The father of a man detained for stabbing a British lawmaker during a meeting with local voters told British media he was shocked and “traumatized” by his son’s arrest, as police continued to report ‘interview the suspect under anti-terrorism laws.
Harbi Ali Kullane, a former adviser to the Somali prime minister, said counterterrorism police visited him, according to the Sunday Times.
“I feel very traumatized. It is not something that I expected or even dreamed of,” he reportedly said.
British authorities did not disclose the name of the suspect in the deadly stabbing attack on 69-year-old Conservative MP David Amess on Friday, but British media reported the suspect was Ali Harbi Ali, 25, who is said to be a British citizen of Somali descent.
Amess, a longtime lawmaker, was attacked during a regular meeting with his constituents at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, a town about 62 kilometers east of London.
The Metropolitan Police described the attack as terrorism and said initial investigations suggested “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”.
It is not known what, if any, the suspect’s connection to Amess.
Police were given additional time to question the suspect, who has yet to be charged. The BBC and others reported that a few years ago the suspect was referred to a government program aimed at preventing people from supporting extremism, but said he was not a subject of official interest in security services.
Many residents of the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea laid flowers in tribute to Amess, a father of five who has served in Parliament since 1983 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2015. A church service in the town was expected later Sunday. .
In north London, police investigating the murder continued to search an apartment and another address, as police stood guard outside.
Concerns about the risks to politicians
Friday’s murder has rekindled concerns about the risks politicians run in the line of duty. The attack came five years after Labor MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist in her West Yorkshire constituency.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Sunday officials were reviewing security arrangements for lawmakers, but did not believe Amess’ murder should change relations between MPs and their constituents .
“It should never, ever sever the link between an elected official and his democratic role, his responsibility and duty to the people who elected him,” she told Sky News on Sunday.
Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said he was working closely with the Home Office and police to identify ways to improve the safety of lawmakers. But, like Patel, he said “we shouldn’t be hiding.”
The Somali Council of Organizations, which works with Somali communities across the UK, condemned the killing, saying it was a “confrontation to all of our values ââand to our democratic society itself”.