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Extremists face jail over IS backing after undercover police sting

A pair of extremists with links to hate preacher Anjem Choudary are facing jail for their part in drumming up support for "vicious" Islamic State following a major undercover police operation.

A covert officer infiltrated the Luton chapter of the banned group Al-Muhajiroun (ALM) and secretly recorded speeches over 20 months before police swooped to arrest them.

At the meetings, attended by up to 80 people including young children, the group praised IS and urged others to support the terror group and travel to Syria to fight.

In one rant on July 2 2015, Mohammed Choudry, 23, spoke of "40 trucks driving down Oxford Street full of explosives", the Old Bailey was told.

He was heard to tell 40 people at the invitation-only meeting in the Bedfordshire town: "A wave is coming - either be a part of it or you drown ... Either you like it or you don't like it."

His co-defendant, Zaiur Rahman, 39, helped to organise a series of meetings in July 2015 held in a marquee in his back garden and at a nearby Anglican church in Luton.

Following a retrial, Choudry, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, was found guilty of encouraging support for IS, while Rahman, of Ferndale Road, Luton, was convicted of three counts of arranging meetings in support of a banned organisation.

Judge Michael Topolski QC told the pair: "You, Zaiur Rahman, and you, Mohammed Sufiyam Choudry, have been convicted unanimously by this jury of arranging meetings and speaking at a meeting in support of a vicious terrorist organisation whose members and supporters - just like you two - have hijacked and corrupted the principles and practices of an ancient and revered religion for its own ends and purposes.

"You both will in due course be sentenced by me and can expect that sentence to be one of a term of imprisonment."

A jury of seven men and three women delivered the guilty verdicts following 18 hours and 29 minutes of deliberations.

Rahman, wearing a padded sleeveless jacket, glasses and a grey sweatshirt, could be seen smiling in the dock following his conviction.

His co-defendant, wearing a black suit and white, open-necked shirt, displayed no emotion as the guilty verdict was delivered against him.

At the earlier trial, three other members of the group - Mohammed Istiak Alamgir, 37, Yousaf Bashir, 36 and Rajib Khan, 37, all from Luton - were convicted of their roles in spreading IS ideology.

The convictions came as a result of a Bedfordshire Police investigation into the activities of ALM in Luton in co-operation with the Metropolitan Police.

Among attendees at meetings were Islamic extremists Shazib and Junead Khan, who were also arrested for their activities.

Last May, delivery driver Junead Khan, 25, was jailed for life for plotting to kill a US soldier in the UK, while his uncle, Shazib Khan, 23, was handed an extended sentence of 13 years for his plans to fight in Syria.

During the gatherings, Rajib Khan hailed the Charlie Hebdo terror atrocity in Paris while Alamgir collected money for legal fees of convicted terrorist and ALM leader Omar Bakri Muhammed.

Following arrests in December 2015, police seized more than 270 electronic devices and recovered some 500 images and videos, including footage of Rajib Khan and Alamgir eating with Muhammed by a beach.

Bashir was found guilty of one count of addressing a meeting to encourage support for a proscribed organisation.

Khan was found guilty of one count of arranging or assisting in arranging and managing a meeting to support a proscribed organisation and one count of addressing a meeting to encourage support for a proscribed organisation.

Alamgir was found guilty of three counts of addressing a meeting to encourage support for a proscribed organisation.

They will be sentenced alongside Choudry and Rahman at the Old Bailey on a date to be fixed.

Following a separate Old Bailey trial last year, Anjem Choudary, 49, formerly chief spokesman for ALM, was jailed for five-and-a-half-years for encouraging support for IS. He has since asked for permission to appeal against his conviction.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Counter Terrorism Command at the Metropolitan Police, said: "These men were closely associated with Al-Muhajiroun, a dangerous group which has inspired and influenced numerous terrorists.

"The men used meetings about Ramadan - a time for self-reflection and change for the better - to instead deliver subversive speeches that encouraged groups, including very young children, to engage in war alongside Daesh.

"Speeches like theirs inspire the terrorists of tomorrow and I am immensely pleased with the excellent work of my officers and Bedfordshire Police. Crucially, both are working with Luton social services to safeguard the vulnerable children we've identified were taken to the radical meetings."

Detective Superintendent Glen Channer, from the Eastern Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit, said: "This was a complex investigation which was launched to target those who seek to influence others with their poisonous rhetoric. We used a range of tactics to collect evidence in order to bring these men to justice.

"This case is another example to show that we simply will not tolerate those who spread fear and hate in our communities and will continue to target, arrest and disrupt anyone with extreme views."

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