Anjem Choudary

British citizen Anjem Choudary is an internationally designated Islamist cleric and convicted ISIS supporter. British authorities arrested Choudary and his associate Mohammed Mizanur Rahman in September 2014 for suspected membership in ISIS.Martin Evans, “Anjem Choudary charged with supporting a terror organization,” Telegraph (London), August 5, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11784970/Anjem-Choudary-charged-with-supporting-a-terror-organisation.html; Daniel Sandford, “Choudary and Others Arrested In Islamist Terror Investigation,” BBC News, September 25, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29360297/; Vikram Dodd, “Anjem Choudary denies breaking terrorism laws,” Guardian (London), June 28, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/28/anjem-choudary-denies-breaking-terrorism-laws. Both men were charged in August 2015 with promoting support for ISIS between June 29, 2014, and March 6, 2015. The pair pled not guilty to the charge but were ultimately convicted in July 2016 of inviting support for ISIS.Jamie Grierson and Shiv Malik, “Preacher Anjem Choudary charged with encouraging support for Islamic State,” Guardian (London), August 5, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/05/cleric-anjem-choudary-charged-with-encouraging-support-for-islamic-state; “Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman convicted of inviting support for Daesh,” Crown Prosecution Service, August 16, 2016, http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/latest_news/anjem_choudary_and_mohammed_rahman_convicted_of_inviting_support_for_daesh/; Alexis Flynn and Jenny Gross, “U.K. Preacher Anjem Choudary Convicted of Inviting Support for Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-preacher-anjem-choudary-convicted-of-supporting-islamic-state-1471361122. In September 2016, Choudary and Rahman were each sentenced to five years and six months in prison.Stephen Castle, “Anjem Choudary Is Sentenced to Prison for Promoting ISIS,” New York Times, September 6, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/world/europe/anjem-choudary-sentenced-isis.html. Choudary was released on October 19, 2018, only halfway through his sentence due to British probation rules that allow for early release after the completion of half a sentence.Martin Bentham, “Release of Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudary next month 'is danger for us all', prisons minister warns,” Evening Standard (London), September 11, 2018, https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/release-of-hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-next-month-is-danger-for-us-all-prisons-minister-warns-a3932731.html.

For years before his 2014 arrest, Choudary’s Islamist speeches, anti-Western rhetoric, and declared support for foreign Islamist movements such as ISIS drew the attention of British authorities, who connected Choudary to multiple terrorist-related cases in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Days before his October 2018 release, the U.N. Security Council added Choudary to its al-Qaeda and ISIS sanctions list, freezing all of his financial assets.“SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE PURSUANT TO RESOLUTIONS 1267 (1999) 1989 (2011) AND 2253 (2015) CONCERNING ISIL (DA'ESH) AL-QAIDA AND ASSOCIATED INDIVIDUALS GROUPS UNDERTAKINGS AND ENTITIES,” U.N. Security Council, accessed October 18, 2018, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/anjem-choudary. Choudary’s designation was reportedly by request of the British government, which also added Choudary to its Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets prior to his release.“Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” Gov.UK, last updated October 17, 2018, http://hmt-sanctions.s3.amazonaws.com/sanctionsconlist.htm; Lizzie Dearden, “Anjem Choudary's assets frozen days before prison release for supporting Isis,” Independent (London), October 17, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/anjem-choudary-isis-prison-release-islam-terrorist-restrictions-asset-freeze-un-sanctions-a8587311.html. On October 19, 2018, Choudary was remanded to a probation hostel in London for six months, after which he may return to his family’s London home under strict surveillance. In the hostel, Choudary will be under 24-hour police surveillance and required to wear a GPS tracker. Through the remainder of Choudary’s sentence, British authorities imposed what are reportedly the most stringent living conditions ever levied on a British citizen.Robert Mendick, “Hate preacher Anjem Choudary is banned from speaking to children on jail release,” Telegraph (London), October 15, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/15/hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-banned-speaking-children-jail-release/; Laura FitzPatrick and Patrick Sawyer, “Anjem Choudary, notorious Islamist hate preacher, a free man after release from prison,” Telegraph (London), October 19, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/19/anjem-choudary-pictured-free-man-released-prison/. A violation of these condition would likely result in Choudary’s return to prison.“Anjem Choudary: Radical preacher released from prison,” BBC News, October 19, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-45911160. In addition to standard probation rules on regular visits with a probation officer and avoiding further legal infractions, Choudary is:

