Pakistani-origin radical preacher to go on anti-extremism course in UK

Pakistani origin radical preacher to go on anti extremism course in UKLONDON: A Pakistani-origin radical Islamist preacher, who was recently freed from a UK jail after serving part of a sentence for inviting support to the ISIS, will now take part in a compulsory anti-extremism course, according to a media report.

Anjem Choudary, 51, was released earlier this month under very strict licence conditions from the high-security Belmarsh prison in south London after serving less than half of his five-and-a-half-year sentence for reported “good behaviour”.

His early release prompted the UK government to move on closing a legal loophole that would not allow those convicted of inviting support for groups such as Islamic State (ISIS) to be eligible for early release in future.

According to ‘The Times’, it has now emerged that Choudary has been ordered to attend the government’s Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) as part of his probation.

The compulsory course requires him to receive mentoring and theological advice as part of the government’s wider deradicalisation programme.

Failure to attend would result in Choudary being sent back to jail to complete his five-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

The DDP was run as a pilot scheme last year before its capacity was increased.

It involves tailored interventions and practical support and includes psychological sessions and theological and ideological advice.

It had been unveiled by UK home secretary Sajid Javid earlier this year as part of an updated Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

“Work to enable those who have already engaged in terrorism to withdraw and rehabilitate will be further developed, including through the expansion of the Desistance and Disengagement Programme, a new element of Prevent,” the UK Home Office said.

“Through Prevent, the government, local authorities, police and communities will continue to safeguard and support vulnerable people from the risk of being drawn into terrorism, working with a wide network of partners to prevent radicalisation and build resilience,” it noted.

Besides Choudary, referred to as a hate preacher, a total of 230 extremists and fighters who have returned from abroad are expected to take part in the DDP by the middle of next year.

UK-born Choudary was jailed at the Old Bailey court in London in September 2016 for radical preaching and urging Muslims to support the terror group ISIS.

He led the now-banned extremist group Al Muhajiroun and was accused of pledging an oath of allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. PTI