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British Lawmaker David Amess Stabbed, Man Arrested; Thirty-Two Killed, Dozens Injured In Afghanistan Mosque Attack; Day Of Mourning After Deadly Gun Battles In Beirut. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired October 15, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: British lawmaker has been stabbed at his constituency not far from London. Essex Police say they have made an
arrest in the attack on this Conservative MP, and they say they are not looking for anyone else.
All of this unfolding in Leigh-on-Sea, as you see on the map here. There is no word yet on the lawmaker's condition. He's been an active member of the
British Parliament since the 1980s.
Let's get you to CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, who is in London. Just walk us through what we understand to have happened today, Salma.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Becky. And we're still getting more details, so this is still very preliminary. But what we do
know is that around noon local time, so just a few hours ago, Sir David Amess, a local MP, a conservative MP, was holding basically open office
hours at a local church. Sometime after noon, a man with a knife apparently stabbed the member of parliament multiple times.
We do now understand that Sir David Amess is recovering. He was met with two ambulances at the scene. Local media also saying that an air ambulance
was deployed to the location. His status right now is unknown, but we do know that he is recovering from those multiple stab wounds.
Now in terms of the suspect, Essex Police which operate in that area say that they have arrested a man. Now we do not know any details on whether or
not he has been charged or what the accusation is, but police say he is the one and only person they are looking for at this time. They are not looking
for anyone further. So that gives you the indication that potentially this is a closed matter for this time.
Already, of course, multiple lawmakers taking to Twitter, taking to social media to extend their condolences, to extend their concern for Sir David
Amess, who is a long-standing member of parliament, as you said elected first in 1983. And this is going to be concerning for people and very
reminiscent of something that happened about five years ago here, Becky, just before the Brexit vote when MP Jo Cox was murdered by an assailant. So
this really begins to worry people, as you can imagine. An attack in broad daylight against a lawmaker and of course we'll have questions as to what
the motivation is, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. And Brendan Cox, who is the widow of Jo Cox, said of Amess' stabbing, this is as cowardly as it gets and I just want our viewers to
hear what Brendan Cox said specifically, "Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. This is no excuse, no
justification. It is as cowardly as it gets."
These constituency surgeries often held in churches and small offices around the country, very British sort of event, isn't it? And this is an
opportunity for lawmakers to speak one-on-one to constituents about whatever it is that those constituents want to talk about. And to a certain
extent leaves them quite vulnerable. And there has been some concern about that since Jo Cox's murder, of course.
ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely, Becky. And the question here, looking back, of course, on that horrific murder of Jo Cox. The concern here is politics
polarized because that is exactly the conversation that happened after the murder of Jo Cox. I was actually up in that area the day that she was
murdered and it was right before the Brexit vote and there was really a feeling, a sense that politics was becoming too divisive in this country.
Now of course, it's been several years since, and again, I have to emphasize we do not know the motivation of the attacker. We do not know any
details about the suspect, but this will begin to worry lawmakers again about the climate in the U.K., about the environment of politics in the
U.K. Is it too divisive? Is it too polarizing? Is it radicalizing individuals?
Again, we cannot speculate at this time what exactly this man, the suspect, what his motivations are, but lawmakers are already pouring in on social
media, as you just heard there, from Jo Cox's widow, concern over the environment, concern over, of course, this lawmaker, David Amess, and
whatever his status may be, his recovery may be. We will wait to find out more, but already lawmakers raising flags here -- Becky.
ANDERSON: And we have, as you have been speaking, just got a statement from the Essex Police, which is the area in which this incident occurred just
north of London. And I quote here, "A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea. We were called to Eastward
Road North shortly after 12:05 p.m. London Time. Sadly, a man later died." We do not know whether that is indeed the MP, but this is from the police.
"Sadly, a man later died. A man was arrested at the scene. We are not looking for anyone else." Let me be quite clear. The Essex Police not
naming this MP as the person who has been identified as dying at the scene. But this is very worrying, Salma.
ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely terrifying. And again, I don't want to get ahead of the news here. But as you read there, a man has died. We begin by of course
our concern for his family, for his loved ones on the recovery of MP David Amess and we do not want to get ahead of that news. But that is absolutely
David Amess is a longtime politician, a mainstay of the Conservative Party. Again, elected in 1983, rather, so almost 30 years of experience there,
over 30 years of experience there rather. He is a father. He is known as a reasonable voice that is appreciated and respected within the Conservative
Party. He's not seen as a controversial figure in any way. So we will need to wait to find out more from the police about this, but absolutely
Of course, especially in a country with limited types of violence of this nature. This is not a country where guns are readily available. So knives
are the main concern for police when comes to violence.
And there is going to be a lot of the concern because this echoes a lot of the hallmarks of the murder of Jo Cox and that is people will be terrified.
That is why lawmakers will be ringing the alarm, that is why there will be immediate concern about the divisiveness of politics.
