Ramadhan in Guantánamo: The Best of Times

CloseGitmo

 Crosspost: Moazzam Begg

سم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمد لله وحده والصلاة والسلام على من لا نبي بعده

I first read the Dickens’ classic, Bleak House, in solitary confinement, Camp Echo. The concentric part of this story is based on the fictitious – though accurately representative – and never-ending case of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce which ultimately consumes and destroys the lives of its central characters, rather like the Supreme court decisions relating to the Guantánamo detainees. But it was the first sentence of another Dicken’s classic, A Tale of Two Cities, which reads, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ that captured my imagination back then. For that is precisely how I would have described the noble months of Ramadhan spent in US custody.

It was the night before the festival of Eid ul-Adha that I was sent from Pakistani custody into US custody at Kandahar. After the brutal initiation of being processed like an animal and locked in a cage made of razor wire, I couldn’t believe my ears when a visitor from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was wandering around the cells, with an army escort, handing out small pieces of meat and cold bread to detainees, uttering the words ‘Eid Mubarak’ [season’s greetings].

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Asim Qureshi Reviews Explosive New Book on ‘Jihadi John’

The Muhammad Emwazi I met in 2009 was indeed a polite and friendly young man as the author Robert Verkaik and man others attest to, but by the summer of 2014 he was executing innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of the Islamic State and I could not recognise the man I had once known.

One year on from a difficult period my organisation and I encountered due to my inappropriate description of him once being a “beautiful young man” – one that I am regretful of due to the impact this insensitivity had on all families who were victims of his murders – we now finally have a book that is able to provide some balance to a story that must be understood.

When I introduced Verkaik, at the time a journalist at The Independent, to Emwazi, it was very much because I respected him – and still do – as someone who is balanced and fair-minded. Since before then, we had been orbiting around stories to do with security service harassment of young Muslim men and so developed a rapport where I knew that here was someone who would take the difficulties faced by these men seriously.

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More Desperate Press Smears Reinforces Bankruptcy of PREVENT Policy, Exposes Neoconservative Threat to Britain

studentsnotsuspects

In all honesty, I feel for the journalists working at establishment papers who have to churn out desperate and utterly dubious rubbish to protect the state’s totalitarian tendencies. Bills need to be paid, afterall. The Telegraph, with its history of neoconservatism is one such paper.  With the likes of Dean Godson, and Charles Moore, the Telegraph was, according to its former editor Martin Newland, effectively a mouthpiece for US and Zionist interests.  Today, the standard of journalism – or churnalism – is Andrew Gilligan-level: dubious state-propagandist tripe of the neoconservative variety.  And it seems with the stalled and now exhumed and resuscitated Telegraph piece attempting to a) delegitimise PREVENT opposition and advocacy group CAGE, and b) intimidate Muslim charities to not work with them, the neoconservative tradition of spin, deception and outright lies continues.

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CAGE COURT VICTORY EXPOSES CHARITY COMMISSION TORTURE LINKS

michael shawcross

Crosspost: Moazzam Begg

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.

This week CAGE appeared in the High Court against the Charity Commission in a landmark case to determine whether the latter acted beyond its powers in seeking assurances from charities that funded CAGE to agree to never do so again. The matter was deemed so serious that the case was adjudicated by the Lord Chief Justice, Britain’s highest judge.

CAGE advocates for accountability under law

To those of us on the inside, this action didn’t occur in a vacuum. Despite CAGE’s crucial achievements, which have included advocacy against rendition and torture; facilitating dialogue between former Guantanamo soldiers and prisoners; and, negotiating the release of hostages in Iraq and Syria, British governments have been rattled by CAGE for one reason: accountability.

We have facilitated important roles in the criminal investigation into MI5/6 torture complicity; we were important contributors to the now defunct Torture Inquiry and, we are regularly called upon by mainstream media to comment on these matters and others beyond them, such as the failed PREVENT policy that is now, astonishingly, law.

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Apologists for terror or defenders of human rights? The Cage controversy in context

Crosspost: Tom Mills, Narzanin Massoumi, and David Miller

Last week, in a widely trailed speech, the Prime Minister laid out the government’s counter-terrorism strategy for the next five years. It is necessary, Cameron explained, to challenge the idea that political violence is rooted in ‘historic injustices and recent wars, or… poverty and hardship’.  Terrorism, he said, is caused by ‘extremist ideology’, which his government is determined to confront.

There was little new in Cameron’s speech, which simply affirmed in strong terms the authoritarian drift of counter-terrorism policy. Influenced by the security apparatus and its supporters in Parliament, and by neoconservative think tanks, such as the Henry Jackson Society, and (partly) state funded propaganda outfits like Quilliam, policy makers have become increasingly preoccupied with ‘non-violent extremism’ rather than political violence. Officially this is portrayed as a political campaign against ‘intolerance’. Thus Cameron claims that his government will be facing down ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ by asserting ‘basic liberal values such as democracy, freedom and sexual equality’.

‘For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society’

On the face of it this seems agreeable enough. But the actual policy is another matter. As was pointed out in a recent letter to which we were signatories, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 will ‘mean that individuals working within statutory organisations must report individuals suspected of being “potential terrorists” to external bodies for “de-radicalisation”‘. In effect, the government has drawn the entire public sector into its controversial counter-extremist agenda, meaning that public servants once responsible for the welfare of citizens – including children – must now monitor their behaviour, appearance and political views, feeding into the most unaccountable and repressive elements of the state. Since 2014, 400 children, even as young as three-years-old, have been referred to the government’s ‘Channel’ programme for ‘de-radicalisation’. The true political implications of the policy, which has now passed into law, were made clear in May when Cameron told the first meeting of the National Security Council: ‘For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”.’  So much for liberalism.

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CAGE Refutes Inaccurate Telegraph Article and Exposes Signs of Desperation

asimcageMy sources in Birmingham actually attended this event and confirm the statements of CAGE. I quote directly from what the person had to say. The attendee felt he was personally attacked by these “ridiculous comments” because he found the event confidence-inspiring:

“I actually attended thinking it as a community event, and looking at the number of people in attendance (there were a lot of people) the community considered it as an important community event also. We regarded it as a community event because the community in Birmingham is still sore from the Trojan Horse lies. The event came as a breath of fresh air, and instilled confidence. For the journalist to raise the “locking of the door” jest speaks more about the level of journalism at Telegraph. The fact that parts of the audience responded with laughter should be self-explanatory. This type of journalism is either uninformed or maliciously deliberate: if the Trojan Horse smears are anything to go by, I am inclined to perceive it’s the latter.”

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