A London jury on Monday unanimously found Islamic State group follower Ali Harbi Ali guilty of murdering British lawmaker David Amess in a ferocious knife attack in October last year.
Ali told the trial that he had no regrets about killing father-of-five Amess after he voted in parliament for air strikes in Syria in 2014 and 2015.
The court at London’s Old Bailey heard that Ali, 26, stabbed Amess more than 20 times with a foot-long carving knife in Leigh-on-Sea, southeast England.
It took the jury just 18 minutes to reach a verdict on charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism. He is to be sentenced on Wednesday.
Members of Amess’s family were in court as the verdict was read out, during which Ali refused to stand on religious grounds.
Ali, from north London, arranged an appointment with Amess, 69, by telling the politician’s office that he was a healthcare worker and wished to talk about local issues.
Knife-wielding Ali was apprehended at the scene of the murder in a church by two police officers armed only with batons and spray.
He had sent a manifesto to family and friends to try to justify his actions around the time of the attack.
The court heard that Ali said “sorry” to Amess before killing him, after which his assistant Julie Cushion said he appeared “self-satisfied”.
During police interviews, Ali said that Amess suspected a “sting”, having been duped in the 1990s into talking about a made-up drug “cake” during a satirical television series.
“I felt like one minute I was sat down at the table talking to him and the next he was, sort of, dead,” Ali told police.
“But, yeah, it’s probably one of the strangest days… of my life now, you know?”
Jurors were told Ali had no mental health issues and he accepted much of the evidence against him.
The murder was the second killing of a British MP in five years and prompted calls for better security for elected representatives.
In 2016, a right-wing extremist who shouted “Britain first” shot and stabbed Labour lawmaker Jo Cox to death in the heated run-up to the Brexit referendum.
The court heard how Ali had become self-radicalised in 2014, going on to drop out of university, abandoning ambitions for a career in medicine.
Ali, who came from a Somali family and said he had a childhood “full of love and care”, considered travelling to Syria to fight but opted instead for an attack in Britain.
He bought a knife six years ago which he carried in his bag throughout the summer of 2021 as he “scoped out” possible targets, jurors heard.
‘Desire for infamy’
He scouted parliament but found police there “armed to the teeth”, the court heard.
Ali carried out online research on other MPs, including senior Conservative Michael Gove.
He staked out Gove’s London home but rejected plans to murder him after Gove split up with his wife and moved out of the family home.
Amess was a long-serving member of parliament for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative party.
The widower of murdered MP Cox said after Ali’s verdict that all the murder had achieved politically was “to allow millions of people to learn about David’s decency and the causes he cared about.”
“Terrorists may cite different ideologies. But what unites them is their desire for infamy, their cowardly attacks on the unarmed and the total failure to advance their cause,” Brendan Cox tweeted.
A post-mortem examination showed Amess suffered 21 stab wounds to his face, arms, legs and torso, as well as injuries to both hands that were consistent with defending himself, the court heard.
Hundreds of locals turned out in seaside town Southend to pay their respects after his death.
Pope Francis praised the Catholic lawmaker’s “devoted public service” in a special message read out at his funeral.