RADICAL British hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been found guilty of urging his followers to fight for Daesh in Syria.
An Old Bailey jury convicted the Islamist cleric, who has cultivated a profitable niche as an extremist media mascot, after hearing that he had sworn an oath of allegiance to the terrorist outfit, and told his supporters to pledge fealty to Omar Bakri Muhammad, the militia’s self-styled caliph.
Although the verdict was delivered in July, details of the trial could not be reported until now, and the 49-year-old, thought to have influenced hundreds of violent extremists, will face up to 10 years imprisonment when sentenced on September 6.
Choudary, a Woolwich-born former lawyer known as ‘Andy’ in his Southampton University days, became absorbed by Islamist ideology in the 1990’s, entering public consciousness as a spokesman for al-Muhajiroun, an extremist group led by Omar Bakri, the ‘Tottenham Ayatollah’.
After al-Muhajiroun was disbanded Choudary went on to become a prominent media spokesman for Islam4UK, a controversy-courting outfit calling for the implementation of Sharia law across Britain, and the conversion of Buckingham Palace into a mosque.
To the bafflement of Muslim community leaders he spread his message free from legal repercussions and was lavished with media attention, despite his overtly anti-democratic philosophy and pernicious influence on vulnerable young disciples.
Head of the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism unit, Commander Dean Haydon, said: “These men have stayed just within the law for many years, but there is no one within the counter-terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organisations.
“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.”