In Brief

Anjem Choudary: Cleric's conviction 'could boost his profile'

Anti-terrorism expert warns judgement may lead to 'spike in interest' in hate preacher's propaganda

Anjem Choudary's conviction for supporting Islamic State might not mark the end of his influence, a leading anti-terror expert warns.

Choudary, 49, and close associate Mizanur Rahman, 32, were pronounced unanimously guilty of inviting support for a terrorist organisation at the Old Bailey on 28 July. Legal restrictions meant the verdict can only now be reported.

The cleric, who is now reportedly being held in Belmarsh prison while he waits to hear his sentence, faces up to ten years in prison.

Counter-terrorism government adviser Professor Andrew Silke has voiced concerns that Choudary's conviction might further increase his online notoriety

"There will be a spike in interest in what he said and material he's produced," he told Sky News.

"It will get a lot of viewings. A lot of people will see it for the first time now and obviously the fear is some of those people will be influenced by what they read and what they see."

Choudary amassed a huge online following through his social media accounts and YouTube videos, which he used to urge Muslims to support the "caliphate" created by IS in Syria.

Intelligence officers believe he can be linked to 500 of the 850 British jihadis who have travelled to Syria, as well as 15 separate terror plots on British soil, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs committee, has called for anti-terror legislation to be reviewed as questions arose as to how Choudary was able to preach violent jihad in the UK for two decades without successful prosecution.

"It is deeply worrying to see the extent of his activities," the politician said.

Vaz has called for a "zero tolerance" approach and the closure of legal loopholes that allow extremists to operate "under the cloak of freedom of speech exercised in a democracy".

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