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CAGE Africa releases review of how ‘War on Terror’ has affected Algeria

Johannesburg – CAGE Africa has launched its second chapter of the Africa Review, which provides a glance at how the ‘War on Terror’ has affected Muslims and justice in Algeria.

Starting with a history of the country and its legacy of torture under French invasion, the review touches on counter-terrorism legislation and its violations of due process, renditions that have occurred, prominent terrorism trials and how the atmosphere of the ‘War on Terror’ impacts policing and mosques.

The review also looks at the complicity of Western governments in ‘War on Terror’ atrocities such as the use of evidence gleaned from torture in Algeria to justify the Iraq War, and the alleged cover provided to al-Qaeda during the In Amenas gas crisis, recently revealed in the UK.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“The review provides a much-needed alternative view of how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted Algerians, and the similarities that exist between the past French military activity and current United States policy.”

“CAGE endeavours not only to highlight the atrocities and deceptions that have resulted due to the ‘War on Terror’, but we also make several recommendations aimed at bringing about a more just and equal society, not least of all is a return to the rule of law and a political atmosphere free from foreign intervention.”

You can download a full copy of the review here.

 

Algeria Flag image courtesy of Freestock


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Revealed: Home Office ‘outsourcing’ surveillance to Far Right Henry Jackson Society

London – A recent High Court Judgement has exposed how the British Government outsources the designation of “extremists” for security purposes to the right-wing charity the Henry Jackson Society (HJS).

The HJS has several well-publicised right-wing links. It has been accused of generating Islamophobia, and it is known as an illiberal organisation which supports military intervention around the world.

In the case of Dr Salman Butt v Home Office, it was revealed that the PREVENT strategy uses information gathered by the opaque and covert Extremism Analysis Unit (EAU) to identify “extremists”. The EAU in turn uses information on individuals and organisations produced and provided by the HJS.

CAGE is today releasing a comprehensive report analysing the workings of the EAU and its implications for society. You can read the report here.

Ibrahim Mohamoud, CAGE Spokesperson, said:

“A matter that has dire implications for the rights of individuals and organisations is being outsourced to right-wing units and organisations. In this way, the Home Office itself has become part of the generation of Islamophobia and the status of these shadowy groups becomes a matter of urgent concern.”

“This case has exposed the inner workings of the EAU and how it relies on neo-conservative think-tanks to understand “extremism”. These include the Centre for Social Cohesion and the Henry Jackson Society. The views of these organisations are rooted in a perception that the West is at war with Islam, and their leaders betray a deep mistrust of Muslims.”

“The Home Office appears to be adopting the views of Douglas Murray, HJS Associate Director, who in 2006 said ‘conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board’. Such an approach does little for community relations and indeed will more than likely have a counterproductive effect.”

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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CAGE responds to senior police chief: PREVENT is a toxic policy that causes deep mistrust

London – Concerns surrounding PREVENT are well-grounded in facts and case-based research that clearly show PREVENT is a toxic policy.*

This conclusion has been echoed across the board, by hundreds of academics, politicians, trade unions, student bodies and survivors of the policy.

Moreover, the studies on which the PREVENT policy is based have also been discredited and proven to not be fit for general application.

Dr Adnan Siddiqui, CAGE Director, said:

“PREVENT is part of the state’s ever increasing intelligence and monitoring programmes as admitted by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. Statistics show that PREVENT overwhelmingly targets Muslims.”

“PREVENT has had a destructive effect in families and has isolated and traumatised children, causing deep mistrust. Its implementation has had an influence on the UK plummeting from a ranking of 11 to 156 in global children’s rights rankings.”

“Additionally, the policy has a counterproductive effect. It has been accused of fuelling ‘extremism’ by the former UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.”

“The rightful rejection of the policy by communities stems from this reality, one that its interest-driven advocates would rather ignore in favour of creating further myths.”

 

CC Image courtesy of Mark Norman Francis on Flikr
*The police chief’s comments were made on BBC Asian Network


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Serious questions remain after multi-million pound Birmingham terror trial

London – The case of three Birmingham men – and a fourth from Stoke-On-Trent – convicted this week for hatching a terror plot involving a meat cleaver and a pipe bomb, raises serious questions regarding entrapment, police conduct and due process.

Text messages exchanged between undercover agents during the trial – despite them being instructed not to communicate with one another by the judge – reveal a startling degree of impunity.

