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After Westminster: It’s going to take courage to break the cycle

Understanding and engaging with the root causes of violence and a re-examination of foreign and domestic policy are the best solutions to our current crisis.

In the aftermath of the Westminster attack and the sad deaths of four people, there has been a rush to establish a particularly damaging narrative that seeks to place ideology as the sole driving factor of the event.

CAGE is committed to an evidence-based approach, so we must emphasise that no motive has yet been conclusively established.

Speculation in the manner in which it has been happening leads to the demonisation of individuals and groups and a kind of ‘trial by media’ that violates the course of justice.

Despite the absence of key facts and details, the security contractor industry of paid PREVENT advocates have exploited the tragedy to promote their failing counter-extremism policies and programmes.

Placing ideology at the core of the attack despite the motive not having been established through a court process, has prompted anxious condemnations from Muslim communities and organisations, particularly those that have recently been branded by fear-mongering neo-conservative groups as ‘hotbeds’ of terrorism.

This narrative is deeply flawed and must be challenged and retold.

Towards a more constructive understanding of the tragedy

We must acknowledge that the global ‘War on Terror’ has unleashed an endless cycle of violence and murder that has caused immeasurable grief and pain, and will only continue to do so if we do not seek constructive ways to end it.

This is true not only at a local level, but also at an international level. Foreign policy is linked to domestic policy, and in their securitised nature, they echo one another.

Surely the countless victims and survivors of political violence across the world deserve answers. We must move away from ritual condemnations, ideological posturing, and begin unlocking real solutions.


Read more: The Iraq war was born and raised in torture

We must have the courage and honesty to accept that if the inspiration for the Westminster incident and others like it, are groups and individuals in war torn areas, as many are claiming, then the circumstances which led to the war may also be part of the problem.

We have every reason to be shocked by the loss of innocent life at home. As part of the endeavour to fully grasp contexts which help formulate solutions, we must also acknowledge the death this month of at least 230 civilians by coalition forces in Mosul, Iraq, the killing by a US airstrike of nearly 60 worshippers in a mosque in Aleppo and the shooting of 42 migrants on a boat escaping the war in Yemen by the British-armed Saudi led coalition. Reports are now emerging that nearly 1000 civilians have been killed this month alone in Syria and Iraq in US or allied coalition attacks.

These victims also, have names and families. They have a right to have their stories of despair and tragedy recounted and acknowledged. They deserve to have those responsible for their loss held accountable. Human life is precious and it must be protected regardless of race or religion.

For these deaths in this month alone, there were no silent vigils in Washington, London or Paris, nor any condemnation from world and community leaders. This silence carries a clue as to the solutions that are needed to bring about peace.

Over a decade of death and destruction

If we look further than this month, the picture is even more shocking: the Syrian Network For Human Rights (SNHR) reports that since 2011 the death toll for civilians has reached 207,000, including 24,000 children and 23,000 women. The SNHR adds that in Syria, 94% of these deaths were perpetrated by the Syrian-Iranian-Russian Alliance.

Recently, the United States government along with Britain has been expanding its ‘War on Terror’ in Syria through the use of airstrikes and drones, alongside Russia, Iran and the regime’s militias.

The carnage in Iraq is even more horrific. According to the Nobel-winning doctors organisation Physicians for Social Responsibility, the UK/US invasion in Iraq killed one million Iraqis in ten years since it began in 2003. This figure does not include deaths among the three million refugees of the invasion. It was out of this violence, Obama admitted, that ISIS was born.

In Afghanistan, US/UK supported interventions killed 220,000 since 2005 while 80,000 have been killed in Pakistan. This brings the estimated total of people killed in these three countries to around 1.3 million in ten years of the ‘War on Terror’.

This figure does not even take into account war zones like Yemen and Somalia, and the ethnic cleansing operations against Muslims in Burma or the Central African Republic (CAR).


Read more: The war on terror is genocide

No society should be exposed to the devastation of these civilian attacks, where bodies have been dismembered beyond recognition, and where families are left with no marked grave to lay their loved ones., We can no longer hide the suffering nor distance ourselves from it.

However, instead of examining whether this suffering is the root cause of political violence, the governments of West escalate their military operations, including indiscriminate drone attacks in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Counter-terrorism security complex capitalises on incidents

The relationship between foreign wars and domestic consequences is denied by Western governments. A whole counter-terrorism industry functions around this denial. At each incident, this industry of counter-terrorism experts, which usually work for institutions funded by pro-war lobbies or governments, provide a shallow, naive explanation that fails to address the real causes of violence and only ever serves the neo-conservative agenda.