But, again, Becky, we need to wait for police to find out more.
ANDERSON: Salma, thank you for that. And just to reiterate what we know at this point this is breaking news on CNN. Police say they have made an
arrest after a shocking attack on a British lawmaker in Essex, which is north of London. This news just coming to us in the past hour or so and
just in the last couple of minutes.
Essex Police have tweeted the following. "A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea. We were called
to the incident shortly after 12:05 p.m." Sadly they say a man later died, and they say a man was arrested at the scene, we are not looking for anyone
And I have to be quite clear about this. At the moment the police are not naming the man who has died at the scene. And so we will continue to get
information on this and we will bring that to you as soon as we can get more on this. But a very shocking incident just north of London today. More
on that as we get it.
Well, for the second time in as many weeks, suicide bombers have attacked a Shia mosque in Afghanistan during Friday prayers. Today's attack in
Kandahar killed at least 32 people and injured dozens more. The official Afghan state news agency reports three consecutive explosions happened
inside the mosque. So far there's been no claim of responsibility. This coming a week after a suicide bomber killed 20 people at a mosque in Kunduz
in an attack claimed by ISIS-K.
Nick Paton Walsh tracking developments for us today out of London. What do we know about today's attack, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: A well-known Shia mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan's second biggest city, the heartland really
of the Taliban, who now run that country. Around Friday prayers, as you said there, the state-run news agency Pajhwok referred to three back-to-
back explosions. The United Nations called this a suicide attack, saying that it had taken 30 lives and injured dozens more.
So we're beginning to piece together possibly what may have occurred here. Of course, Friday prayers, the most packed time in this quite sizable
mosque, and again the Shia minority in Afghanistan. About a tenth of its population targeted. Long attacked in the past by ISIS. As you said, last
Friday again, another mosque in the Kunduz area was in fact attacked. That killed 46 and injured over 100. ISIS claimed responsibility very fervently
As you, at this point, no claim of responsibility for this specific attack. We may hear that in the hours ahead, but troublingly, the numbers are
beginning to rise in the death toll now. We have 68 injured as well, and a real concern, I think, here for the Shia of Afghanistan. They found
themselves targeted by ISIS when the Taliban were the insurgency and the Taliban were busy fighting not only ISIS but also the Afghan government and
its U.S. and allied backers there as well.
Now the Taliban's main calling card coming to power was supposed to be peace, a calmer environment, where the insurgency was no longer required,
yet they are finding not quite on a daily basis but with a consistency that undermines their promise for peace that ISIS are attacking their officials
and they're attacking minorities like this as well.
That's happened in the past, too, but the frequency of this, two Fridays in a row, will have many Shia deeply concerned about their ability simply to
gather for ordinary worship like this. And it will, of course, raise the fears of exactly how effective the Taliban have been at hunting down ISIS.
ISIS kind of spawned really as you might remarkably believe a more hardline element against even al Qaeda in Afghanistan, possibly some say the result
of a super annulated insurgency where frankly people may have felt they weren't extreme enough to satisfy their slightly warped taste.
ISIS are now there trying to do that job and they hitting targets that are soft like this, hitting Taliban where they can as well. And this is
remarkable I think, Becky, now here we are 20 years since the global war on terror, now finished, was launched by the United States.
The people they were initially fighting for harboring al Qaeda are now dealing with their own Islamist insurgency of their own in Afghanistan.
Horrifying for the Shia there, who frankly I think feel themselves marginalized on all sides, and particularly on these last two Fridays
targeted with, in this case, three back-to-back explosions, one perhaps a suicide bomber, according to the U.N., Becky.
ANDERSON: The Taliban promising anti-corruption and security and justice. These attacks outside of Kabul, of course, in the areas that many people in
Afghanistan have said is -- are areas where people quite frankly have some support for the Taliban. How will this affect their governance, their rule,
WALSH: There has always been an urban-rural divide and certainly the Kunduz attack occurred outside the city of Kunduz, possibly in areas where you may
feel the Taliban might have enjoyed a little more support. Kandahar City itself, whilst being in the heartland of the rural area, in which it's very
firmly pro-Taliban, did have a lot of government sway around them. But even Shias still were frankly would have been slightly on the outside of
whatever particular government we're talking about over the last 20 years or so.
There is a broader question here about an insurgency, this rage for 20 years, successfully frankly beating the most powerful military in history,
the United States, now dealing with the very difficult task of government. Governing a country that was for the most part dependent on international
aid, international aid that is now frozen for many of the former contributors.
The U.N. still delivering urgent food stuffs in this nasty winter ahead, where a drought, where famine, where a currency crisis, where rising
prices, the return most likely of coronavirus under a really faltering healthcare system, are going to give any frankly very good government a
real run for their money at this time.
