‘You’re going to be followed…life will be harder for you’: the story of Mohammed Emwazi

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Extract Summary:

Mohammed Emwazi first came to CAGE in 2009 after being detained, interrogated and recruited by Mi5 on what was meant to be a safari holiday to Tanzania. Thereafter, the harassment continued and intensified which led to him losing two fiancée’s, his job and new life in Kuwait. The harassment and abuse he suffered, was all without criminal charges ever being brought against him, with the legal remedies available to him failing…

Mohammed Emwazi first came to CAGE in 2009 after being detained, interrogated and recruited by Mi5 on what was meant to be a safari holiday to Tanzania. Thereafter, the harassment continued and intensified which led to him losing two fiancée's, his job and new life in Kuwait. The harassment and abuse he suffered, was all without criminal charges ever being brought against him, with the legal remedies available to him failing, he attempted to start a new life abroad in Kuwait only to be blocked by the UK security agencies continually. A Washington Post investigation recently alleged he was the British IS member known as “Jihadi John”.
 
“You’re going to have a lot of trouble …you’re going to be known…you’re going to be followed…life will be harder for you.” 
 
 
(CC image courtesy of Matt Niemi on Flickr)
 

Background

Mohammed Emwazi is 26 years old British citizen. He was born in Kuwait in 1988, but moved to the UK at the age of six with his family and has lived there since.
 
Raised and educated in West London, he went on to complete a degree in 2009. He hoped that with this degree he could build a successful career in Arab countries, particularly as he was fluent in Arabic, English and a British citizen.
 
After completing his studies Mohammed began making plans for settling down, for his future. As for most, this included marriage. Regarding this, he was speaking to a potential spouse and her family over the phone back in his home country, Kuwait and the only step that remained was for him to go there and formally conduct the marriage contract.
 
As is the case for most students, upon completing his studies Mohammed first wanted a break, a summer holiday with some friends where he could relax for a bit and enjoy himself. With two close friends from childhood, he made plans to go to Tanzania with one of the key attractions there being safari. 
 

Detention in Tanzania

When their plane landed in Tanzania, in August 2009, the three were stopped in the airport. The officers were border control officials, but Mohammed recollected that it was as if they knew who he and his two friends were – as if they knew who to stop. 
 
Without being given an official reason, they were refused entry. Being far away from home, in a non-European country, they thought it would be wise not to make a big fuss and simply requested their passports back and a return flight to take them home. However, their passports were not returned and instead the officers were armed with sticks and were shouting threats and abuse at the friends until a suited man, Emanuel, turned up inquiring as to what was going on. This man became the official contact for Mohammed and his friends as the Tanzanians sought to remove them from the country. 
 
Emanuel told Mohammed and his friends that they had missed the next flight to Holland. They responded by saying they would simply wait in the airport for the next flight, but he did not allow this and proceeded to physically drag the three to two cars waiting outside. Each of them was flanked by two officers and struggling would have been of no use. Mohammed in one car and his two friends in the other, they were taken to the nearest police station to the airport in Dar-es-Salaam and thrown into the same cell where they spent the night. 
 
There was still daylight when they were detained and they remained in the cell for approximately 24 hours. During this time, despite the officers knowing that they had just come off a 12-hour flight, they were not given any food or drink; there were many officers armed with guns and sticks in the station who threatened them; one officer tried to make them strip to their underwear when getting in the cell, which was said to be one of the rules of the police station – something which they refused to do after seeing others in separate cells with full clothing. When night fell they had to sleep rough on the floor. But they didn’t trust the police so Mohammed stayed up while the other two slept, during which time he had a gun pointed at him through the cell and was threatened.
 
 
(CC image courtesy of Kim Tyo-Dickerson on Flickr) 
 
Even after the men managed to secure consular visits the following day, they were simply informed that the Tanzanians could remove them if they wanted. Just before their deportation, the men asked Emanuel why they had been removed. The following afternoon, the man who had taken them from the airport had arrived to return them to the airport where they were put on a plane back to Schipol, Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
 
“Before we entered the airplane we said to him that you look a big guy here and you have lots of authority so tell us that why we got rejected? What was our fault? He said, “This is not the Tanzanian government.” He even took out a paper and showed us which had our first names, last names, flight details and at the bottom it had a piece of writing which said “refuse entry and send back to the UK with the same flight”. We were shocked. This was the first time someone told us the truth and he was being very honest. So we said “what are you trying to suggest?” and he said, “You know it could be the British, your government who were the reason for your rejection.” We were in a MAJOR shock. He had given us a big clue. He led us to the plane and said we have got nothing against you. I even have his number and email with me. He asked us to come again and he would show us around. He said you seem to be free lads and good people. Find out the reason and come back again. We did not believe him immediately as he had lied to us before but we had no other option. So we boarded the plane back from Tanzania to Amsterdam, the same 10 hour flight, and from there back to UK.” 
 

