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Archive for May 26th, 2013

Adebolajo michael.jpg-large

Two years ago, I reported on how motormouth and self-styled “Muslim cleric” Anjem Choudary had joined forces with his elder brother, businessman Yazdani, to open a new headquarters in Whitechapel.

The article here revealed that Yazdani, whose day job was (and remains) running an IT company called Best Training Solutions in Whitechapel Road, had bought the lease on a three-storey building in nearby New Road. He had created a printing and graphic design shop called Master Printers at street level and allowed Anjem to open the Centre for Islamic Services in the basement.

In early 2011, Yazdani’s application to Tower Hamlets council to convert the upper floors of the building to an Islamic teaching space was rejected, but Anjem and his followers continued to meet in the basement and work in the printing shop. (They also advertised their services in East End Life until I alerted the council.)

In November 2011, Home Secretary Theresa May proscribed Anjem’s controversial groups, Muslims Against Crusades and Islam4UK, deeming they were simply the previously banned Al Muhajiroun under another name. On the day this ban was made, the building at 32 New Road was raided by police.

After that, I didn’t pay much attention to Anjem’s activities in Tower Hamlets, but when it emerged that Michael Adebolajo, one of the alleged killers of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last Wednesday, had once been one of Anjem’s devotees, I looked again at what he was up to.

Over the past year, while driving west down Mile End Road, I’d noticed a distinctive looking new sweet shop had opened in what used to be the Hayfield pub. It was called Yummy Yummy and its windows displayed traditional jars full of traditional sweets such as lemon bonbons and aniseed balls. It looked a great idea, but I did wonder how it could make money.

So imagine my surprise when I went to revisit Yazdani’s property in New Road last week. Master Printers had been closed down (it had relocated to Shadwell following the police raid before being wound up last year). And in its place was….another Yummy Yummy shop.

Checks at Companies House show they are owned and run by Yazdani Choudary. I was told he is about to open another store in Bethnal Green very soon. Its website explains his aim is to provide halal sweets: Yazdani had realised that many of the sweets he’d loved as a kid actually contained pork or beef animal bone. So a great idea. Especially when he’s also hiring out pick n’mix stalls and chocolate-making machines for £750 and £350 for three hours at a time.

A man working in the Mile End Road store on Saturday was a lovely, gentle soul: I’d say he was in his 50s and from the way he dressed and appearance, I guessed he was a white convert to Islam.

I’m not sure he had anything to do with the leaflets on his counter. They were also in the New Road store, where the workers were described by another visitor as looking like “hard core Salafis”.  The leaflets were from a group called Women4Shariah, which is heavily linked to Anjem. And it is having a conference next month at that well known venue for extremism, the Water Lily in Mile End Road, at which the theme will be “Time for Revolution.”

This is the leaflet.

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Women4Shariah has a Facebook page as well. It’s here. Judging by the comments, they’re not particularly sympathetic about Drummer Rigby’s death.

I wrote a piece about all this for today’s Sunday Express, which I’ve also copied below.

This is the New Road shop:

Yummy Yummy

 

Anjem told me he’s a frequent visitor there because he goes to visit his brother and because he has lots of friends.

There are a number of questions about all this, none of which Anjem would answer. Is it appropriate to use a sweet shop to distribute these kind of leaflets? To what extent (if any) does Anjem, who apparently uses job seekers’ allowance to underwrite his preaching activities, or his followers benefit from this venture? And would you buy your kids sweets from there? (The bonbons are really quite good.)

And lastly, why doesn’t he just leave Tower Hamlets?

The Sunday Express article was published under the following headline today:

Choudary and the chocolate factory

RADICAL Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary is using a chain of children’s sweet shops owned by his wealthy brother as a vehicle for bringing about his dream

Leaflets encouraging parents to adopt Shariah Law are being distributed at innocent looking stores called Yummy Yummy, which were established and are overseen by Anjem’s elder brother, Yazdani.

The shops sell lemon bonbons, kola cubes, aniseed balls and tasty apple laces, while also offering leaflets to parents and children that state it is time for an “Islamic Revolution”.

Two Victorian-style shops have already opened in east London, while a third is planned within weeks.

One of the shops in New Road, Whitechapel, is on the same site raided by police 18 months ago following a Sunday Express investigation which identified it as the headquarters of Anjem’s prayer and preaching circuit.

Leaflets lying on the stores’ counters yesterday included a batch from a group called “Women4Shariah”, an outfit linked to Anjem Choudary.

