Moazzam Begg cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Moazzam Begg

former Guantanamo detainee

Moazzam Begg (Urdu: مُعَظّم بیگ‎; born 5 July 1968 in Sparkhill, Birmingham) is a British Pakistani who was held in extrajudicial detention by the US government in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, in Cuba, for nearly three years. Seized by Pakistani intelligence at his home in Pakistan in February 2002, he was transferred to the custody of US Army officers, who held him in the detention centre at Bagram, Afghanistan, before transferring him to Guantanamo Bay, where he was held until January 2005.The US authorities held Begg as an enemy combatant, claiming Begg was an al-Qaeda member, who recruited for, and provided money for, al-Qaeda training camps, and himself trained there to fight US or allied troops. Begg acknowledged having spent time at two non-al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in the early 1990s and given some financial support to fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya, but denies that he was ever involved in terrorism.Begg says that he was abused by guards at Bagram, and saw two detainees beaten to death. Military coroners ruled that the two deaths were homicides, but US military spokesmen denied Begg's story at the time. Later, a 2005 military investigation into reports of abuse at Bagram concluded that both deaths were caused by abuse by American guards.Following a "long public outcry" in the UK over the detention of British nationals, in 2004, the UK government intervened on behalf of British citizens who were being detained at Guantanamo Bay. President George W. Bush had Begg released without charge on 25 January 2005, despite Pentagon, CIA, and FBI objections. Begg and other British citizens who had been detained at Guantanamo later sued the British government for complicity in their alleged abuse and torture while in US custody. In November 2010, the British Government announced an out-of-court financial settlement with 16 detainees, including Begg.After his release, Begg became a media commentator on issues pertaining to US, UK and international anti-terror measures. He toured as a speaker about Guantanamo and other detention facilities. Begg co-authored a book, and has written newspaper and magazine articles. He was interviewed in Taxi to the Dark Side, (2008), a documentary about the death in custody of an Afghan detainee and the mistreatment of prisoners held by Americans in Afghanistan and elsewhere.In 2014, British police arrested Begg, alleging terrorist activities during the Syrian civil war. Charges were later withdrawn and he was released when the prosecution became aware that MI5 had known of, and consented to, his travel to Syria.
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