LONDON, Sept. 6 (UPI) — Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, who has been called “the most hated man” in Britain, was sentenced Tuesday to five years and six months in prison for his support of the Islamic State.
His supporters in the public gallery shouted “Allahu Akhbar” as he was led out of the courtroom after the sentencing. Counting time served in custody, he could be out by early 2019.
Choudary, 49, backed the Islamic State in talks posted on YouTube. He also led a flag-burning demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in London in 2010, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Choudary and Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33, were found guilty on July 28 of inviting support for the Islamic State between June 29, 2014 and March 6, 2015. Rahman received the same sentence after the four-week trial.
“You are both mature men and intelligent men who knew throughout exactly what you were doing. You are both fluent and persuasive speakers,” Justice Timothy Holroyde said.
He called Rahman a “hothead” and Choudary more “calculating” and more experienced.
“Those who invite others to support such organizations will be prosecuted and jailed for their crimes,” Sue Hemming, head of counter terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service, said after the sentencing.
Choudary, a former lawyer, has avoided prosecution for decades, as there was no proof he actually incited violence. Britain’s tabloid newspapers gave him the moniker, the “most hated man.”
“These men have stayed just within the law for many years,” Cmdr. Dean Haydon of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, told CNN. after the conviction. “But there is no one within the counter terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organizations.”
Police had enough evidence to arrest Choudary on Aug. 5, 2015 when they discovered material online in which he praised the Islamic State regime and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.
Choudary told CNN in 2014: “I don’t pose a threat to anyone in this country. I pose an ideological or political threat, definitely.”