British ISIS terrorist ‘Jihadi John’ and MI5 intelligence service


This video from the USA says about itself:

It’s Time to Talk About GW Bush’s Role in Creating ISIS

4 February 2015

Thom Hartmann says we need to have a conversation about how U.S. foreign policy under Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan has led to extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

By Bill Van Auken:

“Jihadi John,” imperialism and ISIS

28 February 2015

On Thursday, the Washington Post revealed the identity of “Jihadi John,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operative featured in grisly videos depicting the beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.

The Post named the ISIS member as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old who was born in Kuwait and raised in London. He is described in a CNN report as “a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.”

The media reporting on this identification has been dominated by discussions of the psychology of terrorism and the role of Islamist ideology, along with speculation as to why someone from such a background would choose to engage in such barbaric acts.

All of these banalities are part of a campaign of deliberate obfuscation. Purposefully left in the shadows is the central revelation to accompany the identification of “Jihad John”—the fact that he was well known to British intelligence, which undoubtedly identified him as soon as his image and voice were first broadcast in ISIS videos.

Not only did Britain’s security service MI5 carefully track his movements, it carried out an active campaign to recruit him as an informant and covert agent. As the British daily Guardian put it Thursday, MI5 has “serious questions” to answer about its relations with Emwazi.

Chief among these questions is whether the intelligence agency was successful in its recruitment efforts. In other words, did Emwazi go to Syria with MI5’s foreknowledge and blessings?

If there is doubt as to whether Emwazi was recruited, it is clear that other ISIS jihadists have been. The BBC reported that British intelligence has refused to name Emwazi for “operational reasons.” It adds: “The practice by intelligence agencies of approaching jihadist sympathisers to work for them is likely to continue. It’s believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State ‘capital’ of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.”

At its heart, the case of “Jihadi John” is of significance because of what it says about the real relationship between Western imperialism and ISIS. In the final analysis, ISIS is a product of the interventions by Washington and its allies in the region.

Armed Islamist movements existed in neither Iraq nor Syria—nor, for that matter, in Libya—before US imperialism intervened to topple secular Arab governments in all three countries.

It is not only a matter of these movements emerging out of the mayhem, death and destruction unleashed by the US military and CIA in these countries at the cost of well over a million lives and wholesale social devastation.

Like Al Qaeda before it, ISIS is a creation of US and Western imperialism, unleashed upon the peoples of the region in pursuit of definite strategic aims. In Libya, Islamists now affiliated with ISIS provided the principal ground forces for the US-NATO war to topple Muammar Gaddafi. In Syria, ISIS, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front and similar Islamist militias have played a similar role in a war for regime-change that has been backed by Washington and its allies.

By all accounts, so-called “foreign fighters” comprise the largest component of the “rebels” who have sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past three-and-a-half years. Estimates have put their number at over 20,000, with recruits drawn from throughout Europe, North America, Central Asia and elsewhere.

While the media presents the flow of these fighters into Syria as something of a mystery, the question of how they have gotten there can be easily answered. The CIA, MI5 and other Western intelligence agencies have not merely turned a blind eye to Islamists traveling from their respective countries to the Syrian battlefield, it has offered them active encouragement. Turkey, a key US ally, has facilitated the flow of these elements across its border into Syria.

It should be recalled that Western governments and media painted forces like ISIS in Syria as democratic “revolutionaries” waging a progressive struggle against a tyrant. The war, which was stoked through orchestrated provocations, was cited as a justification for “humanitarian” intervention.

Arms and funding poured in to back the largely Islamist “rebels,” even as Washington and its allies steadily escalated the threat of direct intervention. The Obama administration went to the brink of launching a savage bombardment of Syria in September 2013, only to beat a tactical retreat in the face of unexpected opposition.

The Islamist forces on the ground in Syria felt themselves the victims of a double-cross. Much like the CIA’s Cuban counterrevolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs a half-century earlier, their promised US air support did not come and they lashed out in retribution. Ultimately, this took the form not only of the serial beheadings of Western hostages, but also the debacle inflicted upon the US-trained security forces in Iraq.

