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OpenDemocracy: Why Britain won’t talk about crucial elements of Jihadi John’s story

Jihadi_John_Emwazi

The UK government security/media establishment is going after CAGE UK with everything it has, in the process exposing its own insecurities.

By Ben Hayes, OpenDemocracy

In “Suspect Community: People’s Experience of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain”, professor Paddy Hillyard produced what remains the world’s most detailed ethnographic study of the impact of repressive laws and state policies on what we now call “radicalisation”. That was 1993. Hillyard, a former chair of the National Council of Civil Liberties (now Liberty), had interviewed more than 100 people of Irish catholic descent and provided unequivocal evidence that their everyday treatment at the hands of the British state had boosted support for Irish republicanism, acted as a recruiting sergeant for the IRA and fuelled “the Troubles”. Of course it wasn’t the only “radicalising” factor: Bloody Sunday, a shoot-to-kill policy and state collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries also played their part. As of course did the violence, propaganda and popularity of organisations like the IRA.

We could learn a lot from people like Paddy Hillyard and the incremental moves toward truth and reconciliation in the north of Ireland. Instead, this valuable insight is being steadily exorcised from public debate – as are the similar experiences of Muslim communities at the hands of the British state.

Yesterday the identity of “Jihadi John”, the ISIS executioner-in-chief, was revealed to belong to British citizen Mohammed Emwazi. The human rights group CAGE – the only organisation in Britain who offers legal support to Muslims who have been interrogated or harassed by the security services (support which is readily available to most others questioned by the UK authorities) – produced a 3,000 word dossier detailing his treatment between 2009 and 2013. This included, inter alia, the surveillance of his movements, the interception of his telecommunications, the orchestration of his arrest in Tanzania and transfer to the Netherlands where he was interrogated by MI5, attempts to coerce him into becoming an MI5 informer, harassment of his family and fiancé, and the prevention of his resettlement in Kuwait – all in the absence of any formal allegation, charge or prospect of official recourse.

Since this occurred well before Mohammed Emwazi’s departure from the UK and appearance in Syria as “Jihadi John”, one might have thought our media duty bound to ask whether this and other encounters played any part in his decision to go there. Indeed the most revealing exchange, which should surely have been on the lips of any journalist worth their salt, is the following, spoken by MI5 agent “Nick”: “Listen Mohammed: You’ve got the whole world in front of you; you’re 21 years old; you just finished Uni – why don’t you work for us?” When Mohammed declines, he is told: “You’re going to have a lot of trouble… You’re going to be known… you’re going to be followed… life will be harder for you.”

Let us be clear that whatever else may have transpired since this exchange, here is a credible allegation of state-sanctioned blackmail of one of our citizens upon pain of having his life ruined by unaccountable security forces. When things like this happen to Muslims in Arab dictatorships, we talk about “secret police” and “fearsome security apparatuses”. When they happen here, we put our fingers in our ears and demand that Muslims “get over themselves” and condemn acts of terrorism.

And so it was that Kay Burley of Sky News duly began her interview with a CAGE spokesman by asking “What level of harassment by the security services here in the United Kingdom justifies beheadings?” – a plainly preposterous straw man argument that literally no-one was making. Liberal pin-up Jon Snow also glossed over the evidence produced by CAGE, before getting down to the most important business of the day: demanding that their spokespeople condemn terrorism, and seeking to belittle them when they question why this demand is only ever made of Muslims, or worse still, refuse to participate in the ridiculous spectacle.

