Anjem Choudary, one of the most notorious hate preachers living in the UK, is facing a lengthy prison sentence after being found guilty of supporting Daesh.
For 20 years, the hate preacher and father-of-five on benefits mocked Britain as he initiated terror worldwide.
Now, after vowing allegiance to the terror group, he faces 10 years behind bars after being convicted at the Old Bailey.
Police revealed the Londoner has links with up to 500 British jihadists fighting with extremists abroad including hundreds of Daesh recruits.
The 49-year-old has spent two decades radicalising a generation of would-be terrorists but avoided arrest for years, despite his apparent sympathy for extremism.
Counter-terrorism chiefs have spent years trying to bring him to trial, blaming him, and the proscribed organisations which he helped to run, for radicalising young men and women.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command, said: “These men have stayed just within the law for many years, but there is no one within the counter-terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organisations.
“Over and over again we have seen people on trial for the most serious offences who have attended lectures or speeches given by these men. The oath of allegiance was a turning point for the police – at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they supported Daesh.”
Choudary’s favourite prediction was that the ‘flag of Islam would fly over Downing Street’.
He would also like to utter proclamations like: “The Muslims are rising to establish the Sharia… Pakistan, Afghanistan and perhaps, my dear Muslims, Londonistan.”
The court heard how he has links to one of Lee Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebolajo, and the Islamist militant Omar Bakri Muhammad – who also urged followers to support Daesh in a series of talks broadcast on YouTube.
Choudary and his co-defendant, Mohammed Rahman, 33, told their supporters to obey Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Daesh leader, who is also known as a caliph, and travel to Syria to support Daesh or ‘the caliphate’.
They were convicted in July but details of the trial, including the verdict, could not be revealed until now.
Choudary and Rahman will be sentenced on 6th September at the Old Bailey.
What people think about the verdict
Imam Irfan Chishti MBE, co-founder of ‘Me & You Education’ and Imam of Manchester Central Mosque, said:
“British Muslims across the UK welcome this verdict. The community has been unanimous in its rejection of these individuals and everything they stand for. This conviction demonstrates the influence of these hateful views together with the power they had over people by encouraging them not to think for themselves. We shouldn’t be complacent that these convictions will be the end of young people being targeted.”
“There are other organisations and networks out there that also peddle lies in order to draw young people towards violence and extremism often in more sophisticated ways. As individuals, practitioners and a community we have to remain vigilant of these so-called religious figures that look to fill young minds with poisonous ideologies.”
“This is about safeguarding and protecting against those who use religion and faith to ultimately incite violence and hate.”
Imam Qari Asim MBE, Senior Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque, said:
“I am sure I speak on behalf of my community and country in welcoming the ruling. We have to be very careful of those who look to spread a hateful ideology by preying on vulnerable individuals to lead them down a violent path.
“He has sought to create division in society and manipulate young people for his own agenda under the guise of religion. The fact that he would not be welcome in mosques across Britain because of his extreme views demonstrates that this individual is in no way representative of British Muslims. The more we can do to protect our community from these types of people the better.”
Henna Rai, founder of Birmingham based ‘Women Against Radicalisation Network’ (WARN), said:
“The men convicted preyed on the vulnerabilities of young people in this country. Through a mixture of lies, false promises and inflammatory rhetoric they acted as recruiting agents for Daesh and have destroyed lives.
“These people did not rely solely on street stalls to recruit, but ruthlessly exploited traditional and social media to identify and manipulate those who might be vulnerable to radicalisation.
“We know that individuals associated with this group travelled to Syria and Iraq resulting in death, murder and suicide.
“Groups like Daesh and al-Muhajiroun claim to represent Islam and Muslims. In reality it is they who cause and compound the suffering of Muslims and people of all backgrounds.”