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Rattling the Cage

18 Oct
Rattling the Cage

Founded in 2003, self-described “advocacy group” CAGE (formerly Cageprisoners) first exploded into widespread public consciousness when the identity of notorious decapitation enthusiast “Jihadi John” was revealed to be their former client – West London I.T graduate Mohammed Emwazi.

In a swiftly organised press conference, CAGE Research Director Asim Qureshi addressed this awkward revelation, and in doing so spectacularly misjudged the British public’s appetite for insulting exhibitions of wobbly-lipped, teary-eyed pity for a man who’d recently sawn the heads off of eight innocent people in ISIS snuff-porn.

He was “a beautiful young man”, according to Qureshi, who’d been driven to decapitate journalists and aid workers by the security services’ attempts to prevent him from decapitating journalists and aid workers.

Rather than concede the obvious point that Emwazi’s eventual role as the Islamic State’s poster boy and chief executioner might be a subtle indicator that every second of scrutiny he received was abundantly warranted, CAGE instead decided to announce that his desire to join a genocidal mafia of gang rapists and mass murderers, was a natural human reaction to being mistreated by police (presumably the reason Rodney King never resurfaced as a senior figure of al-Qaeda in Iraq was due to nothing more than a lack of ambition.)

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Asim Qureshi holding back tears over his former acquaintance Mohammed (Jihadi John) Emwazi

This craven performance was a revelation for many; a glimpse into the true nature of an NGO that had hitherto managed to successfully masquerade as a feel-good human rights organisation, but was far less of a surprise to anyone who’d actually been paying attention to them over the years.

Qureshi’s appearance at a Hizb-ut Tahrir rally outside the U.S Embassy in 2006, praising the proscribed terrorist organisation Hezbollah, and barking through a megaphone about the Muslim obligation to support armed Jihad, should have been a subtle indicator as to his worldview.

The same can be said for CAGE’s subsequent collaborations with Hizb-ut Tahrir and Qureshi’s laughable public denial that this group can be accurately described as an “extremist organisation” – a proclamation which should immediately reveal how conspicuously high Qureshi’s bar for extremism is set. Far from the merry boy scouts of Qureshi’s imagination, Hizb-ut Tahrir is a Salafist organisation banned in multiple countries who support punitive amputations, stonings, and lashings; who call for “Jihad against the Kuffar without any lenience or hesitation”, and who aspire to the global eradication of Jews. They have declared the Islamic legitimacy of hijacking passenger planes and of suicide bombings, and they have called upon Muslims the world over to “wage war” upon the UK and US in response to the invasion of Afghanistan. All in the moderate sense of course.

Yet, as revealing as Qureshi’s performance was, something which seems to have flown more or less under the radar during this press conference, was his claim that his correspondence with the man who would become Jihadi John ended in 2012. It certainly appears that Emwazi’s last interaction with CAGE was in 2012, but the released emails between CAGE and Emwazi show that Qureshi attempted to contact Emwazi as late as January 2014, when he was already in Syria and was almost certainly by then a member of the Islamic State. Qureshi has never publicly addressed this, nor divulged the reason for his communication.

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Terrorism analyst and researcher Kyle Orton has speculated that the matter of importance over which Qureshi attempted to resume these communications after two years, was the realisation that an al-Qaeda camp in Idlib which CAGE Outreach Director Moazzam Begg is known to have attended, was likely also frequented by Mr Emwazi around the same period of time. Having a leading member of your organisation secretly socialising with one of the worlds most wanted terrorists is probably not a great look, particularly for an organisation already facing accusations of ties to jihadism.

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Moazzam Begg (centre) with the late ISIS suicide bomber Jamal Udeen Al-Harith (left)

Like Qureshi, Moazzam Begg’s disarmingly soft-spoken and genial demeanour hides an incredibly dubious track record. But Begg has something else going for him which wins him additional favour and a sense of legitimacy in liberal circles. He was imprisoned at Kandahar, Bagram, and Gitmo, and having never been convicted of a terror related crime, is often held aloft as a victim of imperialistic overreach in the United States’ war on terror.