Read the entire article…

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  • Friend of Bosnia

    If that is true, those words coud have been spoken by a KGB, Stasi or UDBA agent.
    To Voltaire it is ascribed that he said “If the devil defeated God he would immediately have to assume God’s attributes.” The opposite is true. The authoritarian totalitarian opressive communist system of the Soviet Union collapsed (because it was morally and financially bankrupt, NOT because capitalism is sooo great!) and now what we here like to call democracy (but it isnt, it’s oligarchy) is becoming, like the communist system befor it, increasingly authoritarian and repressive. The establishment is trying to increase its power over the man in the street. And like communism it generates misery for the masses. See what they are doing to the ordinary citizens in Greece. And if you think finding a good job with decent pay is a snap, even if you got good grades and references, then try it some time. even in Germany where the economy is still going strong. Ah, but not for the man in the street. And should you lose your job, give up all hopes of ever getting one again, especially if you’re older.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    If that is true, those words coud have been spoken by a KGB, Stasi or UDBA agent.
    To Voltaire it is ascribed that he said “If the devil defeated God he would immediately have to assume God’s attributes.” The opposite is true. The authoritarian totalitarian opressive communist system of the Soviet Union collapsed (because it was morally and financially bankrupt, NOT because capitalism is sooo great!) and now what we here like to call democracy (but it isnt, it’s oligarchy) is becoming, like the communist system befor it, increasinglyauthoritarian and repressive. And like comunism it generates misery for the masses. See what they are doing to the ordinary citizens in Greece. And if you think finding a good job with decent pay is a snap, even if you got good grades and references, then try it some time. even in Germany where the economy is still going strong. Ah, but not for the man in the street. And should you lose your job, give up all hopes of ever getting one again, especially if you’re older.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    That’s true. When certain barriers are lifted, when people are made to see their neighbor not as their brother but as the “enemy within” then perfectly law-abiding citizens, honest workers, churchgoers and good family fathers are easily turned into wild beasts, mad dogs, genocidals. There are historic precedents.
    Or does anybody think that the policemen sent into Poland in 1939 by the Nazis (under the name “Einsatzgruppen” which can be roughly translated as task forces) to kill Jews, the cetniks sent by Milosevic into Bosnia in 1992 to kill Bosniaks, the sooo peaceful Buddhists cutting the throats and raping the daughters of their Muslim neighbors are all psychopaths and/or sociopaths? Sure, some of them (particularly soccer hooligans) are just that. But most are, as described above, law-abiding and peaceful citizens, until somebody tells them it’s all right to waste their neighbor just because he is “other”. You’d be surprised how many are then ready to commit the most hideous crimes without blinking and then retur to their home to kiss their wives and say “Man, was that a working day” and sing lullabies to thir children, as if they never had doneaything wrong at all. And their families are in denial, like: “My husband, my father is not like that at all, he can’t have done such things.”
    Bah, how many SS men sat together at the end of the day, adter having gassed another 2000 victims and played the accordion. The cetniks in Visegrad, aftere they had cut teh throat of some hundreds of Bosniaks on the famous old bridge, and thrown them into the river liked to play the accordion too. As if nothing had happened.
    Or the older guy who traveled for years every day, from Monday to Friday on the same bus with his Bosniak neighbor’s teenage daughter, when they were going to work and to school, respectively. And all the time he never behaved to her other than in a respectful way. Then the Serbs declared the Bosniaks as enemies on radio and TV, and what did he do? Go over to his neighbor’s house with a pistol, take the girl with him and rape her!
    Or what to make of the guys who lynched blacks during the segregation in the South? And that went on into the 1960s! Not only that, it was a popular spectacle that people came to see in droves, some even bringing along their picnic, and to the accompaniment of music. The litte girl described in Orwell’s “1984” chanting “Want to see the hanging, want to see the hanging!” must have been quite a normal sight south of Mason-Dixon…
