IN the wee small hours of 10/11, 2001, the day after the USA had suffered its worst terror attack since Pearl Harbor, I was tuned into BBC News 24 for unfolding updates on the carnage.
Despite the devastation I’d witnessed ‘live’ the previous afternoon, I was still gobsmacked by the idea passenger jets had been deliberately piloted into the Twin Towers, how the skyscrapers folded like houses of cards and the concrete canyons of downtown New York were lost in a swirling, blinding, choking cloak of smoke and debris.
By two a.m. there was no doubting this was the ruthless handiwork of Al-Qaeda, a brand-name already familiar to a dumb-struck public as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Mars Bars.
Having read out the latest guesstimate of fatalities, the studio anchor turned to his guest, a dapper-suited lawyer named Anjem Choudary, spokesman for a bunch I’d never heard of called al-Muhajiroun and ostensibly a mouthpiece for the UK’s Muslim community.
Fully expecting an outpouring of sorrow and sympathy for the victims and their kin, not to mention condemnation of the atrocities, I was agog as the man launched into a forensic defense of the indefensible, of how followers of Islam – his religion of peace – had been disparaged and denigrated by the West far too long and would no longer be humbled.
Chillingly, behind Choudary’s measured and glibly articulated language lay a tacit warning, something along the lines of: ‘You naïve, unbelieving kuffars shouldn’t think this is as bad as it gets, because it will get worse.’
And that message never wavered as, over the next 15 years, this arrogant, contemptuously smirking purveyor of race hatred became almost a permanent fixture in the British media spotlight, either capture on camera leading viciously anti-West – often anti-Semitic – demos or sound-biting his vitriol on debate shows.
It was glaring, too, how Choudary had grown into the part, like the actor who played Abe Lincoln for so long he wasn’t happy until someone shot him. Out went the Savile Row tailoring; in came the baggy shalwar kameez, while his thick beard was now the prescribed two fists’ long.
Moreover, ego-driven to further extremes, the Press and TV loved to loathe him, because he never failed to deliver them increasingly more dollops of acerbic drivel.
Having beatified the 9/11 murderers as ‘magnificent martyrs’, in 2004 Choudary predicted a terror attack on British soil was ‘a matter of time’. And so it was, on July 7, 2005, when 52 died and 700 were injured – some maimed for life – in the London bus and Tube bombings.
Choudary adamantly refused to condemn that slaughter and, in 2013, blamed British foreign policy for the butchering of off-duty soldier, Lee Rigby, by two thugs he’d reportedly helped radicalize.
Meanwhile, unlike his headline-hugging partners in hate preach – the grotesque, hook-handed and one-eyed Abu Hamza (now serving life in a US penitentiary for terrorism offences) and the fiery, bile-spewing Omar Bakri Muhammad (now banned from the UK) – thanks to his legal training, Choudary slithered round the law of the land and scoffed at various government’s lame attempts to gag him.
Until now, that is.
Sitting at the Old Bailey last week, judge Mr. Justice Holroyde sentenced 49-year-old Choudary and his henchman, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33, each to five-and-a-half years imprisonment for ‘inviting support’ for the terror group, Isil/Daesh.
The court heard a ‘calculating’ and ‘dangerous’ Choudary had published an oath of allegiance to Isil knowing it was likely to encourage his vulnerable or fanatical followers to commit terrorist attacks, which has been the ex-lawyer’s modus operandi throughout his career as an Islamo-fascist tub-thumper.
What troubled Justice Holroyde – as it should the British Establishment, media and all with a smattering of scruples – is, as he told the detestable duo, ‘You have shown 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.’
And therein lies the dilemma facing any liberal democracy, which allows felons, especially convicted Islamic fanatics, to twist a country’s own human rights legislation to their perverted will.
New proscriptions on what such prisoners can and can’t do are slowly grinding through the UK government’s system. But they cannot come fast enough.
And, unless isolated from the jail’s mainstream population, a rabid hate-monger like Choudary will he exalted as a star ‘con’ by certain inmates and carry out his pre-trail threat: ‘If they put me in prison, I will carry on in prison. I will radicalize everyone in prison.’
Judge Holroyde also highlighted a preposterous flaw in Britain’s benefit system, after hearing Choudary had pimped off government hand-outs for the past 20 years, during which time he claimed up to £500,000 from the state –  in his words a ‘Jihadi-seeker's Allowance’.
In a rhetorical question, the judge asked, ‘Is it not an anathema to be funded by the liberal Western democracy he so adamantly despises?’
Quite why an able-bodied, educated individual like Choudary, British-born of Pakistani descent and a married father of four, managed to dodge honest employment for so long is a question vexing many UK law-makers.
Labor MP Steve McCabe demanded ministers investigate the circumstances in which Choudary’s claims were allowed, asking, ‘The question is does that [hate preaching] count as a job and, if so, how did he qualify for benefits?’
One answer may be that the powers-that-be feared a backlash from Britain’s febrile Muslim community, even if most decent, Allah-fearing members don’t subscribe to Choudary’s extreme Salafi death-cult version of their faith.
Another response is that the UK has become so straight-jacketed by European political correct convention that the ‘human rights’ of terror fanatics override the safety and security of the mass public.
As Charles Dickens’ Mr. Bumble noted in Oliver Twist, ‘The law is an ass’.
So, unless the UK government has the guts to expand its definition of what constitutes hate-speech, another Choudary will claim center stage pretty soon.

 

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