IS Iraq bomber was Gitmo detainee released in 2004

Feb 23, 2017, 07:59 IST | Agencies

Abu-Zakariya al-Britani photographed on his way to the suicide attack
Abu-Zakariya al-Britani photographed on his way to the suicide attack

London: A suicide bomber recently seen in an Islamic State propaganda video driving off to blow himself up in the Iraqi city of Mosul was a British citizen who had been a detainee at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison.

Abu-Zakariya al-Britani was born in Manchester as Ronald Fiddler and then took on the name Jamal al-Harith once he converted to Islam from Christianity.

He was detained at the Guantanamo between 2002 and 2004. According to British media reports, he was reportedly paid 1 million pounds in compensation by the UK government after his release in 2004 from the US-operated Camp X-Ray military prison in Guantanamo. In 2014, he was believed to have left for Syria to join ISIS.

"It's obvious that collectively the authorities, and obviously I have some personal responsibility there we failed to be aware of what Fiddler was up to," Arthur Snell, the former head of the UK government counter-terrorism strategy Prevent, told BBC Radio.

Fiddler was taken to Guantanamo after being found in prison in Afghanistan early in 2002, where he had been placed after being intercepted by the Taliban, who believed him to be a British spy.

He had claimed he was backpacking across Pakistan when he was wrongly detained.

It had emerged over the weekend that Al-Britani, a common name used by fighters who have come from Britain, was the only foreigner among five suicide missions reported by ISIS propaganda outlets since the start of the Iraqi army advance on the city of Mosul.

WH finds Guantanamo Bay prison 'healthy'

The Trump administration has indicated that it is unlikely to close Gitmo, saying it's serving a "healthy purpose" towards the national security. "I think he (President Donald Trump) has made very clear, that he believes Guantanamo Bay does serve a very, very healthy purpose in... making sure that we don't bring terrorists to our seas," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

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