Scottish Daily Mail
A VERY PRIVILEGED APOLOGIST FOR EVIL
An heiress wife. A £700k Surrey home. How the public school educated ‘human rights’ champion who praised Jihadi John lives the good life in the country he’s trying to destroy
THE grand residence, complete with picturesque porch, gable and verandah, is situated on an exclusive private development in the Surrey suburbs.
You arrive at the £700,000 property, set over three stunning floors, via a tree-lined avenue in immaculate contoured grounds that include tennis courts, nature trails and cycle paths.
This affluent enclave on the outskirts of London could be a film set or a location for a designer fashion shoot. It is here — in the splendour of the aforementioned house (the biggest and most expensive in the close) — that Asim Qureshi leads a very middle-class existence.
Bearded Qureshi, chief mouthpiece for Muslim ‘human rights’ group Cage, introduced himself and his poisonous organisation to the world in that now infamous press conference last week after Jihadi John, the butcher who beheaded Western hostages, was finally identified as Mohammed emwazi from West London.
Cage director Qureshi, who has advocated the creation of a medieval Islamic Caliphate in the UK, defended the IS executioner, calling him a ‘beautiful, gentle young man’.
But the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of his privileged lifestyle, which allows him to luxuriate in the trappings of infidel decadence, might surprise even Qureshi’s most fanatical supporters.
Qureshi married into money. Wife Samira — born in Britain to Pakistani parents — is from the fabulously wealthy Ahmed dynasty. The Ahmeds ran a cash-and-carry empire in South Wales, supplying restaurants and takeaways from Cardiff to Swansea. The business had a turnover in excess of £100 million when it was sold last year.
In 2009, Samira’s brother Zahier, with a personal fortune then estimated at £5 million, made it on to The Sunday Times Young Rich List featuring the 100 most moneyed people in the country under the age of 30 (Princes William and Harry were also listed).
Asim Qureshi, who has two young sons, has benefited from this gilded family connection. The marital home was purchased by his wife (and sister- in-law); it is in their names, not his. The sisters own a second house, worth just under £500,000, a few miles away.
Their late father Bashir, who founded the cash-and-carry enterprise after arriving on these shores from Pakistan with just £5 in his pocket more than 40 years ago, epitomised the vast majority of decent, hard-working Muslims who have contributed so much to the nation. But the opposite is true of Qureshi and Cage.
In an interview with U.S. researchers four years ago, Qureshi admitted he did not feel ‘any kind of obligation or sense of thankfulness’ towards the country of his birth, the country that welcomed his parents from Pakistan in the Seventies, the country that subsidised his education at a leading public school. Instead, he devotes his life to Cage, an organisation which, in the words of one commentator, is now ‘part of a closely connected network of extremists relentlessly — and successfully — lying to young British Muslims that they are hated and persecuted by their fellow citizens in order to make them supporters of terror’.
This narrative culminated in
Qureshi’s preposterous claim last week that harassment by MI5 was responsible for turning Mohammed Emwazi into Jihadi John.
Cage has an active ‘ outreach’ programme in British mosques, community groups and campuses. Note the use of the word ‘outreach’, as if those spreading Cage’s message were social workers or health professionals, not zealots indoctrinating students with lectures about jihad (holy war).
Shamefully, the group continues to be treated as a credible partner by organisations such as Amnesty and enjoys the patronage of the wider liberal establishment. Qureshi represents Cage on the organisation Rights Watch (UK), where he is a trustee. Rights Watch provides ‘support and services to anyone whose human rights are violated as a result of conflict’.
Qureshi’s photograph still stares out of the group’s website. Underneath his whitewashed CV (no mention here, obviously, that Cage campaigned for the release of radical preacher and AlQaeda cheerleader Anwar al-Awlaki from detention in Yemen before he was killed in an American drone strike) are mugshots of two of Britain’s most famous Left-wing celebrity barristers. You may well have heard of Michael Mansfield QC and Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy, both patrons of Rights Watch (UK) and committed human rights campaigners. (Who, one has to ask, is speaking up for the rights of the many innocent people Jihadi John has beheaded?)
Qureshi’s journey from public schoolboy to apologist for terror with Cage is documented in an ‘oral history project’ — a tape-recorded question-and-answer session about his life and work with Cage — with academics from Columbia University in the U.S. in 2011.
His father, Muhammad, came from Faisalabad, his mother Uzma, from Lahore. They were married in Wandsworth, South-West London, in 1978 and lived in Walton-on-Thames. Asim, the third of five sons, was born in 1982. By then, Mr Qureshi had opened a pharmacy shop. One of Mr Qureshi’s brothers — Asim’s uncle — would later have a trial for Fulham Football Club.
Asim Qureshi, indeed all of the Qureshi boys, went to the £18,000-ayear Whitgift School in South London.
Whitgift is almost unique among public schools because many pupils, particularly those f rom ethnic minorities, r eceive bursaries through the Whitgift Foundation, which was establ i shed to provide education for young people in Croydon from ‘many backgrounds and many walks of life’.
AND it was at Whitgift that Qureshi says he f i rst encountered racism ‘from t he r ugby l ads’ who bullied and racially abused ‘5ft nothing Asians’, as well as class division.
‘Many of the white kids would be coming from very, very rich, affluent areas,’ he said. ‘Their parents would be picking them up in their Bentleys, their Rolls-Royces, and their Aston Martins from the front of the school. We would be going to the bus stop at the back of the school and going back to our areas which were not so affluent, shall we say. There was a bus stop in Croydon we used to call Terminal Three.
‘In Heathrow Airport, Terminal Three is the terminal that all the ethnic minorities go back to their countries of origins. That is why we used to refer to this bus stop as Terminal Three because it was taking us back to where we came from.’