Washington has hypocritically seized upon the beheadings in an attempt to whip up support for its new intervention in the Middle East. But when similar atrocities were carried out by ISIS and its cohorts against Syrian Alawites, Christians and captured conscripts, the Obama administration looked the other way.

In the wake of the revelations about “Jihadi John,” Britain’s Tory Prime Minister David Cameron issued a ringing defense of the country’s security services, describing its members as “incredibly impressive, hard-working, dedicated, courageous.” He declared his sympathy for their “having to make incredibly difficult judgments.” He insisted that “the most important thing is to get behind them.”

If Britain were a functioning democracy, the revelations about the role of MI5 and its relations with Mohammed Emwazi and ISIS generally would be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry that could spell the fall of the government.

However, in London, as in Washington, the government has been largely taken over by the military and intelligence apparatus, whose crimes are systematically covered up with the aid of a complicit corporate-controlled media.

For workers in Britain, the US and internationally, these revelations only underscore the necessity to build up a genuine antiwar movement based on a socialist and internationalist program and in intransigent opposition to all attempts to exploit the crimes of ISIS—the Frankenstein’s monster created by imperialism—to justify the escalation of war abroad and repression at home.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror: here.

USA: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an ultra-right political conference held in suburban Washington DC, compared the working class and student protesters who thronged the streets of Madison in 2011 to ISIS terrorists. “If I could take on 100,000 protestors, I could do the same across the world,” he said, boasting that his defeat of the unions in Wisconsin qualified him to wage war in the Middle East: here.

Bahraini regime, kidnappers like ISIS


This video about Bahrain says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

By Joseph Sabroski in the USA:

With kidnapping, Bahrain follows ISIL playbook

Key US ally continues to violate human rights with impunity

February 18, 2015 2:15PM ET

Citing “brotherly ties of kinship,” the Khalifa dictatorship of Bahrain has pledged the aid of the Bahraini Defense Forces to Jordan in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The regime’s kidnapping on Monday of Bahraini human rights defender Hussain Jawad, however, suggests the ruling family might also have a lot in common with the jihadist threat it claims to be fighting.

The chairman of the European-Bahraini Organization for Human Rights (EBOHR), Jawad was at risk of being tortured, according to a report from Amnesty International. After being snatched from his home by masked police officers, he was taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate — an affiliate of the Ministry of Interior notorious for the torture of detainees who are in the process of being charged with a crime.

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Jawad was going to be released, according to his lawyer Reem Khalaf. But at the time of publication, Jawad has yet to be returned home to his family.

This wouldn’t be the first time the island kingdom abducted and tortured a political dissident. Loved by the West for, among other things, hosting the U.S. Fifth Fleet and its hostility toward Iran, Bahrain has been violently repressing peaceful protests and political opposition while implementing only piecemeal reforms recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, according to a report in Al-Monitor. Feb. 14 marked the fourth anniversary of Bahrain’s failed uprising and was predictably marked by violent clashes between security forces and protesters who have become disillusioned by the limits of peaceful political expression.

Jawad’s wife, Asma Darwish, is the head of information and media relations for the EBOHR and immediately took to Twitter on Monday to report the kidnapping of her husband, and numerous human rights activists followed suit. The Irish human rights organization Front Line Defenders said “masked men in civilian clothes” kidnapped Jawad and held him incommunicado for 10 hours before he was finally allowed to speak by phone to his wife.

According to Darwish’s tweets about her conversation with her husband, he may have been tortured already.

The terror that incidents like these inspire for loved ones is reminiscent of the pain felt by the family members of ISIL’s victims.

“To have masked men raid your house at dawn is scary, specifically when holding your 2-year-old son between your arms,” Darwish told me over Skype. “I am worried a lot. When Hussain called, that one only call … I heard noises and strange sounds. He hardly spoke. He left me there, broken beyond repair — yet feeling more empowered to fight back to bring my husband home.”

When armed masked men of ISIL kidnap and torture their prisoners, the U.S. and U.K. lead the charge in denouncing these actions in the strongest terms. But when their favorite Arab dictatorships, with which they have all kinds of cozy arrangements and mutual geopolitical interests, employ similar violent and brutal tactics to suppress political freedoms, the West looks the other way while entrenching its vested military and political objectives.

