Old habits die hard. Moazzam Begg, Britain’s highest profile Guantanamo detainee has been back to Pakistan – the country where he was first arrested. Never one to miss an opportunity for stoking anti-British sentiments, Begg railed against what he describes as oppressive circumstances for Muslims in Britain.
Ostensibly in Pakistan to campaign for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist recently sentenced by an American court to 87 years incarceration, the Dawn Newspaper gives us an insight into what else Begg was saying.
Speaking to an audience of Pakistanis Begg said that a ‘wave of Islamophobia’ is sweeping the country, leaving thousands of Muslims ‘feeling insecure’. Begg continued that he knew of many who are “either leaving or planning to leave for the countries of their origin as neo-Nazis are saying that they can accept all except the Muslims”. Begg also accused the media of “mentioning religion whenever any offence is committed by a Muslim.”
That’s a bit rich coming from a man who has done more damage than most to the standing of the Muslim community in Britain. After all, suspicions against British Muslims stem from the mistaken idea that we represent a fifth-column in society, that we are not loyal to the state, that we support terrorist attacks launched in the name of Islam.
Begg has done more than most to help reinforce that idea.
Much of his adult life has been dedicated to the pursuit of extremist Islam. When he was arrested in Pakistan after 9/11, it was not his first brush with the law. He had already been arrested the year before in Birmingham when a bookshop he ran called Maktabah al Ansaar was raided by West Midlands Police during an intelligence-led operation by the Security Service.
An Algerian man, known only as ‘D’ also worked there. In December 2001, the Home Secretary sought to deport ‘D’ because of his suspected involvement in international terrorism. ‘D’ appealed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) and what transpired in the final SIAC judgement is extremely relevant here. The judgement found that ‘D’ is
an active supporter of the GIA (an Algerian terrorist group)
The judgement doesn’t mince its words.
We regard D as a practised and accomplished liar. We do not believe his excuses, his claims to ignorance, his attempts to distance himself from other terrorist suspects, or his assertions that he has nothing to do with the GIA or other terrorist organisations, networks or activities.
The judgement goes on to hold that ‘D’ is
involved with other extremists, in particular Djamel Beghal, Abu Qatada and members of the latter’s group, and Begg, with whom he worked at the Maktabah Al-Ansar Book Shop in Birmingham.
About the raid on the bookstore, the court found
It is right to say that the Secretary of State was in error in suggesting that weapons were found at the book shop when D was working there: they were not – they were found at Begg’s house.
That is really quite a damning indictment: a British court has branded Moazzam Begg an ‘extremist’ who associates with ‘practised and accomplished liars’.
Yet Begg has the audacity to tell Pakistanis that in Britain, “Seeing immigrants occupying tens of thousands of jobs is certainly disturbing the natives. While body bags of army men coming from Afghanistan and Iraq, coupled with the venomous media propaganda, is adding fuel to the fire.”
It is not them who are adding fuel to the fire – it is men like Begg.