Friday 20 December 2013, broadcast at 0810 on Radio 4 Today programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03ls7xt/Today_20_12_2013/)

Sections of the interview where they are talking over each other are not transcribed, and many “noise words” are omitted (e.g. Choudary keeps saying “you know”)

John Humphreys: It’s a question that has been asked many times and it will continue to be asked: ‘What happens to young men from perfectly decent families to turn them into the sort of people who will butcher a young soldier in the street or wage war in a foreign country or indeed their own country against people purely because they do not share their own religious beliefs.’ The answer we usually get is that they fall under the spell of extremists, so-called preachers of hate, that’s what has been said of the two men who murdered Lee Rigby and in the case of one of them, Michael Adebolajo,  it’s been claimed that he was influenced by someone who is well known in this country for his radical views, his name in Anjem Choudary and he founded the al-Muhajiroun organisation which has been banned by the Government. He is in the studio with me and on the line is Lord Carlile the former Government Anti-Terrorism Advisor. But, before I talk to them, let’s hear some extracts from a Panorama programme broadcast last night in which Peter Taylor talked to someone who knew one of the killers, Charles Kimpiatu , he said Amjam Choudary had influenced Michael Adebolajo:

Excerpt from Panorama: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03ls7xt/Today_20_12_2013/ at 20:30) Who reports how Michael Adebolajo spoke in awe of Amjam Choudary.

John Humphreys: Cressida Dick is the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and she was on the programme as well and she had this to say about Amjam Choudary :

Excerpt from Panorama: (same URL at 56:00) Who says she looks forward to the day when we can bring him to justice.

John Humphreys: As I say, Amjam Choudary is with me, and you heard what Commissioner Dick said there. Are you prepared, on this programme, to say that you unreservedly condemn the killing of Lee Rigby?

Anjem Choudary: Yes, Good Morning, and thank you for having me on your programme. I think that to talk about condemnation or talk about how we feel, I think is not the most important question now, and I’m not going to go down that road…

John Humphreys: Well it’s my question.

Anjem Choudary: Well, it is your question, but I think that what is important now is that to learn lessons from what is taking place and we agree or we disagree with what took place, you know you cannot predict the actions of one individual among a population of 60 million when the government is clearly at war in Muslim countries…

John Humphreys: Can we come to that in a moment, can we come to what the government is doing in a moment. Can I stay with this thought, here is a young man, serving his country, trying to earn a living for his family, he is butchered, literally butchered, on the streets of London, and you sit here this morning unprepared to condemn it.

Anjem Choudary: Well, I don’t think that’s the right question. (continues, cut off)

John Humphreys: May I be the judge as that’s my job. I’m asking you.

Anjem Choudary: Well, John, you’ve asked a question and I’ll answer it my way. I condemn those who have caused what has taken place on the streets of London, and I believe that the cause of this is David Cameron and his foreign policy.

John Humphreys: You do not condemn the murderers. Let me just be quite clear about this because you know…

Anjem Choudary: Are you talking about the murderers…

John Humphreys:  I am talking, you very well know, on Lee Rigby.

Anjem Choudary: What about the murder of 100,000 people in Iraq…

John Humphreys:  Well let’s talk first about that in a moment…

Anjem Choudary: It’s completely absurd of you to extract a condemnation of one murder of one individual when hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children of whom you don’t know the names, you’re not interested in their lives, nobody’s interested in having any…

John Humphreys:  How do you know…

Anjem Choudary: Who do you know who’s been killed in Afghanistan…

John Humphreys: How do you I’m not interested in the lives of them, or do you condemn …

Anjem Choudary: Let me ask you a question, do you condemn British foreign policy?

John Humphreys: Of course I don’t condemn British foreign policy…

Anjem Choudary: Do you condemn the drones that are killing innocent men, women and children, why don’t you. Isn’t there something clearly wrong with your conscience if you don’t condemn that.

John Humphreys: Well, I’ll tell you what, let’s do a deal here this morning, you condemn the murder of an innocent man, on the streets of London, and then we can talk about British foreign policy.

Anjem Choudary: You condemn first…

John Humphreys: Well, we have established quite clearly that you do not condemn the murder on the streets of London.