Instead, we have an insurgency powered by ideological belief and the desire to kick out the Americans now dealing with enormous governmental challenge,
appointing religious officials to key positions, struggling to deal with international relations in terms of keeping their airport functioning as
best as they can and now dealing with not only these fundamental crises of governments, of food stuffs, of electricity, of healthcare, but also
dealing with an Islamist insurgency, who, you have to think about this, found frankly al Qaeda not extreme enough that they had to branch out on
their own and targeting crowded worship places of civilians week after week -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh is on the story. Nick, thank you.
Well, to another scene of violence just 24 hours ago, it has been today a day of mourning and cleanup in Beirut after a protest over last year's port
explosion descended into the worst violence in a decade. Buildings like this one hit by rounds of bullets, snipers took aim from above. Militia
fired from the street and seven people were killed. More than 30 were wounded.
Lebanon's regional neighbor Egypt calling for restraint and Kuwait urging its citizens to leave the country. For many these street battles were deja
vu decades after the country's long civil war. Lebanon's new prime minister urged people not to forget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAJIB MIKATI, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I wish they remember the civil war and learn from it and how it affected Lebanon and
the tens of thousands people who were killed and what that led to. At the end, we will sit together and reach an agreement. We are all Lebanese. We
should be united.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, if anyone would remember that war and its aftermath, it is our Ben Wedeman. He joins us now from Beirut. Seven dead, many wounded.
You know, what can we say, Ben? I mean, it's -- what's it like on the streets of Beirut today?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can't say it's quiet. Actually, there's been a lot of gunfire. Most of it largely vertical
in this area. This is the area of Ain el-Remmaneh, which, of course, was where on the 13th of April, 1975, the 15-year Lebanese civil war started.
So it's an area where there are vivid memories soaked into the ground here of the nightmare of that long civil war.
But what we've seen today is that the Lebanese Army, these are commandos here behind me, have been deployed in this area. There have been no more
clashes today, but certainly what we're seeing is a lot of sort of puffing up of chests and some rhetoric that doesn't necessarily bode well.
One senior Hezbollah official who attended a funeral for one of the dead said that his group, his party is not going to be drawn into civil war, but
he added that the blood of those who were killed -- was killed will not be in vain.
In other parts of the country, for instance, some mass gunmen have set up roadblocks, and in the northern Beqaa yesterday, for instance, we saw on
social media a video of Hezbollah fighters driving around fully armed through the streets. So there is definitely a sense that there is a game of
chicken going on between the various factions here in Lebanon and the hope is, however, there is not going to be a head-on collision -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, and that's the hope, of course. But you know this place better than most, and you are talking to your sources on the ground.
Leaders of the -- senior leaders of the international community and the deputy and the head of the State Department in the U.S., in Lebanon during
this event. What do you -- what's the sense of what happens next?
WEDEMAN: Well, the sense is that, you know, they came very close to the brink here, but the basic ingredients for a civil war aren't in place.
There isn't enough money, for one thing, unlike for instance, in 1975, when the Middle East was flushed with cash from the oil boom, when Lebanon was a
very ideal theater for proxy wars. Now the Middle East economy is in pretty bad shape.
You have bigger theaters for proxy wars, like Syria, like Iraq, and Lebanon is a very small, complicated country, where oftentimes foreign forces
become involved and then find it very difficult to pull out. So the hope among many here is that perhaps the bloodshed of yesterday, as you said, at
least seven people dead, more than 30 wounded, a city that suddenly went, had multiple flashbacks yesterday of the civil war.
Their hope is that common sense will take hold. Sometimes a commodity in short supply among the political elite here. And that another catastrophe,
after so many catastrophes Lebanon has gone through will be avoided -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. I mean, this, of course, at a time when we just heard from the new prime minister there. This at a time when the new prime minister
promising reforms and hoping that he can get the international community's support for financing Lebanon's way out of this misery.
Just for some context here, you talked about those normal players who historically have gotten involved in what has been a sort of proxy battle
in Lebanon, sort of keeping their distance at present. But how is that new government, the new prime minister doing in trying to convince the
international community that Lebanon is worth caring about at this point, and how will what happened yesterday affect any ambition the new government
WEDEMAN: Well, so far there haven't been -- you know, foreign donors have not been queueing up to give Lebanon to basically bail it out. The feeling
is that, you know, given this country's complex political makeup, don't forget, there are 18 recognized religious sects here, all of which have at
least one party, many of which have a militia, and therefore getting -- it's like herding cats in terms of trying to get all the Lebanon's
political leaders to agree on anything.
And therefore, most of them personally are doing very well economically because of their business interests, because of their financial holdings
abroad. What we saw, for instance, after the resignation of the last prime minister, Hassan Diab, those politicians essentially sat around and
squabbled for a year, as the country's economy went further down the drain.
And they didn't seem to be in any great hurry to solve the country's problems. And there is no reason to believe that this current round of
ministers who make up the Cabinet of Najib Mikati will be able to be any more successful than their predecessors.
So to sum it all up, Becky, the future remains grim.
