Ronald Fiddler blew himself up at an Iraqi army base near Mosul this week. Fiddler, a British citizen who changed his name to Jamal al-Harith after converting to Islam in the 1990s, was also a former detainee at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
According to the report in the Times of London and USA Today, al-Harith was captured by Coalition Forces in a Taliban prison in Afghanistan in 2001. When it was discovered that he had links to Osama bin Laden, he served two years in the Gitmo facility until being released in 2004 at the request of the government of Tony Blair. He was later paid compensation of 1 million pounds, about $1.25 million, for his detention.
In a statement, Blair, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, said, “It is correct that Jamal al-Harith was released from Guantanamo Bay at the request of the British Government in 2004. He was not paid compensation by my Government. The compensation was agreed in 2010 by the Conservative Government [of David Cameron].”
Blair continued, “The fact is that this was always a very difficult situation where any Government would have to balance proper concern for civil liberties with desire to protect our security, and we were likely to be attacked whatever course we took.”
Al-Harith was not the first Gitmo detainee to return to terror after being released. According to Military.com, a report released last year showed that, of 161 prisoners released by the Obama Administration, at least nine were confirmed to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities.” The Bush Administration released 532 Gitmo prisoners and 113 of these were reported to have rejoined terrorist groups.
Al-Harith, who was 50, traveled to Syria to join ISIS is 2014 where he went by the name Abu-Zakariya al-Britani. It is not known whether al-Harith gave the compensation received from the British government to ISIS.
ISIS announced al-Harith as a suicide bomber and released a picture of him, apparently taken just before his death, sitting in a four-wheel-drive truck with a big smile on his face. The terrorist group claimed that his attack caused multiple casualties, but the exact number is not known.
“It is him, I can tell by his smile,” al-Harith’s brother, Leon Jameson, told the Times. “If it is true then I’ve lost a brother, so another family [member is] gone.” Jameson added that his brother had “wasted his life.”
Originally published on The Resurgent