A photograph released by ISIS of a suicide bomber in Mosul has been confirmed as British ex-Guantanamo detainee Jamal Al-Harith, who, as we previously detailed, fled to Syria after his release.
U.S. officials have said that about 30 percent of released detainees are suspected to have returned to the battlefield, including at least 12 freed during the administration of President George W. Bush who went on to launch attacks that killed about a half-dozen Americans. The exact number remains classified.
In January we noted a jihadi from Britain who claims to be a former Guantanamo Bay detainee has fled to Syria where he is now fighting for Al Qaeda.
Al-Britani claims he ‘spent years’ at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 700 of the world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorists were imprisoned in the aftermath of 9/11.
In an online magazine for fanatics, he writes: ‘Sitting in the blessed land of al-Shaam [Greater Syria], reflecting on those weeks and days spent behind bars, I thank Allah for releasing me and providing me with the opportunity of carrying out jihad in his path again.’
Al-Britani is the second British ex-Guantanamo detainee known to have fled to Syria to join jihadi groups. In October, it was reported that Muslim convert Jamal al-Harith, from Manchester, had fled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS).
At the time, he was reportedly fighting near Aleppo.
Al-Britani, who claims to be in his 30s, says he was in Afghanistan when the US-led coalition invaded the country in 2001.
He claims that he was based in the Tora Bora mountains when US troops arrived hunting for then Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden. Al-Britani and ten others were ordered to cross into Pakistan, where locals would help them travel to Lahore.
And now, as Channel4 reports, a family member and another independent source have confirmed to Channel 4 News that the picture, released by Islamic State, is that of Jamal Al-Harith, born Ronald Fiddler, of Manchester.
An Isis statement claimed a man they named as Abu Zakariya al-Britani carried out a suicide attack near the Iraqi city of Mosul, and released an image and video of him in what they described as an “explosives-laden truck”.
Al-Harith’s family say that while he had traveled to an Islamic State group-controlled area, he would not have carried out such an attack.
His release from American detention was secured in 2004 by then-Home Secretary David Blunkett, who said at the time: “I think you’ll find that no one who has returned in the announcement today will actually pose a threat to the security of the British people.”
Perhaps most stunning, after he was detained in Afghanistan on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda fighter, he maintained he had been on a religious holiday in Pakistan immediately before the invasion, and the UK Government paid him compensation for his time in detention, reported to be £1 million.
As WaPo notes, the Obama administration has repatriated or resettled 179 prisoners, cutting the population from 242 when Bush left office. At its peak, the detention center housed more than 700 prisoners.
There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017