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is in Beirut. Ben, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
And we are going to take a break.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
ANDERSON: Because we are getting more information in now on our breaking news out of the U.K. for you today. Conservative MP David Amess has been
stabbed during a meeting in his constituency, and we now understand that he has died. This is not far from London, and police say they have already
made an arrest and say they are not looking for any other suspects. Police say a knife has been recovered from the area. Now this conservative MP has
been an active member of the British parliament since the 1980s.
I want to get you back to CNN's Salma Abdelaziz who is staying of course for this breaking news.
And Salma, I know that we've heard from the local police force. What are they telling us at this point?
ABDELAZIZ: Shocking and devastating news, Becky. And of course, it's only just in the last few minutes that we have now heard from local media that
this is being treated by Essex Police as a murder investigation and that the man in question is Conservative MP, Sir David Amess. It's absolutely
shocking for this nation at large, extremely worrying and concerning. And condolences, of course, go out to his family.
But a lot of questions are going to be asked here, Becky, and we're still waiting for more information from the police. But what we know so far is
that a 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene. The police are not looking for any further individuals at this time, so it appears that the
incident is over and that he acted alone.
We do not know any information about his motivations yet, but we understand that this incident all unfolded around noon local time when Sir David Amess
was holding sort of open office hours essentially at a local church in the county of Essex, neighboring London here.
Just after 12:00 this man entered the church and stabbed the MP multiple times. Eyewitnesses at the scene told local media that ambulances and
ambulance services went inside the church to try to revive Sir David Amess. Unfortunately, it appears, according to local media, that he lost his life
at the scene. Air ambulances were seen overhead. Of course, unfortunately, it appears they have arrived too late.
I want to remind everyone the last time that anything like this happened in the U.K. was about five years ago when another lawmaker, Jo Cox, was
murdered as well, also during her open office hours, and this was just before the Brexit vote. So for now there is going to be a real sense of
fear over the political landscape being too divisive and a concern for the safety of other lawmakers, but also tributes are already starting to pour
We're hearing from the London mayor, from other lawmakers, from the wife of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But we expect to hear a statement from 10
Downing Street very shortly, Becky, because this is absolutely sending this country reeling.
ANDERSON: Yes. And Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox, who, as you rightly pointed out, was killed just before the Brexit vote., said and I quote
here. "My thoughts and love are with David's family. They are all that matter at this point. This brings everything back -- the pain, the loss,
but also how much love the public gave us following the loss of Jo. I hope we can do the same for David now."
You know, sadly, we are now getting a number of tributes in. And we will get these to our viewers as we see them. The Jo Cox murder, of course, very
much front and center, as people hear about the killing of David Amess.
What more do we know, Salma, as far as the details of the attack?
ABDELAZIZ: Well, Becky, we know that it's an absolutely horrific attack that happened in broad daylight, again during the surgery hours, the open
office hours for this MP, where he essentially tweeted out that these are the times in which I'm available. If you are a constituent in this area,
please come speak to me. And he was stationed at a local church to do exactly that. And just after noon local time again that man, 25 years old,
a suspect entered the church and stabbed the MP multiple times.
I want to point out a little bit about who Sir David Amess is. He was first elected to parliament in 1983. He is a mainstay in the Conservative Party,
a very well-respected figure, not seen as controversial or divisive, but someone able to work across the aisle, work across parties.
He's a father. He is known for his advocacy and his work through the Conservative Party. So beyond his political work, there is going to also be
a lot of concern for him within his community. Again, over 30 years of serving in politics.
And then there is the larger implications here, Becky. We've been talking about the murder of Jo Cox. But again that question is politics. Right now
do politicians across the country feel safe? Police are going to want to make sure that everyone, especially lawmakers at this time, feel safe to
carry out their jobs. But there is going to be that fear, there's going to be that worry about open office hours, Becky, and what kind of
vulnerabilities lawmakers are putting themselves in.
ANDERSON: And to that point, Ian Duncan Smith, who is Amess' former party leader, some of our viewers may remember him as the Conservative Party
leader, has spoken to the BBC today, and I just quote some of what he said here. "The reality for us is that we see constituents all the time, both in
their houses and in our constituency surgeries.
We're out and about. We're always available. We must be available," he said. "It's the most critical bit of what makes the British parliamentary
system I think one of the most successful in the world and that's because we want it that way."
But as you rightly point out, there will be -- and there have been concerns. We've heard these concerns shared by other lawmakers since Jo
Cox's devastating murder, that they just do not feel as safe as they once did.
Reaction to the attack, Salma, just pouring in across social media. And the former prime minister David Cameron writes, "Very alarming and worrying
news reports from Leigh-on-Sea." He said his thoughts and prayers with David Amess and his family. That was just before local media actually
confirmed the MP's death. And Labour Party leader Keir Starmer tweeted, "Horrific and deeply shocking news, thinking of David, his family and his
We've also heard from Brendan Cox, as I said the husband of Jo cox, the MP who was stabbed to death in 2016. And I just repeat what he said,
"Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets."
