I first met Moazzam Begg in 2005 when he came to support my campaign in Blackburn against Jack Straw. I was immediately struck by how gentle he is. For somebody who has been through Guantanamo Bay and suffered torture and injustice, he is free of bitterness and rancour to a degree I find quite astonishing. It is an extraordinary spiritual quality, comparable to that of Nelson Mandela. He does not hate. That impression has only been reinforced every time I see him, and comes over well in his book.
What the British state did to me for opposing their torture programme was bad enough, but nothing to what Moazzam suffered. Yet he is much less embittered than I am.
The fall of Libya further revealed the terrible truth about the extraordinary rendition programme and undeniable evidence of British complicity in torture. This included of course the appalling case of the Belhadj family, orchestrated by criminal torturers Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen. As Assad’s Syria was even more involved than Libya in the extraordinary rendition programme as a supplier of torture for the UK and US intelligence services, Moazzam sensibly concluded that evidence may now be available there to be recovered from the chaos. He has been to Syria to that end.
Last week my friend Ray McGovern called on Moazzam and discussed Syria. Ray briefed me on the conversation, and Moazzam’s take was one of great regret at the bloodshed and despair at the ferocity of inter-Muslim rifts. It was the opposite of violent partisanship to support one side.
Moazzam Begg has not been arrested for terrorism in Syria. He has been arrested to stop him digging for further evidence of complicity in torture by senior politicians and civil servants in the UK.