By Michael Seamark
Last updated at 8:49 AM on 4th November 2010
A judge was subjected to a tirade of abuse in his own courtroom yesterday as he jailed an Al Qaeda-inspired Muslim woman for attempting to assassinate an MP.
Islamist protesters harangued Mr Justice Cooke from the public gallery at the Old Bailey, shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘God is great’), ‘British go to hell’ and ‘Curse the judge’.
The outbursts came as Roshonara Choudhry, 21, was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing former minister Stephen Timms. Choudhry smiled broadly as the judge told her: ‘You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr.’
Choudhry became radicalised after reading literature from radical Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
Outside, a second group demonstrated as the judge told the high-flying student – who stabbed the politician twice in the stomach as ‘punishment’ for voting for the Iraq invasion – that she must serve at least 15 years behind bars.
The chaotic scenes unfolded as Home Secretary Theresa May dramatically revealed that the Al Qaeda gang behind last week’s ‘Lockerbie-style’ cargo plane bomb plot are already working in the UK.
In court the judge pointedly contrasted Mr Timms’ Christian beliefs with the ‘distorted thinking’ of his attacker, who refused to recognise the court and appeared by videolink for her sentencing.
‘I understand that he (Mr Timms) brings to bear his own faith, which upholds very different values from those which appear to have driven this defendant,’ he said.
‘Those values are those upon which the common law of this country was founded and include respect and love for one’s neighbour, for the foreigner in the land, and for those who consider themselves enemies, all as part of one’s love of God.
‘These values were the basis of our system of law and justice and I trust that they will remain so as well as motivating those, like Mr Timms, who hold public office.’
Demonstrators protest outside the Old Bailey after the life sentence given to Roshonara Choudhry
The stabbed MP yesterday backed calls for an overhaul of U.S. websites hosting terror videos.
University student Choudhry attacked Mr Timms after becoming radicalised by online sermons from the extremist preacher suspected of masterminding the recent airline ‘ink bomb’ plot.
The men pictured were removed from the building after allegedly cursing the judge, swearing at the court, and threatening members of the jury
The MP, attacked at a constituency surgery, said: ‘My real worry about it all is that a very bright young woman with everything to live for would reach the conclusion that she should throw it all away by attempting to kill the local MP.
‘It is puzzling and alarming that she seems to have reached the conclusion by spending time on some website.
‘That raises questions about what’s on the web. As I understand it, the material she accessed would be illegal if it were hosted in the UK.’
Hundreds of videos inciting violence, including clips by the U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who inspired Choudhry to attempt to assassinate the MP, were removed from YouTube yesterday.
Their removal followed a private speech in the United States by security minister Baroness Neville-Jones in which she called on the White House to ‘take down this hateful material’.
Mr Timms, 55, describing the moment he was stabbed in East London in May by the smiling student, said: ‘I shouted out, “What was that for?”’
‘That was the last thing that I expected to happen and there was absolutely no explanation to me. She didn’t say a word. It was a complete bolt out of the blue.’
After being disarmed by the MP’s assistant and held by a security guard, Choudhry told detectives the stabbing was ‘to get revenge for the people of Iraq’.
Baroness Neville-Jones, who has called for the removal of websites featuring jihadi sermons, and Labour MP Stephen Timms, who was stabbed by a woman who had been radicalised watching one of these videos
Sentencing Choudhry after she was found guilty of attempted murder and two counts of having an offensive weapon, the judge said that if she had succeeded in killing Mr Timms he would have given her a whole-life sentence, meaning she would never be released.
He told her: ‘You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in Government by doing so.
‘You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet.
‘You are an intelligent young lady who has absorbed immoral ideas and wrong patterns of thinking and attitudes.
‘It is not only possible, but I also hope that you will come to understand the distorted nature of your thinking, the evil that you have done and planned to do, and repent of it.’
He added: ‘You do not suffer from any mental disease. You have simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately.’
