Cageprisoners

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CAGE
Type Advocacy organization with an Islamic focus
Purpose Stated aim is "to highlight and campaign against state policies developed as part of the War on Terror"
Headquarters London, England
Director
Moazzam Begg
Website http://www.cageuk.org

CAGE, formerly Cageprisoners Ltd, is a London-based advocacy organization with an Islamic focus,[1] whose stated aim is "to highlight and campaign against state policies developed as part of the War on Terror." [2] The organization has worked closely with number of former detainees held by the United States and campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners, including convicted terrorists.[3]

Its Director, Moazzam Begg, is a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who was released without charge in 2005 by President Bush over the objections of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI (all of whom were concerned that Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist).[4] In November 2010, The Guardian reported that US embassy cables showed a US U-turn, praising Begg over his campaign for Europe to take in other Guantanamo detainees.[5] Referring to 2010 Afghanistan, Begg said he completely supported the inalienable right of the people to fight "foreign occupation".[6]

The organization has worked closely with a number of former detainees held as part of the War on Terror. It has been criticized for championing alleged senior al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to various terrorists and who counselled two of the 9/11 hijackers. He was invited to address Cageprisoners’ Ramadan fundraising dinners in 2008 and 2009, and Cageprisoners features much material about him on its website.[3]

Stated purpose[edit]

The cell in which a Guantánamo Bay prisoner was detained. Inset is the prisoners' reading room
Moazzam Begg

Cage is an advocacy organization whose stated aim is "to highlight and campaign against state policies developed as part of the War on Terror". [2] Cageprisoners has run campaigns in support of freeing detainees who continue to be held without charges, such as Aafia Siddiqui, Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan and Shaker Aamer.[7]

The journalist Terry Glavin in The National Post described the organization as "a front for Taliban enthusiasts and al Qaida devotees that fraudulently presents itself a human rights group."[8]

Among the Muslim inmates it has highlighted are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind; Abu Hamza, facing extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. on terror charges; and Abu Qatada, described as Osama Bin Laden’s “European ambassador”.[9]

Background[edit]

In October 2003, its website was launched by Muslim volunteers during the holy month of Ramadan.[10] It is registered to a group of computer programmers based in Britain. It publicized names and information about detainees that the United States had kept secret, in an effort to show they were people with lives.[11]

Its director, Moazzam Begg, is from Birmingham, England. The British citizen was held for a total of three years by the United States in extrajudicial detention as a suspected enemy combatant in Bagram and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba by the U.S. government.[3][12] He was released without charge in 2005 by President Bush over the objections of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI, who alleged that Begg could be a dangerous terrorist.[4] He has worked to represent detainees still held at Guantanamo, as well as to help former detainees become re-integrated into society. He has also been working with governments to persuade them to accept non-national former detainees, some of whom have needed refuges other than their countries of origin.

By November 2010, The Guardian reported that US embassy cables in the Wikileaks showed then-U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, Cynthia Stroum, praising Begg for his campaign to persuade European nations to take in Guantanamo detainees for resettlement.[5]

Cases[edit]

Qur'an Desecration Report[edit]

In May 2005, Cageprisoners released The Qur'an Desecration Report, which contained accounts from former Guantánamo prisoners who said they suffered religious abuse.[13]

Anwar al-Awlaki[edit]

The organization developed close ties to Anwar al-Awlaki after his release from Yemeni detention in 2007; he was alleged by the US to be a senior al-Qaeda member implicated in later terrorist actions.[3] Begg was the first to interview al-Awlaki after his release in Yemen.[14] Cageprisoners invited the cleric to address their Ramadan fundraising dinners in August 2008 (at Wandsworth Civic Centre, South London by videolink, as he was banned from entering the U.K.) and August 2009 (at Kensington Town Hall. The local authority refused permission to broadcast his speech on its property).[3][15] The Cageprisoners website had considerable material about and by al-Awlaki.[3]

