The Observer reports: Anjem Choudary is well practised in the art of making contentious or provocative statements. An acolyte of the extremist cleric Omar Bakri Muhammed, who fled the UK for Lebanon, the 47-year-old former lawyer was a founding member of Al-Muhajiroun, which celebrated the 9/11 attacks, and was proscribed along with several other groups that Choudary has fronted, including Islam4UK.
So it’s no surprise that when I spoke to him last week he dismissed all allegations of Islamic State (Isis) atrocities, defended the use of crucifixion, and acknowledged Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the caliph of all Muslims and the prince of the believers”.
Because of his large claims and small following, Choudary has often been derided, not least by fellow Muslims, as a joke figure of no significance. Yet he is known to have had links with a number of people convicted under anti-terrorism laws, as well as the killer of Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo.
His views may be unpalatable but, with as many as several hundred British-born Muslims thought to be fighting in Syria and Iraq with Isis and other jihadi groups, they cannot be ignored. Some reports suggest that many of the British jihadis want to return home, having grown disillusioned with the internecine warfare between rebel forces – which prompts the question of what or who inspired them to go in the first place. [Continue reading…]