Who is the real Omar Khadr? - Macleans.ca

Who is the real Omar Khadr?

Murdering jihadist, victim of circumstance or model-citizen-in-the-making?

Who is the real Omar Khadr?

Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

In exchange for another eight years in prison—and the chance to be a free man in Canada long before that—Omar Khadr consented to a long list of strict conditions. He cannot sue the U.S. government for damages, regardless of how many torture sessions he may (or may not) have endured inside the barbed-wire walls of Guantánamo Bay. He will never step foot on American soil for as long as he lives. And he is not allowed to profit one penny from public speaking tours or movie deals or anything else that would involve selling his saga to the highest bidder. Any such proceeds, the agreement says, will go straight “to the Government of Canada.”

Khadr has read a lot of books during his stint behind bars (from steamy Danielle Steele novels to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom), and his pen pals include an English professor at an Edmonton university. But when he signed his name to that seven-page plea deal on Oct. 13, he received a first-hand lesson in the meaning of irony: the same government that spent many years and millions of dollars fighting to keep him out of Canada now owns the exclusive rights to his life story.

Perhaps it’s only fitting. At 24, Omar Khadr has never truly been in control of his own life. Brainwashed by a fundamentalist father, raised in the shadow of Osama bin Laden, and sent into battle as a Kalashnikov-waving teenager, he is—in the famous words of one Foreign Affairs bureaucrat—“a thoroughly screwed up young man.” Since his capture in 2002, Khadr has been manipulated by fellow inmates, abused by interrogators, ignored by his home country, abandoned by a long list of court-appointed lawyers, and exploited in ways that even he doesn’t realize yet. Human rights activists, anti-war protesters, opposition politicians and terrorist sympathizers all claim him as their own.

But today—after spending more than one-third of his life locked inside the world’s most notorious cage—Khadr finally has the chance to be his own man. By pleading guilty to five war crimes, including the murder of a U.S. special forces soldier, the Toronto native will serve just one more year in Cuba, followed by a transfer to a Canadian penitentiary. Twenty months after that, in June 2013, he will be eligible to apply for early release.

When that day comes, the National Parole Board will have to answer the one question that remains a mystery: who is the real Omar Khadr? The hardened terrorist who basked in the glory of killing a Delta Force medic? Or the innocent child soldier who desperately deserves a second chance?
The competing narratives could not be more different. The only common thread is that neither is completely believable. If anything, the truth lies somewhere in between.

According to the U.S. government, Khadr remains a real and dangerous threat—a “rock star at Gitmo” who has spent the formative years of his life “marinating in a community of hardened and belligerent radical Islamists.” In his own statement of facts, the cornerstone of his guilty plea, Khadr admits that he was a loyal member of al-Qaeda, was obsessed with killing Americans “anywhere they can be found,” and that the “proudest moment of his life” was when he built and planted improvised explosive devices aimed at coalition troops in Afghanistan.

When prison guards gave him a hard time, Khadr would recall how his grenade killed their comrade, Sgt. Christopher Speer, “and it would make him feel good.”

But according to his supporters—and his own spoken words in court—Khadr is a “gentle giant” who has denounced violence, apologized to Speer’s widow, immersed himself in books, and dreams of one day becoming a doctor. “You’re not going to gain anything with hate,” he told the jury at his recent sentencing hearing. “I came to a conclusion that love and forgiveness are more constructive and will bring people together and will give them understanding and will solve a lot of problems.”

Khadr has pored through Pride and Prejudice, Barack Obama’s memoir, and each instalment of the Twilight series. He has crayons in his cell, and draws pictures of lakes and flowers and other scenes he longs to see with the one eye that wasn’t blinded by shrapnel. “No matter how abandoned he’s been, he doesn’t have any anger,” says Dennis Edney, Khadr’s long-time lawyer. “He is a kid who is going to go back to Canada and start his life, and Canadians will see that this young man is harmless, and that he is a victim.”

When asked how the same boy (now man) can be a proud murderer and a harmless victim all at the same time, Edney is blunt. The agreed statement of facts “is fiction,” he says, and Khadr only signed it because he knew that admitting guilt was his only hope of ever leaving Guantánamo Bay. “Anyone who believes this was a full voluntary confession is crazy,” Edney says. “If they had asked him to plead to the shooting of John F. Kennedy, we would have agreed to that, too.”

The story of Omar Khadr (a narrative that now belongs to the feds) began in a Toronto hospital on Sept. 19, 1986. But it would be another 10 years before the country was first introduced to the curly-haired boy destined to become an “enemy combatant.”

At the time, Omar’s father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was in the custody of Pakistani authorities, accused of financing the November 1995 bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad that killed 16 people. A Canadian citizen, the Khadr patriarch proclaimed his innocence, embarked on a hunger strike and ended up in the headlines—just as Jean Chrétien, then the prime minister, was flying to the region for a trade mission. Under pressure from the press, Chrétien agreed to broach the case with Pakistani officials, and took time out of his busy schedule to meet Khadr’s wife and young children. Including Omar.
A few months later, Ahmed Khadr was a free man, kissing the ground after his plane touched down in Canada.

It turned out to be a short visit. Before long, he and his family were back shuttling between Pakistan and Afghanistan, mingling with al-Qaeda elites and using his “charity” work as a front to finance bin Laden’s training camps. In 2001, Ahmed Khadr’s name was added to a United Nations’ terrorism blacklist, and when the World Trade Center was toppled later that year, the U.S. branded him a “primary suspect” and froze his assets.

A week after 9/11, Omar turned 15. It would be his last birthday with his family.
In June 2002, as coalition forces hunted for bin Laden and his associates, Ahmed Khadr sent his teenaged son to serve as a translator for members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda. (Omar is fluent in English, Arabic, Pashto and Dari, and can also speak some French.) But he did much more than talk. Khadr was trained to fire rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and pistols, and was soon assigned to a cell that built and planted powerful IEDs. A home video released by prosecutors shows a grinning Omar Khadr constructing his homemade bombs and holding the Quran.

His duties also included undercover reconnaissance. “On at least one occasion,” says the agreed statement of facts, he “clandestinely spied upon U.S. troop movements near the airport in Khowst, Afghanistan. Omar Khadr did not wear a uniform and attempted to blend in with the civilian population in order to gain as much actionable intelligence as possible.”

On July 27, 2002, less than two months after his father dispatched him to the front lines, Khadr found himself holed up in a mud compound in the village of Ayub Kheil, surrounded by dozens of U.S. troops. Women and children were allowed to leave, and everyone else inside was offered multiple chances to surrender. Khadr stayed put.

Four hours later, after U.S. warplanes annihilated the compound, a group of elite Delta Force commandos made their way inside. “The unit began taking direct fire from an AK-47,” reads the statement of fact. “One soldier saw the individual firing the AK-47, engaged and killed him.” Khadr, hiding behind a wall, pulled the pin from a Russian-made grenade and tossed it in the soldiers’ direction (“like in the movies,” he later told an interrogator).

