Muslim activist who heckled minister is jailed

A Muslim activist who became known for his publicly expressed extremist views was jailed for four and a half years yesterday for terrorism-related offences committed during a series of inflammatory speeches at a London mosque.

Judge Nicholas Price said that Abu Izzadeen, 33, a British-born convert to Islam, was a "leading light" in a group of men who used a gathering at the Regent's Park mosque in November 2004 to call for volunteers to fight British troops in Iraq and appeal for funds to finance insurgents abroad.

The former BT electrician, who is a father of three, achieved notoriety after refusing to condemn the 7 July suicide bombers. He also heckled the then Home Secretary John Reid as he gave a speech in east London in 2006. He was one of six men from the al-Muhajiroun group convicted of taking part in the speeches, which coincided with US forces besieging Fallujah in one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war.

Sitting at Kingston Crown Court in west London, the judge said Izzadeen and his co-defendants had abused the right to freedom of expression. Izzadeen and Simon Keeler, another British-born convert from Whitechapel in east London, were singled out as having led the incitement. They were sentenced to serve four and a half years.

Judge Martin told Izzadeen: "I am left in no doubt that your speeches were used by you as self-aggrandisement and not as an expression of sincerely held religious views. I find that you are arrogant, contemptuous and utterly devoid of any sign of remorse."

Abdul Muhid, also from Whitechapel, was sentenced to two years for fundraising for terrorism abroad. He will serve the term once he finishes a four-year sentence for soliciting murder during protests against the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The other defendants were given prison terms between two years and three years nine months.

After the sentencing, Bethan David of the Crown Prosecution Service said: "The challenge in this case was to demonstrate to the jury that sometimes statements overstep not just the boundaries of taste and decency but also the boundaries of the law."