|Jizya. Everybody's favourite tax|
He has been undone by his own self-aggrandisement and attention-seeking, but the problem is that over many years he has been involved with innumerable people who have shown themselves to be more than simply loudmouthed blowhards. They have attempted to bring serious sectarian conflict as well as murder to the streets of Britain. A number of Choudary's associates were imprisoned a few years ago for attempting a Mumbai-style attack on London landmarks, including the London Stock Exchange. Others have been to prison for incitement and countless terrorist-recruitment offences; and since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, a number of his followers or supporters have gone to Syria and Iraq to join and fight with ISIS.
Choudary himself is a trained lawyer and is sufficiently slippery to know on just which side of the law to keep his remarks. The last Labour government's creation of a new offence of "glorifying terror" ought to have caught him within it, but it appeared not to have done. Frustratingly, he has remained at large.
I wonder why. One theory is that Choudary has been, to some extent used as a "fly-trap" by the police or SO15. He is well known enough to have anyone seriously interested in the most radical forms of Islamic extremism find their way to him. Perhaps there was some clandestine agreement to allow him to get away with what he does because it is better for such extremism to have an observable and open meeting-point than to be forced underground where tracking and monitoring becomes so much more difficult. Also, second tier commanders - those who are more directly involved with fomenting hatred and plotting terror, may be drawn out into the open.
Bomb threats have been made by radical Islamists against members of the Royal Family during celebrations on Saturday commemorating the capitulation of Japan in WW2. Ultimately, they were unfounded, but their very existence is the terrorists' main weapon, to try to make people afraid. Is it possible, I wonder, that the timing of Choudary's arrest is not accidental?
The Brits may only tolerate their Royal family sometimes, but if such an attack took place, the consequences for the perpetrators and indeed anyone suspected of being the least bit radical would be catastrophic and it would change the British attitude to Islam and its involvement in the Middle East crisis, perhaps for ever.
The British National Anthem has a number of verses, often forgotten and rarely sung. Verse Two goes like this...
O Lord our God arise, Scatter her enemies, And make them fall: Confound their politics, Frustrate their knavish tricks, On Thee our hopes we fix: God save us all.
Knavish tricks. Quite so.