Yesterday we learned that the Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudary is to be released from prison at some point in October after serving only three years of a five a half year sentence for inciting muslims to join Daesh.
Prisons minister Rory Stewart (pic below) gave an interview to the London Evening Standard in which he says Choudary “poses a genuine threat” to public safety and “deeply pernicious destabilising influence”. He said MI5 and the police will need to “watch him like a hawk” to stop him from inciting further violence. We know, after all, that various terror perpetrators in this country, including the two killers of Lee Rigby, were disciples of Choudary, as was Khuram Butt, one of the London Bridge attackers
So, given all that, one has to ask why on earth he is being released? Why isn’t he serving his full sentence? It’s apparently because the judge who sentenced him gave him a ‘determinate’ sentence and by law he has to be released after serving half of it, unless he’s misbehaved in prison. Well, given that he had to be transferred to a so-called ‘Jihadi Jail’ in County Durham because he had been trying to radicalise other prisoners, you’d have thought his was an open and shut case of the prison authorities saying that he should serve his full sentence.
You’d have also thought that the Home Secretary or the Justice Secretary could intervene on national security grounds. Again, apparently not.
You do have to wonder what the point of being Prisons minister, or even Home Secretary, if they can’t intervene on cases like this. Michael Howard sold the pass in some ways when he was Home Secretary and took away his powers to intervene in life sentence cases. Choudary, of course, was not serving a life sentence, so even if Howard hadn’t changed the rules, the Home Secretary couldn’t intervene in this case.
Many on Twitter are calling for him to be deported. But where to, and under what grounds? He’s was born in Welling and is a British citizen. You can’t just deport British citizens who hold a British passport. And which other country would take him anyway?
So we are where we are. You’d have thought the prison authorities might be able to find some reason not to release him, but perhaps they’re only too keen to get him off their hands. But what about the probation authorities? Surely in order to be released you have to accept you’ve committed the crime, and also to show some remorse and repentance. I doubt whether Choudary has done either.
This is one of those crises that can blow up and completely throw a politician’s career off course. That happened to the Justice Secretary David Gauke over the black cab rapist, John Worboys. History may be about to repeat itself. If I were him I’d be calling in all the relevant parties and ask them how he can be kept in prison.
However, even if Choudary remains in prison for his full sentence, at some point he will have to be released. There is no doubt in my mind that he will continue his hate preaching if he’s allowed to. He will also no doubt seek to groom and brainwash weak-minded people into following Daesh or other extreme Islamist groups. One would hope that he will have huge restrictions placed on his freedoms to associate and the ability to use the internet. He will need to be constantly monitored by the police and the security services (as if they haven’t got enough on their plates).
In the long term I think we need to look at some law changes. The maximum sentence for crimes like the ones he committed need to be increased to life imprisonment. We also need to have a debate on whether the offence of treason needs to be reintroduced. It was effectively abolished by Tony Blair at the turn of the century, but can there be any doubt that inciting people to join a foreign terror group and pledge allegiance to an enemy organisation is treasonous?
Of course, there is another solution. Back in 2014 (Full story HERE Anjem Choudary said that he would happily renounce his British citizenship and go and live under Daesh rule if the British government guaranteed him safe passage and returned his passport. The then chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz said…
If he wants to go, he should be allowed to go. I think that would be a much better scenario than having him stay. Why should the Home Office or anyone else give him safe passage?
He must take the consequences if he is propagating the views of Isis. I think people would like to see the back of him.
Choudary had said…
I believe the world belongs to God and that one day, hopefully, the UK will be part of an Islamic State. Why shouldn’t I be free to travel to the Khalifah [caliphate] and see what life is like under the Sharia?
Why not indeed. I’d happily crowdfund a one way ticket to Idlib. In fact, let’s cut the crowdfunding. I’d happily pay for the ticket myself.
One more thing. I interviewed Anjem Choudary back in 2011. He’s a very skilled media operator. After that interview (which is still on Youtube somewhere) I decided that he shouldn’t get a media platform to spread his hate. Yet at every available opportunity, the BBC seemed to interview him. I hope that if he does indeed come out of prison in October than no British media will interview him ever again. Leave it to the likes of Press TV and RT. Any producer who even thinks of booking him should give themselves a good look in the mirror. He’s a hate preacher and always will be. Let’s not give him the chance to spread his disgusting and abhorrent views.