Interrogation in Amsterdam Schipol, Holland 

“As soon we landed and came out of the plane 4 armed men were waiting for us. It was the Schiphol airport in Holland and the men were policemen. They took us three specifically, they checked our passports. They were waiting for three men and had our name cards. So we went with them at least we felt more comfortable with them. This was Europe much closer to home. So we trusted them with our passports and did not ask many questions. We just said if you want to make sure and double check, then do it. So they took us downstairs to the immigration floor. We were waiting downstairs and they had our passport doing all the checks. They called us one by one. A man came in who was the head of immigration in the airport.” 
 
Then they were subjected to the first stage of actual interrogation. In Tanzania officers questioned them through the cell taking notes, but it was more informal questioning. It was in the airport that each was called individually to an interrogation room. His friend was first and then Mohammed was called:
 
“When my friend came back in the room Nick wanted to see me, so I went in. There was this main guy in immigration. Two other men were also in the room. One was Fernando and the other was Nick. He said to me, “Mohammed you have to enter this cell now and my colleagues Nick and Fernando are going to ask you some questions.” I said that what if I do not want to enter the cell. He said, “Well you are not under arrest to be honest”. Then Nick stood up and started saying that we will let you know, we will let you know just enter the cell. He spoke in a cockney accent as if he was from back home. So we entered the cell and all three of us sat down. He introduced himself and his colleague. He said this is Fernando from Dutch intelligence. I thought ok. And then he said I am Nick from MI5. When he said that I thought wow! I can’t believe it. Am I so special?  First I got spotted down and now MI5. This is a major thing. He said to me, “Mohammed not many people get to speak to MI5 so consider yourself lucky.” Like this was a major joke. Then he asked me to introduce myself. I said, “My name is Mohammed. I live in west London. I have just finished my degree so we booked our holiday and came here.” He asked me to tell him about my holiday plan. He asked me to start off from the beginning as how we reached here and everything. As we told you early on that we booked the train from that to ferry and from ferry to the plane. So I told him everything. So he said ok and did exactly the same thing as he did to my friend, in that he took out a map. I remember the map was labelled as East Africa. It was only for those areas. So he took out the map, slammed it on the table and said ok tell me now where were you going. 

 
So he pointed to the map and said ok this is Tanzania and tell me where you were going. I said, “no, this is east Africa and I pointed out towards Tanzania and said this is Tanzania and this is where I was going as my ticket says departure 22nd of May and return on the 21st of June. So he said where else did you want to go? I said to him, “well I have not bought any other ticket. This is the only ticket I booked. Do you know if I have booked any other ticket? This is the only ticket I have going to and coming back from Tanzania. That is it.” He said to me, “no, I think you are lying and you wanted to go to Somalia.” And I just looked at him and said, “why the hell would I want to go to Somalia, where a civil war is going on?” he asked me that how did I know that there is a civil war in Somalia. I asked him if he reads the news or not? Did he not have a TV at home? I said to him that I had a TV at home which tells me that there is a civil war in Somalia so why would I choose to go there? And then I said to him, “Nick my friend, look! In the map there is Tanzania and above that is Kenya and then above that is Somalia. How would I have crossed Kenya to go to Somalia? It is a totally different country.” He just got baffled and then he said that oh, you might have someone in Tanzania to take you over there. I asked him that who I would have there. I have no relation over there, I do not know anyone. I did not know anyone in Amsterdam either. I said to him that it was a holiday and you do not go to places for holiday where only you know people. Whatever you do, wherever you go it is all part of holiday and it stays there. That is how I felt. Then he said that at the end of the day they had been following us and watching us closely. I told him that it was news to me and I had no idea about it. He knew everything about me; where I lived, what I did, the people I hanged around with. He also believed that I was lying and I wanted to go to Somalia. Then he made a face and said, “I am going out of the cell now and by the time I come back,  I want you to think about what do you want to say to us.” I said to him that before you go out you have to tell me that what you want from me. He said that he wanted the truth. I said, “Bloody hell! I just told you what was our plan and where were we going and you still think that I am lying. What do you want from us?” he pointed out his finger at me and said to me, “Don’t try to play smart and lie on my face. Don’t try to fool me. YOU WANTED TO GO TO SOMALIA.” I said to him that I have just shown you my ticket for going to Tanzania. Now the argument had started going back and forth, same thing again and again, like in a circle. He just wanted to force it out of my mouth that I intended to go to Somalia. But I stood firm and maintained that I had no reason to go to Somalia. I was in Tanzania, how could I force enter into Kenya? How could have we managed that. So eventually he said ok, go Mohammed. He wanted my phone number before letting me go. He said that he was going to keep in touch and call me regularly. He even said that he would try to visit me. But I refused and told him that I did not want him to pay me a visit. He again said that he was going to keep a check on me and keep a close track of all my activities. It was like a threat. Then I was let go and went back to the immigration office with my friends…”
 
But after Mohammed explained how he planned only to go on holiday with the logical points set out above, and even his clothes showed how he was only prepared for this, the MI5 agent drifted away from accusing him of terrorism. He moved to courting him to work for the MI5. Mohammed recalled exactly what was said to him:
 
“Listen Mohammed: You’ve got the whole world in front of you; you’re 21 years old; you just finished Uni – why don’t you work for us?”
 