There is a standard trajectory that follows such incidents. There is the valid societal shock and grief, followed by the expected condemnation of the acts, followed quickly by value judgements on motives. These are ideological value judgements that maintain the cycle of propaganda and profit for the counter-terrorism industry. They are then followed by further calls for targeting ‘extremist ideology’ and more military action abroad, boosting the security cluster.

This is a self perpetuating, vicious cycle of violence that any sound-minded person can see. It stifles all genuine attempts to arrive at an end to it.

It’s an approach that lacks any genuine introspection, and yet it is the only debate that is tolerated and amplified by the mainstream media. This approach not only betrays citizenry as a whole by making societies less safe, but it also prohibits victims’ families, whether in the east or west, from ever gaining any real answers, nor are they delivered justice.

Towards finding solutions

There is a risk that violence will continue as long as states line up to condemn violence and ‘terrorism’, while legitimizing state violence both actual and structural (in the form of counter-extremism programmes that criminalise belief and political dissent), towards Muslims.

It is through these double standards and the politicisation of “terrorism”, that the term has lost all its meaning. The state has allowed for the word terrorism to be equated with Islam, while its own violence by way of civilian casualties abroad goes unquestioned, let alone referred to as terrorism.


Read more: Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University: The Global War on Terror is ‘Doomed to Fail’

To keep this double standard alive, violent individuals and groups are portrayed as irrational and barbaric by the government and the media alike. As Professor Tomis Kapitan says in an article for the New York Times: “As this rhetoric would have it, then asking why they resort to terrorism is viewed as pointless, needlessly accommodating, or, at best, mere pathological curiosity. Those normally inclined to ask “Why?” are in danger of being labeled “soft” on terrorism, while the more militant use the “terrorist” label to blur the distinction between critical examination and appeasement.” Kapitan adds “To put it bluntly, by stifling inquiry into causes, the rhetoric of “terror” actually increases the likelihood of terrorism.”.

Examining the deeper reasons why violent incidents happen is not justifying them. “The difference between “causation” and “justification” is so obvious that it should require no explanation,” writes Glen Greenwald. “If one observes that someone who smokes four packs of cigarettes a day can expect to develop emphysema, that’s an observation about causation, not a celebration of the person’s illness. Only a willful desire to distort, or some deep confusion, can account for a failure to process this most basic point.”

We must begin to openly discuss the root causes of violent incidents in a balanced and intelligent manner. This in turn, must prompt a re-examination of the neo-conservative and violent Western foreign and domestic policy towards Muslims.

It is courageous introspection that is most needed right now, from all of us, if we are to break the cycles of violence that haunt us.

(CC image courtesy of mrm 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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British surveillance technology used to crush dissent for “counter-terrorism purposes” in Uganda

From Left to right: Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon, Cameron, Museveni, Davutoglu (CC Image courtesy of Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Flikr)

Cape Town – Surveillance technology developed and sold by a UK firm to the government of Yoweri Museveni for “counter-terrorism purposes” has been used to crush civil society and derail opposition leaders in the run-up to general elections in Uganda. CAGE Africa calls for full accountability.

An internal memo leaked to Privacy International and revealed by the BBC, describes how the technology, developed by Gamma Group International and sold to the Ugandan government under the guise of counter-terrorism, has been used to “to spy on the enemy, collect data, intrude enemy systems, intercept enemy communication and also manipulate transmissions”.

According to Privacy International, police and military deployed the spyware specifically to “crush…civil disobedience” and “cra[ck] down [on] the rising influence of the opposition” by “blackmailing them”.

The technology has also been sold to Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Senegal and Kenya.

The memo also states that the technology was employed by President Assad’s government in Syria “although it came a little too late when the demos were out of hand but has to a greater extent managed to contain the situation”.

Karen Jayes, co-ordinator of CAGE Africa, said:

“This is a clear example of how private companies are capitalising on the War on Terror, and how corrupt governments are manipulating it to achieve their own ends, facilitating the expansion of a global security surveillance empire at the expense of civil society.”

“Selling and deploying products for counter-terrorism purposes, thanks to a broad, one-size-fits-all application of the term ‘terrorism’, will continue to result in the repression of civil society until companies and governments comply with international law. CAGE Africa calls for full transparency and accountability.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes – CAGE Africa
+27 21 680-5177
+27 84 648 1425

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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Reactions to our High Court victory: a win for civil society

CAGE’s settlement with the Charity Commission in the High Court last week has been lauded as a victory for civil society and a positive development for Muslims. We summarise the reaction.

