UK: ex-Gitmo detainee in Syria terror bust

British police counter-terrorism forces announced on Feb. 25 the arrest of Moazzam Begg in his hometown of Birmingham, England, along with three other individuals on suspicion of terrorism offenses related to the war in Syria. Begg was a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, and he was one of the last detainees from the UK to be returned. British authorities have expressed concern about their citizens fighting in jihadist groups in Syria, and Begg is the most high profile arrestee in connection with the UK's attempt to minimize influence in the Syrian conflict. The police reported Begg is suspected of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas. According to British counter-terrorism laws, the police are authorized to detain Begg for up to 14 days, and police will conduct a search of the arrestee's vehicles and electronic devices.

Britons traveling to Syria is one of the major counter-terrorism threats facing the UK police. The estimated number of aspiring jihadists traveling from the UK to Syria has risen to at least 400. Begg was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and he was one of a small group of UK nationals detained at Guantánamo Bay. The US claimed that he was a recruiter and fundraiser for al Qaeda, but he was released without charge in 2005 after the British government intervened to free their citizens from Guantanamo. Following his release Begg was outspoken about the conditions in Guantánamo and he made remarks about terroristic activity. In early 2005, the UK government denied passports to some of the Britons released from Guantanamo Bay.

From Jurist, Feb. 26. Used with permission.

  1. UK prosecutors drop charges against ex-Gitmo detainee

    The UK's Crown Prosecution Service on Oct. 1 dropped terrorism charges against Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo detainee who was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offenses related to the war in Syria. Begg was scheduled to stand trial next week for charges including the funding and training of terrorist activities, but last-minute evidence was determined to undermine the prosecutors' case. While the police have defended his arrest, Begg accused authorities of demonizing the Muslim community. Begg was in prison for seven months following his arrest and has become an outspoken advocate for the rights of terror suspects. (Jurist, Oct. 1)