February 26, 2014 | Quote
Ex-Gitmo Detainee Latest to be Suspected of Terrorism
The arrest of a former Guantanamo prisoner in England on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism is the latest example of a failed release program that is setting free unrepentant jihadists, an analyst says.
United Kingdom authorities on Tuesday arrested Moazzam Begg, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism in Syria. Three others were arrested with him.
Begg, 45, whose imprisonment was trumpeted by international human rights groups seeking to depict Guantanamo Bay as a torture chamber, had been picked up in Afghanistan as an al-Qaeda enemy combatant in 2002 and released at the request of British authorities in 2005.
“He was a very articulate spokesman for the view that detainees were widely tortured in Guantanamo and a lot of innocents were being held there,” said Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “The evidence shows that at least in his case, it was the opposite.”
Of hundreds of terrorism suspects released from the U.S. military's detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 30% — or about 170 — have been confirmed by intelligence officials or media reports as having turned to terrorist activities after their release, according to Joscelyn.
They include people such as Said al-Shihri, who was released from Guantanamo in 2007 and later became an al-Qaeda travel facilitator in Iran and second in command in al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen. He died in 2013 in a U.S. drone strike.
Several other former detainees, among them Abu Ahmad al-Muhajir, have become leaders in jihadi units fighting alongside al-Qaeda in Syria, Joscelyn said.