Omar Khadr Speaks: Major Profile of Former Guantánamo Prisoner in the Toronto Star

6.6.15

Omar Khadr with Dennis Edney on May 9, 2015 (Photo: Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star).For nine years, I’ve been following the story of Omar Khadr, the former child prisoner at Guantánamo, who was released on bail in Canada a month ago. I first wrote about Omar in my book The Guantánamo Files, which I wrote in 2006-07, and since then I’ve written 94 articles about him, watching as he was first put forward for a trial by military commission in June 2007, shortly after I started writing articles about Guantánamo on an almost daily basis, and writing a major profile of him in November 2007.

In 2008, I followed his pre-trial hearings in the military commissions (see here and here, for example), and watched in horror as videos of his profoundly insensitive interrogations by Canadian agents were released, and in October 2008 I wrote a detailed article about him based on the Bush administration’s refusal to recognize the rights of juvenile prisoners.

I then wrote about the Obama administration’s lamentable decision to charge Omar — again — in the revived military commissions, and watched as the pre-trial hearings unfolded, leading to one of the bleakest moments in the Obama presidency — the plea deal Omar agreed to, in order to leave Guantánamo, in which, to his eternal shame, President Obama allowed a former child to be prosecuted, in a war crimes trial, not for war crimes, but for having engaged in armed conflict with US soldiers during a war — something that has never been a war crime and never will be.

Omar’s plea deal — in which he confessed to throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier, even though this is severely in doubt — led to him receiving an eight-year sentence, with one more year to be served in Guantánamo, and the rest in Canada.

It took nearly two years for the heel-dragging Canadian government to bring Omar home, and the government then did all in their power to keep him locked away in a maximum-security prison, even though Omar had never been a difficult prisoner, and even though there were compelling reasons for refusing to accept the plea deal and the military commissions as legitimate.

Omar’s release — on bail, after a successful legal challenge — finally allowed people to see him as the sensitive, thoughtful young man he has become, which was apparent to those paying attention from as long ago as October 2010, when a Canadian professor, Arlette Zinck, who had been regularly communicating with him, made available some of their exchanges by letter.

Last week, the Toronto Star ran a major feature on Omar, written by Michelle Shephard, who wrote a book about him, Guantánamo’s Child, back in 2008. The article coincided with a documentary aired on CBC, “Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows,” and I’m cross-posting it below, as Michelle spent two days with Omar, at the home of his lawyer Dennis Edney and Dennis’s wife Pat, where he is living as part of his bail conditions, and her article helps to shed light on who Omar is, now that he is free.

Omar Khadr: In His Own Words
By Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star, May 27, 2015

EDMONTON – Omar Khadr is standing in his bedroom looking out at the backyard.

It is his second morning of freedom after nearly 13 years behind bars, and he’s embarrassed because he doesn’t know how to open the window.

“Oh there we go. Well that will come in handy,” he says as he’s shown where to lift the latch and fresh air fills the room. “It got hot yesterday. So that’s one of the basic skills I’m going to learn. Is how to open my window.”

Open a window. Open a bank account. Get a driver’s license. Get a library card. There are so many small skills to be learned by a man who has loomed large since he was shot and captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 – a man who has never been allowed to speak publicly.

For the first time since being granted bail earlier this month, Khadr spoke over two days in exclusive interviews for the Toronto Star and a documentary that [aired] Thursday on the CBC.

Until now Khadr has existed in caricature drawn and defined by others: victim, killer, child, detainee, political pawn, terrorist, pacifist; he has been compared both to South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela and serial murderer Paul Bernardo.

He has been prosecuted by the Bush and Obama administrations, interrogated by Canadian intelligence agents while the Liberals were in power, vilified by the Conservative government and defended as a child soldier by prominent figures such as retired Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire and peace activist Desmond Tutu.

When Khadr, now 28, briefly answered journalists’ questions after his release on May 7, he appeared calm and humble, was articulate, spoke with a slight Canadian accent and smiled constantly.

How?

Raised in what was once called “Canada’s First Family of Terrorism,” shuttled as a boy between Scarborough and Jalalabad, shot, captured, tortured and imprisoned. How did he walk away unscathed?

Khadr insists the serene persona is genuine. This is him.

“People are just going to think I’m fake,” he says. “You know, you go through a struggle, you go through a trauma, you’re going to be bitter, you’re going to hate some people, it’s just the normal thing to do and this guy not having these natural emotions is probably hiding something.”

During his first few days of freedom, he seems a little mystified at times by the choices he now has. Someone has dropped off cupcakes and he wonders aloud if he can eat one for breakfast.

He jokes often, apologizes if he keeps us waiting, even though he is uncomfortable in the spotlight. He repeatedly thanks Patricia Edney, wife of his longtime lawyer Dennis Edney, and accepts hugs from her and lessons in the kitchen.

Khadr is living with the Edneys while on bail. They’re a close couple and demonstrative with their two sons and two dogs; Khadr seems to be right at home.

Gone is the teenaged Khadr who often looked sullen and forlorn during his Guantanamo hearings years ago. He comes across confident, stubborn at times, although he says he often feels insecure and scares easily.

Khadr only reluctantly agreed to tell his side of the story. He would rather prove that he is not the man Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes him to be.

“I don’t wish people to love me. I don’t wish people to hate me. I just wish for people to give me a chance,” he says.

His greatest wish is one not likely to be granted — at least not any time soon.

“I wish that I could get out of prison and just be the next Joe on the street who nobody knows and who nobody gives a second look or thought to. That would be my ideal life.”

“It’s like it happened to someone else”

When Khadr talks about his past, he says he feels emotionally detached as he remembers the 2002 firefight in Afghanistan during which an American soldier was fatally wounded, the days of interrogations at the U.S. prison in Bagram, or his decade in Guantánamo, where he was once used as a human mop after he urinated on himself.

At Bagram, the U.S. military base in Afghanistan where many detainees were interrogated before their transfer to Guantánamo, little was off limits in the treatment of detainees, according to Damien Corsetti, an American military interrogator nicknamed the “Monster.”

“They told us everything we were doing was within the law,” Corsetti said in 2013 when he was interviewed in the southern U.S. town where he has lived since leaving the military.

Some of the “enhanced interrogations techniques” included forced nudity, leaving prisoners hanging by their shackled wrists and pouring water over their hooded faces, Corsetti said.

Meeting Khadr in Bagram was a turning point for Corsetti. He says he looked at Khadr and for the first time wondered if the war was just, when a child “gets wrapped up in something like this. It was through Omar’s injustice that definitely I started to see the errors of my ways.”

Khadr struggles when he talks about his treatment in Bagram; he would rather leave the past to the past.

“To a large degree it’s like it happened to someone else. It’s not a nice place. I wouldn’t wish it on the worst of my enemies,” he says.

He insists he is not bitter about what happened there — or later in Guantánamo.

“I believe that each person, each human being, is capable of doing great harms or great good,” Khadr says. “People who did these bad things are not any different than any one of us.

“Even for people who tortured. There are a lot of people who came back and regretted what they did, so as along as a person is alive there is still hope for him that he’s going to change.”

During the early years at Bagram, where he turned 16, and at Guantánamo, he was “all over the place emotionally and ideologically.”

“I was just a mess. I would be around a bunch of people, I would start acting like them and talking like them, just doing everything they were doing, and then they’d move me to a different (part of the prison) and I’d just adapt.”

But Khadr said he made a conscious decision to think on his own and was influenced not just by detainees, but also by some of the guards, his American lawyers, his Canadian legal team of Edney and Nathan Whitling, psychologists and eventually people like Arlette Zinck, an Edmonton professor who visited him in Guantánamo.

And he learned how to cope, learned how to control his emotions — the only part of his life he had the power to control.

“It would be nice to cry without having to think about crying. Just do your thing and don’t think about it. Don’t try to rationalize it or understand why it is. You know, if you feel it, just express it,” he says.

“I’ve been living in prison for 12 years or 13 years and I’ve been carrying myself in a particular way for that long and it’s going to take some — hopefully not too long — it’s going take some time to kind of ease up and let that guard down.”

Edney and Patricia are taking it slow, making sure Khadr feels part of their family.

On his first day of freedom, Patricia took him shopping. Khadr couldn’t believe the price of socks. The Apple store overwhelmed and excited him. While trying to find toiletries and a Mother’s Day card for Patricia he froze.

“I freaked out for a moment,” he admits. “I tried to buy something and I just freaked out because I don’t know how to deal with money and the prices and everything just seems so expensive.”

“I have memories but I don’t know if they’re mine”

Did Omar Khadr, when he was 15, throw the grenade that fatally wounded U.S. Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer in Afghanistan?

Forget for a moment the larger legal questions as to whether killing a soldier during a firefight is a war crime, or why Khadr is the only person to have been charged with this offence in modern history.

Forget that he was only 15.

To many, including Speer’s widow Tabitha, who has launched a $134-million dollar lawsuit against Khadr in the U.S., the question of who threw the grenade remains important.

In 2010, as part of a plea deal, Khadr told a Guantánamo jury he threw the grenade. When he returned to Canada, he recanted.

