Britain’s most notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for inviting his followers to support Islamic State terrorists.
The 49-year-old lawyer turned radical cleric swore allegiance to the caliphate leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and used social media and rabble-rousing speeches to urge his disciples to follow him.
Mr Justice Holroyde said the Islamist was “calculating” and that his speeches would have influenced followers to commit acts of terrorism.
“You indirectly encouraged violent terrorist activity”, he said. “You were perfectly content with that consequence of your words.
“It is very likely a significant proportion of those who listened would be impressionable, people looking to you for guidance on how to act and ready to do what you said was necessary.”
Choudary’s lieutenant, Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, 33, was convicted alongside him and also received a five-and-a-half-year prison term.
“In differing ways I regard both of you as dangerous, you have showed no remorse at all for anything you have said and done, and I have no doubt you will continue to communicate or message whenever you can”, said the judge.
“You knowingly crossed the line between legitimate expression of your own views and criminal acts of inviting support for an organisation which was at the time engaged in appalling acts of terrorism.”
Mr Justice Holroyde said the evidence proved both men are “strongly supportive of ISIS”, telling them: “You are free to hold and express personal views but the right of freedom of expression is not absolute.”
Shouts of “Allahu Akhbar” rang out from his supporters as he was led away.
Choudary has been a problem for authorities for the last two decades. He had extremists including Lee Rigby killer Michael Adebolajo, ISIS executioner Siddhartha Dhar, and hate preacher Abu Hamza among his supporters.
Police say he may have influenced hundreds of Muslims to support ISIS and travel to Syria to join the terrorist group.