UK-based radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for encouraging support for Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group.
Choudary, 49, was convicted at the Old Bailey court in London in July and a judge on Tuesday (September 6) ruled that the “calculating and dangerous” man should be locked up behind bars.
The preacher, who had backed Daesh in an oath of allegiance published online, was imprisoned alongside his 33-year-old aide Mohammed Rahman, who was also sentenced for the same period of time.
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”.
“Choudary has done his best to stay within the law, acting on the boundaries of it maybe, but determined to stay within the law.
“He has had time to reflect, and on reflection would have done things differently had he known the boundaries of the law. He is determined not to cross those boundaries in the future,” Summers said.
However, the judge concluded a custodial sentence was a given even as his supporters shouted “Allahu Akbar” from the public gallery at the Old Bailey.
“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,” the judge told Choudary.
“You referred happily to the prospect of the ISIS flag flying over 10 Downing Street and the White House.”
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: “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 many British followers is Indian-origin Daesh fighter Siddhartha Dhar, dubbed as ‘Jihadi Sid’ by the UK media, believed to be among the senior commanders of the terror group.