    Because to all of the above their victims weren’t human beings, just vermin that had to be got rid of. Like the pest-killer getting rid of cockroaches and then going home fromwork to have diner with his wife. Cockroaches, that’s what the Hutu genocidals, the Nazis, and the chetniks too called their victims. I mean what does one do with a cockroach? Step on it (if you can catch it, and if not poison it) and then forget all about it.
    It’s the easiest thing in the world, to turn a perfectly normal and peaceful citizen into a mad dog. Just tell him who the enemy is. Then give him a weapon and he will commit murder without blinking, and then forget all about it.
    That’s why there are 7.3 billion potential Emwazis out there. Like the author of “The Wave” said, “fascism is in each and every one of us”.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    That’s true. When certain barriers are lifted, when people are made to see their neighbor not as their brother but as the “enemy within” then perfectly law-abiding citizens, honest workers, churchgoers and good family fathers are easily turned into wild beasts, mad dogs, genocidals. There are historic precedents.
    Or does anybody think that the policemen sent into Poland in 1939 by the Nazis (under the name “Einsatzgruppen” which can be roughly translated as task forces) to kill Jews, the cetniks sent by Milosevic into Bosnia in 1992 to kill Bosniaks, the sooo peaceful Buddhists cutting the throats and raping the daughters of their Muslim neighbors are all psychopaths and/or sociopaths? Sure, some of them (particularly soccer hooligans) are just that. But most are, as described above, law-abiding and peaceful citizens, until somebody tells them it’s all right to waste their neighbor just because he is “other”. You’d be surprised how many are then ready to commit the most hideous crimes without blinking and then retur to their home to kiss their wives and say “Man, was that a working day” and sing lullabies to thir children, as if they never had doneaything wrong at all. And their families are in denial, like: “My husband, my father is not like that at all, he can’t have done such things.”
    Bah, how many SS men sat together at the end of the day, adter having gassed another 2000 victims and played the accordion. The cetniks in Visegrad, aftere they had cut teh throat of some hundreds of Bosniaks on the famous old bridge, and thrown them into the river liked to play the accordion too. As if nothing had happened.
    Or the older guy who traveled for years every day, from Monday to Friday on the same bus with his Bosniak neighbor’s teenage daughter, when they were going to work and to school, respectively. And all the time he never behaved to her other than in a respectful way. Then the Serbs declared the Bosniaks as enemies on radio and TV, and what did he do? Go over to his neighbor’s house with a pistol, take the girl with him and rape her!
    Because to both their victims weren’t human beings, just vermin that had to be got rid of. Like the pest-killer getting rid of cockroaches and then going home fromwork to have diner with his wife. Cockroaches, that’s what the Hutu genocidals, the Nazis, and the chetniks too called their victims. I mean what does one do with a cockroach? Step on it (if you can catch it, and if not poison it) and then forget all about it.
    It’s the easiest thing in the world, to turn a perfectly normal and peaceful citizen into a mad dog. Just tell him who the enemy is. Then he will commit murder without blinking, and then forget all about it.
    That’s why there are 7.3 billion potential Emwazis out there. Like the author of “The Wave” said, “fascism is in each and every one of us”.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    “they had good hearts”? Rather a suicidal or at least self-endangering naiveté. Nothing could make me go into a war zone unless I’m armed, trained and in company.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    OK, he has no right to behave like a mad dog and to take it out on journalists or aid workers who haven’t done him any wrong, and who went there just to help; on the other hand to me it’s not altruism but suicidal insanity to go into such a war zone alone and unarmed.
    But it can’t be accepted that the secret services in the West are – and that’s not the first nor by any means the only instance – increasingy like the UDBA of Tito’s Yugoslavia, or like the KGB, or the Stasi. And that’s in fact what they are becoming. No demand for “Security” can justify that. What next, will they start torturing people with electrick shocks like the French did in the 1960s during the War of Algerian Independence, or just use (as they’re already doing) Waterboarding, or what?

