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We are Completely Independent: The Home Office, Breakthrough Media and the PREVENT Counter Narrative Industry

May 20, 2002

CAGE’s report “We are Completely Independent” reveals:

  • How the Home Office has misled the British public, pushing state-sponsored propaganda at or about Muslims using seemingly independent groups and projects which include:◦ Anti-Tribalism Movement: Somalia: time to go home and Return to Somalia
  • ◦ Armed Forces Muslim Association: Faith on the Frontline
  • ◦ Don’t go to Syria, only give to registered charities: Syria Needs Your Help and Change the Picture
  • ◦ Families Against Stress and Trauma: Families Matter
  • ◦ Upstanding Neighbourhoods: KIKIT Pathwayz and Open Your Eyes: ISIS Lies
  • ◦ Quilliam Foundation: #NotAnotherBrother
  • ◦ Federation of Muslim Organisations: Ummah Sonic
  • ◦ Faith Associates: Imams Online
  • The government’s use of the Official Secrets Act to protect a PR company, Breakthrough Media, and conceal its role in producing state-sponsored propaganda ### The report also explores in-depth:
  • Breakthrough Media, the PR company at the heart of the government’s PREVENT propaganda programme directed at Muslim communities
  • The role of the secretive propaganda unit, Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), within the Home Office in directing the conversation within the Muslim community while it claims otherwise.
  • Clear evidence of specific instances where Muslim organisations including charities have been controlled and manipulated by the Home Office to convey a state-scripted narrative on ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’. Over the past five years, the Home Office and a secretive government department called RICU, the Research, Information and Communications Unit, has been cultivating a network of ‘grass roots’ Muslim voices to promote ‘counter-narratives’ to combat the appeal of ‘extremist narratives’ among Britain’s young people. All of this is taking place with no public debate or oversight. Working with top PR agencies and new media companies to target young people who fit the profile of ‘vulnerable young Muslim’, RICU’s interventions represent the first concerted foray into cyberspace by the British state with the aim of covertly engineering the thoughts of its citizens. In practice this means the chosen ‘grass roots’ organisations and ‘counter-narratives’ receive financial and technical support from the government for the production of their multimedia campaigns (videos, websites, podcasts, blogs etc.). These state-sponsored ‘counter narratives’ have in turn been promoted to specific groups of internet users, chosen on the basis of their demographics, the websites they visit, the social media accounts they ‘follow’, and the search terms they use. Note: The use of information from Persephone Rizvi’s LinkedIn profile in this report in no way indicates her knowledge of the connections between UmmahSonic, Breakthrough Media and the Home Office. Many of those working for such companies or projects like UmmahSonic are unaware of funding streams or links to the counter-terrorism establishment, which is why it is more important than ever to have transparency and accountability for any project that presents itself as being connected to the grassroots.