In a recent column at Middle East Eye, author Hussain Abdulla writes that “Western countries appear to be employing the ‘stability over democracy’ approach in the Gulf,” as combating ISIL is seen as a bigger priority.

The U.S. valued parking its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain long before the rise of ISIL. But as Abdulla points out, by shoring up support for Bahrain and other allied Arab dictatorships in the name of combating ISIL, the U.S. is all but guaranteeing the rise of future violent extremist groups in Bahrain by allowing the regime to continue committing its brazen human rights abuses.

After serving a two-year sentence for tweets that he wrote during the uprising, Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was sentenced to six months in prison shortly after his release for tweeting that “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”

As if eager to vindicate his claims, the regime determined that the best course of action would be to follow ISIL’s lead: lock him up in a cage for the high crime of blaspheming the state.

Jawad was previously detained multiple times by the authorities and is already facing charges of insulting the king, according to a report in Middle East Eye. It remains to be seen if new charges will be brought in connection with his latest detention. His case, however upsetting, is unfortunately just one in a long line of victims who had the temerity to challenge and question the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Bahrain. Meanwhile, Bahrainis can rest assured that wherever there are masked gunmen throwing innocents into the back of a vehicle, the U.S. will not stand idly by, so long as it’s the right kind of villain behind the mask.

Joseph Sabroski is a freelance journalist who writes about U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

Copenhagen murderer terrorist, North Carolina murderer not terrorist?


This video from the USA says about itself:

#MuslimLivesMatter: Loved Ones Honor NC Shooting Victims & Reject Police Dismissal of a Hate Crime

12 February 2015

Thousands gathered on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last night to remember the three Muslim students shot dead by a gunman who had posted anti-religious messages online. The victims were two sisters — 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha and 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha — and Yusor’s husband, 23-year-old Deah Barakat. Suspected gunman Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

… On Wednesday, police said the killings resulted from a dispute over a parking space. But Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of Razan and Yusor, described the shootings as a hate crime. The killings in Chapel Hill have sparked an international outcry, with the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter spreading across social media. A community Facebook page was set up Wednesday in memory of the three victims, called “Our Three Winners.” We are joined by two guests: Amira Ata, a longtime friend of Yusor, and Omid Safi, director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center.

When recently a gunman murdered three human beings in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, many people wondered why establishment politicians and corporate media did not call this crime terrorism.

Was it because the victims were Muslims, and the perpetrator hated Muslims? People asked that about media in, eg, the USA, in Britain, and in the Netherlands.

Shortly after North Carolina, another gunman murdered human beings. Two human beings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

This video from Denmark says about itself:

People laid flowers outside the Copenhagen synagogue on Sunday (February 15) where a shooting killed one person and wounded two police officers.

Suddenly, politicians and corporate media re-discovered the word ‘terrorism’. Already before anything was known about who perpetrated this crime, and why (like in the mass murders by Norwegian Islamophobe Breivik, when the Murdoch media and others claimed these massacres were by Muslims, while they did not know anything about Breivik yet). The Prime Minister of Denmark does use the word terrorism now. The New York Times in the USA does. Eg, Dutch daily paper Metro of 16 February 2015 had the word Terror in chocolate letter size in the headline of its main front page story.

Why this rediscovery of the t-word? Because, unlike in North Carolina, the victims were not Muslims, and the perpetrator (probably) was Muslim, or at least had an ‘Islamic sounding name’?

On page two of that Metro issue, columnist Jan Dijkgraaf leaves the distinct impression that this is the case, in a column called What’s next? He claims there is a pattern in ‘Islamic terror'; basing himself on only two murder cases: in Paris, and in Copenhagen. He writes (translated):

So, there is a pattern.

One arranges to get a weapon.

One goes to a capital of a European country.

Dijkgraaf’s second and third sentences clearly fail to prove a ‘pattern of Islamic terrorism’. As both the perpetrators in France and in Denmark did not need to get weapons especially for ‘Islam’ (‘Islam’ as both fanatics like ISIS and Islamophobes see it; not the Islam of most Muslims all over the world). They already had histories of violent crime. Completely a-political, a-religious violent crime.

The New York Times writes about this:

The gunman, identified in Danish news reports as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, appears to have shared some traits with at least two of the militants responsible for the Paris violence — notably a criminal record and an abrupt transition from street crime to Islamic militancy.

The Copenhagen police have not publicly identified the gunman, saying only that he was 22 years old, was born and raised in Denmark, and was known to law enforcement officers because of gang-related activity and several criminal offenses linked to weapons violations and violence.

So, now Dijkgraaf’s third sentence: ‘One goes to a capital of a European country.’

This gives an impression of evil barbarian outsiders traveling from far away lands to European capitals. But Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein did not need to travel to Copenhagen. He was born there. He was raised there. He lived there. He had Danish nationality.

DR2 Deadline (Danish TV) said that Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was not known as a radical Muslim by his friends.

Why this sudden transition from a-political a-religious crime to (probably; not proven 100%) ‘religious’ crime?

We may never know. Danish police say they don’t know. Danish police shot Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein dead. He did not leave behind any message outlining his motives for his murders, as far as I know.

We may guess a bit more about another transition in Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein’s life: from non-criminal to non-religious criminal.

From Danish radio (translated):

By Emma Toft

Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was born in Denmark in September 1992.

He grew up in the metropolitan area.

He is the child of Palestinian parents. They are now divorced. He has a younger brother. …

He has also completed the Higher Preparatory Examination [which, in theory, means he can be admitted by universities] – the last part of it while in prison with fine results.

According to his own statements, he has tried to be admitted to an IT course in college – without success.

Multiple convictions

He has repeatedly been convicted and held in prison for, among other things violence and violation of the Arms Act.

A probation psychological consultant said during the trial that he did not suffer from a serious mental illness. He was only suspected of drug use. But Omar El-Hussein himself said he was suffering from anxiety and felt paranoid.

The entire case was appealed to the High Court. Therefore, Omar El-Hussein was released January 30, 2015 – two weeks before the shooting attacks in Copenhagen.

More details have emerged regarding Hussein’s biography, confirming how well-known the gunman was to police. The head of Denmark’s secret service, PET, Jens Madsen, said that El-Hussein may have been “inspired by Islamist propaganda issued by Islamic State and other terror organisations.” Madsen did not offer evidence substantiating this allegation, however: here.

It now appears El-Hussein never received training from ISIS or Al Qaeda forces in the Middle East. His turn to terrorist activity was produced by conditions in Denmark and the depraved militarism of the major powers in the Middle East and Africa, in which the government in Copenhagen has taken full part: here.

Dijkgraaf uses the last paragraph of his column in Metro for claiming that the supposed ‘pattern of Muslim terror’ will show itself next in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He blames liberal opposition politician Alexander Pechtold, party leader of D66, for future murders in Amsterdam as Pechtold rejects Islamophobia. Dijkgraaf depicts Muslims in general as inherently ‘evil’, in order to avoid real causes of terrorism; like racism and ‘austerity’ economic policies. Pechtold is one of few politicians in the Dutch parliament with the courage to denounce the racism of politicians like Geert Wilders. Unfortunately, Pechtold, like Dijkgraaf and Wilders, supports ‘austerity’ economics which aggravate racism.

OVER 30,000 MOURN VICTIMS OF COPENHAGEN TERRORIST ATTACKS Authorities believe Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein acted alone when he killed two in separate shooting attacks in Denmark Saturday. Hussein was in turn killed by police fire. [WaPo]

Oslo Muslims to form ‘peace ring’ around synagogue during Shabbat services: here.

Contrary to the gunman in Copenhagen, police did not kill the North Carolina murderer, but arrested him. So, we may know, and yet get to know, more about him than about his Danish colleague.

The New Yorker magazine in the USA writes about the Chapel Hill murderer:

Far more Americans are killed each year by the shooters in our midst like Craig Stephen Hicks than have ever been killed by all the jihadist terrorist outfits that have ever stalked this earth. That’s the price, or so the rhetoric goes, of our wild freedom. But maybe to understand the Chapel Hill murders better we need to imagine how it would be playing out if it were the other way around—if some gun-toting Muslim, with a habit of posting hate messages about secular humanists, took it upon himself to execute a defenseless family of them in their home.