An American returned fire, hitting the 15-year-old with two bullets to the back.
“Omar Khadr and the others made a pact that they would rather die fighting than be captured by U.S. forces,” the agreed statement says. “He believed he would likely die in the firefight and wanted to kill as many Americans as possible before being killed.”

Khadr, of course, did not die. But Sgt. Speer did, leaving behind a wife, a three-year-old daughter and a newborn son. He was not killed instantly, though. Khadr’s grenade ripped open his skull and peppered his brain with shrapnel, but Speer hung on for 10 more agonizing days before finally succumbing to his injuries.

As Speer’s body was being flown back to North Carolina, Khadr was recovering from multiple surgeries at a U.S. military hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan. For one procedure, the only ophthalmologist in theatre was rushed in to perform a vision-saving operation on his right eye. It would be another six weeks before the Canadian Embassy in Washington learned that one of its citizens was in U.S. custody, and even then, the details were sketchy (except for a Washington Post article that claimed Khadr was “singing like a bird” to interrogators).

In the eight years since, nothing we have learned about Omar Khadr proves, with any certainty, what he is thinking or who he has become. It’s hard to imagine that even he fully understands what’s swirling in his head, but even that would be an assumption. All we know for sure is that Khadr has spent more than 3,000 days and nights in a place that would damage even the strongest of minds.
And a place where torture was standard operating procedure.

Khadr confessed, on numerous occasions, that he threw the grenade that fatally wounded Sgt. Speer. At times, he described that day with obvious pride, well aware that his battlefield kill had won him the respect of fellow detainees. One FBI agent described his demeanour as “cold and callous.”

But Khadr would later claim that he was horrifically abused—and even threatened with gang rape—during his interrogations. In Bagram, where he spent three months before his transfer to Guantánamo, the 15-year-old was questioned more than 40 times, sometimes in a room with barking dogs, sometimes while hung by the wrists. During one session, he says someone placed a hood over his head and soaked him with water until he began to suffocate.

The tactics continued in Cuba. Khadr claims he was left in isolation for up to a month, spat at by an interrogator, and shackled to the ground for hours on end. Once, when he was tied up for so long that he urinated on the floor, guards used him as a “human mop” to clean up the mess.
Agents from CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, visited him in February 2003, and as video cameras rolled, Khadr told the agents he had been “tortured” into confessing and that he didn’t throw the grenade. When the spies left, Khadr sobbed uncontrollably, crying out for his mother. He was 16. (A new documentary, You Don’t Like the Truth, includes long snippets of the videotaped interrogation, as well as a rare photo of Khadr as he looks today.)

Did those first few months in custody reinforce Khadr’s commitment to jihad? Did he wish that he killed 10 Americans, and not just one? Or was he angry at his father, a man who could have raised his kids in Canada but chose holy war instead? Only Khadr knows the answers to those questions—and his actions (or at least those that have been documented) don’t offer any obvious clues.

Consider this scene in March 2004, when a Foreign Affairs official flew to Guantánamo to visit him. At one point, Khadr was handed a photograph of his family and left alone in the interrogation room. He urinated on the picture—twice. And then he laid his head close to the photo in what one observer described as “an affectionate manner.”

“[Omar] does really not understand the gravity of his situation,” wrote R. Scott Heatherington, a senior official in the Foreign Affairs intelligence division. “Before he is returned to Canada (if this were to be a possibility) some thought should be given to ‘managing this process’ and the social services agencies should play a major role.”

A year after that consular visit, Khadr was charged with murder and ordered to stand trial in front of a military commission. He continued to insist that he was not to blame for Sgt. Speer’s death, and that his confession was coerced. By then, home was a solitary cell inside Camp 5, Guantánamo’s maximum security complex. That’s where Dennis Edney met him for the first time. “He was lost,” Edney recalls. They didn’t even speak about his looming court case during that first meeting. “No one had touched him in years,” Edney says, “so I hugged him.”

Outside the wire, there was little public sympathy for Omar Khadr—thanks again to his notorious family. His father had been killed in a 2003 shootout with Pakistani authorities, and Omar’s younger brother, Kareem, had been caught in the crossfire and paralyzed from the waist down. His oldest brother, Abdullah, was facing gun-smuggling charges in the U.S., and his sister, Zaynab, was under investigation by the RCMP. And every time his sister or his mother or his brother opened their mouths—to praise suicide bombers or criticize the country that signed their welfare cheques—Khadr’s case became that much easier to ignore.

“Omar has been branded by the family,” Edney says. “When you talk about the Khadr brand, there is no distinction. But there isn’t an ideological thought in Omar’s brain. I’ve never met a more peaceful guy in my life.”

Stephen Xenakis agrees. A psychiatrist and retired U.S. army brigadier-general, he has spent more than 100 hours speaking with Khadr. “He is a very decent, kind young man—and he has faith,” he told Maclean’s. “We certainly adulate our American POWs who sustain their faith when they are in detention. I don’t think it has radicalized him. There is not a hard edge to him at all, and there is no sense of vengeance.”

Two years ago, Khadr was transferred to Camp 4, a communal section of the prison where detainees sleep in the same room and mingle outside during the day. He spends a lot of time drawing pictures with crayons, but even more time reading. His library list includes the Harry Potter collection, John Grisham novels, Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn.

Khadr has also been exchanging letters with Arlette Zinck, an English professor at King’s University College in Edmonton. Edney delivers the notes during his visits, sneaking them past the guards in his shoe. “Your letters are like candles very bright in my hardship and darkness,” Khadr wrote in one of his letters. Said another: “About myself, what can I say? We hold on to hope in our hearts and the love from others to us and that keeps us going until we reach our happiness.”

One of the books Zinck recommended was Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which tells the story of a 13-year-old who was forced into the Sierra Leone army, ordered to kill, but later rehabilitated. Khadr said he was “struck by the simplicity truthfulness and the straight-from-the-heart” tone of the book. “Children’s hearts are like a sponge that will absorb what is around it, like wet cement, soft until it is sculptured in a certain way,” he wrote. “A child’s soul is a sacred dough that must be shaped in a holy way.”

As far as the U.S. government is concerned—and Sgt. Speer’s widow—Khadr’s soul has been shaped in a way that is anything but holy. Michael Welner, a psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution, said Khadr remains a “highly dangerous” man who is devoted to jihad and will pose an immediate threat as soon as he is released. (It was Welner who said that Khadr has been “marinating” in a community of diehard Islamists.) Tabitha Speer agreed. “He’s a murderer in my eyes and always will be,” she told reporters. “My children are the victims.”

