CATF Reports Sep. 26, 2016, 3:05pm

After managing to walk the fine line of the law for the past two decades despite being constantly pursued by counter-terrorism police, Anjem Choudary, the 49-year old British cleric with an extensive resume for preaching hate and extremism, was convicted of violating Section 12 of the 2000 Terrorism Act after law enforcement discovered him pledging allegiance to ISIS in one of his YouTube videos in June of 2014. His teachings are reputed to have inspired an estimated 500 British citizens to leave their country to fight alongside ISIS in the terrorist group’s efforts to establish a caliphate. Choudary’s conviction of five and half years in prison is more symbolic than punitive, yet his case has prompted the British government to evaluate new financial restrictions on those suspected of terrorism - even individuals without any prior offenses.

Over $650,000 in UK state-subsidized benefits were claimed by Choudary, which he lived on for over 20 years. It is not known to what extent these funds also supported his extremist activities. Tom Keatinge, the director of the Center for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), noted that it is time to “start considering including benefit agencies in the architecture of counter terrorism and make the benefits system part of a whole government approach to the issue.” The suggested restrictions on the expenditure of benefits for terror suspects can be enforced by mechanisms such as issuing pre-paid credit cards redeemable only to pre-approved vendors to ensure that taxpayer’s money can only be used for their intended purposes. This would also entail administering financial anti-social behavior orders (ASBO’s), which are civil orders that prevent individuals from carrying out anti-social acts or illicit financial behavior as a means to take preemptive measures against terror financing.

Enforcing financial ASBO’s would prevent influential extremists such as Choudary, who are able to push the envelope while still abiding by the law, from exploiting state funding to strengthen their influence and fund terrorism. This would be a bold yet fair preventative measure in ensuring that government money does not end up in the wrong hands.

From The Telegraph:

“Sentencing him to five and a half years for terrorism offences, Mr Justice Holroyd asked how it was possible for him to claim benefits from a country he so “adamantly despises”.

The government has been repeatedly frustrated in its attempts to withdraw all benefits payments from terror suspects because doing so would often render their dependents destitute and would therefore breach human rights law.

At the moment terror suspects can have their assets frozen by the Treasury if they meet certain criteria, but it is understood Choudary did not meet the threshold required.

But a system in which their spending was tightly controlled has been seen as a workable compromise that could help clamp down on the scandal of terror suspects exploiting the system.”

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