The expected release of notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary will pose a continued threat to the country, a British minister has said.
The 51-year-old Islamist preacher is due for release from HMP Frankland in County Durham next month after serving three years of a five-and-a-half year sentence for urging Muslims to support ISIS.
British Prisons Minister Rory Stewart told the Evening Standard newspaper that Mr Choudary was a “genuinely dangerous person” who the government would be watching “very, very carefully.”
Stewart added the preacher remained a “deeply pernicious, destabilising influence” who would need to be watched by MI5 and the police to stop him from inciting more violence.
Mr Choudary and his banned group al-Muhajiroun has been linked to some of Britain’s most violent terrorists - including London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt and Lee Rigby’s attackers as well as a host of others.
Mr Choudary is extremely unlikely to walk free unimpeded. Mr Stewart said he and others of his ilk would be subject to multi-agency public protection arrangements.
“That’s GPS trackers, that’s police, that’s intelligence, watching every movement of their lives and restricting it incredibly closely because I’m in no doubt that these people are highly dangerous,” he said.
“Even if they are not themselves making bombs, they are a completely pernicious influence on the people they come into contact with and they need to be kept away from them.”
It is understood that Choudary was kept in a separation centre for some of his time in prison to prevent him from converting others to the Islamist cause.
On sentencing him in September 2016, Judge Holroyde told Mr Choudary and his acolyte Mohammed Rahman, 33: “You show no remorse at all for anything you have said or done and I have no doubt you will continue to communicate your message whenever you can.”
Some British politicians have referenced the perceived lightness of Mr Choudary’s sentence and imminent release as cause for a change in the law.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat co-authored a report with think tank Policy Exchange arguing for the restoration of the UK’s treason law, to include offences such as those committed by Mr Choudary.
“Existing terrorism legislation is adequate for most crimes, but, as this excellent paper makes clear, the law should be changed to allow for a charge of treason in cases like that of Anjem Choudary, and terrorist foreign fighters such as Imran Khawaja, and the “Beatles” who have fought for ISIS, “ said Richard Walton, former head of the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) between 2011 and 2016.
“As the officer overseeing the investigation into the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, I thought at the time that a charge of murder was not adequate for the crime; a charge of treason would have been more appropriate in my view.”