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Enemy Combatant

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  455 ratings  ·  76 reviews
The searing story of one man's years inside the notorious American prison--and his Kafkaesque struggle to clear his name.

"Under the hood I felt I couldn't breathe properly....Flashing lights--obviously from soldiers' cameras taking trophy pictures--came and went in front of me, despite the hood's darkness. From beside me a voice said in Arabic, 'Shall we pray, brother?' A
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by New Press, The (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  455 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Mar 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journalism
A terrifying awakening to what the U.S. government is doing to people worldwide. If you believe that all lives of all people everywhere are just as good as American lives, you will want to read this book. If you feel like torture and injustice could never occur at the hands of Americans, you should to read this book. If you support a foreign policy of secret prisons, kangaroo courts, and detention centers, you must read this book, and take a walk in the shoes of an unjustly treated man, who happ ...more
Mohammed P Aslam
Since Moazzam Begg’s was released from one of the toughest and the most notorious concentration camps in the world, Guantanamo Bay detention centre, I have been more than curious to read about his experiences both within the Guantanamo Bay and what led to his unlawful detention. I have read this book some months earlier and later again for the purpose of this review, and so that I can share the story of one of the most recognisable Muslim faces in Britain.

This story is not about a gang related t
Aishah A.
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone and anyone in findinig out the truth behind the gitmo
well i read this book a while back and just started today to re-read it.. I loved the book,it made me laugh and cry .. moazzam begg is a great narrator and i was never bored at any time during reading 'enemy combatant'.. I like the way he ended the book .. the poem was emotional .. anyways basically you all gota read it to know how it really is :D
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, justice, war
The author, either a pious bookseller and humanitarian or a supporter of al-Qaida, depending on whom you ask, was abducted from his house in Islamabad and spent three years in the titular prisons. Begg is, by other accounts, a reasonable and charming man, and was a model prisoner who got along with several of his guards. His personality shows through in his prose, which is readable, clear, and impassioned without veering into needless vitriol (though he does not bother to hide his disdain for Am ...more
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up at a reading, by Moazzam Begg, in London. Not only is Moazzam's story incredible, but as a man, both in person and in the book, he is thoughtful, intelligent, and kind, in spite of the immense brutality he suffered for three years. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, it gives a unique opportunity to see what life is like for Guantanamo Bay prisoners, and the incredible lack of evidence that has landed many of them there.
Jonathan-David Jackson
It makes my heart ache to read this book. How can my country - or any country - hold someone without charge for years? There can be no justification for it, and the only explanation is that the American government, at the highest levels, does not care about our values of freedom or justice.

Moazzam quotes from Malcolm X in this book, and I've included the quote here:
"I'm not anti-America, and I didn't come here to condemn America - I want to make that very clear! I came here to tell the truth -
Don Tate
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An extremely well written book filled with the details of a person who some regard as a terrorist even though that was never proven in any court of law. I have a new appreciation for the Muslim people and the trials they must endure because of their religion. A very, very well written book!
Dec 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a very important book; This book shows how little the American intelligence really knows about the Islamic movements. He mentions that the FBI thought Tabligee Jammah ( Muslim version of missionaries) were working with al Qaeda. The truth is that they have two different ideologies and don't really get a long and tabigees don't believe in arm resistance they only work with the Muslims. American need to understand that Muslims will always care about Palestine, Kashmir and other area's that ...more
Saleem Khashan
I enjoyed reading this book BUT
I couldn’t put his though process into acceptance "he leaves the UK to go live in Afghanistan because it is the true Islam country!" Really? true Islam is killing each other, true Islam is not contributing in the science of the world advancement. How did this guy understand Islam like this is beyond me, and it does show he lacked education big time. Page after page the Quran asks us to question and learn. The life the prophet was full of moral out lines and it lef
Elliot Richards
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is an incredible prisoner memoir, written by a Brit who was abducted in the middle of the night from his family whilst in Pakistan, by American and Pakistani intelligence services. He was held without charge for about 4-years, in the Middle East and Guantanamo Bay, describing in detail his treatment by the guards, interrogators, Americans and Brits.

His story is an amazing story, filled with heartbreak and despair, as well as hope and humour. The writing is such that you immediately empathi
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one of those books that highlights the whole stupidity of the US response to the 11th of September attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. Begg was swept up and transported first to Khandahar, then Bagram and finally Guantanamo, where he endured solitary confinement, endless interrogation and abuse.