Begg maintains that he was tortured and even raped during his detention, a claim which remains to be independently substantiated, but which if true, is a moral disgrace for which the people responsible should be prosecuted fully. Yet any genuine or imagined maltreatment visited upon Begg should not cloud judgement of who he is as a person or of the ideology he represents.

Begg spent the mid-1990’s travelling to terror training camps and involving himself in Muslim paramilitary groups fighting civil wars abroad. Upon his return to the UK he founded the Maktabah al Ansar book and video shop in Sparkhill, Birmingham – an outlet which specialised in the commission, publication, and distribution of extremist manuals, and which was later found to have the dubious distinction of being the bookstore of choice for “almost every major terrorist in Britain.”

The company kept by Begg, coupled with his conspicuous habit of repeatedly popping up in the middle of warzones, had unsurprisingly drawn the attention of the security services, and the nature of the material he was disseminating led to multiple raids on his so-called “library of the faithful”.

Begg has rarely shied away from recounting such brushes with the law, but becomes noticeably cagey, so to speak, on certain details and specific events. In his review of Begg’s autobiography Enemy Combatant, Jonathan Raban complains that: “One has the sense of reading not a memoir but a résumé. Like most résumés, it feels airbrushed.”

He may be onto something. As documented in the New York Times; Begg omitted from his manuscript, an incident in 1994 wherein he and a lifelong friend – who later spent five years in a Yemeni prison for plotting a terror attack – were arrested for benefit fraud, the proceeds of which were funnelled to an extremist group named “Supporters of Shariah”. A search of Begg’s home at the time uncovered the standard household items associated with any ordinary Birmingham family man – a bullet proof vest, a pair of infrared night vision goggles, a bundle of Islamic extremist literature. You know. The usual.

Irked by the attention he was arousing in the UK, and searching for the perfect environment to raise a young family, Begg settled on the presumably idyllic governance of the Afghan Taliban, and in a decision that journalist David Aaronovitch has described as tantamount to child abuse, took his wife, son, and infant daughters to live in Kabul under their oppressive and tyrannical rule. Had the 2001 invasion not taken place, Begg admits in his documentary vehicle The Confession, that he likely would have stayed in Afghanistan a great while longer despite a mild distaste for his new government’s proclivity for hanging people from cherry pickers.

His subsequent assessment of these obscene theocrats who had committed more than a dozen systematic massacres of their own citizens, engaged in cultural genocide, carried out ethnic cleansing, wilfully starved 160,000 Afghans, operated human trafficking networks, harboured wanted terrorists, skinned civilians alive, planted IED’s in girls’ schools, brutally oppressed women, and executed children, was not quite as disapproving as one might hope. “The Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past 25 years” he declared.

However, Begg’s Islamist utopia was brought to an abrupt end, as coalition forces launched their retaliation to the September 11th attacks forcing him to relocate his family residence to Pakistan – a process which apparently involved him gallivanting around the Tora Bora mountains for three days at the same time that al-Qaeda forces – and likely Osama Bin Laden himself – were forming a stronghold in its cave network. He got lost and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. Or at least that’s the story as he tells it – a recounting in which the broad strokes of his trademark airbrush are manifestly visible.

Begg’s implausible tale understandably failed to convince U.S authorities who promptly had him arrested as an enemy combatant. Upon his incarceration he signed a confession admitting to the following activities:

  • Attending multiple terrorist training camps both in the UK and abroad in order to participate in waging jihad against enemies of Islam.
  • Assisting several prominent terrorists and their supporters.
  • Financially supporting terror training camps.
  • Being responsible for small arms and mountain tactics training at camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Begg would later claim that his confession was made under duress, and although this was strongly denied by U.S officials and dismissed by four separate government enquiries into the matter, Begg was freed as the result of a campaign by the British government.

The Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI were not shy in making it known that they believed the release of Begg to be a serious mistake. “He has strong, long-term ties to terrorism — as a sympathizer, as a recruiter, as a financier and as a combatant,” said U.S Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman. Similarly, upon interviewing almost 20 American military and intelligence officials about Begg, The New York Times noted that none had thought he’d been wrongly detained.

