UK radical preacher charged with inviting IS support
British police charged high-profile radical preacher Anjem Choudary with inviting support for the Islamic State jihadist group through lectures and social media on Wednesday.
The 48-year-old, who has been frequently interviewed by British and US media on his views on Islam and the Middle East, protested his innocence in court in a 20-minute speech outlining his indication to plead not guilty.
He and a second man, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 32, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London charged with one offence contrary to section 12 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
"We have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman for inviting support for ISIL [Islamic State], a proscribed terrorist organisation," said Sue Hemming, Head of Special Crime and Counter Terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service.
"It is alleged that Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman invited support for ISIS in individual lectures which were subsequently published online."
Choudary, a London-born former lawyer of Pakistani descent who represented himself in court, waved his case notes around during his speech in the dock.
The bearded preacher has built up a high profile through his often-controversial views in lectures and on social media.
The press benches were full as prosecutors told the court Choudary had used social media to encourage support of Islamic State, which has brutally carved out areas of control in Syria and Iraq.
Choudary is the former head in Britain of Islam4UK or al-Muhajiroun, a group that called for Islamic law in Britain and which was banned under counter-terrorism legislation in 2010.
He and Rahman both refused to stand as the chief magistrate Howard Riddle left the court.
Both men were arrested on September 25 last year.
They were remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey in London, England's Central Criminal Court, on August 28.
The Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to clamp down on extremists it blames for radicalising young people after hundreds of recruits were reported to have left Britain to join Islamic State.
Cameron last month promised new legislation to "put out of action the key extremist influencers who are careful to operate just inside the law, but who clearly detest British society and everything we stand for".
© 2015 AFP