Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, one of 11 men held as part of an investigation into alleged support of banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun, has been released on bail, he said today. He claimed his arrest was "politically motivated", telling the Press Association: "My arrest certainly was politically motivated.
"The last time the government proscribed any organisation linked to me or previous groups I have been linked to was in June 2014. They have done nothing since then. They waited until the day before a major vote on a war against Muslims for a high-profile series of arrests."
He tweeted: "I've been released from police custody. Just in time for Cameron to declare war on Islam & Muslims in Iraq & Syria."
Choudary, who is to answer bail in January, was one of nine men held across London yesterday. Two more were stopped and detained near junction 1 of the M6, just outside Rugby, Warwickshire, in the early hours of today, Scotland Yard said.
A 33-year-old was detained on suspicion of being a member of, or supporting, a banned organisation, and of encouraging terrorism. The second man, 42, was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. Both were being held in custody at a police station in central London.
The arrests came as MPs prepared to vote on whether to join air strikes in Iraq. Lawyer-turned-preacher Choudary was detained shortly after firing off a series of anti-Western messages at 5am yesterday on Twitter, including claims that the definition of terrorism is ''more suitable for the US/UK policy in Muslim lands''.
Sweet shop Yummy Yummy, owned by Choudary's brother Yadzani in Whitechapel, east London, was one of 18 properties searched across the capital while another address in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was also raided. Earlier this week it was reported that Choudary said he has no sympathy for Alan Henning, a volunteer aid worker who was captured in Syria by Islamic State (IS) militants.
IS threatened to behead the 47-year-old in a video released earlier this month which showed the murder of another British man, David Haines. Choudary, who co-founded the now-banned group al-Muhajiroun, is reported to have said: ''In the Koran it is not allowed for you to feel sorry for non-Muslims. I don't feel sorry for him.''
He has also had contact with a number of worshippers who have later gone on to be convicted of terrorism. Fanatics Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who were both jailed earlier this year for the brutal slaying of Fusilier Lee Rigby, were both seen at demonstrations organised by al-Muhajiroun.
Choudary said he knew Adebolajo, who was pictured beside him at a rally in 2007, and the second founder of the group, Omar Bakri Mohammed, claimed that he had spoken to the future killer at meetings. Al-Muhajiroun, which has changed names a number of times, was banned in the UK in 2010 and a study suggested that in the preceding 12 years 18% of Islamic extremists convicted of terror offences in the UK had current or former links with it.
Choudary also said: "They've nothing on me. If they didn't charge me the last time I was arrested three months ago, and I've done nothing for the last three months, how do they hope to get any kind of conviction?" He said he was held at Southwark police station. "It's fine as police stations go, they gave me my normal rights, but I should not have been there in the first place."
He said the "only character in the Prime Minister's notepad" who would speak out against air strikes in Iraq or Syria "is me". Choudary said the police questioned him in relation to being a member of up to 10 proscribed groups including Islam4UK and Need4Khalifah. He added: "The British Government have pulled Britain into a very bloody war that will have manifestations on the streets of London."