One undercover officer, referred to as ‘Vincent’, repeatedly refused to answer questions in court and was unable to give explanations about numerous discrepancies on his version of events. A deleted message from him read: ‘The situation we Find ourselves in with BSS [British Security Service] is not ideal (understatement) either way I’m even more determined to put in an Oscar performance when I get in that boxI won’t let you down … I would die First .

On February 24 last year, just before the trial was due to start ‘Vincent’ wrote: “It’s nothing we ain’t seen before … usual bollox we planted it all and Fitted ‘em up!!”

Defendants claimed from the beginning that police had planted the evidence that was later used against them. Despite the ‘sting’ operation set up by the police, there was also no video or forensic evidence of the accused obtaining, purchasing, handling or even knowing of the items ‘discovered’ in the car.

The trial was held partly in secret in the interests of national security and two anonymous witnesses gave evidence behind closed doors.

Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE, said:

“West Midlands Police was accused of entrapment, perjury and falsifying evidence during the five-month trial. Such accusations have startling repercussions on future trials and arrests, and will gain momentum in the minds of communities.”

“The last successful terror attack in Birmingham occurred in 1974 and resulted in the convictions of “the Birmingham Six”. They were eventually freed after sixteen years in prison when the Court of Appeal accepted that police had fabricated and suppressed exculpatory evidence and ruled the convictions “unsafe and unsatisfactory”. Had the police in the case of the Birmingham Six also enjoyed anonymity and their evidence remained above scrutiny it is reasonable to conclude their victims would have remained in prison. The true culprits have yet to face justice but, the city of Birmingham is still traumatised by this event and the deep mistrust of the police that followed.”

“The case of the “Three Musketeers” has chillingly similar echoes and has the potential for regenerating that mistrust at a time when the terror threat at its highest in decades and when anti-Muslim hatred and sentiment is at unprecedented levels.”

“There are too many questions about the conduct of the police, the transparency of the courts, the impartiality of the judge, the direction of the jury and reporting by the media to render this conviction safe and satisfactory. At the very least there must be an inquiry into how the police were able to escape scrutiny in a case filled with so many lies, inconsistencies and cover ups.”

 

Images courtesy of West Midlands Police


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Iraqi Ambassadors’ statements over returning “IS fighters” to South Africa are counter-productive

Johannesburg – The pronouncements of the Iraqi Ambassador to South Africa urging the South African government to adopt an aggressive approach to “returning IS fighters” to South Africa is counter-productive and must be challenged.

The response of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation has been rightly to demand evidence to Iraqi Ambassador Saad Kindeel’s claims that there are “fighters” making their way home.

Such pronouncements aggravate suspicion and fear of young Muslims, particularly those of a conservative religious persuasion. They also serve as pressure from foreign interests for the South African government to enact counter-extremism programmes which further US and foreign interests in South Africa.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“CAGE Africa is aware of one family wanting to return to South Africa after leaving ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq. The family of seven including a young baby are currently stranded in a refugee camp in Jordan. They regret their decision to leave South Africa, are in fear for their lives and have appealed to the South African government for assistance. The approach to such individuals should be one of compassion, particularly when there are woman and children involved.”

“Should individuals be returning from IS-controlled territory it is more than likely with a level of regret for their actions. South African security services should objectively assess this without foreign outside interference and enlist community support for their reintegration into society, and return to a normal, peaceful life. Returnees should be investigated for any wrongdoing with proper due process according to existing criminal laws.”

“The people of Iraq deserve our sympathy, not just for the atrocities committed by ISIS, but also due to the atrocities committed by the Iraqi government forces and the United States coalition, which in the battle to reclaim Mosul between February 19 and June 19 this year alone, killed 3,706 civilians.”

Amnesty International has claimed  that the actions of the Iraqi government forces, US forces and their allies, like the actions of ISIS, include rape, torture and civilian killings, and amount to war crimes. These perspectives are somehow lost in the hysterical media coverage of IS, but it is crucial that they are figured in when journalists choose to quote the views of members of these governments in the press.”

 

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo

 

CC image courtesy of Håkan Dahlström Photography on Flikr


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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US military and civilian contractors and allies must answer questions regarding torturing of innocents in Cameroon

Johannesburg – United States troops and their French and Israeli counterparts stationed at Salak base in northern Cameroon must be questioned and held accountable over their knowledge of torture conducted on site by the local counter-terrorism force, the Rapid Intervention Battalion.

