Hate preacher Anjem Choudary is finally behind bars after inspiring a generation of Muslim fanatics including Lee Rigby’s killers and suspected ISIS executioner Siddhartha Dhar.
It can today (Tues) be revealed the 49-year-old, along with disciple Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, 33, were convicted of inviting support for ISIS last month.
Choudary dreamed of establishing an Islamic State and met with his key circle of British Islamists, including Dhar, just days after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the ‘Caliphate’ in June 2014.
For decades, the trained solicitor had evaded prosecution by staying just within the law, while spreading propaganda on social media and his YouTube channel.
He revelled in his infamy and even told one associate in a text message: ‘I can’t help being the most hated man in England.’
But he crossed the line when he swore an oath of allegiance to ISIS along with banned cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, Rahman, and Muhammad Fachry – the Indonesian leader of outlawed terror group Al-Muhajiroun (ALM).
Over decades, Choudary influenced a string of vulnerable youngsters who went on to plot atrocities in the UK and fight with Islamic State abroad.
Jihadists around the world, including France and Belgium, looked to him for guidance through his association with banned terror group.
Police do not know exactly how many of the 850 Britons who have gone to Syria were directly influenced by Choudary but said he was a ‘key’ figure in the radicalisation and recruitment drive.
Anti-terror cops pored over 20 years’ worth of material following his arrest in September 2014 before charging Choudary and Rahman in August last year.
They both claimed their support for Islamic State was a purely religious consideration and had nothing to do with the terror group of the same name.
But they were convicted of inviting support for the barbaric terror group after it was outlawed in June 2014 following a probe similar in scale to the Abu Hamza investigation.
Now the pair, who have appeared outside the Old Bailey many times to scream their support for terrorists, are at last behind bars and face jail terms of up to ten years.
They were both found guilty on 28 July and remanded in custody, but the case can be reported for the first time today after a linked trial came to an end.
Wearing a white Islamic robe and glasses, Choudary showed no emotion as the jury of six men and six women found him guilty of inviting support for a proscribed organisation.
Rahman also stared straight ahead and did not react as the verdicts were returned after two days of deliberations.
Mr Justice Holroyd told them: ‘You have been convicted by the jury of offences which you must expect to result in sentences of imprisonment.
‘Whereas previously you have attended court to attend your trial, what the court now needs you to do is to attend court to be sentenced.
‘It is true that you have complied with the conditions of your bail. I am afraid however, it has been an evidently grudging compliance and you have made your disregard for the court and its processes abundantly plain throughout these proceedings.’
The judge will sentence Choudary and Rahman on 6 September, when they face prison terms of up to ten years.
Choudary and Rahman were both followers of Syrian Salafi Muslim Omar Bakri Muhammad, who was banned from Britain because of his close links to al-Qaeda.
Bakri praised the 9/11 Twin Towers attack in New York, hailed the London 7 July bombers the ‘Fantastic Four’ and said he hoped his young child would grow up to be just like Lee Rigby murderer Michael Adebolajo.
More recently, Bakri has been named as an Islamic State recruiter after it emerged British jihadists were using him as a ‘sponsor’.
He also founded Al-Muhajiroun in the early 1990s and put Choudary in charge before Rahman became the modernising leader of the group that was outlawed in 2010.
In its many guises, including Islam4UK, the stated aim was to have Sharia law all over the world, including the UK.
The group put out ‘incendiary statements’ calling for Buckingham Palace to be turned into a Mosque and Nelson’s Column to be destroyed.
Charismatic Choudary courted the media using his controversial views as ‘bait’ to spread his message of hate.
Giving evidence in court, he compared himself to the prophets of old who preached on mountains.
Choudary and Rahman had a combined 60,000 Twitter followers and were avid users of YouTube – their chosen platform to deliver their message through recorded lectures.
In a speech, delivered in March 2013 entitled ‘Duties of the Khalifa State’ Choudary said: ‘The whole world one day will be under the Sharia, including Hackney, Walthamstow, Moscow and New York.’
He also organised inflammatory demonstrations, including one outside the Lebanese embassy where he was pictured next to a banner featuring the words: ‘Islamic State Is Solution’ with the first letters highlighted to spell out ‘ISIS’.
ISIL, and its aliases, was proscribed as a terror group on 20 June 2014 while the ‘Caliphate’ was declared by al-Baghdadi on 29 June 2014.
Siddhartha Dhar, named as the new ‘Jihadi John’, sent a tex message to Choudary which read: ‘Your words would be gold on Twitter.’
On 1 July, Choudary sent him a section of a speech by al-Baghdadi in which he listed categories of people like doctors, engineers and other specialists and said: ‘Their emigration is an obligation.’
Dhar told Choudary: ‘Book your passport,’ and Choudary replied: ‘What do you mean passport? Don’t you mean ticket. You better buck up your English else someone else will take that post.’
Dhar, referred to as ‘Subject A’ in court, joked: ‘I will settle for the ‘Anger Enemy of Allah’ post.’
The following day, in a message to his wife, Rubana Akhtar, Choudary quipped: ‘How am I gonna make Hijrah [a duty to travel to the Islamic State] if you keep exceeding your mobile phone limit.’
On 3 July, Choudary arranged a meeting at Hayfield Masala, in Mile End Road, Stepney Green with Rahman.
