Met re-open investigation into murder of Palestinian cartoonist Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali


Police have reopened an investigation into the murder of a Palestinian cartoonist in London 30 years ago.

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 in July 1987.

The 51-year-old was targeted as he walked to his office in Ives Street, Knightsbridge. He was taken to hospital, but remained in a coma until he died eight weeks later on August 29 – 30 years ago today.

Mr Al-Ali's cartoons were sometimes perceived as critical of the PLO and he had received death threats prior to his murder. But the Palestinian organisation, then led by Yasser Arafat, denied any involvement in the murder.

The victim’s son Khalid Al-Ali told the BBC: "Obviously many people were unhappy with his cartoons throughout his career: that could range from, obviously Israel as the enemy, and Arab leaders and Arab governments, including Palestinian leadership.

"There were always threats, there were always problems with his cartoons but this did not stop him from actually drawing."

Police are now appealing for fresh information about the gunman and a second man later seen driving away from the scene.

Witnesses reported seeing Mr Al-Ali being followed by the suspected gunman, who they described as being of Middle Eastern appearance and aged about 25, with collar-length thick black hair. He was wearing a stonewashed denim jacket and dark trousers. He was reported to have been holding a black automatic handgun.

Witnesses mentioned a second man apparently getting into the driver's seat of a silver-grey left-hand drive Mercedes shortly after the incident.

The gun – a 7.62 Tokarev pistol - was found in open space on the Hallfield Estate in Paddington almost two years later.

In a bid to solve the case, police have now published an artist’s impression of what the killer may look like today. He is described as being of Middle Eastern appearance, aged in his 50s, about 5ft 9ins and of medium build but with heavy shoulders.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "The brutal murder of Mr Al-Ali devastated his family and 30 years on they continue to feel the loss.

"We have previously reviewed this case and 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.

"We remain open-minded about the motive for Mr Al-Ali's murder and we believe there are people somewhere who have information that could help us bring those responsible for his murder to justice."

Anyone with information is urged to call the investigation team on 020 3276 9014 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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