Ex-Gitmo man held in UK over Syria terror

2014-02-25 18:17
The front of a house in Birmingham, central England, where former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg was arrested. (Paul Ellis, AFP)

The front of a house in Birmingham, central England, where former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg was arrested. (Paul Ellis, AFP)

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Birmingham - British police arrested former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg and three other people on Tuesday in the latest in a string of detentions linked to suspected terror offences relating to Syria.

Begg, who spent three years in the US detention centre in Cuba before his release without charge in 2005, was arrested by counter-terrorism officers in the central English city of Birmingham.

The 45-year-old, who is now an outspoken rights activist, was arrested at his home on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas, said West Midlands Police.

Begg had written in a blog earlier this month about making two trips to Syria in 2012 to investigate allegations of western complicity in torture and said that British authorities had recently confiscated his passport.

A 44-year-old woman and her son aged 20 were held on suspicion of facilitating terror abroad, as was a 36-year-old man at a separate address, police said.

"We can confirm that Moazzam Begg was arrested," a West Midlands Police spokesperson told AFP.

"We are confirming this name as a result of the anticipated high public interest. This is an arrest, not a charge, and... our naming does not imply any guilt."

Begg moved to Afghanistan with his wife and three children in 2001, where he insisted that he was only involved in charitable activities, but fled to Pakistan after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban after 9/11.

He was detained in Islamabad as an "enemy combatant" in February 2002 and taken to the Bagram prison in Afghanistan for about a year, where he said he was beaten.

US authorities released him and three other Britons in January 2005 and he was allowed to return to Britain where he was arrested by the police before being freed without charge.

Begg is now a director of Cage, a campaign group for detainee rights.

Police said all the suspects including Begg were arrested at their homes "on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences" and are being held at a police station in the Birmingham area.

The three homes were being searched by officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, while vehicles and electronic equipment were being removed for forensic analysis, the force said.

Read more on:    syria  |  terrorism

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