Ali Harbi Ali said the killing was a response to Sir David’s decision to vote in favour of bombing Syria years earlier. Giving evidence to the Old Bailey for the first time, he revealed he acted as a “lone wolf” when his dream of going to Syria to fight for Islamic State was thwarted. Ali, 26, said he wanted to be a “martyr to his cause” and believed he would be shot dead by armed police and go to “paradise”.
He said: “I thought it would be, ‘Bang, bang, bang!’ I thought they would start shooting. To become a martyr is a good thing.”
Ali denied being “utterly shameless”, adding: “I would not use the word shameless, but I don’t have any shame.”
Asked what he thought of Jihadi John, the notorious IS executioner who beheaded two British aid workers in Syria, Ali replied: “He’s a brother. I can’t say anything bad about him.”
Ali, who was born and raised in Croydon, south London, is accused of stabbing Sir David, 69, to death during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Church, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year.
He was arrested by two unarmed plainclothes officers as the veteran Conservative backbencher lay dead or dying a few feet away.
Ali is also accused of plotting to kill other MPs, including Cabinet Minister Michael Gove and Conservative MP Mike Freer.
He admitted stalking Mr Gove with a kitchen knife in his rucksack and carrying out reconnaissance on the politician’s London home. The university dropout made a note about the possible assassination of Levelling Up Secretary Mr Gove on his phone, the court heard.
He told the jury: “That was plans I had to hopefully kill Michael Gove at the time. I believe he was someone who was a harm to Muslims. I thought if I couldn’t go to Syria, I should try and do something here.”
Ali told how he targeted Sir David because the Southend West MP had voted for air strikes on IS targets in Syria in 2015.
He said: “I decided to do it because I felt I could kill someone who made the decision to kill Muslims.”
Asked what difference Sir David’s death would make, he replied: “It would send a message to colleagues.”
Tom Little QC prosecuting, asked: “Do you regret anything you did on October 15?” Ali replied: “No.”
He told the jury he was not a terrorist, despite using the word “terror” when a custody officer asked him if he knew why he had been arrested.
Ali, of Kentish Town, north London, denies murder and preparing an act of terrorism.The trial continues.