Blair defends Guantanamo release for 'ISIS bomber'

This photo released by the ISIS-affiliated Ninawa State on Tuesday shows Abu Zakariya al-Britani, who officials say committed a suicide bombing in Iraq this week.

Story highlights

  • Al-Harith reportedly carried out a car bombing in Iraq Monday
  • Blair said he was paid compensation by a subsequent UK government

London (CNN)Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended his attempts to secure the release of a UK citizen from Guantanamo Bay after reports that the former detainee carried out an ISIS suicide attack in Iraq this week.

ISIS on its media affiliates claimed that Abu-Zakariya al-Britani -- a British citizen who initially went by Ronald Fiddler and later took the name Jamal Udeen al-Harith -- detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base southwest of Mosul this week.
While a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said there had been no independent verification that the attacker was the former Guantanamo detainee, an official told CNN that UK intelligence services believe with "high confidence" that the bomber killed near Mosul was the former British inmate.
    CNN affiliate Channel 4 has verified the identity of the man through a family member as al-Harith, a 50-year-old from Manchester.
    Blair confirmed Wednesday that al-Harith was paid compensation by a subsequent UK government in 2010 for his time in the US detention facility, but did not confirm how much he was given.
    "The fact is that this was always a very difficult situation where any government would have to balance proper concern for civil liberties with desire to protect our security, and we were likely to be attacked whatever course we took," Blair said in the statement.
    Former US President Barack Obama was unable to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, facing opposition in Congress.