All this was said in front of the Dutch Intelligence officer. He asked Mohammed to help them out, telling him that this was an opportunity for him – not a lot of people got to meet MI5.
 
Of course this offer did not go down well with Mohammed who just been accused of being a terrorist, and lost his time, money and holiday because of these intelligence officers, told them he would not work for them and that, being a normal person, there was nothing he could even help them with.
 
At this, the MI5 agent’s tone became much more disturbing. He began speaking of freedom and Mohammed responded, “I’m free, if I’m not going to work with you it doesn’t mean I’m going to go to prison does it?” While assuring him that he would not go to prison for this, he issued a threat letting him know: 
 
“You’re going to have a lot of trouble …you’re going to be known…you’re going to be followed…life will be harder for you.” 
 
After going through what he had just gone through, Mohammed was shocked to hear this from his own government and decided to just ignore whatever the agent said to him.
 
The last Mohammed received from the agent was his number on a piece of paper and the words, “we’ll see you in London mate”.
 
The other two friends went through a similar interrogation with the same questions and offer to work for them.
 
The three were made to then book their own tickets back to the UK and were taken to the ferry.
 

Dover, United Kingdom and Returning Home

Upon reaching Dover, the three were stopped again – just as Mohammed was warned. Suited men claiming to be from the Anti-Terror Unit were waiting at the doors, though they didn’t show any identification. Each of the friends were escorted by two officers and taken to individual rooms in the port. Their bags were searched again, and then the main interrogation began which lasted a couple of hours.
 
In a room similarly laid out as in Holland, Mohammed was questioned by two anti-terror officers about his thoughts regarding 7/7 and 9/11, where he prayed, who his friends were, and the same questions asked by the MI5 agent in Holland claiming that they had information Mohammed wanted to go to Somalia. Having nothing to hide, he answered them all.
 
Then, in what came as a complete shock to Mohammed and revealing the sinister intentions of the officers, he was told that, “oh by the way Mohammed, we spoke to your fiancée” – they had paid her a visit. At this Mohammed was left speechless. However, he soon realised, and pointed out, that the intelligence officers actually knew that his plans never involved Somalia and that he always intended to return and get married to the sister in Kuwait. Also he realised that intelligence officers were listening to his phone calls before he even planned his holiday. When Mohammed challenged them regarding listening to his private conversations one of the officers casually shrugged his shoulders saying “well that’s part of our job mate”
This contact with Mohammed’s fiancée had the effect of scaring her and her family from him – the marriage was off.
 
“As soon as we came out of the ship they took us for the questioning and we thought that it is going to be another long meeting. They took me to a room, sat me down and introduced themselves. There were two of them from terrorism police and one was called David. So they started asking question and asked about the same things as Nick from MI5 had asked in Amsterdam. The first one was where did I start my journey from. So I told him everything about it. After a long 20 minute conversation about my journey, he started getting personal. He started saying the same things as Nick that we have been watching you closely. So I said to him that I must be special then if you were watching me so closely. I also asked the reason for this “special favour”? He said that we think that you wanted to go to Somalia to participate in terrorist activities and to get some training.  So I told him that Tanzania is here and Somalia is all the way up there and then there is Kenya in between, same as I had told Nick. I told him that he had got all this was messed up. I had just finished university and just wanted to have some holidays with my friends. Then he told me that they went to my house and had spoken to my mother and father. I told him that he had no right to do that. So he said that why had I not told my parents that I was going to Somalia? I said if I had told them about my holiday they would not have been very happy. They would have said stay and help us out but I wanted to enjoy myself. But I told him it was none of his business. He said that they have even spoken to a certain person; this was the person I was going to get married to. I said that how on earth had they known about her. They even said the sister’s name. He said that all of this was a part of their job. I asked him was it his job to go through my phonebook and listen to my phone calls. This is the only way they could have known about her. I had not known them before or met them so how else would they know. When I suggested that he laughed, shrugged his shoulders and said that was his job. I was absolutely shocked that they had gone to see the sister and her family and had asked personal questions about me. Then they searched me and my bag. They went through the entire luggage. I told them their colleagues had already searched our luggage, in their own words, 10/12 thousand times so why were they searching it again. They had no answer. I had dropped my hands and they kept on searching through all the pockets. I had a green proper safari style jacket, which was the reason that I had brought it with me. But he took out the jacket and said to me, “this jacket looks like a bit military, Mohammed.” I started laughing and asked how he could even suggest that it was military, what he was trying to prove. I had another jumper, a stylish Rocawear jumper, so I asked him what about this jumper. Was he not going to make any comment about that? He fell silent then. So after some more questions asked me if I was going training. I told him that I did not want to do any such things. However I asked him for his details. I told him that when I go back to London and I will speak to my solicitors, then he would want to know who on earth he was. But he said that he could not show me his badge. I felt stuck. I did not know what to do. The door was shut and I just wanted to walk out of the room. The guy could not show his badge; I did not know what was going on, it all seemed a big joke. How could I be treated like that? I am a British citizen and my government was threatening me and throwing allegations at me. So I just stood quiet and waited for them to finish checking my belongings. All my stuff was on the floor, as soon as they finished they told me to pack up my stuff and go. So I packed my bag, went outside and sat with my friend and together we waited for our other friend.” 
 
(CC image courtesy of Pieter Bas Elskamp on Flickr)
 
“Right at the end of our interview, when I was packing my bag he said to me that he was going to ask me some serious questions now. I told him it was fine by me. But he said that he wanted to ask these face to face so I should finish my packing first. I thought that it must be something serious so it should be done with soon. So I finished my packing and sat down.  When I was face to face he said to me, “Mohammed, what do you think of 7/7?” I thought he wanted to see my instant reaction so I told him that it was nothing else but extremism. Then he said, “ok and what do you think of war in Afghanistan?” I said, “What do I think! We see innocent people being killed in news daily.” Then he asked me what I thought of 9/11. I said to him that whatever happened was not right and if it was in my hands to bring all those lives back, I would have. What happened was wrong. Then he asked me of my opinion about Jews, just he had asked others. I told him that it was their religion and every one had a right to have his own belief. I can’t force anyone. He wanted to know about my background, my aqeedah (creed). I told him this is how Islam works. We do not force anyone to come into our religion and I told him whatever has been happening around us, the bombing etc all this is from extremism. After all of this he came back to the same point and said I still believe that you were going Somalia to get trained. I said to him , “after hearing what I just told him and clearly voicing my views are  you still suggesting  that I am an extremist?” then he started saying this and that and he said that they had been keeping a close eye on me and kept threatening.” 
 
He was asked many other questions, but being back in the UK, he became more comfortable in demanding his rights. 
 
Eventually the three friends were given their luggage and allowed to go free, albeit without any money and any means to get home – something that the anti-terror police did not care much about.
 
After managing to collect enough change to return home, Mohammed explained to his family what had happened. At this his father informed him they had been visited while he was away in Tanzania (most probably either by anti-terror police or MI5 agents) – meaning that they knew he was in Tanzania and picked this time to make the visit. They fed lies to his family, claiming to be concerned about Mohammed – that he may be a terrorist. Then they moved onto his younger brother, who was 14 at the time, telling his father to watch out for him as he goes to such and such place (naming a normal youth club he went to, which was actually established with the purpose of keeping children off the streets and out of trouble).

 
This was all an attempt to get his family scared, to make them panic. And with them not knowing the best of English, the plan succeeded. Mohammed’s father even made his younger son stop going to the youth club.
 
A couple of weeks later, in September, his family presented the idea of Mohammed going to stay in Kuwait with his father’s family to avoid being further harassed in the UK; so later that month he left.
 

Kuwait 

Mohammad was in Kuwait for 8 months, settled and had a contract working for a well-known computer programming company. As everything had been going well he decided to return to London in late May to visit his family for 8 days.
 
The only incident that Mohammed experience while in Kuwait was that, one or two months before he returned, his father called and told him someone wanted to speak to him. Without Mohammed having any time to enquire about the person, the phone was passed straight to an English lady who did not identify herself. Mohammed asked if she was MI5 to which she responded in the negative and that they were just concerned about him. She inquired about when he would be back asking if she could speak to him when he returned rather than over the phone, but he informed her that he had nothing to say and if she wanted to speak about something it should be made clear over the phone. 
 
When Mohammed returned, in late May 2010, he was stopped while going through Heathrow. When he gave his passport to be checked, Mohammed’s name was taken down and he requested to stand on the side. The man also made a note which Mohammed couldn’t make out. 
 
Everyone went through apart from him, who had to wait for some people to come – a lady and a man that came. They said that they were normal passport patrol officers and took his passport, phones and SIM cards – they were taken to a room and then given back. Mohammed was then questioned, in front of everybody, about what he was doing in Kuwait. When asked what this was about, they answered that this was simply a routine check about passports. Knowing who they were, he didn’t make a big fuss, as he just wanted to get home.
 
After being let through, Mohammed went home to see his family who said that they had not had any problems apart from being visited a couple of times. Mohammed told his family not to let those visitors in the house again and gave them a solicitor’s telephone number just in case they returned.
 
Eight days later, in early June 2010, Mohammed went back to Kuwait, working for the same company as before. His father was visited by the same people again, whether it was the anti-terror police or MI5, but after he rang the solicitor Mohammed instructed him to, he was left alone. 
 
He was there for around two months, but after making plans to marry again (to a different woman) Mohammed wanted to come back and see his family again, just for a couple of days, before making the final step. It was late July 2010 when he returned.
 

UK – No way out

When Mohammed returned to the airport to go back to Kuwait, he didn’t even make it past the check-in stage. He was told that a message had been flagged up and couldn’t be checked-in; he would have to wait for someone.
 
