Anjem Choudary was leader of banned Islamic terrorist group, court hears

Anjem Choudary was appearing at Woolwich Crown Court
Anjem Choudary was appearing at Woolwich Crown Court - RichardBaker / Alamy Stock Photo

Anjem Choudary directed a banned international terrorist organisation which spread a “warped and twisted view of religion” and proposed the creation of an Islamic caliphate, a court heard.

The 57 year-old, who was convicted of a terror offence in 2016 and banned from preaching, “never gave up” and continued to support radical Islamists after being released from prison, jurors were told.

Choudary is accused of taking on a “caretaker role” as leader of the proscribed organisation Al Muhajiroun (ALM) when its founder was imprisoned in Lebanon in 2014.

The Islamist preacher appeared at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday in a white robe alongside his co-accused, Khaled Hussein, a Canadian, who prosecutors say “idolised and assisted” him.

Tom Little KC, opening the prosecution case, said Choudary had “for many years” been a member of Al Muhajiroun.

He told jurors that the group had previously been known under a number of names including, Al Ghurabaa and Muslims Against Crusades.

“Whatever its name or whatever its cloak, it was ALM,” Mr Little said.

The court heard that from 2022 to 2023, Choudary gave “regular and passionate” online lectures and classes to a North American based organisation, The Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS), of which Mr Hussein, 29, was a member.

Undercover officers in America infiltrated the group and recorded some of Choudary’s speeches, which they then passed on to the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Little said it was the prosecution’s case that ITS “shared the same values and the same approach” as Al Muhajiroun because they were “one and the same”.

The court heard Al Muhajiroun sought to establish an Islamic state that was ruled by Sharia law.

Mr Little said the “spiritual leader” of ALM was Omar Bakri Mohammed, who founded the group before leaving the UK in 2005.

Mohammed was imprisoned in Lebanon for nine years in 2014 and, Mr Little said, for at least some of that time Choudary was the “caretaker leader” of Al Muhajiroun.

Mr Little said that ALM had not been constantly active throughout that period as “arrests and interventions” often limited what they were able to do.

Choudary, from Ilford, east London, was jailed after being convicted of inviting support for a proscribed organisation in 2016.

The court heard that following his release, Choudary was given strict licence conditions that prohibited him from preaching.

Mr Little continued: “However, Anjem Choudary never gave up. He, we say, just bided his time.”

Choudary’s conditions ended in 2021 and Mr Little said there were “many adherents” who could not wait to hear him preach for the first time, one of whom was Mr Hussein.

Mr Little told jurors Choudary and Mr Hussein both had a “radical mindset” and were both members of Al Muhajiroun.

“They both share that warped and twisted mindset. Anjem Choudary directed, when he was able to and for a period of years, [ALM] and more recently he encouraged support for it in lectures to the Islamic Thinkers Society. He was also a long standing member of that terrorist organisation.

“He had been for many years and he did not, we say, stop belonging to ALM.”

Mr Little said that members of Al Muhajiroun had sought to give the perception that it was no longer active to evade law enforcement.

He continued: “Terrorist organisations, for reasons that you may think are obvious, may lurk in the  shadows seeking to avoid detection, investigation and prosecution.

“They try to stay hidden or they may even give the impression that they are no longer active or they may want some people to think that they are no longer associating with others with a terrorist cause.

“It is in the interests of a terrorist organisation to move and to develop undetected.”

Mr Hussein has pleaded not guilty to membership of ALM, while Choudary denies directing a terrorist organisation, being a member of a proscribed organisation and addressing meetings to encourage support for a proscribed organisation.