The radical preacher Anjem Choudary, some of whose followers have joined the Islamic State, was charged by the British authorities Wednesday with inciting support for the organization.
Choudary says he plans to plead not guilty. He was ordered detained until his next court appearance Aug. 28.
Choudary was charged alongside an associate, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, with “inviting support” for the Islamic State between June 29, 2014, and March 6 this year, the Metropolitan Police in London said.
The two men are accused of advocating on behalf of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, in “individual lectures which were subsequently published online,” said Sue Hemming, head of the counterterrorism division at the Crown Prosecution Service.
“We have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman for inviting support for ISIL,” she said, without offering additional details.
Choudary, 48, and Rahman, 32, both from East London, were arrested in September on suspicion of being members of the Islamic State, which is banned in Britain. Since then, they have been free on bail.
Choudary is widely known in Britain for his extreme views. He has praised the attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and the July 2005 bombings in London.
He helped found an Islamist organization, Al-Muhajiroun, now banned, with another cleric, Omar Bakri Muhammad, who has been barred from Britain for his extreme views. Bakri is facing terrorism charges in Lebanon.
Choudary has also been involved with other Islamist organizations, including Islam4UK, a proscribed group. Some members who belonged to successor groups are known to have joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and Choudary has said that he would like to live in the Muslim caliphate that the Islamic State says it wants to establish.
“Anjem Choudary’s following is very small, maybe 100 or 200,” said Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London. But his followers are extremely fanatical and dedicated, he said, and a “network exists around him, from which a number of people have joined the Islamic State.”
At least 600 Britons have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and around 50 have died fighting for the group. The youngest was 16 years old.
The Associated Press contributed.