The Curious Case of Moazzam Begg

Two Nigerian converts to Islam have just received life sentences for butchering a British soldier in the streets of London and were carried out of court screaming and cursing. I do not suppose that Moazzam Begg has done anything so frightful, but his story is hallucinating in its own way. Born in Britain of Pakistani parents, he claims to want to live in an Islamic state. He just happens to turn up in Afghanistan before the American army, he just happens to have fought in Bosnia and hoped to fight in Chechnya, and he just happens to have had night goggles and a bullet-proof vest in his house when the police searched it. The West Midlands Police arrested him on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas. The police statement says, “This is an arrest, not a charge . . . our naming does not imply any guilt.” Make of that what you can.

It also just happens that in 2002 the Pakistani authorities handed him over to the United States, and he spent three years in Guantanamo. When he was released, he claimed he had been tortured and had known two other prisoners beaten to death. He’s founded a pressure group on behalf of Islamists held in prison. Would you say there is a pattern in what he does? The British government paid him one million pounds to compensate him for being in Guantanamo. Now he happens to have been stopped leaving the country with an aid convoy to Syria. How much compensation will he manage to extract for that? Those whom the gods wish to destroy give money to the likes of Moazzam Begg.

David Pryce-Jones — David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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