Anjem Choudary, a “dangerous” Pakistani-origin radical Islamic preacher in the UK, was today jailed for five-and-a-half years by a British court for encouraging support for the dreaded ISIS terror group.
Choudary, 49, was convicted at the Old Bailey court in London in July and a judge today ruled that the “calculating and dangerous” man should be locked up behind bars.
The preacher, who had backed the ISIS in an oath of allegiance published online, was imprisoned alongside his 33-year-old aide Mohammed Rahman, also sentenced to five years and six months in prison.
Choudary’s barrister Mark Summers had argued that his client regretted breaking the law and urged Justice Holroyde not to sentence him on the basis of his 20 years of notoriety, nor on claims he had indoctrinated “a generation of people to commit direct acts of terrorism”.
However, the judge concluded a custodial sentence was a given even as his supporters shouted “Allahu Akbar” from the public gallery at Old Bailey court.
“You are free to hold your views but Parliament has made it an offence to invite support for a proscribed organisation.
The reason is obvious. A terrorist organisation with the support of many will be stronger than that with the support of a few. You referred happily to the prospect of the ISIS flag flying over 10 Downing Street and the White House,” the judge told Choudary.
The trial heard that the preacher, viewed by British security services as a key force in radicalising young Muslims, had been the “mouthpiece” of Omar Bakri Mohammed, currently in jail in Lebanon, and Mohammed Fachry, the head of the banned group in Indonesia.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard’s counter- terrorism command, said after his conviction had become public last month: “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 ISIS.”
Among Choudary’s followers was one of the five attackers who stormed a cafe in Bangladesh capital Dhaka in July and killed 22 people, including an Indian girl. All the attackers were killed by security forces.
Also, among his many UK followers is Indian-origin ISIS fighter Siddhartha Dhar, dubbed as ‘Jihadi Sid’ by the UK media, believed to be among the senior commanders of the ISIS.
The British Hindu, who converted to Islam and now goes by the name Abu Rumaysah, had skipped police bail in the UK to travel to Syria with his wife and young children in 2014