LONDON — A jury deliberated for just 18 minutes Monday before finding a fervent Islamic State supporter guilty of stabbing lawmaker David Amess to death a slaying that shocked the nation and sparked calls for increased police protection for politicians.
Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was found guilty by London's Central Criminal Court of murder and preparing terrorist acts. Ali stabbed the veteran British lawmaker to death last year while he was meeting with voters at a church hall in eastern England.
Ali, who had spent years researching and planning potential attacks on lawmakers, had defended his actions by saying Amess deserved to die as a result of voting for airstrikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.
Ali, a London man with Somali heritage, had denied charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism.
Opening the trial, prosecutor Tom Little said the case was "nothing less than an assassination" carried out because of a "warped and twisted and violent ideology."
"It was a murder carried out by that young man who for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalized Islamist terrorist," he said.
Little said Ali bought the knife used to attack Amess five years earlier, and that Ali tricked his way into meeting Amess by pretending to be one of his constituents.
Amess, 69, had been a member of Parliament since 1983. He was pronounced dead at the scene after the stabbing.
The prosecutor also said that Ali had researched and planned attacks on lawmakers and the Parliament building from at least 2019. The research included reconnaissance trips targeting work and home addresses of two other lawmakers, Mike Freer and Cabinet member Michael Gove, he added.
The slaying of Amess shook the nation, as lawmakers often meet directly with the public. It came five years after Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right extremist.