UK Releases Radical Preacher From Prison

UK Releases Radical Preacher From Prison

Saturday, 20 October, 2018 - 07:00
British cleric Anjem Choudary arrives at the Old Bailey in London for the start of his trial on January 11, 2016. Choudary and Mohammed Rahman are charged with inviting support for ISIS. ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP (AFP/Adrian Dennis)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Radical cleric Anjem Choudary, long a thorn in the side of British authorities, was released from prison on Friday having served half his sentence for encouraging support for the ISIS terrorist group, British media reported.

The 51-year-old was jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2016, and will serve the rest of his sentence under strict supervision orders having been released from Belmarsh prison, near London.

He is expected to return to his home in Ilford, east of London, although will not be able to use any internet-enabled devices without permission, the BBC reported.

For the remainder of his sentence, he will be barred from leaving London, using the internet without permission, speaking to children, organizing meetings and attending certain mosques. He will also be restricted to one phone call a day, which will be monitored by counterterrorism officials, and he will be permitted to interact only with people approved by the authorities.

Under the parole system for England and Wales, prisoners are automatically released halfway through their sentence as long as they have shown good behavior.

Before his release on Friday, Choudary was placed on a United Nations sanctions list, which resulted in his assets being frozen. In order to cover his living expenses, he will have to apply for exceptions and will be required to disclose the purpose of all his payments.

Choudary is the former head in Britain of Islam4UK or al-Muhajiroun, a now-banned group.

For two decades, the former lawyer of Pakistani descent stayed on the right side of the law, becoming Britain's most prominent radical preacher.

Among those radicalized by Muhajiroun were the suicide bombers who killed 52 people on London's public transport system in July 2005, and the men who murdered soldier Lee Rigby in the capital in 2013, police say.

The court heard that Choudary had broadcast speeches recognizing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the leader of ISIS.

Choudary and his co-defendant Mohammed Rahman were arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command on September 25, 2014.

The father-of-five previously hit the headlines for organizing a pro-Osama bin Laden event in London in 2011.

He also belonged to a group that burned poppies, the symbol of remembrance for deaths in war, during an Armistice Day protest in the British capital in 2010.

Former police terror chief Richard Walton called him a "hardened dangerous terrorist" who had had a "huge influence on radical extremism in this country".

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