A British court has sentenced radical cleric Anjem Choudary, former spokesman for the pro-Sharia Islam4UK movement, to five years behind bars for encouraging support for ISIS — prompting cheers of “Allahu Akbar” from supporters.
London-born Choudary, 49, and Islamic preacher Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33 and also a London native, were convicted at the end of July.
According to a release from Scotland Yard, the two “invited support for a proscribed terrorist organisation, namely ISIL, also known as ISIS or the Islamic State, contrary to section 12 of the Terrorism Act 2000” between June 29, 2014, and March 6, 2015.
Both received sentences of five years and six months in prison, with 15-year notification orders.
During the four-week trial, evidence “established that Choudary broadcast speeches online providing his rationale to recognise Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the leader of the Islamic State,” Scotland Yard said. They said investigators combed through 20 years of material.
“Rahman uploaded a speech that claimed learned scholars would offer allegiance to Baghdadi and that they would support him so long as he complied with the Sharia Law, and another speech where he discussed Hijrah in which he encouraged people to take up jihad and migrate. Finally the court heard that Choudary and Rahman pledged their allegiance to ISIS using Mohammed Fachry, a convicted terrorist, to publish the oath that had been signed off by Choudary, on an Indonesian website.”
Choudary and Rahman were first arrested in September 2014. Also arrested then was Siddhartha Dhar, who jumped bail, fled to the Islamic State and is believed to be the group’s new “Jihadi John.”
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said Choudary and Rahman “have stayed just within the law for many years and there has been frustration for both law enforcement agencies and communities as they spread hate.”
“We have watched Choudary developing a media career as spokesman for the extremists, saying the most distasteful of comments, but without crossing the criminal threshold,” Haydon said. “Their recent speeches and the oath of allegiance were a turning point for the police – at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they were actively encouraging support of ISIS.”
“This has been a significant prosecution in our fight against terrorism and we will now be working with communities to ensure that they are not replaced by others spreading hate. Communities defeat terrorism, which is why we must maintain the strong relationship between the public and police.”
According to BBC, Choudary’s supporters stood up in the gallery during sentencing and yelled “Allahu Akbar.” Choudary, who refused to stand as his sentencing hearing began, smiled at his followers as he was led away.
The judge said the pair had “crossed the line between the legitimate expression of your own views and a criminal act” as “a significant proportion of those listening to your words would be impressionable persons looking to you for guidance on how to act.”
Just days after the Brussels bombings in March, Choudary associate Abu Haleema, a London-based bus driver, filmed an open screed in support of jihad on a rainy British street that was promoted and distributed via ISIS Telegram channels.
Abu Haleema was arrested in spring 2015 by Scotland Yard; he’d warned in a video two months before that “we’re going to see the black flag of sharia in the White House, we’re going to see the black flag of sharia over Windsor castle, we’re going to see the black flag of the khilafah on the Suez Canal.”
He was freed on bail — on the condition that he stop stoking jihad through his active YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts.