Mr Justice Holroyde (left) and Anjem Choudary (right)
By Ben Farmer and
Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent
6 September 2016 • 10:00pm
A senior judge has challenged Islamist extremists who live on benefits while claiming to “despise” Western democracy, as he sentenced hate preacher Anjem Choudary to five-and-half years in prison.
Choudary has lived on benefits in the UK for the past 20 years, during which time it is understood he has claimed up to £500,000 from the state.
While living off the state – dubbing his benefits ‘Jihadiseekers’ Allowance’ – Choudary became one of the country’s most notorious radical preachers – professing hatred against the West.
But he managed to avoid a criminal conviction until he was charged last year with drumming up support for a terrorist organisation by pledging allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil).
On Tuesday he was sentenced alongside fellow radical Islamist Mohammed Mizanur Rahman after both being convicted of inviting support for the terrorist group.
Before sentencing them, Mr Justice Holroyde heard that the pair were both living off benefits.
After hearing Mr Rahman’s lawyer speak, the judge asked: “Is it not an anathema to be funded by the liberal Western democracy he so adamantly despises?”
MPs have now called for the Home Secretary to be given powers to block hate preachers from receiving benefits.
Mr Justice Holroyde
Mr Justice Holroyde said Choudary had shown ‘no remorse at all’ for anything he had said or done
A former work and pensions secretary also spoke of his frustration at being unable to deprive terrorist suspects of state benefits.
The Old Bailey heard a “calculating” and “dangerous” Choudary had published an oath of allegiance to Isil knowing it was likely to encourage his vulnerable or fanatical followers to commit terrorist attacks.
Mr Justice Holroyde dismissed regret from the 49-year-old, saying he “knew exactly what he was doing”.
The judge said Choudary had invited support for Isil while it was “engaged in appalling acts of terrorism”.
He said: “At no point did either of you say anything to condemn the violent means by which [Isil] claimed to have established a caliphate.”
Terror chief: Choudary conviction ‘significant’ Terror chief: Choudary conviction ‘significant’ Play! 01:32
The Old Bailey heard Choudary was an influential ideologue who had tens of thousands of followers on social media. He publicised his oath at a crucial time just as Isil had launched its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria and many people were looking for guidance on its legitimacy.
Choudary’s influence was so strong that Siddhartha Dhar, who is later believed to have succeeded ‘Jihadi John’ as Isil executioner, asked him for a “verdict” on the caliphate, saying his words “would be gold on Twitter”.
Sentencing both Choudary and Rahman, 33, each to five-and-a-half years, Mr Justice Holroyde said they had shown “no remorse at all for anything you have said or done, and I have no doubt you will continue to communicate your message whenever you can”.
Mohammed Mizanur Rahman was also convicted of inviting support for the terrorist group Isil Credit: Nick Edwards for The Telegraph
Their supporters in the public gallery shouted “Allahu Akbar” as the two men were led from the dock.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, said the issue of terrorism suspects claiming benefits was a “nightmare”, but there was no way to change the law to prevent them getting state hand outs.
He said a detailed study conducted while he was secretary of state found no action could be taken against people who had not been found guilty, and even then it was not possible to deny benefits to their families who depended on state funds.
MPs on Tuesday night called on Ministers to be given the power to block hate preachers from receiving benefits after it emerged Mr Choudary had previously advised his followers to claim “Jihadiseeker’s Allowance”.
He is thought to have claimed over £20,000 a year in tax-payer funded help.
One MP said “urgent action” is needed to look again at why hate preachers such as Mr Choudary are allowed to claim state support.
Mr Duncan Smith, who looked into preventing such claims in 2013, said he had been unable to change the rules. Theresa May was said to support the move to block hate preacher’s getting benefits at the time, but no action was taken.
He told The Telegraph: “We found no way of being able to modify or change the law.
“We did look at it very seriously and it was the problem that they are not guilty until they are found guilty.”
Anjem Choudary | Inflammatory quotes
“When Sharia law is implemented, maybe in 10 or 15 years’ time, she [the Queen] would be expected like all women in Britain to be covered from head to toe, only revealing her face and hands.”
“Thieves would have various warnings first, and only in cases where he has stolen more than £20 of non-perishable goods from a private house would his hand be chopped off.”
“Under Sharia and under the Koran the sale of alcohol is prohibited and if one were to also drink alcohol, that would be 40 lashes.”
“There will be no more pubs, no more gambling houses, no more national lottery.”
“All women would have to be covered up appropriately and wear the niqab or veil and so there will be no prostitution.”
“By 2050, Britain will be a majority Muslim country. It will be the end of freedom of democracy and submission to God.”
“We don’t believe in democracy, as soon as they have authority, Muslims should implement Sharia. This is what we’re trying to teach people.”
“Next time when your child is at school and the teacher says, ‘What do you want when you grow up? What is your ambition?’ they should say, ‘To dominate the whole world by Islam, including Britain – that is my ambition’.”
Tags: acts of terrorism, Allahu akbar, Anjem Choudary, Britain, Caliphate, Choudary, convicted of inviting support for the terrorist group, Daesh, democracy, funding terrorism, hate speech, human rights, ISIL, ISIS, Islamic state, Islamist extremists, Jihad, jihadis, Jihadiseekers' Allowance, living off benefits, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, Radical Islamist terrorists, radical Islamists, Sharia law, UK, western democracy, Western values