Anjem Choudary, one of the most notorious hate preachers living in Britain, is facing jail after being found guilty of supporting Islamic State.
Having avoided arrest for years despite his apparent sympathy for extremism and links to some of Britain’s most notorious terrorists, Choudary was convicted at the Old Bailey after jurors heard he had sworn an oath of allegiance to Isis.
The 49-year-old, who has links to one of Lee Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebolajo, and the Islamist militant Omar Bakri Muhammad, also urged followers to support Isis in a series of talks broadcast on YouTube.
Choudary and his co-defendant, Mohammed Rahman, 33, told their supporters to obey Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Isis leader, who is also known as a caliph, and travel to Syria to support Isis or “the caliphate”, the court heard.
They were convicted in July but details of the trial, including the verdict, could not be reported until now.
Choudary and Rahman face up to 10 years in jail for inviting support for a proscribed organisation. They will be sentenced on 6 September at the Old Bailey.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command, said: “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 organisations.
“Over and over again we have seen people on trial for the most serious offences who have attended lectures or speeches given by these men. The oath of allegiance was a turning point for the police – at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they supported Isis.”
Haydon said 20 years’ worth of material was considered in the investigation, with 333 electronic devices containing 12.1 terabytes of storage data assessed.
It can now also be revealed that Choudary was encouraged to support Isis by a notorious British Isis fighter who fled to Syria while on police bail.
The court heard that shortly after Isis was described as a terror group Choudary was in contact with an individual name as Subject A. It can now be revealed Subject A was Siddartha Dhar – known on social media as Abu Rumaysah – who was arrested alongside Choudary before he fled to Syria to fight with Isis while on police bail.
Dhar encouraged Choudary to express support for Isis on social media. Following on from Dhar’s encouragement, both defendants made their position on the newly declared caliphate clear in the “oath of allegiance”.
British Muslims had complained about the media attention paid to Choudary and the impression sometimes given to audiences that he was representative of British Islamic thought.
Miqdaad Versi, of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the Guardian: “Mr Anjem Choudary has long been condemned by Muslim organisations and Muslims across the country, who consider him and his support for Daesh [Isis] to be despicable and contrary to the values of Islam and our nation.
“Many Muslims have long been puzzled why this man was regularly approached by the media to give outrageous statements that inflamed Islamophobia. We hope the judgment serves as a lesson for anyone who follows this path of advocating hate and division.”