"I love the idea of a multicultural Britain. I support it completely." Detained at Guantanamo Bay for three years despite never being convicted of a crime, British citizen Moazzam Begg sits down in front of the camera and recounts his youth, his suffering of racial abuse, his so-called radicalisation and what kind of road was it that lead him to incarceration for being a terrorist.
Similar in some respects to The Green Prince and The Fear of 13, The Confession is largely Begg talking of his time running up to his imprisonment and the emotional impact it had on him and his family. While Nadav Schirman and David Sington’s documentaries did occasionally break up the one-on-one nature of their confessions with some re-enactments and archive footage, Living The War on Terror is less concerned with keeping that Begg-Audience intimacy. Director Ashish Ghadial branches out to include interviews on Panorama and BBC slots with Jon Snow and others post Guantanamo, plus snippets of news interviews with Begg’s father, who raised him alone after Begg's mother died when he was young. All the while an off-camera interviewer constantly pushes Begg to clear up some details on his life, details he feels Begg skims over.
What he doesn't skim over is his feelings about growing up in Britain in the seventies and eighties and the identity he felt he lacked – "Was I British? Was I Muslim? Was I Pakistani?" – and after witnessing the atrocities in Bosnia on TV, and the ineffective UN mandate, he decided to do something about it himself. He marvelled at the tenacity of Muslim fighters in Chechnya. He moved to Afghanistan in 2001 to experience the Taliban first hand and not have his opinion formed by a media bias; he hoped to introduce Western ideas and help the Taliban's version of Islam to "grow up a bit more." His later escape from Afghanistan and his separation from his family, forcing him to travel over the Bora Bora mountains in the dead of winter, is a film in itself.
Despite his fascinating life story, Living The War On Terror really excites when Begg discusses his political stance. He states that an aggressive American foreign policy is wholly responsible for these 'desperate acts' of terrorism. He disagrees with Bin Laden's strategy and his attacks on innocent civilians but also recognises his right to retaliate, understanding the 9/11 attacks but taking issue with the scale. He vehemently denies joining the Taliban, as he was accused, but stresses he witnessed girls and women being educated, albeit with a strong Islamic slant. He urges for a deeper investigation into the interrogation and torture in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, and fears that the West will one day reap a horrific retaliation for same.