Anjem Choudary – described as one of the most dangerous Islamist preachers in Britain – has been released from prison.
The notorious hate preacher was released from Belmarsh prison in south east London after reaching the midway point of his five-and-a-half year sentence.
Choudary had been held at Frankland high security prison in Durham, but was moved back to London ahead of his release.
He was driven out of Belmarsh prison at high speed shortly after dawn and was spotted arriving at a probation hostel in north London at 6.29am on Friday.
Wearing blue Adidas trainers, a grey cardigan over a long white robe and sporting his recognisable long grey beard, Choudary was accompanied by as he walked up the front steps to the six-storey probation hostel. Five other unmarked police cars were parked in the surrounding area.
Choudary, 51, was jailed in 2016 after being caught swearing an oath of allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
He was given five and a half years in jail, but under sentencing rules became eligible for release under licence after serving half of that term. But his release has sparked condemnation as ministers have admitted he remains “genuinely dangerous”.
Half-an-hour after he entered the bail hostel, a plain-clothed police officer removed three black bags containing Choudary’s belongings from the boot of an unmarked car. Three hours later plain-clothed police officers left the hostel after briefing Choudary on his new arrangements.
Parents taking their children to a nearby school expressed their concern at Choudary’s presence on Friday morning. “He’s not the kind of person you want living here,” said one. “I hope they keep a close eye on him to stop him exerting any sort of influence on the community.”
Choudary now faces 25 strict conditions, which include a ban on talking to children and using the internet. He will also be required to report to supervisors throughout the day to prevent him travelling out of London.
He is expected to remain in the probation hostel for up to six months before being allowed to return to his family home under tight restrictions.
Sources said counter-terror police and the security services “will be watching him like a hawk”. The cost of keeping him under surveillance is likely to exceed £2million a year.
The conditions Choudary must obey also include:
- A ban from preaching at or attending certain mosques
- He will only be allowed to associate with people who have been approved by the authorities
- He will be allowed only one phone and is banned from using an internet-enabled device without permission
- Use of the internet will be supervised
- He will not be able to leave the UK without permission.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Choudary had his assets frozen and was listed on a global record of known terrorists, overseen by the United Nations Security Council.
He has been described by counter-terrorism officers as a “hardened dangerous terrorist” and someone who has had a “huge influence on Islamist extremism in this country”.
But Whitehall sources said they hoped young, impressionable Muslims would be deterred from following Choudary when they realised he had failed to practise his own preachings.
‘Disgraceful’ tech giants allowed Choudary to groom followers, former anti-terror chief says
Mark Rowley, former Met police assistant commissioner who oversaw counter-terrorism, accused the tech giants of “disgraceful” behaviour in giving Choudary a platform and deliberately promoting “salacious and contentious” content rather than “responsible and accurate” information, reports Charles Hymas, Home Affairs Editor.
He said four of the top 10 videos on YouTube were about Choudray preaching hate, while Google searches put him above prominent Muslims such as Sajid Javid, the home secretary, and Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor.
Backing Whitehall sources, he said Choudray was a “pathetic groomer of others. He is not some sort of evil genius we all need to be afraid of.”
“We have to recognise that radicalisers look to create a profile, they look to prey on the vulnerable and we need to be thoughtful about how we report on their activity.”
In a damning critique of the tech firms, Mr Rowley accused Google and YouTube of cynical profiteering by designing algorithms that chased people’s attention to generate more advertising revenue.