His agreed statement certainly supports that belief. In it, Khadr admits that “if non-believers enter a Muslim country then every Muslim in the world should fight the non-believers.” He admits that he “voluntarily of his own free will chose to conspire and agree with various members of al-Qaeda to train and ultimately conduct operations to kill United States and coalition forces.” And he admits—again—that he tossed that grenade. “Khadr could have left the compound if he wanted,” the document reads. “He chose to stay behind and fight the Americans.”

No matter how many novels he reads or how many pictures he draws, those chilling facts will stay on the public record forever, reminding the world—and the National Parole Board—exactly why he ended up in Guantánamo Bay in the first place.

So, too, will the verdict of a military jury. Although his plea agreement guaranteed a punishment of no higher than eight years, a sentencing hearing was still convened, just in case the panel decided on something less (the jury was not told that about the plea bargain in advance, and their sentence would have only applied if it turned out to be shorter than the agreed eight years).

Symbolic or not, military prosecutors asked for another 25 years behind bars. The jury decided on 40—a full 15 more than even the government wanted. Clearly, the members weren’t convinced that Omar Khadr is safe to walk the streets.

More than 5,000 American service members have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Khadr is the only person to be convicted of murder in connection with any of those deaths.

Tonight, the 24-year-old is back in Camp 5, in a solitary cell where he will count down the days until his flight home to Canada. (Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed that the feds will approve his transfer request next year.) In the meantime, Dennis Edney is preparing for his client’s eventual return to society—which will include welcoming Omar into his own home.

“He will go and visit his family and stay with them, as all kids should do, for a week or two,” he says. “And then he will join me in Edmonton, and we will work on his education and learn to get on with his life. He will be a positive role model.”

But even Edney, a man who has come to love Omar Khadr like a son, understands that the transition will not be smooth. For a person who has spent eight years in shackles, the attention and the publicity will be overwhelming. “I’ve told him that there will be groups wanting to identify with him, to use him for their own needs. And I’ve told him that as much as he thinks he’s strong, they will manipulate him. He needs time to get the strength to stand on his own two feet.”

And to decide—on his own—which direction he is going to walk.


Who is the real Omar Khadr?

  1. Who is the real Omar Khadr?
    It's just one of many hot-head jihadists that hates Canada and everythimng what Canada represents.
    He and his family hates Canada but gladly takes wellfare and fere health care. He should rot in US jail and his
    burqua-family shold be deported.
    Unfortunatelly left-wing CBC, thug-huggigng NDP and multi-culti libtards made him a puppy, a heart-bleeding "child soldier".
    He was 16 when he was fighting (so not a child soldier), he was not forced by anyone to fight, he joined Taliban on his own free will.
    Now bunch of fruit cakes from NDP wants him to come back to Canada – this hatefull murderer will walk free after one year.

    • you can fill your post with as many epithets as you want, humans with decency recognize this is a travesty of justice and your words and beliefs as the bloodlustful ramblings of another angry, ignorant white fool who doesn't have the first clue how lucky he is to have what he does. i fear people like you a million times more than i've ever had cause to worry about people like omar khadr and your disapproval only further validates that position.

      • Excellent, thank you very much.
        You have just prooved a typical liberal/ndp respond.
        You call "ignorant white fool" someone who has different opinion than yours.

        • And you call someone who disagrees with you a 'libtard', a 'fruit cake' and a 'thug-hugger'. You're not exactly criticizing someone's name-calling from a position of strength.

          • But I do not deny anyone to have opinion while liberals claims that everyone has to have the same view/belief as their one and anyone who goes opposite to their ideology is bigot. Look at CBC – perfect example of !eft wing media that believes everyone worship the sme ideology as they do.
            NDP fully deserved for thug-huggers name since they have been pushing for a long time a changes in criminal
            law to favor criminals over the victims.
            Liberals imposed their milti-culti ideology over Canada with out any discussion over the subject.

          • You don't deny anyone to have an opinion… but if they disagree with you, if they're a liberal, and they're retarded (ie libtard). That sounds very reasonable. VERY reasonable.

        • lots of people have different opinions than me, but by no means are they all ignorant, and sometimes i'm the fool. having that rudimentary sense of self-analysis and critical thinking ability helps most humans distinguish between those times when someone is making an actual argument and those times when they are spouting the same old partisan crap that they do every day on any given subject.

          don't pretend like you wrote that original comment looking for a measured discussion on the facts and philosophies pertaining to child soldiers.

          • My great great grandfather was shot at Vimmy Ridge when he was 16. Child soldier or hero?
            Omar Khadr got shot in Afghanistan after killing one of our allies. Child soldier or enemy?

          • If your gg was wounded at 16, he wasn't at Vimy "legally". Many underaged soldiers sneaked through, or may have been knowingly accepted by recruiters. The ones who were later (during training) discovered to be minors were released or assigned to non-combat roles.

            See, for example: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/02/18/war-vet

            So I would say that, although he may have been a hero, he was also a "child soldier".

          • Omar Khadr was NOT a “child soldier” who, like those in Sierra Leon kidnapped at a very young age, initiated into and desensitized to brutality, forced to kill. Brainwashed? Sure.  But he willingly and freely participated. He had a chance to surrender as many did, but he chose to wait for the American medic Christopher Speer who was coming, not to shoot at, but looking for the injured (and who also happened to save two Afghan children trapped near the landmine just a few days earlier).  Omar chose to lay in wait with the hand grenade to strike. He is a cool, cunning master manipulator of the gullible Western journalists and the system. By the way, he was just following the al Qaeda manual that instructed the jihadists to claim torture when in detention. Other than his “affidavit” he did not provide details of actual torture to the forensic psychiatrist Dr. Welner who produced 60 page report on Omar (which was successfully blocked by his defense) but went into great details about how he assembled the IED’s and relished the thoughts of $1,500 reward for every American killed.  

    • Gee, Mr. Steyn, your writing really suffers without the benefit of an editor. And your understanding of Canada's Parliament is weaker than I assumed it would be, but I see you're still stringing together the same old tired adjectives.

    • The fact that Omar Khadar killed one of our ally's soldiers and has blatantly said he hates the USA, makes him a traitor to our country as well. I don't care if he was born here – I believe he does not belong in this country because his loyalty lies with the country his parents originated from. He should be put to death for his actions and his entire family should be deported to the homeland that his parents came from,

      Jonathan, contrary to some believe as noted by other respondents to your comments, I believe you hit the nail right on the head.

      • I think you just failed Justice 101 and Immigration & Citizenship (kindergarten level).

      • You are just a pig-head.

        • ..someone is expressing a muslim heritage ?

