I trained at terror camps on aid trips;
GUANTANAMO SUSPECT CONFESSES
Sunday Mercury. Birmingham (UK) [FIRST Edition]: Feb 26, 2006. pg. 31
BY: AMARDEEP BASSEY
A FORMER Guantanamo Bay terror suspect has admitted travelling abroad to Islamic military training camps under the guise of aid missions.
In an astonishing confession Moazzam Begg, 3 7, said he had been ready to take up arms against the enemies of Islam after visiting camps in Afghanistan and Bosnia in the early 1990s.
Mr Begg, who was released from Guantanamo last year, said he had visited the secret training bases after travelling to the war- ravaged regions under the guise of an aid worker.
The father-of-four, from Sparkhill, Birmingham, later tried to make his way to Chechnya to join in the fighting against Russian forces but was stopped at the Turkish border.
Mr Begg said that in 1993 he stayed at an Afghan camp, run by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, for two weeks and then spent a day and a half at a base in Jalalabad.
Mr Begg returned home to his pregnant wife, Zaynab, in Birmingham before setting off to Bosnia on an 'aid mission' to help his 'Muslim brothers' who were locked in a civil war with Serbians.
Having delivered the aid, he found his way to the Bosnian training camps where he was grilled by a recruiter.
Mr Begg, who spent two years in Guantanamo Bay, said: "The recruiter asked me if I was ready to die and I said 'I don't know'.
"Suddenly you're in front of the real deal and I hadn't thought 'Am I spiritually strong enough to say OK, I am ready to die?'
"When I hesitated he said I should just stay around the camp and live with people there rather than get involved in the fighting."
He said he stayed there for three weeks listening to stories of horror.
"Ultimately, I didn't join in the fighting because I was scared and I wasn't yet ready to make that sacrifice."
Undeterred, Mr Begg said his conscience was pricked again when he saw the Russian invasion of Muslim Chechnya in 1998.
He decided to travel there, again ostensibly to deliver aid but with the real intention of fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Chechnyan rebels.
He said: "I didn't even manage to get beyond the Turkish border with Georgia. But had I ever been put in a position where I had to fight, I would have."
Mr Begg was arrested by the American CIA in Pakistan in February 2002 and held at Bagram air base in northern Afghanistan.
He was eventually sent to the US naval base in Cuba in 2003 before being handed back to Britain in January 2005.
The US had accused him of plotting terror outrages with al-Qaida as well as providing financial help to the September 11 hijackers.
Mr Begg has consistently denied any links with al-Qaida and has recently taken up politics, becoming a parliamentary candidate for the anti-war Peace and Progress Party.
Copyright 2006 Sunday Mercury (UK)
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