‘How should we grill terrorists – with a cuddle and a cup of tea?’

(Richard Littlejohn) – MAYBE I’m in a minority of one here, but I still don’t understand the fuss over Binyam Mohamed.

He has become the poster boy for all those who want to undermine our security services and destroy our special relationship with the United States.

Why did the Government go to such lengths to secure his release from Guantanamo Bay and then charter a private jet to fly him ‘home’ to Britain?

For the umpteenth time, he’s not British. He’s not even a British ‘resident’.

He is an Ethiopian national who lived here for a few years before choosing to move to Afghanistan, where he is said to have attended an Alky Ada training camp.

At the time of his arrest, he was attempting to board a plane in Pakistan using a forged passport.

Frankly, he is not our responsibility. We owe him nothing. Why would anyone in their right mind want him back?

British intelligence officers are accused of colluding in his alleged torture on the basis of supplying a few pertinent questions to his interrogators about what he got up to while he was living here.

That’s their job, for heaven’s sake. They would be failing in their duty if they didn’t make every attempt to glean information from suspected terrorists who want to do us harm.

No one is actually accusing any British officer of physically torturing him, merely of turning a blind eye. There is a legitimate debate as to whether he was tortured at all, in the true sense of the word.

While at Gitmo, he was shackled and deprived of sleep – practices approved at the time by the White House. He is also said to have suffered severe mental stress over threats that he would be removed from U.S. custody and transferred to a more cruel regime.

OK, so the Americans put the frighteners on him, but if they hadn’t cared less whether he lived or died, they wouldn’t have had him on suicide watch.

His treatment wasn’t pretty, but it has to be put in context of the 3,000 people killed in the worst-ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

As to his claims to have suffered genital mutilation while in CIA custody in Morocco, there has never been any firm evidence produced.

We are asked to take his word for it. But why should we believe anything he says?

Binyam Mohamed maintains he went to Afghanistan not to train with the Taliban, but to confront his addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Most people would have signed up to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous, not Alky Ada) or checked themselves into The Priory. He travelled halfway round the world to one of the most inhospitable, tyrannical countries on Earth.

For a man said to have been in mortal terror of being tortured, he appears to have had no problem moving to a jurisdiction which would have cheerfully beheaded him or stoned him to death for taking a sip of alcohol.

The inconsistencies in his story are glaring, yet he has found a gullible audience for his fairy tales, including a fawning ‘interview’ on the BBC.

The prime movers behind this case appear to be motivated as much by rampant anti-Americanism as any concern about Binyam’s ‘yuman rites’.

We never hear such vociferous complaints against Pakistani treatment of terrorist prisoners. Yet intelligence gathered by Pakistan is said to have foiled countless plots in Britain and saved hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.

How do you think this information is gained – with a cuddle and a nice cuppa tea?

It would be a dereliction of duty for MI5 to disregard this evidence on the grounds that it was obtained under duress.

No doubt I will be accused of condoning torture. I’m not, but it would be naive in the extreme to pretend it doesn’t happen.

Binyam Mohamed may have been deprived of sleep, but there are plenty of dedicated men and women in the security services on both sides of the Atlantic who lie awake every night worrying about how they can protect us from terrorist attacks.

Their job is to keep us safe, and if ‘yuman rites’ isn’t top of their ‘to do’ list then it’s hardly surprising.

Leave the politics aside and keep your eyes on the prize. David Miliband may be a hapless Foreign Secretary, hopelessly out of his depth, but he was absolutely right to try to protect the confidentiality of intelligence sharing with the Americans.

Terrorism isn’t just about indiscriminate murder, it’s also about messing with our minds, unsettling our certainties. Alky Ada is practised in the art of turning our freedoms against us – whether flying civilian planes into buildings or exploiting our laws to pose as victims.

I repeat, I don’t condone torture. But using the dubious claims of foreign terror suspects as a stick to beat British intelligence is counterproductive and dangerous.

The ‘yuman rites’ campaigners are crowing today. Next time a bomb goes off on a crowded Tube train, let’s hope we don’t discover it could have been prevented by evidence which had to be discarded because it was tainted by torture.

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