No, Moazzam Begg is not David Miranda


The announcement on Tuesday that the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg had been arrested on terrorism charges has led to a predictable eruption of outrage from some.

Moazzam BeggjFormer Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob has jumped to Begg’s defence, tweeting that people should “send [a] message to UK govt that arresting ppl like David Miranda & Moazzam will NOT silence dissent”.

Yaqoob was followed by filmmaker Andy Worthington, who claimed that Begg “has no track record of being a terrorist sympathiser”; while Socialist Worker has called for a national demonstration outside West Midlands Police Headquarters.

Meanwhile, on the more conspiratorial fringes of the internet, former ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has been busy comparing Begg to Mandela, and arguing that the arrest was designed to thwart his brave activism.

While support for Islamists from some on the fringe left is not uncommon, these particular statements neatly summarise several fallacies about Begg’s case, highlighting a number of deeply problematic positions that cannot be allowed to take hold if the left is to maintain credibility on security issues in future.

The most exasperating of these is the claim that Begg is a political dissident, harassed by the authorities for his criticism of their conduct of the War on Terror, and arrested to prevent his exposure of British complicity in torture. Given an independent judge-led enquiry has already taken place on this issue, and stated in December 2013 that “UK intelligence officers were aware of inappropriate interrogation techniques”, this claim is not a strong one.

It also ignores the significant evidence of Begg’s involvement with extremism, including links through his Maktabah Al-Ansaar bookshop to a convicted Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) supporter identified as ‘D’. Someone who associated with extremists, “in particular Djamel Beghal, Abu Qatada…and Begg”, ‘D’ claimed in court that the stock at Begg’s bookshop “had been almost entirely jihad-related”, and used the fact he had attempted to expand topics covered in his defence.

While he has never been charged with any terrorist offences in the UK, Begg has admitted to being responsible for “small arms and mountain tactics” training in camps on the Afghan border, and to funding the Al-Qaeda-affiliated camp at Khalden.

However, despite this Begg’s supporters still refuse to countenance that he may have been involved in terrorist activity in Syria.

Instead, many including Yaqoob are further misrepresenting the situation by comparing it to the detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport in August 2013.

That this compares the opening of a criminal investigation into potential terrorist activity (which has included four arrests and the searching of three houses) to an unaccountable Schedule 7 stop is absurd, and also ignores the fact that Miranda was not actually arrested.

Instead, those making this argument clearly seek to link a case widely believed to have been an abuse of power by the police and security services, even if this was rejected by the High Court, to the entirely lawful and proportionate arrest of an individual believed by the authorities to have committed a crime.

It is this contempt for due process, including the demand from Begg’s supporters that he be released immediately, which is the most worrying of the positions taken by campaigners, suggesting they either don’t understand the legal system, or think it shouldn’t apply in Begg’s case.

Given CagePrisoner’s repeated demands for due process, it is very revealing that when that process begins against one of their members it is reflexively portrayed as unjust, and as a government conspiracy to criminalise Muslim charitable work and political activism.

While erroneous claims such as these should be expected from Begg’s Islamist supporters, the fact that they are being espoused by some on the left epitomises how many have lost their way on security and foreign policy issues. Anger at the way the government has attempted to challenge extremism and terrorism since 9/11 should not blind us into supporting deeply regressive causes, and we are at a dangerous point if Begg’s arrest is encouraging people to do so.

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  • swatnan

    Good article. I don’t trust Begg one bit.

  • abu waleed

    spot on, about time we got past all this activist clap trap and looked at the facts.

  • Dan

    “While support for Islamists from some on the fringe left is not uncommon”

    You lying scumbag. Stop libeling socialists and get the hell out of our party.

  • Malcolm Bush

    I am amazed at the actions of British authorities; Moazzam Begg is the last person they should have arrested. There is no genuine evidence against him; yet millions accuse the British authorities of many crimes related to the so called “war on terror”.

  • Matthew Blott

    What party would that be? Also, pop over to the Grauniad’s website and check the comments section. You’ll find a wealth of articles written by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and other Islamists and their apologists.

