“NPR Boosts British Group Blaming UK Govt. For ISIS’s ‘Jihadi John,'” by Matthew Balan, Newsbusters, March 5, 2015:
On Wednesday’s All Things Considered, NPR’s Ari Shapiro spotlighted Cage, a British organization that ran to the defense of “Jihadi John,” the ISIS member who infamously beheaded several hostages on video. Shaprio slanted toward Cage by playing four soundbites from two talking heads from the organization, as well as a clip from the terrorist himself, who has been identified as Mohammed Emwazi.
By contrast, the correspondent only played three soundbites from critics of the “controversial organization,” as host Melissa Block put it in her introduction for Shapiro’s report. Block outlined that “an organization in London called Cage has become central to his [Emwazi’s] story. The group advocates for people who say they have been mistreated in the war on terror. The director of Cage is a former Guantanamo detainee.”
The All Things Considered host actually did better than the Washington Post and CNN in pointing out that the organization is led by a former Gitmo prisoner. Neither media outlet mentioned this detail in coverage of the group in reporting at the end of February 2015. However, Block omitted that Cage explicitly states on its website that it’s “been campaigning against the War on Terror for more than a decade. Its work has focussed on working with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe.”
Shapiro led with two clips from the organization’s research director, Asim Qureshi, who claimed that Emwazi was “extremely kind, extremely gentle, extremely soft-spoken.” The NPR journalist noted that “Qureshi implied that British security services drove Emwazi to radicalism by harassing him; trying to recruit him; and preventing him from visiting his fiancee in Kuwait.”
After playing his clip from Emwazi, which was from a cache of “e-mails and recorded interviews” that Cage recently released, Shapiro played a soundbite from London Mayor Boris Johnson, who recently slammed the group. However, he followed this with two more clips from Cage spokesman Cerie Bullivant, who likened the CIA, and by extension, the U.S. government, to the homicidal Islamist group:
CERIE BULLIVANT, CAGE SPOKESMAN: If you want to put what happened to Alan Henning in modern security parleance, he was rendered from the convoy. Then, he suffered enhanced interrogation techniques. And then, he was dispatched by executive order. And for us, it’s just as illegal when ISIS do (sic) it as when the CIA do it.
The correspondent did acknowledged that Bullivant’s statement “may sound deliberately provocative,” but forwarded the Cage member’s spin about it – that “what sounds outrageous to many people helps Cage build bridges to groups that feel alienated from Western society.”
Near the end of the segment, Shapiro pointed out the criticism of Cage from an atheist former member of Amnesty International, who claims that “the Cage website glorifies some of the most senior figures in al Qaeda.” Indeed, the “cases” section of the website includes deceased Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula leader, Anwar al-Awlaki; and “Lady al Qaeda,” Aafia Siddiqui, who had connections to 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, and is married to Ammar al-Baluchi, who helped fund some of the 9/11 hijackers. They also have a “case” page for noted Islamist Omar Bakri….