Terrorism and national security expert Robin Simcox has echoed such judgements:

Begg is, at best, a veteran of the Bosnian jihad who has trained in Afghanistan and donated money to Al-Qaeda training camps. At worst, he is a former Al-Qaeda operative who fought in a war against the United States after 9/11.”

Begg’s allegiances and sympathies are no secret to anyone familiar with his output and lend weight to these assessments. Mere hours after the staff of Charlie Hebdo were slaughtered at their desks for blasphemy by members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Begg’s response was to share a blog from an anonymous author expressing doubt that the attack was terrorism, bemoaning the UK government’s counter-extremism strategy Prevent, and describing the recently murdered cartoonists as racists.

The morning after Manchester concert goers – many of them children – had incandescent nails blown through their faces by a suicide bomber, Begg once again responded by sharing an article he’d written about “Islamophobic” counter-terrorism policies, the rise of far-right (aka white) terrorism, Bloody Sunday, and a host of other topics entirely unrelated to Islamic terrorists murdering schoolgirls.

Upon the 2017 death of Omar Abdel-Rahman – the convicted leader of a Sunni terrorist group responsible for multiple deadly terror attacks including the systematic massacre of 58 tourists in Egypt – Begg posted a sycophantic eulogy to his Facebook page hinting at the “Blind Sheik’s” innocence and praising his non-sectarian approach to Islam.

Another convicted terrorist who found himself in Begg’s sympathies was self-confessed Bin Laden fan, Abu Hamza al-Masri. In 2012 Begg published a preening assessment of him on the CAGE website complete with a condemnation of the tabloid media’s ableist puns about his prosthetic limb – a pirate-style hook worn as the result an accident in which a bottle of nitro-benzine he happened to be “experimenting with” blew his hands off.

More recently, Begg has celebrated the prison release of the dangerous, unrepentant, Bin Laden-funded terrorist John Walker Lindh and complained that his freedom was long overdue. When I challenged Begg on this position he responded with insults and objected to my describing Lindh as an ISIS supporter – this despite Lindh’s enthusiastic endorsement of the “spectacular job” the Islamic State are doing in representing Islam and establishing a caliphate through Islamically approved violence.

This is a common theme among CAGE’s hierarchy: For all their talk of denouncing terrorism, CAGE have yet to encounter a Jihadist they wouldn’t leap to the defence of, campaigning on their behalves and laying blame for their realised or attempted atrocities at the feet of Western governments and authorities.

The Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism have detailed some of these more noteworthy campaigns:

As well as campaigning on behalf of terrorist suspects and opposing counter-terrorism measures, CAGE has also supported convicted terrorists. This includes Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an al-Qaeda associate convicted in the US of attempted murder in 2010; as well as Djamel Beghal, convicted in 2005 for his involvement in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot to bomb US targets in Paris in 2001 and his associate Nizar Trabelsi, jailed in 2003 for his involvement in a plot to target a military base in Belgium. CAGE has also supported prominent jihadist ideologues…inviting the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to speak at CAGE events on multiple occasions.

Other convicted terrorists CAGE have fought on behalf of, are two Birmingham al-Qaeda fans who absconded to Syria to join the proscribed terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra. “I know these men and they are not terrorists” Begg exclaimed in an assessment which was somewhat undermined by photos of the pair posing with AK-47’s, the traces of military grade explosives found on their clothes, and their guilty pleas to charges of terrorism.

Tarik Hassane is another muse of the CAGE campaigners. They shared an article in 2014 which claimed that the arrest of this Islamic State associate and best friend of one of the so-called Jihadi Beatles, was a “politically motivated arrest by a police state”. “Any hope that he will be able to pursue his medical studies” had been “destroyed” by the media reporting on his case, they complained, rather than by his plotting a series of drive-by shootings upon British citizens and his sourcing of weapons and ammunition for such a purpose. The article promptly disappeared in the event of Hassane’s conviction and life-long imprisonment.