 

CAGE’s win in the High Court last week meant the Charity Commission could not dictate to charities to cease funding a given cause. The development was welcomed by leaders in the charity sector and from our many supporters.

 

Here’s a quick glance at the amount of grassroots support through retweets that CAGE received throughout the duration of the review in comparison to the Charity Commission, who received almost none. We send a heartfelt thanks to our supporters.

 

 

Background

When the Charity Commission pressurised two charities not to fund CAGE again in July, we were facing yet another challenge to our work. We appealed for a judicial review of the Commission, arguing that it had overstepped its powers as a regulator. The review was granted.

 

This week, with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JCRT) represented as an interested party, CAGE met the Charity Commission in the High Court, where Lord Chief Justice Thomas pronounced that the Commission had been ‘high-handed’, and that the regulator had no power to permanently ban a charity from funding a given cause. [1]

 

Below is the order that was drafted in agreement between all parties at the High Court:

 

Charity sector breathes a sigh of relief

 

Leaders in the charity sector and commentators in the media lauded our settlement as a win for civil society and a relief for the whole sector.

 

Third Sector: Stephen Cook: A defeat for the Charity Commission in all but name 
But it was a defeat for the commission in all but name. Cage calls it a “climbdown”, which is not a bad word for it.”
“… This court case was not about Cage – what it is and is not, and what it does or does not do. It was about the law. But Cage commissioned, and this week published, an independent inquiry into the press conference that sparked this whole affair. The inquiry is critical of the way Cage presented its information and the language that was used, and makes recommendations for the future. Whatever you think of Cage, this was a sensible thing to do. Would it be too much to expect the commission to do something similar?”
Read more here.
Third Sector: Outcome of Cage affair ‘should give lawmakers pause for thought’, says Ben Jackson of Bond
At a time when the Charity Commission is seeking yet more powers from parliament, this outcome should give lawmakers strong pause for thought… As they consider new legislation in the coming period, MPs now need to ensure that any new proposed powers are really justified and proportionate, and that the proper checks and balances are in place to ensure the Charity Commission is accountable, objective and transparent in exercising its powers.” – Ben Jackson, chief executive of Bond
Read more here.
ACEVO: Charity leaders’ welcome CAGE settlement securing trustees’ rights
For the Charity Commission to have assumed as general principle it had omnipotence over the future was quite extraordinary. It over-reached itself and now needs to reflect. This case was critical for the protection of the rights of charities to exercise their proper judgement now and in the future. It means charities may continue to operate without fearfully looking over their shoulder to see if they are crossing a line arbitrarily drawn by the commission….
For the commission to bewail the costs involved with this case is ungracious. It could have revised its position at any time before the implementation and during prosecution of proceedings. It chose not to. That is why the money was spent. No regulator can assume a doctrine of papal infallibility and must be subject to challenge when it gets things wrong.” – Stephen Bubb, chief executive AVECO
Read more here.
Ekklesia: Cage versus the Charity Commission

“…. yesterday’s decision is a welcome relief. I hope that, as Ben Jackson of the umbrella group BOND suggests, legislators take note, and do not try to further restrict charitable powers in future. Otherwise, it won’t just be Muslim organisations looking over their shoulders being careful what they say, it will be all of us.” – Virginia Moffatt, Chief Operating Officer of Ekklesia
Read more here.

 

Civil Society: Judicial review dropped after Commission backs down over Cage funding
The Commission position was questioned by some charity sector leaders, who said the Commission had gone beyond its powers, and said the judgment created questions about the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill currently making its way through Parliament, which will add to the regulator’s powers.
Read more here.

 

Third Sector: A firm line from Lord Thomas
“… an extra paragraph was added to the statement saying “the commission recognises that it has no power to require trustees to fetter the future exercise of their fiduciary duties under its general power to give advice and guidance. In consequence, there is no obligation on the trustees of JRCT to fetter the proper and lawful exercise of their discretion in future.”
On the basis of that, all parties agreed that the judicial review would be withdrawn and the judges were spared the task of reaching a conclusion on whether the commission had in fact attempted to do what the statement says it cannot do.
Read more here.

 

Media coverage outlines victory for CAGE

 

Although mainstream news covered the result of the review as a compromise, reading between the lines showed a victory for CAGE.

