For hate preacher Anjem Choudary, freedom has mostly been sweet since he was released from Belmarsh prison in 2018 after serving half of a long prison sentence for inciting support for Islamic State.
Despite severe restrictions on his movement – he is electronically tagged and effectively gagged – he has since been spotted until 11 p.m.
And just a few weeks ago, the north London resident had his public speaking ban lifted.
Banning his accounts by major social media companies will be a setback for him to reach his followers, but he has other ways to get his message out, such as sending essays promoting Sharia law. to a network of Whatsapp contacts.
For hate preacher Anjem Choudary, freedom has mostly been sweet since he was released from Belmarsh prison in 2018 after serving half of a long prison sentence for incitement to support the Islamic State.
Yet many might find it deeply offensive that this disgraced Islamist, co-founder of the British jihadist network al-Muhajiroun and avowed supporter of terrorism at home and abroad, is once again walking the streets of the capital.
Security experts told the Mail that Choudary’s very presence in public helped followers of his despicable ideology.
Choudary is now back with his wife Rubana Akhtar, 43, and their five children. Akhtar was investigated for promoting extremism, but the investigations were dropped in September 2019. Their household, of course, runs on generous benefit payments.
There are fears that Choudary’s new visibility may rekindle interest in his banned jihadist network al-Muhajiroun (meaning Emigrants).
In recent years, this murderous group has been disrupted by arrests and counterterrorism laws, but there are fears it may be re-forming itself now, dividing into smaller cells meeting in secret.
Hope Not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles, who has spent years monitoring Islamist and far-right groups, warns that although exhausted, al-Muhajiroun remains “the most prolific and most extremist group. dangerous of Great Britain ”.
This is all a far cry from Choudary’s previous incarnation as a fun-loving student at the University of Southampton, however. Then he was known as “Andy” and was a womanizer who smoked and drank beer.
He radicalized after meeting Syrian cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed at a mosque in Woolwich, south-east London. He was Bakri’s lieutenant, helping to found al-Muhajiroun in 1996.
The group gained worldwide notoriety in 2002 when they announced “The Magnificent 19”, a conference organized to celebrate the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks and honor those who carried them out.
Choudary would eventually succeed Bakri at the head when the latter left Britain for Lebanon following the London attacks of July 7, 2005, which left 56 dead. (The leader of the 7/7 attacks, Mohammad Sidique Khan, was linked to al-Muhajiroun.) Bakri is now languishing in prison in Lebanon after his arrest in 2010.
Banned in 2006, al-Muhajiroun has simply transferred over the years, adopting new names to stay ahead of the authorities.
According to American scholar Michael Kenney, author of The Islamic State In Britain, he has adopted 181 distinct identities in the UK and abroad.
Having avoided arrest for years despite his overt sympathy for extremism and links to terrorism, Choudary was sentenced to the Old Bailey in 2016 for pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. It was the culmination of a police investigation that involved 20 years of hardware, 333 electronic devices and 12 terabytes of data.
Professor Kenney, who believes staunch Choudary supporters can be numbered in the tens, said: “He doesn’t want to go back to jail. These people are very careful when they are licensed. But it will be interesting to see what happens in the summer of 2021. [when the licence expires]. ‘
More than 25,000 people in the United Kingdom are said to be radicalized, of which 3,000 to 4,000 are under surveillance. Repatriated jihadists add enormously to this burden.