The hate preacher Anjem Choudary was jailed 10 years for supporting Islamic State. He avoided arrest for almost two decades by using the loopholes in British law. But finally he was convicted at the Old Bailey after jurors heard he had sworn an oath of allegiance to Isis.
The 49-year-old, who has links to one of Lee Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebolajo, and the Islamist militant Omar Bakri Muhammad, also urged followers to support Isis in a series of talks broadcast on YouTube. Prominent British Muslims welcome the sentencing:
Imam Irfan Chishti MBE, co-founder of Me & You Education and Imam of Manchester Central Mosque, said: “British Muslims across the UK welcome this verdict. The community has been unanimous in its rejection of these individuals and everything they stand for. This conviction demonstrates the influence of these hateful views together with the power they had over people by encouraging them not to think for themselves. We shouldn’t be complacent that these convictions will be the end of young people being targeted.”
“There are other organisations and networks out there that also peddle lies in order to draw young people towards violence and extremism often in more sophisticated ways. As individuals, practitioners and a community we have to remain vigilant of these so-called religious figures that look to fill young minds with poisonous ideologies.”
“This is about safeguarding and protecting against those who use religion and faith to ultimately incite violence and hate.”
Imam Qari Asim MBE, Senior Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque, said:
“I am sure I speak on behalf of my community and country in welcoming the ruling. We have to be very careful of those who look to spread a hateful ideology by preying on vulnerable individuals to lead them down a violent path.
“He has sought to create division in society and manipulate young people for his own agenda under the guise of religion. The fact that he would not be welcome in mosques across Britain because of his extreme views demonstrates that this individual is in no way representative of British Muslims. The more we can do to protect our community from these types of people the better.”
Henna Rai, founder of Birmingham based Women Against Radicalisation Network (WARN), said: “The men convicted preyed on the vulnerabilities of young people in this country. Through a mixture of lies, false promises and inflammatory rhetoric they acted as recruiting agents for Daesh and have destroyed lives.
“These people did not rely solely on street stalls to recruit, but ruthlessly exploited traditional and social media to identify and manipulate those who might be vulnerable to radicalisation.
“We know that individuals associated with this group travelled to Syria and Iraq resulting in death, murder and suicide.
“Groups like Daesh and al-Muhajiroun claim to represent Islam and Muslims. In reality it is they who cause and compound the suffering of Muslims and people of all backgrounds.”
Meanwhile, Miqdaad Versi, of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the Guardian: “Mr Anjem Choudary has long been condemned by Muslim organisations and Muslims across the country, who consider him and his support for Daesh to be despicable and contrary to the values of Islam and our nation.
“Many Muslims have long been puzzled why this man was regularly approached by the media to give outrageous statements that inflamed Islamophobia. We hope the judgment serves as a lesson for anyone who follows this path of advocating hate and division.”