 

BBC News: Cage reaches compromise in funding case
The case was settled after a day-long hearing with all sides agreeing that Joseph Rowntree’s trustees “must be free to exercise their powers and duties in the light of circumstances existing at the time”.
And the commission stated it was not seeking to fetter the charity’s discretion to fund Cage “for all time regardless of changing circumstances“.
Read more here.

 

The Guardian: Charity Commission fights claim it unlawfully choked off lobby group’s funds
Cage argues that the commission overstepped its powers in acting the way it did, arguing the regulator has “no powers” to make requests of charities to stop payments ever to any group on the basis that there might be “reputational damage” to the charitable sector “due to public reaction”.
Read more here.

 

5Pillars: Charity Commission forced to back down over CAGE funding
The case was settled after a day-long hearing with all sides agreeing that Joseph Rowntree’s trustees “must be free to exercise their powers and duties in the light of circumstances existing at the time.”
And the Commission stated it was not seeking to fetter the charity’s discretion to fund CAGE “for all time regardless of changing circumstances.”
Read more here.

 

Islam21C.com: CAGE wins landmark legal battle for UK charities
Yesterday the advocacy group CAGE won a landmark legal battle against the Charity Commission. This case has been welcomed by the charity sector to ensure their freedom from interference from the commission based on unlawful, ideological reasons.
Read more here.

 

CAGE: CAGE court victory exposes Charity Commission’s torture links
Following the recent court settlement in favour of CAGE, Outreach Director Moazzam Begg discusses the case and how it has revealed the shocking influence of those who support Guantanamo and torture within the Charity Commission.
Read more here.

 

Charity Commission statement on Judicial Review 
Before the Judicial review:
The commission secured assurances that the charities were not funding CAGE and in the current circumstances had no future intention of doing so. 
Read more here.

 

And after the Judicial review:
We welcome CAGE’s decision to withdraw their application for judicial review.
It has always been clear that trustees have the right to exercise their discretion when acting exclusively in the best interests of their charity and within the objects and powers, subject to the appropriate supervision by the commission as the charity regulator.
Read more here.

 

Messages from CAGE supporters celebrate victory

 

We have also received messages from our supporters, who were overjoyed at seeing us win over what has increasingly come to be seen as an oppressive government body.

 

Dear friends,
I am very pleased to see the High Court decision today … I very much hope that your voice can continue to be heard in challenging those in power willing to limit their own application of the rule of law and promotion of human rights, whilst advocating that everybody else should abide by these high standards.” – Anonymous

 

Alhamdulillah. Watching the CC counsel getting ripped by the judge, #priceless
The evidence was so clear … the Judge was seeking to find a way out to decide against the Commission. It seemed therefore that the Judge … exerted so much pressure on the Commission, where they were bombarded into to submission into doing a deal with the parties so as to avoid a negative finding, [which] would have put the judge into [the] difficult position [of] making that decision … [But] perhaps the most important point to note here is this. There were a number of Muslim charities who the commission had also put pressure on in the same way as [they had] Joseph Rowntree [but they] refused to play any part in the case. Had they done so, the claim would certainly have been strengthened against the Commission. Muslims need to realise that we are all in [this] together and our greatest weapon and strength is our unity.” – Anonymous

 

[I] have just read the report in today’s paper…very brave, very imaginative, very important, very, very well done. All best, Gareth [Pierce]

 

From FB and Twitter:

 

Congratulations, it must have taken a lot not just to take this matter to court but to do an independent review of your own actions relating to the Emwazi case. Surely this shows that CAGE rather than a ‘jihadi front’ is an accountable British institution that absolutely promotes British values.” – Michael Wozencroft-Reay, commentator

 

Alhamdulillah, this is absolutely fantastic news, not just for Cage but for the sector as a whole!” – Sara Kasmani, Al Maghrib-UK

 

Well done guys on taking this fight on. Massive victory. Sends a powerful message to the Islamophobia Industry. God bless you.” – Raza Nadim, MPACUK

 

Doesn’t this just prove that all of this was merely a smear campaign against a charity which was dedicated to defending the right of Muslims! They did not want muslims to have any defence.” – Aylah Amarchih, commentator

 

And more commentators:

 

From Andy Ricketts, deputy editor of Third Sector:

 

From Simon Hooper, journalist at Al Jazeera English:

 

From Kate Sayer, charity advisor and auditor, Sayer Vincent:

 

From Civil Exchange, a think tank for government and voluntary sector, and Charity Audit, an employee in charity and NFP audit sector:

 

 

