“My father was a modest man, he loved his family and he loved Palestine and his people. He was willing to go all the way in defending the rights of his people,” Khalid Al-Ali, the late cartoonist’s eldest son, told Arab News. “We didn’t ask for this appeal, but we found out there was one being planned for the 30th anniversary of the case.”
Al-Ali was shot in the back of the neck as he walked to his office in Ives Street, Knightsbridge, in the early evening of July 22, 1987. He was taken to hospital, where he remained in a coma until he died on Aug. 29.
The controversial political cartoonist worked for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas. His cartoons were drawn from his experience as a Palestinian refugee child and clearly reflected his political stance, which was often critical of Arab regimes and Israel. He had received a number of death threats in the years before his murder.
“We have been told that the investigation is now formally reopened, but the case was never closed — it was just unsolved,” said Khalid, 50, who was living with his father in London at the time of the murder.
“Unsolved cases are reviewed from time to time and the police decided to do a new appeal for information, which then led to it becoming a reopening of the investigation itself.”
Khalid hopes the case will be resolved with the new appeal.
“The inspector in charge of the case 29 years ago was fairly confident of the assassin’s identity,” he said, “so I hope that they will just close the case this time around. They had a wanted man for questioning but he was never charged and that was as far as the case got then.”
Al-Ali’s youngest son, Osama, said: “Lots of questions are unanswered and we would like to have that closure, so we are encouraged by the fact that the investigation is being reopened and we have some path toward resolution, so we know what happened.
“If anybody has any information they should come forth and reach out through the correct channels. Don’t make an assumption as to whether or not you think information is important. Let the professionals be the best judge of how important that information is.
“It is 30 years ago, it is a long time ago, memories may be cloudy. That said, anything you have may be that missing piece that’s required to get to the next step and for that, if you can come forward, we are grateful.”
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, which is running the investigation, 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 a man seen driving a silver-gray 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 an estate in Paddington almost two years after the murder, on April 22, 1989.
“Specialists carried out forensic analysis of the gun, including test firing the pistol, and identified that the marks from the firing pin left on the ejected cartridge case recovered from the scene matched those left on bullets during test firing.
“An image of the pistol has also been released.”
Anyone with information is urged to call the investigation team on 020 3276 9014, or 0044 203 276 9014 if calling from outside the UK, or to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, e-mail [email protected] In each, case please quote “Operation Amazon.”