Anwar al-Awlaki, believed to be based in Yemen, has used his personal website to encourage Muslims around the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq
Determined: A ghostly CCTV image of Choudhry walking into see Mr Timms wirh her hand, holding the knife, concealed in bag
Choudhry, from East Ham, East London, spoke only to confirm her name when she appeared by videolink for sentencing yesterday.
Wearing a black headscarf, she sat placidly blinking behind her glasses as she watched proceedings on a screen in front of her.
The court heard she was a straight-A pupil and top university student at King’s College, London. She had hoped to become a teacher but dropped out weeks before carrying out the attack.
English language lecturer Alan Fortune said she was an outstanding student who had been expected to achieve a first class honours degree, adding: ‘The world was her oyster.’
But the judge told her: ‘There is no remorse on your part and you refuse to recognise the jurisdiction of this court over you in respect of your attempts to murder the person chosen by your fellow constituents in the East End of London, including Muslims, to represent them in the democratic institutions of government in this country.’
‘I WANTED TO BE A MARTY, THAT’S THE BEST WAY TO DIE’
Roshonara Choudhary, who appeared by videolink, smiled as the judge said she must serve at least 15 years
Choudhry was interviewed by detectives Simon Dobinson and Syed Hussain. In this extract from the transcript she tells them she dropped out in the third year of an English and communications degree at King’s College London.
Choudhry: I was the top student.
Question:?Was you? OK and what did they say when you pulled out?
Choudhry: They didn’t want me to pull out.
Question: Tell me what happened today.
Choudhry: I stabbed Stephen Timms.
Question:?You stabbed Stephen Timms?
Choudhry: Yep. I’ve been learning more about Islam.
Question:?Where have you been learning that?
Question:?What websites you been looking at?
Choudhry: I’ve been listening to lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki.
Choudhry: He’s an Islamic scholar. He lives in Yemen.
Question:?And where have you been listening to these lectures?
Choudhry: I downloaded it off of the internet … explaining stories from the Koran and explaining about jihad.
Question: ?Has that contributed to your decision to leave King’s?
Question:?And where was the link there then?
Choudhry: I thought that I should have loyalty to my Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine and so I should leave King’s and that would show my loyalty to them.
Question: ?So when did you decide: ‘From what I’ve learnt, I’m now gonna go and stab Stephen Timms?’
Choudhry: A couple of weeks ago. It’s three weeks ago, four weeks ago.
Question: How do you feel now about what you’ve done today?
Choudhry: I feel like I did what I’d planned to do.
Question: Tell me your thoughts about what you’ve done.
Choudhry: I feel like I’ve ruined the rest of my life. I feel like it’s worth it because millions of Iraqis are suffering and I should do what I can to help them and not just be inactive and do nothing while they suffer.
Question: I just want to go over a little bit how your thought has gone from getting to religion to wanting some form of vengeance.
Choudhry: Because as Muslims we’re all brothers and sisters and we should all look out for each other and we shouldn’t sit back and do nothing while others suffer. We shouldn’t allow the people who oppress us to get away with it and to think that they can do whatever they want to us and we’re just gonna lie down and take it.
Question: Where did you learn that from?
Choudhry: From listening to his lectures.
Question: How did you feel about what you was about to do?
Choudhry: I was a bit nervous about what I was gonna do but I felt like it had to be done and it’s the right thing to do.
Question: What, what did you think about getting killed then?
Choudhry: I wanted to die.
Choudhry: I wanted to be a martyr.
Question: Why’s that then?
Choudhry: ‘Cos, erm, that’s the best way to die.
Question: Who told you that?
Choudhry: Islamic teaching.
Question: Where did you learn that?
Choudhry: It’s in the Koran and I learnt it from listening to lectures.
Question: What lectures?
Choudhry: By Anwar al-Awlaki.
Question: Why did you pick an MP to carry out this attack?
Choudhry: Because he was directly involved with the declaration of war, so he’d directly committed a crime.
Question: What do you think about what you’ve done?
Choudhry: I’ve fulfilled my obligation, my Islamic duty to stand up for the people of lraq and to punish someone who wanted to make war with them.