    • "Who is Omar Khadr" – he was a 15 year old child who was forced
      by his father and other adults to join Taliban. He was then
      brutally wounded, terrorized, abused and forced to make false
      confessions. IF you think Guatanamo Bay Maximum Security is a great
      place then perhaps you should go in there for a few weeks and find
      out the extent of abuse and conditions with which this child has had
      to live with whether he is innocent or not nobody knows for sure.
      He will admit to anything and say anything just to get out of that hell-hole.
      In my opinion he is a very gently, polite and respectful guy even though he
      has had to live in these conditions. My hats off to his lawyer Edney who is
      a real hero in all this mess and he not only totally supports him but has
      made Omar Khadr his son, which he would not have done had Omar Khadr
      not deserved it. I say give Omar Khadr a chance, his 1st one, help him to
      get rehabilitated and get educated so that he can contribute to the society and
      prove that he is after all a good guy.

      • Your opinion is based on NO FACTS.  

      I think Omar's case is really interesting, from any point of view you want to see it, if he is a terrioarist or simply a victim of the circumstances, The most important thing is the outcome that this story will have. This will not be refelected until Omar is free or back into society. What I mean by saying this is that it will be really interesting to see what Omar will do with his life afterr all the things he has been involved and the way he is gonna handle this. From my point of view, I think they just made a perfect terrorist, or in the best case a repressed individual. With all the time he has spent and will spend in jail, he will have time to rationalize and think about who did this to him, why, and whats he going to do about it. I believe he will blame the United States and the government, this is gonna create a perfect terrorist! Experience, time to think and arrange ideas… time to develop the intelect, the knowledge, the hate…. or in the best case, which is very isolated, Omar will become a normal person with a lot of wisdom and the time spent in jail will help him reflect about everything and he might even become someone bright with a future. TIME WILL TELL…

      • As a Canadian and a resident of the Khadr family’s neighbour, I would refuse to take chances.  How about you?

  2. You know what, its over. Move on for God's sake! Nobody has any more interest in this story!

    • Couldn't agree more! What's done is done!

    • The only reason you want us to "move on" from this story is it perfectly illustrates how severely the war on terror has been botched by Canada and the US

      • Really?  Well, just consider all the foiled terror attempts, including the Toronto 18 case whose trial the Khadr family attended, by the way and expressed their support for the accused. And the one in Ottawa two years ago.  It’s noteworthy that one of the accused in this case was a medical doctor and the other also a successful professional. Did you know that Omar’s Egyptian terrorist father, the fourth most important man in al-Qaeda organization, got free University education courtesy of Canadian taxpayer?  

        I wish so many of you just stop speculating and spinning your opinions based on your own prejudice, your own limited understanding of the world and people (there are people who hold very different value system and who actually wish to do us harm, in case you have failed to notice) or your own political agenda.   

    • Here are a couple of reasons not to consider Khadr’s case “over”:

      1 As Edney says Khadr was forced to sign a confession that was a pack of Prosecution lies from start to finish. That confession starts with Khadr agreeing that he always got excellent medical care while in US custody. But we already know, from the testimony of his interrogators how wildly untrue this was. We know, for instance, that he while he was still healing from wounds that left him in terrible pain, his interrogators were given access to him for long interrogation sessions, and that he was denied all pain medication prior to and during those interrogation sessions. His October 2010 confession he agreed to every single confession wrung from him during his 2002 and 2003 torture.

      2. Khadr will be eligible for some kind of conditional release — soon.

      3. The Prosecution, the entire US intelligence establishment, betrayed public safety through its unprofessional thirst for vengeance at all costs. We should be able to rely on sober professionals to have done the interrogations, and to have performed the analysis. The DoD did not provide sober, responsible, sagacious professionals to undertake the analysis, or, if it did, it did allow them the leeway to operate in a responsible manner. What the public record shows is that the Guantanamo intelligence analysts routinely failed to do even the most basic sanity checking

      If you read the transcripts from the captives annual reviews you will come across instance after instance where the captive offered alibis that could have been refuted or confirmed with trivial effort – where the analysts failed to make that trivial effort.

      Captive 950, Abdullah Khan, testified at his status review in January 2005 that he had spent his entire time in custody insisting he really was who he said he was. The bounty hunters who denounced him in the Spring of 2003 claimed he was a very well known Taliban figure, Khirullah Khairkhwa. The US intelligence officials who captured him didn’t check, and didn’t see that they had already taken Khairkhwa into custody in late 2001. In Bagram angry interrogators threatened Khan, and told him they would send him to Guantanamo if he didn’t stop lying, if he didn’t confess he was really Khairkhwa.

      Khan didn’t confess, so he was sent to Guantanamo, where interrogators there continued to claim he was lying about his identity. But he learned from the other captives that they not only knew Khairkwa had been captured, he had been held there in Guantanamo for since the camp opened. So, for the next year and a half, all of Khan’s interrogations went the same way — his interrogators would insist they knew Khan was lying about his identity. They would insist they knew he was really Khairkhwa. Khan, in return, kept begging them to check the prison roster, so they could see they already held the real Khairkhwa. I still can’t believe that none of the intelligence staff associated with Khan never bothered to check the roster to see if they already held Khairkhwa. In the course of preparing the allegations for his status review, the staff of the separate agency that performed those reviews determined he was not Khairkhwa. If you thought this would have resulted in a handsome apology and immediate release you would be mistaken. Khan was held for almost two more years. The DoD never admitted they screwed up every single aspect of his case, and those of the two men who were captured only because they were with him. Captive 951, Nasrullah, a man captured with him, was held for three more years.

      Captive 1002, Abdul Matin, was a high school science teacher, in Pakistan, for practically the entire time the Taliban had been in power. He was accused of being the Taliban’s intelligence chief in Mazari Sharif for the entire duration of the Taliban’s time in power. He testified that his school was a professional institution, that kept records that would show his had signed in every day at work, showing he was in Pakistan, not Mazari Sharif.

      Just as with Abdullah Khan, Abdul Matin’s alibi could have been refuted or confirmed with trivial effort — a trivial effort US intelligence analysts never bothered to make.

      The DoD betrayed us, betrayed its responsibility to preserve public safety. When obviously innocent men are tortured into making false confessions and false denunciations, and then Canada, and the US, and European countries squander irreplaceable counter-terrorism resources on concernes triggered by those false confessions, those counter-terrorism resources aren’t available to guard against real threats.

      Shame on Khadr’s Prosecutors, shame on the DoD, and shame on Stephen Harper, for trying to convince us to take confessions wrung out during torture at face value.

  3. Omar was not the only one w/ a choice that day in 2002: the soldier the US accuses him of "murdering" also had one. The US no longer drafts troops, so everyone who is invading Afghanistan, Iraq, or the hundred other countries where the US "maintains a military presence" is there of his own free will. When you go trespassing on other folks' lands, trying to strip them of their weapons and dignity, you should expect them to shoot at you and maybe even kill you.
    Each time "terrorists" attack Westerners, they reiterate that the US and its allies should get out of their countries and leave Moslems alone. Why don't we listen?

    • Maybe we will….as soon as they stop harbouring terrorists and mailing bombs on airplanes.

    • Maybe if they stop bombing people and letting terrorist train in their country to perpetrate crimes against the west,we would leave.

