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Moazzam Begg

Moazzam Begg

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Moazzam Begg (born in 1968 in Sparkhill
Sparkhill
Sparkhill is an inner-city area of Birmingham, England, situated between Springfield, Hall Green and Sparkbrook.-Etymology:Sparkhill takes its name from Spark Brook, a small stream that flows from Moseley to the River Cole in Small Heath. It was, as the name suggests, a hill that was situated...

, Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, England), is a British Pakistani Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 who was held in extrajudicial detention
Extrajudicial detention
Arbitrary or extrajudicial detention is the detention of individuals by a state, without ever laying formal charges against them.Although it has a long history of legitimate use in wartime , detention without charge, sometimes in secret, has been one of the hallmarks of totalitarian states...

 in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility
Bagram Theater Internment Facility
The Parwan Detention Facility , also called the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, is a United States-run prison located next to Bagram Airfield in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan.It was formerly known as the Bagram Collection Point...

 and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp
Guantanamo Bay detainment camp
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a detainment and interrogation facility of the United States located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The facility was established in 2002 by the Bush Administration to hold detainees from the war in Afghanistan and later Iraq...

, in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, by the U.S. government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 for nearly three years.

The Pentagon claimed Begg was an enemy combatant
Enemy combatant
Enemy combatant is a term historically referring to members of the armed forces of the state with which another state is at war. Prior to 2008, the definition was: "Any person in an armed conflict who could be properly detained under the laws and customs of war." In the case of a civil war or an...

 and al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 member, recruited others for al-Qaeda, provided money and support to al-Qaeda training camps, received extensive military training in al-Qaeda-run terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and prepared to fight U.S. or allied troops. While Begg admits spending time at two Islamic militant training camps in Afghanistan, supporting militant Muslim fighters, buying a rifle and a handgun, that he "thought about" taking up arms in Chechnya, and being an acquaintance of people linked to terrorism (most notably, Khalil al-Deek
Khalil al-Deek
Khalil Said al-Deek – , aka Joseph Adams after 1996 was a dual US-Jordanian citizen who came to USA to study computer science....

, Dhiren Barot
Dhiren Barot
Dhiren Barot is a convicted terrorist from the United Kingdom.-Background:...

, and Shahid Akram Butt), he denies the remainder of the U.S.'s allegations.

Begg says that when he was incarcerated at Bagram, though not in Guantanamo Bay to which he was later moved, he was hog-tied, kicked, punched, and left in a room with a bag put over his head, even though he suffered from asthma. A Pentagon spokesman said there was "no credible evidence that Begg was ever abused by U.S. forces". Begg has also spoken of having witnessed two other detainees being beaten to death while detained at Bagram. Officials concluded the men were murdered and an investigation was conducted. After intensive discussions with the U.K. government, President Bush had him released without charge on 25 January 2005. Bush released Begg over the objections of the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

, the CIA, and the FBI, who were concerned that Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist. In November 2010, the British Government announced that it had reached a financial settlement out of court with a number of individuals, including Begg, who accused British officials of complicity in their alleged abuse and torture while in the custody of the United States.

After his release, he became a commentator on radio and television on issues pertaining to the UK Muslim community and UK and worldwide anti-terror measures, and toured as a speaker about his time in Guantanamo and other detention facilities. Referring to 2010 Afghanistan, he said he completely supported the inalienable right of the people to fight "foreign occupation". He has also co-authored a book, and authored broadsheet and magazine pieces. In 2010, Gita Sahgal, then the head of Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

's gender unit, publicly condemned her organization for its collaboration with Begg, calling it "a gross error of judgment".

Childhood


Begg, born to Muslim parents, has dual U.K./ Pakistani citizenship. His mother died when he was 6. His father, Azmat Begg, is a former bank manager, born in India, who also lived in Pakistan before emigrating to the U.K.

He is originally from Sparkhill
Sparkhill
Sparkhill is an inner-city area of Birmingham, England, situated between Springfield, Hall Green and Sparkbrook.-Etymology:Sparkhill takes its name from Spark Brook, a small stream that flows from Moseley to the River Cole in Small Heath. It was, as the name suggests, a hill that was situated...

, a suburb of Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, and grew up in the Moseley
Moseley
Moseley is a suburb of Birmingham, England, two miles south of the city centre. The area is a popular cosmopolitan residential location and leisure destination, with a number of bars and restaurants...

 area of Birmingham. His father sent him to the Jewish King David School, Birmingham
King David School, Birmingham
The King David School, of Birmingham, England was founded in 1865 as an infants and primary Jewish day school. Students learn Hebrew, eat kosher food, recite Jewish prayers, and celebrate Israeli holidays....

, from the ages of 5 to 11, because he thought it inculcated good values and was the next best thing to a Muslim education. He later attended Moseley Secondary School
Moseley School
Moseley School: A Language College is a large comprehensive school in the Moseley area of Birmingham, England. It has a predominantly male, Muslim student population...

, Solihull College
Solihull College
Solihull College, formerly known as the 'Solihull College of Technology', is a further education college located in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, which is part of the West Midlands conurbation, in the United Kingdom...

, and University of Wolverhampton
University of Wolverhampton
The University of Wolverhampton is a British university located on four campuses across the West Midlands and Shropshire. The city campus is located in Wolverhampton city centre with a second campus at Compton Park, Wolverhampton; a third in Walsall and a fourth in Telford...

.

Gang


During high school, Begg became a member of the Lynx Gang
Lynx Gang
The Lynx Gang is a Birmingham-based gang that was founded in the 1970s, initially to protect the Asian community from racist skinheads. Later, the gang transformed into a violent criminal gang...

, a Birmingham street gang. Begg described the gang as consisting of teenage boys predominantly of Pakistani origin, but also boys who were Algerian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and even Irish.

They banded together to fight the far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

, punk rockers
Punk subculture
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, and forms of expression, including fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film, which grew out of punk rock.-History:...

, and skinhead
Skinhead
A skinhead is a member of a subculture that originated among working class youths in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and then spread to other parts of the world. Named for their close-cropped or shaven heads, the first skinheads were greatly influenced by West Indian rude boys and British mods,...

s after being teased and bullied by neo-Nazi skinhead anti-immigrant groups. He said "we did things that no good Muslim should," but that he rarely joined the fights. Though he did end up in court because of his involvement in a fight with skinheads.

U.K./Afghanistan/Bosnia, 1993–98; training camps, arrest, and search


Begg “received extensive training in al-Qaeda terrorist camps since 1993”, alleges a statement released by the U.S. Justice Department. Pentagon officials say that Begg trained at three terrorist camps associated with al-Qaeda. While at the training camps he reportedly trained how to use handgun
Handgun
A handgun is a firearm designed to be held and operated by one hand. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns ....

s, AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

 rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades, and how to plan ambushes. The statement also identified him as “a member of al-Qaeda and affiliated organisations,” who was “engaged in hostilities against the United States and its coalition partners”. It also said he “provided support to al-Qaeda terrorists, by providing shelter for their families while the al-Qaeda terrorists committed terrorist acts”.

On a family holiday to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in his late teens, he became interested in Islam. In late 1993 he returned to Pakistan, and crossed the Pakistani/Afghan border with the leader of the Lynx Gang, Syed Murad Meah Butt (known as Niaaz), and some fellow young Pakistanis near the city of Khost
Khost
Khost or Khowst is a city in eastern Afghanistan. It is the capital of Khost province, which is a mountainous region near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan...

. He met various groups of nationalist and Islamic rebels (mujahedeen). He admits visiting a training camp there for two weeks, run by—he has identified variously—the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
The Afghan Northern Alliance is a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.Northern Alliance may also refer to:*Northern Alliance , a Canadian white supremacist group...

 or a Pakistani group (run by Jamat-e-Islam) fighting for Kashmir, at which people were being trained how to use Kalashnikov
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

s and handguns, and in mountain tactics and guerrilla methods. Begg later wrote of his time at the training camp: "I had met men who seemed to me exemplary in their faith and self-sacrifice, and seen a world that awed and inspired me." Begg says he himself didn't train.

Inspired by the commitment of the mujahedeen, he also admits traveling to Bosnia
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

 in the early 1990s to help the Muslims there during its civil war, where he was "terribly affected by some of the stories ... of the atrocities taking place there", and supporting militant Muslims there. In 1994 he joined a charity delivering aid to Muslims in Bosnia. He traveled to Bosnian battle zones, and what he saw there led to his conviction that armed resistance could sometimes be justified. He admits to "very briefly" joining the Bosnian Army Foreign Volunteer Force. He said: "In Bosnia, I did fight for a while. But I saw people horribly damaged, and I thought, This is not for me." It was there that he first met Khalil Deek.

He also attempted to travel to Chechnya
Second Chechen War
The Second Chechen War, in a later phase better known as the War in the North Caucasus, was launched by the Russian Federation starting 26 August 1999, in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade ....

. But though he says he "thought about it", and "fighting wasn't out of the question," he denies he took up arms there. He does acknowledge he supported Muslim fighters, and gave them financial support.

Begg was first arrested in 1994, as he showed up for work at a benefits office in Small Heath
Small Heath, Birmingham
Small Heath is an inner-city area within the city of Birmingham, West Midlands, England. It is situated on and around the A45 ....

, Birmingham, for alleged involvement in a benefit fraud
Benefit fraud
Benefit fraud is a form of welfare fraud as found within the system of government benefits paid to individuals by the UK welfare state.- What is benefit fraud? :...

 case, and charged with conspiracy to defraud the Department of Social Security
Department of Social Security
The Department of Social Security is the name of a defunct governmental agency in the United Kingdom.The DSS replaced the older Department of Health and Social Security, from 1988 until 2001, when it was itself largely replaced as a department of the Government of the United Kingdom by the...

. His friend and fellow gang member Butt was also charged, pleaded guilty, and served 18 months in jail. In 1999, Butt was jailed for five years in Yemen along with the son of Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza may refer to:* Abu Hamza al-Masri , jailed UK Muslim cleric* Mahmoud al-Majzoub , leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad* Abu Hamza al-Muhajir , leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq...

for planning a terrorist bombing.

The fraud charges against Begg were subsequently dropped. A search of his home by anti-terrorist police reportedly found night vision goggles
Night vision goggles
A night vision device is an optical instrument that allows images to be produced in levels of light approaching total darkness. They are most often used by the military and law enforcement agencies, but are available to civilian users...

, a bulletproof vest
Bulletproof vest
A ballistic vest, bulletproof vest or bullet-resistant vest is an item of personal armor that helps absorb the impact from firearm-fired projectiles and shrapnel from explosions, and is worn on the torso...

, and "extremist Islamic
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 literature". His family said that he was collecting the items as a hobby. He notes that the items were in fact a flak jacket
Flak jacket
thumb|300px|The two components of an obsolete British military flak vest. On the left, the nylon vest. On the right, the several layers of [[ballistic nylon]] that provide the actual protection...

, for protection against shrapnel from mines in Bosnia—one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, and a hand-held night vision lens, to help navigate Bosnian streets that lacked electricity. He denies owning any "extremist Islamic literature" allegedly seized at the time. He notes that the items seized were no different than what many aid workers operating in conflict zones might be expected to carry.

In 1995 Begg married. In early 1998, Begg moved with his wife and their two small children to Peshawar, Pakistan, on the Afghan border.

There, he and his wife socialized primarily with members of the town's Palestinian community, and some Arab and Afghan veterans of the anti-Soviet jihad. One was Palestinian Khalil Deek, whom the U.S. 9/11 Commission
9/11 Commission
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, was set up on November 27, 2002, "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks", including preparedness for and the immediate response to...

 described as an associate of Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah is a Saudi Arabian citizen, sentenced to death in Jordan and currently held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Not neutral: Arrested in Pakistan in March 2002, he has been in US custody for more than eight years, four-and-a-half of them spent incommunicado in solitary confinement...

, a senior al-Qaeda lieutenant who was also in Peshawar, recruiting new members for training at Afghan camps. An American counterterrorism official said the CIA and MI5
MI5
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

 suspect Begg worked with Deek to create a CD-ROM of a terrorist manual, Encyclopedia of Jihad, which Deek gave to two Palestinians plotting with Zubaydah to bomb Jordanian tourist sites. Begg acknowledges meeting Deek in Bosnia, and later investing with him in a small business deal, but said he never met Zubaydah (though Pentagon officials said that conflicts with what he told interrogators).