The U.K. government has also reportedly arranged for additional security around Choudary to prevent attacks from right-wing extremists angered by his release. In all, Choudary’s security arrangements will reportedly cost £2 million per year.Laura FitzPatrick and Patrick Sawyer, “Anjem Choudary, notorious Islamist hate preacher, a free man after release from prison,” Telegraph (London), October 19, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/19/anjem-choudary-pictured-free-man-released-prison/; Lizzie Dearden, “Anjem Choudary: How Islamist preacher sparked rise of Tommy Robinson and the far-right,” Independent (London), October 18, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/anjem-choudary-tommy-robinson-islam-preacher-far-right-edl-luton-protests-islamists-terror-a8589236.html.

Choudary is the son of Pakistani immigrants and grew up in a secular home in London. He began to become more religious in the 1990s. It was then that he met Islamist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed at a mosque in Woolrich, England.Robert Mendick, “Hate preacher Anjem Choudary to be freed from jail despite remaining ‘genuinely dangerous,’” Telegraph (London), September 11, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/notorious-hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-released-prison-despite/. Bakri Mohammed and Choudary founded al-Muhajiroun in 1996 after Bakri Mohammed was expelled from the international Islamist network Hizb ut-Tahrir. Al-Muhajiroun was modeled on a similar organization Bakri Mohammed created in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.Robert Mendick, “Hate preacher Anjem Choudary to be freed from jail despite remaining ‘genuinely dangerous,’” Telegraph (London), September 11, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/notorious-hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-released-prison-despite/; Richard Watson, “Has al-Muhajiroun been underestimated?” BBC News, June 27, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40355491. Choudary and al-Muhajiroun have been linked to several notable extremists, and the group openly praised the 9/11 attacks.Andrew Anthony, “Anjem Choudary: the British extremist who backs the caliphate,” Guardian (London), September 6, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/07/anjem-choudary-islamic-state-isis. U.K. officials have noted that Choudary is a “deeply pernicious, destabilising influence.”Robert Mendick, “Hate preacher Anjem Choudary to be freed from jail despite remaining ‘genuinely dangerous,’” Telegraph (London), September 11, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/notorious-hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-released-prison-despite/. Among others, Choudary is believed to have influenced al-Muhajiroun members Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who in 2013 beheaded British soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby in southeast London.Chris Greenwood, Neil Sears, and Sian Boyle, “Muslim firebrand is arrested as police hold nine rabble-rousers,” Daily Mail (London), September 25, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2769098/BREAKING-NEWS-Nine-men-arrested-counter-terror-police-London-suspicion-encouraging-terrorism.html. Choudary also reportedly radicalized Abdul Latheef Mohamed Jameel, one of the nine suicide bombers who blew himself up in Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, killing more than 250 people during the Easter Sunday attacks. Jameel reportedly attended Choudary’s lectures and met with the propagandist while studying in London.Anbarasan Ethirajan, “Sri Lanka attacks: The family networks behind the bombings,” BBC News, May 11, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48218907; Alasdair Pal and Shihar Aneez, “The Western-educated bomber who botched Sri Lanka hotel attack,” Reuters, April 26, 2019, https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKCN1S21PM.

