No one is coming out of the Jamal al-Harith story well, be it the Tories, Ken Clarke, Theresa May, the Daily Mail, Tony Blair, David Blunkett or Shami Chakrabarti. Jeremy Corbyn’s 2013 words praising the released Gitmo Britons, including al-Harith, for their “commendable contribution” are also somewhat unfortunate:
“There has been no problem whatever… with any of the British nationals who have been released from Guantanamo Bay, who, in fact, have made a commendable contribution to arguments for justice and for closing it down.”
“No problem” with any of the British nationals released… Sir Humphrey would have described that as a brave line.
The BBC is reporting that a British former Guantanamo Bay detainee turned ISIS fighter has carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq. Abu-Zakariya al-Britani was formerly known as Jamal al-Harith and before that Ronald Fiddler. In 2004 al-Harith was released from Guantanamo after intense lobbying by the Blair government, who said he was mistreated. At the time Shami Chakrabarti, the then head of Liberty, said she was “delighted” that al-Harith and four other detainees were being released:
“We are delighted that the five have been released, but let us not forget those that are remaining. Nor should we forget that Britain has its very own Guantanamo Bay at Belmarsh Prison, in south-east London, where 14 men have been held for up to two years without charge, or prospect of trial, on suspicion of being associated with terrorism. At long last the Americans have done the honourable thing and released their detainees.”
“His family say he is a gentle, quiet man who rarely spoke of his faith unless asked, and after four years learning Arabic and teaching English at Khartoum University in Sudan, he seemed happy enough to return home where he started to study nursing… He was released from Guantanamo and returned to the UK on 9th March 2004. After a few hours of questioning he was released without charge and reunited with his family.”
13 years later and al-Harith had joined ISIS and detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi base in Mosul…