Some leading British charities underwrite an advocacy group led by former Guantanamo Bay detainees that has promoted al-Qaida recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Cageprisoners' website features some Awlaki videos and more than 20 articles about him, Telegraph Investigations Editor Jason Lewis reports. Some of those articles describe Awlaki as an "inspiration" and question his involvement in terrorism. The group invited Awlaki to speak at fundraisers in 2008 and 2009.
Despite this, the Joseph Rowntree Trust, the Roddick Foundation and other philanthropies continue supporting Cageprisoners. The two named groups have given £200,000 to Cageprisoners in the past three years, the newspaper reported. A spokesman for the Rowntree Trust, named for a chocolate maker and philanthropist, said he is confident Cageprisoners is "completely opposed to any form of the use of terrorism aimed at civilians."
How does he know? Because Cageprisoners told him.
The Telegraph investigation casts doubt on that, however, citing a separate posting about the death of a suspected Libyan terrorist. 'His death … may serve as the fertilizer that serves to revive the spirit of jihad in the Muslims of Britain," the Cageprisoners article said.
The group was founded by former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg. Apparently anticipating the Telegraph investigation, the Cageprisoners posted a release Friday claiming Awlaki's "status as someone well respected within the community was evidenced by his invitation" to meet with Pentagon officials after 9/11 and by a sermon he delivered on Capitol Hill.
Both of those events were disclosed only within the past few months.
In addition, the Cageprisoners release said scrutiny on its relationship with Awlaki has "helped to fuel and incite Islamaphobia particularly against Muslim organisations around the UK."
Cageprisoners claims it was unaware Awlaki advocated killing civilians until seeing him discuss the issue on Al Jazeera in 2009 and earlier this year. His sermons, however, have been referenced in terrorist plots dating back several years.
Awlaki vaulted to international infamy after it was discovered he served as an inspiration for the Foot Hood shooting massacre, the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing over Detroit, the failed Times Square bombing attempt and other terrorist plots.
Read the full Telegraph report here.
Update: Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens has more on the Cageprisoners embrace of Awlaki here.