CST warned charity about Cage links to extremists

By Marcus Dysch, March 4, 2015
Cage director Asim Qureshi discussed Mohammed Emwazi at last week's press conference (Photo: Cage)

Cage director Asim Qureshi discussed Mohammed Emwazi at last week's press conference (Photo: Cage)

EXCLUSIVE

Concerns about the campaign group linked to Islamic State terrorist Mohammed Emwazi were raised with a prominent charity by the Community Security Trust two years ago.

CST alerted the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) to antisemitic material on the website of Cage in July 2013.

JRCT was a leading funder of Cage’s work at the time, giving the group more than £300,000.

The Jewish group warned JRCT about Cage’s attitude to antisemitism, links to Abu Qatada, and articles on the Cage website which claimed the September 11 attacks in New York were an insurance scam organised by a Zionist billionaire.

The revelation last week that Emwazi was “Jihadi John”, the St John’s Wood-raised graduate thought to be responsible for beheadings and other attacks in Syria, brought Cage’s work to prominence.

Cage director Asim Qureshi described Emwazi as a “beautiful young man” and revealed that the organisation had been in contact with him before he left Britain to fight for IS.

In 2013, CST had told JRCT that it was “deeply offensive and utterly baffling” that the trust was funding Qureshi’s organisation, which was then known as Cageprisoners.

A Quaker trust, JRCT supports groups working on cases of injustice and around conflict areas.

The trust’s initial response to CST accused the Jewish security group of “unfairly associating Cageprisoners with extreme antisemitism” and said a number of offensive articles on Cage’s website had been removed.

JRCT said that it was “proud to support Cageprisoners” in its “important work”.

CST responded by telling JRCT secretary Nick Parks that his trust was paying “for the promotion of a one-dimensional victimhood narrative that fuels resentment, anger and alienation amongst young British Muslims.

“JRCT’s money pays for Cageprisoners to depict men like Abu Qatada and Anwar al-Awlaki as tragic semi-heroic victims, with human rights concerns being the seductive hook for hanging the victimhood narrative upon.”

There was no further response from JRCT to the concerns raised by CST.

The Times revealed today that the Charity Commission has spent 18 months monitoring the trust’s financial backing of Cage.

The Commission’s opened a case in September 2013, two months after CST contacted JRCT.

JRCT did not respond directly to the JC’s questions about its correspondence with CST and its continued support of Cage.

But in a statement issued last Friday it said: "As a Quaker trust, we reject and condemn all violence, including all violence for political ends. We believe that building sustainable security requires patient, long-term work to address the underlying causes of conflict and injustice.

"JRCT has previously funded Cage to promote and protect human rights. We believe that they have played an important role in highlighting the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo Bay and at many other sites around the world, including many instances of torture.

"The Trust does not necessarily agree with every action or statement of any group that we have funded. We believe that Cage is asking legitimate questions about security service contact with those who have gone on to commit high-profile and horrific acts of violence, but this does not in any way absolve any such individual from responsibility for such criminal acts."

Last updated: 3:17pm, March 4 2015