A review of British Islamic extremist Anjem Choudary and his genocidal Al-Muhajiroun organization....
Anjem Choudary considers himself as the most "hated man in Britain," though he appears to feel proud of being at the sharp end of hatred. He manages to offend most people in the United Kingdom. Choudary is despised by most Muslims; even Islamists find his arrogant pronouncements to be an embarrassment. Some have argued that his presence in the media makes him an effective recruiter for the racist and neofascist British National Party (BNP).
Wry social commentator and wit Pat Condell has described Choudary as a "walking parody, a laughing stock, a ludicrous cartoon character who speaks for nobody but himself and his pathetic little coterie of insane medieval pinheads." Condell has also compared Choudary's morality to that of a tick, but has argued that Choudary is expressing the real agenda of "Saudi funded" Islamists in Britain, an agenda that Islamists try to disguise.
It is true that Choudary makes constant ploys to gain media attention, and many people have declared that he should be ignored, rather than given the oxygen of publicity. His group, Islam4UK, had no more than 1,500 members. For such a small organization, it manages to gain much media attention.
Though he studied to be a lawyer, Choudary has been solely involved with Islamist groups since at least 1996. Since this time, he has apparently done no real work and is known to have lived off benefits provided by the British taxpayer. In July 2009 it was revealed that he was receiving £1,700 per month ($2,648) in state benefits to sponsor his lifestyle. This amounted to £20,400 per annum ($31,784).
In January this year, it was revealed that British taxpayers contribute an annual total of at least £25,000. On top of this, police have to maintain hourly checks upon the status of his home (paid for by taxpayers) and this diverts money away from the detection and prevention of crime. The police are concerned that Choudary may be a victim of a violent attack.
Choudary justified his receipt of benefits by saying: "If we were living under the shariah there would be free food, clothing and shelter for all... The money belongs to Allah and if it is given you can take it."
The actual amount that Choudary siphons from the pockets of taxpayers is £25,740 per year ($39,888). This is 8,000 pounds ($12,400) more than the wages of many young soldiers risking their lives fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ironically, the views of Choudary and his followers are virtually indistinguishable from those of the Taliban. In addition to his state-sponsored benefits, Choudary receives £10,000 in supplemental benefits and allowances.
Shortly after he defended his payments from the British state that he wishes to see overthrown, Choudary's Islamist organization, Islam4UK, was officially banned. On January 12, 2010 Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced: "I have today laid an order which will proscribe Al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organization goes by. The order will come into effect on Thursday [January 14] and make it a criminal offence to be a member, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It is already proscribed under two other names - Al Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.”
“Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly. We are clear that an organization should not be able to circumvent proscription by simply changing its name."
Outrage had ensued at plans by Choudary and his supporters to make a demonstration at the town of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. This town lies near the air base, RAF Lyneham, where the bodies of British military personnel are repatriated. Citizens of the town frequently line the streets as the coffins are brought through. Choudary had planned to mount his own demonstration with coffins, to represent Muslims who had died in the recent conflicts.
Johnson's banning of the group seems to have been made more to assuage the anger of civilians than to discourage terror. Choudary will continue to agitate, and his band of followers will repackage themselves under a new name and carry on as before. Other names that were used by Islam4UK that were also banned by Johnson were Call to Submission, Islamic Path, and London School of Sharia.
Islam4UK and these other groups all derived from "Al-Muhajiroun," a group that was founded in February 1996 by Omar Bakri Mojammed. In October 2004, Bakri officially disbanded Al-Muhajiroun, though its members continued to operate under other names. The Saviour Sect (later named the Saved Sect) and Al Ghurabaa (the Strangers) comprised the same members as Al-Muhajiroun. These groups were banned in the summer of 2006. Islam4UK came into existence with the same membership list.
In November 2005, Choudary had been present in northeast London when a new group was founded. This was called "Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jammah." On February 3, 2006, Choudary arranged a notorious demonstration in London against the Danish cartoons. Here, people carried banners stating "Behead those who insult Islam," "Europe. Take some lessons from 9/11," "Europe you will pay. Demolition is on its way," "Europe you will pay. Your extermination is on its way," "Slay those who insult Islam," and "Butcher those who insult Islam."
The demonstration was carried out in the name of "Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jammah," and on July 4, 2006, Choudary received a fine of £500 for organizing the demonstration. A close associate of Choudary from Al-Muhajiroun was Abdul Muhid (pictured). He was later jailed for incitement to murder.
Despite Alan Johnson's January banning of the names used by Islam4UK, Al-Muhajiroun et alia, the name "Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jammah" appears to have escaped legal proscription.