3 men and 1 woman, all suited, came and took him and his luggage aside to an open room next to the check-in for searching. He asked whether they had the right to search his bags and was told that they had the power to, under counter-terrorism law. Having contacted the human rights group CAGE after this event had taken place; Mohammed began to communicate with Asim Qureshi, seeking assistance with his case. He described the stop at the airport in an email:
 
“They took me and my bags aside, and started searching through my bags whilst saying "Mohammed you will miss your 8:40PM flight and we will get you on the 10:00PM flight, & we are searching and will be speaking to you under a terrorism act" etc
 
“Listen Mohammed: You’ve got the whole world in front of you; you’re 21 years old; you just finished Uni – why don’t you work for us?”
 
Then I was finally taken to a room for interview. They started searching through my bags again, but this time taking my Phone, Kuwaiti SIMCARD, USB's & laptop. They asked my who are my friends, what Masjid I go to, what am I doing in Kuwait etc.
 
After this I was taken to a room, so that they can take photos of me. Not only photos, they took my fingerprints and DNA.
 
Then I was sent back to the Interview room and had been asked more questions, like these:
 
Q: What have you been doing in Kuwait for the past 9months?
A: I had been working for a company as a salesman slash programmer
 
Q: Why are you going back?
A: Because I want to settle their or even "emigrate" their as I have found a job and found someone for marriage!!
 
Towards the end of this long interview, I told them that I want to be left alone, as I have an ambition of moving from the UK and settling in Kuwait. That is why I found a job and a spouse!! But they laughed.
One of them got aggressive with me, he pushed me to the wall and started "gripsing" onto the wall, I was just baffled I did not know why he had done that after this long 6 hour interview, fingerprinting and searching. When I asked for their names they said "We don't give out our names"
 
1:00AM had reached, & so after a long 5/6hour "session" I was let out, I had to make my own way home as my dad had obviously gone, because they promised him and myself that I would get onto the next 10:00PM flight”.” 
 
During the process of the interrogation by the police officers/security agents, things became quite heated for Mohammed as he struggled to deal with his continued detention:
 
“After they took out everything in my bag, they told me to follow them into a room where I needed to answer their questions, or in fact as they said aggressively "where I MUST answer there [sic] questions". This room had no CCTV and no recording, I sat down on a chair whilst one officer started to ask me questions, the other writing down my answers and the rest searching through my bags.
 
I was asked, which Mosque I go to? Who are my friends? What I did in my country in the past 9months? What are my future plans, what was my feelings [sic] about what is happing in the world? What Islamic lectures I go to? If I am a Hafis? (i.e. If I have memorised the Holy Quran completely)?
 
During the process of answering these questions and many more, one random officer wearing an Indian turban entered, and started also searching through my bags. He reached out for the Holy Quran and put it on the floor & I asked him to put it onto the chair rather than on the floor. He started to get aggressive, changing his tone of voice. He said "I've put it onto the chair now, so just shutup" & I replied "You shutup". He stood up aggressively and came into my face, pushing me back onto the chair. At that point I told the other officers that I was not going to answer any-more questions until this aggressive and angry person, that had hate for me for no reason, got out of the room. He later stood outside.
 
After this process of answering many questions, I was told to follow them somewhere else, into a specific room. In this "gadget" room that had top of the range computer equipment, I had my DNA taken, fingerprints and around-out 10 photos taken, with one holding a paper that had numbers and letters on it. Reminding me of criminals that you see on T.V who have committed a serious crime, only I was a person never charged or arrested for anything, I was a person looking to start a new life in my country Kuwait!
 
After going through this strange ordeal, I was taken to another room for more questions, but this time in a room that had CCTV. & for the first time I actually felt safe, because I knew that their [sic] are other people watching while I'm answering questions. In this room I was interviewed by one person only, called Jo or Joe. He had asked me why I went to Ummra, I told him it was a religions [sic] duty…he then started to ask me more questions, like my ordeal that completely changed my life when I went on a holiday after graduation at the age of 20, to Africa, Tanzania. Tanzania, was where I was arrested at the airport with two friends of mine, at which we were taken to a prison cell for the night being abused and threatened by Tanzanian authorities. We later were interrogated by the Netherlands security agents and MI5 and later when we arrived at London, Antiterrorism Police and others interview us.
 
Anyway, when I had answered his question regarding my experience and ordeal in Tanzania, he went on to ask me if I wanted to travel to other places like Kenya & Somalia. I said "I've just graduated and wanted to have a holiday with a group of friends, & that I didn't want to enter a war-zone", he said "how do you know that theirs [sic] a war-zone" I replied "I have a T.V, and it has a channel called BBC WORLDNEWS"
 
After this new interview room that I entered with this person called Jo/Joe, we went back to my first interview room that had my bags. I sat down patiently waiting for them to ask me more questions. But he said that they had finished questioning me & that I needed to wait, so that they can make-sure me [sic] details (DNA, fingerprints and photos) had been safely stored onto their system.
 
