Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lizzie Dearden - London attack linked to hate preacher Anjem Choudary's extremist network

The bloody rampage that left seven people dead and dozens injured on a busy Saturday night in London Bridge is the latest atrocity to be tied to Anjem Choudary’s network of extremists, it has emerged. Khuram Butt, who wore an Arsenal shirt and hoax suicide vest to carry out the slaughter, had been reported to authorities repeatedly over alarming comments and behaviour. Experts warn that his transformation from apparently non-violent extremist to terrorist could be echoed by countless British Islamists brought to a “tipping point” by the ideology espoused by hate preachers.

Butt was spotted alongside Choudary, who has subsequently been jailed for inviting support for Isis, at a protest following the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of anti-extremism group the Ramadhan Foundation, said Butt flanked Choudary as he defended a murder carried out by one of his own followers. Mr Shafiq, who was conducting interviews nearby in Westminster’s College Green, went to challenge Choudary, Butt and another supporter. “I went to confront him and Butt shouted out ‘murtadd’ [apostate from Islam],” he told The Independent.

 “He and Choudary were together – they came together and they left together. “I didn't pay much attention to Butt at the time, he was just mouthing off at me.” Mr Shafiq later recognised the aggressor in a documentary on British Islamists broadcast last year, and again when he was named among the London Bridge attackers. Butt made no attempt to hide his identity while appearing in Channel 4 programme The Jihadis Next Door, alongside a group of known extremists led by Choudary’s former deputy Mohammed Shamsuddin. He was shown joining a public prayer towards a black flag associated with Islamist groups including Isis and al-Qaeda, then shouting at police alerted by concerned passers-by.

It was one of several incidents reported to authorities, who have not confirmed claims that Butt was the subject of calls to the anti-terror hotline. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said the father-of-two was known to police and MI5, but because the probe into him did not reveal evidence of attack planning he was prioritised accordingly. London Bridge attacker Khuram Shazad Butt, also known as ‘Abz’, in Channel 4’s ‘The Jihadis Next Door’ in 2016 (Channel 4) Butt most probably came to the attention of security services because of his association with Choudary, Shamsuddin and other remnants of the banned Al-Muhajiroun terrorist group. A former member of the organisation who now works for counter-terrorism group Quilliam International, Adam Deen, said Butt had been reported to police for attacking one of his colleagues.

Dr Usama Hasan, Quilliam’s head of Islamic studies, was at an event marking Eid in July last year when Butt approached. “He spotted [Dr Hasan] at the festival and proceeded to attack him and verbally assault him…because he worked for Quilliam,” Mr Deen told The Independent. He said the incident was reported to police but witnesses did not know Butt’s identity at the time. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police would not confirm if the attacker was reported or when, saying: “We have looked back and some of the claims made in the media we do not recognise. But there have been some calls. “That information is important and we are grateful to the people who ring in. “But being radicalised is not enough to support a criminal prosecution... read more: