Islamist Anjem Choudary admits telling ‘inappropriate’ joke on 9/11

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Islamist Anjem Choudary admits telling ‘inappropriate’ joke on 9/11

Choudary, who was convicted of supporting Islamic State in 2016, is on trial at Woolwich Crown Court

Anjem Choudary
Anjem Choudary

Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary has told a trial that a joke he made about 9/11 during a lecture on the anniversary of the terror attacks was “inappropriate”.

Choudary, who was convicted of supporting the so-called Islamic State in 2016, is accused of taking a “caretaker role” in directing Al-Muhajiroun (ALM), as well as being a member of the banned organisation and encouraging support for it through online meetings.

The 57-year-old, of Ilford, east London, is said to have given lectures to the New York-based Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS), which prosecutors allege was “the same” as ALM.

During an online meeting on September 11 2022, Choudary laughed while telling listeners that Omar Bakri Mohammed, who founded ALM, once advised charging members of the British media £9.11 to enter a place of worship where a press conference on the anniversary of 9/11 was held.

In the passage, which has been shown to jurors during his trial at Woolwich Crown Court, Choudary could be heard saying that Mohammed also suggested starting the conference at the time the first plane went into the North Tower.

He also joked that some members of the press from Japan paid to attend, saying “irony is completely lost on the Japanese”.

Questioned about this on Tuesday, Choudary said: “My joke was about the Japanese, saying they don’t understand sarcasm or irony.”

Defence barrister Paul Hynes KC asked Choudary if he believed it was “inappropriate” to joke on the anniversary of the terror attacks.

The defendant replied: “In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a good joke, people say things when they’re tired or relaxed … it was just a funny thing about the Japanese paying £9.11.”

He added: “It was a joke, you don’t really think about it, people joke about a lot of things.”

Prosecutors said the “sickening” joke may tell jurors about the “collective mindset” of those attending the lecture.

Asked for his views on 9/11, Choudary said it is “prohibited” for someone “to hijack a plane with innocent people and fly into a building”.

Choudary told jurors: “You cannot target anyone innocent, ever, in any kind of operation.”

Several lectures were recorded by undercover officers in 2022 and 2023.

ALM was proscribed as a terror organisation in the UK in 2010, though it is said the group has continued to exist under various names.

Choudary has previously said that ALM was disbanded in 2004 because Mohammed had a shift in ideology.

Mr Hynes asked Choudary if he has ever directed a proscribed terror group, to which the defendant replied: “No, never.”

Choudary told jurors that he has “always made sure that I abide by the laws in this country”.

He denied inviting support to ALM through lectures to ITS because the group “didn’t exist”.

Choudary said “you can not say they (ITS) are ALM” because they differ in ideology, structure and methodology.

Also on trial is Khaled Hussein, 29, from Canada, whom prosecutors say was a “follower and dedicated supporter” of Choudary.

He has pleaded not guilty to membership of ALM while Choudary denies directing a terrorist organisation, being a member of a proscribed organisation and addressing meetings to encourage support for a proscribed organisation.

Choudary was arrested in east London on July 17 of last year while Hussein was detained at Heathrow having arrived on a flight the same day.

The trial continues.

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