Whilst waiting, an Asian officer appeared into the room, an Officer that I had never seen before. He sat right next to me, & asked the officers why I was here? I had been allowed to use my phone to contact my father and friend so that they can come and pick me up as it was past midd-night. So when my phone rang I picked-it up like usual, but this new Asian officer who had just entered the room told me to give me my phone, I said to him "NO!! I'm allowed to answer the phone" as the police officers have been letting me. "He said I don't care, I'm not them"
 
So he just stood up reached to snatch the phone of me, but was unsuccessful. So he then grabbed onto my t-shirt and throw [sic] me onto the wall, garbing [sic] onto my beard and lasting strangling my by my neck. All this was happing [sic] to me while the officers sat down casually not stopping or doing anything. When the Asian officer realised I was having difficulty breathing, he finally let go of my neck. At this point I was absolutely shocked and completely baffled. I took a minute to myself because I didn't know why he had done such a thing, so I asked him "WHY!!" he said "You had your phone out and it’s a threat towards me"
 
They quickly took me and my bags out of the room and locked the door, I told the officers "I want your names", but they replied "we don't give out our names". This interview room had no CCTV, but outside the room when they locked the door, their [sic] was CCTV that was facing us. & you could see me asking for their names and them laughing saying we don't give out our names mate!!! You could also probably see how the Asian officer was agitated, knowing he had done something wrong!!” 
 
He went home and came back the next day, this time with his father. The story, however, was the same and he was not allowed through the check-in. An Emirates airline official came and informed Mohammed that he could board the plane and go to Dubai (where the plane was due to stop-over), but that he wouldn’t be able to go to Kuwait as his visa had been refused. The official had learned this information from a phone-call and knew nothing more.

READ: JIHADI JOHN: 'RADICALISED' BY BRITAIN


Of course there was no point boarding the flight only to be stranded in Dubai, so Mohammed declined the offer. He went to the Kuwaiti embassy to find out why his visa had been rejected, but was met with more ignorant faces. Nobody seemed to know why he had been allowed to enter Kuwait, and it didn’t make sense as he never had any such problems with the nation before.
 
After making some phone calls back to Kuwait, speaking with friends and relatives and receiving news from people working in the airport, it became apparent that the reason for Mohammed’s rejection came as a result of the UK Intelligence informing the Kuwaiti Intelligence not to let him enter the land. That is why Mohammed lost his job and another marriage.
 
Mohammed Emwazi sought the assistance of both lawyers and human rights groups in order to have his situation changed. He constantly spoke to Asim Qureshi of CAGE of his desire to settle in Kuwait, and having twice had engagements broken off due to his inability to travel, became increasingly frustrated with his situation. 
 

Descent to alienation

A series of communications both in person and via email with CAGE Research Director, Asim Qureshi, is revelatory of the anxiety felt by Mohammed due to his banning from Kuwait. Patently aware of the wider issues being faced in the War on Terror, he still made a plea for assistance from us in any way that we could assist:
 
“Brothers & sisters from cageprsioners, please help me as I don't want to stay in the UK because I have found a Job in Kuwait, found a spouse in Kuwait and thus found a new start for my life in Kuwait. Kuwait is where I'm from, I was born their [sic]. I just want to go their [sic] and start my new life again!!
 
Brothers & sister please don't forget my "little case" but please don't think I'm telling you to neglect the "bigger cases".” 
 
This feeling was very much reflected in the complaint that he lodged with the IPCC on 4 June 2010 where he signed off his complaint with:
 
“I never got onto the flight, what was the point, I said to myself, I'll just get rejected. I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started. But know [sic] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person in-prisoned [sic] & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace, & my country, Kuwait.”       
 
The next communication received by Asim Qureshi and the lawyer for Mohammed, Saghir Hussain, was sent on 21 June 2010. In this email Mohammed speaks of revelations from Kuwait that finally prove to him that his barring from the country is specifically due to requests by the British authorities:
 
“I have been trying to find out the reason for my refused Visa issue from my home country Kuwait, & a way to solve the issue. So through my friends in Kuwait, it has been said to me that Kuwait has no problem with me entering, & the reason for my refusal is simply because the UK "agents" have told them to not let me in!!
 
The solution to this, is basically to put pressure on these UK "agents"…My friends in Kuwait have said they can send my [sic] an official print out from there system that CLEARLY states, the reason for my refused Visa. It states that the "orders" have come from people in the "UK".” 
 
Responding to this information, Asim Qureshi explained that it would be best if Mohammed was able to procure a screenshot or print out of the official notice that blocked his entry into Kuwait, but most importantly, explicitly stated that it was due to the British authorities. He was further advised by his lawyer to begin a dialogue with both his MP and the media in order to start exerting some pressure on the security agencies to be more transparent in their role. Mohammed explained in an email on 10 July 2010 how his attempts to procure the official documents were proving unsuccessful:
 
“Just keeping you updated, I've been trying to do my best to get hold of that letter from the system that says I've been rejected under "instructions" from the UK government. No one seems to want to help me because they are obviously scared that they may get into "trouble".
 
Knowing this, I'm not going to give up!! I'm going to wait for my dad to come back, so that me and him can visit the Kuwaiti embassy in London & ask for a [sic] what is the reason for my rejection…going to the embassy myself wont be successful, so that's why I'm just waiting for my dad!!” 
 
(CC image courtesy of Skinbops on Flickr)
 
Despite the difficulties he faced at the hands of the police on various occasions, Mohammed was willing to bring an official complaint in order to follow up any avenues that he possibly could in relation to his treatment:
 
“I remember that brother Saghir advised to make a compliant to the police about the the [sic] that I had got treated in the airport by the racist police officers that assaulted me. Well after chasing them up for so long, I have finally managed to have a meeting with a women called Sharon, representing the Met Police, who takes care of complaints by the public.
 
The meeting will be on, Thursday 22 July 2010, 1.30PM at:
 
DPS South West
Jubilee House
3rd Floor
230-232 Putney Bridge Road
Putney
London
SW15 2PD” 
 
The routes that Mohammed wished to pursue became increasingly narrow as the IPCC explained that there was no evidence of his treatment, so that they could not pursue the matter except to lodge a complaint on the file of the police officer who had abused him:
 
“I had the meeting with the independent police complaints commission (IPCC), & basically explained to them the abuse/assault that I underwent by the anti-terror police force!
 
However, as there is no evidence of the way the police force treated me (because their [sic] was no cameras in the room) my complaint can only go as far as informing those officers, that an individual has made a complaint to them, and as a result a "complaint file" will appear under their names in the "police force database".” 
 
Over two months after his rejecting from Kuwait, Mohammed was finally able to visit the Kuwait embassy in London in order to take up the issue of his block with his father. Despite the constant setbacks, he very much portrayed a sense of hopefulness of his situation being resolved:
 
“RamadamMubaraK…Myself & my dad visited the embassy, requested for why they had rejected me a Visa back to my country.
 
I can tell they wont [sic] bothered about my situation, they said they will email me information about my situation within two working days, IT’S BEEN A WEEK!!
 
I really don’t know what to do, but InshAllah i'm not going to loose [sic] hope, i've spoken to some family in Kuwait & they said they are trying there [sic] best to move the "refusal" of my name, that is stored onto the system. But icant [sic] really depend on that…” 
 
As detailed in a section below, Mohammed was very much placing his own difficulties within the wider world around him, witnessing perceived injustices everywhere. In particular he mentioned the case of Aafia Siddiqui, 
 
“I heard the upsetting news regarding our sister Aafia Siddiqui…This should only keep us firmer towards fighting for freedom & justice!!! 
 
So please my dear brothers, keep up your work. So that you can say on the Day of Judgement "This is what I done [sic] for Aafia Siddiqui"…May Allah bless you.
 
As for my case I'm working with it i.e. I'm trying to get a "link"…I'll let you know what happens – "it takes time".” 
 
What is particularly telling about Mohammed Emwazi, is his persistence with his own case, that he was not willing to forego any channels in order to establish a life for himself in Kuwait. On 30 November 2010, he sent an email update about his situation to Asim Qureshi, focusing on his police complaint and the routes being taken to speak to the Kuwaiti authorities, 
 
“Asslamuglakum brothers, I'm still waiting for a copy of the official complaint that I had pressed forward regarding the situation with the Police force back in June in the airport.
I sent this letter to the women [sic] in charge:
 
First of all I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your efforts, regarding my complaint over specific members of the Police force. Thank you for giving a voice to the voiceless, thank you for not tolerating tyranny.
 
Indeed it was of much great help expressing to you my distress over what had happened to me in the hands of those particular individuals. I hope that these very few individuals do not represent the entire Police force, & that they learn from that situation. I also hope that both our efforts, put an end of [sic] the oppression that so often happens under the hands of those that believe they are above the law, taking advantage of the “Police uniform”, acting like “Robocop”, rather than civilized humans.
 
You kindly suggested that I have the right to obtain a copy of the Police record complaint, showing that my concerns have been formally recorded. Therefore could you please send me a copy of that record?
 
Once again, thank you for all the effort put forward. 
 
Anything i should do with this report after i get it?
Or did you just advice [sic] me to complain, so that maybe some sort of pressure would fall upon the security servicemen?
 
Anyway, will speak soon…
In the mean time my father is still in Kuwait & trying to just basically speak to some "officials" to let me in/to remove this "black" mark under my name etc. Please make dua for that, as my "life" is kind of on a "pause"…..marriage & full time work was waiting for my in my home country – A NEW LIFE!!!!
 
May Allah get rid of the oppressors i.e. security agents AMEEEEEN!!!” 
 
In March 2011, Mohammed Emwazi was becoming increasingly desperate about his situation, sending an email to both Saghir Hussain and Asim Qureshi requesting their thoughts on whether or not it would be sensible to simply fly to Kuwait with his mother to see if they would permit him to enter, as it had been quite a while since he had previously tried.  By this time his father had already spoken to officials in January 2011, and the idea was to obtain a letter from the local MP clarifying that the UK government had no issue with Mohammed, and so that would be enough for officials in Kuwait to permit him to return. 
 