Alex Delmar-Morgan is a journalist for the Wall Street Journal:

 

“A HUGE slap in the face for @HJS_Org backed extremists at @ChtyCommission & in the UK Govt.” – Jammy Dodger, commentator‏

 

“Well done @UK_CAGE for accounting the @ChtyCommission for their neo-con driven political agenda. Surely it’s time for Shawcross to walk?!” – GhulamEspositoHaydar, commentator

 

“Congratulations @UK_CAGE in battle v Charity Commission.According to court reports CAGE won, not how Charity Commission are reporting though” – Virginia Moffatt, Ekklesia

 

“Credit to @jrf_uk for working with @UK_CAGE to defeat @ChtyCommission Will go down as a first in legal history. Today history has been made” – Raz Ahmed, commentator

 

“Well done @UK_CAGE for standing up for rights as always and I did say there was no need to apologise to anybody lol!” – Carol Anne Grayson, blogger.

 


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 and Mohammed Emwazi case: External review concludes that “mistakes were made”

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Extract Summary:

(London, UK) An external review of CAGE’s handling of the Mohammed Emwazi case has concluded that “mistakes were made” by the organisation, and has made several recommendations.

 
 
(London, UK) An external review of CAGE’s handling of the Mohammed Emwazi case has concluded that “mistakes were made” by the organisation, and has made several recommendations. 
 
In July this year CAGE Directors commissioned an external review of its handling of the Mohammed Emwazi case and the subsequent media coverage.
 
Communica were appointed to undertake this review. They were provided with all the material including confidential internal paperwork, interviews with key people, including an independent focus group and analysis of media reporting.
 
The report, published today, concludes: “The Emwazi affair has been a steep learning curve for this young civil society organisation. Mistakes were made but these were due to inexperience and poor planning and communication. This allowed a hostile media to easily label and misrepresent CAGE in the way they did.”
 
The report however also acknowledged the key role CAGE played: “By and large CAGE did an extraordinary job with limited resources. They managed an exceptional situation which posed high risks. Without CAGE’s input and released information, the public would have been denied a key part of Emwazi’s story.”
 
The report is available here.
 
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, Director of CAGE, said:
 
“This review was difficult to undertake, however it was important to help us learn and develop."
 
“We are a relatively young organisation with a small team and a huge challenge but we strive for the highest professional standards. On this occasion we made mistakes and we recognise this. We will be studying the report carefully and looking to implement the recommendations.”
 
“Despite the mistakes made, we feel our intervention still made an important contribution to the  debates around security services’ accountability, and abuses of the rule of law in the War on Terror.”
 
"CAGE will continue to make a contribution to the wider interests of the UK and beyond, despite being hindered by a small section of ideologues operating around Whitehall who still fail to accept that independent Muslim opinion is now part and parcel of our civil society."
 
“I would like to thank Communica, staff, volunteers and others involved in this review. I would especially like to thank the many people who gave their time to part take in the focus group.” 
 
 

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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#IAmCAGE

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Extract Summary:

On Friday 13 March at 8pm, CAGE supporters organised a twitter storm in order to show solidarity with our organisation with the hashtag #IAmCAGE.

 
 
On Friday 13 March at 8pm, CAGE supporters organised a twitter storm in order to show solidarity with our organisation with the hashtag #IAmCAGE. Over the past month we have come under attack, yet again, from Parliamentarians to the press for merely attempting to call for accountability of the security services who are currently acting extra-judicially. 
 
(Trend in 5th position in the UK)
 
From 8pm onward the hashtag managed to trend in 9 cities across the UK including Birmingham, Blackpool, Cardiff, Hull, Liverpool, London, Stoke on Trent, Newcastle and Swansea; it trended 5th in the UK too, at one stage it was trending number 1 in Birmingham, more stats about the trend can be viewed here. People were tweeting and retweeting from all walks of life, from those directly impacted by the war on terror to those able to understand how legislation has been unjustly and disproportionately applied. 
 
(Heatmap of #IAmCAGE)
 
We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this and showed their support. In these testing times, when individual members of CAGE and CAGE as an organisation are being attacked, we are able to draw strength from our supporters and those who stand for justice with us. 
 

Below are just a selection of the tweets:

 
















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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Why CAGE is calling for accountability

CAGE has recently, and again, called for accountability of the security services, the call arose out of the case of Mohammed Emwazi who was harassed by the security services. As a result of this, CAGE came under attack from media and Parliamentarians. CAGE would like to thank all those who have been sharing their comments and feedback via social media, we appreciate your concern for contributing to the discourse in an intelligent way.

