Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Binyam Mohamed, Litmus Test

Binyam Mohamed is an Ethiopian fellow with a strange story. When in his teens he apparently entered the UK and requested asylum, was turned down, and stayed anyway. At some point he converted to Islam, and later on went to Pakistan and Afghanistan to see - if you wish to believe it - if the Taleban had managed in setting up a proper Islamic state. While there he engaged in something or other, perhaps joining an aid organization, perhaps recruiting in al-Qaida and being trained in ferociousness. It depends which version you choose to believe in, and I certainly can't say, not having been there at the time. By and by he was arrested boarding a plane to the UK with a false passport; this seems the last moment in the story all versions agree upon. He probably disappeared into a Moroccan interrogation center, where he says he was tortured - a credible tale in itself, given what is known about Moroccan police procedures: the last thing you'd want is to be treated to them. A year or two later he reached Guantanamo. So far as I can make out, the authorities there didn't have enough credible evidence to indict him, but nor could they set him free unless someone was willing to take him. Recently the British authorities have accepted him, and this week he was flown to London and set free, though he must come to a local police station regularly until the British authorities decide what to do with him.

All in all a pretty sorry tale for all involved. I suppose, if you were so inclined, you could see his lawyers as glorious champions of human rights, but I'm not inclined to. They're the people who invented for him words he never said, such as:

And I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years...
I am not asking for vengeance; only that the truth should be made known, so that nobody in the future should have to endure what I have endured. Thank you.
Touching, isn't it. Eloquent, too. Christian-style noble, second-cheek-for-slapping sentiments, suffering so that humankind be redeemed. Almost exactly what you'd expect coming from a fellow with his story.

Anyway. The London Times has been following the story, and trying, it seems, to be factual. David Aaronovitch is less convinced, and suggests the treatment of Mr Mohamed is hard to condone, but not without losing his ability to recognize the reality it's part of; a reality in which even worse things are happening.

And then you have the Guardian. They offered Mr Mohamed to write an article about his thoughts, and his lawyers duly did so for him, as cited above. The whole issue has nothing to do with Israel or the Jews, so one might cite the cluelessness or the malice of the Guardian in this case as proof their general outlook is sick, but not antisemitic. It seems to me, however, as if the topics are connected, and together go part of the way towards creating a Weltanschauung, a totality of understanding the world which is broader than a mere ideology. In this Weltanschauung, the Islamists, their fellow travelers and anyone involved with them are thoughtful misunderstood and wronged souls; the power brokers in the West who confront them, meanwhile, are inexplicably evil, cruel, and generally reprehensible.

No comments: