Hate preacher Anjem Choudary has claimed he is proud to receive £25,000 a year in benefits from the British taxpayer because the money 'belongs to Allah'.

The extremist cleric was speaking hours after Home Secretary Alan Johnson banned Choudary's Islam4UK group, making it a criminal offence to be a member.

British-born Choudary provoked outrage earlier this month when he announced that 500 members of his group were considering marching through the Wiltshire market town carrying empty coffins to mark Muslims 'mercilessly murdered' in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 42-year-old cleric cancelled the protest on Sunday but yesterday showed no sign of curbing his fanatical rants, warning that the ban on his group would force young Muslims 'underground'.

Asked about receiving £25,000 in benefits, the trained lawyer said: 'I am not doing anything illegal. If we were living under the shariah there would be free food, clothing and shelter for all.

'Whether you are on benefits or not that does not mean you cannot propogate your ideas. I have always remained within the ambit of the law.

'The money belongs to Allah and if it is given you can take it. You don't lie and you don't cheat- that is what the prophet said.'

Choudary's bizarre defence of his benefits payments came just days after a group of Muslim extremists who screamed 'rapists' and 'murderers' at British soldiers escaped unpunished and claimed the state would pay their fines.

Sajjadar Choudhury, 31, Munin Abdul, 28, Jalal Ahmed, 21, Yousaf Bashir, 29, and Ziaur Rahman, 32, were given conditional discharges for shouting 'baby killers' and 'terrorists' and waving placards at hundreds of soldiers returning from Iraq.

The men, all of whom are on benefits and cost taxpayers nearly £50,000 a year, were each ordered to pay £500 in costs towards the prosecution. Outside the court, they defiantly declared: 'The taxpayer paid for this court case. The taxpayer will pay for the fines too out of benefits'.

The Mail revealed today that Choudary is being given round-the-clock police protection following his controversial threat to march through Wootton Basset.