    • So what was Omar, a Canadian, doing there?  Fighting to protect his country from foreign invaders like Americans and CANADIANS? 

      You seem to conveniently forget “Muslim” countries ask for help sometimes. Like Kuwait when Saddam invaded there. What about Kosovo?  Now what about Libya? And Syria asking for help. You might say the West originally screwed up these countries when we colonized them, and left them with artificial and illegitimate states.  I would agree with that.  However, how is that any different, better or worse, than those before?  How do you feel about the Islamic imperialism that conquered and massacred millions (and they still continue that in places like Sudan).  

  4. Very interesting and informative read Mr. Friscolanti, You give great insight from both sides of this fiasco …but in my humble opinion, either way you look at it …Khadr is still, and will always be a Terrorist….

  5. I can''t recall how many people were executed in Canada during my lifetime but I do recall amongst that group were men found later to be innocent. Anyone over the age of 20 knows many men have been released from prison over the last ten or so years who have been found innocent.
    I also recall the rabid, spittle firing hate spewed by the press as each of these innocents were brought to, "justice", and the subsequent hair-triggered, sanctimonious, "hang em' high", offered by MP's and common citizen alike, all so self assured, self-righteous and blood lusting keen for a hanging or a whipping.
    This article continues that tradition with it's poorly gleaned, "facts", such as several of the statements drawn from Khadr's prosecutors without acknowledging the source let alone give credence to refuting testimony fromwitnesses, "on the ground" (all who seemed to disappear like a Salvadoran male in th eighties).
    The article feeds the hate and blood lust I mention above. One only has to read several of the empty headed comments to verify how much hate has been generated in Canada towards Khadr.
    I give Stephen Harper a tip of the hat for being the only one to have nothing more to say than his, "serious charges", sophism. Amazingly the author missed keying on the fact that Harper with his "not", law and order, is the focal point of the entire Khadr matter. The only one to glean more grist for personal mills than the press corp was Harper; in the latter's case, riding and manipulating those polls was just too irresistible.

  6. Please, end this conversation on Khadr. I've heard enough over the past years. He will return to Canada, and the Canadian taxpayers will support him and his family in more ways than one.
    It will cost a pretty penny to have a 24/7 watch on the family to ensure that they don't plan some other destruction against the Canadian taxpayers that support them.
    The Khadr family in turn, will become pacifist and loving towards Canada and it's citizens. Dream on.

    • "Please, end this conversation on Khadr. I've heard enough over the past years."

      Right wingers have been wrong on this file all along, they know it, and they can't wait to change the channel.

  7. I totally agree!

  8. Amen

  9. I don't necessarily agree with the americans approach with this whole enemy combatants and the tourture thing, it really doesn't work for me. As soon as you start down that road then you REALLY are no better than they are. Can you detain them indifinitely, that depends, its a huge logistical endeavour to house these guys especially on an island where you need to fly things in. Do you declare them as POW's, under the geneva convention and give them the rights that I believe they should have, then when the war is finally done do you send them home? Thats what we did in the last wars, we sent them home and we re-built some of the countries as well. It really is quite a problem, people have been debating this one for quite some time and will probably do so far in the future. As a canadian soldier recently retired, as well as an Afghanistan Vet I think that from the beginning we should have accorded them POW status under the geneva conventions, better to show mercy to them especially in eye's of the world, then be known as being not much better then they are.

    • Further to my last comment, I also do not think we should have to deal with him either. The americans captureed him, they should either keep him or send him back to afghanistan, thats where they got him. his shouldn`t be our problem what so ever, we as tax payers in a year will be on the hook for this guys upkeep and our government should have declined. In my own personal opinion, send him back to exact location where they found him.

      • Sorry for the spelling mistakes, it should read,“he shouldn`t be our problem“ Thanks!

      • I don't agree with throwing away a person's citizenship either. Either Canadian citizenship means something or it doesn't. Khadr was born in Canada, so if we don't want him, and no-one else does, where does he go? And the same principle applies that I discussed earlier – if we can fail to honour his citizenship, the same can happen to you or I. We could talk about making citizenship harder to obtain – but that would not apply to Khadr as he is born to the citizenship. Again, my point is not really about Khadr so much as it is about us as a society throwing out all the rules to get at one man … and those very same rules are what protect each of us. We throw out the rules at our peril!

        • My understanding is that this guy went and fought for the other side. To me an anology would be if you went over to the germans in WW2, do you think after you had in essence betrayed your country do you think we would have welcomed you back with open arms? I think not, this noble idea of yours sounds fine but to me it all depends on the situation. Personally I think this guy should be have his citizenship revoked and sent back to where they go him. Either that or the US can keep him, we as tax payers shouldn`t have to pay this bill, in my humble opinion He BETRAYED his country, fought for the other side, killed allied personal and now has a nice comfortable existence. I bet the detainees sitting in an afghan jail don`t have as good as He does!

          • Here's a better analogy: A German emigrated to Canada before WWII but he decides to involve himself in Hitler's cause so he and his wife raise their kid mostly back in Germany, where he goes to school except for grade one in Canada. WWII starts and the father fights for the Germans and the kid gets involved as well. The kid is captured two months later in a fight with Americans. They charge him with war crimes at Nuremberg along with the people responsible for genocide, atrocities, mass murder and running death camps where they incinerated millions of innocent people. And no, he wasn't charged with killing a "helpless unarmed medic" as in the popular Khadr myth. The charges were all about targetting armed soldiers acting as soldiers. He gets a sentence of 40 years, reduced by a plea bargain meaning a total of 16 years in prison from the time he was 15. Canadians, nice people that they are, think they should remove his citizenship or charge him with treason besides because they hate his parents or all Germans, or whatever.

      • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not allow a Canadian citizen to be denied entry to Canada.

        • No it doesn't, but what happens when someone goes of on Jihad in the Afghan mountains, kills canadian soldiers, and we capture him on the battlefield? Do you think we should bring him back here to stand trial for murder? As I stated above, in my opinion if this senario happened then that person should lose his right to call himself a Canadian and be imprisioned in the country that he was captured in. Omar Kahdr shouldn't get the right to call himself CANADIAN!

    • I couldn't agree more. Your point (Geneva Convention POWs vs. Gitmo "enemy combatants") is what the world – citizens, governments and media alike – should have been pushing ALL parties on ALL sides of the equation to adopt. And the U.N. (theoretically – not that I believe it has any credibility left) should have been involved from the very beginning overseeing the establishment and operation of those POW camps, and santioning any countries who refused to do so. *That* point is what we should have been discussing all along.

      The U.N. should also have been taking a hard stand against the use &/or prosecution of child soldiers – again on ALL sides. What everyone seems to have neglected to speak about is that, regardless of whether he was 15 or 16 at the time he was caught, Omar was indoctrinated (yes – brainwashed is also an appropriate word to use here) into the jihadist movement at the very very young age of seven or eight. His feet barely touched Canadian soil after his birth before he was whisked away to various training camps.

