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The New York Times Connects the Dots

More on the connection between a former Gitmo detainee and the Christmas Day bomber.

9:28 AM, Jan 17, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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In a piece today, the New York Times follows the thread of evidence connecting former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg and failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (emphasis added):

For the inaugural lecture of the “War on Terror Week” that Mr. Abdulmutallab helped organize as president of the college’s Islamic society from 2006 to 2007, the group booked a large lecture hall. It was a full house, said Fabian De Fabiani, a student at the time who attended, with about 150 other people. Some members of the society dressed in the orange jumpsuits of the Guantánamo Bay detainees; they stood at the doors and handed out leaflets.

Mr. Abdulmutallab was seated “where the lecturer would usually sit,” Mr. De Fabiani said, “very close” to Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo detainee then in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical preacher whom officials say Mr. Abdulmutallab probably met in Yemen before setting off on his failed bombing attempt. In an interview, Mr. Begg acknowledged attending the event but said he did not recall meeting Mr. Abdulmutallab.

“When we sat down they played a video that opened with shots of the twin towers after they’d been hit, then moved on to images of mujahedeen fighting, firing rockets in Afghanistan,” Mr. De Fabiani said. “It was quite tense in the theater, because I think lots of people were shocked by how extreme it was. It seemed to me like it was brainwashing, like they were trying to indoctrinate people.”

For background on why this is important, see my pieces here and here.

Moazzam Begg is an avowed jihadist who once signed an eight-page confession detailing his terrorist career (including training at and funding terrorist training camps) prior to being detained by U.S. forces. Since Begg was released from Guantanamo, he has invented a story about his time at Gitmo that is pure fiction and has gone on to become a leading anti-American propagandist. Begg was even the front man for a twisted revenge fantasy video game that would have allowed gamers to shoot their way out of Gitmo, killing American soldiers in the process.

Not only has Begg taken every opportunity to smear American troops, he has also consistently supported known al Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki. Begg and his organization, Cage Prisoners, lobbied for Awlaki’s freedom when he was briefly detained in Yemen, conducted favorable interviews with Awlaki (Begg personally conducted the interviews), broadcast Awlaki’s propaganda in the UK, and published Awlaki’s jihadist writings on the Cage Prisoners’ web site.

And now investigators are looking into the links between Begg, Awlaki, and the would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Despite all of this, and more, Begg is celebrated by the Western left. For example, Begg currently stars in an anti-Gitmo propaganda video produced by the ACLU, and is participating in an Amnesty International tour urging European states to take in more Guantanamo detainees.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

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