- 12 04 17

With Choudary’s history of defending and supporting the Islamic State, it is perhaps no great surprise that individuals and organisations within his international extremist network have been enthusiastic and important recruiters of international fighters for the war in Iraq and Syria.

In HOPE not hate’s report Gateway to Terror: Anjem Choudary and the al-Muhajiroun Network, published in 2013, we showed how the al-Muhajiroun/Sharia4 network was the single biggest gateway to Islamist terrorism in the UK and highlighted the role it played in encouraging and facilitating activists from across Europe and around the world to go abroad and fight for militant Islamist causes, most notably to what became the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Despite the loud noise from the Far Right when it comes to tackling Islamist extremism, it is groups like Hope Not Hate that have carried out vital work in exposing Islamist extremists in our country, as opposed to engaging in anti-Muslim bigotry on social media. The anti-racist group did phenomenal work in identifying the scale of activism carried out by the now proscribed group Al-Muhajiroun.
– Commission for Countering Extremism 

Since then our findings have been corroborated by numerous experts. According to Raffaello Pantucci, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), writing in 2015 in the publication of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy West Point, there was:

“a reality that was increasingly observable across Europe that the various groups associated with the al-Muhajiroun (ALM) constellation of organizations were at the heart of current European recruitment networks sending radicals to fight in Syria and Iraq’ and that: “There increasingly appears to be a consensus across European security agencies that Choudary’s group plays a role […].”1

Similarly, when asked by the BBC about the role of Choudary-linked groups in sending people to Iraq and Syria, Jytte Klausen, who leads the Western Jihadism Project at Brandeis University, funded by the UK Home Office, stated:

“By my estimate, based on my studies of Western Europeans who have gone to fight, about a third, if not more, are members of these affiliates, these groups.”2

In 2013, when many still believed Anjem Choudary and his followers were clownish and refused to take them seriously because of their almost comically offensive media stunts and inflammatory actions, we set out to explain why the truth was far more disturbing.

Three years on and with the startling expansion of IS and the declaration of the Caliphate back in 2014, it is time to re-explore the networks we exposed and update our findings.

Shockingly the al-Muhajiroun/Sharia4 network we profiled proved to be more important for recruiting foreign fighters for both the war in Iraq and Syria and other warzones in Africa than even we thought.

From neighbouring countries like Belgium and Holland to the Iberian Peninsula, and as far away as Indonesia, the role of ALM-linked activists in recruiting for Islamic State is truly impressive (or shocking).

Next: Islamic State ‘ambassador-at-large’


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