This activity continued for Mohammed until the beginning of January 2012 when he reached out to Asim Qureshi, after a period of almost one year of not being in communication. They met at the CAGE offices in East London and spoke of trying to figure out options in relation to his Kuwait relocation. After this time there was no further communication. What is clear over the one year and eight months period that, he was trying to figure out his case using means that were not only lawful, but encouraged as a way of clearing your name. Unfortunately for Mohammed, the secretive nature by which he was being sanctioned resulted in him not being able to find any options at all. 
 

Name change

In 2012, Mohammed chose to completely change direction in pursuing a future life outside of the UK. His frustration with his predicament resulted in him choosing to undertake a SELTA course with two other friends, which he passed well. 
 
Following this success, Mohammed Emwazi undertook interviews with a number of English language centres in Saudi Arabia, only to find out the while his two friends had been accepted, he had been rejected and would not be able to make the new life he desired. 
 
In early 2013, Mohammed's father suggested that he should think about changing his name by deed poll, so that perhaps the name that he had been known under thus far, might not cause him further problems as he sought to travel. He complied with his father's suggestion, and before long officially became known as Mohammed al-Ayan. 
 
With one final roll of the dice, Mohammed bought a ticket for Kuwait, and attempted to travel there. Once again, he was frustrated as he was barred from travel, and once again questioned by the security agencies. 
 

Missing person

One week after Mohammed was barred from Kuwait again for the third time; Mohammed Emwazi left his parents home to travel abroad. Worried about him after three days of waiting for his return, the parents reported him as a missing person. 
 
It was four months before the police visited the family home. They explained that they had information that he had entered into Syria. The father said that this could not be true, as far as they were concerned; their son was in Turkey assisting refugees with the limited contact they had managed with him during that period. 
 

Media and worldwide impact on Mohammed Emwazi

Communication with Mohammed began to take on a much wider meaning, as he began to send emails to CAGE with examples of how Muslim peoples across the world were being oppressed in a variety of circumstances. On 31 July 2010, he sent the following email, linking the beating of an old man to the work of CAGE on helping people who are in difficulty:
 
“just wanted to share this video with you brothers, notice at the end of the video these evil people start brutally beating old, white bearded, poor men brothers.
 
Brother in cage-prisoners, please keep up your good work & help rescue these poor people from the hands of the oppressors!!” 
 
Over one month later, he sent another email with a video of British men showing hatred towards Muslims. The email simply had a link to a video with his own words before it, 
 
“HAVE IT MATE:
Look at the hate:” 
 
After this time over the next year, there were at least two more emails detailing the problems that Mohammed saw facing the Muslim world. In particular he sent one email about abuses taking place in Chechnya, and another regarding the way the Americans had used chemical weapons in Falluja, Iraq. Evidently, Mohammed was very much preoccupied by international events while at the same concerned over his own situation and future. 
 

Allegations

The only allegation ever put to Mohammed was in the Netherlands: that he intended to go to Somalia to go training camps and to join a terrorist organisation.
 
However his response to this allegation was that: he went to Tanzania for a holiday having the documents for a booked safari; he packed clothing clearly intended only for a holiday; he booked a ticket in London clearly shows that he planned to go from Tanzania to London; between Tanzania and Somalia is another country, Kenya, so it would not even be possible to get to Somalia from there; there was a war going on in Somalia so he wouldn’t even want to go there.
 
This was a clear refutation of the allegation, and was even seemingly accepted by the intelligence officers who then moved on from accusing him of terrorism to seeking to recruit him.
 
Clearer evidence that the allegation against him had no basis came with his interrogation on returning to the UK when he was told “oh by the way Mohammed, we spoke to your fiancée”. This revelation shows many things. As Mohammed pointed out to them, it showed that the Intelligence officers knew what his plans really were – that he did not intend to go to Somalia, but that he intended to return to the UK and then get married in Kuwait. It also showed that the UK intelligence officers had been keeping tabs on him for a long time and were listening to his phone conversations before he even planned his holiday. 
 
This proves that Mohammed and his friends were stopped in Tanzania under a false pretence and, incidentally, that British intelligence agents played a massive role in his ordeal. His holiday was ruined not because of Tanzanian passport control officers, but it seems that he and his friends were stopped on the orders of British intelligence agents as they even took advantage of this time to make their presence known to his family informing them of fictitious worries about him becoming a terrorist. He was then interrogated in Holland about his plans, where it was alleged that he was attempting to go to Somalia, yet the intelligence officers knew that this was a lie and it appears that they simply wanted to recruit him.
 

Consequences

As a result of Mohammed’s refusal to work for the MI5, they have caused him to lose much money on tickets for flights, two potential marriages, a good job (and given the current economic conditions he hadn’t been able to find a new one), and since August 2010 he was unable to return to his country of birth. Furthermore, he and his family had been greatly distressed by the unnecessary harassment and intimidation they suffered from British intelligence agents.
 
For more information on his case and the allegations of his current whereabouts see the Washington Post article here and CAGE's press release here

NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

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