Moazzam learned so young as a kid in Birmingham
What it’s like to lose most everything
He was only six, just a few years from the pram
When he discovered all the pain that life could bring
His mother died so young, maybe that’s where it began
But when he grew up he’d travel far and wide
He went off to Bosnia and Afghanistan
For Moazzam there was no “other side”

When the US war began, he was taken in a raid
Held for a year in a windowless cell
He heard the men around him beaten, he heard women flayed
Where they’d take him next, he had no way to tell
Guantanamo Bay, three years in a cage
Three years apart from his young son
Three years of torture at every single stage
No charge, no trial for him or anyone

Moazzam’s only crime was helping people
In places that most others fear to go
Moazzam’s only crime was helping people
And baring secrets some people don’t want you to know

Three years of campaigning for release
Sent home to live ‘neath England’s cloudy sky
The screams that ring out in his head can never cease
Left to live his life and wonder why
But the years passed by and the wars they ravaged on
And it wasn’t long before he knew
With the hundreds of thousands dead and gone
He had to find out if there was something he could do


He came back home from burying the dead
And was arrested on a terror law
There was no question in his head
He had to tell the world what he saw
Such as the fact that his government kidnapped men
And sent them to be tortured by Asad
And this is why they’ve arrested him again
And this is why I say in the name of God


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“Moazzam” appears on the 2014 Bandcamp album, All the News That’s Fit to Sing.

Moazzam Begg is an Englishman from Birmingham who was kidnapped in the course of his humanitarian work in Afghanistan, and subsequently  imprisoned for a year at Bagram Air Base and for several years at the extraterritorial US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, on land stolen from Cuba when the US invaded Cuba in 1898.  Moazzam was eventually released, and then arrested afterwards in London upon returning from a humanitarian mission to Syria, eventually released without charges.  While he was imprisoned for his trip to Syria, while in Britain, I wrote this song.

I first met Moazzam in Belfast, when he and I were among those being hosted in Belfast by a solidarity group there, largely made up of men who had been imprisoned for years or decades by the occupying British authorities during the Troubles.  It was profound to witness the immediate bonding between these former prisoners, who referred to each other as “hooded men.”  Moazzam struck me as a gentle, highly intelligent man with a great beard.