• Saturday 2nd OCT 2021
  • 6 - 9PM BST


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What this is about ...

International Conference (International Witness Campaign)

A series of thought-provoking discussions between cutting-edge minds who have lived through the failure of the War on Terror.

It brings together survivors, experts and activists from across the world for informed conversations on a range of key topics: International relations, conflicts, religion, law, Islamophobia and much more.

Expect opinionated panels, nuanced discussions and personal stories.

This conference is part of the International Witness Campaign which gathers international partners to commemorate this anniversary and remember the millions of people affected across the globe.

It explores two decades of the War on Terror, its impact, its failures and its future while promoting solidarity, justice and dialogue.

More than a contemplative exercise over past events, this campaign also invites countries that have adopted the pervasive 20-year old rhetoric to suppress their Muslim population and dissidents, to draw the lessons from the US experience. 


Moazzam BeggFormer Guantanamo Detainee, Outreach Director (CAGE)

A British-born Muslim, Moazzam Begg is a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and outreach director for CAGE. After his release, he became one of the most prominent public-speakers and Muslim advocates for justice and dialogue. 

He is the author of the best-seller Enemy Combatant in which he recounts his experience as an innocent man detained and torture at Guantanamo, Bagram and Kandahar. The Muslim 500 listed him as one of the 500 “most influential Muslims” in the world. The New Statesman listed him in the top 50 “Heroes of our time”

He has travelled extensively to investigate state abuses and western complicity in torture including to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria. A direct eye-witness to the conflicts in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Syria, his life has been recorded by the Columbia University Oral History project, and the BBC Storyville documentary, The Confession.

Mullah Abdus Salaam ZaeefFormer Taliban Ambassador

Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef grew up in poverty in rural Kandahar province, which he fled for Pakistan after the Russian invasion of 1979. Zaeef joined the jihad in 1983, was seriously wounded in several encounters and met many leading figures of the resistance. Disgusted by the lawlessness that ensued after the Soviet withdrawal, Zaeef was one among the former mujahidin who were closely involved in the emergence of the Taliban, in 1994. In his book My life with the Taliban he details his Taliban career, including negotiations with Ahmed Shah Massoud and role as ambassador to Pakistan during 9/11. 

In early 2002 Zaeef was handed over to American forces in Islamabad and spent four and a half years in prison in Bagram and Guantanamo before being released without charge. In his book he offers insights into the Pashtun village communities that are the Taliban's bedrock and helps to explain what drives men like Zaeef to take up arms against the foreigners who are foolish enough to invade his homeland.

Leena al Arian - Co-director of the Coalition for Civil Freedoms

Leena Al-Arian is a Palestinian American mother and activist living in Boston, MA. She is the co-director of the Coalition for Civil Freedoms, an organization co-founded by her father, Sami Al-Arian, a former political prisoner in the U.S. who was deported in 2015. Leena has worked at a number of human rights and justice nonprofits including American Muslims for Palestine, United Voices, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance. She holds a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. She is a contributor to the volume, Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

Dr Asim Qureshi - Research Director, CAGE

Graduated in Law (LLB Hons) LLM, specialising in International Law and Islamic Law. He completed his PhD in International Conflict Analysis from the University of Kent.He is the Research Director at the advocacy group CAGE, and since 2003 has specialised in investigating the impact of counterterrorism practices worldwide. He has published a wide range of NGO reports, academic journals and articles. In 2009, he authored the book Rules of the Game: Detention, Deportation, Disappearance (Hurst, Columbia UP) a chapter in the 2017 book What is Islamophobia? (Pluto Press, Chicago UP) and in 2018 A Virtue of Disobedience (Unbound and ByLine Books). In 2020 the book I Refuse to Condemn was published by Manchester University Press (Dr Asim Qureshi Editor). Since 2010, he has been advising legal teams involved in defending terrorism trials in the US and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Amina Masood - Chairperson Defence of Human Rights Pakistan

Amina is an activist known for her work against enforced disappearance in Pakistan. She is the chairperson of rights group Defence of Human Rights Pakistan. Her career in activism started when her husband Masood Ahmed Janjua disappeared on 30 July 2005 and to date is still missing. Apart from enforced disappearances her work includes providing legal support to prisoners in foreign countries, arranging financial support to the families of victims of enforced disappearance and eradication of torture from jails and detention centres. 

Aaron Hughes - Artist and Iraq Veteran

Aaron Hughes is an artist, curator, organizer, teacher, anti-war activist, and Iraq War veteran. Working through an interdisciplinary practice rooted in drawing and printmaking, he works collaboratively to create meaning out of trauma, transform systems of oppression, and seek liberation. Hughes works with a range of art and activist groups including About Face: Veterans Against the War, Justseeds Artists' Cooperative, emerging Veteran Art Movement, Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project, and the Tea Project.

Darryl Li - Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago. Previously he held postdoctoral research appointments at Yale Law School and Columbia University.

Darryl's research touches on themes of war, empire, migration, and race, working on connections between the Middle East and other regions. He is the author of The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity (Stanford University Press, 2020), an ethnographic study of "jihadist foreign fighters" who participated in the 1990s war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, based on long-term interviews and archival research conducted in a half-dozen countries. 

Darryl is also an attorney licensed in Illinois and New York. He has litigated or provided expert witness testimony in a number of habeas corpus, criminal, and asylum proceedings arising from the "War on Terror." He has also worked for human rights organizations in the U.S., India, and Israel/Palestine

Spencer Ackerman - Journalist, Writer & Author of 'Reign of Terror'

Spencer Ackerman is a contributing editor at the Daily Beast. From 2017 to 2021, he was senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast. He is the author of forthcoming REIGN OF TERROR: How The 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump. The former U.S. national security editor for the Guardian, Ackerman was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team reporting on Edward Snowden's surveillance revelations.
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