Anjem Choudary: Well, I think it’s irresponsible to talk about that now, I think that now…

John Humphreys: Are men not responsible for

Anjem Choudary: Our main message is for people in Britain to think about Islam, we’ve been doing this for the last 20 or 30 years, and quite frankly nobody has been carrying out martyrdom operations, nobody’s been going abroad in that time, obviously things have changed, there have been a lot of new laws, you know the British foreign policy has changed and what we find today is that there is a consequence of this policy on the streets of London. Now, I want to change that, we don’t want to see blood on the streets, but I think that we can have a decent  conversation, instead of pointing fingers, in bringing in new laws, trying to silence people who could control the youth, which is what we have been doing in fact for many years…

John Humphreys: You don’t think that one of the ways to stop people being murdered on the streets of London is, as a leader of your community, of some parts of your community, you don’t think that one of the ways to do that is to sit here this morning and say it must not happen, it was a crime, and I, Amjam Choudary condemn it.

Anjem Choudary: I think part of what you say is absolutely correct, I believe that this should not happen, and I believe that we are in a cycle of violence and I believe that there are root causes, of course we have responsibility, I have responsibility, I am very careful with what I say, I mean your own quote from Cressida Dick was that I’m within the law, I’m not breaking any laws, I’m not inciting people to do anything, otherwise I am sure I’d be sitting the bars, the fact is that we just invite people to Islam, Michael Adebolajo was absolutely clear, that he’s never been a member of al-Muhajiroun. You know, instead of saying that it’s individuals like me and others are doing things in a way which is inciting people to carry out these operations, if you listen to the words of brother Muhajadin himself he said its foreign policy is so clear, why is it that people can’t see this elephant in the room, why is it that people…

John Humphreys: So, if I disapproved of foreign policy in say, Saudi Arabia, for instance, I would be entitled to go Saudi Arabia and murder on the streets of Saudi Arabia a citizen, because he was a citizen of a country whose foreign policy of which I disapproved? That would be OK would it?

Anjem Choudary: This whole idea of who is a citizen and who…

John Humphreys: Hang on, you introduced that…

Anjem Choudary: I’m saying that this idea of who is a citizen and who is a soldier has been blurred, for your information there are people sitting in Washington behind computers who are controlling the drones which are killing Muslims in…

John Humphreys: So, if I murdered a soldier in Saudi Arabia

Anjem Choudary: Because they’ve been murdering people…

John Humphreys: If I went to Saudi Arabia and found an off-duty soldier on the streets of Saudi Arabia and I happened to disapprove of the Saudi Arabian foreign policy, I would be entitled to go and murder him, would I?

Anjem Choudary: No John, because I don’t agree with your parameters of judging scenarios. I am a Muslim and brother Mujahid does things that you will never understand because you’re not looking at it from an Islamic perspective, I’m trying to give you an Islamic perspective, I’m saying that..

John Humphreys: Therefore you are saying you understand that killing…

Anjem Choudary: Just bear with me, I am saying to you that there are people who see the Muslims as one body worldwide. We don’t look at nationality, we don’t look at their, our own passports…

John Humphreys: …or individual actions…

Anjem Choudary: …there is a war against our brothers and sisters of Islam around the world, now I want to change that, I think that It can be changed, I think that there is instability in Muslim countries because of British and American foreign policy, and how do we change that? You know we can withdraw troops, we can have a normal relationship with Britain, but you know…

John Humphreys: But stop then

Anjem Choudary: If you go down the road of pointing the finger at individuals like Sheikh (spoken too fast) who, by the way, who was controlling the youth for over two decades…

John Humphreys: He said he was proud of what Michael Adebolajo did, he said “I am proud of it, it is not because of me, I teach him Islam, to be honest, if he is motivated by our lectures I am proud of him,” that is what he said.

Anjem Choudary: He was talking about brother Mujahid in terms that he has been inviting to Salam, he is a practising Muslim, he is a family man and by all accounts I am very proud of him as well. As for the incident itself, we are talking about something where obviously about the Islamic opinion that he adopts, and what I say to you is that we can have a normal relationship, I can’t control what the youth do, the sad reality is that people have cut off individuals like Sheikh (… someone else), myself, they’ve banned organisations who are in fact channelling the energy of the youths through demonstrations and processions. These people are no going online, and finding Al Queda and really swallowing that narrative and really seeing Britain as a battlefield.

John Humphreys: Can you not understand that if you sit here this morning and say I cannot condemn those who murder, which is literally what you said a moment ago…

Anjem Choudary: Actually I didn’t say that…

John Humphreys: Well, we’ll let the audience be the judge of that, but if you do not condemn the actions of that man on the streets of London, the man who murdered, both of them for that matter, who murdered Lee Rigby, cannot you understand that you are effectively encouraging others to do the same?