It is easy for people to dismiss Choudary as a comic figure. Nonetheless, the history of Al-Muhajiroun and its members suggests that he is not the buffoonish "extremist windbag" as he is sometimes portrayed in the British media.
Choudary had first come into contact with Omar Bakri Mohammed, the "emir" or spiritual leader of the group when Bakri was the head of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir. In 1986, shortly after he arrived in Britain as an "asylum seeker" the Syrian-born Bakri had co-founded the UK branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), assisted by another Syrian, Farid Kassim. Bakri led the UK branch of HT for almost a decade.
Hizb ut-Tahrir's aims are to establish a world-wide caliphate. Under the leadership of Bakri, Hizb ut-Tahrir (which claims to be non-violent) the group openly used intimidation and violence to counter any opposition. This pattern of behavior was pronounced on college campuses. In February 1995, while Choudary was in HT and was already quite close to Bakri, members of HT murdered an African Christian student. This was the first recorded instance of a civilian being murdered on British soil by Muslim radicals for "insulting Islam." Around 1:05 p.m. on Monday February 27, 1995, Nigerian-born Ayotunde Obanubi was murdered on the steps of Newham College, an educational establishment in East London.
Four days before this event, on Thursday February 23, 1995, Omar Bakri Mohammed had addressed 200 students at Newham College to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Ayotunde Obanubi was attacked inside the college. Ayotunde was partially disabled with a withered right arm, but still played table tennis. In an argument over this game, he was stabbed in the left arm by 16-year-old Umran Wali Qadir. On Monday February 27th, Qadir and a group of HT students, led by an older HT affiliate called Saeed Mustapha Nur attacked Ayotunde on the college steps around 1:15 p.m. Qadir struck the African with a hammer, and 25-year-old Nur (who now calls himself "Omar Jordan") stabbed him in the heart. Qadir and Nur were convicted and jailed.
Other students were arrested for the attack but avoided conviction. One was called Yusuf Sofu (aged 19) and another was Kazi Nurur Rahman (aged 18). Rahman would later gain notoriety when it was revealed in April 2007 that he had been jailed for attempting to purchase machine guns. Rahman had intended to shoot down aircraft at Heathrow airport.
Restrictions had then been placed on reporting Rahman's trial as he was a close associate of five people who were jailed on April 30, 2007 for plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in Britain using ammonium nitrate fertilizer as an explosive. Like Rahman, these five individuals – Jawad Akbar , Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Anthony Garcia and Salahuddin Amin (pictured) – were Al-Muhajiroun members.
The murder which took place on February 27 1995 would tarnish the reputation of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Before Saeed Nur and Umran Wali Qadir were sent to trial, Bakri had left the group. It is highly likely that he was persuaded by the then leader of the group (Abdul Qadeem Zalloum) to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir.
On February 16, 1996 Omar Bakri Mohammed took HT's more radical members to found Al-Muhajiroun. A decade earlier, Bakri had used this name for a group he had created in Saudi Arabia. HT is officially banned in many Middle Eastern countries (as well as Germany, the Netherlands and Russia), and in Saudi Arabia this title was seen as a front organization for HT. The name "Al-Muhajiroun" (the "emigrants") was originally a name given by the prophet Mohammed to his followers who had migrated with him from Mecca to Medina. Other Muslims were then called Ansar ("helpers" or "patrons").
Al-Muhajiroun, freed from its links to a parent organization, openly promoted a controversial agenda. In March 1996, a month after the group was founded, Bakri declared that Al-Muhajiroun would offer "financial and physical support" to the terrorist group Hamas.
From 1996 onwards, Anjem Choudary was considered to be a leading figure of the group. In March 1999, one Al-Muhajiroun member (Amer Mirza) was jailed for carrying out a petrol bombing of a Territorial Army base in West London.
In July 1999, Choudary was specifically described as the leader of Al-Muhajiroun. In December 1999, Choudary was described as "an assistant judge in the Shari’ah Court of the UK". This "court" was set up by Bakri in Tottenham, North London, in the Lea Valley Trading Estate. The rented premises also served as the HQ for Al-Muhajiroun. It was from here that Bakri issued his death fatwas against politicians and countries.
In December 1999, Choudary was declaring that a fatwa issued by Al-Muhajiroun against Boris Yeltsin should be upheld. This fatwa said that the Russian leader should be executed in an Islamic court. Choudary declared that "it is an obligation upon every Muslim world-wide to support the jihad against Russia, whether financially, politically or militarily. Russian embassies, military forces, government buildings, ministers, personnel...are legitimate targets as long as the threat of military aggression against the sanctity of Muslim life or on property in Chechnya stands."
