London, Oct 16 (EFE).- British authorities have identified the suspect in the murder of lawmaker Sir David Amess as a 25-year-old United Kingdom national of Somali origin, the BBC reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources in the government.
Police declared Friday’s slaying a “terrorist incident” and the sources told the BBC that Ali Harbi Ali was being held at a police station in London under the provisions of the 2000 Terrorism Act.
Ali, who is believed to have acted alone, was taken into custody immediately following the brutal stabbing of Amess, 69, in the town of Leigh-on-Sea in southeast England.
While the initial arrest was on suspicion of murder, authorities later invoked the Terrorism Act after the preliminary investigation pointed to “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism,” according to Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.
Amess, a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party since 1983, was stabbed at a Methodist Church where he regularly met on Fridays with residents of his constituency of Southend West in Essex.
Invoking the Terrorism Act allows police to hold Ali until Oct. 22.
The BBC said that Ali had been referred several years ago to Prevent, a counter-terrorism program intended for people thought to be susceptible to radicalization.
Even so, Ali had not been on any UK watch list.
Police carried out searches Saturday at three undisclosed locations in London, the BBC said.
The news of the murder sent shockwaves through the UK and echoed the death of Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was stabbed and shot to death in 2016 as she made her way to a meeting with her constituents.
Politicians from across the spectrum paid tribute to Amess, a married father of five who was popular with his constituents, while organizations representing British Muslims condemned the attack. EFE jm/dr