Jamal al-Harith, born Ronald Fiddler, was a British citizen detained at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in early 2002 for more than two years. Harith was repatriated to Britain upon release, and joined ISIS in Syria in 2014.“Jamal Al-Harith: Guantanamo detainee flees to Syria,” Channel 4 News, October 9, 2015, http://www.channel4.com/news/jamal-al-harith-guantanamo-detainee-flees-to-syria. He carried out a suicide bombing at an Iraqi army base near Mosul in February 2017.“British suicide bomber dies in attack on Iraqi forces in Mosul,” BBC News, February 21, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39045923.
Harith had previously worked in web design in Manchester and converted to Islam in the 1990s, changing his name to Jamal Udeen Al-Harith.“The Guantanamo Docket: Jamal Malik al Harith: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed April 6, 2016, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/490-jamal-malik-al-harith.
In early October 2001, Harith traveled to Quetta, Pakistan, on what he claimed was a religious holiday. When the U.S. army invaded Afghanistan a few days later, Harith claimed he tried to escape to Iran but was arrested at the border and handed to the Taliban. Accused of being a British spy, he claims to have been held prisoner in the city of Kandahar until it was taken over by the Northern Alliance.“Jamal Al-Harith: Guantanamo detainee flees to Syria,” Channel 4 News, October 9, 2015, http://www.channel4.com/news/jamal-al-harith-guantanamo-detainee-flees-to-syria. Harith was then transferred to U.S. custody, and was sent to Guantanamo in February 2002 due to his alleged knowledge of “Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics,” according to the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF).“Statement of Jamal al-Harith, former detainee at Guantanamo Bay,” Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, December 17, 2014, http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/News/FeaturesManager-View-EN.asp?ID=120.
The JTF wrote that Harith was “probably involved in a former terrorist attack against the U.S.” The JTF later assessed Harith as being “affiliated with Al Qaeda,” and as a “high threat to the U.S.”“The Guantanamo Docket: Jamal Malik al Harith: JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, accessed April 6, 2016, http://projects.nytimes.com/guantanamo/detainees/490-jamal-malik-al-harith. Then-Guantanamo commandant Michael Dunlavely recommended that Harith be released in September 2002, though he was released more than two years later in March 2004. He was repatriated to Britain and immediately released without charges. Harith soon claimed $1.2 million in compensation from the British government after arguing that the government knew or was complicit in mistreatment he had experienced at Guantanamo. During his two years at Guantanamo, Harith claimed he was “repeatedly punched, kicked, slapped, forcibly injected, deprived of sleep, hooded, photographed naked and subjected to sexual and religious humiliations.”“Jamal Al-Harith: Guantanamo detainee flees to Syria,” Channel 4 News, October 9, 2015, http://www.channel4.com/news/jamal-al-harith-guantanamo-detainee-flees-to-syria;
Ian Cobain, “British Guantánamo detainees held for years ‘just in case’,” Guardian (London), April 25, 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/25/british-guantanamo-detainees-guantanamo-bay;
Samuel Osborne, “Guantanamo Bay inmate flees UK to join ISIS in Syria,” Independent (London), October 11, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/guantanamo-bay-inmate-flees-uk-to-join-isis-in-syria-a6689771.html.
Harith traveled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014. His wife, Shukee Begum, followed soon after with their five children in an effort to convince him to return home.Lucy Clarke-Billings, “British mother Shukee Begum in Syria: ‘Isil is not my cup of tea’,” Telegraph (London), October 15, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11933433/British-mother-Shukee-Begum-in-Syria-Isil-is-not-my-cup-of-tea.html.
Upon her arrival in Syria, Begum was placed in a crowded safe house with hundreds of other families in Raqqa. She later told Channel 4 News, “There was a gangster mentality between the women [in ISIS-controlled territory], they used to sit around a laptop and watch Isis videos. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.” After Harith refused to help his family leave, Begum wrote a letter to the ISIS courts requesting permission to leave, and was denied. As of early 2017, Begum is believed to reside along the Syria-Turkey border.Lucy Clarke-Billings, “British mother Shukee Begum in Syria: ‘Isil is not my cup of tea’,” Telegraph (London), October 15, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11933433/British-mother-Shukee-Begum-in-Syria-Isil-is-not-my-cup-of-tea.html;
Ben Quinn, “Isis ‘not my cup of tea’ says British woman who went to Syria to join,” Guardian (London), October 14, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/14/shukee-begum-isis-not-my-cup-of-tea-says-british-woman-syria-to-join;
“'ISIS girls are like gangsters... They are so violent!' Wife of grinning suicide bomber who got £1m from taxpayer fled Syria with five children 'because it was not her cup of tea,’” Daily Mail (London), February 22, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4248332/Mosul-suicide-bomber-wife-ISIS-children-horror.html.