The suspect in the killing of the MP David Amess prepared terrorist acts over more than two years, it was alleged in court on Thursday.
Prosecutors claimed that Ali Harbi Ali, 25, visited the Houses of Parliament, an MP’s home and another constituency surgery as part of reconnaissance for a potential attack.
He was charged with the murder of the Conservative MP last week and the preparation of terrorist acts. Prosecutors said Ali was suspected of affiliation to the so-called Islamic State terror group and intended to be shot by officers after killing Amess.
Ali made a brief appearance at Westminster magistrates court on Thursday afternoon. Wearing a grey tracksuit and dark-rimmed glasses, he spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and north London address.
The prosecutor, James Cable, said it was the prosecution case that Ali made an appointment to speak to Amess during his regular constituency surgery with the intention of murdering him on 15 October. He was told he was being charged with murder and preparation of terrorist acts. Cable told the court that the terror charge was an “associated charge to the murder”.
He was accused of “engaging in reconnaissance of locations of targets to attack, including addresses associated with members of parliament and the Houses of Parliament, and engaging in internet research relating to targets to attack” between 1 May 2019 and 28 September 2021.
The chief magistrate, Paul Goldspring, said the severity of the allegations meant it was not within his power to grant bail and told Ali he was to be remanded in custody and sent to the central criminal court for trial.
He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on Friday. Ali’s lawyer, Kevin Toomey, was not asked to indicate how his client intended to plead during Thursday’s 13-minute hearing.
Amess was stabbed to death at a surgery for his constituents in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday last week. The killing triggered a review of MPs’ security.
After the charges against Ali were announced, the Crown Prosecution Service released a statement explaining: “Some offences, including murder, can be classed as having ‘a terrorist connection’ to ensure the criminal charges properly reflect the conduct concerned. In these cases the individuals have had political, religious, racial and/or ideological motivations behind their crime.”