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Hate preacher Anjem Choudary jailed for five and a half years for IS support

Published 06/09/2016

Authorities said Choudary had stayed 'just the right side of the law' for many years
Authorities said Choudary had stayed 'just the right side of the law' for many years

Influential hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been jailed for five and a half years for drumming up support for Islamic State (IS).

While claiming benefits, the married father-of-five spoke "contemptuously" about the democracy in which he was born and "happily" relished the idea of the Islamic flag flying over 10 Downing Street.

Despite being a leading figure in the banned group al-Muhajiroun (ALM), and with a series of former supporters going on to be convicted of terrorism, Choudary had stayed on the right side of the law for two decades.

But in the summer of 2014, he "crossed the line" and backed IS in a series of talks posted on YouTube, and recognised a caliphate - a symbolic Islamic state - had been created under its leader.

Choudary, 49, from Ilford, and Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33, from Whitechapel, east London were found guilty of inviting support for IS and each sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.

Supporters in the public gallery of the Old Bailey courtroom shouted "Allahu Akbar" as Choudary was sent down to begin his sentence, which could be served in solitary confinement to stop him radicalising inmates.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Holroyde said the men had shown "contempt for the values of the democracy in which we live" and failed to denounce the appalling violence of IS.

In one of the speeches, which would have been heard by impressionable people, he had referred "happily to the prospect of the flag of Islam flying over 10 Downing Street and the White House", the judge said.

He described Rahman as a "hothead" while Choudary was more "calculating" and the more experienced, although both were dangerous and lacking in remorse.

The judge said: "At no point did either of you say anything to condemn the violent means by which ISIS claimed to have established a caliphate.

"In fact, none of the many speeches which the jury heard contains any criticism by either of you of any of the violent actions of Isis or its supporters.

"On the contrary, each of you was invariably able to find a way of justifying their most appalling acts.

The trial heard that the preacher, viewed by officers as a key force in radicalising young Muslims, had been the "mouthpiece" of Omar Bakri Mohammed - the founder of the banned extremist group ALM.

He courted publicity by voicing controversial views on Sharia law, while building up a following of thousands through social media, demonstrations and lectures around the world.

In one speech in March 2013, Choudary, from Ilford, north-east London, set out his ambitions for the Muslim faith to "dominate the whole world".

Supporters included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and suspected IS executioner Siddhartha Dhar who told him his views on the Caliphate would be "gold on Twitter".

Shortly after the announcement of the caliphate, Choudary held a meeting with his closest aides at a curry house in Mile End Road in east London to discuss it.

Afterwards, he texted his wife the word "done", and it was obvious from her response she knew exactly what he meant, the court heard.

He also consulted his "spiritual guide", Omar Bakri Mohammed, currently in jail in Lebanon, and Mohammed Fachry, the head of ALM in Indonesia.

On July 7 2014, the trio's names appeared alongside Rahman's on the oath posted on the internet, which stated the Muhajiroun had "affirmed" the legitimacy of the "proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State".

The defendants followed up by posting on YouTube a series of lectures on the caliphate, which Choudary promoted to more than 32,000 Twitter followers.

Despite protesting his innocence, Choudary continued to express extreme views, refusing to denounce the execution of journalist James Foley by so-called Jihadi John, aka Mohammed Emwazi, in Syria in 2014.

Sue Hemming, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Both men were fully aware that Daesh is a proscribed terrorist group responsible for brutal activities and that what they themselves were doing was illegal.

"Those who invite others to support such organisations will be prosecuted and jailed for their crimes."

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "These men have stayed just within the law for many years and there has been frustration for both law enforcement agencies and communities as they spread hate.

"We have watched Choudary developing a media career as spokesman for the extremists, saying the most distasteful of comments, but without crossing the criminal threshold.

"Their recent speeches and the oath of allegiance were a turning point for the police - at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they were actively encouraging support of Isis.

"This has been a significant prosecution in our fight against terrorism and we will now be working with communities to ensure that they are not replaced by others spreading hate."

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