That being said, this book is really the story of one man's confrontation with himself. Begg documents with painful detail his tribulations, for they were many, and his final determination
Jul 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent, important book to read. We so often get the government perspective of what goes on at the Guantanamo Bay dentention facilities. This man was there for 2 years apparently unjustifiably and gives a very vivid account of what life is like there and also how impossibly difficult it is for prisoners to even know why they are being held and to communicate with anyone other than the prison guards.
The beginning of the book is a little slow but it is worthwile and important in setti
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legitimate
Wow, this book was a rollercoaster of emotions and an ocean of knowladge! Its about a muslim man who was put into prison after prison. For three years he was held, unable to speak to his family, not even given a lawyer until the end.
It is defiantly one of the best books i've read. Moazzam Begg is witty and intelligent, being in solitary confinement didnt harm him much. It took me about two moths to read this book because I would sit and read one page over and over again. He has a way with defin
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it
A fascinating and disturbing look inside the early fear and paranoia which surrounded the post 9/11 period and the start of the war on terror. Moazzam Begg and many others suffered greatly or were even killed unjustly in U.S. detention. Omar Khadr, Salim Hamdan and others make an appearance. The story is uneven, at times captivating and at other times frustratingly filled with unnecessary detail and Begg's own extended reflections, attempts to educate others, and his poetry. Still a timely read ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A searing indictment of US foreign policy post-September 11 by an individual kidnapped from his home in Islamabad and held by the US government for over three years as an enemy combatant. Required reading, even if you believe that the War on Terror requires the suspension of civil rights, because what the government is asserting is that they can hold anyone, indefinitely and without trial. That includes your spouse, your sibling, your parent, and you.
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Difficult to say I enjoyed this book, as reading very graphic descriptions of long term solitary confinement and torture was difficult at times. But this is a very important book. It is written very intelligently and sensitively and goes towards balancing the somewhat one-sided perspective we tend to be exposed to with western media.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-cover
Soberly written but long winded at times. Still, it must have been very painful to write.
Eva Maria
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was clear and easy to read although Moazzam mentions so many names it is difficult to keep track - it must've been difficult even for him to do so, I imagine. This book provides so many treasures to the reader. For one, you really feel like you've gained a friend in him by reading the book. You get the sense that you could seemlessly begin a conversation with Moazzam if you were to meet him, as he is a very social and patient individual. One theme that stood out throughout the book is ...more
Shaj Hameed
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moazzam Begg was one of the British prisoners held by the US in the infamous Guantanamo prison on suspicion of being a “terrorist” with links to Al Qaeda. Kidnapped from Pakistan by the US forces with help from Pakistan’s own army, he was imprisoned in the US detention center at Bagram, Afghanistan, before being transferred to the infamous US-run Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. At Guantanamo, he was kept in solitary confinement for 20 months in a stretch, constantly subject to psychological tortu ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is is a firsthand account of a British Muslim's imprisonment in Afghanistan and then Guantanamo. A young man's desire to explore his Pakistani heritage and to support the struggle of Muslim people against oppressive outsiders in Chechnya, Bosnia, Israel and Afghanistan, eventually get him arrested and accused of supporting or perhaps plotting terrorism, a charge he vehemently denies. While his good guys are not mine--he's a little easy on the Taliban, I would say--his devastating account of ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Begg does not use strong emotion to tell his story, and I think that somehow makes it all the more infuriating. His straight-forward, "here's what happened" style does not embellish or dive into horrifying detail, but the reader is still left with a sense of outrage that we human beings do this kind of thing to other human beings. Powerful read.
Tauseef Khan
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Begg does a great job in portraying life in after his kidnapping. For someone who was too young to understand at the time. It was a very insightful book into what happened to the prisoners in Bagram and Guantanamo. A must read memoir.
Mohamed Amjhad
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Ann
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted a different perspective on the War on Terror, and after reading the reviews on this book, felt it would be a good chance to view the Muslim world from one of the captives at Guantanamo. It was successful in that, but I found the author to be self-serving and anti-American. No surprise, really, but I expected a more intelligent and introspective look at these two cultures as a result of 9/11. I don't agree with the capture of innocent men, or the incarceration and torture of those captiv ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
A fairly by-the-books account by Moazzam Begg of his life leading up to his imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay, and what happened to him there. It's not amazingly well-written, but is readable and stays concise and focused.

Though at times the dialogues feel a bit contrived or preachy, for the most part the book rings true. Begg doesn't exaggerate his mistreatment in the American prisons - for the most part his treatment was unbecoming of a 1st-world nation, but hardly horrific, and each act of unnec
☯ 愛  ঝামেলা  جميلة 美 ☮
It's unfortunate and rather unfair Moazzem Begg lost three years of life to imprisonment for crimes he never committed. Moazzem's ordeal reflects the story of the innocent majority of the War On Terror's detainees/prisoners, victims, and casualties. I applaud Begg for having the courage and clarity of mind to put this together in a volume and it is my sincerest wish that every single victim can achieve some peace of mind and normalcy after having gone through such an ordeal. I thank all of the i ...more
Sal Littlejohn
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this a very instructive, readable, totally engaging book. It taught me a great deal. What many reviewers here haven't mentioned is that the book begins with Moazzam Begg describing his life growing up in Birmingham, and it gave me a good insight into how young Muslims in the UK can become radicalised, and some insight into the debates within Islamist circles about radicalisation, jihad, terrorism, and invasions of Muslim countries by Western nations.

His capture, torture, and imprisonmen
Saleem Khashan
longer than it should be, but imagine the feeling of time droped on him while ongoing white man injustice, I cant believe how american believe their propaganda and say stupid things like they want to change our life style, Karma will have bad things for them and hell await. that is said by someone who is very suspecioues of Afghan, I dont think it is our islmic duty to help the arrogant brutal fighter (wrongly called mojahedeen) I think we should fight them, but the ordinary people deserve our s ...more
Sarah Lameche
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read. I have to admit I think he was a fool to take his wife/family to live in Afghanistan. I also think he often put his own thoughts before his family. However idiocity isn't enough of a reason to take someone away from said family and lock them up for three years. I found myself googling all the names of his fellow detainees and some are still in Guantanamo even now! Shocking! This book really makes you realise that any of us can be taken away at any time. Worse than that, ...more
Safaa Baig
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely and indescribably amazing. Having read this book over 5 years ago, I can still recall to this day the emotional journey I was led on with the author and how utterly gripped I was till the very last page.
Thought provoking and heart touching, this book taught me so much. The legendary journey of a man who lost so much but faithfully persevered and prevailed. A must read for all!
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