Surviving Guantanamo

Julian Assange on the fifth episode of his The World Tomorrow TV program interviewed Moazzam Begg, a British subject who was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, and Asim Quereshi, a former British corporate lawyer who organized a human rights organization, Cagedprisoners Ltd., to advocate for prisoners such as Begg.

Begg lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and fled to Pakistan after the U.S. invasion began.  Pakistani police arrested him in 2002 on suspicion of being a member of the Taliban, and turned him over to U.S. authorities, who imprisoned him at the secret facility near Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and then at Guantanamo Bay.

Begg signed a confession saying that he was “armed and prepared to fight alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda against the U.S.”  He told Assange he signed the confession only after he was hog-tied and beaten, and was told that the screams of a woman in the next cell were his wife.  He was released in 2005 after lobbying by the government of the United Kingdom.  He never was charged with any crime.

Although Begg was imprisoned during the Presidency of George W. Bush, he said on the program that President Barack Obama is worse.  Bush claimed the right of “extrajudicial detention” on his own say-so.  Obama claims the right of “extrajudicial killing” on his own say-so.

The two Muslim human rights advocates also gave their views on the Caliphate, which they said would be an Arab equivalent of the European Union; jihad, which they said is merely the right of self-defense; and sharia law, which they said is more humane than is generally portrayed.  They said Osama bin Laden played a positive role in helping to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but bin Laden’s subsequent activities were counter-productive from the standpoint of Muslim liberation.

I don’t think that what they say on these subjects is the last word, and I wonder if they were shading their opinions to make them acceptable to a Western audience.  But their point of view is interesting, and one we Americans rarely hear.   Their arguments for closing Guantanamo Bay are based on fundamental Anglo-Americans concepts of due process of law.

Click on Digital Journal for a summary of Assange’s Episode 5 and links to previous broadcasts.

Click on CagePrisoners for that organization’s home page.

Click on Moazzam Begg wiki for Begg’s Wikipedia biography, which includes allegations about Taliban and al Qaeda activities.

Assange appears on the RT (Russia Today) network, a 24-hour English-language news network established by the government of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  Assange said RT does not influence the topic or content of his programs.

I made minor revisions to this article a few hours after posting it.

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