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’ policy paper 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 policy paper’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