Cageprisoners has been criticized by Gita Saghal and other writers for championing al-Awlaki, which "should have rung alarm bells", because he has been linked to al-Qaeda and various terrorists.[3][16] In November 2010 Cageprisoners issued a press release to clarify their position on al-Awlaki.[17] They noted that, before his 18-month detention, al-Awlaki had been known as a cleric of moderate views. In that period, he had been invited to speak at the Pentagon and he served as a chaplain at an American university. They defended their support of him as a prisoner held by Yemen without charge for 18 months. But, they clarified that they strongly opposed his newly espoused radical positions, and announced this when they learned that he advocated attacking civilians.[18] At the same time, they opposed the United States' plan to target him for assassination in a missile strike.[citation needed] (Awlaki was killed by the US in September 2011.)[19]

The World Tomorrow controversy[edit]

In an Episode 6 of The World Tomorrow broadcast by RT on 15 May 2012, representatives of Cageprisoners (Moazzam Begg and Asim Qureshi) expressed support for the principle creating an Islamic Caliphate including precise implementation of Sharia law. Begg suggested that full implementation of Sharia has not occurred since before the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate. During the interview Asim Qureshi expressed personal support for the principle of death by stoning for adultery and other death penalties prescribed by Islamic law "as long as all due process elements are met", stating that the standard of evidence required is exceptionally stringent and difficult to achieve in practice.[20]

Amnesty International controversy[edit]

In February 2010, Amnesty International suspended one of its senior officials, Gita Sahgal, head of the organisation's Gender Unit, after she criticized Amnesty for its links with Begg and Cageprisoners. She called the links "a gross error of judgment", saying it was wrong to ally with "Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban".[21] Sahgal argued that by associating with Begg and Cageprisoners, Amnesty was risking its reputation on human rights.[22][23][24] Salman Rushdie supported her, saying: "Amnesty ... has done its reputation incalculable damage by allying itself with Moazzam Begg and his group Cageprisoners, and holding them up as human rights advocates.[25] The journalist Nick Cohen wrote in The Observer: "Amnesty ... thinks that liberals are free to form alliances with defenders of clerical fascists who want to do everything in their power to suppress liberals, most notably liberal-minded Muslims."[26] http://news.sky.com/story/1434923/jihadi-john-used-to-be-kind-and-gentle After the Osama bin Laden was killed in an American raid in May 2011, Cageprisoners published an editorial written as news satire. Dated 15 May 2021, it announced "American War Criminal Barack Obama has been killed by Pakistani security forces in the UK." [27] Michael Weiss a research director of The Henry Jackson Society criticized the satire, calling it "a sick joke".[28]

Mohamed Emwazi or 'Jihadi John'[edit]

Mohamed Emwazi, the 27 year old Briton identified as the masked beheader of civilian captives of ISIS in Syria, was well known to the Cageprisoners from 2010, and corresponded with them on several occasions. CAGE's research director, Asim Qureshi, called Emwazi "extremely kind and gentle" and "the most humble young person that I ever knew." He explained how, in his view, Emwazi's contact with the UK security services had transformed him into a brutal killer, "Individuals are prevented from travelling, placed under house arrest and in the worst cases tortured, rendered or killed, seemingly on the whim of security agents."[29]

Funding[edit]

Since 2007, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has given three grants to Cageprisoners totaling £305,000.[30][31] Lord Carlile, formerly the British Government’s independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation, said: "I would never advise anybody to give money to CagePrisoners. I have concerns about the group. There are civil liberty organisations which I do give money to but CagePrisoners is most certainly not one of them."[32]

