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Anjem Choudary, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman v. Regina

Court Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), Great Britain (UK)
Case number 201600456 B1, 201600488 B1
Decision title Judgment on Appeal from the Central Criminal Court
Decision date 22 March 2016
Categories Terrorism
Keywords Foreign fighters, Incitement, Inviting Support, Islamic State, National security, Terrorism
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Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Mizanur Rahman were charged with inviting support for the Islamic State, which is designated as a proscribed organisation in the United Kingdom. Both men are well-known speakers who have publicly supported the Islamic State, including by attending protests at which Islamic State banners were displayed.

While Choudary and Rahman’s speeches did not explicitly invite violence, the Court found them to be clear statements of support for the Islamic State, based on the common-sense meaning of the word “support.” According to the Court, “support” is not limited only to assistance that is practical or tangible, but also extends to support in the form of endorsement of approval of a proscribed organisation.

Finally, the Court addressed the appellants’ contention that the law in question violated their right to freedom of expression. The Court found the right to freedom of expression to be not absolute, specifically when the law prescribes the criminalization of the conduct and its purpose is to respond to issues such as national security which are listed in the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Procedural history

Choudary and Rahman were arrested on 25 September 2014. Both defendants were charged with offences in violation of section 12(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act of 2000, inviting support for a proscribed organisation, namely ISIL (para. 1). Both pleaded not guilty.

In a preparatory hearing at the Central Criminal Court on 14 January 2016, Mr Justice Holroyde ruled that the prosecution were required to prove: 1) the organisation in question was a proscribed organisation, within the meaning of the 2000 Act, 2) the defendants used words which in fact invited support for that proscribed organization, and 3) the defendants knew at the time they did so that they were inviting support for that proscribed organization (para. 4).

Appellants now appeal against the Central Criminal Court’s ruling on the grounds that according to Section 12 of the Terrorism Act of 2000, the prosecution must prove the actus reus of inviting one or more persons to join the defendants in providing practical or tangible support to a proscribed organisation (para. 7).

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Related developments

Anjem Choudary moved to specialist new 'jihadi jail' unit for extremists,

R. v. Choudary and Rahman (sentencing)

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Legally relevant facts

On 20 June 2014, the UK Homeland secretary proscribed ISIL under the Terrorism Act 2000 (para. 9).

In September and November 2014, each appellants gave two talks inviting support for ISIL, and each took an oath of allegiance to ISIL (paras. 12-14).

Appellants’ four talks and oath of allegiance did not contain explicit invitations to violence, but were said to be general support for ISIL (paras. 12, 15).

The appellants did not deny they knew ISIL was a proscribed organisation or that they gave the talks and oath, but they claimed these talks were not inviting support for ISIL (para. 17).

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Core legal questions

Does ‘inviting support,’ within Section 12(a)(1) of the Terrorism Act of 2000, require practical or tangible assistance for the actus reus

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Section 12(a)(1) of Terrorism Act of 2000

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Court's holding and analysis

The Court dismissed the appeal and held that the language of Section 12 does not require the support to be practical or tangible assistance, such as inviting third parties to join with the defendant in providing it, but rather, criminalizes the mere invitation of support for a proscribed organisation (paras. 45-46, 92).

The Court held that the meaning of ‘support’ encompasses a broad definition, including approval, endorsement, and intellectual support, as well as practical or tangible assistance (paras. 46-47). The Court found, however, that support does not include agreeing with or expressing certain views (paras. 51, 70).

Moreover, the Court held that Section 12 does not violate the right to freedom of expression because it is prescribed by law, has a legitimate aim specified in article 10(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights and is necessary and proportionate to the aim pursued (para. 67).

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Further analysis

S. Cotee, ‘Anjem Choudary and the Criminalization of Dissent,’ 19 August 2016.

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Instruments cited

Terrorism Act of 2000, Section 12.

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Related cases

R. v. Choudary and Rahman.

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Additional materials

Anjem Choudary faces UK terrorism charges over Islamic State,’ BBC News, 5 August 2015. 

S. Kern, ‘UK: Anjem Choudary Charged with Supporting Islamic State,’ Gatestone Institute, 9 August 2015. 

J. Grierson et al., ‘Anjem Choudary convicted of supporting Islamic State,’ The Guardian, 16 August 2016.  

Radical preacher Anjem Choudary jailed for five years,’ BBC News, 6 September 2016.

B. Farmer, ‘Anjem Choudary moved to specialist new ‘jihadi jail’ unit for extremists,’ The Telegraph, 23 July 2017.