Sir David Amess suspect was ‘known to anti-terror police’ | News | The Sunday Times
Sir David Amess suspect was ‘known to anti-terror police’
The suspected killer of Sir David Amess was a “self-radicalised” lone operative known to counterterrorist police, according to Whitehall sources.
Police and the security services believe the suspect was acting alone and may have been inspired by the jihadist group al-Shabaab, an offshoot of al-Qaeda operating in Somalia and Kenya.
Investigators are examining the theory that he was radicalised online during lockdown. Yesterday they continued to search two properties in London after declaring the attack on Amess a terrorist incident.
Scotland Yard said that early inquiries had uncovered “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”.
Security chiefs are concerned that the horrific murder could embolden other extremists to carry out copycat attacks on other prominent targets. Priti Patel, the home secretary, has ordered police to urgently review security arrangements for all MPs.
A clearer picture emerged this weekend of his background, and how he allegedly carried out the attack. He is thought to have been born in the UK after his family fled war-torn Somalia in the 1990s.
He lives in London but Whitehall sources said he had family ties to Southend, close to Leigh-on-Sea.
Police and the security services believe the pandemic has led to many vulnerable individuals being radicalised over the internet while spending lockdown indoors. Investigators will be poring over the suspect’s computers and phones for evidence, as well as examining any previous overseas travel.
Although Islamic State has inspired dozens of lone attackers across the world since declaring its short-lived “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq in 2014, intelligence officials believe that al-Qaeda offshoots in Africa could prove to be a bigger inspiration for potential recruits in Britain.