A report launched recently, into the Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary and his al-Muhajiroun network is arguably the most detailed investigation into this Islamist extremist organisation, its structures and its terrorist connections.
Published by ‘HOPE not hate’, who campaign to counter racism and fascism, reveal in their report titled ‘Gateway to Terror’, that at least 70 people who have been convicted of terrorism or terror-related offences, or who have actually participated in suicide attacks, have been linked to the al-Muhajiroun group.
It’s revealed that the man who narrated a recent 58-minute al-Shabaab video, threatening a number of moderate British Muslims, is from Tower Hamlets and has also been linked to the group (al-Shabaab is the militant Islamist group fighting for control of Somalia).
Also exposed, are the growing connections between Choudary and the northern Iraqi Ansar al-Islam group, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, and name its British leader. It shows that Choudary has a growing network of contacts across Europe.
While Choudary may not have been directly involved in terror plots, it has been investigated that he helped shape the mindset of many of those behind them. He indoctrinated them and through his networks linked them up to terror groups and supporters across the world.
Many of those convicted of terrorism were active supporters of his group at the time of their arrest. Habib Ahmed, who was convicted of being a member of al-Qaeda, was their Manchester branch organiser.
Mohammed Chowdhury, the ringleader of the 2010 Christmas bomb plot, was filmed helping set up a Skype interview between Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri (al-Muhajiroun’s founder, originally a member of radical sect Hiz ut-Tahrir) only three weeks before his arrest.
Being one of the most well-known Islamist extremist in Britain, Anjem Choudary is infamous for his outlandish quotes and controversial demonstrations, which often receive national and often international coverage.
Choudary will, on other occasions, say that people have left the group some time before their arrests so he cannot be blamed for their actions – but this conveniently ignores the fact that he and his network have played a crucial role in their radicalisation.
Al-Mujahiroun is a hate group, pure and simple, and as such deserves our attention. Constantly feted by media yet treated as ‘clowns’ by many, it is by ignoring their threat that we let down the vast majority of Muslims who want nothing to do with Choudary.
The truth is the actions of this tiny minority of extremists leads to the stigmatisation of the entire Muslim community and the shameful idea of collective responsibility. The primary victim of al-Muhajiroun’s extremism is actually the wider Muslim community.
It is also important to mention, that it was the actions of these people that led to the formation of the English Defence League (EDL) in Luton in 2009. This was following al-Muhajiroun’s demonstrations against British soldiers returning from Afghanistan, but have continued to bolster its membership and helped the organisation off life support numerous times due to either violent or offensive acts.
The two biggest spikes of support for the EDL occurred when Anjem Choudary’s supporters burnt poppies on the 2010 Remembrance Day and in the immediate aftermath of the killing of off-duty soldier, Lee Rigby, in May this year.
A more fundamental reason for opposing al-Muhajiroun is that we abhor their politics of hate. Al-Muhajiroun have a worldview that we do not share. They want to impose a system that is totally at odds with one that respects human rights, diversity and equality.
In addition, their sexist views call for the subjugation of and discrimination against women. Choudary has called for Muslim women to be forced to wear the veil and stated that women who commit adultery should be stoned to death.
Fundamentally, they seek to impose a system that is intolerant of difference, does not accept anyone or anything that fails to conform and that is totally opposed to democracy and free will.
All of this is on top of the fact that members of this group, influenced by these hateful ideas, have been involved in the 7/7 bombings and dozens of foiled terrorist plots aimed at killing and maiming innocent people.
Furthermore, al-Muhijaroun seeks to undermine and hammer a wedge between Muslims and the society in which they live by denouncing the idea of multiculturalism, as well as promoting and preaching the dogma of separatism and exclusion. To borrow a phrase from a recent al-Muhajiroun network pamphlet, they force people to choose between whether they are “British or Muslim”, when the two are by no means mutually exclusive.
Yet sadly, there are people on the right of the political spectrum plus those within the “Counter-Jihadist” movement, such as Islamophobes Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in the USA, who use al-Muhajiroun to justify their own anti-Muslim hatred. By not speaking out against extremism across the board we are not only inconsistent in our actions but we leave the ground open to our opponents.
Anjem Choudary might only have a few hundred supporters but their ability to cause terror and fear on our streets, bring a racist backlash down on mainstream Muslims and – ultimately – to divide communities is huge.
No matter under what banner the politics of hatred and intolerance raises its ugly head we must be prepared to greet it with organised and determined opposition. The face of hatred is the face of hatred and the mask it wears is irrelevant.