Anjem Choudary: No, I’m not, I’ll give you a (garbled), I’ll give you a little (garbled) we were talking about apartheid again, and the blacks were rising against apartheid in South Africa, now if somebody did an action against a regime, it would be absurd of you to say let’s condemn this one individual and not talk about the state terrorism and their part in an oppression, what I say is that let’s look at the bigger picture

John Humphreys: I am giving you the opportunity to first condemn and then discuss…

Anjem Choudary: When you ask me that question, I can’t put out of my mind the people who are bombed using B52s, which killed over 100,000 in the first week, and put that out of my mind, if we’re going to condemn let’s begin with the bigger picture, why talk about one individual when we could save 100s of thousands of lives.

John Humphreys: Can I answer that in your terms perhaps, the Muslim Council of Britain described the killing, the murder of Lee Rigby as a barbaric act.

Anjem Choudary: Well, the Muslim Council of Britain will of course say whatever David Cameron wants them to say, they are paid-up lackeys of the government, you may not like that.

John Humphreys: What about these other Muslim groups who support the Muslim Council?

Anjem Choudary: You have one question basically, which is do you condone or condemn and quite frankly…

John Humphreys: It’s the most important question…

Anjem Choudary: It’s not the most important question, why don’t we talk about the root causes, I have a message to all people, we will be accountable for our actions, maybe in this life, but definitely in the hereafter, we are Muslims, we can live peacefully together, I call for the Sharia, but I do it very peacefully. We recently had a demonstration talking about alcohol, and…

John Humphreys: Why don’t you live in a country where there is Sharia?

Anjem Choudary: Well they don’t implement the Sharia, for your information, in any country they implement parts of it in certain countries, but we haven’t…

John Humphreys: Then why not go to one of those countries?

Anjem Choudary:  Let me answer the question will you? We haven’t had an Islamic state implementing the whole of Sharia for the past 89 years, now if there was a state I wouldn’t hesitate, I would go there, the point is I was born in Britain, I grew up here, I think we can have a decent relationship with the British public, I try to explain to them where we stand, I invite to Islam.

John Humphreys: Well stand for Parliament to do it in a democratic way

Anjem Choudary:  Well we don’t believe in democracy, we believe that sovereignty belongs to God.

John Humphreys:  So you live in this country, as a citizen of this country but you don’t believe in democracy?

Anjem Choudary: The point is you can have different views, I mean, you have been living here longer than I have, but the point is because you have a different view and you want to invite people to a change…

John Humphreys:  I accept the conditions of being a citizen of this country, I believe in democracy, absolutely right I do believe in democracy.

Anjem Choudary: Well I do not believe in democracy, am I allowed to say that?

John Humphreys:  But you are a citizen of this country and you accept the protection of this country?

Anjem Choudary: I mean, that’s not necessarily the case, I’ve been raided several times because of what I say, a British passport doesn’t mean I have to change my beliefs. I was born here, I grew up here, I think we can have a more decent and better relationship between the Muslims and the non-Muslims when people begin to realise exactly what is being done in their own name in Muslim countries.

John Humphreys: Just a final thought perhaps, how many Muslims in this country do you believe share your views? M

Anjem Choudary: Well, I believe that I speak from an Islamic perspective, I haven’t done any kind of survey, but I believe that a lot of youth agree, sadly because of the laws that we have nowadays on the statute books, people are oppressed they feel that they cannot speak, and that’s why people are going abroad, quite frankly, because they don’t feel that they can fulfil their obligation in this country, and I believe that the government change their narrative, if people really were able to address this matter objectively, without being very emotional about what’s been taking place, for example on the streets of London…

John Humphreys: How is possible for people not to be emotional when a young man is butchered on the streets of London, how is it possible for them not to be emotional about that?

Anjem Choudary: Are you talking about the streets of Baghdad, or the streets of Kabul…

John Humphreys: I am talking about the streets of London…

Anjem Choudary: This is the problem, because we… we’re not really interested in Muslim blood, because it can run like water , we’re only interested in British people in this country, and I think that because we live in a big world, that we should start thinking about the consequences of our actions all around the world.

John Humphreys: Right, and therefore your message to the people of this country is that we should expect more of what happened.

Anjem Choudary: The message to the people of this country is that we are able to live peacefully together, that we invite people to think about Islam as an alternative, of course we will expose the government and their own policies but at the end of the day the root cause of it is not individuals like me and Sheikh (…), and by the way none of us have been convicted of any terrorist actions, but it is in fact the policies that are taking place under the guise of freedom and democracy which will obviously have consequences and I think that the British public have a responsibility, as indeed do I, to change the situation and let’s have a decent relationship we can live together peacefully, but obviously we cannot control the actions of one individual in a population of 60 million and I think this is the problem that we will continue to face.

John Humphreys: Anjem Choudary, thank you for talking to us, and as I said Lord Carlile…

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