  • Trojan Horace

    Seems to me it’s not “the fringe left” (as Sutton dismissively calls anyone who smells a whiff of mackerel vis-a-vis Begg’s arrest) who aren’t allowing due process, it’s Rupert “right foot forward” Sutton, who’s decided Begg is a terrorist before we even know if his arrest is going to lead to charges, or if those charges will hold up in a court room.

  • Yvonne Ridley

    Moazzam Begg has spent many years investigating the torture, rendition and kidnap of those who’ve been delivered into the hands of the Assad regime (think Maher Arar). Thanks to Carter Ruck’s dossier we now know what that regime is capable of doing with Carter Ruck lawyers likening the contents of the dossier to some of the atrocities carried out in Belsen.
    Weasly scribblers like Sutton tend to gloss over the real crimes that are being committed on the ground in Syria because their vision is so skewed by their Islamaphobic outlook. Assad must love the likes of him and heavily rely on his ilk to enable his regime to continue with impunity carrying out crimes against humanity on an industrial scale.
    Mercifully Sutton is insignificant in the grand scheme and will never make a great impact in journalism with this sort of wafer thing drivel, which is why I’m not wasting my valuable time and energy on further comment.

  • yvonne ridley

    astute observation

  • Stubbs_Maloy

    Sigh…at no point in the article do I make any judgement on Begg’s guilt/innocence in this case. However, his extensive links to extremism show that he is not the dissident that some on the left are making him out to be, and that should be highlighted…

  • Stubbs_Maloy

    Yes Yvonne, Assad must love people like me who want to see his vile regime removed from power…

  • Syriana

    A disingenuous comment from the Zionist-Jihadi troll, Yvonne Ridley. Or should I call you Yvonne HERMOSH????

    A little known fact about Yvonne Ridley – her last husband was a senior Israeli Mossad officer called Ilan Hermosh. Some of you may have read about Jack King, the MI5 spy whose boss was Lord Rothschild, who fooled and mislead pro-German British people during the Second World War. Well, that’s basically what Yvonne Ridley is doing with the Muslims in Britain.

    Let’s hear a little bit about how your takfiri chums have been raping and murdering Christian nuns, and beheading Hezbollah fighters in Syria. That’s Hezbollah – who defeated Isreal so clearly in 2006. What’s the plan, Yvonne – to give the Isreali Air Force a clear flight path to Tehran?

    How much did your paymasters in Tel Aviv fork out for this piece of trash Yvonne?

  • Syriana

    Yvonne Hermosh Zionist troll alert!

  • johnplatinumgoss

    You should read Begg’s beliefs about why he had his passport taken off him on the Cage website before writing such twaddle as this. For an educated man Rupert Sutton you are likely to get the rest of us a deplorably bad name. Do people actually pay for your analysis? Who, I”d like to know?

  • johnplatinumgoss

    I’ve not met you but I don’t trust you. I’ve met Begg and know him to be a peace-loving and caring man.

  • johnplatinumgoss

    Let’s get one thing straight. The link on the word ‘admitted’ to the Wall Street Journal article for “small arms and mountain tactics” was a ‘confession’ obtained from torture in Guantanamo Bay. Why did you not mention that?

  • Stubbs_Maloy

    To be honest I think your belief that 9/11 was a false flag is more likely to give educated men a bad name…

    https://www.facebook.com/john.gossip/posts/10152616634007646?comment_id=341903976&offset=0&total_comments=5

  • johnplatinumgoss

    Yes, well, whoever you are, Stubbs_Maloy, that could be debated endlessly. There are a lot of people who lost loved ones in 9/11 who cannot get a response from the US government and more than a thousand engineers and scientists believe the towers, especially building seven were controlled demolitions.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAAztWC5sT8

  • NotSoFast

    Put me in Guantanamo and I’d admit to being a terrorist in an instant.
    Also I’d call Craig Murray more conspired against than conspiratorial.