  10. The problems isn not jut in hords immigrating to Canada. Hords that hates Canada but gladly get welfare, passport
    and free health care such as Khadrs family.
    The problem is deep in our immigration system. The immigration system has to be changed to be perhaps similar to Switzerland so we can avoid self destruction.
    Right now Canada is treated as a world shelter for thrd-world slum. Bogus imigrants and fake refugees that are refused landing in normal countries come to Canada beacuse they know our immigration system is designed and run
    by complete fools – politically correct and apologetic whimps that are ready to accept everyone.

    • Might be news to you, but those 'hordes' are going to help pay the bills in Canada over the next few decades. We need immigrants.

      Maybe you can enlighten me on what people we should keep out, besides the Khadr family. They're pretty bad, but I don't know as they're representative of anything other than one misguided family… unless you're planning to paint a bunch of other folks with that same brush. Otherwise, I believe you've been misinformed about how many bogus immigrants and fake refugees we're letting into the country.

      • "We need immigrants", I'm afraid it is a myth constantly repeated by those folks who count on votes of new immigrants.
        Immigration was needed perhaps in 60' or 70' but not anymore. Due to loop-holes in immigration law and family reunion program huge number of new immigrants are way over 60 years old, do not speak English nor French (and are not willing to learn).
        Canada is loosing $$$ on most of new immigrants – every refugee claim has to go through appeal and this cost $$$. Elderly new immigrants do not work, do not pay taxes, but use "free" health care system, lives in subsidized housing and receive welfare. Who do you think, pays for all that?
        Economical reasoning is not the only one that calls for closing door. There is big cultural impact of new immigrant who do not want to assimilate with local society, they come to Canada but do not learn English nor French, watch only their own TV through cable/satellite, they demand servicing and schools in their own language, they close themselves in hermetic local ghettos. They have absolutely no interest in learning Canadian values or participating in life of local communities.
        In this way Canada is loosing its own values, culture and language. Canadian culture is replaced bucket of mixed foreign cultures. Quebec is the only one that keeps common sense and protects its cultural heritage. QC does not allow just anyone to settle there. To live there you have to speak French and respect local cultural heritage, while in rest of Canada you can be a slum that has 3 or 4 wives, be unemployed, be over 60 and you are still very welcome to settle here. We have lots of citizens of convenience that as soon they got passports they flied back home, or refugees that come here with claim of being persecuted back home – as soon they file refugee application… they fly back home for holidays !!!
        Multiculturalism does snot work, Canada has to finish this post-Trudeaupian bogus ideology.

        It is time to close door, Canada does not need anymore this kind of immigration.
        BTW: It would be interesting to see comparison of crime growth statistics with immigration profile statistics for last 15 years.

  11. Well said Richard Westgate.

  12. Omar Khadr was a 15 year old child who was put left in the hands of the taliban by his father and other adults. He was then brutally abused, terrorized while he was badly wounded and he was forced to make false statements. IF anyone out there does not believe should go to Guatanamo Bay for a few weeks to experience 1st hand the amount of torture and the conditions in which humans including children are kept. I say bring Omar Kadr home so that he can be rehabilitated, educated and be a contributing citizen and prove to the world that he is a good person and a victim of others. Edney Dennis would not adopt him if Omar Khadr was not worth it. Omar Khadr has proved to be a gentle, polite person. Enough is enough and finally Mr. Harper is doing the right thing and so if nothing let us support him.

    • Any proof of the torture?Any proof of the abuse?He was badly wounded and saved by the Americans?What horrible abusers hey.Wasn't caught on video plants and making bombs.That little rascal .Oh well if he's polite we should allow him Back.

      • There is not only voluminous documented but also videotaped proof of the abuse plus, one of Khadr’s main abusers was found guilty of torture violations in a previous case and sentenced to some months in prison shortly after the time he spent with Khadr. He is under a gag order with respect to this case. Do some homework.

    • It is pretty firmly established that torture and abuse was a daily occurrence at Guantanamo during the Bush era, and I have little doubt that it continues to this day.

      • Furthermore, Khadr claims to have been tortured in a letter to his lawyer, which was heavily redacted by the Americans, presumably because the depravity depicted therein could undermine their position as moral actors.

        "The Hispanic MP <REDACTED>, and would often <REDACTED>. He would tell the nurses not to <REDACTED> since he said that I had killed an American soldier. He would also <REDACTED> me quite often."

        "During this first interrogation, the young blonde man would often <REDACTED> if I did not give him the answers he wanted. Several times, he forced me to <REDACTED>, which caused me <REDACTED> due to my <REDACTED>. He did this several times to get me to answer his questions and give him the answers he wanted."

        "They often made me <REDACTED> in the stretcher in order to <REDACTED>. They knew it was painful for me because of my physical reaction and because I told them it was painful."

        "During the course of his interrogation of me, the Afghan man told me that a new detention center was being built in Afghanistan for non-cooperative detainees at Guantanamo. The Afghan man told me that I would be sent to Afghanistan and raped. The Afghan man also told me that they like small boys in Afghanistan, a comment that I understood as a threat of sexual violence."

  13. In order to get out of that hell-hole called the Guatanamo Bay Naval Base detention centre, anyone will say or confess to anything. Omar Khadr was left with no choice but to sign all those papers that he
    was made to sign and accept all the false accusations that were pointed towards him. He is NOT a murderer, he was so badly wounded that he himself probably does not know who killed who and there is no proof. When he came to at Bagram he decided to say anything to stop the torture.

  14. CORRECTION: He was not holding a quran, it was a hand held fan that the person in the picture is holding not a quran.

  15. We may not know who Omar Khadr is, but we can look at all the other actors in this situation and see how they've behaved.

    The Canadian Government under Harper seems very nonchalant in tackling terrorism. We have an accused terrorist that we can put behind bars through the process of a fair trial, and yet Harper seems very disinterested in doing so, which is especially worrying because the accused is Canadian. Secondly, the fact that this is a child soldier we are dealing with, didn't seem to concern the Harper administration, meaning that they seemed to not only lack enough gusto to fight terrorism through the rule of law, but also seemed to be morally deficient.

    The American government was not able to garner enough evidence to prosecute Khadr, and thus held him for over 8 years. Whatever happened to the concept of swift justice? Throughout this whole affair the US government held hundreds of people at Gitmo, and released hundreds of people knowing they were not guilty of anything. Torture was used as a means to extract confessions, leaving some of the inmates paralyzed for life and disabled.

    The Khadr family did very little to demonstrate that they could be a part of a tolerant Canadian future. When it comes to rehabilitating Khadr, going back to his family does not seem like a viable option.