Begg notes that he visited a second Afghan training camp, near Jalalabad
Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

, for two or three days during that time. He claims it was run by Iraqi Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s who were training in the use of crudely improvised incendiary grenades to fight Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, not by al-Qaeda, and that he donated a few hundred British pounds to that camp and a third training camp. A Pentagon spokesman said he also spent five days in early 1998 at Derunta, an al-Qaeda-affiliated Afghan training camp, learning about poisons and explosives, and Defense Department officials said that in sworn statements Begg made to the FBI he admitted having trained at Derunta and two other Afghan camps. Begg disavowed having said that, but said he did sign some documents while in custody because he feared for his life.

Files leaked in 2011 reveal that the Department of Defense had secretly concluded Begg to be a "confirmed member of al-Qaida," and that he had been an instructor at the Derunta training camp, as well as having attended the al-Badr
Al Badr training camp
The Islamic fundamentalist group Al Badr operates covert one or more Al Badr training camps in Pakistan.CNN reports the group also operated training camps in Afghanistan.In the 90s, militants trained at al-Badr camp in the use of RDX and C4 explosives....

 and Harakat aI-Ansar terrorist training camps.

U.K., 1998–2001; arrest and raids


He returned to Birmingham in the summer of 1998, opening an Islamic book and video store. The Maktabah Al Ansar bookshop in Sparkhill, Birmingham, became a gathering place of targets on British and U.S. government watch lists, and MI5
MI5
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

 first raided it the following year. A former employee of the bookshop and co-worker of Begg, identified only as 'D', was an Algerian illegal immigrant who was placed under a control order on December 18, 2001. D had previously been convicted in France for membership in the terrorist organization Groupe Islamique Armé, and was alleged to have been in contact with numerous individuals convicted of terrorist offences, including Djamel Beghal
Djamel Beghal
Djamel Beghal is a French Algerian man convicted of terrorism.In 28 July 2001, he was arrested at Dubai International Airport while transferring from a flight from Pakistan to a flight to Europe; he held a false French passport.Beghal confessed to UAE authorities that he was conspiring to destroy...

, Brahim Benmerzouga, Baghdad Meziane, and Abu Qatada
Abu Qatada
Abû-Qatâda al-Filisṭînî , sometimes called Abû-Omar is an Islamist militant. Under the name Omar Mahmoud Othman , he is under worldwide embargo by the United Nations Security Council Committee 1267 for his affiliation with al-Qaeda...

.
In 1999, his bookstore commissioned and published a book by Dhiren Barot
Dhiren Barot
Dhiren Barot is a convicted terrorist from the United Kingdom.-Background:...

 about his experiences in Kashmir, entitled The Army of Madinah in Kashmir. Barot had undergone terrorist training in Pakistan and Afghanistan, joined the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir against India, and was later referred to as bin Laden's "UK General", convicted of being an al-Qaeda terrorist, and sentenced to 40 years in jail. In the book Barot, who used the alias Esa Al Hindi, accuses western troops of invading Muslim countries, and urges followers to strike back. Barot wrote in the book: "Terror works, and that is why the believers are commanded to enforce it by Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

." The book was used as evidence against Barot when he was later tried and convicted of planning a "dirty bomb
Dirty bomb
A dirty bomb is a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. The purpose of the weapon is to contaminate the area around the explosion with radioactive material, hence the attribute "dirty"....

" attack on London.

In February 2000, 60 Special Branch
Special Branch
Special Branch is a label customarily used to identify units responsible for matters of national security in British and Commonwealth police forces, as well as in the Royal Thai Police...

 and MI5
MI5
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

 officers investigating Islamic terrorism raided the bookshop, took away books, files, and computers, questioned staff, and arrested Begg under British anti-terrorism laws. They found the bookstore offered titles such as The Virtues of Jihad and Declaration of War. He also said that the store's most popular book was Defence of the Muslim Lands, by al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 co-founder Abdullah Azzam. He was released without charge. His father also said the British government retrieved encrypted files from his computer, and ordered Begg to open them, but Begg refused, and a judge ruled in his favor.

Ruhal Ahmed
Ruhal Ahmed
Ruhal Ahmed is a British citizen. He was detained without trial for over two years by the United States government, first in Afghanistan, and then in Camp Delta, the United States prison for people it describes as suspects in its "War on Terror", at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, Cuba...

, a fellow Guantanamo detainee and member of the so-called 'Tipton Three
Tipton Three
The Tipton Three is the collective name given to three men from Tipton, England, who were held in extrajudicial detention by the United States government for two years in Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba. Ruhal Ahmed was born on March 11, 1981;...

', while incarcerated is alleged to have told investigators that he had first become interested in Jihad in summer 2000 after purchasing numerous books on Jihad from the Maktabah Al Ansar bookshop.

His home in the U.K. was raided by anti-terrorist police in the summer of 2001, and a computer, five floppy disks, and two CD-roms were taken, but no charges were pressed.

Afghanistan/Pakistan, July 2001 – February 2002; arrest


With his wife Zaynab and three young children, Begg moved to Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, in late July 2001. Taliban-ruled Afghanistan at that time protected Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, banned music and most games, beat women for improper dress, had fired all women in public service, and severely restricted the education and medical treatment of women. Yet as this was happening, Begg wrote in his autobiography that in 2001 the Taliban had made "some modest progress—in social justice and upholding pure, old Islamic values forgotten in many Islamic countries." Begg now says it was his perception at the time, and since then he has criticised the Taliban for human rights abuses. As The New York Times put it: "Despite the Taliban's status as an international pariah for its treatment of women and its hospitality toward al-Qaeda, Begg saw it as a fine, inexpensive place to raise a family."

He insists he moved to Kabul both because he was moved by the plight of the Afghan people living under the Taliban regime, and to fulfill his dream of being a teacher. Begg maintains he began sponsoring a school for basic education from the U.K., providing books, teaching materials, and classroom and playground equipment. He says he was in the process of starting the school, and was going to be a charity worker at it. The school was to be for boys and girls, despite the fact that the Taliban regime opposed education for females and had not given him a license. He says he also went there to build wells.

In his book Enemy Combatant, Begg recalls telling two U.S. agents who visited him in his Guantanamo Bay cell that:
I wanted to live in an Islamic state–one that was free from the corruption and despotism of the rest of the Muslim world.... I knew you wouldn't understand. The Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past 25 years.


The Allied attack on Afghanistan began in October 2001, and following the Taliban's defeat, a U.S. Justice Department dossier on Begg indicates that he joined their retreat to the Tora Bora
Tora Bora
Tora Bora , known locally as Spīn Ghar , is a cave complex situated in the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan, in the Pachir Wa Agam District of Nangarhar province, approximately west of the Khyber Pass and north of the border of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan...

 mountains, where he was “prepared to fight in the front line against allied forces”, according to the Pentagon. While in Afghanistan, he admits to buying a rifle and handgun in August. But he said that he and his family evacuated to Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

 in Pakistan for safety. Though he says he became separated from his family for three weeks on the way, ultimately joined up with several men who were led by a guide over the mountains into remote tribal areas of western Pakistan, and only then reunited with his family by mid-November.

Al-Qaeda's Derunta training camp
Derunta training camp
The Derunta training camp was one of the most well-known of many military training camps that have been alleged to have been affiliated with al Qaeda.-Training with poisons:...

, 15 miles (24.1 km) from Jalalabad, was captured in November 2001. The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 and USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

 reported that a photocopy of a money transfer
Wire transfer
Wire transfer or credit transfer is a method of electronic funds transfer from one person or institution to another. A wire transfer can be made from one bank account to another bank account or through a transfer of cash at a cash office...

 was found there requesting that a London branch of Pakistan's Habib Bank AG Zurich
Habib Bank AG Zurich
Habib Bank AG Zurich, a commercial bank incorporated in Switzerland. It maintains headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, but has operations in Switzerland, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Kenya...

 credit the account of an individual identified as "Moazzam Begg" in Karachi
Karachi
Karachi is the largest city, main seaport and the main financial centre of Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province of Sindh. The city has an estimated population of 13 to 15 million, while the total metropolitan area has a population of over 18 million...

, Pakistan, with a sum of money in sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

. The money order photocopy was found alongside al-Qaeda training books, listed targets for destruction, hand-drawn sketches of bombs, and bomb-building manuals. U.S. and Pakistani officials said at the time that they did not know who Begg was, but would try to find him. Begg maintains that he is unaware of such a transaction, and that no one has shown him the document.

In February 2002, Begg was arrested by Pakistani police officers on suspicion of links with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, at his rented home in Islamabad, in what his family maintains was a case of mistaken identity. After a few weeks, the Pakistanis handed him over to American officers. He was bundled into the back of a car, and taken back to Kabul.

Detention in Afghanistan; February 2002 – February 2003



Begg was held at Bagram Theater Internment Facility
Bagram Theater Internment Facility
The Parwan Detention Facility , also called the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, is a United States-run prison located next to Bagram Airfield in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan.It was formerly known as the Bagram Collection Point...

 for approximately a year.

He says he was tortured in Bagram, in that he was hog-tied, kicked, punched, left in a room with a bag put over his head (even though he suffered from asthma
Asthma
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath...

), sworn at, and threatened with rendition
Rendition (law)
In law, rendition is a "surrender" or "handing over" of persons or property, particularly from one jurisdiction to another. For criminal suspects, extradition is the most common type of rendition. Rendition can also be seen as the act of handing over, after the request for extradition has taken...

 to Egypt.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said there was "no credible evidence that Begg was ever abused by U.S. forces", and U.S. intelligence officials insisted Begg exaggerated the harshness of his treatment. The Department of Defense conducted three investigations into Begg's abuse claims, and "found no evidence to substantiate his claims."

In a July 2004 letter he wrote of: "threats of torture, actual torture, death threats, racial and religious abuse", "cruel and unusual treatment", and that "documents ... were signed under duress". He also wrote: "This culminated, in my opinion, with the deaths of two fellow detainees, at the hands of US military personnel, to which I myself was partially witness". Begg claimed that while at Bagram, he saw two other detainees (Dilawar and Habibullah) being beaten so badly that he believed the beatings caused their deaths. He is featured in the 2007 documentary Taxi to the Dark Side
Taxi to the Dark Side
Taxi to the Dark Side is a 2007 documentary film directed by American filmmaker Alex Gibney, and produced by Eva Orner and Susannah Shipman, which won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature...

 talking about one of the deaths.

Detention in Guantanamo Bay; February 2003 – January 2005



Conditions and purported admissions


He was transferred on 2 February 2003 to Guantanamo Bay.

CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 reported that leaks of intelligence reports alleged Begg spent time in an Afghan al-Qaeda training camp, where he learned to make bombs, and that he had been linked to a plot to attack the British Houses of Parliament. In an editorial in Gulf News
Gulf News
Gulf News is a daily English language newspaper published from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates with a December 2009 BPA audited circulation of over 117,036 qualified copies...

 Linda Heard said that Begg, who wrote his parents that he had no idea of what he was supposed to have done and was "beginning to lose the fight against depression and hopelessness":
"confessed to being part of a plot to spray the British Parliament with anthrax
Anthrax
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals...

.... Begg's confession has been the cause for hilarity in certain circles; among those who know how difficult it would be to come up with a pilot-less drone, not to mention weaponised anthrax."


He was held in Guantanamo Bay for just under two years, often in solitary confinement. The U.S. government considered Begg an enemy combatant
Enemy combatant
Enemy combatant is a term historically referring to members of the armed forces of the state with which another state is at war. Prior to 2008, the definition was: "Any person in an armed conflict who could be properly detained under the laws and customs of war." In the case of a civil war or an...

, and claimed that he trained at al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan. He was not charged with any crime, nor for the majority of the time was he allowed to consult legal counsel.

A 9 October 2003 memo summarizing a meeting between General Geoffrey Miller
Geoffrey Miller (general)
Geoffrey D. Miller is a retired United States Army Major General who commanded the US detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Iraq. Detention facilities in Iraq under his command included Abu Ghraib prison, Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca. He is also famous for training soldiers in "improved...

 and his staff and Vincent Cassard of the ICRC
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 said that camp authorities were not permitting the ICRC to have access to Begg, due to "military necessity", an exception allowed for by the Geneva Conventions.

In a July 2004 letter, he said he was not tortured in Guantanamo, though the conditions were "torturous". Late in 2004, Clive Stafford Smith
Clive Stafford Smith
Clive Adrian Stafford Smith OBE is a British [see talk] lawyer who specialises in the areas of civil rights and the death penalty in the United States of America....

