Ali Harbi Ali, the man charged with murdering British Member of Parliament David Amess, considered himself affiliated with the Islamic State group (ISIL) and had settled on a plan to kill a lawmaker years ago, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
“Ali considered himself affiliated to Islamic State,” James Cable told a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, where Ali was making his first appearance.
Earlier, British police charged the 25-year-old British citizen with the murder of Amess, who was stabbed to death last week while meeting with members of the public.
Ali is currently being held in custody.
Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said Ali had also been charged with the “preparation of terrorist acts” in relation to the killing of the Conservative Party politician on Friday.
“We will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations,” Price said in a statement.
Ali is the son of Harbi Ali Kullane, a former media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia. According to the Guardian newspaper, Kullane worked on “anti-extremism” projects.
British police are not looking for any other suspect, a senior police chief said on Thursday.
“There has been considerable speculation in the media about the background, history and motivation of the man now charged,” said Matt Jukes, assistant commissioner for specialist operations for London’s Metropolitan Police service.
“I understand the huge level of public interest in this case, but now a charge has been brought, it is vitally important that everyone exercises restraint when commenting on it publicly, to ensure future court proceedings are not prejudiced in any way.”
Amess’s murder shocked the UK’s political establishment.
The 69-year-old father-of-five, who represented the parliamentary seat of Southend West, was stabbed to death as he met with constituents in a local church hall. Holding regular “surgeries” with members of the public is a central part of MPs’ duties.
The case, which came five years after Labour’s Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right activist, has reignited a debate on how to protect legislators.
On Wednesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the “terrorism” threat level to members of Parliament was now deemed substantial, which means an attack is considered likely.