In September 2014, CAGE denounced what it described as “cynically-timed police raids against a group that is well known for its outspoken views on UK foreign policy”. The group in question was left conspicuously nameless but later turned out to be none other than Al Muhajaroun – the “UK’s most prolific and dangerous” jihadist group linked to almost half of all British terror attacks since 2000 including; the murder of Lee Rigby, the 7/7 transport bombings, the 2017 London Bridge attack, and the fertiliser bomb plot. Its leader – the notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary – has been described as “the single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history” and his group’s “outspoken views on foreign policy” include celebrating 9/11 and demanding the installation of sharia across Great Britain. It was of no real surprise then that Choudary’s aide stepped into Mohammed Emwazi’s blood-drenched shoes as chief executioner for ISIS.

CAGE’s cynical attacks on counter-extremism policy also made the news last year when police demanded they remove a “deliberately misleading” propaganda video from their Facebook page. The video features one of their burqa-clad clients claiming to have been the victim of a Prevent-led raid of her delivery room minutes after giving birth. Included in the video of the woman recounting her tale of Islamophobic counter terrorism officers bursting in on her and attempting to “take her baby”, is a sombre and emotive film score gracing the soundtrack.

Not included in the video however, is rather more useful contextual information which reveals that Prevent were not involved, that the officers arranged a suitable time to search the delivery room with the cooperation of the hospital staff, that her child was not taken away, and that the officers were there to arrest the woman’s husband – a violent Islamist freight train named Mikaeel Ibrahim – a bodyguard of Anjem Choudary’s who was radicalised in prison by an al-Qaeda terrorist and was wanted for beating a 16 year old boy unconscious in the middle of a London street the previous day over what he deemed un-Islamic behaviour.

This obfuscation and apologia on behalf of extremists and terrorists would be sordid enough in and of itself, yet it also veers into literal victim blaming territory. When Khalid Masood ploughed his car into more than 50 pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in 2017 and stabbed PC Keith Palmer to death, CAGE Director Adnan Siddiqui immediately apportioned blame for this terrorists behaviour upon the profession of which Palmer was a member.

Similar smokescreens could have reasonably been expected in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks had the entirety of CAGE’s staff not been too busy dining out to issue anything by way of a statement. “I don’t think we have anything to say in respect to it. “Our condemnation means little” Siddiqui later said when questioned by the home affairs select committee as to why his ordinarily opinionated and outspoken group could not find it in themselves to condemn the slaughter of 130 innocent people, if only for appearances sake.

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CAGE director and GP Adnan Siddiqui

Naturally, Siddique’s track record of shady proclamations follows the pattern set by his cohorts Begg and Qureshi. He’s previously excused suicide bombing and voiced his support for the establishment of a caliphate. And having apparently learned nothing about optics from Qureshi’s sickly display of commiseration for Jihadi John, Dr Siddique has also publicly lamented Emwazi’s demise courtesy of a confrontation with a 100-pound Hellfire missile – describing the neutralisation of this “beautiful young man”/mass-murdering sadist as a meaningless “act of vengeance”.

The company kept by CAGE therefore, is of the calibre one might expect. A group who’ve formerly claimed to be CAGE’s “sister organisation”, is a registered charity going by the clunky acronym HHUGS (Helping Households Undergoing Great Stress). HHUGS is an organisation reportedly run at one time by Begg’s wife. When they’re not claiming that Osama Bin Laden was innocent, they find time to “support and empower families through the hardships of the Global War on Terror” by easing “the burdens of losing a loved one.” One could be forgiven for mistaking this as commendable humanitarian work providing emotional support for the families of people murdered by terrorists – until it becomes clear that what they actually mean is; providing financial support to the families of terrorists.

Their website proudly features a section called “endorsements”, and whilst it’s not immediately clear whether this is a list of people who endorse their work, or a list of people endorsed by the organisation, what is clear is that it’s a rogue’s gallery of fetid extremists which includes Abdur Raheem Green – a hate preacher who supports the stoning to death of homosexuals – and Anas Altikriti – the CEO/founder of a group which are proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the United Arab Emirates and linked to both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In addition to CAGE’s collaborations with HHUGS and Hizb-ut Tahrir, and their fawning over al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, they have repeatedly hosted and endorsed Haitham al-Haddad, a Saudi trained Imam and PhD in Islamic Law whose preachments on a whole range of topics make Louis Farrakhan look like Eddie Izzard.

