Featured Profile

Moazzam Begg
Former Prisoner at Guantanamo Bay

Moazzam Begg was born 37 years ago in Birmingham to secular Muslim parents. His
mother died when he was six, and his father sent him to the Jewish King David school in Birmingham, because he thought it inculcated good values. In his 20s Begg became more interested in politics – Islamic politics. He never fitted one dogma neatly – conservative when it came to family values, leftist when it came to issues of equality.

Moved by the plight of the Afghani people, in 2001 Begg traveled to Kabul with his family to start a school for basic education and provide water pumps. When the allied attack on Afghanistan began in October 2001, Begg and his family moved to Islamabad in Pakistan for safety. It was there that he was seized in January 2002 by Pakistani police and CIA officers, bundled into a back of a car and taken back to Kabul,
where he was held in a windowless cellar at Bagram airbase for nearly a year.

Hooded, shackled and cuffed, he was taken first to the US detention facility at Kandahar, then on to Bagram, and finally to Guantanamo Bay. During his internment, he was kicked and beaten, suffocated with a bag over his head, stripped naked, chained by his hands to the top of a door and left hanging, and led to believe he was about to be executed. One psychiatrist encouraged him to kill himself. In all he spend three
years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, and was subjected to over three hundred interrogations, as well as death threats and torture, witnessing the killings of two detainees.

Begg is one of nine British citizens who were held at Camp X-Ray, Guantánamo Bay by the government of the United States of America. Begg was labeled an ‘enemy combatant’ by the US government, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and whose precise nature has never been determined.

He was released on January 25, 2005 along with Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar, without charge though he received no compensation or an apology. President Bush released Moazzam Begg over the objections of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI, who warned that Mr. Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist.

Begg is the author of a book about his Guantánamo experiences titled Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantánamo, Bagram, and Kandahar, co-written with Victoria Brittain. It is the first book to be published by a former Guantánamo Bay prisoner.


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