    So while we may not know who Khadr is, we can all see that he is definitely the victim of the American government in not having a fair and just process, the victim of the Canadian government's lack of resolve in giving him that process, and the victim of a family that has forced him to go to that region before he was even a teen, have him grow up there and used as a child soldier to do the dirty work of the Al-Qaeda commanders.

    My point is not that he is a victim and that's that…but rather all other parties of guilty of wrong doing.

    While we don't know if he will be stable enough to re-enter our society, we do know that the Harper Administration, the American government, and the Khadr family have all done wrong and that we should expect more from all parties. We cannot accept the status quo and demand that all parties answer for what they did, and by that I mean to take steps to ensure this doesn't happen again and that we are better than this.

    • You keep calling out the Harper administration, but do you realize that it was Jean Chretien who was in power when Khadr was captured? It was the Chretien government that adopted the "do nothing, let the American's handle it" policy in regard to Khadr. It was Jean Chretien who was personally responsible for the release of Omar's father (an act which is directly responsible for Omar's indoctrination).

      Under the Harper administration, Omar finally got a chance to plead his case in a court (although a flawed system, it's better than keeping him locked up indefinitely). Khadr will be a free man in Canada in 2 years, because of an agreement signed by the Harper government. Trying to put the onus for this cluster-f$@# on Harper is simply wrong.

      • Agreed, Canada made numerous mistakes in its handling of the child Khadr and a lot of those mistakes happened under a previous government.

  16. Luiscanjura@live.ca

    Very good article, more insight on both sides then any main stream media would ever objectively embrace while (let's admit) in control of the gov't

  17. My first thought was "What an excellent article!" but it might be safer to say that this piece is a typical example of the creeping left-wing journalism (as opposed ot columnism) that threatens the very fabric of Stephen Harper's space-time continuum vision for Canada.

    "But when he signed his name to that seven-page plea deal on Oct. 13, he received a first-hand lesson in the meaning of irony: the same government that spent many years and millions of dollars fighting to keep him out of Canada now owns the exclusive rights to his life story."

    ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! This deal could be worth $millions, maybe $BILLIONS. Jim Flaherty … ARE YOU LISTENING? Think book deals, movie rights, promotional placements and spin-off advertising campaigns! Just think … a Tim Hortons "roll-up -the-rim-and-have-a-happy-meal" DEAL with Omar Khadr pin cushion dolls, hand-grenade, water-board, and plea-bargain accessories!

    Action figures include a complete set of Bobble-heads that include the military judge, jury, and (for GRAND PRIZE WINNERS) hand-crafted, limited-edition bobble-heads of Lawrence Cannon and Stephen Harper; made from the finest French porcelain and fitted with the best of Swiss bobble-head movements. Precision nodding, no batteries necessary (as long as there is some movement).

    It is rumoured that Helen Guergis (who has her own heart wrenching story of being detained by PEI airport security) and Pierre Poilievre (who has a similar story about being detained by RCMP parking-lot security staff at Parliament Hill) are collaborating on a movie deal. James Cameron, Canadian-born producer of Titanic! and Avatar, is also said to be considering the prospect (remember, I said $BILLIONS), but was put off by the original screen-play titled "UN Security Council Vote!". It has been sent back for a re-write. It may be titled "Irony! " or "Fascism" or maybe even "Tea-Party!" .

    Myself? I'm think the next epic JC movie should be called Election!

    -reported by Diogenes (forever looking for an honest man)

  18. Who is the real Omar Khadr?
    It's just one of many hot-head jihadists that hates Canada and everythimng what Canada represents.
    He and his family hates Canada but gladly takes wellfare and fere health care. He should rot in US jail and his
    burqua-family shold be deported.
    Unfortunatelly left-wing CBC, thug-huggigng NDP and multi-culti libtards made him a puppy, a heart-bleeding "child soldier".
    He was 16 when he was fighting (so not a child soldier), he was not forced by anyone to fight, he joined Taliban on his own free will.
    Now bunch of fruit cakes from NDP wants him to come back to Canada – this hatefull murderer will walk free after one year.

    • This post probably should have been proofread the first time it appeared under the name 'Jonathan'. Second time around, it's just as bad!

      • Yuppers, I think the term '' left wing thug-hugging NDP." sort of gave it away….

      • It's cetainly a little heavy handed,but his sentiments ring true.

    • This is not a left-versus-right issue. The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that Khadr's treatment is in violation of his rights as a Canadian citizen. Anything he confessed to in Guantanamo will be inadmissible. He may very well have thrown that grenade (although this is disputed by eyewitnesses, who were not permitted to testify in Omar's "trial") but the case has been handled so incompetently and with such flagrant disregard for US and international law, that the entire process is tainted. Not only that, the process exists outside of any legitimate legal system. So in summary, there is no legally defensible case against Omar Khadr. Practically as soon as he is transferred to Canadian custody he will be freed and he will also be handed a stupidly large cash reward for his trouble. That's some mighty fine police work there, America

      So yeah, as I said, this has nothing to do with right-wing versus left-wing. You either support the rule of law or you don't.

      • By the way, two of the Supreme Court justices were appointed by Harper. The ruling was unanimous.

        • The Supreme court could be wrong. It was a military trial because the little dickens was a Soldier for Jihad caught on the battlefield not walking the streets of Toronto or New York

    • Looks like someone just copy-paste my previous post….

  19. Khadr is a person who was raised mostly in and near a foreign country by a father who involved him in its war when he was 15.____Khadr is the first minor charged with "war crmes" since WWII.____Khadr is the first and only person charged with the "war crime" of fighting the US military, in a foreign country where he resided. ____Khadr is a Canadian citizen who was illegally treated by a foreign country, as declared by the Canadian courts, with no complaint from Canada.____Khadr is the first person for which Canada decided to forget about the "child soldier" protocol.____Khadr is a person who should have been legally treated when he was 15. ____Nobody can imagine the effects Gtmo had. But he deserves a chance, subject to public safety issues which is clear in the diplomatic notes that were signed by US and Canda.

    • "Nobody can imagine the effects Gitmo had"
      That's completely right,nobody can imagine because there is no evidence just rumor and innuendo.
      Not taking responsibility and blaming your parents or the environment in which you came from for your crimes might make a great court case but every criminal ,serial killer,pedophile probably has the situation.Should we forgive their crimes too Dianna.

      • If a 15 year old committed the crimes you mentioned, he would a) know they were crimes and b) know they were wrong, no matter who his parents were. Most 15 year olds don't commit those crimes in any circumstance.

        Khadr "confessed" to charges that boil down to fighting the American military in a war in a foreign country of which he was a resident, while not being deemed by the US to be entitled to "prisoner of war" status under Geneva.

        Even if Khadr read the international laws of war before deciding not to surrender to the American military he wouldn't have found that "war crime" and nor would he have found it defined anywhere as "terrorism". Legal experts have been arguing about that for 8 years.

