UK Radical Islamist "Human Rights Group" CAGE Calls "Jihadi John" A "Beautiful Young Man"
March 2, 2015
UK Muslim Group Under Fire for Sympathizing with Jihadi John
Islamist 'human rights' group condemned for claiming UK intelligence agency responsible for ISIS executions, not 'beautiful' Jihadi John.
A Salafi Islamist group which styles itself as a "human rights organization" and was in contact with the man thought to be ISIS executioner "Jihadi John" before he left Britain for Syria is facing a backlash, after accusing intelligence services of "radicalizing" him.
Cage, whose leading figures include former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, describes its work as supporting people arrested or raided as a result of the "war on terror" following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
When Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwait-born London IT worker, was identified by the Washington Post as "Jihadi John" last week, Cage held a press conference at which its research director Asim Qureshi described him as a "beautiful young man" and blamed British intelligence for radicalizing him.
It claimed that MI5 had been tracking Emwazi since at least 2009 and had even tried to recruit him.
Emwazi had complained of harassment between 2009 and 2012, had been stopped from going on a "safari trip" and prevented from pursuing a job and a marriage in Kuwait, the group said.
What Cage neglected to mention was that Emwazi was an ardent supporter at the time of the Al Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab, and had been traveling to Tanzania for their "safari" trip - a country where Al Shabaab has been active.
The group's comments prompted a furious response across the board in British politics and media, with many arguing that "Jihadi John" - believed to be responsible for beheading at least five Western hostages - was the only person accountable for his own actions.
Cage's views were dismissed as "reprehensible" by the office of Prime Minister David Cameron, "very false" by a former head of MI6 and an "apology for terror" by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
"Being turned back on his travels and questioned by the security services had, it seemed, left Emwazi with no alternative but to join Islamic State and behead seven innocent people," wrote Andrew Gilligan in this week's Sunday Telegraph, summing up the views of many commentators.
Amnesty International, which has in the past jointly called for an investigation of British involvement in the CIA's controversial rendition program with Cage and other bodies, has also spoken out.
"I can't condemn strongly enough anybody in any context who seeks to find some justifications somehow for why you can kill a civilian," Steve Crawshaw, director of the office of the secretary general at Amnesty, told BBC radio.
At a press conference in London on Thursday following the reporting of Emwazi's name, Qureshi seemed at times choked with emotion.
"There are several young Britons whose lives were not only ruined by security agencies, but who became disenfranchised and turned to violence because of British counter-terrorism policies coupled with long-standing grievances over Western foreign policy," he said in a separate statement.
The same plight had befallen Emwazi and Michael Adebolajo, one of two men who hacked to death 25-year-old British soldier Lee Rigby on a London street in 2013, the group said.
But despite the heat of the backlash against such comments, others defend Cage and its work.
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a grants body which gave the group £305,000 ($471,000, 421,000 euros) between 2007 and 2011, was among them.
"We believe that they have played an important role in highlighting the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo Bay and at many other sites around the world, including many instances of torture," the trust said.
"We believe that Cage is asking legitimate questions about security service contact with those who have gone on to commit high-profile and horrific acts of violence."
Cage's work was described as "vital" by the director of human rights group Reprieve, human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.
"I myself represent those said to be 'terrorists' and since Magna Carta, in 1215, we have presumed people innocent rather than guilty," he told the BBC.
"If criticism must be levelled, it should be aimed at those who betray the fundamentals of our legal system by locking people up without trials, or just assassinating people with drones."
Bill Durodie, professor and chair of international relations at the University of Bath, said he believed that Cage's view fed into a wider issue.
"Their accusations of harassment of Mohammed Emwazi by the British security services feed off and into a simplistic narrative of systematic hurt and offence causing unmanageable harm," he said.
Perhaps seeking to make a point after days of pummelling, Cage has now posted a string of messages on its website from people it says have contacted the organisation recently to praise and defend its work.
It has also offered to meet Cameron for a "full and frank discussion" of the issues raised by the "Jihadi John" casehttp://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192019
MIM: For more background information see:
"Beheader Mohammed Emwazi aka "Jihadi John" Is Kuwaiti Born UK Muslim National From Wealthy Family"
Boris Johnson in angry confrontation with Cage director over Jihadi John
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, says that Cage should be condemning Isil for 'throwing gays off cliffs and beheading people' instead of appearing to blame the security services for the radicalisation of Jihadi John
"...Boris Johnson has told a campaigning group which suggested that MI5 are to blame for the radicalisation of Jihadi John to focus on "the human rights of those being beheaded" by Isil in Syria and Iraq.
Mr Johnson confronted Asim Qureshi, the director of Cage, on his radio show and urged him to "powerfully" condemn Isil instead of "crying Islamophobia" and "scattering blame around".
He said: "I really, really think that the focus of your indignation and your outrage should be on people who go out to join groups that throw gays off cliffs, that behead people who don't subscribe to their version of Islam, that glorify in the execution of innocent journalists and aid workers.
"I just feel you have got it 100 per cent the wrong way up. The security services are trying to keep us safe. They cannot conceivably be blamed.
"If you are a human rights group funded by charity then you should be sticking up for the human rights of those being beheaded in Syria and Northern Iraq, that should be the focus of your concern..."
Click on link for video and full transcript:
Jihadi John apologist who said killer was a 'beautiful man' sparks new outrage after refusing to condemn stoning of women
Cage director Asim Qureshi was quizzed about extremist positions
Refused to condemn genital mutilation, domestic violence and stoning
Last week he defended the Mohammed Emwazi known as Jihadi John
The leader of the Muslim group who defended ISIS executioner Mohammed Emwazi has sparked further outrage after he refused to condemn the stoning women.
Asim Qureshi, the director of Cage, was last night quizzed about extremist positions advocated by Muslim scholars - including female genital mutilation, domestic violence and stoning as a punishment for adultery.
But Mr Qureshi, appearing on the BBC's This Week programme, failed to speak out against the practices - while also defending the right of Muslims to wage jihad.
It comes after he defended the London-raised fanatic Emwazi - unmasked as the infamous fanatic 'Jihadi John' - as a 'beautiful, kind man'.
byline-plain">By Tom McTague, Deputy Political Editor for MailOnline