Babar Ahmad (41) of Tooting, south London who was sentenced in a US court to 12-and-a-half years in prison for providing material support to the Taliban via the internet has now been released back home to the UK. Ahmad was accused of being “the mastermind behind the world’s first English website dedicated to jihad”. At the time of sentencing, the Guardian reported the judge as saying,
“‘Ahmad was not an operational terrorist, showed he posed no threat to the public and exhibited remorse for setting up websites that promoted jihad.’
The judge said she was struck by the impact the Bosnia War had had on him, where he had gone as an 18-year-old and saw the suffering of Muslims, after which he committed to jihad.”
Ahmad was never charged with any offences in the UK. Details of his case can be read in the “Links” section. The following is the press release from the family and the first words from Babar on release.
PRESS RELEASE: FIRST STATEMENT OF BABAR AHMAD UPON RELEASE FROM US PRISON AFTER 11 YEARS SUNDAY 19 JULY 2015 (FREEBABARAHMAD.COM)
We, the family of Babar Ahmad, are delighted to announce that by the grace of God, Babar has returned home to us after 11 years in prison. Our lives will be enriched by his return.Although the past 11 years have been indescribably difficult for us all, we were heartened by Judge Janet Hall’s comments at Babar’s sentencing this time last year. She said: “There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot … Neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism … It appears to me that he [Babar] is a generous, thoughtful person who is funny and honest. He is well liked and humane and empathetic…This is a good person who does not and will not seek in the future to harm other people.” Today, we remember and thank all those who have supported us throughout. But for now, we kindly ask everyone to give us some privacy and space and not to contact us for the time being.
Babar has the following comment to make:
“11 years of solitary confinement and isolation in ten different prisons has been an experience too profound to sum up in a few words here and now. In October 2012, I was blindfolded, shackled and forcibly stripped naked when I was extradited to the US. Last week, US and UK government officials treated me with courtesy and respect during my journey home. ”
“Today, I have absolutely nothing. Yet I am rich. All praise be to God.”
“In time, I look forward to sharing reflections on my experience to help inform others. I recognise that the world has moved on since 2004, yet in some ways, sadly it has failed to progress. ”
“For now, I intend to reconnect privately with my incredible family, to whom I owe so much. It was a great joy to celebrate Eid with them for the first time in 11 years and to hug three of my nieces and nephews whom I had never met before. It has been a long time.”
Judge Hall’s comments can be found at pages 33, 49, 67, and 106 of the official sentencing transcript in U.S. v Babar Ahmad 3:04CR301(JCH), CT, July 16, 2014. The full document can be downloaded here:http://freebabarahmad.com/downloads/Babar%20Ahmad%20sentencing%20transcript.pdf
“Briton Babar Ahmad given 12-year US prison term for aiding Taliban”
“British cyber-jihadist Babar Ahmad jailed in US”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.