We are going to take a very short break. We'll be back after this.
ANDERSON: And welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is our breaking news coming to CNN this hour.
Conservative British lawmaker David Amess has died in a stabbing attack. This horrific incident happened in broad daylight at a church where he was
meeting with the public. Police have already made an arrest and say they are not looking for any other suspects.
So let's get you to CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. As you and I talked, we are bringing our viewers live images there of the church in a town called
Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. And for people who live there, this will be absolutely terrifying. I mean, this is one of those places in the U.K.
which is very, very quiet, a local church on a local road, where a local MP was holding his local constituency surgery.
And for those who are maybe unfamiliar with those, of course, Salma, these are regular opportunities that British lawmakers provide for their
constituents to literally come and talk to them about anything. Anything at all. Constituency MPs leave themselves open to, as many have said over the
last few years, leave themselves open to anything really and some have been feeling very vulnerable about a lack of security.
But as many of them point out, that's the way they want it to be. This is one-on-one opportunities for constituents with their lawmakers, Salma.
ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely, Becky. For politicians, this is an important opportunity to reach out to the public to hear concerns from their voting
public, to hear from their constituents, but right now we are just dealing with this very horrific and devastating news.
A 69-year-old member of parliament Sir David Amess killed in a stabbing attack in broad daylight during his open hours. It's absolutely shocking to
this nation at large. It will be sending this small, quiet community, as you said, reeling. Huge concern for his family. He's a father of five. He
is a mainstay of the Conservative Party. He's been in politics. He was elected first in 1983. So over 30 years in politics.
He's known as an animal welfare activist, as a strong and reasonable voice of, a voice that's able to reach across parties. There will be a lot of
questions and a lot of tributes pouring in here as well today. What we know so far is that around noon local time a man entered that church, where Sir
David Amess was holding these office hours, where he was meeting with the public, that 25-year-old man entered the church and stabbed Amess multiple
Now police arrived at the scene, as well as ambulances that tried to revive David Amess. Unfortunately, of course, he lost his life at the scene.
That's according to local media, who were speaking to eyewitnesses. We know that there was an air ambulance overhead. Unfortunately, it arrived too
late, and that suspect again, that 25-year-old man arrested at the scene. Now police do not yet know the motivation of that man. They have yet to
reveal the identity of that man.
But questions are going to be asked immediately, Becky, because, as we've been saying, the last time an incident like this occurred was just five
years ago with the murder of another lawmaker, Jo Cox, who was also stabbed to death during her surgery hours. So there is going to be a lot of fear
here over the safety of lawmakers and politicians in the country, questions as to whether politics has become too divisive.
That's, of course, been a conversation here since Brexit. But for the time being now, this country is going to be reeling. It's going to try to find
out what happened, who is the suspect, what are his motivations, and of course I think everyone is waiting to hear from the prime minister on this
ANDERSON: Yes. Well, before we do, let's just hear from a number of key voices here. Grant Shapps, Transport secretary in the U.K. in Boris
Johnson's Cabinet of course, tweeting the following, "Awful, tragic news about David, a dedicated, thoughtful man and a true parliamentarian who
lost his life while serving their constituents who he worked relentlessly for throughout his career. My thoughts are with his family and friends at
And Brandon Lewis, who is the secretary of State for Northern Ireland, tweeting the following, "I knew David both from my days as a counselor in
Essex and as a fellow MP. One of life's truly nice people, a gentleman who was always ready to dive in to help anyone who needed it. So shocked and
saddened by this awful news. My thoughts are with his family and with his loved ones."
And another one here just from Nigel Farage, of course, a -- he's actually -- calls himself a journalist these days. "Desperately sad news about Sir
David Amess being murdered doing his job as an MP. Awful for his family and friends. This is a real blow to the democratic process." You will remember
Nigel Farage used to represent the UKIP party on the Brexit side of politics in the U.K. Now in broadcasting on an organization called GB News.
You are right to point out that there will be many people, very shocked and very saddened by this news today, Salma. And there will be and are many
people already voicing their concerns about this being a threat to the very notion of democracy, the way that democracy is set up in the U.K., the
availability that MPs -- the availability of these constituents MPs to those who want to voice their feelings and come with their concerns and ask
for advice, ask for changes in legislation.
I mean, this is the way that democracy works in the U.K., and this has been a real blow to that process today, and of course, you know, our hearts and
prayers go out to his family, his wife, his kids, and indeed his friends and colleagues.
ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely, Becky. I mean, I cannot begin to imagine how it feels to be around that town right now, around that area, around that
church where police are still stationed, where ambulance are still stationed, where people are asking questions about a very simple thing that
unfolded, a very common thing that takes place here in the U.K.. Office hours for a politician to meet his voters, to meet his constituents, to
meet the public. That should be something that is simply guaranteed and allowed.
