Notoriety 'badge of honour' for radical preacher

Anjem Choudary, a bearded man wearing a grey tunic, speaksImage source, PA Media
Image caption,

Anjem Choudary denies the charges.

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Anjem Choudary regarded being the number one radicaliser in Britain as a “badge of honour”, jurors have heard.

Choudary, 57, from east London, is on trial at Woolwich Crown Court, facing charges including that he “directed” the group Al-Muhajiroun, which is banned under UK terror laws.

Khaled Hussein, 29, from Edmonton in Canada, is also in the dock accused of being a member of a banned organisation.

Both deny the charges.

On Friday, Tom Little KC continued opening the prosecution’s case.

Jurors heard that Choudary was regularly giving online lectures to a group in America called the Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS).

Some of the classes were infiltrated and recorded by undercover officers.

Choudary faces charges of directing a terrorist organisation, being a member of a banned organisation and supporting a banned organisation.

Prosecutors allege that ITS and the banned organisation Al Muhajiroun were “one and the same”.

Jurors heard that Choudary would caution his listeners on occasions that he was not seeking to encourage them in a particular direction.

“Leopards don’t change their spots and Anjem Choudary has not changed his mindset,” Mr Little said.

Jurors heard that during one lecture, Choudary told a group: “When I went to prison here in this country in 2016, they opened up a separation centre for me and my dear brothers because they had become so worried about our Dawah [his teaching of the Islamic faith]."

Choudary is alleged to have told the class: “We never carried swords, we never carried guns or knives.

“They said to me, they said, 'you are the number one radicaliser in Britain', they said, 'glory to Allah'.

“You know they expected me to be unhappy with that; I'm like Alhamdulillah … that is a badge of honour for me.”

Mr Little said: “He thought that being regarded as the number one radicaliser in Britain is an honour.

“What does that tell you about his mindset?”

Image source, Julia Quenzler
Image caption,

Choudary and Mr Hussein on trial on 13 June

Choudary was convicted of inviting support for the Islamic State group in 2016.

He was released from prison in October 2018.

The restrictions imposed on him which prevented him preaching ended in July 2021.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that during another of his teachings, Choudary made reference to “hurricane Osama”.

“What is that a reference to? It can only be one thing,” the prosecutor said.

“What is it that Osama bin Laden did to America?

“Here is a use of language, it’s clever, it serves a purpose.

“He is talking about an attack on America. What does that tell you about the mindset of Anjem Choudary and the mindset of Al Muhajiroun?”

During the trial, jurors were played conversations between Choudary and his wife from March 2023 recorded on a covert listening device that had been placed in his home.

The jury was told that the pair could be heard discussing Choudary’s connections to others in America.

The prosecutor said that Choudary’s wife appeared to be concerned, noting that they “are Al Muhajiroun”.

In the recording, Mr Choudary replied: “But I don’t say anything dodgy. I am very careful,” jurors heard.

“He is trying to be careful in what he says,” Mr Little said.

“If no connection between ALM (Al Muhajiroun) and ITS, why would he not say that?”

The court also heard that before the two defendants were arrested, Choudary provided guidance to Mr Hussein before he was due to travel to London.

In one message, Choudary is alleged to have said: “You are also not too far from Woolwich – the famous Lee Rigby issue.”

Mr Little said jurors may think that was a “very odd” way to describe a “terrorist murder”.

“A solider killed by two individuals.. murdered.. there was no issue … it was a murder. Was there an issue in Anjem Choudray’s mind ….?”

The trial continues.