Oh, why does a vigilante man,
Why does a vigilante man
Carry that sawed-off shotgun in his hand?
Would he shoot his brother and sister down?

The last four lines of this quote are a quote from a song by Woody Guthrie.

This is a music video of that song Vigilante Man – Woody Guthrie. The lyrics are here.

Craig Stephen Hicks calls himself a “patriotic American”. He said he is a member of the National Rifle Association, the right-wing lobby organisation which says there are not enough firearms yet in the USA. He is a ‘gun nut': police found thirteen firearms at Craig Stephen Hicks’ place.

Craig Stephen Hicks and his NRA strongly support the second amendment of the United States constitution. As they see it; not as politicians in 1789 saw it when they passed it. The second amendment links bearing arms to popularly controlled organized ‘well regulated militias’ to prevent in an organized way a tyrannical government in the USA, or an invasion by the British empire, then recently enemies in the American revolutionary war.

So, no ‘right to bear arms’, as interpreted by Hicks and other ‘vigilante men’ for shooting one’s brother or sister, as Woody Guthrie sang. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being African American. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being Muslim (or Sikh, or Hindu, but ‘looking like a Muslim’ to Islamophobes). No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being Jewish. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being from Latin America. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being LGBTQ. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being atheist. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being communist. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being anarchist. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for having red hair.

In practice, in the USA today, there is not only the violence of Hicks and similar ‘vigilante men’. There is also, contrary to the wishes of the eighteenth century American revolutionaries, a standing army. The biggest standing army in the world. But that is another long story.

We petition the Obama administration to:Declare the Chapel Hill shooting of 3 innocent Muslim-American students a Terrorist Attack: here.

North Carolina killings reveal double standards when victims are Muslims: here.

Shoot up a crowd while white, you’re a “murderous misfit.” Do it with a “cultural motive,” you’re a terrorist: here.

The Chapel Hill executions were a hate crime committed by a white terrorist of the Fox News generation, writes RAMZY BAROUD: here.

Islamophobic network fuelling hate sentiments in US: Report – See more here.

THE DANGER OF RIGHT-WING SOVEREIGN CITIZEN EXTREMISTS “They’re carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority. A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists, and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism.” [CNN]

ISIS terrorists make Egyptian workers prisoners in ‘new’ Libya


ISIS militants claim to have taken 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians hostage in Libya. (Dabiq)

From the International Business Times:

Isis magazine Dabiq: Cairo ‘plans to evacuate Egyptians from Libya‘ after abduction of Christians

By Umberto Bacchi

February 13, 2015 12:03 GMT

Egypt is planning to evacuate its nationals from Libya after a jihadi group affiliated to the Islamic State (Isis) claimed the abduction of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians there, it has been reported.

Pictures showing about a dozen prisoners wearing orange jumpsuits marching on a beach and then forced to kneel at knifepoint in front of by black-clad militants were published by IS mouthpiece magazine Dabiq, earlier this week.

In it the terror group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the 21 Coptic Egyptians who were taken hostage in two separate incidents between the end of December and early January.

The images mirrored those of summary executions carried out and filmed for propaganda purposes by IS in Syria.

The government in Cairo was assessing the authenticity of pictures

According to Dutch NOS TV, the photos are very probably authentic.

and laying out an emergency plan to repatriate its nationals stuck in the neighbouring country, Al Arabiya reported, citing local media.

Libya has been is engulfed in fighting since the overthrow of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with Islamist militia groups and pro-government forces currently battling for control of country.

The Egyptian hostages were abducted in Sirte, a coastal city that was Gaddafi’s hometown and has fallen in the hands of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadi movement that pledged its alliance to IS and is designated a terrorist organisation by the UN.

Thirteen were kidnapped from a residential compound that was stormed by masked men who went room to room checking identification papers to separate Christians from Muslims on 3 January.

“They had a list of full names of Christians in the building. While checking IDs, Muslims were left aside while Christians were grabbed,” Hanna Aziz, a witness, told AP.

Another seven were abducted a week earlier at a checkpoint while trying to leave the city, according to the BBC.

