Amnesty and Jihadis

Nick Cohen has written on his Standpoint blog today that

Gita Sahgal, its women’s officer, has finally decided to resign [from Amnesty International]. In her resignation statement she says that Amnesty remains unconcerned that its poster boy Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee, is now involved with an organisation called Cageprisoners which has championed the views of jihadists.

It’s not hard to find out why it is, in the words of Salman Rushdie, abhorrent to hold [the cageprisoners] up as human rights advocates. The same organisation which championed Anwar al-Awlaki who has not only a long history of prosecutions for soliciting prostitutes but was the spiritual leader for two 9/11 planners Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Almihdhar.

According to this article he also visited radical Islamic cleric Ali al-Timimi, and asked him about recruiting young Muslims for violent jihad, before recruiting in Britain alongside the Muslim Association of Britain, bedfellows of Britain’s leftwing front the Socialist Workers Party.

According to an article in the Times in January, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day, “invited two speakers from Cageprisoners to an event that he organised as president of the Islamic Society at University College London (UCL).”

These people are not simply radicalised by the war on terror, or are simply pro-Palestine; their respective networks have organised and sought terror for years; it is no mere reaction to what they see as an unjust war, what they stand for is something dangerous and more apocalyptic and Amnesty should back well away if it wants to support human rights.

And this is something on which Nick Cohen and Conor Foley, a humanitarian aid worker who works with many different organisations including amnesty International, and critic of Cohen’s (see here and here), can agree.

Sara Hossain (and many others), a lawyer who practices in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, questioned what Claudio Cordone of Amnesty recently defended as ‘defensive jihad’ – Cordone’s words are Are such views [defensive jihad] antithetical to human rights? Our answer is no, even if we may disagree with them.

Foley wants ‘defensive jihad’ defined but concludes by saying that if Moazzam Begg defines the Taliban’s campaign as ‘defensive’ then Amnesty should not be giving him a platform. I think as printed above there is enough reason already not to give him a platform, even on account of his applying the deranged rule my enemy’s enemy is my friend (that is the most optimistic way of looking at Begg’s relations).


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