Khuram Shazad Butt, one of the attackers in the June 3, 2017, London Bridge attacks, also allegedly belonged to al-Muhajiroun.Mark White, “London Bridge attackers were part of banned jihadi network,” Sky News, June 6, 2017, http://news.sky.com/story/london-bridge-attacker-khuram-butt-was-part-of-banned-jihadi-network-10906091. In a 2016 documentary on individuals in the Islamist group, Butt is seen holding a black banner after one extremist cleric proclaimed that it would soon hang over the British prime minister’s residence.Paul Cruickshank, “Who was London attacker Khuram Butt?” CNN, June 6, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/europe/khuram-butt-london-attacker/index.html. Butt also allegedly defended comments Choudary made in the aftermath of the Rigby murder. Butt reportedly confronted counter-extremism advocate Mohammed Shafiq, who criticized Choudary as a traitor.Mark White, “London Bridge attackers were part of banned jihadi network,” Sky News, June 6, 2017, http://news.sky.com/story/london-bridge-attacker-khuram-butt-was-part-of-banned-jihadi-network-10906091.

Choudary and Bakri Mohammed dissolved al-Muhajiroun in 2004 ahead of a pending government ban. They reorganized the group under various aliases, including Islam4UK, Muslims Against Crusades, Call to Submission, Islamic Path, London School of Sharia, the Saved Sect of Savior Sect, Ahl ul-Sunnah Wa al-Jamma, and Al Ghurabaa. In 2010, the U.K. government banned al-Muhajiroun and its other iterations.“Ministers ban suspected aliases of banned extremist group,” BBC News, June 26, 2014, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28049374; “Proscribed Terrorist Organizations,” Home Office, accessed August 16, 2016, 6, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/538297/20160715-Proscription-website-update.pdf; “London cops sweep up 9 terror suspects,” CBS News, September 25, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/london-cops-sweep-up-9-terror-suspects-anjem-choudary/; Eilish O’Gara, “Radical UK Preacher Anjem Choudary Charged With Inviting Support for ISIS,” Newsweek, August 5, 2015, http://europe.newsweek.com/radical-uk-preacher-anjem-choudary-charged-inviting-support-isis-331221. In May 2019, media reports surfaced that al-Muhajiroun was regrouping after the release of Choudary and other members from prison. Though Choudary remained under tight communications restrictions and surveillance, his release has inspired others to revive al-Muhajiroun, according to British authorities and former members of the group. The network has reportedly begun meeting again in London, Luton, and the county of Bedfordshire.Ceylan Yeginsu, “One of U.K.’s Most Prolific Extremist Cells Is Regrouping,” New York Times, May 18, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/world/europe/uk-extremist-cell-anjem-choudary.html.

Among his controversial views, Choudary has advocated for Islamists and would-be jihadists to live off of British welfare, as Choudary has done with his wife and four children in East London. Choudary has reportedly referred to this practice as the “jihad seeker’s allowance.”Robert Johnson, “Muslim Preacher Tells Followers Getting Welfare Cash For Holy Wars Is Easy And Right [VIDEO],” Business Insider, February 18, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/anjem-choudary-muslim-preacher-explains-government-assistance-to-fund-jihad-holy-war-2013-2. In late 2014, however, Choudary told an interviewer that he would immigrate with his family to Syria if the British government would allow him to keep his passport.Clarissa Ward, “Campaigning for ISIS in the West,” 60 Minutes, November 2, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/recruiting-for-isis-60-minutes/.

Following ISIS’s declaration of a caliphate in June 2014, both Choudary and Rahman pledged allegiance to the ISIS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over a Skype call with a convicted terrorist in Indonesia, according to authorities.Alexis Flynn and Jenny Gross, “U.K. Preacher Anjem Choudary Convicted of Inviting Support for Islamic State,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-preacher-anjem-choudary-convicted-of-supporting-islamic-state-1471361122; “Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman convicted of inviting support for Daesh,” Crown Prosecution Service, August 16, 2016, http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/latest_news/anjem_choudary_and_mohammed_rahman_convicted_of_inviting_support_for_daesh/. Choudary then began to support ISIS over social media, as encouraged by his associate Abu Rumaysah, who left Britain in late 2014 to join ISIS in Syria.Jamie Grierson, Vikram Dodd, and Jason Rodrigues, “Anjem Choudary convicted of supporting Islamic State,” Guardian (London), August 16, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/16/anjem-choudary-convicted-of-supporting-islamic-state. In a September 2014 interview with London’s Guardian, Choudary referred to Baghdadi as “the caliph of all Muslims.”Andrew Anthony, “Anjem Choudary: the British extremist who backs the caliphate,” Guardian (London), September 6, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/07/anjem-choudary-islamic-state-isis.

