Anjem Choudary: UK TV's favorite hate preacher

Anjem Choudary
Updated 18 June 2019
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Anjem Choudary: UK TV's favorite hate preacher

  • British lawyer embraced radical Islamism and vigorously defended extremist groups after attacks including the 7/7 London bombings
  • Given 5½-year prison term in 2016, Choudary was released last year and is completing the sentence under strict supervision

DUBAI: A UK-trained lawyer by trade, Anjem Choudary knew just how far to take his rhetoric before it went from freedom of expression to hate speech.

In 2005, he appeared on BBC “HardTalk” after the 7/7 London bombings, which left 56 people dead. Instead of condemning the attacks, he said: “As a Muslim, I must support my Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they are in the world. I must have allegiance with them, I must cooperate with them, I must run with them, and similarly on the other hand, I must have hatred towards everything that isn’t Islam.”

He added: “At the end of the day, when we say innocent people, we mean Muslims. As long as non-Muslims are concerned, they haven’t accepted Islam, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s a crime against God.”

Choudary embraced radical Islamism and joined the extremist organization Al-Muhajiroun, working with Islamist militant leader Omar Bakri Muhammad.

The organization was banned in 2004 under UK anti-terror legislation. 

Muhammad later left for Lebanon, and Choudary assumed the leadership position.

Al-Muhajiroun’s official disbanding had little real impact on its British supporters, and in the next few years Choudary led various groups that were just rebadged to circumvent anti-terror laws.

These included Al-Ghurabaa, which hosted links on its website to internet chat forums that justified attacks on civilians.

Another group, Islam4UK, campaigned for a hardline Daesh-style global caliphate. 

Its website featured a picture of Buckingham Palace converted to a mosque.

“What Choudary managed to do is to stay very much on the side of the law, until recently. He made sure he wasn’t inciting actual direct acts of violence, but was very offensive in his hate speech,” Haras Rafiq, chief executive of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam International, told Arab News. 

“What he did very cleverly was he talked in broad aspects, he talked about Christian Crusaders, he talked about lots of things in a broad way, very rarely about specific individuals.”

Choudary managed to stay one step ahead of the law, and he knew it. After 9/11 and 7/7, his firebrand style landed him primetime spots on international news talk shows, including on Fox News and CNN.

Pitting him against a moderate, viewership always rose when there was a “good guy vs bad guy” model, as Rafiq put it.

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“Like WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), he (Choudary) became the villain, and they always tried to have a good guy with him. Unfortunately, what that causes is access to an audience that in the past he never had,” Rafiq said.

“Anjem has been very good at being this villain … and he liked it, he enjoyed it, he thought it was good for the cause, and he was, from his perspective, very good at it.”

This posed a significant problem as many viewers began to form opinions on Muslims based on his comments.

Choudary’s charismatic preach-ing earned him the label of a top recruiter for Islamist terrorism in the UK and Western Europe. He is thought to be responsible for indoctrinating many of the UK’s Daesh loyalists.

“Just about everybody I know wants to go and live under the caliphate and the Islamic State, because we’ve lived in this country for so long and with all this gambling, pornography, alcohol … the promiscuity and the kind of, like, divorced lifestyle here,” he said in 2014.

“I know people already there, and I know some people, including myself, who’d love to go. I’ve said that openly to the media that I like to go there, give you my passport, and we can have a nice press conference at Heathrow airport where I can wave goodbye to everyone.”

He told the Washington Post that Daesh is “providing the basic needs to the people in terms of food, clothing and shelter. They’re protecting their life, honor and dignity, wealth etc.”

While Choudary has repeatedly voiced his desire to join the terrorist group, he has never done so. “He’s a coward,” Rafiq said.

“He encouraged, empowered, indoctrinated so many people to join Daesh, and he didn’t do it himself.”

But Choudary’s vocal support for Daesh did finally give the UK the opportunity to arrest him. 

On Sept. 6, 2016, he was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

The judge told him he had “crossed the line between the legitimate expression of your own views and a criminal act.”

Released in October 2018, Choudary is completing the rest of the sentence under strict supervision.  


Khan’s visit opens ‘new chapter’ in ties with US, says minister

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hold a meeting in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 17 min 21 sec ago
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Khan’s visit opens ‘new chapter’ in ties with US, says minister

  • Analysts believe Bajwa will play a key role in behind-the-scenes discussions, with the military looking to persuade Washington to restore aid and cooperation

ISLAMABAD: A “new chapter” had been opened in ties between the US and Pakistan, said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday, a day after US President Donald Trump welcomed Pakistani Premier Imran Khan to the White House to mend relations and seek help in ending the 18-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Seated next to Khan in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump spoke about improving trade with Pakistan and said he expected Khan would help to negotiate peace in Afghanistan so that US troops could come home.
“We have seen a new beginning; a new chapter is being opened,” Qureshi said at a press conference in Washington. “We should take this positively and hope that things will get better,” he said, adding that Pakistan was focused on “economic diplomacy” and wanted to boost trade with the US.
“The world looks at economics and looks for ways to cater to its own economic needs, so we will try that we also move forward in that direction,” Qureshi said, adding that Trump had accepted Khan’s invitation to visit Pakistan.
During Monday’s meeting, Trump spoke of possibly restoring $1.3 billion in American aid that he had cut last year. Both the leaders also discussed ways to boost bilateral trade as President Trump said the US was willing to invest more in Pakistan and wanted to expand trade by up to 20 times.
Trump also said bilateral relations had improved in recent months. “To be honest, we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than we did when we were paying the money,” he said, referring to last year’s decision to suspend US security assistance to Pakistan to compel it to crack down on militants.
The comments were a far cry from last year when Trump had complained on Twitter that the Pakistanis “have given us nothing but lies & deceit” and “give safe haven” to militants. Pakistan has denied the accusations.
Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who accompanied Khan to Washington, also met the top American military officer, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Analysts believe Bajwa will play a key role in behind-the-scenes discussions, with the military looking to persuade Washington to restore aid and cooperation.

Commenting on the Khan-Trump meeting, foreign affairs expert Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi said both sides wanted to improve the bilateral relationship through a new framework, the details of which would be settled in the next few months through meetings between officials of the two governments.
“American support to Pakistan will depend on two things, to what extent Pakistan is willing to facilitate agreement with the [Afghan] Taliban and the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and secondly if Pakistan continues action against militants on its soil,” Askari said.
“Pakistan’s military to military and civilian government’s relationship with the US will improve manifold in the coming months if we stop pursuing a dual-track approach,” Rizvi said, referring to accusations in the past that Pakistan was selective in its crackdown on terrorists.
After a one-on-one meeting with Khan, President Trump said he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by wiping out Afghanistan but did not want to kill 10 million people.
“There is no military solution in Afghanistan,” Khan said in agreement. “If you go all-out military, there would be millions and millions of people who would die.”
“I think Pakistan is going to do a lot (with respect to Afghanistan),” Trump said. “I really do. I think Pakistan is going to make a big difference.”