A UK Editorialist Who Thinks US Might Be Getting A Bad Rap

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Annie, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
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    The release of Feroz Abbasi, Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar, the four Britons who have been detained in the US Government's prison at Guantanamo Bay for the past three years, has generally been greeted by relief and resentment: relief that the poor men's ordeal of incarceration without trial or even charges is finally over; and resentment against the United States for having flouted justice so outrageously by imprisoning them in the first place.

    The intensity of that reaction – indeed, having it at all – depends on the conviction that the men were completely innocent individuals who were quietly going about their lawful business when they were kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by agents of the US.

    It is not, however, the interpretation supported by the available evidence. Feroz Abbasi, for instance, trained at an al-Qaeda camp, stated that he wanted to "kill Americans and Jews", and volunteered for a suicide mission to blow up American troops in Afghanistan.

    Richard Belmar admitted that he had been trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan, where he had been in contact with Osama bin Laden. Martin Mubanga also admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda, training at a camp in Afghanistan, and having plans to spy on Jewish organisations in New York in order to assess their suitability for terrorist attack. Moazzam Begg also trained in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.

    Supporters of the men insist that this evidence is worthless: it comes from officials in the US government, who tortured the detainees into providing it. Again, that may be true. But are the men's own accounts of what they did, and what the US interrogators did to them, really always to be preferred to those of the US government?

    It is notable that at least 10 of more than 240 men who have been released from Guantanamo after US officials had decided that they posed "little or no threat" have gone on to be recaptured, or killed, fighting US or coalition forces in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

    In October last year, for instance, two Chinese engineers working on a dam in the Waziristan region of Pakistan were kidnapped. The commander of the Islamic militant group responsible for kidnapping them was Abdullah Mehsud. He had spent two years as a prisoner in Guantanamo. He successfully persuaded his interrogators that he was innocent and would "never harm the US". As a result, they released him. Since his release, Meshud has organised violent attacks on anything he considers to be insufficiently or incorrectly Muslim in Pakistan. He has also given lengthy interviews to Pakistani newspapers in which he has insisted that he would "fight America and its allies until the very end".

    Then there is Slimane Hadje Abderrahmane. He is a Danish Muslim who was held in Guantanamo, who also signed a pledge to renounce violence and was freed as a result. He was treated as a hero when he returned to Denmark. Danish enthusiasm for Mr Abderrahmane has diminished considerably since he started repeating to interviewers that he regards his oath renouncing violence as "toilet paper" and has insisted that he considers the Danish prime minister to be a legitimate target for Islamic fundamentalists.

    It is a remarkable testament to how low the reputation of the US has sunk that so many people find it much easier to believe the men in Guantanamo when they say they are entirely innocent victims who pose no threat at all to anyone than to accept that the Americans may have had good reasons for detaining them in the first place.

    Few people believe that the Americans are telling the truth when they say they cannot hold trials of the men at Guantanamo without revealing their intelligence sources which led to arrests and therefore jeopardising any progress they may have made in the "war on terror".

    That explanation, however, is very often true. It is also why the UK government has not organised trials for the 12 foreign nationals held in Belmarsh prison. The profound distrust of what anyone from the US – or UK – government says in relation to "the war on terror" famously extends to the Law Lords, who ruled that the Government invoked spurious and discriminatory "security" grounds for imprisoning the Belmarsh 12, the foreign nationals who are detained indefinitely without trial here.

    If the Government can't convince the Law Lords of its integrity in the fight against terror, it is in serious trouble. The reality, of course, is that the US and the UK governments are actually rather less eager to destroy Western society and its liberties than members of al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, it seems it will take another act of mass terrorism on the scale of the destruction of the World Trade Center to persuade people of that fact.​

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