This blog is normally loathe to comment on sub-judice matters as there is a danger that a trial could be prejudiced. However, as this concerns Anjem Choudary, who has put himself in the public eye and is more than a little well known by many people, and hated by many more, it is hardly credible that commenting on him will prevent him from having a fair trial. Probably the only way that the Court could find a jury that hadn’t heard of him or didn’t already have an opinion on him, would be to have a jury empanelled from hermits who’d been living incommunicado in the middle of Dartmoor for the last 20 years.
Many people on social media are gloating that Choudary has been nicked and charged with terrorism related offences. Such people may be under the impression that at last Justice will be done with regards to Anjem Choudary and his band of Mental Patients.
However, Douglas Murray, writing on the Gatestone Institute website, speaks of how Choudary has for years been given a bit of an easy ride by the UK media and asks ‘Will Britain pass the ‘Choudary ‘ test?’ Because Choudary is a born UK citizen it is impossible under current leglisation to remove his citizenship and the problem for the British government with regards prosecution is that Choudary manages to always stay one step ahead of the law. In other words he knows how far to push the legal envelope.
Mr Murray said:
“If there was a single flaw in the British Prime Minister’s recent speech on countering extremism in the UK, it might be encapsulated in the name “Anjem Choudary.” His speech went into terrific detail on the significance of tacking radicalism through the education system, the Charity Commission, the broadcasting license authority and numerous other means. But it failed the Choudary test.
That test is: What do you do about a British-born man who is qualified to work but appears never to have done so, and who instead spends his time taking his “dole” money and using it to fund a lifestyle devoted solely to preaching against the state?
The problem is not quite as straightforward as some commentators make out. The fact that Choudary is British-born and a British citizen makes it legally impossible for Britain to withdraw his citizenship or otherwise render him “stateless.” He has a young family who cannot be allowed to starve on the streets, even if he could. These are admittedly late liberalism problems, but they are problems nonetheless.
On the other hand, what the state has allowed from Choudary in recent years looks more like a late Weimar problem. Choudary is not merely a blowhard pseudo-cleric with perhaps never more than a hundred followers at any one time — although this is certainly the part of his persona that has garnered most attention. Indeed, his attention-seeking is perhaps the only first-rate skill he has. For instance, there was the time he claimed he was planning a “March for Sharia” through the centre of London, culminating at the gates of Buckingham Palace with a demand that the Queen submit to Islam. Having garnered the publicity he desired, Choudary cancelled his march not because there was a fairly measly counter-demo (of which this author was a part) but because his “March for Sharia” would have been unlikely to gather more than a few dozen attendees, and would most likely have descended into a “stroll inviting ridicule,” at best.
The reason Choudary is more than just an attention-seeker is that over many years he has been involved with innumerable people who have shown themselves to be more than blowhards. They have attempted to bring serious sectarian conflict — as well as murder — to the streets of Britain. A number of Choudary’s associates, for instance, were imprisoned a few years back for attempting a Mumbai-style attack on London landmarks, including the London Stock Exchange. Other of his associates have been to prison for incitement and countless terrorist-recruitment offenses; and since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, a number of his followers have gone to Syria and Iraq to join and fight with ISIS.
Choudary himself is a trained lawyer and has a sufficiently adept mind to know on just which side of the law to keep his remarks. The last Labour government’s creation of a new offense of “glorifying terror” ought to have caught Choudary within it, but it appeared not to have done. He has remained a frustratingly free man.”
Mr Murray then goes on to address speculation that Choudary is being used by the security services as a form of jihadi flypaper and says that such a policy could be considered as acceptable if it prevented major attacks on the UK and its citizens. Unfortunately in my opinion if this was the case then MI5 have failed as ‘graduates’ of Choudary’s Band of Bearded Mental Patients have gone on to carry out terror attacks, most notably the murder of Lee Rigby.
Douglas Murray counsels caution when it comes to celebrating the arrest of Choudary and said:
“But last week Anjem Choudary was arrested, detained and charged with terror offenses relating to attempts to persuade Muslims in Britain to join ISIS; he now finally faces trial. So far, there has been a muted response in the British media. Part of that is the simple and rightful caution due to reporting restrictions of an upcoming trial. But part of it may also be an “I’ll believe it when I see it” cynicism. It is worth recalling that just last year Choudary was arrestedand detained for terror offenses, only to walk free before the bunting was even half up. There are unlikely to be any premature celebrations this time. Perhaps reporters and commentators also have in mind the murky dropping of all terrorism charges before the opening of the trial of former Guantanamo inmate Moazzem Begg last autumn.
It is perfectly possible that Anjem Choudary will slip between the UK’s terrorism laws once again. Or perhaps now it is he that has slipped up, and the most visible chink in the UK’s counter-extremism policy has finally resolved itself.”
It’s well worth clicking on the Gatestone Institute link here http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6324/anjem-choudary-extremism and reading the whole of this excellent and thought provoking piece. I for one am not putting any Choudary-related champagne on ice yet, I want to see the prison door slam on the bugger before I celebrate prematurely.