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CagePrisoners

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CagePrisoners

Cageprisoners
Type human rights organization with an Islamic focus
Purpose/focus Stated aim is "to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror."
Headquarters London, England
Director Moazzam Begg
Website http://www.cageprisoners.com

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 Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror." It has, however, been criticised by high-profile human rights advocates as an apologist for the Taliban and for terrorism. 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] In November 2010, The Guardian reported that US embassy cables showed a US U-turn, praising Begg over his campaign for Europe to take in other Guantanamo detainees.[4] Referring to 2010 Afghanistan, Begg said he completely supported the inalienable right of the people to fight "foreign occupation".[5]

The organization has worked closely with a number of former detainees held by the United States. It has been criticized[by whom?] for championing Anwar al-Awlaki after he was released from 18 months' detention without charge by Yemen. He was alleged to be a senior al-Qaeda member. Cageprisoners invited him to address fundraising dinners in 2008 and 2009, and featured material about him on its website.[2]

Stated purpose


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."[6] Cageprisoners has run campaigns in support of freeing detainees who continue to be held without charges, such as Aafia Siddiqui, Babar Ahmad and Shaker Aamer.[7]

The journalist Terry Glavin in The National Post described the organization as "a front for Taliban enthusiasts and al Qaida devotees that fraudulently presents itself a human rights group."[8]

Among the Muslim inmates it has highlighted are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 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”.[9]

Background

In October 2003, its website was launched by Muslim volunteers during the holy month of Ramadan.[6] It is registered to a group of computer programmers based in Britain. It publicized names and information about detainees that the United States had kept secret, in an effort to show they were people with lives.[10]

Its director, Moazzam Begg, is from Birmingham, England. The British citizen was held for a total of three years by the United States in extrajudicial detention as a suspected enemy combatant in Bagram and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba by the U.S. government.[2][11] 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.[3] He has worked to represent detainees still held at Guantanamo, as well as to help former detainees become re-integrated into society. He has also been working with governments to persuade them to accept non-national former detainees, some of whom have needed refuges other than their countries of origin.

By November 2010, The Guardian reported that US embassy cables in the Wikileaks showed then-U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, Cynthia Stroum, praising Begg for his campaign to persuade European nations to take in Guantanamo detainees for resettlement.[4]

Cases

Qur'an Desecration Report

In May 2005, Cageprisoners released The Qur'an Desecration Report, which contained accounts from former Guantánamo prisoners who said they suffered religious abuse as a torture tactic.[12]

Anwar al-Awlaki

The organization developed close ties to Anwar al-Awlaki after his release from Yemeni detention in 2007; he was alleged by the US to be a senior al-Qaeda member implicated in later terrorist actions.[2] Begg was the first to interview al-Awlaki after his release in Yemen.[13] Cageprisoners invited the cleric to address their Ramadan fundraising dinners in August 2008 (at Wandsworth Civic Centre, South London by videolink, as he was banned from entering the U.K.) and August 2009 (at Kensington Town Hall. The local authority refused permission to broadcast his speech on its property).[2][14] The Cageprisoners website had considerable material about and by al-Awlaki.[2]

Cageprisoners has been criticized for championing al-Awlaki, because he has been linked to al-Qaeda and various terrorists.[2] In November 2010 Cageprisoners issued a press release to clarify their position on al-Awlaki.[15] They noted that, before his 18-month detention, al-Awlaki had been known as a cleric of moderate views. In that period, he had been invited to speak at the Pentagon and he served as a chaplain at an American university. They defended their support of him as a prisoner held by Yemen without charge for 18 months. But, they clarified that they strongly opposed his newly espoused radical positions, and announced this when they learned that he advocated attacking civilians. At the same time, they opposed the United States' plan to target him for assassination in a missile strike. (Awlaki was killed by the US in September 2011.)[16] plan to kill Awlaki with a missile strike.

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", saying it was wrong to ally with "Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban".[17] Sahgal argued that by associating with Begg and Cageprisoners, Amnesty was risking its reputation on human rights.[18][19][20] Salman Rushdie supported her, saying: "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.[21] The 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."[22]

After the Osama bin Laden was killed in an American raid in May 2011, Cageprisoners published an editorial written as news satire. Dated May 15, 2021, it announced "American War Criminal Barack Obama has been killed by Pakistani security forces in the UK." [23] Many readers objected to the clumsy satire.[24]

References

External links

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