- Radical cleric played 'cat and mouse' game with police for two decades
- But he was finally snared after pledging allegiance to terror group ISIS
- He encouraged his band of followers to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS
- Choudary's supporters were cleared from court after shouting slogans
- Extremism experts have called on the government to force a longer term
Terror experts have slammed the five-and-a-half-year sentence handed to Britain's most notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary.
The cleric was found guilty of encouraging support for ISIS and urging his followers to join the terror group in a series of incendiary lectures on YouTube.
His supporters shouted 'Allahu Akbar', meaning 'God is great', today as his sentence was announced in an Old Bailey courtroom.
But there was anger this afternoon that the sentence means Choudary - who will be entitled to automatic release after serving half of his term - could be back on the streets within two and a half years.
Anjem Choudary has been jailed for encouraging support for terror group ISIS in online talks
The judge described Choudary (left) as 'calculating' and Rahman (right) as a 'hothead'
Professor Anthony Glees, a security expert at Buckingham University, called for the government to force a review of the jail term.
Prof Glees said: 'In my view the sentence is far too lenient, mocks justice and will horrify the families of those whose loved ones followed his call to fight for Daesh [ISIS].
'This is a highly dangerous, sinister and wicked person from whom we have a right to be protected for a very long time. Once again an English court has delivered a soft verdict which is no deterrent.
'He'll be out in two-and-half years and there's no reason to believe prison can reform him or make him see how appalling his recruitment of young Brits had been.'
Haras Rafiq, from counter-extremism group the Quilliam Foundation, told the Evening Standard: 'He has got five-and-a-half years for 15 years of radicalising youngsters in Britain and beyond towards jihadist terrorism. This is a sad indictment of the current state of our legislation.'
Judge Mr Justice Holroyde said the pair had influence over impressionable people at a crucial time when Muslims were looking for guidance on how to respond to the rise of ISIS.
He told Choudary: 'You did nothing to condemn any aspect of what ISIS was doing at the time. In that way you indirectly encouraged violent terrorist activity.'
Despite his ideas spawning a generation of home-grown terrorists and enraging the British public, Choudary had previously thwarted authorities by managing to stay on the right side of the law.
But a pledge of allegiance posted online provided a turning point for police who swooped to arrest British-born Choudary and his deputy Mohammed Mizanur Rahman.
Rahman, who was described as a 'hothead' by the judge, was also given a sentence of five years and six months today.
The maximum possible jail term they could have faced was 10 years.
Choudary has already served 140 days behind bars.
Choudary's years of evading justice began to come undone at a protest in which the crowd held signs reading: 'Islamic State Is Solution' at the bottom, with the first letter of each word in bold to spell ISIS
LIVING ON BENEFITS IS ALLOWED UNDER SHARIA, SAYS PREACHER'S LAWYER
The judge said both men were 'dangerous' and had shown no remorse for what they had done.
Choudary's lawyer told the court he expects to spend most of his prison sentence in solitary confinement due to fears over him radicalising other inmates.
Their trial heard Choudary swore an oath of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an East London pub after the so-called 'caliphate' was declared in the Middle East.
He and his deputy then pressed upon Muslims their supposed obligation to 'make hijrah', meaning to travel to ISIS-occupied lands, the court heard.
Choudary, now 49, rose to notoriety as the mouthpiece of Omar Bakri Mohammed - a Syrian extremist who founded the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun (ALM).
Choudary courted publicity by voicing controversial views on Sharia law, while building up a following of thousands through social media, demonstrations and lectures around the world.
Choudary's deputy, Mohammed Rahman (pictured, left, after his arrest and, right, at a rally last year) was also jailed for five and a half years for the same offence
ISIS SYMPATHISER SAYS THE JAILING OF CHOUDARY IS NOT FAIR
In one speech in March 2013, Choudary, from Ilford, north-east London, set out his ambitions for the Muslim faith to 'dominate the whole world'.
He said: 'Next time when your child is at school and the teacher says, 'What do you want when you grow up? What is your ambition?', they should say, 'To dominate the whole world by Islam, including Britain - that is my ambition'.'
His supporters included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and suspected ISIS executioner Siddhartha Dhar.
Shortly after the announcement of the caliphate, Choudary held a meeting with his closest aides at a curry house in Mile End Road in east London to discuss it.