Choudary has supported terror attacks during appearances on international television. In January 2015, Choudary was featured on the Fox News show Hannity and defended the Islamist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.“Radical imam Anjem Choudary on Charlie Hebdo attack,” Fox News, January 8, 2015, http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2015/01/08/radical-imam-anjem-choudary-charlie-hebdo-attack/. After the May 3, 2015, attack on a “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, Choudary appeared on Fox News and told contest organizer Pamela Gellar she should have expected a violent response.“Radical Imam: Pamela Gellar Deserves to Die,” Fox News, May 6, 2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/recruiting-for-isis-60-minutes/.

Source: Fox News
Source: Fox News

Choudary has encouraged British Muslims to refrain from participation in U.K. politics. Preceding May 2015 parliamentary elections, Choudary launched a campaign on social media called #StayMuslimDontVote. The campaign sought to warn Muslims that voting in man-made elections is a sin under Islamic law.“Radical Imam: Pamela Gellar Deserves to Die,” Fox News, May 6, 2015, http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/05/06/radical-imam-pamela-geller-deserves-die.

During Choudary’s trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Choudary had argued online for Muslims to pledge allegiance to ISIS’s Baghdadi. According to Commander Dean Haydon of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter Terrorism Command, Choudary and Rahman had developed careers as spokesmen for extremists, but always avoided crossing the line into criminal speech. “Their recent speeches and the oath of allegiance were a turning point for the police — at last, we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they were actively encouraging support of ISIS,” he said.Stephen Castle, “Anjem Choudary Is Sentenced to Prison for Promoting ISIS,” New York Times, September 6, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/world/europe/anjem-choudary-sentenced-isis.html.

The U.S. government sanction-designated Choudary in March 2017. According to the U.S. Department of State, Choudary has expressed a desire to continue promoting ISIS’s cause—and even recruit for the terror group—from prison.“State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/03/269306.htm. Ahead of Choudary’s October 2018 release, U.K. Prison Minister Rory Stewart called him “genuinely dangerous” and lamented that the government could not circumvent the law that would set him free.Robert Mendick, “Hate preacher Anjem Choudary to be freed from jail despite remaining ‘genuinely dangerous,’” Telegraph (London), September 11, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/11/notorious-hate-preacher-anjem-choudary-released-prison-despite/. Other government sources reportedly condemned Choudary as a coward radicalizing others to become foreign fighters while refusing to fight himself.Laura FitzPatrick and Patrick Sawyer, “Anjem Choudary, notorious Islamist hate preacher, a free man after release from prison,” Telegraph (London), October 19, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/19/anjem-choudary-pictured-free-man-released-prison/; Lizzie Dearden, “Anjem Choudary: How Islamist preacher sparked rise of Tommy Robinson and the far-right,” Independent (London), October 18, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/anjem-choudary-tommy-robinson-islam-preacher-far-right-edl-luton-protests-islamists-terror-a8589236.html.

 
United States

The U.S. Department of State designated “Anjem Choudary” a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 on March 30, 2017.“State Department Terrorist Designations of El Shafee Elsheikh, Anjem Choudary, Sami Bouras, Shane Dominic Crawford, and Mark John Taylor,” U.S. Department of State, March 30, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/03/269306.htm.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom added Anjem Choudary to its Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets on October 16, 2018.“Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” Gov.UK, last updated October 17, 2018, http://hmt-sanctions.s3.amazonaws.com/sanctionsconlist.htm.

United Nations

The ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee of the U.N. Security Council designated Anjem Choudary as an associate of ISIL on October 15, 2018.“SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE PURSUANT TO RESOLUTIONS 1267 (1999) 1989 (2011) AND 2253 (2015) CONCERNING ISIL (DA'ESH) AL-QAIDA AND ASSOCIATED INDIVIDUALS GROUPS UNDERTAKINGS AND ENTITIES,” U.N. Security Council, accessed October 18, 2018, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/anjem-choudary.

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