Islamic State, the jihadist organization which has cut a swath of death and destruction across the Middle East and Europe, fully exploits social media to recruit new recruits.
Thousands of Muslims and Muslim converts from around the world have been brainwashed by its postings on the Internet. Having been seduced by its radical Islamic message, they’ve sacrificed themselves as fighters and suicide bombers on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq and in European cities such as Paris and Brussels.
To Islamic State, they’re little more than cannon fodder.
One of Islamic State’s most successful recruiters, the British national Anjem Choudary, managed to elude justice until very recently. But last month, he and an associate, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, were finally nailed, and now both face a prison term of up to 10 years. Due to legal technicalities, the verdict was announced on August 16.
Choudary, trained as a lawyer, succeeded in keeping one step ahead of the law for years. But after pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s leader, and urging Muslims to obey and support him, he effectively sealed his fate. He and Rahman were convicted of posting online lectures and messages designed to whip up support for Islamic State — which is banned in Britain — and to encourage young, impressionable men to join its ranks.
Although he has protested his innocence, Choudary is a seasoned and dangerous salafist whose attitudes are wildly at odds with the values of mainstream British society.
He praised the 19 Arab terrorists who declared war on the United States on September 11, 2001. He refused to condemn the 2005 bombings in London which claimed the lives of 52 people. And he encouraged followers to kill American and British troops in Afghanistan, a call that landed him in prison for two years.
Beyond being a promoter of terrorism, Choudary incensed many Britons by calling for the conversion of Buckingham Palace into a grand mosque and by declaring that the black flag of Islamic State should fly over the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street.
Choudary’s notoriety was also forged by his connection to and leadership of Al-Muhajiroun, a now-banned Islamic fundamentalist group founded by his mentor, Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was expelled from Britain 11 years ago.
Al-Muhajiroun, a deeply antisemitic outfit, promoted conspiracy theories about Jews and engaged in Holocaust denial, but above all it was an incubator of terrorism.
Three examples will suffice.
One of Al-Muhajiroun’s followers, Asif Mohammed Hanif, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, achieved infamy on April 30, 2003 by walking into Mike’s Place, a Tel Aviv cafe near the U.S. embassy, and detonating a bomb. The blast killed three people and injured 50. (His accomplice, Omar Khan Sharif, fled after his suicide vest failed to explode. His body was found some days later in the Mediterranean Sea).
Mohammed Sidique Khan, the mastermind of the London underground bombings, was linked to Al-Muhajiroun.
Four men –Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah — pleaded guilty in a multifaceted plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and the U.S. embassy and to kill two rabbis and the then mayor of London, Boris Johnson. All four had formal links to Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK, another organization led by Choudary that was eventually banned.
The plotters were apparently inspired by Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Yemenite-born American imam whose inflammatory lectures could be downloaded on the Al-Ghurabaa website, a successor group of Al-Muhajiroun.
Given his dismal record, Choudary is definitely a real and present danger to public order who deserves the maximum penalty. The judge who hands down a sentence on September 6 should make an example of him.
It’s clear that Britain needs to discourage the Anjem Choudarys of the future.