Al-Muhajiroun at this time, when Choudary was its leader, promoted several fatwas. These death fatwas were conceived by Omar Bakri Mohammed, whose imprimatur gave them "authenticity," and they were introduced to the media by Choudary. On February 10, 1998, Bakri and Choudary officially declared war upon the governments of Britain and the United States. In November 1999, his group issued a death fatwa against American playwright, Terrence McNally, for a play he had written (Corpus Christi).
In 1999, when Bakri was in Birmingham, the "emir" stated: "If Tony Blair visits a Muslim state, he will be a legitimate target for assassination and I would not condemn his killers." Eight years earlier, Bakri had apparently called for then-Prime Minister John Major to be assassinated. On September 18, 2001, Bakri issued a fatwa against President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan for supporting George W. Bush in the War on Terror.
In December 2000, Bakri gave an interview with the Birmingham Sunday Mercury. He said he had come to the city of Birmingham to recruit Muslims to join Al-Muhajiroun and also to fight as jihadists abroad. He said that British jihadists were being trained in South Africa, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kashmir and the U.S.
Anjem Choudary had a better grasp of the English language than Bakri, and he ghost-wrote many of the articles written on the British Al-Muhajiroun website. One of these articles was entitled "Introduction to Jihad" in two parts, published on December 12, 2002. In this, it was written: "The word jihad is derived from 'Juhd' which means 'To make substantial Effort'. The scholars of Islam have agreed that Jihad means to fight in the path of Allah or anything aiding this course. The great classical scholar Imam Abu Hanifah said that Jihad means to be involved in fighting in the path of Allah By one's life, wealth and speech."
"THE TYPES OF JIHAD
In Islam there are 2 types of physical jihad.
1) OFFENSIVE JIHAD Jihad Muabadah
This type of jihad can only be carried out by the Islamic state. There are three stages, which lead to jihad. Firstly, the people are invited to embrace Islam. If they refuse to become Muslims then they are requested to become citizens of the State (dhimmis) and are asked to pay jizya (a small tax). If even this is refused then the state declares war upon them.
2) DEFENSIVE JIHAD Jihad Dafah
"And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who being weak (and oppressed) - men, women and children, whose cry is 'Our Lord! Rescue us from this town. Whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise from us from You one who will help!" [EMQ an-Nisa 75]
Defensive jihad is an obligation upon the Muslim whose life, honour and wealth are being attacked. They are required by Allah (swt) to fight and protect these. Thus this type can be carried out without the existence of an Islamic state."
By this time, Al-Muhajiroun had already produced its first suicide bomber and was on the way to producing more. In 2000, it had set up a headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan, which was used as a "jihadi pipeline," where British jihadists would be sent off to the North West Frontier Province to be trained by al Qaeda terrorists and then sent off to fight in areas of conflict.
One of these Al-Muhajiroun members who became a jihadi recruit was Bilal Mohammed, a student from Birmingham. He blew himself up in Kashmir, India, on Christmas Day, 2000. He murdered eight people in his so-called "martyrdom." Bakri claimed that annually there were 1,800 British Muslims doing their "military service" abroad. He said: "People who go from here and sacrifice themselves to Almighty God as human bombs will achieve martyrdom, and they will go to paradise."
The Lahore offices of Al-Muhajiroun were run by Hassan Butt and also Junaid Babar, an American Al-Muhajiroun member who originally came from Queens. Butt boasted that he had recruited hundreds of British Muslims to fight with al Qaeda. Though he was investigated by police upon his return to Britain, Hassan Butt was never prosecuted.
On April 30, 2003, two British Muslims went to Mike's Bar in Tel Aviv, Israel. Asif Hanif, an overweight Muslim from Hounslow, blew himself up and killed three people, injuring 60 more. His companion, Omar Khan Sharif from Derbyshire, failed to get his explosives to detonate and he ran off. Sharif's rotting body was found floating in the sea several days later. It was widely assumed that Al-Muhajiroun had connected the two British terrorists with Hamas. Anjem Choudary said that Sharif was a "familiar face" in Derby's Muslim community.
Omar Bakri Mohammed was an associate of Asif Hanif who frequently visited the offices of Al-Muhajiroun (which doubled as the London Sharia Court). Bakri said of the two jihadists: "These two brothers have drawn a divine road map, one which is drawn in blood. We pray to God to accept one brother as a martyr. I am very proud of the fact that the Muslims grow closer everyday, that the Muslim land is one land and there is no more nationalism or Arabism."
In October 2004, Omar Bakri Mohammed announced that he was disbanding the group. At this time there were only 700 members of Al-Muhajiroun.
