Jamal Udeen Al-Harith, a former Guantanamo inmate from Manchester, has allegedly being able to leave Britain and join Islamic State (IS) in Syria without security services stopping him.
The former Guantanamo inmate is believed to have left for Syria over a year ago, reports the Telegraph. He is one of four men who had been held in Guantanamo Bay detention camp and released in 2004. David Blunkett, then Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s government, said: “No one who is returned…will actually be a threat to the security of the British people.”
The Muslim convert changed his name from Ronald Fiddler in the 1990s, reports Channel 4. Weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Mr Al-Harith travelled to Quetta, in Pakistan, for what he says was a religious holiday.
He claimed he tried to escape to Iran after the U.S. began to invade neighbouring Afghanistan, but was arrested at the border and given to the Taliban. He says they detained him, accused of being a British spy, in a prison in which he was found by US Special Forces troops some months later.
Wikileaks released documents showing the U.S. Defense department originally detained Mr Al-Harith because “he was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics” and recommended he be “considered for release”.
However, nine months later new information suggested he was “probably involved in a former terrorist attack against the US” leading to him being reassessed as “affiliated with al-Qaeda” and a “high threat to the US.”
Mr Al-Harith was released after more than two-years, repatriated to England and freed by British authorities without charge. Channel 4 News says Mr Al-Harith and three other inmates then brought a legal action against the U.S. government demanding $10 million each.
He received £1 million by way of compensation, reports The Daily Mail, after claiming British agents knew or were complicit in his mistreatment.
After he joined IS last year, Mr Al Harith’s wife took their five children to Syria to try and persuade him to leave. Things did not go according to her plan, however, and after she fled with her children she was taken hostage by rebel groups on the Turkish border. Her family report that she has since been released from her ten month ordeal having been rescued by the Al Qaeda-linked group, Al Nusra.
“I’m extremely surprised that someone who had been released from Guantanamo, given what the then Home Secretary said, has ended up in Syria in this way. Whether or not this was known to the authorities we will need to find out.”
It is not known whether security services attempted to put limits on Mr Al-Harith’s ability to travel, but it has been reported that one of the reasons for the eight year delay in releasing Britain’s last Guantanamo inmate, Shaker Aamer, is concerns the U.S. had about Britain’s ability to monitor terror suspects.
The Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases but a spokesman confirmed anyone travelling abroad to commit terrorism offences will face prosecution.