Radical preacher Anjem Choudary is facing jail after he was convicted at the Old Bailey of supporting the so-called Islamic State terror group, it can now be reported.
The 49-year-old and his co-defendant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33, were found guilty of inviting support for the group, also called Isis, Isil or Daesh, after a trial at The Old Bailey.
Choudary urged people to obey IS in a series of videos posted to YouTube and also urged them to travel to Syria to live there. He was warned to expect jail.
The maximum sentence for the offence is 10 years in prison. He and Rahman will be sentenced in September.
As the pair were convicted, Mr Justice Holroyde warned them that they face prison, and said they had only shown “a grudging compliance” to the court.
He added: “You have made your disregard for the court abundantly plain.”
The verdicts were delivered on July 28 but could not be reported until now.
Despite being a leader figure in the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun (ALM), and a series of former supporters going on to be convicted of terrorism, Choudary stayed on the right side of the law for two decades before investigators were able to pin him down.
Chooudhary has been one of the most prominent faces of radical Islam in Britain for years.
The trial heard that the preacher, viewed by officers as a key force in radicalising young Muslims, had been the “mouthpiece” of Omar Bakri Mohammed - the founder of the banned extremist group ALM.
He courted publicity by voicing controversial views on Sharia law, while building up a following of thousands through social media, demonstrations and lectures around the world.
In one speech in March 2013, Choudary set out his ambitions for the Muslim faith to “dominate the whole world”.
He said: “Next time when your child is at school and the teacher says ‘What do you want when you grow up? What is your ambition?’, they should say ‘To dominate the whole world by Islam, including Britain - that is my ambition’.”
Supporters included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of soldier Lee Rigby, and suspected IS executioner Siddhartha Dhar.
Before accepting that the caliphate was legitimate, Choudary consulted his “spiritual guide” Omar Bakri Mohammed, currently in jail in Lebanon, and Mohammed Fachry, the head of ALM in Indonesia.
On July 7 2014, the trio’s names appeared alongside Rahman’s on the oath, which stated the Muhajiroun had “affirmed” the legitimacy of the “proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State”.
The defendants followed up by posting on YouTube a series of lectures on the caliphate, which Choudary promoted to more than 32,000 Twitter followers.
The father-of-five denied encouraging his followers to back the terror group and insisted the oath had been made without his knowledge. He said of the pledge: “It is completely unnecessary. For the rest of the Muslims it is obedience from the heart.”
Despite protesting his innocence, he continued to express extreme views during his Old Bailey trial, refusing to denounce the execution of journalist James Foley by so-called Jihadi John, aka Mohammed Emwazi, in Syria in 2014.
He told the jury: “If you took an objective view there are circumstances where someone could be punished.”
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “These men have stayed just within the law for many years, but there is no one within the counter terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organisations.
“Over and over again we have seen people on trial for the most serious offences who have attended lectures or speeches given by these men.
“The oath of allegiance was a turning point for the police - at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they supported ISIS.”
Choudary, of Hampton Road, Ilford, and Rahman, of Sidney Street in Whitechapel, east London, will be sentenced on September 6.