Anjem Choudary is an Islamist and social and political activist from Britain who was found guilty of amassing support for a proscribed organisation, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, under the Terrorism Act 2000. In the past, he worked as a solicitor and was appointed a spokesperson for Islam4UK, a radical Islamist group that was proscribed under UK’s counter-terrorism laws in January 2010. Originally from London, Choudary studied medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and later law at the University of Southampton. He played an important role in the formation of the Islamist organization, al-Muhajiroun. The group held multiple anti-western demonstrations. After the government of UK made al-Muhajiroun an illegal organization, he helped in creating its intended successor, Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah. He also co-founded Al Ghurabaa, which later got banned as well. Choudary is a vocal supporter of those responsible for the September 11, 2001, and July 7, 2005, attacks and has criticised UK’s role in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He is an advocate of the implementation of the Sharia law throughout UK, Poland and India, and his actions and beliefs have been rejected by mainstream Muslim groups.
Childhood & Early Life
Anjem Choudary was born on January 18, 1967, in Welling, London, England, United Kingdom, in a Punjabi-Pakistani family. His father was a Welling market trader.
He joined Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry to study medicine and garnered some notoriety as a “party animal”. Later, he dropped out and enrolled at the University of Southampton to pursue a law degree.
He relocated back to London to be an “English as a second language” (ESL) teacher. He was also employed at a legal firm and obtained his law degree. Choudary was appointed the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers. However, in 2002, he was taken out of the roll of solicitors (the official register of legal practitioners).
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According to a report published in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ on November 7, 1999, Anjem Choudary was a leading figure in a recruiting group that was giving weapons training to Muslims at secret locations in Britain.
After embracing Islamism, Choudary co-established al-Muhajiroun with the Islamist militant leader Omar Bakri Muhammed. Between January 1986 and August 2005, the group functioned freely in UK.
Following the September 11 attacks, the group al-Muhajiroun hosted a conference in September 2002, during which they praised the men responsible for it. The group had two aliases, Al Ghurabaa and The Saviour Sect, both of which were proscribed by the British Home Secretary under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Choudary served as a spokesperson for Al Ghurabaa. Believed to be a successor of al-Muhajiroun, it got proscribed by the then Home Secretary John Reid in 2006.
Choudary established Islam4UK in 2008. Their website revealed that the group considered itself “a platform to propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law”. Furthermore, they wanted the British public to believe in the “the superiority of Islam”, so there would be a transfer of authority and power to the Muslims and the implementation of the Sharee’ ah in Britain.
According to the British authorities, the organisation was a splinter group of al-Muhajiroun and Hizb ut-Tahrir, which were regarded as the originators of extremism in Britain. Choudary set up a meeting for the members of Islam4UK in November 2008 at the Brady Arts and Community Centre in Tower Hamlets. During the conference, the members were asked to “defend the honour of the Muslims”.
Choudary has rejected the notion that Islam is a religion of peace. According to him, it is a religion of submission and a follower must “submit to the will of Allah”.
Islam4UK had made plans to organise a march through the town of Wootton Bassett, through which the early-21st-century military funeral repatriations passed, to protest against the Afghanistan War. This garnered the organisation criticism from all corners of the British society, including mainstream Muslim groups. These plans were later dismissed.
Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the British government proscribed Islam4UK on January 14, 2010. An outraged Choudary heavily criticised the decision. Since then, he has continued to participate in public protests and marches. In 2011, he tried to enter France to protest the French government’s decision to outlaw the burka.
The United States Department of State listed him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on March 30, 2017. This designation denies him access to his assets and prevents him from doing trade or financial transactions with US citizens.
Throughout the years, Choudary has put out several pamphlets and articles like ‘Human Rights: Comparison between the Declaration of Human Rights and Divine Rights in Islam’ and ‘Groups and Parties in Islam: The Islamic Verdict’.
On July 28, 2016, Choudary was found guilty of supporting an Islamic State and was subsequently given a five-and-a-half-year sentence. On October 19, 2018, he was freed but then was put in a probation hostel in London Borough of Camden for six months.
Family & Personal Life
In 1996, Choudary exchanged wedding vows with Rubana Akhtar or Akhgar. She had become a member of his group al-Muhajiroun and eventually was made the head of the group’s female wing. The couple has four children, including Hediyah Mehraj.