Radical Ilford preacher Anjem Choudary convicted of raising support for ISIS
PUBLISHED: 15:56 16 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:56 16 August 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary, 49, is facing jail after he was convicted at the Old Bailey of drumming up support for the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
The 49-year-old Muslim, of Hampton Road, Ilford, encouraged backing for the terrorist group, also known as ISIS, in a series of talks posted on YouTube.
The father-of-five recognised a caliphate - a symbolic Islamic state - had been created under an IS leader after it was announced on June 29 2014, the Old Bailey heard.
Despite being a leader figure in the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun (ALM) – and a series of former supporters going on to be convicted of terrorism – Choudary stayed on the right side of the law for two decades before investigators were able to pin him down.
He now faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison, although judge Mr Justice Holroyde admitted: “There is very little in the way of precedent in the way of sentencing.”
Choudary and co-defendant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33, were found guilty of inviting support for IS between June 29 2014 and March 6 2015.
The verdicts were delivered on July 28, but for legal reasons can only be reported for the first time today.
As the pair were convicted, Mr Justice Holroyde warned them that they face prison, and said they had only shown “a grudging compliance” to the court.
Police pounced after Choudary, along with three other influential radicals, lent their names to an oath of allegiance to IS which was posted on the internet.
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 set out his ambitions for the Muslim faith to “dominate the whole world”.
Supporters included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of soldier Lee Rigby, and suspected IS executioner Siddhartha Dhar.
Before accepting that the caliphate was legitimate, Choudary 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, 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.
Choudary denied encouraging his followers to back the terror group and insisted the oath had been made without his knowledge.
Despite protesting his innocence, he continued to express extreme views during his Old Bailey trial, refusing to denounce the execution of journalist James Foley by so-called Jihadi John, aka Mohammed Emwazi, in Syria in 2014.
He told the jury: “If you took an objective view there are circumstances where someone could be punished.”
Choudary and Rahman, of Sidney Street in Whitechapel, east London, will be sentenced on September 6.