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Palestinian cartoonist’s 1987 murder reinvestigated

Naji Salim Hussain Al-AliImage copyright
Met Police

Image caption

Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali died a month after he was shot in the neck

The murder of a Palestinian cartoonist who was shot dead in the street is being reinvestigated 30 years on.

Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali, a political cartoonist for Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas, was shot in the neck as he walked to his office in west London.

He was taken to hospital after the attack on 22 July 1987 in Ives Street, Knightsbridge, but died a month later.

The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command wants information about the gunman and a man seen driving from the scene.

Mr Al-Ali’s satirical cartoons were sometimes seen as critical of the Palestinian regime and he had received a number of death threats in the years leading up to his murder, police said.

Shot from behind

At the time of his death, Middle Eastern commentators maintained he had been killed as part of a Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) campaign to silence its critics in Europe and the Middle East, but the PLO denied this.

A Palestinian student arrested in Hull during the inquiry was later jailed for possessing weapons and explosives. He claimed to have been working for both the PLO and the Israeli secret service, Mossad.

In the moments before his murder – for which no-one has ever been convicted – Mr Al-Ali had parked his car on Ixworth Place, before walking down Draycott Avenue and into Ives Street.

Witnesses reported seeing him being followed by the gunman, who shot him from behind.

They described him as being of Middle-Eastern appearance, aged about 25, with collar-length thick black hair that was wavy at the back.

He was wearing a stonewashed denim jacket and dark trousers.

Image copyright
Met Police

Image caption

An artist’s impression of the suspected gunman as he may look today

After the attack, the gunman was seen running out of Ives Street, back across Draycott Avenue and into Ixworth Place.

A witness described seeing another man crossing Fulham Road into Lucan Place and getting into the driver’s seat of a silver-grey, left-hand drive Mercedes shortly after the incident.

The Met said he had been reportedly running with his left hand inside the right side of his jacket, as if he was concealing something.

He was described as being of Middle-Eastern appearance, aged in his 50s, about 5ft 9ins and of medium build but with heavy shoulders.

He had dark bushy hair with a lot of grey in it, a “fattish” face and a “bigger than average nose”. He was clean-shaven and of smart appearance in a grey suit.

The Mercedes was seen driving off along Lucan Place and left into Ixworth Place, towards the junction with Sloane Avenue.

It is believed that the registration number of the car contained the letters P and H in the first part and may have ended 11L.

‘Allegiances shift’

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “The gunman was seen following Mr Al-Ali for about 40 seconds before he shot him.

“Despite the briefness of the attack, witnesses were able to give investigators a good description of the suspect.

“We believe that he may have arranged to meet the man seen driving the silver-grey Mercedes straight after the murder. We believe that this driver was seen hiding the weapon in his coat, intending to dispose of it.”

The gun – a 7.62 Tokarev pistol – was found in open space on the Hallfield Estate in Paddington almost two years after the murder, on 22 April 1989.

Cdr Haydon added: “The brutal murder of Mr Al-Ali devastated his family and 30 years on they continue to feel the loss.

“A lot can change in 30 years – allegiances shift and people who were not willing to speak at the time of the murder may now be prepared to come forward with crucial information.”

Palestinian cartoonist’s 1987 murder reinvestigated}

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