CAGE’s remit revolves around abuses of due process in the War on Terror. We are perhaps the only organisation in the world that has this unique focus. We have been campaigning to highlight abuses of due process and the rule of law in the form of our work on Guantanamo Bay, torture, secret detention sites, drones and more. In recent years, we have taken greater interest in documenting and highlighting the impact of the War on Terror domestically in the form of draconian policies and legislation that again, circumvent or threaten the principles of due process and rule of law.  

Our work on Western intelligence agencies, including MI5, complicity in torture has been pioneering. Our message is simple: the application of the rule of law is a prerequisite for a fair and just society. Everyone must be held to the standards of the rule of law equally or it will lead to grave violations and abuses and lasting consequences, making our world less safe.

Is CAGE really talking too much about Security Services abuses?

Has there been any real debate about the lack of accountability and transparency for the activities of the security state?

Our call (which has not changed since we started campaigning) is simple: the security state must be held accountable to the same standards of the rule of law as everyone else. Due process must not be suspended. The legal maxim of innocence until proven otherwise must be upheld in all cases, it is never justified to presume that one is guilty before any evidence has been brought against them; furthermore guilt cannot be presumed by association nor without the proper legal process of a criminal trial. It is not right that a person is treated as a criminal without ever knowing what the charges are against him. Fair trials must be afforded to all, regardless of the accusations levelled against them.   

Important points to consider:

  • After all the abuses that have taken place over a period of 14 years in Guantanamo Bay – how many people have been brought to justice for those crimes? Hundreds of men have been tortured and locked up in cages for years, eventually to be released without charge nor a simple apology. Where is the accountability for these injustices?
  • The illegal occupation of Iraq by the British was based on the “dodgy dossier” compiled by the intelligence agencies based on assumptions and lies; this ultimately led to the suffering of millions, deaths of thousands and a completely destroyed the infrastructure, all the while no weapons of mass destruction were found. Has a single person that has faced justice or been held accountable for these crimes?
  • The Senate Committee published the CIA torture report recently in which US officials finally admitted to using torture – something that is morally and legally reprehensible by every known international convention and law. Where is the accountability for this? Who will bring these criminals to justice?
  • Closer to home, our own security services have been involved in the outsourcing of torture to brutal regimes, such as Egypt, Morocco and Pakistan to name just a few and continuous engagement in such abuses without any accountability. The parliamentary committee given powers of oversight is itself mired in controversy after its chair was forced to resign due to corruptly accepting money.

We are calling for accountability and transparency. We are calling for an informed and intelligent debate around these vital issues with a view to finding solutions to this never ending conflict called the “War on Terror”. We feel that CAGE, an organisation which works closely with victims and survivors of the “War on terror”, and is thus uniquely placed to play a role in bridging communities and seeking solutions.

For too long now, the discourse around the causes of politically motivated violence has been centred on ideology, adherence to Islam, the discredited conveyor belt theory etc. For the first time, and at a great cost to itself, CAGE has managed to ignite a serious debate up and down the country on the causes of terrorism. Including failures in domestic counter terrorism policy into this discussion is not only necessary but is well overdue. We want the cycle of violence to end; we do not want to see innocent lives being lost on either side of the conflict. Anyone who is serious about contributing to finding a solution must take the time to properly understand the causes and drivers of politically motivated violence. Such an understanding will not be complete without engaging the communities that are facing the full force of anti-terrorismpolicies and legislation. CAGE is uniquely placed to understand and represent these communities. We hope that we can contribute in a meaningful way towards solutions that can lead to just and fair outcomes for all.  

  • CAGE has made important contributions to unveil crimes committed in the name of the War on Terror this last decade.
  • When the Pentagon refused to identify any of the detainees at GITMO bay in 2006, CAGE provided the most extensive list of detainees, see here.
  • It was also the first organisation to document cases of UK complicity in rendition.  Read more here.
  • It also compiled the first comprehensive list of over 100 secret prisons used in the War on Terror: see here and here.