Asim Qureshi was apparently mentored by this charming gentleman and has described him publicly as “a scholar with an important contribution to make.” Presumably among Haddad’s “important contributions” are the following litany of moral disgraces:

He has endorsed child marriage, stating that the younger a girl gets married the better. He has failed to summon any objection to 12 year olds becoming pregnant in wedlock. He has endorsed Female Genital Mutilation as a legitimate Islamic practice. He objects to so much as questioning men who commit domestic violence against their wives: “leave them alone – they can sort out their matters between themselves.” He describes homosexuality as an “evil crime” and declares Muslims who support LGBT equality to be apostates from Islam. Apostates from Islam, incidentally, are to be murdered according to Haddad, as are adulterers. And the method endorsed by Haddad for dispatching adulterers is a good old-fashioned stoning.

He’s primitive man, in other words, fallen through a wormhole and landed dishdashed and sandaled in a 21st Century democracy. He’s Fred Phelps in a kufi. Yet whereas the Westboro Baptist Church is treated with universal scorn and relegated to standing on street corners having abuse and the occasional beverage hurled at them, Haddad’s promoters at CAGE conversely enjoy significant support among ostensibly liberal mainstream personalities.

For instance: In a jarring change of tone from the adversarial and sardonic interview he conducted with the hateful cultists of Westboro, hyperactive net curtain Russell Brand released a fawning anti-American interview with Begg in which he urged his viewers to visit CAGE’s official website and described the U.S Government as the ultimate purveyors of terrorism – a claim incidentally made on the same day that the Pakistani Taliban indiscriminately slaughtered 132 schoolchildren in their classrooms after forcing them to watch their teachers being burned alive.

Labour Party peer and former director of the human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, has spoken at CAGE events and described Moazzam Begg as “a wonderful advocate for human rights, and in particular, for human liberty.”

Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith OBE nominated Begg as his 2006 choice in the New Statesmen’s Top 50 Heroes of Our Time, which saw him awarded the number 21 spot ahead of such names as Neil Armstrong, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking.

Journalist and broadcaster Giles Fraser wrote an article comparing CAGE favourably to human rights group Amnesty International, whilst whitewashing their expression of views which are fundamentally incompatible with the principle of human rights, as merely “saying silly things.”

Amnesty itself suspended the head of its gender unit – the courageous activist Gita Sahgal – for objecting to its associations with Mr Begg and his Islamist drones. Thankfully Amnesty eventually got round to officially distancing themselves from CAGE in light of the Jihadi John debacle, but there is evidence that one of their branches remains happy to host Begg.

The Roddick Foundation has paid CAGE tens of thousands of pounds over a number of years and the pacifist Quaker group – The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust – spent seven years funding CAGE to the tune of £305,000, a figure which comprised a mere “15 percent of the group’s income.” Sensibly, both organizations have both since withdrawn their support.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has attended events hosted by CAGE. Journalist and former political editor of The Daily Telegraph, Peter Oborne, has chaired CAGE events and endorsed them on numerous occasions. Former Guardian editor Victoria Brittain co-authored Begg’s book.

Left-wing sociologists Tom Mills, David Miller, and Narzanin Massoumi have penned a lengthy defence of CAGE, dismissing their extremism as an irrelevant detail. And disgraced author CJ Werleman’s transformation from anti-Muslim bigot to pro-Muslim bigot has culminated in him repeatedly featuring CAGE representatives on his podcast, promoting them at every opportunity, and enjoying sponsorship from their equally pernicious partner group (MEND) Muslim Engagement and Development.

Former Conservative party co-chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has also expressed her support for MEND and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended CAGE and spoken at MEND events at a time when this organisation was run by CAGE’s now Community Relations Director, Azad Ali. Ali is on record as a supporter of Hamas and a fan of the late al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. When The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers described Ali as a “hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq” Ali responded with a defamation lawsuit, which he lost.

