Cageprisoners: Wikis

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The cell in which a Guantánamo Bay prisoner was detained. Inset is the prisoners' reading room

Cageprisoners Ltd is a London-based human rights organization with an Islamic focus,[1] whose stated aim is "to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror." It campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners, including convicted terrorists.[2]

Its Director, Moazzam Begg, is a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who was released without charge in 2005 by President Bush over the objections of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI (all of whom were concerned that Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist).[3] The organization has worked closely with a number of former detainees held as part of the War on Terror. It has been criticized for championing alleged senior al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to various terrorists.[2]

Contents

Stated purpose

Moazzam Begg

Cageprisoners is a human rights organization whose stated aim is "to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror."[4]

Journalist Terry Glavin wrote in The National Post that "it is a front for Taliban enthusiasts and al Qaida devotees that fraudulently presents itself a human rights group."[5]

Among the Muslim inmates it highlights are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged 9/11 mastermind, Abu Hamza, facing extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. on terror charges, and Abu Qatada, described as Osama Bin Laden’s “European ambassador”.[6]

Background

Its website was launched by Muslim volunteers in October 2003 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.[4] It is registered to a group of Muslim computer programmers based in Britain.[7]

Its Director, Moazzam Begg is a Muslim from Birmingham, England, who was held for three years in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba by the U.S. government as part of the War on Terror.[2][8] He was released without charge in 2005 by President Bush over the objections of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI, who alleged that Begg could be a dangerous terrorist.[9] Begg had spoken at University College London five or six times through 2009.[2]

Cases

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Qur'an Desecration Report

In May 2005 it released "The Qur'an Desecration Report,” which contained accounts from former Guantánamo prisoners who said they experienced religious abuse as a torture tactic.[10]

Anwar al-Awlaki

The organization developed close ties to alleged senior al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki after his release from Yemeni detention in 2007.[2] Begg was the first to interview al-Awlaki after his release in Yemen.[11] Al-Awlaki was invited to address Cageprisoners’ Ramadan fundraising dinners in August 2008 (at Wandsworth Civic Centre, South London; by videolink, as he is banned from the U.K.) and August 2009 (at Kensington Town Hall; the local authority told the group that it could not broadcast al-Awlaki’s words on its property).[2][12] It also carries a large amount of material about and by al-Awlaki on its website.[2]

Cageprisoners has been criticized for championing al-Awlaki, because he has been linked to al-Qaeda and various terrorists.[2]

Northwest Flight 253 suspected bomber

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the al-Qaeda Northwest Flight 253 suspected bomber, invited two speakers from Cageprisoners (including Begg) to an event that he organized when he was president of the Islamic Society at University College London. One lecture at the event, given by Asim Qureshi, a senior researcher at Cageprisoners, was entitled "Jihad v. Terrorism".[2] It was billed as "a lecture on the Islamic position with respect to jihad."[2][13]

Amnesty International controversy

In February 2010, Amnesty International suspended one of its senior officials, Gita Sahgal, head of the organisation's Gender Unit, after she criticized Amnesty for its links with Begg and Cageprisoners. She called the links "a gross error of judgment", and said it was wrong to ally with "Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban".[14] Sahgal argued that by associating itself with Begg and Cageprisoners, Amnesty is risking its reputation on human rights.[15][16][17] Salman Rushdie said: "Amnesty ... has done its reputation incalculable damage by allying itself with Moazzam Begg and his group Cageprisoners, and holding them up as human rights advocates.[18] Journalist Nick Cohen wrote in The Observer: "Amnesty ... thinks that liberals are free to form alliances with defenders of clerical fascists who want to do everything in their power to suppress liberals, most notably liberal-minded Muslims."[19]

References

  1. ^ Ansari, Fahad, "Beyond Guantanamo – Review of Cageprisoners Fundraising Dinner", Crescent Magazine on Cageprisoners.com, 10 February 2009, accessed 16 February 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j O'Neill, Sean (4 January 2010). "Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had links with London campaign group". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6974702.ece?print=yes&randnum=1151003209000. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Golden, Tim, "Jihadist or Victim: Ex-Detainee Makes a Case," The New York Times, 15 June 2006, accessed 18 February 2010
  4. ^ a b "About Us". Cageprisoners. http://www.cageprisoners.com/page.php?id=2. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Glavin, "Terry Glavin: Amnesty International doubles down on appeasement", The National Post, 8 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
  6. ^ "Misalliance; Amnesty has lent spurious legitimacy to extremists who spurn its values", The Times, 12 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
  7. ^ "Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cubam," The Washington Post, 15 March 2006, accessed 3 January 2010
  8. ^ David Ignatius, A Prison We Need to Escape, Washington Post, 14 June 2006
  9. ^ Jihadist or Victim: Ex-Detainee Makes a Case, The New York Times, 15 June 2006 mirror
  10. ^ Adam, Bint, "Desecrating the Qur'an; The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back", Islam Online, 26 March 2003, accessed 3 January 2010
  11. ^ Exclusive: Moazzam Begg Interviews Anwar al-Awlaki (audio interview on YouTube), Cageprisoners, December 2007, accessed 6 January 2010]
  12. ^ Sawer, Patrick, and Barrett, David, "Detroit bomber's mentor continues to influence British mosques and universities ", The Telegraph, 2 January 2010, accessed 3 January 2010
  13. ^ "Al-Qaeda ‘groomed Abdulmutallab in London’", The Times, 30 December 2009, accessed 4 January 2010
  14. ^ Aaronovitch, David, "How Amnesty chose the wrong poster-boy; Collaboration with Moazzam Begg, an extremist who has supported jihadi movements, looks like a serious mistake," The Times, 9 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010
  15. ^ "Amnesty chief suspended after attacking group's links to 'Britain's most famous Taliban supporter'", Daily Mail, 9 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010
  16. ^ Bright, Martin, "Gita Sahgal: A Statement", Spectator, 7 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010
  17. ^ "Joan Smith: Amnesty shouldn't support men like Moazzam Begg; A prisoner of conscience can turn into an apologist for extremism," The Independent, 11 February 2010, accessed 11 February 2010
  18. ^ Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International, The Sunday Times, 21 February 2010
  19. ^ Cohen, Nick, "We abhor torture – but that requires paying a price; Spineless judges, third-rate politicians and Amnesty prefer an easy life to fighting for liberty," The Observer, 14 February 2010, 17 February 2010

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