Radical preacher Anjem Choudary facing 10 years in prison for supporting Islamic State

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary facing ten years in prison for supporting Islamic State

The father of five is due to be sentenced next month after being convicted of supporting ISIS

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

British-born radical preacher Anjem Choudary, who has spent the past 20 years spreading extremist views, is facing jail for drumming up support for Islamic State.

The 49-year-old Muslim has encouraged backing for the terrorist group in a series of talks posted on YouTube. The Old Bailey heard that he had preached how he'd recognised that a caliphate - a symbolic Islamic state - had been created under an IS leader after it was announced on June 29th 2014.

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. He now faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison.

However, judge Mr Justice Holroyde has admitted "there is very little in the way of precedent in the way of sentencing" in Choudary's case. The judge added that although his activities have been "an offence under an Act of Parliament for some time, it's very far from being one of the most common."

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, saying their disregard of the judicial authority was "abundantly plain."

Police homed in on Choudary after he, along with three other influential radicals, swore an oath of allegiance to IS which was posted on the internet.

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 made clear his ambitions for Islam 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, a movement co-founded by Choudary in the mid-1980s, had "affirmed" the legitimacy of the "proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State".

The defendants cemented their vow by posting a series of lectures on YouTube, promoted to more than 32,000 of Choudary's Twitter followers.

The father-of-five denied encouraging his followers to back the terror group and insisted the oath had been made without his knowledge. He said: "It is completely unnecessary. For the rest of the Muslims it is obedience from the heart."

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 Mohammed Emwazi (Jihadi John) in Syria in 2014. 

He told the jury: "If you took an objective view there are circumstances where someone could be punished."

Choudary will be sentenced on September 6.