The open spat between government and CAGE about the alleged part played by our security services, in Emwazi's journey to radicalisation has been damaging to all. Whilst I do not speak for either the Government or CAGE, the manner of how the debate has been twisted and reported, is indicative of the current unwillingness of government to listen to voices other than those of its chosen experts.
These debates have done more to muddy the water rather than clarify points on key areas such as radicalisation and freedom. Let me start with the usual clarity that is required of all Muslims, whilst I fully support the PM's view that our security services do a fantastic job in difficult circumstances, I would like to add that some or most of them do, but there are still practices that have been highlighted by the Emwazi and Adebolajo cases that put into question some grey areas. These are not the only examples, in 2009 The Independent published an article whereby it was alleged that some in the security services were harassing and threatening some Somali community workers to act as informants.
This is not the first time such allegations have surfaced; there have been other examples, and, whilst this is not the lone cause of radicalisation, such behaviour can play a part in that journey. The extent of this influence is open to debate on a case by case basis.
CAGE were called apologists and, as I followed the debate, I did not see nor hear them directly blaming the security services but merely highlighting some bad practices, as I have outlined above. Even Boris Johnson jumped in knee deep to whole heartily turn on CAGE, a human rights body who are rightly challenging some aspects of our policies such as rendition, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. This clearly puts them in a position of being a thorn in the government's side; nevertheless as a human rights supporter this position is vital. Our democratic system requires that government and or institutions are held to account for their actions, independently and without bias. To that end they must be supported in their existence just like Liberty or any other independent Human rights organisations. We cannot cherry pick when we speak up about human rights or which standard we uphold, I talk of some of our own controversies such as Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rendition and Guantanamo as just a few examples where our standards were arguably compromised.
Some justify these as necessary in the face of others who have values that are questionable such as ISIS. This does not justify nor give such voices any credibility or legality. CAGE has been working with some individuals who are challenging and others who claim that the government or our security services have victimised them in one form or another. Their research cannot and should not be written off as a careful political ploy to sweep some bad practices under the carpet.
There are, and have been, other voices that lend credibility to the concerns raised by CAGE and the Emwazi case, I talk specifically of bad practices or policies in dealing with individuals who are of interest to our security services. As the article in The Independent in 2009 highlighted, there are occasions when we appear to have let our standards slip; the Parliamentary enquiry in Woolwich also raised some questions about the role of these practices.
For clarity, before being labelled an apologist or Islamist, I am not blaming the security services nor the government for being entirely responsible for the radicalisation of some, I am saying that radicalisation has many drivers with different levels of impact. Research and anecdotal evidence has continually shown this, so let's have an open, informed debate and review how and why some people break away from society to become disenfranchised killers.