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Al Qaeda's Civil Liberties Union

5:48 PM, Nov 17, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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But it has not. The former Gitmo detainee has made a career out of pretending he was innocent when he was detained in Pakistan in January 2002. He is regularly cited in the Western press as an authority on Guantanamo. And his web site, Cageprisoners.com, is a prolific propaganda organ for Begg and his fellow Guantanamo detainees, who are always presented as innocents wrongly seized by the American government.

The ACLU's video embraces Begg's charade, claiming that he was in Afghanistan merely to set up a school. That is not true.

The diminutive Begg has a long history of supporting terrorist causes. The U.S. government's summary of evidence memo, which was written in conjunction with Begg's combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) hearing at Gitmo, includes a number of serious allegations. Begg "recruited individuals to attend al Qaeda run terrorist training camps in Afghanistan," provided "money and material support" for these camps, and had himself "received extensive training at al Qaeda run terrorist training camps in 1993." The U.S. government also alleged that Begg sheltered the families of al Qaeda members when the jihadists went off to commit "terrorist acts" and retreated to Tora Bora in late 2001 alongside his fellow Taliban and al Qaeda members.

Since being released from Gitmo, Begg has claimed that none of this is true and that he was "tortured" into confessing to these and other false allegations. But as the Department of Justice's Inspector General found, Begg is lying.

The DOJ's Office of the Inspector General completed a report in May 2008 detailing its investigation into the FBI's handling of Begg, as well as other detainees, at Guantanamo and elsewhere. The OIG found that Begg had signed a statement indicating "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."

Begg signed the statement on February 13, 2003. The statement included eight single-spaced pages of admissions. The OIG further found:

"Notations that appear to be Begg's hand-written initials appear at the beginning and end of each paragraph of the statement. The statement also has additions and deletions that are also initialed. These include both minor and substantive changes. For example, on the first page Begg apparently corrected the spelling of one of his aliases, changed ‘handguns' to ‘handgun,' and deleted ‘hand' in front of ‘grenades.' On page 3, Begg apparently changed the statement ‘I am unsure of the exact amount of money sent to terrorist training camps of the many years I helped fund the camps,' by replacing the word ‘many' with the words ‘couple of.' On page 4, he added the following sentence apparently for purposes of explanation for his conduct: ‘This was to help the Kurds in Iraq.' "

Begg's admissions, which he initialed and edited only to provide additional clarity, are incredibly damning. This is likely the chief reason that the American national security establishment (including the DOD, CIA, and FBI) all recommended that he remain at Gitmo instead of being released.

There is no evidence that Begg was forced to confess to these troubling allegations. The OIG "concluded that the evidence did not support the allegation that [FBI agents] coerced Begg into signing the statement." The Department of Defense also performed three investigations into Begg's claims of abuse while in military custody and "found no evidence to substantiate his claims." The OIG reported that Begg even helped U.S. officials in their investigations of his fellow jihadists while in American custody.

Thus, Begg is an admitted terrorist whose claims of "torture" and "abuse" are almost certainly fabricated in order to smear the American war effort. Yet, the ACLU has no qualms about trumpeting this jihadist's claims in an online video.

Another former detainee featured in the short film is Bisher al Rawi. The ACLU's narrator tells us he was detained in Gambia for no good reason and he just wanted to "open a peanut factory." That's not true. Al Rawi was detained because of his close relationship with Abu Qatada--a known al Qaeda cleric who has inspired jihadists for years and has accurately been described as "Osama bin Laden's ambassador in Europe."