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The life of an ‘appalling’ extremist

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By Lucia Binding, news reporter

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, who was jailed for inviting support for the Islamic State terror group, has been released from prison.

The former lawyer from Ilford, east London, abided by the law for many years before becoming a hate preacher and Islamic extremist accused of encouraging terrorism.

Here is a timeline of the key events leading up to his imprisonment and subsequent release.

January 1967
Born in the UK

Choudary, who is of Pakistani descent, was born in the UK. He is the son of a market trader.

He enrolled as a medical student at the University of Southampton but failed his first-year exams because of his party lifestyle.

He switched to law in his final year and found work at a legal firm, later becoming the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers.

Anjem Choudary speaks to a group of demonstrators in 2012
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Choudary speaking to a group of demonstrators

1996
Forms al Muhajiroun

Choudary began showing an interest in religion, becoming a regular at mosques.

He met Syrian-born Islamist, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, at a mosque in Woolwich.

Mohammed had initially launched al Muhajiroun in Saudi Arabia in 1983. He came to the UK three years later when he was expelled from the kingdom.

Together, Choudary and Mohammed formed al Muhajiroun in the UK in 1996. The terrorist Salafi jihadist organisation would later become linked to international terrorism, homophobia and antisemitism.

The group campaigned to unite Muslims across the world and demanded the global imposition of Sharia law.

Although al Muhajiroun publicly disbanded in 2004, it reformed and operated under different aliases. It was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act, together with other organisations including Islam4UK.

Anjem Choudary (C) addresses Muslim protesters outside the Old Bailey Courts in 2006
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Choudary (C) addresses Muslim protesters outside the Old Bailey Courts in 2006

1996
Marriage

Choudary married Rubana Akhtar, a member of al Muhajiroun – who later became the group’s head of women.

The couple have four children.

The Islamist preacher was due for automatic release after reaching the halfway point of his sentence
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The Islamist preacher faces a series of restrictions now he has been released

1996
Jihadist military training

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Muslims were receiving weapons training at secret locations in Britain. Most of the trainees would go on to fight for Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front.

Choudary was identified as a key figure in recruiting for the training centres in the report.

2002
9/11 notoriety

Al Muhajiroun hit the headlines for a conference which described the hijackers behind the September 11 attacks of 2001 as the “Magnificent 19”.

Anjem Choudary speaks to a group of demonstrators in 2012
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Choudary speaking to a group of demonstrators

2008
Speaks against Christian faith

Choudary spoke against Christianity, posting a sermon on an Islamic website.

He said: “Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire.

“Protect your Paradise from being taken away – protect yourself and your family from Christmas.”

December 2010
London Stock Exchange plot

Police uncovered a plot by an al Qaeda gang to detonate a bomb at the London Stock Exchange.

The men had planned to send five mail bombs to various London locations including the stock exchange and the home of the then London mayor, Boris Johnson.

Six of the nine terrorists convicted said they had been personally taught by Choudary, who later said their plans had been “taken out of context”.

Anjem Choudary posing in front of the Houses of Parliament
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Choudary posing in front of the Houses of Parliament

March 2011
Poppy burners

On Remembrance Day 2010, members of al Muhajiroun gathered near the Royal Albert Hall to burn poppies.

Throughout the two-minute silence they could be heard shouting “British soldiers burn in hell”.

The following March, Emdadur Choudhury, who was 26 at the time, was convicted of a public order offence.

Anjem Choudary reportedly paid his friend’s £50 fine.

May 2013
Drummer Lee Rigby murder

British sergeant Lee Rigby was murdered close to his barracks in Woolwich by Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who were both connected to al Muhajiroun.

Michael Adebolajo (L) and Michael Adebowale were convicted of killing Lee Rigby
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Michael Adebolajo (L) and Michael Adebowale were convicted of killing Lee Rigby

Drummer Rigby, 25, was off duty at the time but wearing a Help for Heroes sweatshirt. He was run over by their car and then partly decapitated in the street.

Lee Rigby
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Lee Rigby

Adebolajo was filmed standing near Choudary at protest in London.

Choudary was later filmed saying the pair would go to paradise for the killing.

In response to Choudary’s comments, then prime minister David Cameron said: “Let’s be clear about Anjem Choudary: he does have absolutely despicable and appalling views, an absolutely classic case of that poisonous narrative of extremism and violence that we need to confront and defeat.”

2016
Siddhartha Dhar

Siddhartha Dhar, a former bouncy castle salesman, narrated a chilling Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) video in which a number of suspected spies were executed.

The 32-year-old was a spokesman for al Muhajiroun and a close associate of Choudary.

June 2016
Convicted of supporting IS

Choudary was found guilty of inviting support for IS. He was convicted alongside Mohammed Rahman, 33, in connection with speeches posted on YouTube.

In September 2016, he was jailed for five years and six months.

At the time he was jailed, Choudary had been linked to 15 terror plots dating back approximately 20 years.

He also had connections to hundreds of British jihadists who fled to Syria to fight.

David Videcette, a former detective who investigated the 7 July 2005 London attacks, said: “Every plot I ever researched – someone in it was linked to Choudary.”

Anjem Choudary with Mohammed Rahman in 2016
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Choudary with Mohammed Rahman in 2016

October 2018
Release from prison

Choudary was released from Belmarsh prison on 19 October after serving half of his sentence.

For the rest of the sentence period, he will be subject to a strict supervision regime, with about 25 licence conditions.

anjem chowdry
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Choudary was released from Belmarsh prison
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