British cleric Anjem Choudary told the Clarion Project that reports linking him to Abdel Majed Abdel Bary, the British rapper identified as the Islamic State terrorist who beheaded American journalist James Foley, are false. However, he did endorse the atrocity and the caliphate declared by IS.
Choudary denied ever meeting Bary or his father, an Al-Qaeda member involved in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa who was extradited to the U.S. in 2012 from Britain. Choudary said his group did protest the elder Bary’s prolonged detention in the United Kingdom since 1998.
He also rejected press reports that his organization radicalized Bary. Choudary said no one in his group ever mentioned meeting Bary and that he’s confident someone would have discussed it if they had.
Choudary told the Clarion Project that the beheading of Foley by the Islamic State is permissible under sharia (Islamic) law.
“Muslims who abide by the sharia and follow the jurisprudence do not make a distinction between civilians and army,” he said.
“This fellow was not just a civilian of America. He was a journalist,” he stated. Choudary said journalists are responsible for attacking Muslims, including the Islamic State, in the media.
Choudary justified the beheading and attacks on civilians by pointing to the “Battle of the Trench” in Islamic history. He said that Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, targeted an entire Jewish tribe due to the actions of a few leaders. All 700 mature men of the tribe were executed.
The specific act of kidnapping and execution was also justified by Choudary. He said that sharia permits only three options for handling hostages: ransom, exchange or death.
Choudary also expressed support for the Islamic State’s declaration of a caliphate. “There is no doubt in my mind that the criteria for the khalifah [caliphate] have been met,” he said.
Choudary’s inflammatory rhetoric and willingness to appear in the media gives him high visibility, but it is unclear how many British Muslims agree with his preaching. He would not say how many members he has in his organization.
One of the leading anti-fascist organization’s in the UK, Hope not Hate, called Choudary’s group al-Muhajiroun "the single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history." Michael Adebolajo, 28, who killed British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich on May 22, 2013 was a student of Choudary and attended meetings of his group which is now banned.
Choudary himself claims his group is the “most active [Islamic] movement in Britain” and that it has “huge” support in Europe. When asked how many Muslims participate in his demonstrations, Choudary said an estimate of “hundreds” would be too low.
Abdel Majed Abdel Bary is the product of an Islamist ideology and a radical Muslim subculture in the United Kingdom. All those who preach the foundation for Bary’s acts bear responsibility for them, regardless of whether there was direct communication.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on Fox News.