Cageprisoners Ltd is a London-based human rights organization with an Islamic focus, 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 campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners, including convicted terrorists.
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).Referring to 2010 Afghanistan, Begg said he completely supported the inalienable right of the people to fight "foreign occupation".
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.
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."
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”.
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. 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. Begg had spoken at University College London five or six times through 2009.
Qur'an Desecration Report
The organization developed close ties to alleged senior al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki after his release from Yemeni detention in 2007. Begg was the first to interview al-Awlaki after his release in Yemen. 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). It also carries a large amount of material about and by al-Awlaki on its website.
Cageprisoners has been criticized for championing al-Awlaki, because he has been linked to al-Qaeda and various terrorists. In November 2010 Cageprisoners issued a press release on their relationship with al-Awlaki. The press release pointed out that at the time of his 18 month detention there was no reason to suspect he held radical violent views. They pointed out that he had been invited to speak at the Pentagon. They defended their support of him, as someone who had been held, without charge, for 18 months. They clarified that they did not back his newly espoused radical positions, as soon as they became aware that he was advocating attacking civilians. However, they planned to continue opposing the Obama Presidency's plan to try 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", and said it was wrong to ally with "Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban". Sahgal argued that by associating itself with Begg and Cageprisoners, Amnesty is risking its reputation on human rights. 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. 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."
- Ansari, Fahad, "Beyond Guantanamo – Review of Cageprisoners Fundraising Dinner", Crescent Magazine on Cageprisoners.com, 10 February 2009, accessed 16 February 2010
- 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. "The American-born cleric, who counselled two of the 9/11 hijackers, was invited to address Cageprisoners’ Ramadan fundraising dinners in 2008 and 2009 and there is extensive material about and by him on its website."
- Tim Golden (2006-06-15). "Jihadist or Victim: Ex-Detainee Makes a Case". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2010-12-16. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2006%2F06%2F15%2Fworld%2F15begg.html%3F_r%3D1%26pagewanted%3Dall&date=2010-12-16.
- Mary Fitzgerald (13 November 2010). "Obama is president of extra-judicial killing, says ex-Guantánamo inmate". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2010/1113/1224283235295.html. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
- "About Us". Cageprisoners. http://www.cageprisoners.com/page.php?id=2. Retrieved 17 February 2010.[dead link]
- Glavin, "Terry Glavin: Amnesty International doubles down on appeasement", The National Post, 8 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
- "Misalliance; Amnesty has lent spurious legitimacy to extremists who spurn its values", The Times, 12 February 2010, accessed 17 February 2010
- "Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". The Washington Post. 2006-03-15. Archived from the original on 2010-12-16. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwp-srv%2Fnation%2Fnationalsecurity%2Fguantanamo_detainees.html&date=2010-12-16. Retrieved 2010-01-03. "Many names came from two Web sites that monitor the status of Guantanamo detainees: the Arabic-language Alasra (www.alasra.org) and the Britain-based CagePrisoners (www.cageprisoners.com). The two sites, which advocate the release of the detainees, have published lists of names, photographs and documents provided by families. Alasra is registered to an unknown individual in Saudi Arabia, and CagePrisoners is registered to a group of Muslim computer programmers based in Britain."
- David Ignatius, A Prison We Need to Escape, Washington Post, 14 June 2006
- Adam, Bint, "Desecrating the Qur'an; The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back", Islam Online, 26 March 2003, accessed 3 January 2010
- Exclusive: Moazzam Begg Interviews Anwar al-Awlaki (audio interview on YouTube), Cageprisoners, December 2007, accessed 6 January 2010]
- 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
- "PRESS RELEASE: Cageprisoners and Anwar al-Awlaki – a factual background". Cageprisoners. 2010-11-05. Archived from the original on 2010-12-16. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cageprisoners.com%2Four-work%2Fpress-releases%2Fitem%2F786-press-release-cageprisoners-and-anwar-al-awlaki-%25E2%2580%2593-a-factual-background&date=2010-12-16. "Cageprisoners first became aware that Anwar al-Awlaki had radically changed his views regarding conflicts in the interviews he conducted with Al Jazeera in November 2009 and February 2010 – the latter specifically mentioning his view that it is permissible to target civilians. We did not equivocate on this point and clarified that we could not back such positions as we did not agree with them from a theological perspective – the attacking of civilians is not from Islam."
- 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
- "Amnesty chief suspended after attacking group's links to 'Britain's most famous Taliban supporter'", Daily Mail, 9 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010
- Bright, Martin, "Gita Sahgal: A Statement", Spectator, 7 February 2010, accessed 10 February 2010
- "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
- Salman Rushdie's statement on Amnesty International, The Sunday Times, 21 February 2010
- 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
- Official site
- Qureshi, Asim, Cageprisoners Senior Researcher, "Researching rendition and torture in the War on Terror: lessons from a human rights organisation," Critical Studies on Terrorism, Volume 2, Issue 2, August 2009, pp. 365–76