British media has heard from the father of a man who was arrested for the fatal stabbing attack on a British lawmaker at a meeting with voters. He said that he was shocked by the arrest of his son and that the police continued to question the suspect under terrorist laws.
According to Sunday Times, Harbi Ali Kullane was a former adviser of Somalia’s prime Minister. He claimed that British counter-terrorism officers had visited him.
“I feel very traumatized.” He said, “It’s not something I expected or even hoped for.”
British authorities have yet to release the identity of the suspect in Friday’s killing of David Amess, a Conservative lawmaker aged 69. However, British media reported that Ali Harbi Ali was the suspect. Ali Harbi Ali is a British citizen of Somali descent.
Amess was a long-serving lawmaker who was repeatedly stabbed during a regular meeting of his constituents at Leigh-on-Sea’s church. This town is 40 miles (62 km) east London. Although the Metropolitan Police described the attack as terrorist, they did not give details.
The suspect was taken into police custody on suspicion of murder, but has not been charged. Police were granted additional time to question him. BBC and other media reported that the suspect was referred by a government program that aimed to prevent people from supporting extremism years ago. However, he claimed he wasn’t a subject of formal interest for security agencies.
It is not clear what the suspect’s connection was to Amess, or why he targeted him. The meeting with voters was open to the public.
Police in north London continued their search of an apartment and another address as they investigate the murder. Officers stood guard outside.
Friday’s murder raised concerns about the dangers politicians face as they do their work. Five years ago, Jo Cox, Labour lawmaker from West Yorkshire was attacked and killed by a far right extremist while she was on her way home to meet voters.
Priti Patel, Home Secretary, stated Sunday that officials were reviewing security arrangements for lawmakers. The measures under consideration include protection of police during regular meetings between legislators and constituents, also known as “surgeries.” She said that lawmakers could be asked to provide information about their whereabouts with police at all times.
Patel said that she didn’t believe the murder of Amess would change the relationship between legislators and voters.
She stated that “This should never,ever break that link between an elected rep and their democratic role and responsibility, and duty to the people who voted them in,” Sky News reported on Sunday.
Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker of the House of Commons) said that he is working closely with the Home Office as well as the police to find ways to improve the safety of lawmakers. He said, however, that he was not going to hide like Patel.
“The essence of being a MP (Members of Parliament) is to help our constituents and be seen by them. They elected us to represent them. Therefore, making ourselves available to them is an essential part of democracy,” Hoyle wrote in The Observer or Mail on Sunday newspapers.
Leigh-on-Sea residents have laid flowers to honor Amess, a father-of-five who served in parliament from 1983 to 2015 and was knighted in 2015. A mass service is being planned for Sunday, with balloons and floral wreaths placed outside the police line near the spot where Amess was killed.
Council of Somali Organizations, an organization that works with Somali communities in the U.K. condemned the killing and said it was “affront to all of the values of our democracy”
Kahiye Alim (the group’s director) said that he believes that young Somalis living in Britain have not been radicalized. According to him, only a few people have traveled from the U.K. into Somalia in recent years to join al-Shabab (an al-Qaida-linked extremist organization).