(CC image courtesy of Truthout.org on Flickr)


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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MI5’s Behavioural Unit’s prophecy: Terror policing may backfire

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Extract Summary:

Souhail Abdullah highlights the analysis offered by Mi5 in 2008 through findings made by their behavioural science unit, which states that there is no one route to violent extremism and that traditional law enforcement tactics could backfire if handled badly. This advice has been effectively ignored, and Souhail draws parallels between this and the alternative narrative offered by CAGE on a potential cause of radicalisation of Mohammed Emwazi…

Souhail Abdullah, in this piece written for CAGE, highlights the analysis offered by Mi5 in 2008 through findings made by their behavioural science unit, which states that there is no one route to violent extremism and that traditional law enforcement tactics could backfire if handled badly. This advice has been effectively ignored, and Souhail draws parallels between this and the alternative narrative offered by CAGE on a potential cause of radicalisation of Mohammed Emwazi at the hands of the security agencies. 
 
 
(CC image courtesy of Steve Harris on Flickr
 
The situation we face in Britain is much more complex than the common clichés presented by the tabloids and agenda-driven think tanks.
 
The issue of Shariah penalties was never an issue for debate since Muslims arrived in Britain in significant numbers in the 50s, and it has never been linked to terrorism until recent times. The link between the two is an association fallacy, as causal as the connection between the socialist creed against private ownership and a Labour Party youth member stealing from a wealthy businessman. This also applies to the theoretical rejection of democracy, along the lines of Plato’s The Republic: are Platonists also then “extremist”, set against British values, and should Plato be banned from our universities?
 
Before we get lost in this debate, it would be wise to listen to some experts who forewarned Britain about their current government policies against Islamic “extremism”. These experts are the same security agencies that the current government has hailed as brilliant and so one assumes above scrutiny.
 

Mi5 warnings in 2008 echo CAGE

Mi5’s research document from its behavioural science unit was based on hundreds of case studies, original research from Mi5 and from academic research. It was released in August 2008 and it states:
 
"There is no single pathway to violent extremism" – it is not simply Islamism, belief in capital punishments, or Quranic penal punishments, Shariah, or even a notion of Muslim victimhood alone that leads one to this path.
 
It plays down the importance of radical extremist clerics and says it is outdated.
 
“A large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly…. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes.”
 
There is a much higher than average proportion of converts.
 
The majority are in their early to mid-20s when they become radicalised. A minority first become involved in violent extremism over the age of 30.
 
They are not more likely to be well-educated; their educational levels range from total lack of qualifications to degree level education. However, they are almost all involved in low-grade jobs.
 
Backing up CAGE’s claims about Emwazi, the report almost prophetically warns: "that traditional law enforcement tactics could backfire if handled badly”. The report states that Mi5 are “concerned with those that use violence or actively support the use of violence, and not those who simply hold politically extreme views”. In a startling epiphany, it also says that “a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation”.
 
In terms of British foreign policy, in a 2011 report revealing Britain’s torture policy, Mi6 expressed concern that knowledge of their policies of interrogation and of and “inflicting pain” upon alleged ‘terror’ suspects would lead to radicalisation in Britain.
 
"It is possible that in some circumstances such a revelation could result in further radicalisation, leading to an increase in the threat from terrorism.” the report stated. 
 
It is perplexing that this advice seems not to be followed or even mentioned. Worse still the advice of self appointed ex extremists seems to shape government policy. In the deafening noise created by the desire to smash a small NGO that dared to seek answers to legitimate questions, David Cameron ordered an inquiry into the involvement of MI5 in the case of Adebalajo and whether he was subjected to harassment in Kenya where he claimed he was tortured. This must make Cameron an apologist for murder because he has raised the possibility as did CAGE that his tragic actions could have been triggered by a perception of persecution whether real or imagined.
 

Role of Imams and groups like CAGE is crucial

Imams and other community leaders have a role to play, but only if they are empowered or at least allowed to do so without fear of quote baiting, context manipulating newspaper “exposes”, puerile think tank reports and tremendously dangerous new laws based on these two sources, that have made every Imam we know raise his eyebrows up in fear that he may be the next target of the ill-defined ‘British values’ thought police.
 
On the topic of police, former Met chief superintendent, Dal Babu, relying on his own experience and knowledge has said that the approach in the form of PREVENT, is “toxic”. Nevertheless pressured by self serving think tanks it still holds sway in the corridors of power. Some think tanks even accused him of being “an apologist for terror” for simply questioning the success of the policy so poisonous is the climate and lack of space to debate. It is time to put to bed the fallacy of the 'conveyor belt' to terrorism theory, and approach this vital topic with nuance rather than ideology about integration, assimilation, immigration, religious reformation, or forcing upon others unpalatable beliefs.
 
We call for an open, honest debate about the subject, and state for the record that CAGE did not claim that terrorists' sole cause of radicalisation was the treatment they received by the intelligence services. Rather it was one of the contributing factors in a path to extremism that was complex and subjective.
 
