Sir David Amess attack could inspire 'copycat' killers, warns former terror chief

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Tributes to Sir David Amess placed outside the Houses of Parliament - Matt Dunham /AP 
Tributes to Sir David Amess placed outside the Houses of Parliament - Matt Dunham /AP

The brutal attack on Sir David Amess could inspire 'copycat' killers, a former terror chief has warned.

Sir Peter Fahy, the former national lead for Prevent, the Government’s counter-radicalism programme, said “certain disturbed individuals may see this as a way of getting themselves some publicity”.

The former chief constable for Greater Manchester Police also warned that terror organisations may use the fatal stabbing of the MP to “encourage” their followers to carry out “similar attacks”.

It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed on Wednesday evening that intelligence officers had upgraded the threat level to politicians as “substantial”.

But a review from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre linked to MI5 has not found a “specific or imminent threat”.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot, appearing alongside Sir Peter on the Today Programme, said she was less concerned about terrorist threats than about “unbalanced” people “who may have seen all the publicity around David Amess and thought to themselves ‘this is a way to get famous, go and attack my MP”.

Asked if he agreed with Diane Abbott’s comments that a copy cat attack is a “real possibility”, Sir Peter said: “Yes, I think Diane Abbot has said that very well.

"It is the concern about copycat attack. It is exactly as she says that certain disturbed individuals may see this as a way of getting themselves some publicity.

“But there is no question as well some terrorist organisations may be using this to encourage some of their followers here to commit similar attacks so undoubtedly that’s why the threat level has been increased.

“Police forces will be talking to MPs, it will be for MPs to make their own choices, but obviously they are already used to past instances when security threat has been increased, but this is slightly different as it is towards them as a group.”

His comments come after the Telegraph revealed on Thursday that Ali Harbi Ali, the terror suspect being questioned on suspicion of murdering Sir David, trained as a technician in the radiography department of a top London hospital.

Ali Harbi Ali had worked at King’s College Hospital in London after completing his A levels in 2014.

He underwent training in the radiography department, which would have seen him working alongside NHS patients, carrying out X-rays and scans.

But it is unclear whether the 25-year-old ever completed his training and whether he was employed in a qualified capacity.

A spokesman for King’s College Hospital declined to comment.

A well-placed government source confirmed that Ali had trained in the hospital’s radiography department, but said he had not been working there at the time of the attack.

Another source told The Telegraph: “Ali was training in the NHS and it was a great source of pride for his parents. His father was especially proud when he was back in Somalia to tell people that his eldest child was working at a top London hospital.

“He will be truly devastated to hear that his son has been arrested in connection with a terror attack on a British MP.”

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