In a recent turn of events in Iraq, ISIS is praising a suicide bomber for an attack on Iraqi troops fighting for possession of the city of Mosul. But this was no ordinary bomber, he is reported to be a former Gitmo detainee that was released under the Bush administration to the United Kingdom. The BBC reported today that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack which was allegedly carried out by Abu Zakariya al-Britani, a British suicide bomber, for exploding a vehicle full of explosives near Mosul. The BBC report stated that al-Britani, born Ronald Fiddler, also went by the similar-sounding Jamul-Uddin al-Harith.
But today, the Pentagon said that at the current time, it could neither confirm or deny the report that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee carried out a suicide attack on behalf of ISIS in Mosul, Iraq this week. A Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Ben Sakrisson, told reporters in an email that a person known as Jamal Malik al-Harith was held at Guantanamo Bay between February 2002 and March 2004, when he was released to the United Kingdom. He had been seized by US forces in Pakistan in 2001, before being sent to Guantanamo. US interrogators found he provided useful information to them about the Taliban’s methods, and he was released after two years.
“We cannot confirm his death, as the occurrence of the same name does not necessarily equate to this being the same individual,” Sakrisson told Fox in the email. Meanwhile, a U.S. defense official has reportedly told Fox News that whether al-Britani spent time at Guantanamo Bay was “very much in doubt.”
The BBC has previously reported that al-Britani crossed into Syria from Turkey in April 2014 to join ISIS. Their story says that his wife told the Daily Mirror newspaper that she and her five children unsuccessfully went to Syria in an attempt to persuade him to return to Britain. Officials in the British government have estimated that 850 people described as “national security concerns” have left the country and traveled to the Middle East to become fighters for both al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is currently estimated that about half of that number have since returned to the United Kingdom.
A source inside the Pentagon said that if remains can be collected from the bombing site, DNA tests would be performed in an attempt to identify the suicide Bomber. This would not be the first time a released Gitmo detainee has returned to the battlefield, currently officials know of at least 9 subjects that were detainees that are fighting or holding positions of rank for al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Saudi Peninsula, ISIS in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq.