Moazzam Begg charged with terrorism offences related to Syria

Outreach Director of CAGE, Moazzam Begg

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee and Outreach Director of advocacy group, CAGE, Moazzam Begg has been charged with terror offences related to Syria, West Midlands Police have said.

The force said Moazzam has been charged under Section 6 and Section 17 of Terrorism Act, providing training and fundraising in relation to Syria.

Gerrie Tahari, 44, of Sparkbrook, Birmingham, is charged with facilitating terrorism overseas.

They will both appear at Westminster Magistrates Court later this morning.

Both were arrested on Tuesday. Two other men arrested the same day remain in police custody.

They are a 36-year-old man from Shirley, Solihull, and a 20-year-old man from Sparkhill, Birmingham, who were held on suspicion of facilitating terrorism overseas.

Mr Begg was held in the US-run military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for nearly three years without charge.

Reaction

CAGE stated on their website: “CAGE is dismayed, but not surprised, to learn that the police have now charged Moazzam Begg with training terrorists and fundraising.

“We believe this is yet another consequence of the ever-expanding reach of the all-encompassing terrorism legislation which is designed to restrict everyone’s freedoms and liberties regardless of their faith or political hue.”

Cerie Bullivant, Media Officer at CAGE said: “This arrest is a cynical attempt by the UK authorities to use one of the leading Muslim voices in the UK as a test case to widen the goalposts of what is considered terrorism. The message is clear: despite UK government support for the Syrian opposition, a double standard exists where Muslims are not permitted to act on their concerns.

“CAGE, as part of its work, has always called for due process and open justice for all and we will continue this call while being mindful of the constraints due to a forthcoming trial.  However it is vital in the interests of everyone that an early date is set so that Moazzam Begg can present his version of events to the world so everyone can judge his innocence or guilt.”

Research Director of CAGE, Asim Qureshi.
Research Director of CAGE, Asim Qureshi.

Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE said: “We reiterate our concern that this is a politically motivated arrest and very much bears the hallmarks of trying to criminalise legitimate Muslim activity by reinforcing a climate of fear.”

“We are disgusted that Moazzam Begg is being retraumatised with the same guilt by association accusations that resulted in his unlawful incarceration in Guantanamo Bay.  We fully support our colleague and see these charges as politically motivated and as part of a campaign to criminalise legitimate activism.”

Protest

There will be a national protest taking place today outside West Midlands Police Headquarters at 12pm.

The protest has been supported by CAGE, Stop the War Coalition, Birmingham Guantanamo Campaign and South Asian Alliance.

Speakers will include journalist and human rights activist Yvonne Ridley and former Respect Party councillor Salma Yaqoob.

Day of Rage

On Sunday 2 March there will be demonstration against the arrest and detention of Moazzam Begg outside the Home Office at 1.30pm.

The event will highlight the British government’s criminalisation of activism, penalising ideologies and reducing humanitarian aid to a “terrorist” offence.

Speakers include: Hamza Tzortzis (iERA), Sheikh Haitham Haddad (MRDF), Anas al Tikriti (The Cordoba Foundation), Taji Mustafa (Hizb ut-Tahrir, Britain), Susan Bryant (Rights Watch, UK), Azad Ali (ENGAGE), Abdullah Al Andalusi (MDI) and Ismail Patel (Friends of Al Aqsa).

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