A recent Amnesty report describes how mostly Muslim men, women, the disabled and children as young as seven were held at Salak base – a “hub” of US security operations in the region – for being “extremists” and allegedly supporting Boko Haram, but who Amnesty described as “just ordinary people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Torture included being bound, hung and beaten with planks containing nails, burning, finger nail pulling, being forced to drink urine and being forced to eat pork.

Evidence of an American presence at the base has been documented in the Amnesty report and was also revealed in an investigation by The Intercept, which also revealed a lesser but definite French and Israeli presence.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“The United States is supportive of Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalion, sending some 300 troops and millions of dollars for counter-terrorism operations. This is yet another example of the way in which American ‘War on Terror’ policy is exported to Africa at the expense of the rights of African people and Muslims in particular.”

“For US officials to deny or pretend that abuses aren’t happening – and indeed to insist that ‘all military assistance included human rights law training’ is disingenuous and begs the question: what kind of human rights are we talking about when victims of US-sponsored militaries include innocent children, women and the disabled?”

“For the United States President to say that ‘torture works’, and for officials of that country and their allies to be in close proximity to torture effectively gives a rubber stamp to serious abuses which history has taught us can become indiscriminate.”

“CAGE calls for the withdrawal of US and other foreign military assistance for the abusive Rapid Intervention Battalion, for all perpetrators of ‘War on Terror’ violence against civilians to be held accountable in Cameroon, and for a return to equal justice for all.”

Press enquiries:

Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo

 

(CC image courtesy of US Army Africa on Flikr)


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Mother of Omar Awadh Omar must be compensated for abuse: CAGE Africa

Johannesburg – Security services in Uganda must answer to claims by Omar Awadh Omar’s mother that her house was raided several times, and she was tortured and detained in her quest to seek justice for her son.

Omar Awadh Omar was kidnapped in Kenya in 2010, imprisoned in Uganda and tortured – all with the complicity of British and American security agencies. Omar has a case lodged in Britain to seek accountability from the government for his mistreatment.

In 2015 Omar and four other men were acquitted of terrorism charges in relation to the 2010 Kampala bombings, but on their way out of court they were rearrested on what officials claim to be documentation linking them to terrorism. So far they have not undergone a trial for these charges yet they have been detained for a year.

Omar’s mother, Fatuma Said Abdullah, 63, has since her son’s arrest been harassed and subjected to physical and psychological torture. Her crime, she says, is that she is the mother of Omar and that she is Somali.

Feroze Boda of CAGE Africa, said:

“It is simply inhumane and illegal under international law for security services to treat an elderly woman in this way. Ms Abdullah should be granted damages and an apology from authorities for the manner in which she has suffered under their hands in the worst detention centres in Uganda.”

“Ms Abdullah’s claims must be investigated by an international court as symbolic of the structural and open racism against Somalis in Uganda through the lens of the ‘War on Terror’, but also as an example of how the families of prisoners are treated as guilty by association, and suffer endless violations to their persons and homes.”

“The case of Omar Awadh Omar has serious violations of the rule of law and due process. To be rearrested after acquittal on dubious charges, and then to be detained indefinitely with no further explanation is torturous. We demand the immediate release of Omar so that he can be returned to his family to live in peace.”

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Press enquiries:

Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Revealed: When PREVENT really put BOOTS on the ground

Boots, the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer is peddling the Government’s highly divisive Prevent programme by instructing its employees to take ‘notice’ of their colleagues’ changes in behaviour.

A ‘Safeguarding and Prevent’ guidance poster displayed on the walls of its branches as well as a PDF form in the Corporate Responsibility section of the Boots website make implementing Prevent a collective responsibility.

The company instructs staff on how to spot the signs of ‘vulnerability’ which are devastatingly broad and include changes in mood, changes in eating habits and even a change in appearance. This approach in itself is unprecedented; many of these so-called signs are not even found in the highly disputed ERG 22+ factors that form the basis of Prevent.

The misinformed policy of Boots fails to accurately identify the official aim of Prevent, “to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”, but rather sets out their aim as ensuring staff “are not drawn towards extremism”. This sweeping company policy has also extended the duty to a corporate setting where it is “everybody’s responsibility”.

This guidance to Boots staff will only serve to generate mistrust, suspicion and facilitate for a toxic programme and its harmful effects to be extended to the private sector and amongst employees on the high street.

Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE, said:

“I was made aware of this particular application of Prevent guidance by a former university lecturer who’d been out shopping at his local branch of Boots, who said:

‘I was gobsmacked. It was in public view. I don’t work in there, I was just going in to get my prescription and just saw it in front of me; above a notice for prescription charges. Anyone could have seen this. I’m not sure whether they are informing on their staff or whether it is customers as well’.

“The disturbing part about this is that Prevent has not just encroached upon the relationship of trust between teacher and pupil, doctor and patient and colleagues at work but, some customers clearly believe that it may now potentially seek to extend its reach to cashiers and paying customers. The cumulative effect of this can only sow the seeds of mistrust and discord.

“If a highly respectable high street retailer like Boots has entered the business of policing its staff, then the public needs to know. They also need to know which other companies are following suit.”

 

CC image courtesy of R/DV/RS on Flikr

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Ex-Guantanamo detainees in Ghana need urgent support as court rules their resettlement is unconstitutional

Johannesburg – Ghana’s recent ruling that the transfer of two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees to the country is ‘unconstitutional’  must be challenged. The men need urgent support so they can attempt to rebuild their lives in peace.

Mahmoud Omar Bin Atef and Khalid al Dhuby were cleared for release from the Cuban prison in 2009 but only transferred to Ghana in January last year, after being held for almost 15 years without charge. The Ghanian government said they could stay for two years subject to security checks.

Former president John Mahama assured Ghanians at the time that the men posed no security risk and appealed to the majority Christian nation’s sense of humanity.

However opposition to their presence brought on a political crisis, which critics say contributed to Mahama losing the election in November. Bin Atef’s lawyer has since declared that his client is being used as a ‘political football’.

Opposition has come especially from the powerful Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, the Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council.

Moazzam Begg, outreach director of CAGE, said:

“These two men were given sanctuary Ghana after extensive diplomatic assurances and agreements were made between the governments of the US and Ghana that they would be treated fairly and humanely. Both men had been held without charge or trial for fourteen years during which they were falsely imprisoned and subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

“One of the men told me during a phone call that they were very grateful to Ghana and its people for accepting them and that this was good start to the long process of recovery from such an ordeal.”

“The current court ruling against the resettlement of these men breaches the agreements made with the US and, places them in a desperate situation. Ghana is one of over 50 countries to have accepted former Guantanamo prisoners and the suggestion that giving them refuge has posed major security risks is simply unfounded.”

Feroze Boda, of CAGE Africa, said:

“Bin Atef and al Dhuby cannot be returned to Yemen due to the war there. The United States will not have them either. This makes them refugees, and Ghana has international obligations to support them. Instead, they have become pawns in a political game.”

“The main reason for Ghana’s opposition to Bin Atef and al Dhuby was because organisations did not want to draw the country into the ‘War on Terror’ game. However, by making moves to withdraw their agreement to take the men, they are acting counter-productively by creating uncertainty.”

 

 

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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Muslims detained at prayers in Kenya must be released

Johannesburg – CAGE calls for police in Kenya to immediately release Muslims that were detained during taraweeh prayers.

Complaints received by the organisation Haki Africa have come from parts of Mombasa including Kisauni, Floringi/Bondeni and Kongowea areas, where police in groups of ten or more have swooped in on worshippers between 8pm and 11pm when they were attending evening prayers. In some instances men have been illegally detained.

According to Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), in one case circulating on social media, Suhail Ali was assaulted, harassed, and intimidated while police demanded that he pay them 50,000 Kenyan shillings (380 pounds) otherwise he would be framed with a crime. After negotiations they settled down to 10,000 shillings (75 pounds). However instead of taking Ali to a police station, he was taken to a kangaroo court, where he was “found guilty”.

Police in Kenya have been accused of targeting Muslims, especially in the coastal regions of Kenya, where they are known to have conducted extrajudicial killings under cover of the ‘War on Terror’.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson of CAGE Africa, said:

“This is yet another example of the ‘War on Terror’ being used as a cover for police to flaunt their power, creating fear and anger on the ground. The detention-without-charge of men is a violation of the rule of law and utterly counter-productive.”

“Police denials are disingenuous since video footage attests to men being rounded on and beaten by police outside mosques. We reiterate our call and support the demands of Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) for an independent investigation into these abuses and dismissal of the police officers concerned.”

“All abuses by police against Muslims in Kenya in the name of counter-terrorism, must end starting with extrajudicial killings, through to these most recent claims of harassment, extortion and detention.”

 

 

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.