Battle of Algiers: Decolonising the Imperial Elephant in the Room.

“This whole world is a corn field son, look out for flying locusts….” Dead Prez, Psychology

Having attended an event organised by the “Decolonising our Minds Society” commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the film ‘The Battle of Algiers’ subtitled, “Decolonisation and the War on Terror” held on the 14th February at London’s SOAS Brunei Gallery one is compelled to comment on a glaring omission. The film is based on the revolutionary Algerian struggle against French imperialism and depicts the torture meted out to freedom fighters by the colonialists. Dr. Sohail Daulatzai, the main speaker, has written a book commemorating the anniversary of the film.

Parallels and similarities were made between the torture administered by French imperialists to Algerians fighting for their freedom and Muslims in today’s ‘War on Terror’.  No doubt there is and both are morally inexcusable. However, there was a glaring difference or omission that was either not explored or deliberately overlooked: the reason why the ‘War on Terror’ was launched by the United States.

Obviously, we need first to establish how the Algerian revolt came about. French imperialism had been ruling Algeria for over 130 years. One of the speakers, Continue reading

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Did Moazzam Begg meet and/or train ‘Jihadi John’ in Syria with the collusion of British Intelligence?

One important episode that further ties Cage UK, the human rights advocacy group, with British jihadis such as Mohammed Emwazi a.k.a ‘Jihadi John’ is what we know of Moazzam Begg’s journey to Syria in the summer of 2012. Moazzam Begg is Cage’s ‘Outreach Director’ and by far its most famous and leading public advocate largely because he endured a cruel and unjust incarceration at both Baghram air base and Guantanamo detention camp only to be freed many years later uncharged.

Not only was Mr. Begg freed uncharged by George W. Bush but also “as a favour to” then British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s support for the invasion and destruction of Iraq. Needless to say if Blair had not joined Bush’s Iraq invasion Mr.Begg may well and truly be still incarcerated especially as the Pentagon, CIA and FBI objected to his release. On the back of the destruction of Iraq, Blair got one his compatriots freed.

On the other hand, Emwazi had been known to the security authorities for several years, even placed on watch list, but still seemed to have found a way to join the western backed uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria. According to the Defence Editor of the London Times, Deborah Hayes, Emwazi entered Syria in late 2012 or early 2013 and then specifically joined Katiba al-Muhajireen “a 700-strong brigade of foreign fighters thought to have included up to 80 Britons.” Continue reading