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CRT Highlight
September 25, 2014

Disrupting Extremists: More Effective Use of Existing Legislation

by
Hannah Stuart

In raids across London, a total of nine men – including hate preacher Anjem Choudhury – have been arrested by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of being members of a proscribed organisation, presumed to be al-Muhajiroun. In its first public release, HJS’ report Disrupting Extremists: More Effective Use of Existing Legislation clearly sets out how proscribed organisation offences could effectively disrupt British-based extremists like Anjem Choudhury and his followers.  It also details the ways in which al-Muhajiroun members have continued to participate in the group, using a variety of aliases as crude smokescreens.

The report’s key findings regarding the threat posed by the group and the avenues for prosecution available to the British authorities include:

  • Al-Muhajiroun, which advocates the establishment of an ‘Islamic’ State in the UK and supports jihadist fighters in foreign conflicts including in Syria and Iraq, has an almost 20-year-long history of encouraging terrorism both overseas and at home – one-in-five Islamism-inspired terrorists in the UK have links to the group.
  • There have only been three successful prosecutions for Islamism-inspired proscribed organisation offences, despite at least 50 convicted terrorists in the UK having known links to proscribed terrorist organisations.
  • In terrorism-related investigations where the suspect has known links to al-Muhajiroun, the CPS should seek to prosecute membership or professed membership of a proscribed organisation alongside the principal offence.
  • Additional convictions could be secured on the basis of online activity in support of al-Muhajiroun. The CPS should prosecute owners of online platforms promoting extremist material and suspected to be al-Muhajiroun front groups for a) the unlawful dissemination of terrorist material and b) membership of a proscribed organisation, in order to prove legal aliases in court.
  • As well as disrupting extremists’ activities, prosecution for membership would establish a legal precedent and proving aliases in court would send a strong message that proscription is the result of criminal activity, helping to delegitimise the ideology behind Islamism-inspired terrorism.  

Disrupting Extremists: More Effective Use of Existing Legislation is available to download here

Hannah Stuart

About Hannah Stuart

Hannah Stuart is a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and has authored reports on extremism, terrorism and jihadist ideology as well as religious law and the role of religion in the public sphere. Hannah has a strong research record and her work has informed UK government policy. She gave testimony to the UK Home Affairs Select Committee on radicalisation. She has written analysis for the Wall Street Journal, The Times, Foreign Policy, Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, and the Guardian, among others. Hannah has a MA in International Studies and Diplomacy (with Distinction) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Bristol.

Full profile  |  See all of Hannah Stuart's work