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UK cleric suspected of coaching Foley’s killer praises Islamic State fighters

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Anjem Choudary, a firebrand Muslim cleric based in London, calls Islamic State fighters "noble." (Reuters)

The British cleric suspected of radicalizing dozens of Islamic State recruits, including the man believed to have beheaded American journalist James Foley, called jihadists "noble," and predicted Shariah law will soon rule the West.

Anjem Choudary, whose extremist group Islam 4 UK was banned under a terrorism crackdown, praised Britons who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for Islamic State and said he hopes Shariah Law takes hold in the United Kingdom in an interview with FoxNews.com.

“If Muslims go anywhere in the world to defend their brethren, this is a good thing. Of course it should be permitted to go and fight,” said Choudary. “Anyone who goes and stands alongside them [the fighters in Iraq] is noble. In anyone’s book it is the right thing to do.”

Choudary, 47, denied motivating the Islamic State member known as “Jihad John,” and suspected of beheading Foley, to join the group and even suggested video of the gruesome act, released on Aug. 19, was fake.

“Anyone who goes and stands alongside them [the fighters in Iraq] is noble."

- Anjem Choudary, London-based Muslim cleric

“Even films like Jurassic Park can be made today,” said Choudary, a lawyer who previously praised the 9/11 attackers as "magnificent martyrs."

But even if the video is legitimate, Choudary claimed, the hooded executioner showed more mercy than the U.S. military.

“Better a quick, swift death at the hands of this man than a decade of humiliation in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo,” he said. “I know which I would prefer. The U.S. are the champions of execution.”

U.S. and British investigators are trying to identify the man in the video, believed to have earned his nickname for belonging to a clique of British jihadists whom hostages came to refer to as “the Beatles.” Several reports have said investigators believe his real name to be Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a rapper and son of a suspected terrorist who plotted bombings in the 1990s.

The British organization Hope Not Hate, which monitors extremism, has linked Choudary to about 70 people who have either been convicted of terrorism in the UK or have been killed fighting in the Middle East. Although a report by the organization found that groups linked to Choudary helped to inspire up to 80 Britons and up to 300 Europeans to take up the fight, he remains unrepentant and free to preach his hateful message.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has called Choudary "one of those people who needs to be looked at seriously in terms of the legality of what he's saying because he strays, I think, extremely close to the line of encouraging hatred, extremism and violence."

But although mainstream British Muslims have distanced themselves from Choudary, he has not been criminally charged and remains a powerful radicalizing influence on young British Muslims. As many as 1,500 Britons are believed to have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria. They are especially worrisome to U.S. and European officials because they likely hold passports and could move easily within western societies.

Choudary unabashedly hopes that the British jihadists will soon bring their battle home.

“We could easily have conflict here [in the West] soon; I believe people are ready for it,” he said. “We want to walk under the beauty of Shariah.”

Choudary is the current face of the United Kingdom’s long-running problem with violent Islam. Several developments in recent years have spotlighted British jihadists as among the most committed and violent members of various terror groups, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Outside an Acton mosque once attended by the two fanatics who hacked British Army soldier Lee Rigby to death on a London street in May 2013, most of those leaving prayers condemned the killing of Foley. But one man defended the monstrous attack.

“They have to do something when they’re being bombed, don’t they?” said the man, who refused to give his name. “Muslims didn’t start this war, the Americans did.”

The mosque was also attended by Khadijah Dare, a 22-year-old woman now in Syria with her husband, and aspiring to kill infidels with her hands.

"UK must b shaking up ha ha,” Dare tweeted last week. “I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terrorist!”

Follow Benjamin Hall on Twitter @BorderlineN or visit www.hallbenjamin.com