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WikiLeaks Cable Shows State Department’s Willful Blindness on Gitmo

One WikiLeaks cable reveals an American diplomat’s ridiculously rosy view of a former Gitmo detainee.

6:30 AM, Nov 30, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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It is one thing if a left-wing human rights organization like Amnesty International cannot tell the difference between a jihadist and a legitimate political dissident. It is quite another if the U.S. State Department suffers from the same intellectual confusion. One diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks contains a startling example of Foggy Bottom’s willful blindness in this regard.

On January 14, 2010, a former Guantanamo detainee named Moazzam Begg met with the foreign minister of Luxembourg to discuss the resettlement of additional detainees in Europe. Afterward, Begg attended a screening of “Taxi to the Dark Side,” a film that portrays America’s detention policies in the worst possible light. Begg also participated in a Q&A session with members of the audience.

This prompted an American diplomat who was in attendance to write a summary of the event and of Begg’s “barnstorming” tour throughout Europe. (A copy of the cable can be found on the New York Times’s web site.) Foggy Bottom’s correspondent gushed:

Mr. Begg is doing our work for us, and his articulate, reasoned presentation makes for a convincing argument. It is ironic that after four years of imprisonment and alleged torture, Moazzam Begg is delivering the same demarche to [Government of Luxembourg] as we are: please consider accepting GTMO detainees for resettlement. Despite Begg's optimism, the Prime and Foreign Ministers continue to publicly state that the [Government of Luxembourg] supports the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and stands ready to assist from a financial and logistical perspective, but cannot accept detainees for resettlement.

The myopia here is stunning. Moazzam Begg is not doing the State Department’s work – at least, he shouldn’t be. Begg and his organization, Cageprisoners, are pro-jihadist and anti-American.

I’ve written extensively about Begg before. You can find links to numerous pieces detailing his dossier here. A CliffsNotes version would include all of the following facts:

Begg is an avowed jihadist. In his self-serving book, Enemy Combatant, Begg explicitly rejects the idea that jihad is a benign struggle for personal improvement, writing that “from the time of the Prophet…up until modern times, the majority of Muslims (and the non-Muslims they used it on) always understood jihad as warfare.”

During his time at Gitmo, Begg signed a confession that detailed his ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Begg admitted, among other things, that he trained at and funded terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Indeed, Begg was scheduled to be brought before the first military commission at Gitmo, but in what was likely a favor to then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, the Bush administration transferred Begg to the UK.

Once back in the UK, Begg joined his organization, Cageprisoners, which has openly advocated on behalf of al Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki and spread Awlaki’s propaganda inside the UK. One jihadist recruit who was swayed by Awlaki’s messages is Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab asked Begg to speak at an anti-American hate fest Abdulmutallab organized and Begg accepted. Begg’s ties to the would-be underwear bomber were widely reported by the press following Abdulmutallab’s failure. In fact, the press reported on the relationship between Begg and Abdulmutallab in the weeks immediately preceding the State Department’s cable.

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