Britain’s best known Islamist hate preacher, Anjem Choudhary, has this week been jailed for five years and six months after being found guilty of encouraging support for Daesh.
After years of police struggles to pin charges on him, the 49-year-old was finally convicted on Tuesday 6th September alongside close associate, Mizanur Rahman, 33, who received the same sentence.
The pair were convicted by a jury in July of using the internet to urge their followers to back the banned group, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.
Dean Haydon, head of counter-terrorism at London’s Metropolitan Police, said after the sentencing: “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.”
Choudhary is well known in the UK and abroad for his outlandish comments, previously saying that he wanted to convert Buckingham Palace into a Mosque and supported Sharia law in the UK.
He refused to denounced attacks by Islamists, including bombings of the London transport system in 2005, and praised the men behind the 9/11 attacks on the United States. He had never been charged for terrorism offences.
Rahman meanwhile has previously served two years in jail after being found guilty of encouraging followers to kill British and US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq during a protest in 2006
His trial head that in postings on social media, both Choudhary and Rahman had pledged allegiance to the ‘caliphate’ declared by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and said Muslims had a duty to obey or provide support to him.
“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,” said Haydon.
After a four-week trial at London’s Old Bailey, the pair were convicted and finally sentenced this past week. Both had denied the charges against them.
Evidence presented at the trial included speeches carried out by Choudhary where he argued the points to recognise Al-Baghdadi as the leader of Daesh.
The court also heard how the two men had pledged allegiance to the terrorist group and entailed the help of convicted terrorist, Mohammed Fachry, to publish the oath on an Indonesian website.
“The jury were sure that you knowingly crossed the line between the legitimate expression of your own views and the criminal act of inviting support for an organisation which was at the time engaged in appalling acts of terrorism,” said the judge, Timothy Holroyde.
“You are both mature men and intelligent men who knew throughout exactly what you were doing.”
After their sentencing, Choudary’s supporters, who had gathered in the public gallery shouted: “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).