Alleged extremist urged Muslims to ‘join the battle’ with IS during Luton church hall meeting, court hears

Old Bailey
Old Bailey

An alleged extremist urged hardline Muslims to ‘join the battle’ with Islamic State during a church hall meeting in Luton, a court has heard.

The man urged his audience to back the terrorist group in the meeting on June 29 last year, the first anniversary of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of a caliphate spanning part of Syria and Iraq, prosecutors allege.

Prosecutor Sean Larkin QC said the speeches were recorded by an undercover police officer who had infiltrated the group.

The accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is on trial at the Old Bailey in London charged with four counts of encouraging support for a proscribed organisation, which he denies.

The jury of six men and six women heard a transcript of the speech made at St Margaret’s Anglican church in Luton, in which he said: “You can hear the presidents and the kings and the prime ministers making their speeches, that obviously we heard David Cameron saying obviously that the terrorists, they will never come here, Britain will succeed, and they used to say in the past that the British Empire, the sun will never set on the British Empire. Well the sun has set on the British Empire and the sun has started to rise for this Islamic State.”

Mr Larkin told the jury that prosecutors believe the remarks were describing “not a possible Islamic state in the future, not the one that was ended in 1924, this Islamic State”.

The prosecutor said the man went on to talk about Muslims who, while they may support Islamic State’s aims, were waiting for it to be victorious before coming out and showing their support.

Mr Larkin read a transcript of the speech in which the man said: “This is not victory for us. Are we going to join the battle once the battle is over? This cannot be the situation.”

Four other people are also on trial:

:: A second man who cannot be identified for legal reasons is charged with three counts of arranging a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation.

:: Yousaf Bashir, 35, from Luton, is accused of encouraging support for a proscribed organisation on June 29 2015.

:: Rajib Khan, 38, from Luton, is charged with encouraging support for a proscribed organisation and arranging a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation, both on July 11 2015.

:: Mohammed Choudry, 22, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, is charged with encouraging support for a proscribed organisation on July 2.

All the men deny all the charges against them.

A Ramadan event on July 7 marked the death of Abu Rahin Aziz, who was from Luton and had recently been killed in a US strike in Syria while fighting for Islamic State, the court heard.

The first unnamed defendant again gave a speech, in which he urged audience members not to “drop your hands”.

The defendant added: “Rather you should ask Allah to help the Muslims, to help the Ummah (Islamic community), to help the Islamic State, to make them firm, to make them strong, make them on the straight path, all of these things.”

Later he said: “How many things have we missed? The Iraq war, before that we had Bosnia, Kosovo. Chechnya came and went, Afghanistan came and went, Iraq came and went and now Syria is coming. Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, all of these situations that we have witnessed.”

He went on to accuse his fellow Muslims of inaction, saying “we are procrastinating, we are waiting, we are delaying,” adding: “I remember the advice of our brother Raheem (sic). He said to me before he went ‘look brother, my advice is all of us need to leave because soon they are going to come for all of us’.”

Choudry used a surfing metaphor in a speech to describe IS, the prosecution alleged. In the July 2 address the court heard he said: “We need to understand that a wave is coming, are we gonna be the ones who are gonna surf on that or drown?”

He also spoke of achieving the “mark of Allah on the day of resurrection”.

He added: “They do not torture us here but Allah will show us the way if we so desire.”

Bashir is accused of making comments in support of IS at the June 29 meeting.

Khan, the court heard, described Aziz’s death as a “wake up call” and criticised American forces for targeting innocent Muslim civilians in Syria as well as military units.

He went on to add: “We need to wake up and realise the war didn’t start yesterday. It didn’t start when they attacked Islamic State, it didn’t start in Afghanistan or in Kosovo or in Bosnia. It started at the time of Adam.”

The trial continues.