Urgent action is now required to avoid another tragedy like the terrorist killing of Sir David Amess, says Dan Wootton

Ali Harbi Ali was not an online troll, he was a hardened Islamist extremist of Somali heritage – but radicalised right here in the UK – intent on killing a senior politician.

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Do you remember the atmosphere after what we now know was an Islamist terrorist attack that killed the great MP Sir David Amess last October?

A febrile mainstream media and political class wanted to talk about online anonymity, regulating tech giants to stop trolling, and politicians using bad language to describe each other.

Of course, we know now, as we were almost certain then, that none of that would have made a God damn difference.

Ali Harbi Ali was not an online troll, he was a hardened Islamist extremist of Somali heritage – but radicalised right here in the UK – intent on killing a senior politician.

He’d scoped out Michael Gove and Dominic Raab; he’d spent time wandering around Westminster pondering such an attack.

But he finally went through with it by visiting the Methodist church where the hardworking, loyal and kind Sir David was hosting a regular surgery with constituents.

At the time of his attack, despite police revealing they were dealing with a suspected Islamist terror attack, the media and our politicians simply didn’t want to go there.

It’s too soon, they insisted.

Failed London Mayor Sadiq Khan even initially said Amess had “passed away”, as if he had been lost to the world from natural causes.

Today, that despicable terrorist Ali Harbi Ali was jailed for life.

Here’s how Sir David Amess’ family reacted to the verdict in a statement read on their behalf outside court…

Ali was an aspiring terrorist who gamed the system.

But the media and political classes have moved on.

Why discuss the very real threat of homegrown Islamist extremism when we can run headline after headline about Partygate?

Well I believe it’s the most important story for the UK today and that’s why I am leading this show on it.

The Prevent counter-terrorism programme failed and it must be overhauled.

Shocking analysis by The Daily Telegraph this week showed that the scheme has failed to stop multiple terrorists in the past five years, with six of the 11 most recent significant attacks carried out by individuals who had been referred to it.

As Ali, who was referred to Prevent in 2014, told the court…

“I just knew to nod my head and say yes and they would leave me alone afterwards, and they did. There were supposed to be two meetings but they were happy enough on the first one so I did not hear from them again.”

As Professor Ian Acheson, who led a government review of extremism in prisons, put it…

“It’s absolutely another example of disguised compliance. Prevent is a parish council response to a national security problem.”

Former Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick says the establishment must now acknowledge the murder of his friend was an act of Islamist extremism

He wrote today…

“We cannot possibly hope to tackle extremism if we keep failing to diagnose it or, worse still, if when we do recognise it we pretend it is something else and reach for warm words and hashtags.”

Jenrick is right.

Islamic radicals reportedly accounted for the vast majority of suspects on the MI5 terror watchlist as of 2020.

And according to the latest Home Office stats, Islamic radicals account for almost 70 per cent of those imprisoned for terrorism-related offences as of 2021.

We can’t sit around waiting for a review of Prevent any longer – urgent action is now required to avoid another tragedy like the terrorist killing of Sir David Amess.

And we can’t be scared to talk about it.