Shashank Joshi writes: Cage is a British organisation that “campaigns against state policies” towards “communities impacted by the war on terror”. It had been in contact with Emwazi until 2012. They portray him as an “extremely gentle, kind” and “beautiful young man” – words that might lead one to question their judgment – radicalised under relentless and arbitrary pressure from the British government. In this version, Emwazi is a tragic victim crushed by the power of an overweening security state. The world sees a butcher; Cage sees a dupe. In case anyone was in danger of missing the point, Cage’s website broadcast a simpler message: “the state is the only terrorist”.
This narrative would be funny, were the charge not so serious. Cage’s account of Emwazi’s radicalisation is self-serving, disingenuous, and highly selective. They start the story in 2010, when Kuwait cancelled Emwazi’s visa – under British pressure, he alleges – and he was prevented from returning to the country of his birth. This is presented as unprovoked harassment, borne of MI5’s sadistic compulsion to target the Muslim community as a whole. There’s a reason that Cage have left out the backstory, which helps us understand why Emwazi was on the government’s radar in the first place.
In 2009, he had travelled to Tanzania to go on “safari”. He was refused entry, deported, and questioned by MI5, who reportedly accused him of seeking to join al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate al-Shabab. This is entirely plausible. Why? Because British court papers identify Emwazi as a member of a network of Islamist extremists connected to Somalia.
This network had been in contact with a 7/7 bomber, and one key member, Bilal Berjawi, had also tried to go on a “safari” earlier that year – eventually ending up fighting in Somalia, later dying in a drone strike. It’s also worth noting that Emwazi, in his incarnation as Jihadi John, was “obsessed with Somalia” and forced hostages to watch al-Shabab videos.
So if you think that Emwazi was really going on safari, I have a bridge to sell you. And some free travel advice: if you desperately want to see lions and elephants, my suggestion is that you opt for a reputable travel agency rather than a well-established jihadist network. [Continue reading…]