A homegrown terror suspect who stabbed Conservative MP Sir David Amess to death has said he did it to “send a message” to other MPs.
Ali Harbi Ali told the Old Bailey he killed the Southend West Conservative MP to “prevent further harm to Muslims” and considers him to be “one off the list”.
The 26-year-old told the jury he killed the father-of-five because he was among the MPs to vote in favour of bombing Syria in 2014 and 2015.
Ali stabbed Sir David, 69, more than 20 times with a foot-long carving knife at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, shortly after midday on 15 October 2021, the jury was told.
Sir David died at the scene.
Ali, a former radiography student from Kentish Town in north London, admits killing the MP but denies preparing terrorist acts and murder.
The prosecution said Ali spent two years planning a “cold and calculated murder” and that he researched a dozen politicians including Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Sir Keir Starmer, before settling on Sir David.
Ali confirmed that a note found on his phone from 2019 described “plans I had to attack and hopefully kill Michael Gove at the time”.
The terror suspect went on to admit going to Mr Gove’s house, armed with a knife in his rucksack, and later hanging around outside parliament.
Giving evidence wearing a long black tunic buttoned to the neck over jeans and with a goatee beard and glasses, Ali said he had no regrets over any of his actions and would kill Sir David again if he were to relive the day of the attack.
At times smiling, and leaning casually on one arm as he spoke, he described himself as a “moderate Muslim” who carried out the stabbing because he couldn’t make it to Syria to fight with so-called Islamic State.
He told the jury: “I decided to do it because I felt that if I could kill someone who made decisions to kill Muslims, it could prevent further harm to those Muslims.
“He (Sir David) voted previously in parliament, not just him… I decided if I couldn’t make hijrah, if I couldn’t help the Muslims (in Syria), I would do something here.”
Asked by defence counsel Tracy Ayling QC what difference killing Sir David would make, Ali said: “For one, he can’t vote again.
“If he ‘had previous’ for doing votes like that he won’t do it in the future, and perhaps send a message to his colleagues.”
He added: “You need a certain amount of votes… so it’s one off the list.”
Ali said he “deeply” regretted not being able to join the IS terrorist group and did not think the attack was wrong
When asked by the prosecution if he is “utterly shameless”, the terror suspect replied: “I wouldn’t use the word shameless, but no I don’t feel any shame.
“If I thought it was something wrong, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Asked if he had any regrets over the killing, Ali replied simply: “No.”
He added: “If I thought I did anything wrong, I wouldn’t have done it. I consider myself a Muslim who went out and killed someone who killed Muslims.”
Prosecutor Tom Little QC asked: “You don’t regard yourself as a radical?”
Ali replied: “I am a moderate Muslim.”
The terror suspect rowed back on previous comments the court heard he made to police that killing Sir David was an act of “terror”, instead comparing his actions with MPs who voted for Syrian air strikes.
He told the court: “I don’t think I would use those words now.
“If I was to use that word on myself, I would expect the British politicians who bombed Syria to use that word on themselves.”
Ali, flanked by three security guards during his 80-minute stint in the witness box, also told the court he expected to die “a martyr” when police arrived at the scene, but dropped his knife when he realised they were not carrying guns.
When asked if he would have been prepared to kill an armed police officer, he said it would have been “bringing a knife to a gunfight”, adding: “I didn’t expect to but if it happened, it happened.”
Ali described his childhood in south London as “full of love and care”, but said he felt “obligated to do something” after seeing coverage of the Arab Uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 2010s.
The trial was adjourned until Monday for closing speeches.