Bahraini dictatorship considers human rights activism ‘terrorism’


This video says about itself:

Suspected ISIS leader in Pakistan admits receiving funds via US – report

28 January 2015

A suspected Islamic State operative in Pakistan, Yousaf al Salafi, confesses to recruiting jihadists to fight in Syria, and says he received funds, wired through the U.S.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

We are human rights defenders, but Bahrain says we’re terrorists

Sayed Alwadaei

I am among 72 people stripped of their citizenship under terror laws. My crime? To fight for democracy and human rights in Bahrain

Monday 9 February 2015 10.34 GMT

The barbaric killing of Muadh al-Kasasbeh by Isis will haunt us for a long time to come as an example of the cruelty of today’s Jihadi terrorists. Kasasbeh was burned alive in a cage a month ago, his murder hidden from the world as Jordan demanded his safe return, the truth only coming to light last week when a video of his murder appeared online.

As Jordan mourns its hero, we in Bahrain reflect in fear and disgust: the Bahraini government names human rights defenders, journalists and political activists terrorists, and in doing so they liken us to Kasasbeh’s killers. The prospect of what it means for us is utterly terrifying.

This video says about itself:

Is ISIS A Tool of the Saudi State?

1 October 2014

Ali Al-Ahmed says ISIS is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy in the Middle East.

The Guardian article continues:

At the beginning of the month the ministry of interior published a list of 72 persons whose citizenship was to be revoked. No trial, no appeal, no legal process – if your name is on that list, you are no longer a Bahraini. Recent amendments to the nationality law allow the state to revoke citizenship for those guilty of terrorism. About 50 of the named persons, myself included, are human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, doctors, religious scholars – peaceful activists. Most of us are now stateless. Among the reasons given for revoking our citizenship: “defaming the image of the regime, inciting against the regime and spreading false news to hinder the rules of the constitution” and “defaming brotherly countries”.

Mixed in with our names were 20 real terrorists, people known to have gone to fight for Isis in Iraq and Syria, including notorious Bahraini jihadist preacher Turki Albinali. The message has never been clearer: the government of Bahrain views us, who advocate for democracy, human rights and change in Bahrain, as equals to the Jihadi-terrorists of Isis. We, who call for parliamentary reform and an end to torture, who call for the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings to be brought to justice, and who report on these events to the world – we are put on par with the barbaric murderers of Muadh al-Kasasbeh.

Next week will be the anniversary of the uprising which shook Bahrain. When we took to the streets on 14 February 2011 and called for democratic reform, we never imagined the repression that would follow: a brutal crackdown on protests and the establishment of martial law. Many died, shot by police, or beaten to death. Many more were imprisoned and sentenced on trumped-up charges. Doctors were arrested and tortured for treating protesters. One journalist, Karim al-Fakhrawi, died in police custody. One wonders how the world would have reacted if that murder was filmed and spread online, like the murders of Isis.

We could not have imagined that 2015 would be worse, and yet it is. Though we haven’t seen the same extreme violence that characterised martial law four years ago, today the repressive measures have become institutional. Anti-terrorism laws are now used against protesters and are used systematically to keep people off the streets. Police continue to treat protesters with excessive force. Red lines have been crossed with the detention of major political opposition figures, who were never touched even during the dark days of martial law.

This video says about itself:

Bahrain police attack young women 23-9-2011.

The Guardian article continues:

Bahrain’s government has not only succeeded in defining the work of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists as terrorism under the law, it has done so with little opposition from its allies – particularly the UK. It was bizarre when, on 20 January, foreign secretary Philip Hammond praised Bahrain’s human rights record and called it “a country which is travelling in the right direction”. On the same day, only hours later, a court convened to hear Nabeel Rajab’s case and sentenced the human rights defender to six months’ imprisonment.

The reprisals against human rights defenders, political activists and journalists I’ve described are not nearly a complete list. Yet they are the major feature of Bahrain in 2015. When the government of Bahrain equates the work of journalists and human rights defenders to the most brutal murder of innocents, I must ask: is this what Philip Hammond considers the “right direction”?

Hundreds of people protested in London on Saturday against the UK’s support for Bahrain’s repressive government: here.