You're going to hear that from lawmakers over and over again. Sir David Amess was simply doing his job. He was there to meet with the public. He
should have been able to go home safe, unharmed. That should not have happened.
Now we don't want to get ahead of who this suspect is or what their motivations are, but that will, of course, be the primary concern. How can
lawmakers continue to carry out their job and stay safe? And this is something that lawmakers have brought up over and over again in the last
few years. Around Brexit, there was huge concern from backlash from individuals, radicalized groups.
Of course, there's a concern around terrorism and whether or not radicalized individuals could act out there. There was concern as well
after the Black Lives Matter movement for black politicians. I actually interviewed MP Diane Abbott at one stage over the threats that she receives
on a daily basis, she says. So this is a long-standing issue. And again, going back to the murder of Jo Cox, which shocked this country, it's hard
to overstate just how much it shocked this country right before the Brexit vote.
And for this to happen just five years later, it's truly concerning. It's truly heartbreaking, but it does mean that the prime minister, security
services, police are going to be asked serious questions now about the safety of lawmakers in the public. Again, this is not a -- this is not a
controversial politician by any stretch. He is a mainstay of the Conservative Party, 69 years old, elected in 1983, more than 30 years in
Known across parties as being a moderate voice. Yes, a conservative voice, but one that's able to reach across the aisle. A father of five. We can't
emphasize that enough. He is a family man, and his family right now must absolutely be heartbroken. But this begins to really draw some concern here
over the political system here in the U.K. and how we keep politicians safe when they're out in the public if politics is becoming so divided in this
post-Brexit time -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, described by his fellow lawmakers as a social conservative.
We are awaiting a statement from the British prime minister, in whose party, of course, David Amess worked and represented. Carrey Johnson, the
prime minister's wife, has been giving her thoughts on the death of Sir David. She tweets, and I quote here, "Absolutely devastating news about Sir
David Amess. He was hugely kind and good, an enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and
their children at this point."
He'd been lauded for being quite frankly a hugely dedicated member of parliament, Salma, and for over 40 years, and it's quite remarkable that we
are just reporting this news today. And as you rightly point out, five years after the devastating death of Jo Cox as well.
Nick Paton Walsh is with us as well, and Nick, much talk here, and this is -- we've only just found out that, in fact, Sir David Amess has died as a
result of his stabbing wounds. But much talk already about the security for British lawmakers. Your thoughts? We haven't got him yet. All right.
Salma, you and I have been discussing this, and you're absolutely right to point out that so many of the tributes coming in are first and foremost, of
course, for David Amess about who he was and condolences to his wife and his kids. But also many people talking about the security or lack of that
these British lawmakers have. And I guess there will be calls for that to change, Salma.
ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely, Becky. I mean, it's the mainstay of a political system, right, the ability to be able to speak to the public, speak to your
voting public, speak to constituents openly. That is a key thing for lawmakers here in the U.K. They hold that very dearly. Sir David Amess
tweeted out his office hours that were taking place today, where he has unfortunately lost his life.
These are very open forums. Usually, lawmakers take to social media. They announce where they'll be. They're done in public places. In this case, it
was done in a local church. Broad daylight again. Noon local time. That is the concern is that when you are tweeting openly, your place, your
location, your time, you're inviting the public to come and give their opinion, their concerns.
That's the question, Becky. How can lawmakers do that in a safe way? Again, we don't know the motivations of the suspect, a 25-year-old man, who
stabbed David Amess multiple times inside this church, as we understand. A very brutal and horrific killing, as you can imagine. That's absolutely
going to send shockwaves, not just in the area of Essex and the county of Essex.
ABDELAZIZ: Where this took place, but across the country at large. And yes, if lawmakers cannot feel safe enough to do their jobs, then how effective
is the political system? That is essentially going to be the bottom line here. And we do have to wait for more details on the suspect, but
regardless, this has been an issue over the last few years.
Again, we will point to the horrific murder of Jo Cox, a lawmaker again, who was stabbed during the day I was actually in that location when it
happened, and that sent the country reeling. Just before a Brexit vote. You can imagine how that very -- just absolutely sent shockwaves across the
country. And now five years later, we're looking at a very similar incident.
In between this time, I've interviewed MPs who have spoken publicly about the threats that they received on social media after Black Lives Matter,
for example. I spoke to MP Diane Abbott who told me she receives threats daily, daily she receives threats. So there is this concern for lawmakers,
especially now with the expansion of social media.
How do you begin to understand where these threats are coming from? What are credible threats? What are just anonymous threats on social media? And
what is a very real threat to your life?
Now David Amess again, not a controversial politician. He is a conservative lawmaker, a mainstay of the Tory Party. More than 30 years' experience,
over 60 years old, known to his community, father of five. So it will be shocking that someone who is so known in his community, so well-respected
across multiple parties, across multiple groups. Somebody seen as an advocate and as well-spoken, somebody who is known to everybody, would be a
target of an attack like this in broad daylight.
