Five Convicted for Terror Speeches, Encouraging Others to Travel to Syria

Islamic State
Metropolitan Police

Five associates of the banned group Al-Muhajiroun have been convicted for delivering speeches in Luton praising Islamic State and encouraging others to travel to Syria to fight.

Mohammed Sufiyan Choudry, 23, from Maidenhead, was found guilty of encouraging support for Islamic State, and Ziaur Rahman, 39, from Luton, was found guilty of arranging meetings to support Islamic State at the Old Bailey on Friday.

A jury had been unable to reach a verdict on Mr. Choudry and Mr. Rahman (above left, right) in an earlier trial, which saw three other men convicted in August 2016.

The other three, who were also from Luton, were Yousaf Bashir, 36, Rajib Khan, 38, and Mohammed Istiak Alamgir, 37. All three were found guilty on a range of counts including addressing meetings to encourage support for Islamic State.

A date for all five defendants to be sentenced is to be set.

The five convictions were the result of an operation by Bedfordshire Police and the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, which identified the men as supporters of Islamic State.

Bedfordshire Police launched an investigation into the activities of terrorist organisation Al-Muhajiroun, which was proscribed in 2010 under the UK Terrorism Act 2000.

The five men had attended meetings in June and July 2015 at a church in Luton and a marquee in Rahman’s back garden. At the meetings, Khan, Bashir, Choudry, and Alamgir delivered incendiary speeches to around 50 to 70 people at a time, including children. The group praised Islamic State and encouraged others to support the proscribed organisation, including by travelling to Syria to fight.

Alamgir also collected money at the talks to pay the legal fees of convicted terrorist Omar Bakri Muhammed who founded Al-Muhajiroun with Anjem Choudary. Choudary was sentenced to five years and six months in prison in September 2016 for inviting support for Islamic State.

Al-Muhajiroun has been linked to a number of extremists, including Lee Rigby’s killer Michael Adebolajo, who attended meetings and demonstrations, and Abdul Waheed Majeed, from Crawley, who became the first British suicide bomber in Syria in February 2014.

During the trial, the court heard a recording of one speech, made during Ramadan, in which one of the convicted told the audience that it was their “duty” to kill gay people.

“When the parliament are making laws and having Gay Pride today in the UK, Gay Pride, where’s the pride in being gay? There’s no pride in being gay,” he said, adding: “Alhamdulillah [praise to be God] the people haven’t caught you, or it’s high building for you.”

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: “These men were closely associated with Al-Muhajiroun, a dangerous group which has inspired and influenced numerous terrorists.”

“Speeches like theirs inspire the terrorists of tomorrow and I am immensely pleased with the excellent work of my officers and Bedfordshire Police. Crucially, both are working with Luton Social Services to safeguard the vulnerable children we’ve identified were taken to the radical meetings.”