 (a British-born lawyer working in the U.S.) visited Begg and said he heard "credible and consistent evidence" from Begg of torture, including the use of strappado
Strappado
Strappado is a form of torture in which the victim's hands are first tied behind their back and suspended in the air by means of a rope attached to wrists, which most likely dislocates both arms...

. The Pentagon has maintained that torture is prohibited at Guantanamo Bay, that all credible allegations of abuse are investigated, and that "the United States operates a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information on the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

."

His American lawyer, Gitanjali Gutierrez, received a handwritten letter from him, dated 12 July 2004, addressed to the U.S. Forces Administration at Guantánamo Bay and copied to Begg's lawyers, among others, which U.S. authorities agreed to declassify. Its full text was passed to his British lawyer, Gareth Peirce
Gareth Peirce
Gareth Peirce is an English solicitor, educated at the Cheltenham Ladies' College, the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics. She is known for her work in high profile cases representing people with Irish and Muslim backgrounds accused of terrorism.-Personal life:Born with the...

. He insisted: "I am a law-abiding citizen of the UK, and attest vehemently to my innocence, before God and the law, of any crime—though none has even been alleged".

Known and suspected contacts with extremists and suspected extremists

Shahid Akram Butt
  • Leader of the 'Lynx Gang
    Lynx Gang
    The Lynx Gang is a Birmingham-based gang that was founded in the 1970s, initially to protect the Asian community from racist skinheads. Later, the gang transformed into a violent criminal gang...

    ', in Birmingham, England; arrested in Britain for fraud with Begg, convicted, and convicted in Yemen
    Yemen
    The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

     of conspiring to cause death and destruction
  • Known associate of Begg
Omar Saeed Sheikh 
  • Volunteered on 1993 Convoy of Mercy trip; later convicted of kidnapping Western tourists in India, and is facing execution in Pakistan for murder of Daniel Pearl
    Daniel Pearl
    Daniel Pearl was an American journalist who was kidnapped and killed by Al-Qaeda.At the time of his kidnapping, Pearl served as the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, and was based in Mumbai, India. He went to Pakistan as part of an investigation into the alleged links between...

  • U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) suspects links, but Begg claims never to have met him
  • Khalil al-Deek
    Khalil al-Deek
    Khalil Said al-Deek – , aka Joseph Adams after 1996 was a dual US-Jordanian citizen who came to USA to study computer science....

     
  • Lived in Peshawar
    Peshawar
    Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

    , Pakistan, while Begg lived there; associate of Abu Zubaydah, a senior al-Qaeda lieutenant; recruiter of Adam Gadahn, the current Al-Qaeda media head.
  • DoD suspects they worked together to created CD-ROM of terrorist manual for terrorists; Also invested with Begg, who claims it was nothing more than that
  • Abu Hamza al-Masri
    Abu Hamza al-Masri
    Abu Hamza al-Masri is an Egyptian Sunni activist known for his preaching of a violent and politicised interpretation of Islam, also known as militant Islamism or jihadism...

     
  • U.S. and British counterterrorism officials had believed since 1999 that Begg had a connection to al-Masri at Finsbury Park Mosque.
  • Abu Zubaydah
    Abu Zubaydah
    Abu Zubaydah is a Saudi Arabian citizen, sentenced to death in Jordan and currently held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Not neutral: Arrested in Pakistan in March 2002, he has been in US custody for more than eight years, four-and-a-half of them spent incommunicado in solitary confinement...

     
  • Begg claims never to have met him, but DoD says he admitted to it during interrogation.
  • Dhiren Barot
    Dhiren Barot
    Dhiren Barot is a convicted terrorist from the United Kingdom.-Background:...

     
  • Convicted terrorist
  • Wrote a book that Begg's bookshop commissioned and published in 1999
  • Richard C. Reid
    Richard Reid (shoe bomber)
    Richard Colvin Reid , also known as the Shoe Bomber, is a self-admitted member of al-Qaeda who pled guilty in 2002 in U.S. federal court to eight criminal counts of terrorism stemming from his attempt to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes...

     
  • Al-Qaeda member convicted of trying to blow up a flight with a shoe bomb
  • DoD suspects links, but Begg claims never to have met him
  • Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi
    Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi
    Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was a Libyan paramilitary trainer for Al-Qaeda. After being captured and interrogated by the American and Egyptian forces, the information he gave under torture by Egyptian authorities was cited by the George W. Bush Administration in the months preceding the 2003 invasion of...

     
  • Trainer for al-Qaeda
  • DoD suspects links, but Begg claims never to have met him
  • Abu Qatada
    Abu Qatada
    Abû-Qatâda al-Filisṭînî , sometimes called Abû-Omar is an Islamist militant. Under the name Omar Mahmoud Othman , he is under worldwide embargo by the United Nations Security Council Committee 1267 for his affiliation with al-Qaeda...

     
  • Al-Qaeda terrorist
  • DoD suspects links, but Begg claims never to have met him
  • Shaker Aamer
    Shaker Aamer
    Shaker Aamer is a Saudi Arabian citizen and the last British resident currently held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. He was arrested in Afghanistan in January 2002 and as of today, Aamer has been held at Guantánamo for...

     
  • Guantanamo Bay analysts allege that Begg met Aamer in Pakistan in 1998 and visited James McLintock (the so-called 'Tartan Taliban'), and further allege that Begg told interrogators he went to Ireland with Aamer in 2000 to visit Ibrahim Boyasseer, listed by the United Nations as an "Individual Associated with Al-Qaeda"
  • Mahmoud Abu Rideh
  • An al-Qaeda leader arrested and detained in the U.K. for several years under a control order
    Control order
    A control order is an order made by the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom to restrict an individual's liberty for the purpose of "protecting members of the public from a risk of terrorism". Its definition and power were provided by Parliament in the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005...

    .
  • Previously worked with Begg on a school for Arabic-speaking children in Afghanistan whose fathers included "some of the world's most wanted men."
  • After campaigns for his release by Cageprisoners and Amnesty International, Rideh was released in 2009, and then reportedly killed by an airstrike in 2010.

