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Watch > Episode > Moazzam Begg - Guantanamo Bay Survivor

Moazzam Begg - Guantanamo Bay Survivor

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Moazzam Begg is a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was featured in the BBC documentary “The Confession: Living The War On Terror”. The US authorities held him as an enemy combatant and claimed he was an al-Qaeda member, yet he has never been convicted of any crime. Today, Moazzam is an advocate for the rights of those unjustly held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, serving as the Director of Outreach for Cage, a London-based advocacy organisation which aims to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror.

In this fascinating London Real interview, watch as Moazzam talks about extremists and the rise of ISIS, the fact that the relationships built with his captors continue to this day and how his treatment in Guantanamo has changed him as a person.

Born on July 1, 1968, in Birmingham, England, Moazzam Begg grew up in a working-class family. His parents had migrated from Pakistan, and Begg’s childhood was shaped by a sense of identity and belonging to both Britain and his family’s cultural roots.

Begg’s activism began in the 1990s, where he became involved in humanitarian work and advocacy for the rights of Muslims globally. His commitment to social justice and human rights was evident long before the events that would lead to his incarceration.

Moazzam Begg’s life took a dramatic turn in 2002 when he was arrested in Pakistan by U.S. authorities on suspicion of being associated with terrorist organisations. He was subsequently transferred to Guantanamo Bay, the controversial U.S. military prison that gained notoriety for its treatment of detainees in the post-9/11 era.

Begg spent almost three years at Guantanamo without being charged with a crime. His detention raised concerns about the erosion of civil liberties and the lack of due process in the war on terror. Begg later detailed his experiences in the book “Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantanamo and Back,” providing a firsthand account of life inside the notorious detention facility.

Since his release from Guantanamo in 2005, Moazzam Begg has turned his experiences into a platform for advocacy. He became a vocal critic of the policies that led to mass detentions without trial and the use of torture in the name of national security. Begg’s advocacy extended to challenging the erosion of civil liberties and the impact of counterterrorism measures on Muslim communities.

In 2010, he founded the organisation Cage (formerly Cageprisoners), a human rights advocacy group focused on issues related to the war on terror, arbitrary detentions, and human rights abuses. Cage works to raise awareness, provide legal support, and campaign for justice for individuals affected by counterterrorism policies.

Moazzam Begg’s work with Cage reflects his commitment to challenging injustice and advocating for the rights of those impacted by the war on terror. He has spoken at international forums, engaged with policymakers, and collaborated with other human rights organisations to shine a light on the consequences of draconian security measures.

Begg’s advocacy also extends to challenging Islamophobia and fostering a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the context of counterterrorism policies. His efforts aim to bridge divides and promote a more just and inclusive society.

Moazzam Begg’s life is a testament to the complexities of the post-9/11 world, where issues of national security, civil liberties, and human rights intersect. From his incarceration at Guantanamo Bay to his subsequent work as a human rights advocate, Begg has navigated extraordinary circumstances with resilience and a commitment to justice.

As he continues to champion civil liberties, challenge oppressive policies, and advocate for the rights of those impacted by the war on terror, Moazzam Begg remains a prominent figure in the ongoing discourse on human rights and counterterrorism measures.

Chapters

00:00 | Trailer
02:45 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
04:56 Brian’s introduction
05:28 Impact of Ice-T on Moazzam’s journey in defining his identity
07:38 How Moazzam could relate to the views of Malcolm X in his autobiography
10:02 Meeting Mohammed Ali
11:45 Internal conflict for American soldiers at detention centres
14:35 Relationships built with his captors continue today
19:02 The changes in living in multicultural Birmingham, England of today from when he was growing up there
25:27 Moazzam’s reasoning for his interest and subsequent involvement in the Bosnian and Gulf wars
27:56 America probably wouldn’t let Moazzam in “even if it wanted to”
30:16 Anger at stories of atrocities to Muslim population in Bosnia propel him into action
36:47 Learning of different forms of Islam and scriptural teaching across the Islamic world included Jihad
40:09 Extremists and the rise of ISIS
48:42 UK security services visit his house and bookshop
50:53 Moazzam defines what Jihad means to him
54:02 Why Moazzam moved with his wife and young family to Afghanistan where he observed the Taliban
59:47 The history of abducting young boys for sex slaves
1:02:49 What the day of 9/11 was like for Moazzam, its consequences and family escape to Pakistan
1:09:42 He questions whether his decisions were naïve or he was culpable for what happened to him next
1:11:09 What happened to him in Pakistan on the night of 31 January 2002
1:14:24 The interrogation process caused him to question his British Citizenship
1:18:31 The torture begins during transfer to Kandahar, Afghanistan
1:26:53 He blames the British Government for his imprisonment
1:31:10 Transfer to Camp Bagram where he witnessed prisoners beaten and kicked to death
1:33:22 Why he finally decided to sign a confession and why he felt relief at being sent to Guantanamo Bay
1:37:34 Arriving at Guantanamo Bay
1:40:23 Experience of being in Guantanamo
1:44:33 How this experience was testing Moazzam’s faith and the key to keeping his sanity
1:47:28 Wondering if he would ever be released and where hope came from
1:48:54 The day of his release and a surreal arrival at RAF Northolt
1:55:09 Moazzam arrived home with a plan to fight
1:56:29 The purpose of Cage for which he is Outreach Director
1:57:45 How his treatment in Guantanamo has changed him
2:00:20 Final settlement with the British Government but no admittance they were complicit in torture
2:05:19 Going to Syria in 2012 results in arrest and imprisonment
2:11:17 Why he was angry at his imprisonment and sad about Alan Henning’s killing
2:15:54 Governments negotiate with terrorists
2:17:17 Moazzam’s view of situation in Syria today and of attacks in Britain and France
2:20:35 What he thinks might be the way forward
2:22:23 The British media is out of control with the lies, hatred and misconceptions it spreads about Muslims
2:26:05 What he says to those fellow Muslims he meets who are extremists
2:26:55 The case against torture
2:28:09 What he thinks of Donald Trump and his statement that he will bring back torture
2:31:39 The future of Guantanamo Bay
2:35:38 What he was terrified of during his time in Guantanamo Bay
2:35:56 Moazzam’s thoughts on human rights, prisoner rights and the Geneva Convention
2:37:39 What schedule 7 is, its affect and how Cage is fighting against it
2:40:53 What will Britain look like in twenty years if Cage succeeds
2:42:10 Is he afraid of being imprisoned again
2:43:00 How he would want to be remembered
2:43:37 What his friends would say is his super power
2:44:19 The verse from the Koran which helps him remain stoic
2:45:17 The best and worst days of his life
2:45:45 How he feels about speaking of Guantanamo Bay having left it
2:46:39 Why he thinks his story is not more in the public conscience and why they don’t fight injustice
2:48:59 What we would be surprised to know about Moazzam
2:49:58 What scares him
2:50:40 What keeps him awake at night
2:51:16 Advice to the twenty-year old Moazzam
2:51:56 Best advice he ever received
2:53:39 Advice to young people listening who could make a change to prevent a repetition of recent events
2:54:35 Brian’s summing up.

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