How Ali Harbi Ali went from anonymous schoolboy to murdering Sir David Amess

It was clear by his mid-teens that he was not going to achieve the grades to study medicine but he applied to do a radiography degree instead. He was accepted onto a course at City University in London in 2014.

While it was not quite a medical degree, friends of the family – particularly in east Africa – were under the impression Ali was training to become a doctor.

One source in Somalia told The Telegraph: “Ali was training in the NHS and it was a great source of pride for his parents. His father was especially proud when he was back in Somalia to tell people that his eldest child was working at a top London hospital.”

By now his mother and father had separated and while she remained in the family home in Croydon, Mr Kullane began splitting his time between London and east Africa, where he retained homes in Somalia and Nairobi, Kenya.

Ali moved into his grandmother’s home in north London and started attending lectures at university.

But it was soon clear his heart was not in radiography and in 2016, part way through his second year, he dropped out altogether.

‘Completely obsessed with Syria’

He wrote to his course tutor and said he was leaving university because he had decided to take a “different path in life”. That different path was terrorism.

By his own admission, Ali had become self radicalised in 2014, becoming completely obsessed with events in Syria.

In 2013, British MPs had narrowly rejected a proposal to launch air strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s government to deter the use of chemical weapons.

But as the Middle East continued to descend into violence Ali became more and more fixated by the rise of Isis and saw any attempt by the West to suppress it as a modern crusade against Islam.

However, unlike many idealistic young extremists, he was not tempted to travel to the region to join Isis, preferring to wage jihad from his keyboard in the safety of his bedroom. 

With no job to go to, Ali would often stay up all night looking at extremist websites. He idolised the British born Isil killers dubbed The Beatles, following their murderous exploits online.

Recommended For You