Jamal al-Harith of Manchester converted to Islam in 1994. He came to national attention in 2017 when he carried out a suicide bombing for Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq. He had travelled to the region in 2014, never to return.
In the previous decade, Jamal al-Harith was one of the British detainees in Guantanamo Bay, alongside Moazzam Begg. He had gone to Pakistan for a “holiday” shortly after the 9/11 attacks and was subsequently apprehended in Afghanistan. He was released in 2004. While he was detained, he was “assessed as affiliated with al-Qaeda” and deemed a “high threat to the U.S., its interests and allies” by US security authorities. The US authorities also found him deceptive.
After the Mosul bombing, Lord Carlile called Jamal al-Harith “a crafty and dangerous man” and said that “for at least the last 17 years, Jamal al-Harith was an active agent of al-Qaeda, then Isil [Islamic State]”.
The Telegraph has reported that he was favourably profiled on the old CAGE website. CAGE said:
“His family say he is a gentle, quiet man who rarely spoke of his faith unless asked, and after four years learning Arabic and teaching English at Khartoum University in Sudan, he seemed happy enough to return home where he started to study nursing. At this time, he also established a computer business. He later moved back to Manchester, where he worked as an administrator in a Muslim school.”
In addition, in 2005 CAGE published Jamal al-Harith’s unsubstantiated allegations that the Qur’an was desecrated at Guantanamo [archived here]. Such allegations were heavily contested by the US in this period and one of the most important articles on the topic was later retracted by Newsweek. An investigation completed by the US military at the time does not tally with Jamal al-Harith’s allegations.
Years later, Cage used the Mosul bombing to argue against enhanced security measures, in an article entitled “The actions of Jamal Al Harith should not bring on a security state” [archived here] where they argued:
“We cannot allow isolated incidents to become the tool of those who seek to further the security state.”