Radical preacher Anjem Choudary among eight bailed as man is charged as part of extremism probe

 

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The Independent Online

A man will appear in court today and eight others have been bailed after 11 were arrested as part of an investigation into alleged support of banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

Trevor Brookes, 39, has been charged with two counts of breaching his notification requirement, while eight were bailed until January, Scotland Yard said.

Two men held early on Friday on the M6 motorway near junction 1 remained in custody at a central London police station.

One of those bailed, radical preacher Anjem Choudary, told the Press Association that his arrest was "politically motivated".

He said: "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.

"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 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."

Choudary was one of nine men held across London on Thursday.

Two more were stopped and detained on the M6, just outside Rugby, Warwickshire, in the early hours of yesterday. A 33-year-old was detained on suspicion of being a member of, or supporting, a banned organisation, and of encouraging terrorism. A 42-year-old was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

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 on Thursday 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.

Brookes, of Fletching Road, Clapton, east London, appears in custody at Westminster Magistrates' Court charged with two counts of breaching his notification requirement.

These are failing to comply with a notification change of address, and notifying false information to the police in purported compliance with a notification requirement.

The eight men bailed are aged 47, 31, 32, 31, 38, 51, 22 and 36.

Scotland Yard said a number of residential, business or community premises were searched as part of the investigation. Three of the searches are still ongoing. The rest are complete.