London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The controversial British Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary was released from police custody on bail on Friday, after being arrested on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
Choudary, one of the most high-profile radical Islamists in the UK, was arrested in London on Thursday, alongside eight other men aged 22–51. Police said the men were suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization, supporting a banned organization, or encouraging terrorism.
One of the men, Abu Izzadeen, remains in detention after being charged with failing to notify the authorities of his movements under counter-terror laws.
Choudary, 47, is the former spokesman for the banned Islamist organization Al-Muhajiroun, as well as several successor groups which were also banned in the wake of the terrorist attacks on London in July 2005.
A Scotland Yard spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat the investigations would resume in January, though he refused to specify the precise details of the bail terms for the nine arrested Islamists.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone only hours after his release, Choudary said his bail terms included him being banned from traveling outside the UK, engaging in public speaking of any kind, or leading protests.
He said British police searched his home, including his desktop computers and laptop, as well as numerous books on Islamic law, the fundamentals of establishing the caliphate, Islamic finance, and a number of Arabic-language books.
Choudary said this was the third time he had been detained by British authorities, pointing out that he had been released only hours after each of these previous arrests due to a lack of evidence available to support the charges against him.
Speaking of his treatment at the hands of British police, Choudary said: “They were very generous with me in providing me with a prayer rug and a copy of the Qur’an in my cell. Throughout my incarceration I had complete freedom to carry out the second pillar of Islam [five sets of prayers offered at specified times throughout the day], but when I asked to be able to perform Friday prayers they refused, though extremely politely. In terms of food, the police officers made sure I had halal food for all three meals in compliance with the Islamic Shari’a.”
He also said he was questioned regarding a number of groups he had either founded or worked for, including Al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and Muslims Against Crusades.
“They asked me also about my Islamic beliefs relating to the Shari’a and to its implementation.”
Choudary said he believed this latest arrest was politically motivated, with the aim being to silence him during the period in which the British parliament debated joining US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq.
On Friday, the British House of Commons voted near-unanimously to take part in the strikes.