The Saviour Sect and Al Ghurabaa continued with the same membership, still under the spiritual tutelage of Omar Bakri Mohammed, and under the leadership of Anjem Choudary. Barely a week after the suicide attacks of July 7, 2005, Omar Bakri Mohammed fled the country. He had been due to have an angioplasty operation at St Thomas' hospital, but he feared arrest. Bakri went to Lebanon. Anjem Choudary followed him. They hoped to set up a madrassa. In October 2005 Choudary was deported back to Britain.
The reasons for Al-Muhajiroun being officially disbanded in 2004 may have stemmed from its links to the two suicide bombers. On June 2, 2004, the American Al-Muhajiroun member Junaid Babar (pictured below) admitted that he had conspired to provide material support to terrorists. He admitted running a jihadist training camp and having links to al Qaeda. Babar had told the court in New York: "I set up a jihad training camp where those who wanted to go into Afghanistan where they could learn how to use weapons, and also, you know, any explosive devices that they wanted to test out over there."
On March 30, 2004, several young Muslim men, who were also Al-Muhajiroun members, were arrested in Britain. These men had purchased a cache of ammonium nitrate, and had been placed under surveillance in a combined MI5 and police operation called "Operation Crevice." Some of these had gone to Pakistan, and had stayed with Junaid Babar. The group's activities were recorded, and the two main players (Omar Khyam and Jawad Ackbar) were heard discussing using the chemical to bomb nightclubs and shopping malls in Britain. Junaid Babar was flown into Britain under tight security to give evidence at the British trial, before being returned to the United States.
Five members of this cell were eventually convicted on April 30, 2007. It was then revealed that Omar Khyam had met Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer four times at the start of 2004. Tanweer and Sidique Khan were members of the four-man cell that murdered 52 people on three tube trains and a bus on July 7, 2005. Mohammed Sidique Khan had also met Omar Khyam in Pakistan, attending a training camp in Malakand district in Northwest Frontier Province. Mohammed Sidique Khan had briefly stayed with Junaid Babar in Pakistan in 2003.
The Al-Muhajiroun group had links with America, particularly with New York. A small mosque in Queens was linked to the group. Syed Hashmi had been involved in this mosque, which was In June 2006, Hashmi, aka "Fahad" had been arrested in Britain at Heathrow Airport. He had been on the point of boarding a plane to Pakistan, carrying a large amount of money. He was extradited to the USA in May 2007, on an indictment that maintained that he had conspired to provide military equipment to support to al Qaeda, fighting American troops in Afghanistan. He still awaits trial.
Choudary the Hypocrite
In Bakri’s absence, Anjem Choudary has adopted many of the actions of the Al-Muhajiroun "emir," but he lacks the charm and humor that Bakri could employ to defuse others' contempt. Choudary has no sense of humor or irony, despite spending his early days as a student consuming large amounts of pornography, alcohol, cannabis and LSD. During his college days he even tried to disguise his religious origins by calling himself "Andy." Nowadays Choudary attempts to present himself as a Sharia Court judge, and dresses in a dour grey frock coat that makes him appear more like a bad actor in a melodrama than a real cleric. He has tried to make his own religious pronouncements and fatwas. These lack the brazen and inspirational touches that spiced up Bakri's edicts.
In July 2006 Choudary said that the attacks of 7/7 could happen again. He claimed then that "People like us are trying to prevent another 7/7, but it seems to me the Government are fuelling more of a frenzy within the Muslim community." Choudary has done nothing to prevent terrorism, and such comments are a measure of the hollowness of his character.
On September 17 2006 Choudary led a group of protesters outside the Catholic Westminster Cathedral. This demonstration was made to protest the Regensburg speech which had been made by Pope Benedict XVI on September 13th. Here he declared that the Pope should die, but he phrased his words in a manner that denied any responsibility. He said: "The Muslims take their religion very seriously and non-Muslims must appreciate that and that must also understand that there may be serious consequences if you insult Islam and the prophet. Whoever insults the message of Mohammed is going to be subject to capital punishment. I am here have a peaceful demonstration. But there may be people in Italy or other parts of the world who would carry that out."
When Choudary organized the notorious February 3, 2006 demonstration, where people called for the deaths of those who insulted Islam, he published a defense of the killing of people who insulted Mohammed. This appeared on the website of Al-Ghurabaa, which he led. His article was entitled "Kill those who insult the Prophet", subtitled "The Lion Roars Again".