        It doesn't seem unreasonable that he thought his parents and the people he grew up around most of his life were right about the validity of the war cause. Most 15 year olds in that circumstance would.


    • Your capslock is on.

  21. It's unlikely that Omar's thinking can be changed. He has been brainwashed since childhood. His family is involved in terrorist activities. He has never condemned Bin Laden and fellow terrorists. Most Muslims do not want to embrace our way of living and they refuse to come into the Twenty First Century.

  22. Follow the tenets of the Koran in Pakistan or any other Islamic country and you may become a hero or heroine.
    Follow the Koranic teachings in North America and you will become a prisoner under our system.

  23. I know the Americans like to characterize Ahmed Said Khadr as an “Al Qaeda Financier”. But they like to claim a lot of things that just aren’t credible. In terms of public safety Macleans and other responsible elements of the Canadian media should not mindlessly repeat their narrative, without checking it out.

    What everyone seems to agree is that Khadr Senior and Osama bin Laden were acquainted, and were friendly, and that Khadr senior even brought his family to visit Osama’s compound once. Well, the community of foreigners in Afghanistan was relatively small, so it was hardly surprising they were acquainted. Given that Osama bin Laden seems to have been a jealous, petty, vengeful type, who had individuals he regarded as rivals assassinated, Khadr senior was probably well advised to maintain a friendly acquaintanceship with bin Laden.

    I have followed this case closely, and I have not seen any Canadian or US official offer a shred of proof
    that Khadr senior was ever anything more than the charity worker his family claims, prior to the US invasion.

    Over the last five years, as an exercise, I have read every page of transcripts from the Guantanamo captives annual status reviews. One conclusion I drew was that while the Americans seemed compelled to believe the captives were all playing a deep game, and they were all lying about being innocent shepherds, innocent aid workers, or relatively innocent drug smugglers or relatively innocent Taliban conscripts, most of them were telling the truth.

    Some of the captives were held because they worked for charities the Americans suspected “had ties” to al Qaeda. I think anyone who reads the transcripts for themselves is likely to conclude those individuals were telling the truth, that those charity workers were not associated with terrorism, just as they claimed, and that relations between bin Laden and their charities were icy.

    Why? Bin Laden was jealous of his donors, his sponsors. When we first learned of Bin Laden, and al Qaeda, he was represented as a rich guy, a millionaire, who paid al Qaeda’s expenses from his own pocket. But I think we now know he has rich sponsors, from Saudi Arabia, and the other oil-rich Gulf states. Bin Laden’s problem was that his donors were fickle. They donated to charities in Afghanistan too, charities that drilled wells, financed schools, irrigation canals. They also donated to finance rival training camps to his own, training camps that were not dedicated to training recruits to attack America.

    Any funds bin Laden’s donors sent to charities was not available to help fund al Qaeda. So bin Laden hated them. But he had no reason to be jealous of Khadr senior, whose modest charity was financed solely by modest donations from Canada. What was al Qaeda’s annual budget? Does the CIA know the size of al Qaeda’s annual budget? Was it tens of millions of dollars? It may have been. What was the annual budget of Khadr senior’s modest charity? I don’t know. Presumably Revenue Canada knows, because his Canadian donors all asked for charitable deductions on their tax returns. From my reading it sounds as if Khadr senior’s modest charity’s budget never topped $100,000 per year.

    I think all the evidence available to us confirms that Khadr senior did manage orphanages and schools in Afghanistan. I suspect that, since Khadr senior wasn’t competing for the same donors as bin Laden was, and his budget was a fraction of one percent of al Qaeda’s budget, and his charity’s activities were such that you would need a heart of stone to want to interfere with them, bin Laden simply left him alone.

    Because neither the Canadian or US government has ever offered a shred of substantiation for this “al Qaeda financier” notion I urge Macleans to treat it as just another sick fantasy from the same fantastists who claimed Saddam still had a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

  24. Michael Welner, the forensic psychologist the Prosecution hired interviewed Khadr for 8 hours, and, according to his testimony, spent 500-600 hours preparing his testimony. Translation. He is a whore, who spent 500-600 hours concocting a sick fantasy with Khadr’s Prosecutors. He has a long history of collecting half million dollar pay-days for his testimony in other high-profile cases. How much does 500-600 hours of his time for his testimony about Khadr?

    If I were an American citizen I would demand my money back.

    If I were a member of the American Psychologists Association I would demand he lose his professional credentials.

    Welner was caught out, lying on the stand. Welner did everything he could to demonize Khadr, basing his testimony on his 500-600 hours of coaching by the Prosecution, and his million dollar pay-day, not on his 8 hours of interviews. He testified, at Khadr’s sentencing hearing, that Khadr only read the Koran, and was uninterested in Western literature. However, when he was cross-examined Khadr’s lawyer asked him to consult his notes, which included a copy of all the books Khadr had checked out of the prison library. That list of books contained Nelson Mandela “Long Walk to Freedom”, and Barack Obama’s “Dreams from my father”.

    Anyone who bases their opinion that Khadr cannot be a good citizen on Welner’s testimony, or any of the US officials who have lied to cover their asses and justify the years of torture, should re-think their bad opinion.

    Welner also claimed Khadr had “spent eight years marinating in an atmosphere of jihadism”. Hello! The USA’s own laws and its International agreements required the DoD to hold him in a more humane facility for juveniles. It is extremely unjust now to suggest Khadr should spend extra years in custody now because the DoD chose to violate US law, the USA’s International agreements, and common decency by not holding him in a facility appropriate for juveniles.

    The DoD did run a more humane facility for juveniles in Guantanamo. The Afghan boys held there spent part of the day learning English, Math, Pashtun, which they all said they loved, when they were released, because they had been illiterate when sent to Guantanamo. When they weren’t having lessons they had periods of the day when they were allowed to watch videos or play video games on a big screen TV. Unlike all the other captives their exercise yard had a view of the ocean. Their guards played soccer with them. On special occasions they were escorted down to the beach and allowed to swim in the sea. They were allowed two showers a day, when other captives had a single shower per week. They had access to a fridge kept stocked with fresh fruit.

    This facility, designed for juveniles, has been described as no worse than a strict boarding school.

    So, why wasn’t Khadr kept there? One can only guess why he was forced to “marinate in an atmosphere of jihadism”.

    Khadr wasn’t alone. The DoD has been very deceitful as to how many juveniles were held in Guantanamo. In 2008 they told the UN that they had held 6 juveniles. But their own master list of all the captives, published on May 15, 2006 listed 22 juveniles.

    In fact only 3 of those 22 juveniles were ever held in the facility for juveniles.

    My theory is that they opened a humane facility for juveniles not because they were worried about the juveniles, but in order to prevent damaging the guards’ morale. One of the boys was only eleven or twelve years old. I think someone thought it would be bad for morale for the guards to see innocent children held under the harsh conditions that were routine in the rest of the camp.