Existing sympathisers of Begg's will find much in this documentary to reinforce his claims of being harassed and detained without due process or just cause. For the rest of us, we're little the wiser – was he a member of terrorist organisations? Or a romantic Walter Mitty character, befriending jihadis and joining them in one war zone after another, but never actually crossing the line to active participation? Even if the latter, that may just be an act – I didn't feel I really knew him any better by the end of the film. Presenting a somewhat one-dimensional view of Begg (just Begg himself plus a few quotes from his father), it would have been interesting to hear more from his wife how she felt about his "war tourism" as he refers to his activities in his autobiography. What price have they paid for his choices and the reactions of the authorities?
Other major gaps are the questions never asked, that would have helped clarify his actions versus his words:
- Was he convicted (see his Wikipedia article) in Yemen for planning a terrorist bombing? What's his side of that story?
- What happened in the financial settlement he reached with the UK government?
- Did he know one of his bookshop co-employees had been convicted of terrorist offences in France and was in the UK illegally?
- Begg's Wikipedia article accuses him of associating with 11 known extremists. Is this accurate? If so, does he see them as "extremists"?
- The New York Times reported that an unnamed American intelligence official suspected Moazzam Begg of collaborating on a CD-ROM version of an "Encyclopedia of Jihad". True?
These failings in the documentary tend to lend credence to the accusation that Begg air-brushes his history where convenient to his victimhood narrative. I'd be more sympathetic to his allegations of systematic civil rights abuses, if this aspired to be a warts n'all documentary.