August 29, 2017 / 9:08 AM / a year ago

British police seek information on 30-year-old murder of Palestinian cartoonist

LONDON (Reuters) - British police on Tuesday launched a fresh appeal for information on the murder of a famous Palestinian political cartoonist in London 30 years ago, hoping someone might feel more able to speak up three decades later.

Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali, who received a number of death threats for his cartoons which satirized Middle Eastern politics, was gunned down in west London on July 22, 1987.

He died in hospital just over one month later, aged 51.

Speaking to London’s Metropolitan Police 30 years on, his son, Osama Al-Ali, described his father’s sudden death as “traumatic”.

“Clearly a horrific crime was committed and to have justice is critical for the family, and just I think politically it’s also critical that people know what happened and there’s resolution.”

London’s Metropolitan Police are now calling for anyone with information on the murder, in particular on two suspects they have been unable to identify, to come forward.

Al-Ali’s cartoons, which were often depicted from the perspective of a small boy who looked on at events with child-like innocence, were perceived as critical of regimes in Palestine and elsewhere. However, the police said they added they were keeping an open mind about the motive for his killing.

Al-Ali was shot in the back of the neck in broad daylight while walking from his car to the Knightsbridge office of Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas, where he worked at the time.

Witnesses watched the suspected gunman follow Al-Ali and later flee the scene on foot.

He was described as about 25 and of Middle Eastern appearance, with thick, collar-length black hair that was wavy at the back.

Witnesses also reported seeing another man, in his 50s and also of Middle-Eastern origin, running nearby shortly after the incident, with his left hand inside his jacket as if concealing something.

He then got into a silver-grey left-hand drive Mercedes and drove away.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, which is reviewing the case, said the police have “followed a number of lines of enquiry which have not resulted in us identifying these two men.”

“However, 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.”

Reporting by Emma Rumney

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