It's time to stop shooting the messenger and look at the veracity and authenticity of our case files and records. Our members' individual beliefs about Shariah law are irrelevant as long as they are not members or supportive of ISIS. Why do other NGOs not get smeared with the beliefs of those they seek to help .When Amnesty document mistreatment of leftists in Latin America, are their case workers asked if they are also revolutionary communists or is this treatment only reserved for those who happen to be non white and/or Muslim.
 
What should we do next? Cave in, and not record these cases? Then we as a nation would lose the insight needed to understand what drives people to extremism. And that is not good for anybody.
 

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 demands full accountability for Ali Al-Marri’s detention and torture in US

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Extract Summary:

(London, UK) CAGE demands full accountability for the torture and imprisonment of Ali Saleh Khlah al-Marri [2] who was afforded no due legal process from 2002 to 2009, and who was released after 13 years in prison to his family in Qatar a few days ago.

 
(London, UK) CAGE demands full accountability for the torture and imprisonment of Ali Saleh Khlah al-Marri who was afforded no due legal process from 2002 to 2009, and who was released after 13 years in prison to his family in Qatar a few days ago. 
 
"For many years he was one of three held in the US as an enemy combatant and, like the enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, was tortured", said Asim Qureshi Research Director of CAGE.
 
"Techniques used against al-Marri included dryboarding, where his airways would have been stuffed with socks and  his mouth taped, causing him to choke. According to the CIA torture report where al-Marri is also mentioned, the CIA were not given the green light to use this technique yet reports have suggested that the use of this technique led directly to the deaths of three men at Guantanamo in 2006. We demand the full disclosure of all such techniques, and for those responsible for using them or giving their go-ahead, to be brought to justice", Qureshi also said.
 
His homecoming included a reunion with his 14 year-old son Abdur-Rahman, whom he had last seen when he was nine months old.
 
"Finally after 13 years of unjust imprisonment, I am home with my family whom I have missed more than anyone can hope to imagine,” Al-Marri told CAGE. “I have missed so much of my children's lives, years I will never get back.”
 
“For years I lived in a judicial black hole that I hope no one should have to endure. Right now I am just happy to be back in my homeland.”
 
Al-Marri, a Qatari national and US resident, arrived in the United States with his wife and five children on 10 September 2001, when he began his studies at Bradley University in Illinois.
 
Three months later he was detained as a "material witness" and then held for charges of credit card fraud. Less than a month before his trial, the charges were dropped and he was declared an ‘enemy combatant’. 
 
He was detained for 17 months with no access to a lawyer, in solitary confinement, without basic provisions such as toilet paper, mattress, pillow and proper clothing. He was often admonished for covering his head (which he did with a shirt) when he prayed.
 
His lawyers maintained in court documents that lights and water in his cell were turned on an off and his environment was “deliberately manipulated to degrade him”. When his health deteriorated as a result of his detention, he was denied basic medical attention.
 
“Though we welcome the news of Al-Marri’s release, we demand full accountability for his detention-without-trial and torture in the United States,” says Qureshi.
 
CAGE has the following statements to make in wake of Al-Marri’s release:
 
“We stand with Al-Marri’s family in joyfully welcoming back to his homeland, but the circumstances around his detention and imprisonment show a cat-and-mouse game played by those who sought to keep him behind bars, without evidence or fair trial.”
 
“Seven years ago the court ruled that Al-Marri be released from military detention and either freed or actually charged and tried in a civilian court. But in a rehearing, the court reversed its decision, voting to keep him as an enemy combatant in military detention.”
 
“His lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, said Al-Marri agreed to a plea bargain in 2009 only because he wanted to go home.”  After a full seven years of torture and imprisonment without charge, he was offered a “plea bargain” which he, given the circumstances quite naturally accepted, which offered him a chance for freedom after serving a 15 year sentence."
 
“Given the torture that al-Marri was subjected to, and the fact that he has now been released, show that his plea bargain took place under duress and is inadmissible evidence.”
 
“The events of his detention show an absence of due process, a hallmark of the War on Terror, which alienates Muslims, fair minded people around the world and increases extremism around the world. ”
 
 
PRESS ENQUIRIES:
 
Contact:            Mr Amandla Thomas-Johnson 
Phone:              +(44) 207 377 6700
Email:                press@cageuk.org
Web:                 cage.ngo
 
CAGE
27 Old Gloucester Street
London
WC1N 3XX
 

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.