A former university friend of Anjem Choudary was "a lovely guy" when they attended university together in the 1980s, as it was announced that the convicted extremist would be released from jail.
David Toube, Director of Policy at Quilliam International, was friends with Choudary, and told Mike Graham on talkRADIO: “Anjem and I were friends at university, I knew him well, he was a lovely guy back in the 1980s and I’d love to think that he would return to that, I’d love to sit down with him with friends and see if he can be talked down.”
Anjem Choudary arriving at his trial in 2016. Image: Getty
Choudary, who has been described as “genuinely dangerous” by the Prisons Minister Rory Stewart, is set to be released from prison next month.
Stewart assured that the "completely pernicious" cleric would be watched "very, very carefully" by police and security services when he is freed next month.
Father-of-five Choudary, from Ilford, east London, was found guilty of drumming up support for the Islamic State (IS) terror group and was jailed for five-and-a-half years.
The 51-year-old managed to stay on the right side of the law for two decades despite being a leading figure in the banned al-Muhajiroun group.
But he was jailed at the Old Bailey in September 2016 after he "crossed the line" by backing IS in a series of talks posted on YouTube.
Toube went onto to now describe Choudary as a “hardball”, arguing that most terrorism perputrators fall into three categories.
“Friends of mine who work with those involved with terrorism say that they fall into three categories; the stupid, the easily lead and the hardball.
“Anjem is a hardball guy and it is very difficult to talk these guys down.”
Choudary will be released early from his five-and-a-half year sentence, which Torbe has said is a “standardised process” in the criminal justice system, which will result in him being supervised.
“The way that the criminal justice system works - and really has worked since the early 1990s, as a result of a conservative government reform actually where we created this standardised process whereby - if you’re in under five years you come out around half time, but if you’re in for over five years you come out between half and two thirds of your sentence and for the remainder of that time you’re under supervision.
“That means if you do another thing that breaches the term of your release you’ll get taken back to prison, it’s not ideal but it doesn’t mean that people are left out unsupervised.”