You can begin to feel a sense of fear among lawmakers, I'm sure, Becky, who are now asking themselves, can I hold open office hours?
What is the safe way in which to do this? And this is a country again with very restrict gun rules. So guns are limited. Knives are the main concern
when it comes to violence, and Becky, the concern here is of course anyone can obtain a knife, and that's exactly the weapon that was used against Sir
ANDERSON: Yes. And tributes coming in to David Amess from across the political divide.
Nick Paton Walsh, our security editor joining us now. And Nick, we have been talking about the vulnerability that -- of British MPs. You've been
talking to your sources. What are they telling you?
WALSH: Well, at this stage very little is known about the motivation of the 25-year-old man who has been arrested, and police said they're not looking
for anyone else in connection with this instant.
I have to tell you, as a Briton, hearing of the death of a man whose face you recognize from British politics over the past decades, relatively few
kind of long-term survivors like that in the Conservative Party here, quite shocking really. As you're hearing Salma discuss there, it also tells you
how the political climate has changed in the United Kingdom over the past decade --
WALSH: In this country, that the political divisions, exacerbated by social media, exacerbated by hour pernicious the immigration debate has got in
many countries across Europe, are causing instance like this to be something people previously (INAUDIBLE) were simply impossible to happen
but are now things they may have to fear.
I should say, again, violent crimes in this country is comparatively rare. The murder of Jo Cox MP shocked so many because of its proximity to the
very divisive referendum of Brexit that's changed the United Kingdom significantly since it voted for the U.K. to leave the European Union.
Before as the murder happened, that had seemed farfetched to some degree.
But the man who the sentencing judge referred to as having sort of Nazi tendencies, glorification of the Nazis, cried out sort of pro-British
independent pro-Brexit slogans as he carried out that attack. Both with a firearm and a knife as well. It appears in this instance a knife in fact
that was used instead.
And it's difficult to imagine how British democracy could continue in the way that it does if all MPs live their life under the fear of a horrifying
act like this. I should say again, because in situations like this, I think there is a tendency for people to presume political motivations here.
We haven't had a clear indication from the police that that is definitely the case here. As well, there are other possibilities out there, but I
think I mean to the younger age of the attacker here, may make some also believe that we may be dealing with something that feeds into this extreme
differences that have been brought to the surface in British politics.
For decades, Becky, you know this, British as well, this has been a country where moderation is the watch word, where the parties at times seem to
differ on almost virtually nothing at times, often one taking the middle ground just to take power off the other. And so we've seen since Brexit,
we've seen since the last sort of 10 years or so which the immigration debate has come to the fore quite so vehemently, a nastier fringes of the
political society becoming more vociferous.
They don't embody anything other than a tiny percentage of what people think in this country. But instance like this, and we don't know why this
happened at this stage. Will still play into that troubling fear that violence might be creeping into the political dialogue here. We don't know
at this stage, but when I heard something like this, it's one of those moments in this country where you pause.
Everybody says to each other, that can't simply have happened because it's so alien to the fabric of our normal society here. Knife crime, worryingly
absolutely prevalent in inner cities. Certainly, there are knife amnesty banks where people are supposed to drop their edged weapons to keep them
out of the hands of wrongdoers. But something like this, particularly in a place likely Leigh-on-Sea, far out in there in kind of leafy quiet Essex, a
remarkably chilling event.
ANDERSON: Yes. Absolutely. No, your analysis and insight is spot on.
Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox, tweeted the following. "My thoughts and love are with David's family. They are all that matter now.
"This brings everything back -- the pain, the loss, but also how much love the public gave us following the loss of Jo. I hope we can do the same for
David now." And that was after it became clear that David Amess had lost his life. Just before that, though, and when we knew of the incident that
David Amess had been stabbed multiple times, Brendan Cox tweeted the following. "Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy
itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets."
And just to be absolutely clear, Jo Cox, of course, was a Labour MP, and David Amess a Conservative MP. But the tributes for David and indeed for Jo
came in from across the political divide, as far as the lawmakers are concerned.
I just want to ask you, Nick. What was the action taken after Jo Cox's murder? And what changed, if anything?
WALSH: I think it's fair to say -- I admit I was living abroad at the time. But the focus upon security for MPs was clearly increased. We haven't seen
introductions of bodyguards for specific individuals on a widespread notion. So it didn't usher in a sea change in how Britain does political
business. I think partly because so many in the British body politic would be quite clear that they didn't want to have that kind of interface with
their constituents removed.
