TORONTO – The federal government’s file on Omar Khadr contains faulty information based on a memo prepared by a senior policy analyst for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, internal documents obtained by The Canadian Press suggest.
Among other things, the government alleges the late terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was an accomplice of a 15-year-old Khadr, and that the Canadian citizen killed two Afghan militia men.
The assertions are important given they will help inform decisions Canadian prison and parole authorities make on Khadr.
The claims, which form part of Toews’ decision allowing the Toronto-born Khadr, 26, to transfer from Guantanamo Bay to Canada last September, originated with a memo written in October 2011 as part of the transfer preparation.
The memo, by Liliane Keryluk, contains a series of statements reflecting Khadr’s 2010 deal with a U.S. military commission in which he pleaded guilty to five war crimes, among them throwing a hand grenade that killed an American special forces soldier in Afghanistan.
However Keryluk’s memo — reprised in Toews’ decision — goes even further than American military prosecutors. In particular, her memo asserts:
“Mr. Khadr engaged U.S. military and coalition personnel with small-arms fire, killing two members of the Afghan militia force. He threw and/or fired grenades at nearby coalition forces, resulting in numerous injuries to them.”
Although someone inside the compound where Khadr was staying shot the two Afghans, nowhere in his signed admission, which was drafted by military commission prosecutors, is there any suggestion he personally killed them.
While his confession does say American soldiers were hurt “as a result of Khadr and his conspirators’ actions in the firefight,” the only grenade prosecutors said he threw was the one that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer.
The memo also contains the assertion Khadr “conspired with Usama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, Sheikh Sayeed al Masri, Saif al Adel, Ahmed Said Khadr, who is Mr. Khadr’s father.”
It goes on to say the 15-year-old had “several known accomplices,” including bin Laden, al Zawahiri, and his father — which Toews also repeated in his decision.
While Khadr’s father was a bin Laden associate, and their families spent some holiday time together, American prosecutors never claimed the teen had direct operational contact with bin Laden or al Zawahiri, current leader of the al-Qaida terrorist organization, or that they were his accomplices.
“There is no evidence whatsoever to support these false allegations,” Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, said from Edmonton on Monday.
“Even the Canadian government is aware these accusations are baseless, as it had a representative from DFAIT present throughout the sham trial.”
Keryluk refused to discuss her memo, which was signed off on by senior department officials as it worked its way up the political chain.
A ministry spokeswoman would only say the information was “based on court documentation from the United States government” and was “consistent with the decision” Toews rendered on Khadr’s return to Canada.
The badly wounded Khadr, then 15, was the only survivor found in the rubble following a battle in which American forces dropped two 500-pound bombs on a compound in Afghanistan in July 2002. He was taken to Guantanamo Bay a few months later.
Under his guilty plea in 2010, he was given a further eight years behind bars and was transferred to Canadian custody last fall. He is currently a maximum-security inmate at the Millhaven Institution west of Kingston, Ont., and is already eligible for day parole.