His short answer now: “I don’t know.”

We are sitting in the living room of the Edney’s home in an affluent Edmonton suburb. The dogs, Jasper and Molly, are in the backyard so as to not interfere with the interview.

Throughout the day, flowers are delivered, neighbours arrive with baked goods and there are supportive calls: strangers, a senator, lawyers and friends of the Edneys. Two police officers knock at the door: “Hello. I’m Jason, very nice to meet you. This is my partner Sarah. We just wanted to say welcome … we do hope to work with ya and we wish you all the most success that you can possibly have and that I hope things go well.”

To call his introduction to the neighbourhood warm would be an understatement.

Little surprise that Khadr would rather stay in the present, and reluctantly returns to the firefight on July 27, 2002.

For years, Khadr believed he had killed Speer. Then accounts emerged that challenged the Pentagon’s official version, evidence that there may have been two people alive inside the compound when the grenade that fatally wounded Speer was thrown, not just Khadr. Photos showed Khadr buried beneath rubble, which his attorneys say proves he could not have thrown the grenade.

Since Khadr signed a plea deal, the evidence was never challenged. Khadr says he only signed the deal because his lawyers advised it was his only way out of Guantánamo.

“I have memories but I don’t know if they’re mine, if they are accurate or not,” Khadr says. “I lost consciousness for over a week … Is my memory more accurate than a soldier that was actually there?”

Khadr was in the compound that day acting as a translator for three Arab men connected to the Taliban.

The owner of the compound had warned them that the Americans were coming and Khadr says he was ordered to guard a door.

“I was standing there and something just exploded beside me … I got tossed, I don’t know, two, three metres back, and I got up and that’s when I lost my left eye and my right eye was pretty badly damaged.”

He says his vision and memories were foggy after that but he recalls the men dragging him to another location and giving him a grenade and a gun.

As the U.S. Special Forces attacked the compound from the ground, Apache helicopters, A-10 Warthog fighter jets and F-18s pounded the site from the air.

Khadr said it got quiet and he started hearing American voices. “They were screaming, shouting and stuff, I got scared. I was thinking ‘What should I do?’ I didn’t know what to do, so I thought I’m just going to throw this grenade and maybe scare them away … It was the only thing I had and I didn’t know what to do so I lobbed the grenade behind me.”

The grenade exploded. More shooting. Khadr was hit in the back at least twice, holes the size of pop cans in his chest where the bullets exited. He was pulled from under the debris and dragged from the compound, treated by an American medic and taken to Bagram.

“(As) I became conscious in the hospital, a soldier would come and scream at me and tell me that I killed an American soldier and they would tie me up to the bed … they tried to make that as painful as possible.”

“For the longest time I thought that’s what happened; whether it did or not, I don’t know. I always hold to the hope that, you know, maybe my memories were not true.”

The Star tracked down and interviewed six of the U.S. Special Forces who were involved in the firefight and all confirmed that no one saw Khadr until after he was shot.

“Could the other one have thrown the grenade that killed Chris Speer?” asks one of Speer’s fellow soldiers, who agreed to appear on camera during a 2013 interview, but asked that his name not be used. “From my perspective, yeah, it could’ve been. Do I care? Not really because they’re both combatants at this point, they’re both willing to fight, and they’re both willing to kill.”

But it matters to Khadr.

“Of course it does, because on one side, I killed another person and on the other side, I didn’t. So it does make a huge difference.”

“I have a million other influences”

Khadr may have a new home now with the Edneys, but he is still a Khadr, a name that can elicit a fierce reaction.

Some blame his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who was a humanitarian worker with alliances to Al Qaeda’s elite, for sending his 15-year-old to fight his war.

Shortly after Pakistani forces killed Khadr’s father in 2003, comments by his sister Zaynab and mother Maha Elsamnah in a CBC documentary enraged Canadians. “You would like me to raise my child in Canada and by the time he’s 12 or 13 he’ll be on drugs or having some homosexual relation or this and that?” Elsamnah answered when asked about moving her Canadian children to Afghanistan.

Khadr’s bail conditions restrict his access to his family now — phone calls must be supervised and in-person visits approved by his bail officer.

“They have said things that was not very smart — that they shouldn’t have said. They’re very opinionated,” Khadr says of his family. “I think that they are good people. (But) they haven’t been able to deal with the past and the present. They’re really struggling. Some of my siblings have completely cut off their pasts and some of them are living in the past and not accepting the present.”

He doesn’t believe his father was Al Qaeda, despite his friendship with some of its members. And while the comments made by his mother and sister may have influenced his case, or the Canadian government’s reaction, he says he doesn’t blame them.

