An Ottawa judge is under 24-hour guard by the RCMP after his house was targeted by a burglar—and bursts of gunfire. Patrick J. Boyle, a justice of the Tax Court of Canada, was vacationing with his wife when someone broke into their home on March 20 and stole a computer monitor, some video games and other personal items. What was left behind, however, was far more frightening: bullet holes through a back door and a bedroom window.
Police are still trying to determine if the gunshots and the robbery were the work of the same person, and more importantly, whether the crimes were random or somehow linked to Justice Boyle’s career on the bench. But Maclean’s has learned that authorities are also exploring another compelling connection: the judge’s son, Joshua, recently married Zaynab Khadr, the notoriously outspoken sister of the lone Canadian locked inside the Guantánamo Bay prison camp.
By now, of course, the Khadr clan needs little introduction. Ahmed, the family patriarch, was a reputed al-Qaeda financier who, according to the testimony of one RCMP officer, used his children—all Canadian citizens—to “create his own ‘terrorist cell.’ ” One of his sons is now facing gun-smuggling charges in the U.S., another is paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by Pakistani troops, and yet another, Omar, was apprehended on the battlefields of Afghanistan after a 2002 firefight that killed an American medic. Now 22, Omar has spent the past seven years—almost one-third of his life—in detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Like her brothers, Zaynab is no stranger to anti-terror cops—or to the Canadian public. In interview after interview, the eldest of the six Khadr siblings has glorified suicide bombers, justified terrorist attacks, and wished she had “the guts” to die a martyr. In 2006, after the Mounties seized her luggage amid suspicions she was funnelling money to al-Qaeda, she told Maclean’s: “If carrying my father’s beliefs—and I believe that my father had great beliefs and he did not do anything wrong—is supposed to be poison, then maybe all of us need to have poisoned heads.”
Now 29, Zaynab has never been charged with a crime, but her sound bites are so cringe-worthy—and so damning to Omar’s fight for freedom—that her brother’s attorneys have repeatedly begged her to keep quiet.
This time, she appears to be following their advice. Through a lawyer, Khadr declined to discuss the incident at her in-laws’ property. Her new husband is also choosing his words carefully. Reached on his cellphone, Joshua Boyle said he is co-operating with detectives and waiting for the facts to emerge. When asked if the culprit may be someone who dislikes his wife, the 25-year-old answered: “The Ottawa police did say that it appeared to be a targeted break-in. It was not targeted for possessions or petty vandalism. Beyond that, I won’t speculate on why it may have been targeted. Saying it’s definitively related to one particular issue is premature, so I would not be comfortable speculating on who may be trying to intimidate my family.” As for Zaynab, Boyle said “she wasn’t questioned and the police were content that she had no knowledge that could be of help to them.”
Joshua’s father, Patrick Boyle, 51, was appointed to the tax court in April 2007 after a distinguished career with the firm Fraser Milner Casgrain, where he was considered a leading expert on income tax litigation. During his two years as a judge, Boyle has issued dozens of complex rulings, but nothing that would seem to inspire violent acts of revenge. However, Boyle is not the first local tax judge to be victimized by criminals. In a sensational case two summers ago, the former chief justice of the court, Alban Garon, was found beaten to death inside his downtown condo, alongside his wife and a friend. The triple-murder remains unsolved.
A spokesman for the Ottawa police force would not comment on potential links, except to say that all leads will be explored. In the meantime, the Boyle residence, located in a quiet countryside community just west of Ottawa, remains under round-the-clock RCMP protection, standard practice whenever a federal judge is threatened. (Maclean’s has chosen not to publish a photograph of the property or reveal the town.) During visits last week, two RCMP cruisers were parked in the driveway, blocking outsiders from the front door. At one point, when Boyle came outside to walk his dog, an officer stood watch. “We were away on holidays and the house was empty,” the judge said. “Everyone is fine.”
In subsequent emails, his wife, Linda, provided additional details. She and her husband, she wrote, were out of town “looking into a potential Catholic university” for one of their daughters when they received a phone call about the break-in. “Nothing of sentimental or significant monetary value appears to have been taken,” she said, but “shots were fired through a window and door glass.” She also revealed that police “have reported to Patrick that they believe this was most likely an ordinary break-in unrelated to our son’s marriage and unrelated to Patrick being a judge.”
Joshua and Zaynab were introduced last year. Raised a Christian and home-schooled until his teenage years, Joshua won’t say how they met, but when Zaynab embarked on a recent hunger strike to protest Omar’s continued detention, he was in the background. They were married in a private ceremony three months ago, and now share a midtown Toronto apartment with Khadr’s nine-year-old daughter. Until now, their relationship was not public knowledge.
The January wedding was Khadr’s third—and the first one not arranged by her late father. At the age of 17, Zaynab was promised to an Egyptian fugitive named Khalid Abdullah, but the union lasted only six months. Her second try, to a Yemeni known as Sameer Saif, also ended in divorce—but the 1999 reception lives on in infamy. Among the honoured guests were Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. (Omar Khadr, by the way, didn’t particularly like either of his sister’s husbands. In 2003, during a candid moment with intelligence agents at Guantánamo Bay, the teenager said “he felt that every person whom his father set [Zaynab] up with ended up mistreating her.”)
Her latest husband is under no obligation to explain to the public how he and his new wife reconcile their religious differences, and when asked, Joshua politely declined. He also refused to discuss many other personal details, including his current job or career aspirations. As for whether he and Zaynab have discussed Omar’s plight with his parents, he offered this response: “My family is supportive of my marriage and of their extended family, and they believe in the need for justice for all Canadian citizens. We have faith in God and we have faith in justice and we have faith in the Canadian people to do the right thing.”