An incarcerated British cleric instrumental in radicalizing ISIS extremists has been linked to one of the suspected jihadis behind Saturday’s terror attack in London.
In September, Anjem Choudary, 50, a visible Islamic activist in England since 2002, was sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison for his vocal support of ISIS. Choudary referred to the 9/11 hijackers as “magnificent martyrs,” refused to condemn terror attacks on British soil and predicted that the United Kingdom will become a Muslim country within 30 years.
Choudary has also been cited as an inspiration for several of the terror attacks that have occurred in Britain in recent months.
“If you look at jihad as a skill, Choudary is very good at it,” said Ryan Mauro, Shillman Fellow for the anti-Islamist Clarion Project. “He is as likeable as you can be and still be a jihadist.”
Police have yet to release the names of the terrorists who perpetrated Saturday’s ISIS-claimed attack, but numerous media outlets have reported that one of the men was featured in a year-old British television documentary, “Jihadis Next Door.” The man is shown in the film praying near an ISIS flag with Choudary’s associate, Mohammed Shamsuddin.
“Anyone who is seen praying with one of Choudary’s close associates should be assumed to be a radical, because his circle isn’t large,” Mauro told Fox News. “His message is, his few supporters shows how devout he is.”
According to The Times of London, Khalid Masood, who murdered four people in London in March in a van and knife attack, was interested in Choudary’s teachings and his group, al Muhajiroun.
“He cites Islamic scripture left and right, so he’s very good at answering tough questions in a way that doesn’t sound mean-hearted or crazy, so it’s as appealing a way to present violent jihad as you can get,” Mauro said. “He’s also very good at promoting groups like ISIS without giving you the one-sentence soundbite that allows you to incriminate him.”
Even from a prison cell, the charismatic Choudary continues to be a dangerous influence in England, Mauro asserted.
“Whenever there is a jihadist attack in the U.K., if you were going to ask me to place a bet if they were a fan of his content, I would bet ‘yes,’” Mauro said.
“His influence is here to stay, even if he were to die tomorrow.”
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