Mozzam Begg Is an ordinary man who has endured an extraordinary fate – he is one of nine Britons detained in the camps at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit and whose precise nature has never been determined. The US government labelled him simply an 'enemy combatant'.
Moazzam was abducted at his home in Pakistan, where he had relocated his family during the panic-stricken weeks after the 9/11 attacks, and the US bombing of Afghanistan which followed – he had been working there on education and water projects. Hooded, shackled and cuffed, he was taken first to the US detention facility at Kandahar, then on to Bagram, and finally to Guantanamo Bay. In all he spent three years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, and was subjected to over three hundred interrogations, as well as death threats and torture, witnessing the killings of two detainees. He was released early in 2005 without explanation or apology.
Enemy Combatant is his riveting story. Taking us behind the razor wire for the first time, it reveals the terrifying and Kafka-esque world into which he was thrown, a world governed by confusion, fear and frustration as he and his fellow inmates struggled to come to terms with their indefinite incarceration, and accused of being enemies of the United States. Here too is a fascinating insight into the mindsets of his captors and interrogators, describing not just the pointlessness of much of the questioning from MI5, the CIA or the FBI, but also the widely divergent views on the 'war on terror Moazzam encountered from the US soldiers on guard detail.
But Enemy Combatant is more than just a powerful and compelling account of a miscarriage of justice. It also explores fully the context of Moazzam's arrest, and his background as an intelligent, politically engaged Muslim living in the West; someone who finds common ground with fellow Muslims enduring oppression around the world, and who has recently emerged as an influential voice in the Muslim community, against both acts of terrorism and the demonising of Islam. In the current context of Western attempts to understand the subtleties of a world that has been invisible to them, the book is a unique fly-on-the-wall account of Islam in the West in the 1990s. Candid and forthright, it will also take its place as a modern classic of incarceration literature.
'FROM WORDSWORTH AND SHAKESPEARE TO THE ILLEGAL INHUMANITY OF THE WAR ON TERROR – IF THOSE RESPONSIBLE READ ONLY ONE BOOK ABOUT WHAT THEY HAVE TOLERATED AND DONE IN OUR NAME, THIS MUST BE IT.'