Anjem Choudary stirred controversy with an op-ed piece in USA Today that appeared to justify the attack on the offices of Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo, but pictures circulating on the internet show a very different past for the radical Muslim cleric.
On Wednesday, gunmen opened fire at the offices of the Paris magazine, which has published cartoons critical of radical Muslims. The attack left 12 dead and four in serious condition.
Within hours of the attack, cleric Anjem Choudary had written a piece condemning Charlie Hebdo, saying that their depictions of Mohammad was deeply offensive to Muslims:
"Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them."Choudary went on to blame the French government for allowing Charlie Hebdo to publish the cartoons, adding that the publishers mostly brought the terrorist attack on themselves.
Anjem Choudary has gained a reputation as one of the most outspoken apologists for Islam, even supporting ISIS and saying that ISIS "Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the leader all Muslims throughout the world should recognize.
But Anjem Choduary himself has a very different background than his reputation today would indicate. When he was a student at Southampton University in England, Choudary reportedly lived like a typical student, drinking and experimenting with drugs.
Pictures of Choduary engaging in his college escapades have circulated on the internet for nearly five years now, but have re-emerged with his stance on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.
Anjem Choduary has changed drastically since his college days. He now calls for Britain to adopt Sharia law, which would ban all alcohol and pornography. One former classmate from college said the cleric is a hypocrite for that stance.
"I can't keep a straight face when I see 'fundamentalist Muslim Anjem Choudary' in the papers attacking the British for drinking or having girlfriends," a former friend told the Daily Mail in 2010. "When I knew him, he liked to be called Andy, would often smoke cannabis spliffs all day, and was proud of his ability to down a pint of cider in a couple of seconds."
"And he was ruthless with girls. When he briefly worked as an English teacher for foreign students in London, he'd pull one of them every few days, sleep with her, then move on to another."
[Image via Daily Mail]