How he remained untouched for so long

The Guardian explains more about Choudary’s activities.

Anjem Choudary and his extremist groups are believed to have inspired at least 100 people from Britain into terrorism, including organisations committed to campaigns of murder against the west, the Guardian has learned.

Documents from intelligence sources say his groups were at the heart of the Islamist movement in Britain, which has been left facing a “severe” threat of jihadi attack.

The defense of free speech depends to some extent on an absence of people like Choudary. If you have people who really are “inspiring” others to commit mass murders, then it becomes a lot more difficult to say those people have an absolute right to free speech. It’s no longer enough to say you can’t tell the mob to kill the corn factor when the mob is already outside the corn factor’s house. You have to say you can’t tell the mob to kill the corn factor at some unspecified time in the future, when you know the mob is actually going to do it.

The conviction represents only a fraction of the jihadi mayhem to which the lawyer is linked.

People connected to Choudary and his groups who turned to terrorism include Michael Adebolajo, one of the men who murdered the soldier Lee Rigby on a London street in 2013.

See that’s a problem. Free speech is a good…but not inspiring people to commit murder is also a good.

Choudary was a key figure for a succession of extremist Islamist groups. He was dismissed as a clown by some, while helping inspire youngsters to turn to terrorism in Britain and Europe, and enjoyed frequent media appearances.

That dismissal as a clown turns out to have been a big mistake.

It’s much the same with Trump. He’s a clown all right, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do immense harm.

A conservative estimate is that no less than 100 people from Britain linked to Choudary or his groups have fought or supported violent jihad, according to counter-terrorism sources. The figures were supported by a leftwing anti-extremism group that has studied the influence of al-Muhajiroun and its successor groups.

That number increases on taking into account those in Europe who joined organisations such as Isis after being involved with extremist groups Choudary helped establish or inspire, such as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Choudary’s influence in Europe was such that the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD assessed him to be a key influence in the spread of the jihadi movement in the Netherlands. A spokesperson for AIVD said it stood by its assessment of Choudary’s central role in the UK first, and then Europe, set out in a 2014 document: “Since the 1980s the UK has harboured an active Islamist movement propagating an anti-democratic, intolerant and sometimes explicitly violent ideology.

“At its heart is the now banned group Islam4UK, previously known as al-Muhajiroun, al-Ghurabaa and Muslims Against Crusades. Its most familiar faces are Omar Bakri (currently resident in Lebanon) and Anjem Choudary, who acts as its spokesman. Modelling itself closely on this British movement, Sharia4Belgium was active in Belgium for several years …”

Belgium? What could possibly go wrong?

According to the European law enforcement agency Europol, Sharia4Belgium “engaged in organised indoctrination and recruitment of young people to participate in the armed conflict in Syria”. Choudary praised its leader after more than 40 of its members were convicted of terrorism.

The groups Choudary led were “the single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history”, says one study on his activities, details of which are published here for the first time, from the leftwing group Hope Not Hate. It said: “Over the last 15 years he has influenced and inspired over 100 Britons who have carried out or attempted to carry out terrorist attacks at home and abroad.”

Not such a joke after all, is he.

According to research from Hope Not Hate, supported by a counter-radicalisation expert who has worked with al-Muhajiroun members, Choudary helped Isis gain British recruits.

Hope Not Hate said: “In the six months following the creation of the Islamic State, Choudary was its biggest cheerleader in the English-speaking world and the network he helped create became the largest recruiter for IS in Europe.”

Choudary’s ability to operate in plain sight, seemingly without legal sanction, raises many questions. Sources in Britain’s Muslim community say Choudary was reported to the police, with some in the UK’s Islamic communities left baffled about how he remained untouched for so long.

Everybody thought he was a clown? Everybody thought it was free speech?

Not very reassuring, is it.

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