The leaflets, which contain disturbing images of women and children suffering and grieving, are advertising a conference next month that will assert it is “Time for Revolution”.

Video broadcasts at the conference will include speakers from Pakistan, Indonesia and Syria, the literature says.

Other Choudary-linked organisations such as Muslim Prisoners and Islamic Revolution are also advertised prominently on the shop’s leaflets.

A Women4Shariah Facebook page is also highlighted on which taunts are made about the slaying of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after his murder, a statement on the page was added, saying: “Muslims should not play the victim and be cornered by the media or feel obliged to condemn or distance themselves from something they not responsible for.

“The real terrorist is the British (sic) and its foreign policy – they should be apologising to the British people.

“The British took the war to Muslim lands – Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali – so if British ppl feel the repercussions then the leaders are to blame.”

A publicity video on YouTube for the conference shows graphic photographs of dead children with a commentary stating: “Your Muslims are being massacred.  “Bombed, murdered, raped, tortured. Your Ummah is calling you.”

When asked yesterday whether promoting Islamist leaflets in a children’s shop was appropriate, one worker pointed to a pile of NHS advice cards and said: “There’s a lot of leaflets here.”

Pressed on the fact it was a children’s shop, he said: “This is a sweet shop. Can I ask you to leave.”

Records at Companies House show the stores were established by Yazdani Choudary, a 50-year-old businessmen who, in contrast to benefits claimant Anjem, lives in a detached house worth an estimated £750,000 in Purley, Surrey.

When Anjem was asked yesterday whether Yazdani ever attends his notorious rallies in central London, he said: “Not really.”

There is no suggestion that either Yazdani or Anjem have been involved in any criminal activity.

The investigation by the Sunday Express in 2011 centred on the links between him and his brother’s expensive Islamist activities.

We revealed that Yazdani was, and remains, a director of an IT company that had received almost £1million of Government Learn Direct contracts.

Although a subsequent inquiry by the Business Department found no evidence of any misallocation of funds to Anjem’s activities, Coalition cuts mean the company no longer enjoys Government deals.

We also revealed two years ago that Yazdani had hired a convicted terrorist fundraiser and Anjem devotee Shah Jalal Hussain to help his other graphic design business activities at the property he had bought in New Road.

At that property, he had created a printing shop at street level and space in the basement for Anjem’s teaching operation, the Centre for Islamic Services.

The building was raided by police in November, 2011, when Home Secretary Theresa May banned Anjem’s notorious Muslims Against Crusades organisation.

The Yummy Yummy store now operates from the site of the printing shop.

Yazdani could not be contacted for comment yesterday, but Yummy Yummy’s website states: “When we were growing up, we would eat all kinds of sweets…without realising they were not suitable for a Muslim halal diet.

“We have become more aware of pork/beef gelatine and other animal products in the sweets we eat.”

In an article for today’s Sunday Express, Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz said banning organisations like Muslims Against Crusades and its predecessor Al Muhajiroun, of which one of Wednesday’s murder suspects was a member, was “not enough” because they simply reform under new “front” names.

Anjem and his followers were once considered the “clowns of jihadism”.

Terror experts say changes in the way Al Qaeda operates has made Choudary’s followers more useful, particularly for the kind of lone wolf attacks that sickened Britain on Wednesday.

Intelligence analysts say they radicalise themselves, for example by reading Al Qaeda’s online magazine Inspire.

The Sunday Express has seen its latest terrifying edition, which encourages readers to use simple methods such as pouring oil on the bends of narrow roads to kill motorists.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is also singled out as a welcome assassination target, claiming his security protection has been lowered since being out of office.

One intelligence source predicted the Drummer Rigby’s suspected killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, would become heroes and poster-boys in the next edition of Inspire.

George Readings, of corporate intelligence company Stirling Assynt, said: “The killing of a British soldier will be widely praised in the jihadist community.

“The perpetrators’ efforts to secure as much publicity as possible will mean that it is likely to feature in Al-Qaeda propaganda and the continued success of these tactics will fuel further attacksAnjem Choudary said he did not want to comment on the Women4Shariah leaflets in his brother’s shops.

Meanwhile, he said he had “no idea” that suspect Adebolajo had apparently been approached by MI5 six months ago.

The claim was made by another of his followers Abu Nusaybah on Friday night.

Asked whether he himself had ever been approached by MI5, Mr Choudary said: “Not to work for them, no.”

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