This is a segment: At the time of the Messenger Muhammad (saw) there were individuals like these who dishonoured and insulted him upon whom the Islamic judgement was executed. Such people were not tolerated in the past and throughout the history of Islam were dealt with according to the Shariah. Ka'ab ibn Ashraf was assassinated by Muhammad ibn Maslamah for harming the Messenger Muhammad (saw) by his words, Abu Raafi' was killed by Abu Ateeq as the Messenger ordered in the most evil of ways for swearing at the prophet, Khalid bin Sufyaan was killed by Abdullah bin Anees who cut off his head and brought it to the prophet for harming the Messenger Muhammad (saw) by his insults, Al-Asmaa bintu Marwaan was killed by Umayr bin Adi' al-Khatmi, a blind man, for writing poetry against the prophet and insulting him in it, Al-Aswad al-Ansi was killed by Fairuz al-Daylami and his family for insulting the Messenger Muhammad (saw) and claiming to be a prophet himself."
"Shortly after these incidents the people began to realise that insulting the Messenger of Allah (saw) was not something to be taken lightly and that by doing so would mean that you would be killed for it, a concept that many have seem to forgotten ."
"The insulting of the Messenger Muhammad (saw) is something that the Muslims cannot and will not tolerate and the punishment in Islam for the one who does so is death. This is the sunnah of the prophet and the verdict of Islam upon such people, one that any Muslim is able execute."
On September 28, 2008, the London home of Martin Rynja was firebombed. Rynja used the address as his personal residence and also as the offices of his publishing company, Gibson Square Books. Mr. Rynja had planned to publish the novel about Prophet Mohammed's child bride. This tome, entitled The Jewel of Medina was written by American journalist Sherry Jones.
After the attack, Anjem Choudary again spoke of the death penalty for those who offended Islam. He said in a public statement that "any kind of attack on his [Mohammed's] honor carries the death penalty. People should be aware of the consequences they might face when producing material like this. They should know the depth of feeling it might provoke. If the publication goes ahead then I think, inevitably, there will be more attacks like this. The repercussions will be very severe for everyone associated with it. It is not me that is doing petrol bombing, but I understand their feelings."
Choudary may not have been carrying the petrol and the matches, but it is obvious that he had helped to create the "moral" climate in which Muslim fanatics see fit to attempt to murder others. The fact that the perpetrators of the firebombing of Martin Rynja's home were associates of Al-Muhajiroun strengthens the assertion that Choudrary's influence is malevolent and dangerous, and far from "buffoonish".
In May 2009 three men – Ali Beheshti, Abrar Mirza and Abbas Taj – were found guilty of arson. The leader of the group was Al-Muhajiroun member Ali Beheshti (pictured with gun). Beheshti had taken his young daughter Farisa to the notorious Feb 3, 2006 demo (organized by Choudary). The little girl wore a hat, which bore the slogan: "I (heart) al Qaeda." Some of the Al-Muhajiroun members who addressed the demonstrators on that day, such as Abdul Muhid, were later jailed for inciting murder.
In December 2008, another Al-Muhajiroun member was convicted at Manchester Crown Court. Habib Ahmed, a taxi driver, was jailed for 10 years for being an al Qaeda member and for possessing documents connecting him to al Qaeda operatives. Ahmed had been recruited into Al-Muhajiroun and ultimately introduced to jihadists by Al-Muhajiroun's former "spokesman" Hassan Butt.
Anjem Choudary acts as an instigator – legitimizing notions of murder as acts of divine Islamic ordinance, yet he has never been sent to trial, let alone convicted. He will continue to poison the minds of young Muslims. Back on February 14, 1989, after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie, some British Muslims such as the late Kalim Siddiqui urged the murder of the author. Incitement to murder is a crime under British law. The British authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and police forces across the country, failed to charge anyone for calling for the death of Rushdie. That act of collective indifference to a blatant breach of the law created an ugly precedent.
Anjem Choudary has continued to incite murder, and the UK authorities consistently fail to deal with him in a court of law. As well as fostering resentments, giving the impression that Muslims are somehow exempt from laws that apply to the rest of us, such apathy encourages terrorism and encourages disrespect for the law.
Anjem Choudary is a cowardly individual. He planned a large demonstration outside Downing Street. This would have taken place on October 31, 2009. When he found out that numerous groups, including Muslims, were going to hold counter-demonstrations, Choudary called off the march at the last minute.
Choudary enjoys power, and what greater power is there than to take away someone's life? Choudary is lacking the directness to actually kill someone, but he will continue to preach about the merits of murder in the cause of Islam. When someone does get killed, directly or indirectly influenced by his doctrine of hate, it will be unlikely that he will ever express any remorse.
Adrian Morgan is a British writer and artist. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society. He is currently compiling a book on the demise of democracy and the growth of extremism in Britain. This article appeared in FamilySecurityMatters.org.