The academic and journalist Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, who’s thought to be close to counter-terrorism and security officials, has claimed that the US Department of Defense is funding a multi-million dollar university research program to develop new data mining and analysis tools for the US military intelligence community to track political radicalism among British Muslims and other activist groups around the world.
The British Muslim organisations allegedly being tracked include a wide variety of “Islamist” and “non Islamist” groups such as CAGE, The Islamic Human Rights Commission, iEngage, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, The Quilliam Foundation and FOSIS.
Ahmed is a controversial figure in the British Muslim community because of his role in the scandal at the Muslim Youth Helpline a few years ago.
Ahmed’s wife, Akeela, resigned as Chief Executive at the Helpline after she wrote a letter to the police accusing some of her staff of racism and homophobia. Nafeez Ahmed also contacted the anti-terror police making the same accusations as well as that of extremism.
You can see a TV report of what happened at the Muslim Youth Helpline here:
In an article for the Occupy.com website Ahmed says that the analysis tools are designed to enhance the intelligence community’s capabilities to identify potential terrorism suspects that could face a range of sanctions, from surveillance to no-fly injunctions to, at worst, being targeted for extrajudicial assassination via the CIA’s “kill lists.”
But, he writes, inherent flaws in the program are instead likely to facilitate the criminalization of political dissent and the targeting of innocent civilians – and that such trends are increasingly likely to affect not just “hostile theatres” abroad, but even domestic populations in the US, Britain and Europe.
Ahmed says some of the US government money is being channeled through Arizona State University. Last year the stud a ASU project paper, “Multiscale Modeling of Islamic Organizations in the UK,” was presented at an academic conference in Washington D.C.
The study’s authors describe their development of “a ranking system that utilizes ranked perspectives to map 26 U.K. Islamic organizations on a set of socio-cultural, political and behavioral scales based on their web corpus.”
In reality, the list of organizations studied included 10 more organizations, some of which were non-Muslim organizations.
Data for the Pentagon-funded research project consisted of a collection of nearly 10,000 documents downloaded from the websites of 36 U.K. organizations that were then ranked on various scales by three independent experts.
The organizations rated for their threat-level included largely peaceful civil society organizations such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Islamic Relief, Islamic Society of Britain and the Quilliam Foundation, as well as activist pro-Palestinian organizations which have been critical of UK government policy, such as the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, CAGE and Interpal.
Despite the claim of focusing on Muslim discourses of extremism, included on the list are non-Muslim organizations oppositional to U.S. and British foreign policies – namely the 32 county sovereignty committee (32CSM), the Irish Republican separatist group often described as the political wing of the Real IRA; and the Socialist Workers Party, which since 2003 has run the U.K.’s leading anti-war network, the Stop The War Coalition (STWC).
Also listed for ranking are Islam4UK, the group formerly known as Al-Muhajiroun, and the far right English Defence League.
The full list of British organizations scaled for their propensity for or against terrorism by this Pentagon-funded data-mining project is as follows:
• iEngage • MPACUK •32 county sovereignty committee •Al-Khoei Foundation •Bradford Council for Mosques •British Muslim Forum •British Muslim Initiative •British Muslims for secular democracy •Cage Prisoners •Christian Choice •European Muslim Research Centre •Federation of Student Islamic Societies Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies •Interpal •Islam 4 UK •Islam Expo •Islamic Centre of England •Islamic Forum Europe •Islamic Foundation •Islamic Human Rights Commission •Islamic Relief •Islamic Society Britain •Middle East Monitor •Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board •Muslim Aid •Muslim Association of Britain •Muslim Council of Britain •Muslim parliament of Great Britain •Muslims4UK •National Association of Muslim Police •Quilliam Foundation •Radical Middle Way •Socialist Workers Party •Sufi Muslim Council •The Cordoba Foundation •The English Defence League