World

UK court sentences radical Islamic preacher to prison

LONDON — One of Britain’s best-known radical Islamic preachers was sentenced Tuesday to 5½ years in prison for encouraging support for the Islamic State.

Anjem Choudary has been one of the best-known faces of radical Islam in Britain for years, leading groups under names including al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and Muslims Against Crusades.

Several people who attended Choudary’s rallies and events have been convicted of violent attacks, including the pair of Al Qaeda-inspired killers who ran over British soldier Lee Rigby and stabbed him to death in 2013.

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His supporters shouted ‘‘Allahu akbar,’’ the Arabic phrase for ‘‘God is great,’’ as Choudary was sentenced at Central Criminal Court in London.

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Until he was charged under the Terrorism Act last year, the 49-year-old preacher gained attention for activities that provoked outrage but stayed within the bounds of the law.

They included protesting outside the US Embassy on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and burning memorial poppies on the annual Remembrance Day honoring slain service members.

But the London-born preacher’s name appeared on an oath circulating online that declared the legitimacy of the ‘‘proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State.’’ Choudary denied encouraging his followers to support the Islamic State group and said the oath was made without his knowledge.

Associated Press