Dilly Hussain interviews Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the now banned al Muhajiroun group. Choudary, who has been in the spotlight because of his association with the Woolwich killer Michael Adebolajo, refuses to condemn the recent slaying of the British soldier.
DH: Anjem how long have you known Michael Adebolajo?
AC: I have known brother Mujahid since 2004 when he reverted to Islam that year.
DH: When was the last time you had contact with him?
AC: Last time I had contact with him was in 2010.
DH: How did you find him as a person?
AC: He was an excellent brother. Nice, humble, quiet, family man, passionate about Islam, the type you’d get your daughter married to.
DH: What were your initial reactions when you first heard the news of the Woolwich attack?
AC: I was shocked, and raised my eyebrows when I saw it was Mujahid but I knew he had a motive.
DH: What were those motives?
AC: I think its all very clear in his speech. British foreign policy and the humiliation of the Muslim ummah at the hands of the British government. Mujahid even apologized to women for having to see what he did, he wasn’t killing indiscriminately.
DH: Many Muslims have blamed you for radicalizing Adebolajo. What are your views on that?
AC: If radicalizing means making him a better Muslim who practices his religion, what’s wrong with that? We didn’t encourage him to carry out any act of violence if that’s what you mean. He wanted to defend the honour and property of Muslims. I’m not going to stand against him on this, I stand with him regardless of my difference of opinion on what he did.
DH: Adeboloja attended Al Muhajiroun demonstrations, stalls and circles. He has been recorded standing right behind you while you spoke at a demonstration. Surely you must take some responsibility in influencing him?
AC: We’ve held demos and events up and down the country. The mainstream media is playing this one particular clip to use up political mileage against Islam and Muslims. I have met thousands of young Muslims who have attended demonstrations and have stood right next to me, does that mean I influenced every action they do from thereafter?
At the end of the day, David Cameron and his likes don’t want Muslims enjoining in good and forbidding evil to the extent that anyone who speaks out against British foreign policy, calls for shariah and the establishment of khilafah is labelled and criminalized. These demonstrations were absolutely legal under their laws of freedom and democacy.
DH: You said in Newsnight yesterday that Al Muhajiroun and yourself have many “passing affiliates”, yet one of your students from Luton (Abdul Rahman Muhajir) told me that Adeboloja was in contact at least once a week for a whole year with Al Muhajiroun. So he wasn’t really a “passing affiliate” was he?
AC: Yes, he did regularly attend our talks, demonstrations and events that we held. He was in close contact with us. But he was never a member or active student of mine, Al Muhajiroun or any other organizations that came after it. He had an intellectual affiliation with myself and Al Muhajiroun which mainly involved ideas, concepts, dawah activities but he was a “contact” not a member or a student.
DH: If you deny influencing him into carrying out this crime, who or what did?
AC: He may have had enough of seeing the plight of the Muslim ummah, the occupation of her lands and the massacres and daily killings of his brothers and sisters. When I lost contact with him from 2010 he may have been exposed to Al Qaida literature like the Inspire magazine or the views of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki rahimullah. Also, I think he was what Al Qaida call a “lonewolf operation” and was not part of a wider network.
Secondly, the British government has further increased its draconian laws which is evident in its PREVENT strategy and CONTEST document. Banning groups, labelling fundamental concepts of Islam as extreme, spying, causing fitna within the Muslim community to a point where many Muslim youth in Britain and the West feel that they can’t voice their views, opinions and frustrations over foreign policy and occupation. He should be tried in a Shariah court, not one here where he has already been found guilty before charge or trial.
What Mujahid did or the opinion he followed was a legitimate opinion within the shariah like the opinions of Imam Anwar al Awlaki and Usama bin Laden who don’t recognise a covenant with the place of residence because you are at a state of war with them everywhere. I believe Mujahid must have referred to Islam before carrying out what he did.