The Roddick Foundation, an organization founded by Anita Roddick, has given four grants totaling £120,000.[30][32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ansari, Fahad, "Beyond Guantanamo – Review of Cageprisoners Fundraising Dinner", Crescent Magazine on Cageprisoners.com, 10 February 2009, accessed 16 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b "About Us". Cage. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g O'Neill, Sean (4 January 2010). "Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had links with London campaign group". The Times. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Tim Golden (15 June 2006). "Jihadist or Victim: Ex-Detainee Makes a Case". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. 
  5. ^ a b MacAskill, Ewen (30 November 2010). "WikiLeaks cables show US U-turn over ex-Guantánamo inmate". The Guardian (London). 
  6. ^ Mary Fitzgerald (13 November 2010). "Obama is president of extra-judicial killing, says ex-Guantánamo inmate". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  7. ^ "About Us". Cageprisoners. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Terry Glavin, "Amnesty International doubles down on appeasement", The National Post, 8 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010.[dead link]
  9. ^ Richard Kerbaj (7 February 2010). "Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link". The Times. Archived from the original on 14 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "About Us". Cageprisoners. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". The Washington Post. 15 March 2006. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2010. Many names came from two Web sites that monitor the status of Guantanamo detainees: the Arabic-language Alasra (www.alasra.org) and the Britain-based CagePrisoners (www.cageprisoners.com). The two sites, which advocate the release of the detainees, have published lists of names, photographs and documents provided by families. Alasra is registered to an unknown individual in Saudi Arabia, and CagePrisoners is registered to a group of Muslim computer programmers based in Britain. 
  12. ^ David Ignatius, A Prison We Need to Escape, Washington Post, 14 June 2006.
  13. ^ Adam, Bint, "Desecrating the Qur'an: The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back", Islam Online, 26 March 2003, accessed 3 January 2010
  14. ^ Exclusive: Moazzam Begg Interviews Anwar al-Awlaki (audio interview on YouTube), Cageprisoners, December 2007, accessed 6 January 2010.
  15. ^ Sawer, Patrick, and Barrett, David, "Detroit bomber's mentor continues to influence British mosques and universities", The Telegraph, 2 January 2010, accessed 3 January 2010.
  16. ^ [Human rights folly on Anwar al-Awlaki "Human rights folly on Anwar al-Awlaki - By glossing over the problem of defending extremists like Awlaki, groups like the ACLU, Amnesty and CCR jeopardise their cause"] Check |url= scheme (help). The Guardian. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2015-02-27. 
  17. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: Cageprisoners and Anwar al-Awlaki – a factual background". Cageprisoners. 5 November 2010. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Cageprisoners first became aware that Anwar al-Awlaki had radically changed his views regarding conflicts in the interviews he conducted with Al Jazeera in November 2009 and February 2010 – the latter specifically mentioning his view that it is permissible to target civilians. We did not equivocate on this point and clarified that we could not back such positions as we did not agree with them from a theological perspective – the attacking of civilians is not from Islam. 
  18. ^ "Top charities give £200,000 to group which supported al-Qaeda cleric". The Telegraph. 6 November 2010. 
  19. ^ "Two U.S.-Born Terrorists Killed in CIA-Led Drone Strike". Fox News. 30 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "Episode 5". wikileaks.org. 
  21. ^ "How Amnesty chose the wrong poster-boy; Collaboration with Moazzam Begg, an extremist who has supported jihadi movements, looks like a serious mistake". The Times. 9 February 2010. 
  22. ^ "Amnesty chief suspended after attacking group's links to 'Britain's most famous Taliban supporter'". Mail Online. 9 February 2010. 
  23. ^ Bright, Martin, "Gita Sahgal: A Statement", Spectator, 7 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010.
  24. ^ Joan Smith. "Amnesty shouldn't support men like Moazzam Begg". The Independent. 
  25. ^ Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International, The Sunday Times, 21 February 2010.
  26. ^ Nick Cohen (14 February 2010). "We abhor torture – but that requires paying a price". the Guardian. 
  27. ^ Ansari, Fahad, BREAKING NEWS: BARACK OBAMA IS DEAD, Cageprisoners, 9 May 2011
  28. ^ Weiss, Michael, "Barack Obama is dead': A sick joke from Moazzam Begg's Cageprisoners group", The Daily Telegraph, 10 May 2011.
  29. ^ "'Jihadi John' Used To Be 'Kind And Gentle'". Sky News. 27 February 2015. 
  30. ^ a b Bassey, Amardeep (9 March 2014). "Charity defends decision to keep funding group fronted by terror suspect Moazzam Begg". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "Grant Search Results". Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Barrett, David; Mendick, Robert (1 March 2014). "Mainstream charities have donated thousands to Islamic group fronted by terror suspect". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 March 2014. 

External links[edit]