Two men among a group of five tried for organising and delivering terrorist speeches in Luton last year have been convicted for their respective roles today at the Old Bailey.
Mohammed Sufiyan Choudry, 23, from Maidenhead was found guilty of one count of encouraging support for terrorist organisation Daesh, formerly known as ‘Isis’.
Ziaur Rahman, 39, from Luton, was convicted of three counts of arranging a meeting to support a proscribed organisation
The pair faced a retrial after a jury were unable to reach a decision regarding their charges during the original trial, which saw another three men convicted on 16 August 2016.
Yousaf Bashir, 36, from Luton, was found guilty of addressing a meeting to encourage support for a terrorist organisation.
Rajib Khan, 38, from Luton, was found guilty of one count of arranging a and one count of addressing a meeting to encourage support for a terrorist organisation.
The last man, 37-year-old Mohammed Istiak Alamgir, also from Luton, was found guilty of three counts of addressing a meeting to encourage support for a terrorist organisation.
All five defendants will be sentenced at a later date.
An intelligence-led operation by Beds Police and the Met Police counter terrorism command, identified each of the men as avid supporters of Daesh.
Beds Police launched an investigation into the activities of organisation Al-Muhajiroun (ALM) and used a range of tactics, gathering evidence and intelligence which they shared with the Met Police last year.
The evidence included the fact that Bashir, Khan, Choudry and their two co-defendants had attended meetings at a church in Luton and a marquee in Rahman’s back garden.
At the meetings, Khan, Bashir, Choudry and Alamgir delivered incendiary speeches to around 50 to 70 people at a time, including children. The group praised Daesh and encouraged others to support the proscribed organisation, including by travelling to Syria to fight alongside them.
The group’s advocacy of terrorism was also evident outside the meetings. Rajib Khan celebrated when terrorists killed staff at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and Alamgir collected money at the talks, to pay the legal fees of convicted terrorist Omar Bakri Muhammed, seen as the head of ALM.
Officers swooped on the men at their home addresses in December 2015.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met Police counter terrorism command, said: “These men were closely associated with Al-Muhajiroun, a dangerous group which has inspired and influenced numerous terrorists.
“The men used meetings about Ramadan – a time for self-reflection and change for the better – to instead deliver subversive speeches that encouraged groups, including very young children, to engage in war alongside Daesh.
“Speeches like theirs inspire the terrorists of tomorrow and I am immensely pleased with the excellent work of my officers and Bedfordshire Police.
“Crucially, both are working with Luton Social Services to safeguard the vulnerable children we’ve identified were taken to the radical meetings.”
Det Supt Glen Channer said: “Luton is a fantastic town with great diversity and strong communities, however we are aware there are elements with extreme views who prey on the vulnerable.
“This was a complex investigation which was launched to target those who seek to influence others with their poisonous rhetoric. We used a range of tactics to collect evidence in order to bring these men to justice.
“This case is another example to show that we simply will not tolerate those who spread fear and hate in our communities and will continue to target, arrest and disrupt anyone with extreme views.”
Anyone with concerns about suspicious activity are urged to call the Anti Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. If you are concerned that someone you know is being radicalised, you will find help and advice from a wide range of agencies at www.preventtragedies.co.uk and www.ltai.info