Others present at the meeting were Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysa, Abdul Muhid – jailed for fundraising for terrorists in 2008 – and convicted terrorist Simon Keeler – who was jailed alongside Omar Brooks earlier this year when they were caught in Hungary in breach of their travel bans.
Choudary spoke to Muhammad Fachry, the leader of the Indonesian cell of Al-Muhajiroun spin-off Sharia4Indonesia.
Also known as Abu Yahya, he had already declared his support for the Caliphate, and is now in jail for encouraging people to join ISIS online.
At 9pm, Choudary sent a WhatsApp message to his wife that said: ‘Done’ before posting a Twitter message to his followers.
On 7 July, an Oath of Allegiance appeared on the website AlMustaqbal.net in Indonesian and Arabic, which included Choudary and Rahman’s ‘kunyas’ or Islamic names – Abu Luqman, used by Choudary, and Abu Baraa, used by Rahman.
It was also signed in the names Abu Yahya and Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC said the oath was clear evidence Choudary and Rahman were inviting support for ISIS.
‘Talks given by them were also posted onto the internet via YouTube,’ he continued.
‘The talks were in August and September 2014, which followed the proscription of ISIL and the self-declaration of the Caliphate by the leader of ISIL.’
Mr Whittam added: ‘The defendants sought to validate the legitimacy of both the Caliphate and the Caliph and in doing so emphasised the obligation on others to obey or provide support to ISIS and Baghdadi.’
Rahman delivered speeches to justify Jihadi John’s wearing of a mask to commit his atrocities and blamed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris on France’s ‘war on Muslims’.
He boasted ‘we can start having slave girls again’ and explained how fire could be used as a punishment after a Jordanian pilot was burned to death.
On 12 September 2014 Choudary, Rahman and Dhar shared a platform in a speech entitled ‘Khilafa Vs The World Conference’ in which Dhar spoke of the establishment of the Caliphate and the appointment of IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as a ‘historic moment’.
The three appeared together again in another lecture called ‘The Caliphate will expand Europe and the US.
Dhar was arrested along with Choudary and Rahman on 25 September 2014 but he skipped bail and took his wife pregnant wife and four young children to Syria.
He made headlines in January when he was named as Mohammed Emwazi’s replacement when a sickening video emerged of him ordering the execution of five hostages.
But Choudary insisted he had no idea what had become of his close associate.
‘If you ask me, I don’t know where he could be, he could be anywhere,’ he said.
Choudary has been linked to the radicalisation of a string of terrorists who have stood trial in the past 15 years.
Lee Rigby murderers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had both attended events organised by Al-Muhajiroun.
The Muslim converts butchered the 25-year-old as he walked towards Woolwich Barracks.
Adebolajo was a former associate of Choudary and was one of four men arrested outside the Old Bailey in 2006 after protesting against Rahman’s trial for incitement to murder over angry demonstrations against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
He was jailed for 51 days but the following year was filmed standing behind Choudary at a demonstration by the group ‘Muslims Against Crusades’ – another encarnation of Al Muhajiroun.
Adebowale was also spotted at rallies involving Choudary.
More recently, Brustholm Ziamani, 20, was jailed for 19 years after he was arrested on his way to behead a British soldier in a copycat Lee Rigby-style terror attack.
The court heard how he was radicalised in just a few weeks by ALM members.
Delivery driver Junead Ahmed Khan, 25, was handed a life sentence in May for a plot to murder US troops posted to British military bases.
Also linked to Choudary and ALM, Khan had concocted a plan to cause a car crash and coax soldiers from their vehicles before hacking them to death with a hunting knife.
Commander Dean Haydon, the head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) said 850 Brits are are known to have travelled to Syria from the UK.
‘We think about 300 to 400 have come back and some have been killed in action,’ he continued.
‘It is very difficult to say who those individuals are who have travelled at the hands of Mr Choudary.
‘But it comes back to the whole radicalisation/recruitment question.
‘What we have here is a key individual posting a vast amount of social media material who is radicalising individuals in the UK.
‘Part of the material encourages individuals to travel and fight alongside Islamic State.’
He added: ‘You can go back over history and find an awful lot of terrorists linked to ALM, Islamic State or both. 7/7, Lee Rigby, there was a whole host of other cases which are linked back to ALM and Islamic State.
‘I do class them as significant terrorist organisations.’
Both Choudary and Rahman claimed their discussions of Islamic State were purely religious and had nothing to do with the terror group of the same name.
‘I declared it is legitimate, accepted in my heart that it is an Islamic State so the head of that state is a legitimate leader of the Khalifa,’ said Choudary.
‘People became excited on WhatsApp, Twitter, especially the youth, saying things and didn’t think about it, so as an older brother it is my responsibility to say, “be careful”.
‘There’s things you can talk about perfectly legally but there’s other things that can get you into trouble.’
But the prosecutor said: ‘Each defendant did in fact invite support by their speeches and conduct, with the oath of allegiance and there is no doubt, at the time, each knew he was inviting support for ISIS, which was proscribed.’
He added: ‘It is clear that with their long-standing ambition for a Caliphate applying Sharia law… they were inviting people and they indeed did so.’
Choudary, of (35) Hampton Road, Ilford, Essex and Rahman, of (3) Newbold Cottages, Sidney Street, Whitechapel, east London, denied inviting support for a proscribed terrorist organisation.