A British court announced Tuesday it found infamous Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary guilty of supporting the Islamic State.
Choudary was convicted in London’s Old Bailey court of using online videos and messages to encourage his followers to support the terrorist group. Prosecutors accused him and his comrade Mizanur Rahman of pledging themselves to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and telling their followers to do the same.
“These men have stayed just within the law for many years, but there is no one within the counter terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist [organizations],” Dean Haydon, the head of the London police Counter Terrorism Command, told Reuters.
Choudary is a well-known figure in British tabloids and media, often acting as an apologist for terrorist groups and blaming the West for the deaths that resulted from attacks. He became particularly infamous after showering praise on the hijackers responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Choudary also reportedly said he wanted to turn Britain’s Buckingham Palace into a mosque. He is also the former leader of the now banned Islamist group al-Mouhajiroun, which called for an Islamic education system in the U.K. based on radical Islamic ideology.
Before turning to a life of radicalism, Choudary was known as a “party animal” and medical school drop-out. He would later switch to a career in law and eventually turned to a life of Islamic radicalism.
Despite his extreme flamboyant rhetoric, Choudary was able to avoid prosecution until now and denied involvement in militant activity. Al-Mouhajiroun has often been tied to terrorist activity since its founding in the 1990s.
Michael Adebolajo, one of the terrorists who hacked British soldier Lee Rigby to death in a London street, reportedly had ties to the organization. Police also suspect the group was involved in the the London bombings in 2005.
Choudary and Rahman will face sentencing for their crimes at the Old Bailey court on September 6.
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