  • AJ

    I notice you are an atheist not aligned with Israel. Kudos! You have the potential to speak the truth.

  • AJ

    I never said that Muslims don’t do it. Bad Muslims are one of the worst lot. I said Islam is not the instigating factor since all or most of these terrorists have never practiced Islam before getting on the FBI/MI5 roster. I have never contended where their finances come from. It could be anyone including Muslim or non-Muslim countries.
    Again, I NEVER get a notification when YOU reply. I always discover it by accident and hence the late reply.

  • AJ

    You said, “I do believe ISIL are Muslims.” I proved why they are NOT what they say they are. Your proof is?

  • AJ

    Do you find it strange that while FBI was interviewing Al Awlaki for potential ties to the 911 hijackers, he was invited to the Pentagon to meet the top brass at the Department of Defense?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/10/20/al-qaeda-terror-leader-dined-pentagon-months/

    Can you guess what was happening? He was being groomed for the role of the next Muslim bogeyman. Those were the exact funds from which he was paying hookers $400 for sexual encounters.

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/file/awlaki-fbi-file
    Don’t you find it strange that every terrorist has been under FBI/MI5 surveillance/records? That can only point to two things.
    1) FBI and MI5 sucks that although they spy on a person for years but can never stop an act of terror
    OR
    2) These terrorists work as patsies to conduct False Flag Operations. They have a)criminal records before becoming patsies, 2) get blackmailed by FBI/MI5 to work for them and c) start working for money/removal of criminal records acting as if religion motivates them even though they have never been practicing Muslims.

  • Laurent Weppe

    On the contrary: the common lie polite society loves to tell itself is that there is some deep, intrinsic, immanent difference between a mass murderer and the non-murderous majority. The alternative, that one or one’s loved one could under the right circumstances do the most heinous acts possible and enjoy doing it is simply too nauseating to be contemplated.

    My opinion is not merely that there are “more people like Emwazi”: it is that there are 7,3 billion potential Emwazi on the planet, including you and me.

  • With your de-radicalization fallacy, you are assuming that they were practicing Islam to begin with and they went into an extreme ideology. But the facts suggest otherwise. Every single so-called radical whether be the porn-loving/beer-drinking Anwar Choudry in UK or the prostitute-loving Anwar al-Awlaki or the strip bar-visiting/girlfriend-keeping Muhammad Atta or the bastard-producing Charlie Hebdo killer or the voda-drinking Jihadi John were never practicing Muslims. I am sure a session with an Imam could help but this procedure would be called the “bringing them to Islam” procedure and not “removing them from an extremist Islamic” position. There is a hell of a difference between the two with entirely separate connotations.

  • mindy1

    Actually I meant talking to imams about how Islam does not condone this behavior and interfaith meetings. Please stop assuming i meant the worst I am trying 🙁

  • How about make them see some Lady Gaga videos as a part of community based deradicalization ?
    The point is that they were not practicing Muslims, anyway. So if your comment is to imply to make them good practicing Muslims, it would be accurate but if your point is that they were practicing Muslims and inherently bad because of it, that is not true.

  • The greenmantle

    sad sad sad stuff repeting previous mistakes ………………. oh my country are we such fools*? alas yes 🙁
    Sir DAvid

  • mindy1

    The question should be how can average citizens band together and do community based deradicalization?

  • Also, emwazi drank vodka, smoked cannabis and didn’t attend mosque when growing up just like the other patsies that Mi5 and FBI tries to recruit. How come they can’t find real good Muslims to do their dirty work – is that because they know the good ones will not say yes?

  • What is there to deny that he did take their offer and currently does work for British intelligence? Or is that the point of the story and I missed it? Weren’t the American intelligence spying on the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston bombings? So, let’s say if this is a case of manufactured terrorism, what is there to deny it?

  • Laurent Weppe

    “What level of harassment by the security services here in the United Kingdom justifies beheadings?”

    That’s not the correct question: the question everyone should sincerely ask themselves is: “What level of harassment by security services and law enforcement would I tolerate before contemplating (not acting on it, simply contemplating) violent, bloody retribution“. Then, once an answer has been reached, never support, even tacitly, any policy that goes beyond this threshold.

    I heavily suspect that the average tolerance-to-abuse threshold is much closer to Emwazi’s than people are willing to admit.

  • Ibn Umayya

    “Indeed the most revealing exchange…is the following, spoken by MI5 agent “Nick”: “Listen Mohammed: You’ve got the whole world in front of you; you’re 21 years old; you just finished Uni – why don’t you work for us?””

    So because he has a long life ahead of him he should snub all the different options that he has in life and work for them, makes sense.

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