LONDON, Anjem Choudary, labeled as Britain’s “most hated man,” has been convicted of supporting terrorism.
The 49-year-old Muslim cleric was found guilty by a jury of inviting support for a banned organization after swearing an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
Choudary and one of his disciples, Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, 33, were convicted on July 28 after a four-week trial, but details were only made public Tuesday after a judge lifted reporting restrictions imposed during another trial.
Choudary and Rahman will be sentenced on Sept. 6. They face up to 10 years in jail. Choudary, wearing a white robe and glasses, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. The jury of six men and six women deliberated for 2 1/2 hours.
Britain’s tabloid newspapers have labeled Choudary the country’s “most hated man” — given his hate-filled preaching and his many associations with terrorists.
He had avoided arrest for almost two decades despite his inflammatory comments and provocative statements.
“These men have stayed just within the law for many years,” said Cmdr. Dean Haydon, of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, told CNN.
Police finally had enough evidence to arrest Choudary on Aug. 5, 2015, when they discovered material online in which he praised the Islamic State regime and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.
UK police say Choudary was a “key” figure in the Islamic State’s recruitment drive.
Former Metropolitan Police anti-terror officer David Vidicette told the Telegraph: “We have a key individual here in the UK posting vast amounts of information on social media that is radicalizing individuals in the UK. Part of that information encourages them to travel to Syria.”
Choudary insists the terrorists are following the teachings of Islam. “The Koran says, ‘Whatever the prophet did, do it; whatever the prophet forbade, forbid it … the prophet himself sent many people to assassinate others,’ ” he told CNN.
In another CNN interview, he claimed: “The best death is one of martyrdom. I would love to die defending myself and my community, but of course death is in the hands of God; our life span will end when he decides.”
By Allen Cone