Creating new perspectives since 2009

Ex-Guantanamo inmate offered to help UK release Henning

October 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg offered to help negotiate the release of British hostage Alan Henning but was rejected by the U.K. government, he told the BBC Tuesday.

Begg – who has visited Syria and was charged in February with Syria-related terror offences, only for the charges to be dropped last week – told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that he could have used contacts in Syria to secure the aid worker’s release.

Henning, a 47-year-old taxi driver from Eccles, Greater Manchester, was murdered by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant last week.

Despite the government’s rejection, Begg said he told the government he would still try to intervene, as he claimed to have successfully done in previous hostage scenarios in Syria.

Begg, 46, of Birmingham, told the BBC: “The problem is that the government, in its attempts to demonize and criminalize me, simply refused to look at anything to do with what I was about.”

The British Foreign Office told the BBC it had a policy of not commenting on its handling of kidnap cases. In a statement, it added: “The safety of British nationals is paramount.”

Begg said he was approached by Henning’s friends in December, just after he was captured by ISIL and then spoke to former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt to explain that he would be contacting ISIL to seek to secure Henning’s release.

In 2002, Begg was arrested in Pakistan before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was freed in 2005 and never charged with any offense.