  • Sparky

    If someone was going to demolish a tall building by detonating explosives charges in it, a fairly simple process used to demolish tall buildings all over the world, why would they also fly a plane into it? Why not just demolish the building with explosives and blame it on terrorists? Same result. Cheaper, simpler, easier to organise, and no-one would have to commit suicide in the course of the operation.

  • johnplatinumgoss

    What’s wrong with you Sparky. Do you think the mighty US air-force could not intercept not one, not two, but three passenger planes that changed course? God help America if they get any nuclear missiles approaching if they cannot deal with passenger jets. Wake up you dumbos.

  • Jim Denham

    If you seriously believe 9/11 was some sort of “false flag” operation, then you’re a nut-case, even if you did lose a loved one.
    People like you and Ron Paul are ultra-right wing loons and should be consigned to the dustbin of history, where you belong.

  • johnplatinumgoss

    It’s quite a novelty being labelled ‘ultra-right wing’. You make no argument for considering me a ‘nut case’ just because I do not share your MSM opinions, Jim Denham. You clearly did not watch the video and do not believe in justice or investigation. It is such ill-formed unsubstantiated blindness that should be confined to the dustbin of history.

  • Sparkyfgh456@

    Yes, thanks for that. Now, using a calm, measured tone, as I did, how about answering my question.

  • johnplatinumgoss

    To answer your question, though I thought you were bright enough to work it out for yourself, to set up charges in not one, not two, but three skyscrapers, would be an impossible task without arousing suspicions of security – unless you were security. Let us face it, there was a motor-bike bomb in Tony Blair’s post-war Baghdad this week which killed at least 42 people. That is roughly the capability of Muslim terrorists (or they might think of themselves as freedom-fighters). We, the west not me, created this war on terror. Muslim terrorists have never had that capability. Come on Sparky. You can work these things out for yourself if you give it a bit of thought.

  • Sparky

    Your position is therefore this, as I understand it.

    1. The US govt planted explosives in the world trade centres.
    2. The US govt also planned and organised the suicide hijacking of two aeroplanes in order to cover up the fact that they had planted explosives in the world trade centres, because Muslim terrorists would not be credible perpetrators of the explosives plot.
    3. They did this so that they could start the ‘war on terror’.

    If this is your position, I have some questions:

    1. If the US govt wanted to start a war on terror because of terrorist attacks, why not just fly planes into the buildings and use that as justification? Why go to the trouble and increased risk of a second hazardous operation, involving many more people in the plot, and this making the entire operation more likely to be exposed?

    2. If the US govt believed that Muslim terrorists would not be seen as credible perpetrators of planting bombs in a building, why would it believe that they would be seen as credible perpetrators of hijacking aircraft and piloting them hundreds of miles into a building?

  • johnplatinumgoss

    First of all I have to say, as I said to Jim Denham, watch the video. We’ve had so much shit from MSM over the twin towers without any question of the US government line, 3/4 hour is not much to ask. But these are shorter. Aaron Russo’s interview with Alex Jones (not the singer/actress) is a good place to start because Aaron was Jewish (he was probably dying from cancer when he did this interview). It is short.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZjKKUEHTKk

    The other one is a clip from General Wesley Clark’s interview. It is even shorter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LTdx1nPu3k

  • swatnan

    I don’t go around training terrorists or promoting jihad or sharia.
    And, I certainly don’t want to meet you.

  • johnplatinumgoss

    No, you just make libelous statements about somebody you clearly don’t know. I despise bigots.

  • swatnan

    And so do I. Islamofacists are bigots. Lets see if these charges stick.

  • johnplatinumgoss

    All facists are bigots, including those with a hatred of Islam, of which
    you seem to have more than a modicum. Moazzam Begg has been imprisoned and tortured and has been collecting evidence of UK secret service complicity. He is not a bitter man. You, who presumably have not been tortured, are very bitter. No wonder in the police-state climate created by the so-called anti-terrorism acts from which people are wrongfully imprisoned, often without charge, special branch want people like Moazzam and Shaker Aamer out of the radar. It is hard to argue with bigots like yourself who offer no arguments to justify their bigotry.

  • Fugstar

    Charges against him have been dropped, you racist excuse of a left footed person