The case against Moazzam Begg, who was charged with: attending a terrorist training camp in Syria; facilitating terrorism; and, possession of a document likely to be of use to a terrorist, has been dropped.
While his trial was due to start on 6 October, he will now be released from Belmarsh prison where he has been on remand since March following his arrest on terrorism charges in February of this year.
According to the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, “Police and lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service reviewed the new material, previously not known to the police investigation and concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of gaining a conviction.” While HJS commends the Crown Prosecution Service for its demands for the highest standard of evidence, it is important to note Begg’s long-standing history of involvement with terrorism-related issues:
- During Begg’s detention in Guantanamo Bay prior to 2005, he signed a confession that admitted that he “attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and England so that he could assist in waging global jihad against enemies of Islam… associated with and assisted several prominent terrorists and supporters of terrorists and discussed potential terrorist acts with them; recruited young operatives for the global jihad; and provided financial support for terrorist training camps”. He has since said this was coerced, yet four US government inquiries have concluded that Begg was not mistreated.
- Begg provided hand-written evidence to the US Combatant Status Review Board in 2004 in which he described his visits to camps on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he was responsible for “small arms and mountain tactics” training.
- He admitted to sending money to military training facilities in Afghanistan, including the notorious Khalden, where members of al-Qaeda have trained, as well as attending a training camp in Afghanistan in 1998.
- A Special Immigration Appeals Commission document from October 2003 identifies him as an “extremist” who stored weapons at his home.
- Five years after his release from Guantanamo Bay, Begg admitted to the Nation magazine that he had fought in Bosnia.
Following the US invasion of Afghansitan in the wake of 9/11, Begg spent time in Tora Bora, a remote region that served as a stronghold for retreating al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Begg claims this is because he got “completely lost”.