Perhaps as suggested by Mills, Miller and co, this is all irrelevant and somehow CAGE’s valuable reports and insights in the fields of extremism and terrorism far outweigh their clear bias towards their violent ideological allies. Alas, this seems to be a reach too far.

CAGE have deliberately attempted to minimise the security threat posed to the UK by returning jihadi fighters whilst arguing against their criminalisation:

“There have been 13 terror plots in the UK since 9/11”, according to CAGE, and “only 6 of the 66 individuals involved had received any training or combat experience abroad.”

Security and extremism expert Hannah Stuart fact checked this assertion in a report for the Henry Jackson Society and found that the data had been massaged in order to downplay it by orders of magnitude:

“(Henry Jackson Society) analysis of all Islamism-inspired terrorism offences and suicide attacks in the UK between 1999 and 2010…shows that one in five individuals involved had prior training/combat experience abroad; and that seven of the eight major terrorism bomb plots during this time contained individual cell members who had either fought or trained abroad.”

In one example CAGE had claimed that of the five al–Qaeda sympathisers convicted of the 2004 fertiliser bomb plot, only two had trained abroad. In reality, they had all received training in Pakistan.

Moreover, CAGE’s attribution of motive towards the plots they cite is transparently misleading, and again provides cover for the ideological imperatives of Islamic terrorists. One such plot was the attempted Jihadist bombing of a rally being held in Dewsbury in 2013 by the notorious English Defence League – a group well known for its chants of “Allah is a paedo” and other unimaginative violations of Islamic blasphemy codes. Among the arsenal of weapons and explosives found in the terrorist’s vehicle were notes addressed to “the enemies of Allah” and to the EDL directly:

Today is a day of retaliation (especially) for your blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad. We love death more than you love life. The penalty for blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad is death.”

CAGE’s report lists the motive for this attempted atrocity as “Foreign and Domestic policy”.

Their analyses of the causes of jihadist violence are laughable. No serious authority in the field considers their attribution of blame towards the UK security services for the creation of Jihadi John, nor their claims that his attempts to enter Tanzania were for purposes no more sinister than a bucket and spade holiday, to be anything other than a preposterous fantasy. Emwazi had been associating with Islamic militants for years and is now well known to have been a member of a London-based al-Qaeda sleeper cell who’d been pimping fighters to al-Shabbab in Somalia since 2007, long before he was approached by the security services.

The Islamic State themselves, in their published obituary of Emwazi, directly contradicted CAGE’s claims by confirming that his radicalisation occurred four years prior to his interactions with security services and that their interest in him was as the result of his radicalisation rather than the cause of it.

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From Mohammed Emwazi’s obituary in Issue 13 of The Islamic State magazine Dabiq

CAGE have constantly pushed the line that their defence of terrorists and extremists does not necessarily constitute an agreement with their worldviews and is based upon nothing more than a desire to see due process and human rights applied equally. As if the falsity of this statement needed any further demonstration, Qureshi and Begg provided it in a 2012 interview by Julian Assange for an obscure Russia Today program entitled The World Tomorrow. When questioned over his views on barbaric sharia punishments, and after some gentle nudging by his interviewer to give a straight answer, Asim Qureshi suggested that he would support the stoning to death of adulterers in a properly constituted Islamic caliphate.

When subsequently quizzed on this statement by Andrew Neill on BBC’s far more high profile Newsnight, a sputtering Qureshi trotted out a series of non-sequiturs in which he claimed to be unqualified to state his personal opinion on the matter due to him not a being a professional theologian.

Sam Harris summarised this abject and revealing performance from Qureshi perfectly:

“For the first 10 minutes or so, he comes off as a fine spokesman for a moderate Islam that has been unfairly stigmatized by Western paranoia. However, once he is asked to denounce the most despicable aspects of shari’ah—Can non-Muslims be taken as slaves? Should women be stoned to death for adultery?—the mask suddenly slips. It is an amazing moment, when shameless guile reaches the precipice of religious superstition: Qureshi is clearly afraid to misrepresent his faith, lest he blaspheme and break trust with all the religious maniacs standing at his back. In the end, he can’t even pretend to have values remotely commensurate with our own. All he can muster is the lamest of dodges.”