DH: Ordinary Muslims, not government-funded or affiliated organizations believe your dawah is causing hatred against Islam and Muslims. Without Al Mujahiroun and its its different brand names and the things you publically say, the EDL wouldn’t exist.
AC: That maybe true, but not totally true. Islam has been demonized by the government and the mainstream media fan this hysteria to create a particular atmosphere against Islam. To pressure Muslims into changing their religion to suit the west and status quo. The EDL are a product of what the British government and media tycoons feed the masses. They represent what the government already thinks and feels towards Islam. I, or the organisation I work with, may increase their activities but it wasn’t the reason the EDL formed. Aren’t our grievances the same?
DH: What are your views on some Muslim personalities and organizations that have gone as far as to say that Adeboloja wasn’t a Muslim for what he did? Does his actions take him outside the fold of Islam?
AC: No one has the right to make that judgement as it ultimately lies with Allah (swt). He didn’t commit shirk, he didn’t deny any of the articles of faith or take any partners besides Allah (swt) so what are the reasons for these people and organizations making takfir on him?
Furthermore where is their evidences for such gross accusations? What you’ll actually find is that those personalities and organizations that have gone as far as to say he’s not a Muslim are in fact agents and hypocrites themselves.They want that government funding and PVE money. They are the ones who should actually look into their own religion and study it, then perhaps they will realise that what Mujahid did was anything but an action of kufr.
They stand hand in hand with the governments who have the blood of Muslims on their hands. Allah (swt) clearly states: “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are in fact allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is one of them.” Surah al Maida verse 51
DH: How do you feel that what you preach and promote has a knock-on effect on the wider Muslim community like Islamophobic attacks on women and the elderly?
AC: Alhamdulillah, Islamophobia is a good thing, it’s healthy. Its a clear distinction between good and evil. Without Islamophobia which is clear evil how will the truth (Islam) ever prevail? It wakes the Muslims up and in fact exposes the true colours of the enemies of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) was rejected by his people, labelled, called everything under the sun, had assassination attempts and bounties on his head, yet when a Khabbab bin Arat (ra) asked Him (saw) to ask Allah (swt) for victory, Muhammad (saw) said “People before you had struggled and faced worse persecution so be patient.”
So if this persecution isn’t happening then something is wrong. So what is the problem of likes and dislikes? Why are we trying to please the disbelievers instead of pleasing Allah (swt)? Indeed Allah (swt) grants victory through hardship.
DH: You disagree with the Woolwich attack but did not condemn it because Muslims have a covenant with this government, yet you have praised 9/11 and 7/7 attacks. What’s the difference?
AC: Time, circumstances and those involved were different in nature. We have to see 9/11, 7/7 and the Woolwich attacks as isolated cases, not the same. However, there isn’t a major distinction between those events except in difference of opinion on the matter of war, the land of war and the conditions of convenants.
I will not condemn another Muslim even for his mistakes. Prophet Muhammad (saw) never condemned an action of the Companions (ra) or the Muslim community when they made a mistake, rather he forgave them, made dua for them and advised them. Why would I or any Muslim abandon his brother at a time of hardship when he’s made a mistake or followed a different opinion?
DH: How do you think attacks like the one in Woolwich can be prevented and what will you be doing in the Muslim community as a preventive measure?
AC: They cannot be prevented until Britain along with other Western governments address their foreign policy and bring their troops back from the Muslim world (Afghanistan and Iraq). Stop meddling in the affairs of the Muslims. Stop looting our resources. Stop backing and arming brutal dictators.
Domestically, stop imposing draconian laws upon the Muslims and trying to change their religion so it fits according to their interests. Stop supporting Israel and the global campaign against Islam and Muslims. Stop incarcerating and torturing Muslims. A the the end of the day, people like Mujahid are not coming to me to carry out operations because they know I am surveillanced by the security services. Some are already on the radar of MI5, others aren’t. I can’t prevent anything only the British government can.
You can follow Dilly Hussain on Twitter @DillyHussain88