Ted Cruz has not really registered much with the public in the UK. But anybody feeling comforted by his apparently making ground against Donald Trump is in for a shock. Cruz is on the right wing fringes even in the United States – so much so that John McCain called him a “wacko”. He is an avid climate change denier, wishes to increase US military interventions abroad, wants to criminalise abortion and supports control of the internet – he described net neutrality as “Obamacare for the internet”.
It is therefore interesting that the Chairman of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is one Chad Sweet, who is also a Director of the Quilliam Foundation USA, established by its British counterpart.
The Quilliam Foundation is a group led by people who claim to be former Islamic jihadists who have now reformed. It is the go-to organisation for the BBC and Murdoch’s Sky News whenever Islamic matters, and particularly terrorism, are aired on the media. It is presented, quite falsely, as a neutral and technocratic organisation.
It is in fact deeply sinister. While it has provided a lifestyle of champagne and well-cut silk suits for its “ex-jihadist” directors, it has pandered to right wing Islamophobia in every statement it has ever made. It received millions of pounds of UK government funding, not very well accounted for, and employs “ex” members of MI6. I have it from a very good security source that funding comes from the CIA, and there is certainly an open stream of funding from far right American bodies.
Quilliam were involved by the government as “experts” in drawing up the government’s Prevent strategy, which directly seeks to curtail expression of “radical” opinion in British universities and seeks to place a spy in every classroom. It has led, among scores of such incidents, to the arrest and detention of a Muslim student of security studies for reading a book on terrorism in Nottinghamshire University Library, and the police being sent to an eight year old Muslim child’s home because the teacher heard him use the word terrorism. Only last week the National Union of Teachers took a definitive stand against the Prevent strategy.
There is no doubt the air of anti-Muslim paranoia Prevent inculcates will increase resentment and alienation among young Muslims, which is the opposite of what is sensible. But the corporate media can always call up the “experts” of the Quilliam Foundation when they want the government line to be supported.
The link between Quilliam and Cruz does not surprise me in the least, but is completely contrary to the official image of Quilliam as presented by the media.
Their support for Prevent is of a piece with their contempt for freedom of speech. After I first criticised Quilliam, I received a telephone call from one of their staff attempting to get my personal financial details, including account numbers, by pretending to be making a donation. They also tried to get this blog closed down by attempting legal action against its hosts.
The nexus of far right interests, and their reach, is ever fascinating. I guess we all pray for Bernie Sanders.