Preacher Anjem Choudary says he performed marriage for Woolwich killer

Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary has told a court he performed a marriage ceremony for one of the Woolwich killers.

Choudary is accused of directing a banned terrorist group called al Muhajiroun after his release from jail for encouraging support for ISIS.

He was giving evidence in his defence at Woolwich Crown Court when he was asked why he had described the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2013 as "famous".

Choudary told the court the killing, filmed by members of the public outside Woolwich barracks, had put the area "on the map."

On 16 July last year, a Canadian associate called Khaled Hussein messaged Choudary with the number for his "burner" phone as he prepared to fly to London the next day and visit Choudary.

The preacher told him: "Btw you're [sic] hotel is near Deptford market. I used to do a stall there with my father when he was alive."

"A dawah stall?" Hussein asked, referring to an Islamic proselytising stall.

"No, market - children's and ladies' wear," Choudary replied. "I would go every Saturday with him for many years so I know the area. You are also not too far from Woolwich - the famous Lee Rigby issue. Have you heard of the Cutty Sark?"

Hussein said he had not.

"A very famous ship," Choudary explained. "Quite close to you in a very traditional area. The shops around there in Greenwich are very traditional. I'm sure you've heard of Greenwich mean time (GMT). The museum is very close to you. Quite nice to be honest with a good park.

"If I were you I'd catch the museum and the Cutty Sark and some quaint shopping nearby. Would be a good time spent."

However, Hussein was more interested in visiting an Islamic bookshop and Choudary recommended one in the West Ham area of London.

"You will like Green Street. Many shops and Muslims," Choudary added. "West Ham football club had their stadium down the road."

"I am not a soccer fan," Hussein replied abruptly.

"Lol [laughs out loud] fair enough - West Ham fans used to be very famous for fights (and being racist)," Choudary said.

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Tom Little KC, prosecuting, asked Choudary why he had referred to "the famous Lee Rigby issue".

"The reason I mentioned Lee Rigby is that every day from the age of five to 11 I would walk down Love Lane over John Wilson Street to Mulgrave Primary School outside where Lee Rigby was killed," Choudary said.

"It was always in my mind he was killed outside my primary school. Woolwich became on the map because of that.

"Now everyone knows Woolwich. The whole world knows about it, it became global. Woolwich has become synonymous with the death of Lee Rigby."

Mr Little asked him: "Did you ever meet the killer?" and Choudary told the court: "I was there when he became Muslim.

"I officiated at his marriage. I believe then he stopped associating with anyone I know for years before Lee Rigby was killed."

Asked by his barrister, Paul Hynes KC, if he had any difficulty describing the killing of Lee Rigby as murder, Choudary said: "No, I don't believe it was permissible to kill him and I said that at the time."

Choudary, 57, from Ilford, East London, denies directing a terrorist organisation, membership of a proscribed organisation and addressing meetings over the internet from his home between June 2022 and July last year.

Hussein, 29, from Edmonton, Canada, was arrested when he arrived at Heathrow on 17 July last year. He denies membership of a proscribed organisation.

The trial continues.