after the MP for Southend West was killed, leaving the nation reeling in shock and grief.
Speaking from his council home in Ilford, East London, the 54-year-old said: ‘I am not sure about this particular MP’s views. The rumours are that he is pro-Israel, and he is part of the Conservative Party and they have been in power a long time, especially during the campaigns in Muslim countries such as Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan.’
When asked how Mr Amess’s ‘pro-Israel’ stance would make him a target, Choudary replied: ‘Many people do [believe] that it is a terrorist state, and who would possibly be a friend of Israel after you see the carnage that they carried out against Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and continue to do with the appropriation of properties?’
But Choudary, a trained lawyer, was quick to point out that he does not condone the killing of anyone, let alone an MP, in Britain.
Some MPs struck a defiant tone as they held constituency surgeries as normal yesterday. Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke met voters in a Yorkshire supermarket, and said: ‘We cannot let events like this diminish the deep relationship between an MP and their constituents.’
Former Cabinet Minister David Davis said suspending public meetings with MPs would be ‘a terrible reflection of what David stood for’.
Tory MP Andrew Percy told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There’s only so much protection you can provide to an MP who lives locally, shops locally and uses other local facilities.’
And he warned: ‘We would need to be careful not to be seen to be being privileged with policing resources over our residents.’
It is understood that Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not stand candidates in the upcoming Southend West by-election after the killing of Sir David.
Labour is set to follow the principle established after Jo Cox’s murder in 2016, when the major parties declined to select candidates in the subsequent Batley and Spen by-election.
As a result, it is understood Labour will not contest the by-election to find a successor to Sir David. The Liberal Democrats have also confirmed they will not fight for the seat when a date is set.
Party sources told the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges that Labour will not be fielding candidates in the by-election in Sir David’s constituency, while one senior Labour figure told Sky News’ Jon Craig that Opposition parties should give Tories ‘a free run’ in the ballot.
And Lord Pendry, a Labour former minister, called for all major opposition parties to stand aside in the by-election out of respect for Sir David.
He said: ‘This is an occasion when you see the leader of the Opposition (Sir Keir Starmer) and the Prime Minister together, and it shows that our democracy transcends all that sort of thing. I think we should be saying that whoever the Conservatives put up, it is their seat because they were deprived of it, so they should have it back. I think all the major parties should stand aside in the interest of democracy and our own democratic way of life.’
As Sir David’s wife and children grieve privately at home, the MP’s extended family including cousins and second cousins left a note celebrating ‘a great man and member of our family’.
Outside the scene of the attack, constituents recalled the work the ‘absolutely wonderful’ MP did in his community during his almost 40-year career. Moira and Pat, cousins of Sir David, wrote: ‘Thinking of your lovely family. Can’t believe this has actually happened. Will always love you.’
Meanwhile, two vigils have been held. Constituents last night went to St Peters Church in Leigh-on-Sea to shed a tear at the shocking death of their beloved MP and on Saturday afternoon dozens of well-wishers lit candles and gathered to remember the life of Sir David outside the town’s Civic Centre.
Outside Southend police station, Home Secretary Priti Patel said a ‘balance’ must be struck between the accessibility and safety of MPs as questions are raised over whether face-to-face meetings should be held in constituencies in the future.
Southend faith leaders called Sir David’s death an ‘indefensible atrocity’ and described the father-of-five as an ‘upstanding friend to our Muslim community’ who had attended weddings, mosque openings and the launch of the town’s first Muslim Scout group.
In a statement published on the Essex Jamme Masjid website, on behalf of ‘all Southend mosques’, they said their thoughts and prayers were with Sir David’s family, friends and colleagues. It comes five years after Labour MP for Batley and Spen Jo Cox was murdered on her way to a surgery in 2016.