Qureshi excelled at cricket and played squash at county level but underachieved academically because, by his own admission, he was a ‘very, very, very lazy student’, who spent much of his teenage years listening to gangster rappers such as Tupac Shakur.
He managed to scrape into London Guildhall University to study law, where he ‘started to choose an Islamic identity for myself’. This coincided with the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001.
‘ I do not l i ke using the word radicalise,’ Qureshi told researchers from Columbia, ‘because I do not think being radical is a bad thing, but I was effectively radicalised by Guantanamo [the U.S. detention facility in Cuba where terror suspects are held without trial].
‘When I saw the i mages from Guantanamo it really hit a nerve because we have grown up with a certain conception that the Western world provides justice but unfortunately what I saw was the world’s leading superpower effectively send the message to the rest of the world that behaviour like this [ignoring due legal process] is acceptable.’
In the holidays, Qureshi visited the West Bank and spent three weeks touring Taliban and Afghan refugee camps in northern Pakistan. ‘ They [the Taliban] made mistakes, yes, like all human beings do,’ he declared. ‘ Should they be shipped off to Guantanamo and abused and tortured because of it? No, I don’t think so.’ One of Qureshi’s brothers became a doctor, another a teacher, but shortly after completing his master’s degree in 2004, Asim Qureshi joined Cage, or Cage Prisoners as it was then known. Qureshi’s first ‘case’ was Aafia Siddiqui. She is better known as Lady Al-Qaeda. Qureshi campaigned on her behalf for three years. She is now serving an 86-year sentence in the U.S. for trying to shoot two U.S. soldiers after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 in possession of bomb-making equipment instructions.
Islamic State demanded Siddiqui’s release in exchange for the life of U.S. hostage and journalist James Foley, who was beheaded last year by Mohammed Emwazi/Jihadi John — that ‘extremely kind’ and ‘beautiful, gentle young man’, referred to by Qureshi.
Emwazi contacted Cage after he was detained by MI5 over a trip to Tanzania after he graduated in 2009, amid allegations he was trying to join the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab.
Cage and Qureshi remained in regular contact with Emwazi for the next four years or so. Qureshi also admitted to having had a ‘pastoral’ role with Michael Adebolajo, the killer of Woolwich Fusilier Lee Rigby, prior to the murder outside his barracks in Woolwich, South- East London. Adebolajo also complained of being harassed by MI5. So two of Britain’s most notorious butchers, then, counselled by the same man, from the same so-called ‘human rights’ group, which is embraced by the liberal establishment.
Cage has been sustained with private cash donations from Muslims and support from organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which has made three grants to it totalling £305,000 since 2007, and The Roddick Foundation, a charity set up by the late Body Shop founder dame Anita Roddick, which gave Cage £35,000 a year in the financial years ending March 2012 and 2013, and £25,000 a year in the financial years ending March 2010 and 2011.
But yesterday both organisations agreed to withdraw funding. It is understood officials at the Charity Commission threatened to launch a statutory inquiry into both groups unless they did so.
The Charity Commission had already launched an investigation into whether Cage’s funders had ensured that their money was used for purposes in line with their objectives.
Many of the terrorist prisoners on Qureshi’s and Cage’s files turn out to have been convicted, not by kangaroo courts, but by juries in properly constituted trials.
Some of the individuals they helped, such as Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, two friends from Birmingham sentenced to more than 12 years each last december for travelling to Syria to join an Al- Qaeda-linked group, actually pleaded guilty.
Visiting Cage’s headquarters in East London is revealing. Cage is based i n the same building as Claystone, a new Islamic group t hat descri bes itself as an ‘independent think tank built to foster social cohesion in relation to Muslims in Britain’.
BUT critics claim Claystone pursues the same radical agenda as Cage and both are closely linked to radical cleric Haitham al-Haddad, who has called Jews the ‘brethren of swine and pigs’.
Haddad is chairman of the Muslim Research and devel o p ment Foundation. Guess where the MRDF is based? In the same street as Cage; less than 100 yards down the road, in fact.
Cage and Haddad ran a joint campaign recently against the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.
Cage also works closely with the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), for which Cage spokesman Amandla Thomas- Johnson was previously press officer.
Several convicted terrorists have been officers of university Islamic societies affiliated to FOSIS. Cage’s managing director is Muhammad Rabbani. Once upon a time, Rabbani was an activist in the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE). The IFE is based at the East London mosque where Cage has also held events.
‘ Our goal,’ new recruits were informed by Mr Rabbani, ‘is to create the True Believer [and] to then mobilise these believers into an organised force for change who will carry out dawah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-deen [an Islamic social and political order].’
Another name that crops up on the board of directors is Omar deghayes. Mr deghayes is the uncle of the two teenagers from Brighton, who died fighting in Syria last year. The boys were in touch with Mr deghayes, who was held in Guantanamo between 2002 and 2007 after his arrest in Pakistan.
A third director is Moazzam Begg. In 2002, Begg was arrested in Pakistan and spent three years in Guantanamo Bay. He admitted visiting terror camps in Afghanistan but was still awarded £1 million compensation by the British Government.
But it is Asim Qureshi who has now become the most controversial — some might say feared — figure in Cage, at least outside the militant Muslim community.
Back in Surrey, Mr Qureshi’s father Muhammad Qureshi stood up for his son. ‘My son was not defending him [Mohammed Emwazi]. He is not the guilty party.’
But, in the eyes of many, both Asim Qureshi and Cage have questions to answer, not j ust about t heir ‘relationship’ with Jihadi John, but also about the poisonous anti-British propaganda they are spreading against the country that so welcomed them.
Additional reporting: Dominic Lemanski.