Before accepting it was legitimate, he also consulted his 'spiritual guide', Bakri Mohammed, currently in jail in Lebanon, and Mohammed Fachry, the head of ALM in Indonesia.
Choudary pictured with an image of Buckingham Palace imagined as a mosque
'HE MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO SPREAD HATE IN JAIL'
On July 7 2014, the trio's names appeared alongside Rahman's on the oath posted on the internet, which stated the Muhajiroun had 'affirmed' the legitimacy of the 'proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State'.
The defendants followed up by posting on YouTube a series of lectures on the caliphate, which Choudary promoted to more than 32,000 Twitter followers.
The married father-of-five denied encouraging his followers to back the terror group and insisted the oath had been made without his knowledge.
He said of the pledge: 'It is completely unnecessary. For the rest of the Muslims it is obedience from the heart.'
Despite protesting his innocence, he continued to express extreme views, refusing to denounce the execution of journalist James Foley by so-called Jihadi John, aka Mohammed Emwazi, in Syria in 2014.
He told the jury: 'If you took an objective view, there are circumstances where someone could be punished.'
Choudary, pictured in a file photo, smiled as his sentence was announced today
WHY WASN'T CHOUDARY GIVEN A LONGER TERM?
Following the convictions, Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, said: 'These men have stayed just within the law for many years.
'But there is no-one within the counter-terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organisations.'
Commander Haydon added: 'Over and over again we have seen people on trial for the most serious offences who have attended lectures or speeches given by these men.
'The oath of allegiance was a turning point for the police - at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they supported Isis.'
Choudary's conviction was also welcomed by leading British Muslims, who condemned his 'evil' and 'hateful' views.
After his conviction, Choudary's Twitter account was removed by the social media giant.
Hypocrite of hate! Extremist preacher Anjem Choudary abandons his anti-West rhetoric as he eats at non-halal McDonald's while on bail for the terror offences that will today see him jailed
Hate preacher Anjem Choudary spent years chiding the West, calling for Sharia law in Britain and even claiming he wanted to move to ISIS-occupied Syria.
But, as a photo which emerged today shows, the notorious cleric was happy to enjoy the lifestyle provided by living in the UK.
The picture, taken while Choudary was on bail ahead of his terror trial, shows him purchasing a McDonald's meal.
Choudary faces a lengthy jail term when he is sentenced today for encouraging support for terror group ISIS.
A photo has emerged of Anjem Choudary enjoying a McDonald's meal while on bail
The photo of Choudary at McDonald's is understood to have been taken at the Watford Gap service station in April, weeks before he went on trial for inciting support for ISIS.
It is believed he used the Northamptonshire service station on the way to a meeting in the Midlands.
An onlooker said: 'Considering he hates everything about the West, and is also meant to only eat at halal places, he is clearly a hypocrite.
'I had heard of this guy before and I was a bit surprised given what he preaches so I took a picture of it.
'I live in Luton and he is often there preaching and I have seen him numerous times.
'There was a couple of people that also recognised him.
He had a disagreement with someone there, but I don't know what they were saying.'
Choudary has previously praised food chains which serve halal food, that which is acceptable to eat under Muslim rules.
McDonald's does not offer halal food, previously stating that it 'would require significant changes to our kitchen procedures and supply chain'.
McDonald's food is not the only advantage of living in Britain which Choudary has enjoyed, and the father-of-five raked in more than £25,000-a-year in benefits.
He also received £15,600 a year in housing benefit to keep him in a £320,000 house in Leytonstone, East London.
In 2013, he was secretly recorded urging his followers to also sponge off UK taxpayers by claiming what he called 'Jihadseeker's allowance'.
While at university, before he turned to radical Islam, he was also known as a heavy drinker who took drugs.
Choudary has repeatedly provoked the British public with a series of stunts in which his followers burned remembrance poppies and disrupted Armistice Day events.
During his university days, Choudary was known as a drinker who took drugs and look at porn
He also called for Buckingham Palace to be turned into a mosque and paraded a picture of his vision which was made by a man now fighting for ISIS.
But despite his sermons inspiring a generation of home-grown terrorists, he managed to evade arrest but citing free speech laws.
However, he was snared by police after pledging allegiance to ISIS and calling on his followers to travel to the so-called 'caliphate' in Syria.
He and his deputy, Mizanur Rahman, were this year found guilty at London's Old Bailey of inciting support for a banned organisation.