- Video report by ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo
‘Aisha’ had just converted to Islam when she first encountered Anjem Choudary. She had been trying to understand the faith when the charming preacher, who was then in his early forties, offered what sounded like simpler answers to her questions.
“I attended an event where he was speaking. He was initially very engaging - very charismatic - and there was a level of excitement in the air.”
She admits being “naïve” when she started to mix with some of his most radicalised supporters – attending his sermons and protests. Almost all were young men.
“I saw them as a group of social misfits” she said. “These were people who had been bullied, who felt alienated from the rest of society and felt a sense of belonging in this community.”
One of Choudary’s most enthusiastic supporters was Michael Adebolajo, who later murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby in south London.
“(Adebolajo) mentioned to me that he believed Anjem was one of the most productive and proactive people in the country. However, they had a difference of opinion in that Michael was more interested in warfare and Anjem was more interested in propagation... and all his nonsense about having Sharia law in Buckingham Palace.”
But as Aisha began to break away from Choudary’s gang, they threatened her and her family.
“I had a meeting with them where they told me my understanding of the religion was incorrect.”
Aisha has spoken to ITV News to try to expose the cartoon villain caricatures of Choudary. She cannot believe that prison will have deradicalised him.
"He will continue to say inflammatory and sensationalist things to cause problems and division between Muslims and non-Muslims. That is his aim"