One of the UK’s most notorious Islamic radical clerics has been convicted of inviting others to support the so-called Islamic State, it can now be reported. Police said Anjem Choudary, 49, had stayed “just within the law” for years, but was arrested in 2014 after pledging allegiance to the militant group.
Many people tried for serious terror offences were influenced by his lectures and speeches, police said.
Choudary was convicted alongside confidant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman.
Counter-terrorism chiefs have spent almost 20 years trying to bring Choudary, a father of five, to trial, blaming him, and the proscribed organisations which he helped to run, for radicalising young men and women.
Both men were charged with one offence of inviting support for IS – which is contrary to section 12 of the Terrorism Act 2000 – between 29 June 2014 and 6 March 2015.
The verdict on the two defendants was delivered on 28 July, but can only be reported now following the conclusion of a separate trial at the Old Bailey of another group of men for a similar offence.
The trial heard how the men decided in the summer of 2014 that the group then known as Isis [Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham/the Levant] had formed a “Khilafah”, or Islamic state, that demanded the obedience and support of Muslims.
They then invited others to support IS through speeches and announced their own oath of allegiance to its leader.
The oath of allegiance was a “turning point” which meant they could be put on trial, the Met Police said.
Choudary was once the spokesman for al-Muhajiroun, an organisation that can be linked to dozens of terrorism suspects.
Its leader Omar Bakri Muhammad fled the UK after the London suicide bombings on 7 July 2005, and over the years since, Choudary has become one of the most influential radical Islamists in Europe and a string of his followers have either left the UK to fight in Syria or tried to do so.