I mean, Brendan, an extraordinary, broad-hearted individual, shocking, awful to lose your wife in such an awful, public and politicalized event
through such awful far-right extremism, and has used that moment to try and harness unity, to remind people that there is more that unites them than
divides them. And that's so sorely needed in British politics now. But I think there's been a recognition and there is generally across British
society that kind of upping the ante of more firearms to prevent the limited instances in which firearms are used isn't always necessarily the
Sometimes unfortunately it falls short of providing basic needs for security for individuals. But it's one of the wonderful things about moving
back here about four years ago after 15 years living in societies that are sadly more cursed by everyday violence was to see how comparatively calm
things can be in the United Kingdom which means that an instant like this, together with the attack we saw outside the Houses of Parliament a few
years ago, where armed police were present and were able to step in to stop what seemed to be an Islamist extremist attacking that specific venue.
Those still shocked individuals across London even when there is a prevalence of violent crime quite often in inner cities, too. So a murder
like this, which it does appear to be the case, according to police, will shock, I think, British politicians to their core and probably lead to a
debate about what extra security can be provided.
But I'm sure you will see a kind of almost a heroic reluctance on behalf of those British politicians to increase the barriers between them and the
people they serve because of how hard it will make their lives simply to be effective part of the British democracy here, and possibly hand not a
victory but a concession to those who would try and inject more violence into that dialogue -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nick, we've got some more tributes coming in. This is Michael Gove, another Cabinet member. "David Amess' passing is heartbreakingly sad.
Just terrible, terrible news. He was a good and gentleman man. He showed charity and compassion to all. His every word and act were marked by
kindness. My heart goes out to his family."
Let's just bring up those live images that we've got of that Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Nick, let's just remind our viewers that it is just before 4:00 in the U.K., just four hours ago, Sir David Amess, the local constituency MP in
Leigh-on-Sea was holding what is known is his constituency surgeries. An odd word. People outside of the U.K. may not be familiar with what that is.
But effectively it means he was holding open office for any constituent to come and discuss anything.
I mean, I know, I've been with my parents to constituency surgeries in the past. You know, it's just a very open process and is democracy at work for
all intents and purposes. And we look at these images now of what is --
WALSH: I mean, it absolutely it.
ANDERSON: Yes, go on. Go on.
WALSH: It's of the most parochial type thing. It's about leaky drains. It's about issues to do with parking zones.
WALSH: It's about things which, frankly, you know, very important as they are, are not massively fascinating and not a sight where you would often
expect to see this sort of violent crime.
Now, as I say, we don't know what the ideology behind this was, if indeed there was any. We don't know what fueled it at this stage, but it feeds
into this broader fear, I think, that politics is becoming more radicalized around the world but possibly even here in sleepy Britain as well.
But yes, the notion that a constituency surgery, a place where you simply would come to complain about a slow planning permission for something you
want to do in construction maybe or discuss quite how you felt about your MP's stance on a specific topic, most likely in a very mild-mannered
The fact that something like this on a Friday afternoon, MPs go back to their constituencies at the back end of the week to have these meetings
because they are elected, yes, on a national level as part of a kind of a broad base within parliament that forms a majority that anoints a prime
minister in the U.K. parliamentary democracy, but they're also elected locally, too. And so someone like David Amess would have a lot of local
love and support behind him.
We've heard outpourings of that already from his constituents, from those who worked alongside him on a local level just in the past hours.
Obviously, he would have a lot of local of support and love, too, outside of the national level MP position he takes, which forms part of the
majority that runs the government here. But the mere notion that we would have a quiet Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea during a constituency surgery
being the subject of what seems to have been a vicious, if not frenzied knife attack, is, I think, shocking to anybody who would hear about it in
the United Kingdom.
Yes, we're talking about it globally, but brings of course the question of precisely why this 25-year-old man who's been arrested on suspicion of
murder here came to that church and what drove him to this utterly unforgiveable and barbaric crime, startling that will we'll be talking
about this, Becky. I mean, it is just something you do not associate with the political language of the United Kingdom.
ANDERSON: And just to remind ourselves that this, of course, has echoes of we have no idea what the motivation was. But just the death, the killing,
the stabbing to death of a British lawmaker in the broad light of day on a regular day for this MP does remind us of the very tragic death of Jo Cox
some five years ago.
I'm just going to give you 60 seconds before I want to take a break at the top, just to sort of sum, if you will, where we are and what we know, Nick.
WALSH: Limited information as the motivation of this horrific crime. Something quite alien to British political life. But a 25-year-old man has
been arrested on suspicion of murder of David Amess, MP, an act that appears to have been carried out using a knife in a Methodist Church in
Leon-on-Sea during a constituency surgery.
It appears the police were alerted by members of the public. So there will most likely be a number of witnesses to this crime. But it's causing
tributes across the United Kingdom to pour in from across the political spectrum here, a (INAUDIBLE) from what's been not radicalized but forced to
part from the center ground in some ways over the past decade, over the migration and the debate over leaving the European Union.
But an utterly shocking crime here of murder, so distant to what most people associate with the calm in the United Kingdom that's causing global
attention here but also Britain reeling as to quite what's happened to its political life.
ANDERSON: Yes. We're going to take a very short break at this point. Back with more after this.