Lon­don po­lice re­open probe into mur­der of car­toon­ist

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Lon­don’s po­lice depart­ment has re­opened its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the un­solved 1987 mur­der of the Pales­tinian po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist Naji al Ali, whose work crit­i­ciz­ing Is­raeli and Arab pol­i­tics has be­come iconic in the Mid­dle East in the decades since then.

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice ap­pealed for the public’s help on Tuesday, the 30th an­niver­sary of the car­toon­ist’s shoot­ing death out­side a news­pa­per of­fice in Lon­don. The po­lice also re­leased de­scrip­tions for two sus­pects in the case, in­clud­ing an artist’s ren­der­ing of what they be­lieve the gun­man would look like to­day.

“We have pre­vi­ously re­viewed this case and fol­lowed a num­ber of lines of en­quiry which have not re­sulted in us iden­ti­fy­ing these two men,” Cmdr. Dean Hay­don, head of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Counter Ter­ror­ism Com­mand, said in a state­ment. “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.”

Al Ali, whose work ap­peared in Ara­bic-lan­guage news­pa­pers, was shot in the back of the neck on July 22, 1987, while on his way to the Lon­don of­fice of the Kuwaiti pub­li­ca­tion Al-Qabas. He was taken to a hospi­tal, where he re­mained in a coma un­til his death on Aug. 29, 1987, at the age of 51.

Jonathan Guyer, an ex­pert on Arab comics at the Rad­cliffe In­sti­tute for Ad­vanced Study at Har­vard, called al Ali’s artis­tic in­flu­ence “un­ri­valed” and said he re­mained the most widely read car­toon­ist in the Arab world 30 years af­ter his death.

Spec­u­la­tion has long cen­tered on a pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal mo­tive for al Ali’s killing, although the many tar­gets of his pen could plau­si­bly cast sus­pi­cion on nearly any group in the tan­gled Mid­dle East con­flict.

The po­lice said on Tuesday that al Ali had re­ceived “a num­ber of death threats” in the years be­fore he died. But they also said they “re­main open-minded” about his killers’ mo­tive.

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