French government calls UK advocacy group Cage 'Islamist militants'

Anti-radicalisation body accuses organisation of supporting terrorists and seeking to smear France

France says UK advocacy group Cage supported the killing of teacher Samuel Paty by an extremist in 2020. AP Photo

UK advocacy group Cage, which has a focus on Muslim detainees, has been labelled “Islamist militants” by the French government's anti-radicalisation body.

The Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Delinquency and Radicalisation has published nine tweets accusing Cage, founded by former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg, of supporting terrorists and says it has been conducting a “smear campaign” against France.

The committee has accused Cage of supporting the killing of French teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an extremist, and of backing Mohammed Emwazi, ringleader of an ISIS terrorist cell known as “The Beatles” by captives because of their British accents.

“For several months, @UK_CAGE, a network of Islamist militants, has been spreading fake news and lies, in a misleading and smear campaign against France. Let’s set the record straight about this organisation and who’s behind it,” the committee tweeted.

It added its information contained elements that “expose the sympathy” that Cage has for groups with a common hatred of democracy. The entities all share the “same tendency to support and reproduce fake news about European democracies, in this case France".

“These different elements demonstrate the very real continuum between … propaganda and that of certain networks advocating radical Islam.

“Claiming a very strange conception of human rights, Cage also supported Mohammed Emwazi, one of the most active executioners of the Islamic State.

“Far from the empowerment and the objective of justice that it claims, Cage brings together a real Islamist ecosystem. Extremism is a must at Cage.”

In 2015, a Cage official described ISIS terrorist Mohammed Emwazi as a 'beautiful young man'

“France has no lesson to learn from [these] structures,” it added.

The French announcement came days after the UK think tank the Policy Exchange published a report urging the British government to stop all funding of the group over its campaigning against the government's Prevent anti-radicalisation scheme.

The report called on the UK Home Office to set up and run a Centre for the Study of Extremism — a communications unit to combat disinformation. It would ensure government departments are not supporting or funding groups “that disseminate false narratives and conspiracy theories about Prevent, who campaign against counterterrorism or counterextremism efforts".

Policy Exchange named the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Engagement and Development and Cage in its report as organisations which have “sought to undermine Prevent and counterextremism efforts".

The French and UK findings come after Cage published a report accusing France of “state-led persecution” against Muslims “on an industrial scale”.

Its report accused President Emmanuel Macron's government of a four-year campaign of Islamophobia.

In response to the French accusations, Cage tweeted that it was unsure why the French government was “rattled".

Cage drew controversy in 2015 when its research director described Emwazi, who beheaded western hostages in Syria and made propaganda videos of the killings, as a “beautiful young man”.

Emwazi was in contact with Cage before he went to Syria and after said he had been harassed by the intelligence services.

President Macron was re-elected for a second term as French president on Sunday defeating far-right rival Marine Le Pen, who had pledged to ban Muslim headscarves.

Updated: April 28, 2022, 2:53 PM