Advocates or Recruiters?
Which is the likelier scenario? The Islamic killer known as "Jihad John" was driven to his brutal acts by repeated harassment and oppression by British intelligence interrogators? Or was he in fact encouraged to travel this path by the very person quoted in news media around the world as describing the man we now know to be Mohammed Emwazi as a "gentle and beautiful man?"
The individual in question is Asim Qureshi, the "research director" of the British organization known as CAGE. CAGE is a self-styled Muslim advocacy group along the lines of the Council on American/Islamic Relations (CAIR) here in the United States.
CAGE specializes in finding slights and insults to Muslims with which to berate larger British society and more specifically the British government until it receives grants, donations, and concessions, with which it begins the process anew. It also shares another characteristic with CAIR, being a front operation for the Muslim Brotherhood.
CAGE has a long history of promoting the interests of terrorists and in disseminating the writings and musings of known terrorists such as Anwar al-Awlaki, among others. It also was working with the poor misguided practitioner of the religion of peace who just happened to behead British soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight on a British street.
The group was founded by Moazzem Begg, a former detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Himself a known terrorist, Begg has nonetheless succeeded in convincing a number of British and American foundations to give his organization money – funding that is now a bit higher-profile than many of these groups would prefer.
We find the International Committee for the Red Cross and the ACLU, along with a bevy of other charities and human rights law firms, numbered among CAGE's supporters.
Perhaps most interestingly, though, despite his ubiquitous presence on both British and American media for the last few days, no one thought to ask Mr. Qureshi about his own statements and feelings regarding jihad, and the inconvenient fact that he was captured on videotape urging those in attendance to follow the examples of:
… our brothers and sisters fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan[.] ... When we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know where the solution is and where the victory lies.
We know that it is incumbent upon all of us, to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the West.
Mr. Qureshi worked with Emwazi for at least two years, and it isn't a particularly difficult stretch to wonder whether his stated support for violent jihad wasn't passed along to his young mentee. Qureshi called Emwazi "the most humble young person I ever knew" and "extremely kind," both descriptions that certainly do not comport with the personality of the brutal killer we've all seen on ISIS propaganda videos.
Qureshi boldly laid the blame for Emwazi's radicalization on British Security Forces, most specifically MI5, the British intelligence agency. Similar claims were made regarding Michael Adebolajo, the killer of Royal Fusiliers member Lee Rigby. In both cases, the common thread is CAGE, and horrific brutality committed by very calm and unruffled jihadists.
Is it an accident of association? Perhaps. But given the similarities, it would appear prudent to examine the possibility that CAGE is more recruiter than advocate. A look at CAGE's website and a review of its statements would certainly warrant such investigation.
Daniel Akbari, a leading Iranian attorney specializing in sharia law, gave an interview to Glenn Beck's site, The Blaze, where he ably refuted the idea of the "moderate Muslim." He describes the acts of ISIS not as an aberration, but rather as a pure expression of Islam, indicating that the more devout one grows in Islam, the more it will behave as ISIS does.
The "moderate Muslim," if one wishes to use that term, doesn't disagree with ISIS, but rather chooses to use a different method to achieve the same end. Akbari says:
… Moderate Muslims actually are kind of like CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] people – people who are Muslim Brotherhood types … and these people fight for Islam, love it, but they give a peaceful feature, and good-looking [nature] to Islam, to … deceive Americans not to resist the process of Islam.
Sometimes they deceive Americans this way that "We are the same as your neighbor who is from the Middle East." That neighbor might be an atheist, might be a Buddhist at heart. Just by nature and feature, people might assume [him or her] Islamic. … Moderate Muslims, as we might know as Muslim Brotherhood, they are the backbone of jihad.
We know from the documentation of the Holy Land Foundation trial that CAIR, ISNA, the Islamic Society of North America, and the MSA (the Muslim Students Association) were all founded by the Muslim Brotherhood as fronts for the operations of the Brotherhood in America.
These groups are ideological twins to CAGE and, ultimately, ISIS. As Mr. Akbari says:
What Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey says is actually perfect and totally Islamic because Islam is Islam. We don't have such a thing like – "radical Islam extremism" – many things that are said in Islam like beheading, like stoning, like flogging – they are not extremism acts, those are pure Islam.
… The second thing is, this is not "extremism," this is "fundamentalism." People who believe in [the] Koran understand it and practice it and take it serious.
What we know of Asim Qureshi, Mohammed "Jihad John" Emwazi, and CAGE should be reason enough for us to take CAGE seriously as well, before we are no longer in a position "to resist the process of Islam."
The authors are the communications director and the executive director, respectively, for the Global Faith Institute in Omaha, Nebraska and can be reached at www.globalfaithinstitute.org.