Birmingham Muslims “travelling to Syria to fight”

Anjem Choudary

Muslims from Birmingham who are led by controversial preacher Anjem Choudary are travelling to Syria to fdo jihad, according to an anti-extremism group.

An investigation by the organisation Hope Not Hate claims to have revealed between 50 and 80 men from Birmingham, Stoke-On-Trent, London and Luton have now travelled to Syria.

The anti-racism group said Mr Choudary’s supporters were in Syria in numbers, pointing to rumours that between 50 to 80 had travelled from the UK.

The report said: “Al-Muhajiroun supporters from London, Birmingham, Luton and Stoke-on-Trent have all definitely gone to Syria.”

When Mr Choudary was questioned on whether men from Birmingham were going Syria to fight Mr Assad’s forces, he said it was “surely a very noble thing to do. The British and Americans themselves are thinking of supporting the Free Syrian Army.”

When asked if he was involved in sending people to fight there, Mr Choudary said: “No not really. I’m not recruiting people to send them abroad – but we are talking about the issues.”

The investigation also highlights links between Mr Choudary’s network and the perpetrators of several major terrorist attacks, including the 7/7 suicide bombings in London.

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Mr Choudary is known for his controversial statements and has developed a reputation as something of a pantomime villain, but Hope Not Hate said he should be considered a “serious player on the international Islamist scene.”

Despite two decades of activism, the 46-year-old has only ever been fined £500 for organising an illegal protest outside the Danish embassy in London over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Hope Not Hate normally campaigns against far-right extremists, but it said it had broadened its scope to include “Islamist extremists” because the al-Muhajiroun groups had a “track record of publicly expressing” racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

A Home Office spokesman said it would not comment on security matters or what action we might be taking against individuals or organisations.

He said: “We want to ensure we have the right powers to tackle extremists at all levels – the Extremism Taskforce is currently considering whether new measures are required.”

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