  • Release


    The British government protested the Guantánamo tribunals, because due process
    Due process
    Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

     rights were sharply limited. On 11 January 2005, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
    Jack Straw (politician)
    John Whitaker Straw is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Blackburn since 1979. He served as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006 and Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons from 2006 to 2007 under Tony Blair...

     announced that after "intensive and complex discussions" between the U.S. and the British government, the four British citizens remaining in Guantanamo Bay would be returned to Britain "within weeks". While they were still regarded as "enemy combatants" by the U.S. government, no specific charges had been brought against them.

    Bush released Begg as a favor to Prime Minister Tony Blair
    Tony Blair
    Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

    , who was being harshly criticized for his support of the Iraq war, reported The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

     (based on information from U.S. officials it did not name) and CNN
    CNN
    Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

    .

    On 25 January 2005, Begg and the three other British citizen detainees (Feroz Abbasi
    Feroz Abbasi
    Feroz Abbasi is one of nine British men who were held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba. He was released from detention on 25 January 2005 along with Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar, the other five having previously been...

    , Martin Mubanga
    Martin Mubanga
    Martin Mubanga is a joint citizen of both the United Kingdom and Zambia. He was held, without charge, and interrogated at the American prison at Guantanamo Bay for 33 months....

    , and Richard Belmar
    Richard Belmar
    Richard Dean Belmar is a British man who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States's Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. He was first detained in Pakistan in 2002 and sent to Bagram Theater Internment Facility, then Guantanamo...

    ) were flown back to RAF Northolt
    RAF Northolt
    RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station situated in South Ruislip, east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Approximately north of London Heathrow Airport, the station also handles a large number of private civil flights...

     in west London, the U.K. on an RAF
    Royal Air Force
    The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

     aircraft. On arrival they were arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police
    Metropolitan police
    Metropolitan Police is a generic title for the municipal police force for a major metropolitan area, and it may be part of the official title of the force...

    , and taken to Paddington Green
    Paddington Green Police Station
    Paddington Green Police Station is located in Paddington, central London, England. The station is operated by the Metropolitan Police Service, and is a conventional police station, open to members of the public twenty-four hours a day. It also serves as the most important high-security station in...

     police station for questioning under the Terrorism Act 2000
    Terrorism Act 2000
    The Terrorism Act 2000 is the first of a number of general Terrorism Acts passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It superseded and repealed the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989 and the Northern Ireland Act 1996...

     by anti-terrorist officers. By 9 pm on 26 January, all four had been released without charge.

    Post-release assertions of Begg's ties to terrorism


    Bush released Begg over the objections of the Pentagon
    The Pentagon
    The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

    , the CIA, and the FBI, all of whom were concerned that Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist, overruling most of his senior national security advisers . The Pentagon still maintains he was a terrorist.

    "He has strong, long-term ties to terrorism—as a sympathizer, as a recruiter, as a financier and as a combatant," said a Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman, after his release.

    Whitman added, quoting a single-spaced eight-page confession that Begg made while incarcerated, that Begg admitted:

    I was armed and prepared to fight alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the U.S. and others, and eventually retreated to Tora Bora to flee from U.S. forces when our front lines collapsed.... [I] knowingly provided comfort and assistance to al-Qaeda members by housing their families, helped distribute al-Qaeda propaganda, and received members from terrorist camps knowing that certain trainees could become al-Qaeda operatives and commit acts of terrorism against the United States.


    Begg also said in his confession that he sympathized with the cause of al-Qaeda, trained in three al-Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan so that he could assist in waging global jihad against enemies of Islam, including Russia and India; associated with and assisted several prominent al-Qaeda terrorists and supporters of terrorists, and discussed potential terrorist acts with them; recruited young members for global jihad; and provided financial support for terrorist training camps.

    Begg maintains his confession is false, and that he gave it while under duress. Whitman dismissed Begg's retreat from his confession as a clear lie, and U.S. intelligence officials maintain that Begg's statement is in fact accurate. The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General
    Office of the Inspector General
    Office of the Inspector General is an office that is part of Cabinet departments and independent agencies of the United States federal government as well as some state and local governments. Each office includes an Inspector General and employees charged with identifying, auditing, and...

     (OIG) investigated Begg's claim that the FBI forced him to sign his confession. The OIG "concluded that the evidence did not support the allegation that [FBI agents] coerced Begg into signing the statement."

    Christopher Hogan, a former military interrogator who oversaw some of Begg's early questioning, said: "He provided us with excellent information routinely," and added: "I don't think he was the mastermind of 9/11, but nor do I think he was just an innocent." The New York Times reported in June 2006 that "Of nearly 20 American military and intelligence officials who were interviewed about Begg, none thought he had been wrongly detained. But some said they doubted that he could be tied to any terrorist acts."

    In February 2005, British Home Secretary
    Home Secretary
    The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

     Charles Clarke
    Charles Clarke
    Charles Rodway Clarke is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Norwich South from 1997 until 2010, and served as Home Secretary from December 2004 until May 2006.-Early life:...

     used the Royal Prerogative
    Royal Prerogative
    The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

    , historic powers enjoyed by the monarchy which have been passed to politicians, to refuse to issue Begg a passport. He did so based on information obtained while Begg was in U.S. custody leading to the belief that "there are strong grounds for believing that, on leaving the United Kingdom, [Begg] would take part in activities against the United Kingdom or allied targets."

    Since his release, while Begg has said he is against attacks such as 9/11, he said he supported fighting British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Contacts with extremists after release

    Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
    Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
    Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab , popularly referred to as the "Underwear Bomber", is a suspected terrorist who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25,...

     
    Anwar al-Awlaki
    Anwar al-Awlaki
    Anwar al-Awlaki was an American and Yemeni imam who was an engineer and educator by training. According to U.S. government officials, he was a senior talent recruiter and motivator who was involved with planning operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda...

     
  • Begg was the first to interview al-Qaeda leader al-Awlaki after his release in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was invited to address Cageprisoners’ Ramadan
    Ramadan
    Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

     fundraising dinners in August 2008 (at Wandsworth Civic Centre, South London
    South London
    South London is the southern part of London, England, United Kingdom.According to the 2011 official Boundary Commission for England definition, South London includes the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Southwark, Sutton and...

    ; by videolink, as he is banned from the U.K.) and August 2009 (at Kensington Town Hall; the local authority told the group that it could not broadcast al-Awlaki’s words on its property). Cageprisoners also carries a large amount of material about and by al-Awlaki on its website.

