Aug 16, 12:03 PM EDT

UK radical preacher Anjem Choudary convicted of IS support


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LONDON (AP) -- One of Britain's best-known radical Muslim preachers, Anjem Choudary, has been convicted of encouraging support for the Islamic State group.

Choudary faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 6.

Choudary and co-defendant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman were convicted last month, but the verdict could not be reported until Tuesday because of court-imposed restrictions.

The 49-year-old firebrand 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 - banned one after another by the British government.

He gained attention for headline-grabbing statements and stunts that provoked outrage but stayed on within the law, such as protesting outside the U.S. Embassy on the anniversary of Sept. 11 and burning memorial poppies on Remembrance Day.

Choudary was arrested in 2014 after his name appeared on an oath recognizing the "proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State."

The London-born preacher denied encouraging his followers to back IS and said the oath had been made without his knowledge.

He said during the trial that he did not support the Islamic State group's call for attacks on the West.

"I was asked about it and said no, we live with people, our neighbors, so we differ with the people in IS," he said.

Several people who attended Choudary's meetings and rallies have been convicted of violent attacks, including Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the al-Qaida-inspired killers of British soldier Lee Rigby.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism command, said Choudary and Rahman "stayed just within the law for many years, but there is no one within the counterterrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organizations."

"Over and over again we have seen people on trial for the most serious offenses who have attended lectures or speeches given by these men," he said.

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