In the shadow of this interview, Begg subsequently appeared on a panel in 2016 at the University of Exeter, sitting beside National Union of Students Vice President Shelly Asquith – someone who has long been a vocal proponent of the principle of No Platform for Fascists.

When a couple of suitably incensed audience members asked how the NUS can unironically claim to hold such a position whilst sharing a platform with an Islamist, and whether Begg would like to take the opportunity to disassociate himself from Qureshi’s endorsement of stoning, the diversions predictably came thick and fast. Begg initially denied that Qureshi had ever made such statements, followed it up with some incoherent noises about British ties to Saudi Arabia, and then proceeded to answer a question asked nowhere but in his own imagination by stating that he’s unaware of anyone who’s been stoned to death in the UK. In what one hopes was a moment of mass confusion, this reprehensible and cowardly evasion was greeted with rapturous applause from the student body.

During a rather acrimonious exchange with Mr Begg, I personally and publicly asked him outright whether he, and/or other senior representatives of CAGE support the stoning to death of adulterers in principle. Having asked the same question of this organization in the past, and been treated to the same prevarications in place of an answer, I was reasonably confident of what to expect.

Prediction: You will not give straight answers to these questions. Prove me wrong”.

I challenged Begg by allowing him every opportunity to embarrass me with a terse and candid response. The words “no, we don’t support stoning people for adultery under any circumstances” would have stopped me in my tracks and toppled my whole line of questioning. Yet Begg could not bring himself to give such an answer even when the joint possibility of salvaging a small part of his reputation and simultaneously humiliating me in front of his audience was on the table. Having instead received a predictably shifty and tiresome response about Western bombs, I informed Begg that I intended to take his avoidances as tacit support for stoning, and allowed him one last opportunity to correct my impression of him.

Begg declined to respond.

I put the same question to CAGE’s Community Relations Director Azad Ali after being accused by him of publishing nothing but “lies and smears” about his organisation and being challenged to “man up”. I was once again greeted with predictable silence.

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CAGE Community Relations Director Azad Ali

In contrast to the slithering spokespeople for CAGE, I will state this now in absolutely unequivocal terms, and I once again invite Mr Begg or his associates to demonstrate that I’m wrong:

Senior representatives of CAGE, namely Dr Asim Qureshi and Mr Moazzam Begg, support the stoning to death of adulterers in principle and in accordance with their understanding of Islamic law.

By any reasonable metric, these men are extremists. They attack counter-extremism methodology because they themselves traffic in extremism. They defend Islamic terrorists because they are sympathetic to the ideology of Islamic terrorists. They publish demonstrable lies about the danger posed by jihadists whilst fighting measures that would impede their ability to operate. They promote hate preachers and proscribed extremist groups whilst smearing their critics as Islamophobes. Their public face is a credible terror suspect and the group itself is the lynchpin of an interconnected network of Islamists in the U.K relying on misinformation and misplaced victimhood to radicalise innocent British Muslims.

This is the far-right by another name. They have been broadcasting this glaringly obvious fact since their inception, and in doing so, committing a relentless series of reputational martyrdom operations. Yet after every one, the smouldering twitching corpse of this farcical organisation is reanimated by left-wing academics and liberal pundits prepared to legitimatise their narratives and turn a blind eye to their theological fanaticism for the sake of a bizarre political alliance.

There are legitimate discussions to be had with regards to foreign and domestic policy, treatment of prisoners, and the most effective counter-terrorism and counter-extremism methods. But it’s hard to imagine how such discussions are helped in any way by the conniving intervention of Islamic fascists and squalid terrorism apologists like CAGE. And it’s virtually impossible to imagine similarly dangerous extremists of any other stripe being afforded such deference by the liberal mainstream and such indifference towards their malevolence.

Christopher Hitchens once understatedly remarked of people determined to continually and forcefully hint at their alliance with fascism and their sympathies for “unmentionable thugs and criminals”, that there comes a point at which what they say is self-discrediting.

That point has been and gone with CAGE. Unfortunately many people still don’t seem to have noticed.

 
 

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