  • Video


    After his release, Begg appeared in the video 21st Century CrUSAders, saying that the War on Terrorism
    War on Terrorism
    The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

     is really akin to a war against Islam.
    The British government considers possession of this film to indicate possible radicalization.

    Book; 2006


    Begg co-authored a book released in March 2006 about his Guantanamo experiences. It was published in Britain as Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey To Guantanamo and Back
    Enemy Combatant (book)
    Enemy Combatant is the title of a book written by a British Muslim, Moazzam Begg, and co-written by Victoria Brittain, a former Associate Foreign Editor for the Guardian newspaper, about Begg's detention by the government of the United States of America in Camp Echo, Guantanamo Bay...

     (ISBN 0-7432-8567-0), and in the U.S. as Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar (ISBN 1-59558-136-7).
    It was co-written with Victoria Brittain, a former editor of The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

    . The book followed a play that the two co-wrote, entitled "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom", which played in London, New York, and Washington.

    The book received mixed reviews. Publishers Weekly
    Publishers Weekly
    Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

     described it as a "a fast-paced, harrowing narrative". "Much of the Moazzam Begg story is consistent with other accounts of detention conditions in both Afghanistan and Guantanamo," said John Sifton, a New York-based official from Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch
    Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

    , who interviewed former Guantanamo prisoners in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    "It is now clear that there is a systemic problem of abuse throughout the US military's detention facilities—not merely misbehaviour by a few bad apples." The Muslim News called it an "open, honest and touching account". Begg was named "best British author" for the book, at the annual Muslim Writers awards in March 2008.

    But The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

     reported "some notable gaps in Mr. Begg's memoir", in that he did not mention a previous arrest, nor some of his alleged ties to terrorism. The San Diego Union-Tribune
    The San Diego Union-Tribune
    -Predecessors:The predecessor newspapers of the Union-Tribune were:* San Diego Sun, founded 1861 and merged with the Evening Tribune in 1939.* San Diego Union, founded October 10, 1868.* Evening Tribune, founded December 2, 1895.-Ownership:...

     said: "Begg has been less than forthcoming about his criminal past ... his cooperation with interrogators ... and his ties to terrorism". And Jonathan Raban
    Jonathan Raban
    Jonathan Raban is a British travel writer and novelist. He has received several awards, such as the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Royal Society of Literature's Heinemann Award, the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the PEN West Creative Nonfiction Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers...

    , reviewing it for The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books
    The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

    , wrote:

    One has the sense of reading not a memoir but a résumé. Like most résumés, it feels airbrushed. It is a strategic (one might almost say a "campaign") biography ... Begg's travels [during the time the U.S. maintains he was with the Taliban] get confusing, and plotting them on an atlas only adds to the reader's puzzlement.... The gaps in his story—and they're more frustrating than downright suspicious—cease at the moment when Begg enters captivity.... Enemy Combatant has been praised in Britain for Begg's outstanding liberality of mind and evenhandedness toward his captors.... Unfortunately, these relationships are rendered in long passages of direct speech, and Begg and/or his coauthor are notably talentless at writing dialogue.... Perhaps Begg really did strike up a warm relationship with soldier Jennifer, but all one can say of the words on the page is that they are resoundingly phony. Only in bad fiction do people speak this way, and true though Begg's story may well be in its essential facts, it is very poorly served by line after line of rankly implausible writing.

    Lawsuit against the British government


    In April 2008, Begg and other former Guantánamo detainees filed lawsuits at Britain's High Court
    High Court of Justice
    The High Court of Justice is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

     against the British attorney general, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, MI5, and MI6, accusing them of unlawful acts, negligence, and conspiracy in their abduction, treatment, and interrogation, and seeking millions of dollars in damages. The defendants denied the claims, but admitted that MI5 interviewed some detainees and provided questions to be put to them by other interrogators, saying:

    The security service undertook this role because, as the UK agency with the most experience of running intelligence-led counter-terrorist investigations in the UK, it was best placed to understand and utilise the information received about threats against the UK, or involving British nationals.


    In November 2010, the British Government announced that it had reached a financial settlement with a number of individuals, including Begg, who accused British officials of complicity in their abuse and torture while in the custody of the United States. The British Government said there was no evidence that British officials participated directly in the abuse of prisoners, however, a Public Inquiry will be conducted to determine the matter. Similar cases occurred in Canada and Australia.

    Guantanamo video game; 2009


    In 2009 Begg was a technical advisor, and slated to appear as himself, for Scottish software company T-Enterprise in the development of a video game entitled Rendition: Guantanamo
    Rendition: Guantanamo
    Rendition: Guantanamo was a video game being developed by T-Enterprise, a software company in Scotland. It had been scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009.The promotional material used the slogan, "It's time to fight back."...

    , for Microsoft
    Microsoft
    Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

    's Xbox 360
    Xbox 360
    The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

    . The game would have put the player in the place of the detainees. The character had to shoot his way out of the detention camp to bring down his captors, before he was subjected to torture and scientific experiments. Begg was to do three days of sound with the company, and then be 3D
    3D computer graphics
    3D computer graphics are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images...

    -rendered into the game.

    Begg had a financial stake in the game. He said: "This game will not demean the reality of Guantanamo, but will help to bring those issues to people who would not usually think about it." T-Enterprise hoped to take in £3 million from a £250,000 investment, targeting the Middle East market.

    Conservative pundits such as The Weekly Standard
    The Weekly Standard
    The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation, debuted the title September 18, 1995. Currently edited by founder William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a "redoubt of...

    s Tom Joscelyn and radio host Rush Limbaugh
    Rush Limbaugh
    Rush Hudson Limbaugh III is an American radio talk show host, conservative political commentator, and an opinion leader in American conservatism. He hosts The Rush Limbaugh Show which is aired throughout the U.S. on Premiere Radio Networks and is the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United...

     attacked the game and the company, when the game and Begg's involvement were made public, and a great number of e-mail messages to the company from Americans expressed disappointment and outrage. T-Enterprise did not complete the game because of U.S. press coverage, which it described as "inaccurate and ill informed speculation", saying that "many conclusions were reached that have absolutely no foundation whatsoever."

