Advertisement

The online trail of the Canadian arrested in the U.K. for terrorism

Anjem Choudary, the leader of the dissolved militant group al-Muhajiroun, London, July 4, 2006.
Anjem Choudary, the leader of the dissolved militant group al-Muhajiroun, London, July 4, 2006. REUTERS/Stephen Hird/Files

A Canadian arrested for terrorism after landing in the United Kingdom last week allegedly used social media to disseminate the ideological materials of a group banned by the British government.

Khaled Hussein, a 28-year-old Edmonton resident, has been charged with being a member of the outlawed Al-Muhajiroun, which British prosecutors said also went by the name Islamic Thinkers Society.

A 2021 report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) called Hussein a “staunch supporter” of the Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS).

“He reposts and shares ITS content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” MEMRI wrote in the report to its subscribers.

MEMRI said on Tuesday that, based on photos, it believed the Alberta man it profiled in the report two years ago was the suspect charged Monday by London’s Metropolitan Police.

Story continues below advertisement
Photo of Khalid Hussein from 2021 Middle East Media Research Institute report.
Photo of Khalid Hussein from 2021 Middle East Media Research Institute report. MEMRI

Hussein was charged along with Anjem Choudary, a radical British preacher who was previously convicted of supporting ISIS.

Both men were arrested in London on July 17.

Al-Muhajiroun is a “network that indoctrinates young Britons into its radical ideology and high-risk activism,” according to a paper prepared for the British Commission for Countering Extremism.

“Over the years its supporters have been implicated in political violence, including terrorist attacks within and outside Great Britain,” the paper said.

The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement announcing the charges against Hussein and Choudary that Al-Muhajiroun was “also known as the Islamic Thinkers Society.”

The ITS, which calls itself an “Islamic ideological political organization,” said on its website that Hussein had been a guest speaker at one of its events, which was live-streamed on YouTube, but denied either he or Choudary were members.

Story continues below advertisement

The group said it did not have a branch in Canada.

Online post about Anjem Choudary from MEMRI report.
Online post about Anjem Choudary from MEMRI report. MEMRI

A London police spokesperson declined to respond to questions about Hussein. “As legal proceedings are now active we will not be providing any further info above and beyond what we’ve already issued,” he said.

But Hussein allegedly left an online trial. According to the MEMRI report, he shared “content from jihadi preachers,” and posts about establishing a Muslim caliphate.

A LinkedIn profile with the same profile photo as the man identified by MEMRI indicates that he lived in Lebanon before moving to Alberta and working at Tim Horton’s in 2018.

The same image appears as the profile photo for a Reddit account under the name AbuAishaITS. The account reposted Choudary’s statements denouncing the West, freedom and democracy, and calling for Sharia law to be “implemented everywhere.”

Story continues below advertisement

One of the posts showed a man with a firearm and the caption, “Concerning non-violence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”

Social media profile photo of Khalid Hussein.
Social media profile photo of Khalid Hussein. Redit

A second Reddit account under the name Abu Aisha said the user was “part of” the Islamic Thinkers Society but had “left the organization.”

“I wish to clarify that there is no quarrel between myself and ITS, I make dua [prayer] for them and I am sure they make dua for me,” it said.

Hussein was arrested after arriving on a flight from Canada at London’s Heathrow airport. Choudary was arrested at home on the same day. Police detained them for a week before filing charges.

Neither London police nor the RCMP would say whether they cooperated in the investigation.

Story continues below advertisement

Unlike in the U.K., membership in a terrorist organization is not specifically proscribed in Canada. Instead, Canadian law makes it illegal to participate in, or contribute to, the activity of a terrorist group.

Also, most terrorism charges in Canada are related to groups on Canada’s list of terrorist entities. Neither Al-Muhajiroun nor ITS are on Canada’s list.

In its statement, ITS said some of its members had been part of Al-Muhajiroun but said the latter organization no longer existed and accused the U.K. or “draconian policies of guilt by association.”

“Islamic Thinkers Society remains an Islamic ideological political organization which addresses societal issues from an Islamic intellectual and political perspective – non-violent means. We operate legally in the USA without violation of any laws.”

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

Sponsored content

AdChoices