Ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg was arrested earlier today as part of raid conducted by counterterrorism officials in the UK. Begg has spent most of his time living in the UK following his release from Guantanamo in 2005. He is one of the most prolific anti-Guantanamo advocates.
Counterterrorism officials say he is suspected of committing “Syria-related terrorism offenses.” The BBC reports that he “was detained on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas.” Three others were also arrested on the same charges.
It remains to be seen what specific charges Begg will face, if any. But the allegations are anything but surprising.
As THE WEEKLY STANDARD has repeatedly documented, there have always been two Moazzam Beggs. There is the Moazzam Begg so many on the left prefer to see, a victim of America’s post-9/11 excesses. And then there is the real Moazzam Begg, an advocate for jihadism.
Moazzam Begg and his allies claim he was wrongly detained and tortured. Human rights organizations and civil liberties groups have repeatedly endorsed this version of Begg’s life, making him one of the chief spokesmen for the anti-Gitmo crowd. Amnesty International and the ACLU have enthusiastically promoted Begg as a truth teller.
There has always been much evidence to the contrary. The real Moazzam Begg freely admitted to being part of the international terrorist network while at Guantanamo, according to official U.S. investigations. And Begg was never tortured – far from it. Instead, he willingly cooperated with FBI agents, who did not use harsh interrogation measures at Guantanamo.
The Department of Defense investigated Begg’s allegations of abuse three times and “found no evidence to substantiate his claims,” according to a report prepared by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Justice.
The OIG itself investigated Begg’s torture claims and “concluded that the evidence did not support the allegation that [FBI agents] coerced Begg into signing” a confession at Guantanamo. Begg even personally annotated and edited the document. The OIG provided a summary of Begg’s confession:
The OIG reviewed a copy of Begg’s signed statement dated February 13, 2003. The statement is eight single-spaced pages, signed by Begg, Bell, Harrelson, [note: Bell and Harrelson are the pseudonyms used for two FBI agents] and two DOD Criminal Investigative Division agents. Begg’s signed statement indicates, among other things, that Begg sympathized with the cause of al-Qaeda, attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and England so that he could assist in waging global jihad against enemies of Islam, including Russia and India; associated with and assisted several prominent terrorists and supporters of terrorists and discussed potential terrorist acts with them; recruited young operatives for the global jihad; and provided financial support for terrorist training camps.
Declassified and leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) documents show that U.S. military and intelligence officials believed that all of this, and more, was true. A leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment dated November 11, 2003 reads:
Detainee [Begg] has been identified as being affiliated with three extremist organizations, including al Qaeda. Detainee has admitted to attending training at Al-Badr training camp near Khowst, in December 1993, as well as the Harakat Al-Ansar terrorist training camp. Detainee was also an instructor at Derunta training camp, another al Qaeda supported terrorist camp. The detainee has been associated with a senior al Qaeda financier, as well as other key suspects currently under investigation by US authorities. Detainee is a confirmed member of al Qaeda.
JTF-GTMO concluded that Begg posed a “high threat to the U.S., its interests and its allies.” Both JTF-GTMO and the chief criminal investigative unit at Guantanamo recommended that Begg remain in U.S. custody.
Begg was transferred to the UK on January 25, 2005 instead, probably as a result of pressure from the UK.