    Speaker and activist


    As Director for the prisoner rights organisation, Cageprisoners
    Cageprisoners
    Cageprisoners Ltd is a London-based human rights organization with an Islamic focus, whose stated aim is "to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror." It campaigns on behalf of Muslim prisoners, including convicted...

    , Begg has appeared in the media and around the country, lecturing on issues pertaining to the UK Muslim community, imprisonment without trial, torture, anti-terror legislation and measures, and community relations.

    He has appeared as a commentator on radio and television interviews and documentaries, including the BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

    's Panorama and Newsnight shows, PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    's The Prisoner, Al-Jazeera's Prisoner 345
    Prisoner 345
    Prisoner 345 is a 2006 documentary film about detained Al Jazeera cameraman Sami Al Hajj, who was detained at the United States detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2002. The film retells the arrest of Al Hajj at the Afghan-Pakistani border...

    , Taking Liberties
    Taking Liberties (film)
    Taking Liberties is a documentary film about the erosion of civil liberties in the United Kingdom and increase of surveillance under the government of Tony Blair...

    , and Torturing Democracy
    Torturing Democracy
    Torturing Democracy is a 2008 documentary film produced by Washington Media Associates and narrated by Peter Coyote. The film details the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding, by the Bush administration in the "War on Terror". The documentary includes interviews from...

    , and National Geographic's Guantanamo's Secrets. He has also authored pieces that appeared in broadsheets and magazines.

    He has toured as a speaker about his time in detention facilities, characterising the British response to terrorism
    Definition of terrorism
    There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the proper definition of the word "terrorism". Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions of "terrorism". Moreover, the international community has been slow to formulate a universally agreed...

     as racist
    Racism
    Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

    , and disproportionate to anti-terror measures and legislation during the Troubles
    The Troubles
    The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

     in Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

    . In January 2009, Begg toured the UK with former Guantanamo guard Christopher Arendt, in the Two Sides, One Story tour. Begg also campaigned against U.S. wartime policy with human rights organisations such as Reprieve, Amnesty International
    Amnesty International
    Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

    , the Center for Constitutional Rights
    Center for Constitutional Rights
    Al Odah v. United States:Al Odah is the latest in a series of habeas corpus petitions on behalf of people imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The case challenges the Military Commissions system’s suitability as a habeas corpus substitute and the legality, in general, of detention at...

    , PeaceMaker, and Conflicts Forum.

    Appeal to Iraqi kidnappers; 2005


    On 9 December 2005, Begg made a video appeal to the Swords of Righteousness Brigade
    Swords of Righteousness Brigade
    The Swords of Righteousness Brigade is a terrorist group who kidnapped four Western peace activists in Iraq on 26 November 2005, murdered one, and held the remaining three hostage until March 22, 2006, when coalition forces raided the place where the hostages were held...

     Iraqi kidnappers of four Christian peace workers. Begg said seeing the peace workers in orange boiler suits reminded him of his own incarceration in Guantanamo Bay. One hostage was killed, and the remaining three rescued.

    Amnesty International controversy


    Begg has spoken alongside Amnesty International
    Amnesty International
    Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

     at a number of events, and accompanied it to a meeting at Downing Street
    Downing Street
    Downing Street in London, England has for over two hundred years housed the official residences of two of the most senior British cabinet ministers: the First Lord of the Treasury, an office now synonymous with that of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Second Lord of the Treasury, an...

    . In 2010, Gita Sahgal, then the head of Amnesty's gender unit, publicly condemned her organization for its collaboration with Begg, saying that it "constitutes a threat to human rights." In a letter to Amnesty's leadership, she warned: "To be appearing on platforms with Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment." Sahgal argued that by associating itself with Begg and Cageprisoners, Amnesty is risking its reputation on human rights.

    After this was reported in the press, Begg filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission
    Press Complaints Commission
    The Press Complaints Commission is a voluntary regulatory body for British printed newspapers and magazines, consisting of representatives of the major publishers. The PCC is funded by the annual levy it charges newspapers and magazines...

    , and notified his attorney to pursue legal action against The Sunday Times
    The Sunday Times
    The Sunday Times is a British Sunday newspaper.The Sunday Times may also refer to:*The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times...

    . Amnesty International posted a response by Widney Brown, Senior Director for International Law and Policy, on its blog LiveWire.

    Salman Rushdie said: "Amnesty ... has done its reputation incalculable damage by allying itself with Moazzam Begg and his group Cageprisoners, and holding them up as human rights advocates.... Amnesty and Begg have revealed, by their statements and actions, that they deserve our contempt."

    Denis MacShane
    Denis MacShane
    Denis MacShane is a British politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Rotherham since the 1994 by-election and served as the Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005, as well as being a current Policy Council member for Labour Friends of Israel.On 14 October 2010, it was announced...

    , a Member of the British Parliament, wrote to Amnesty that Sahgal: "rightly called into question Amnesty’s endorsement of Mozzam Begg, whose views on the Taliban and on Islamist jihad stand in total contradiction of everything Amnesty has fought for." Writing in The National Post
    National Post
    The National Post is a Canadian English-language national newspaper based in Don Mills, a district of Toronto. The paper is owned by Postmedia Network Inc. and is published Mondays through Saturdays...

    , journalist Christopher Hitchens
    Christopher Hitchens
    Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

     said: "It's well-nigh incredible that Amnesty should give a platform to people who are shady on this question," and writing in The Spectator
    The Spectator
    The Spectator is a weekly British magazine first published on 6 July 1828. It is currently owned by David and Frederick Barclay, who also owns The Daily Telegraph. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture...

     journalist Martin Bright
    Martin Bright
    Martin Bright is a British journalist. He worked for the BBC World Service and The Guardian before becoming The Observer's education correspondent and then home affairs editor...

     said: "It is Gita Sahgal who should be the darling of the human rights establishment, not Moazzam Begg." Journalist Nick Cohen
    Nick Cohen
    Nick Cohen is a British journalist, author and political commentator. He is currently a columnist for The Observer, a blogger for The Spectator and TV critic for Standpoint magazine. He formerly wrote for the London Evening Standard and the New Statesman...

     wrote in The Observer
    The Observer
    The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

    : "Amnesty is living in the make-believe world ... where it thinks that liberals are free to form alliances with defenders of clerical fascists who want to do everything in their power to suppress liberals, most notably liberal-minded Muslims."

    External links