Briton found with Taliban is identified

Prisoners » As a 33-year-old Mancunian prepares for life at Camp X-Ray, the parent of another detainee insists his son was no extremist
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The fifth Briton being held in Afghanistan as a suspected Taliban supporter is Jamal Udeen, a website designer from Manchester.

Mr Udeen, 33, who also calls himself Jamal Al-Harith or Harath, was taken into US custody after being found with four other foreigners in a Taliban jail in Kandahar.

A Muslim convert who is thought to be of African descent, he claims he was arrested, beaten and jailed by the Taliban as a suspected spy after he was caught travelling through Afghanistan to Turkey in mid-September.

He was interviewed by MI5 officers last month, but his story is doubted by the British and US authorities. He now faces being transferred to Camp X-Ray at the US base in Guantanamo, Cuba, along with another British Muslim who comes from Tipton, Ruhal Ahmed, 20. Mr Ahmed is one of three Tipton Muslims in American custody.

Continuing detention has dashed his hopes that he would be freed after the collapse of the Taliban regime in December. Once Kandahar fell, he was ordered to stay in the prison for his own safety. Mr Udeen complained that the British government had made no attempt to repatriate him, despite knowing about his predicament for four weeks.

British diplomats have described Mr Udeen's story as "weird" and not very credible. He claims that he was arrested as he tried to return to Europe, paying a truck driver 4,000 rupees (£58) to take him from Quetta to Turkey via Afghanistan and Iran.

Mr Udeen said that he had been in Pakistan working for a Muslim evangelist organisation called Tablighi Jamaat. Interviewed in December, he said he had once admired the Taliban. "But after being here and experiencing it first hand, it's a little bit different," he said.

* Hopes grew yesterday that the kidnapped US journalist, Daniel Pearl, 38, is still alive after a search of 300 cemeteries in Karachi, Pakistan, failed to find his body. He was abducted by suspected Islamic extremists on 23 January.

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