Family friend makes documentary film about Ali Abucar Ali

Image above: Ali Abucar Ali proudly shows off his driving test certificate

‘Baby Brother’

It is a year and a half since Ali Abucar Ali was fatally stabbed on a street in Brentford, aged 20. A jury has just found he was killed by Norris Henry, a paranoid schizophrenic.

Ali’s brother Hassan is the subject of a documentary made by a friend of the family, Nail Adam, called Baby Brother, in which he speaks about how he first heard it was his younger brother who had been attacked and killed and what it had been like for him trying to come to terms with his loss.

Nail is submitting the documentary to film festivals all over the country over the summer and will then make the short film available to watch on YouTube in the autumn.

“Ali was 20 when he died”, Nail told the audience at the screening at the BFI on Friday (28 April). “Try and remember what you were doing at 20 and think about the time from then until now – the experiences, the people you’ve met, the laughter, the love. Ali’s story means he is not going to experience any of that.”

Image above: Hassan with Ali

The two started filming at the beginning of November, around the time of the first anniversary of Ali’s death. They did not go into how or why he died, not wishing to compromise the investigation, but concentrated instead on what Hassan was doing that day, how he had missed repeated calls from his mother and his sister, worried they could not get hold of Ali; how a friend called to say his grandmother Betty had also been attacked; and how it still had not sunk in that the reported stabbing in Brentford had anything to do with his ‘baby brother’.

He spoke movingly about their relationship, about his brother’s determination to do well in life, and the horror as it gradually dawned on him it was his brother who had been killed. Washing his brother’s body in preparation for the funeral was the hardest thing he had ever had to do, he said, but he wanted Ali to be cared for by someone who loved him.

Ali had been a student at Chiswick School and was studying accountancy at Kingston University, while working overnights at Amazon for money and coaching basketball in his spare time.

More than a thousand people turned out for the Janazah funeral prayers for Ali Abucar Ali at the Darussalam Masjid and Culture Centre in Southall on Friday 19 November 2021, among them students from Kingston, representatives of Chiswick Schools and members of his basketball club the Chiswick Gators.

The Go Fund Me page set up by Abdulsattar Abdi Aden raised more than £100,000 for projects in his memory.

Image aboe: Hassan; ‘My Baby Brother’

It was thought at first that Ali had gone to 82-year-old Elizabeth Walsh’s aid. At the court hearing in April, the court heard Henry had stabbed her with a 25cm knife and then as Ali approached, he said, “you want it as well?”, and stabbed him in the chest. Betty has since recovered from her physical injuries, but Ali was pronounced dead at the scene.

They were both just in the wrong place at the wrong time, said Hassan. They do not know whether Ali had been stabbed because he tried to help her, it was an idea put forward by a witness at the time, but the two attacks happened within two minutes of each other. The court heard Norris Henry, 38, attacked them without any provocation and that he suffered from delusions that people around him wished him harm.

The attack happened on the day he was due to receive a mental health assessment. Ruth Cadbury MP told the audience at the screening there were investigations currently on pause until the legal proceedings had concluded, which would look at why Henry was in the community in that state of mind. People in the local community had raised concerns about him before the attack happened and he was known to the police.

Ali’s sister Hawa said: “He was reported so many times”.

Images above: Ali’s family; mother Amina

Ali’s mother Amina told the audience the audience just as the wounds were beginning to heal, the court case had brought it all back again, “like a wound that’s opening up every time.”

She has not yet gone back to work, unable to face people and cope with their concern, and she is unable to sleep at night if any of her other grown up children are still out.

Elizabeth Walsh, a popular character well-known locally, has recovered physically, but is still suffering mentally from the attack and has lost her independence.

Hassan said their religion told them they must forgive, and he was striving to do that, but was not ready yet. The family hopes some good would come out of the investigations, resulting in better mental health care provision.