“I disagree with a lot of things that they said — and I know some of the things that they said might have affected me or affected the Canadians’ perception of me — but you know, we live in a free country and people are entitled to say whatever they want. I’ve been in Guantanamo for 10 years, and if there is any place where I was going to be brainwashed (it) was in Guantanamo,” says Khadr.

“I have a million other influences, so don’t think people should worry about my family. If anybody is going to be affected, I think they might be affected by me and not the other way around. I hope so, anyways.”

“You come and remind of what I don’t have”

There were only a few moments during the time we spent with Khadr when he grew tense or showed signs of his prison life.

He says he wasn’t worried when the police came to the door — yet he appeared to panic at first.

On the second night of his freedom, he began to fidget around 9:30 p.m. We were at an Italian restaurant not far from Edney’s home but Khadr was anxious about his 10 p.m. curfew and wanted to get back quickly.

His first bike ride was also a challenge. “I was telling Patricia it’s so weird for me to bike off any path — I don’t know if you guys noticed when I was turning left, she just drove over the grass and I had to wait until the actual pavement came and then I moved,” he said. “I’m so used to living in such a structured environment, you know you’re always on a path … you can’t deviate, you can’t take shortcuts or anything, it’s always very controlled.”

He said he sometimes still feels like a teenager.

“I want to kind of devote a few months for every year that I lost, just to experience these things so I can actually grow,” he says.

On our last afternoon, Edney and Khadr sat in the backyard with the dogs at their feet.

Edney does not call Khadr his son, but he and Patricia treat him like family and the banter is easygoing — jokes about how Khadr’s appetite will bankrupt them, the chores he will have to perform, the abundance of flower arrangements. A few days after we leave, they will take him to their vacation home in British Columbia.

Edney and Khadr’s lives have been intertwined for years, and now it seems that will continue for years to come.

Khadr says he had always been impressed with Edney and Whitling’s dedication to his case, but that Edney’s visits were some of his toughest times in Guantánamo.

“They were very good and they were very hard at the same time,” he says.

“Because, you know, I was in prison, I get adjusted to the life, I know what to expect, I know what’s going to happen and then you come in and kind of remind me what I don’t have.”

Now he says he feels lucky for what he has and even some days, for what he has been through.

“Things happen for a reason and sometimes you have to fall to be able to appreciate standing upright.”

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers). He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

21 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Sorry to be posting late, my friends. It was a big day, and I didn’t have time to get round to writing my introduction to this article until a few hours ago. This afternoon I was playing a local festival with my band The Four Fathers, and I then enjoyed the rest of a perfect day in the park, with great food, kids’ events, and loads more great music, while the weather smiled on us.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    MJ Tallon wrote:

    Glad to know you had a great day out, Andy. Thank you so much for this post, and for not ever forgetting Omar (and all the others as well).

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the supportive words, MJ!

  4. Anna says...

    Hi Andy, great that you enjoyed a well deserved rest in sunny spring weather to go with Omar’s own spring :-).

    For those who have no opportunity to watch Canadian TV, the same documentary is aired tonight (Sunday) at 20:00 hrs GMT on Al Jazeera English (can stream on your computer): http://www.aljazeera.com/watch_now/default.html. Trailer:
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/omar-khadr-don-people-love-150529072931660.html

    And if you miss it, I’m pretty sure it’ll be available on line later, as it is part of their documentary series ‘Witness’.
    I for one am looking forward to watching it tonight :-).

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Anna. Yes, it’s been a great weekend – the first really hot weekend of summer, and two great gigs for my band ‘The Four Fathers.’
    So yes, ‘Guantanamo’s Child’ is on ‘Witness’ here in the UK. Looking forward to seeing it soon:
    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2015/06/guantanamo-child-omar-khadr-150531111517474.html

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Thanks Andy for your work on Omar…

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, you know, Carol​, I became, in a way, the custodian of all the prisoners’ stories – whether they were men or boys – and some of them always a had a particular resonance. Omar was one, in part because he had lawyers who sought to publicise his plight, and in part because Omar’s own personality shone through. And of course it was always profoundly alarming that the US was, unapologetically, prepared to hold juveniles at Guantanamo. Have a look at my colleague Jenifer Fenton​’s article on the children of Guantanamo:
    “Underage ‘enemies’ of the US: Omar Khadr and the juveniles of Guantánamo”
    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/6/7/omar-khadr-juveniles-guantanamo.html

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote;

    Thanks Andy, thank goodness for your hard work to educate the public…yes Omar has a remarkable lawyer and that has made a great difference I’m sure.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Jenifer Fenton wrote:

    I second that!! Thanks for all your hard work ANDY!!!!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    And have a look at my article from 2011:
    ‘WikiLeaks and the 22 Children of Guantánamo’
    http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/06/11/wikileaks-and-the-22-children-of-guantanamo/

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks will certainly read Jennifer’s article and look forward to viewing documentary… Regarding UK prisoners I wonder how this ruling will affect others… seems grossly unfair to have a conviction overturned having spent years in prison but no compensation… ?
    http://www.itv.com/news/2015-06-08/freed-prisoners-lose-compensation-fight/

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Typical of the Tories to cut off a route to compensation for the wrongfully imprisoned, Carol. I wonder if it now goes to the Supreme Court – and then the European Court of Human Rights if there’s no good news from the Supreme Court – or if there’s no money available for further challenges. Certainly the Tories are committed to making sure that no one can challenge anything unless they’re independently wealthy.

  13. Anna says...

    For those in the US, where Al Jazeera-English video links are blocked: the documentary will be aired TONIGHT at 10:00 PM on Al Jazeera America.
    I suppose that if shown tonight, it will be repeated later too :-).

    It is an amazing – truly re-humanizing – tribute to Omar’s kindness, intelligence and wisdom. With in addition some old friends: Moazzam Begg, gen Xenakis (from Martha Davis’ film) and the amazing (even physically) metamorphosis of Col. Morris Davis. As you have met Dennis Edney, seeing him will be an additional joy for you :-).
    What a wonderful couple!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Anna.
    I see Moe Davis more or less every January and have watched as he’s adopted his new look. It suits him – and he has great southern observations that are very good and soundbite-y. And of course it’s also good to see Moazzam, Stephen Xenakis and Dennis – but it’s Omar’s show, of course. I’m wondering if I can somehow manage to get a trip to Canada organized at some point …

  15. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    I think his obvious sincerity has won over a considerable fraction of those who had previously taken the baseless attacks on his character at face value.

    I am sad to say I am afraid there are still die-hard critics. I engaged some of their preconception in the comments section of some newspaper articles — only to have them call me a “terrorist-lover”, or equivalent.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Yes, I’m sure many people have been won over. How could they not be? The government has persistently lied about who Omar is and what he did, and the reality very fundamentally undermines that narrative.
    That haters, sadly, are still numerous, and appear to be part of two unpleasant trends: firstly, of cowardly unpleasant people being vile online, when they would not do so publicly; and secondly, of a dangerous right-wing drift in most Western countries, encouraged by politicians and the media.
    In Omar’s case the haters seem primarily to be people who claim to delight in the fact that he was abused by his captors even though he was a juvenile, and who want to “send him back” to Egypt, where his father was from, even though he was born in Canada and is a Canadian citizen.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    By the way, Moazzam Begg’s new article about Omar is here:
    “Omar Khadr: The boy I witnessed becoming a man”
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/06/omar-khadr-boy-witnessed-man-guantanamo-150609101957610.html

    Excerpt:

    When Omar was brought to the cells next to me, it was clear that he was a young emaciated boy (he’d just turned 15) with shocking wounds all over his body. He was blind in one of his eyes and had deep exit wounds in his shoulder and chest. The stitching across the wounds reminded me of a corpse after autopsy.

    At night, soldiers would isolate Omar in the airlock and scream at him calling him a murderer, a terrorist scumbag who deserved to die. But Omar was tranquil and never complained.

    Walking, talking, congregational prayer or reading the Quran aloud was an infraction of the rules. To punish us we’d be isolated in the “sally port”, our heads hooded and our hands shackled to the top of the door for hours. This was hard enough for us able-bodied men but when it happened to Omar it broke our hearts.

    But again, Omar was tranquil and never complained despite his horrific wounds. In fact, when he recited the Quran in his soft, gentle voice he appeared more serene.

  18. Anna says...

    Well Andy, I’m sure you’ll relish this piece as much as I did. Not only because of what it says about Omar, but also about Harper’s political future. There’s nothing like small mercies : http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/05/harper-canada-government-security-150509063836292.html

    As for the die-hard critics (and sorry arcticredriver for having misspelled your alias recently), there is one that particularly puzzles me, not even because of morality or empathy, but sheer logic:
    Ms Speer demands that Omar pays her a humongous compensation for (according to her) killing her (special forces) husband in what would at any rate have been self-defense, during a battle initiated by those special forces.
    Logically, the families of each and every US soldier killed in Afghanistan could then claim this twisted ‘right’ from some poor Afghan who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when that soldier died.
    I’ve seen a lot of perverse GWOT reasoning, but nothing like this yet. Even the concept of ‘enemy combatant’ without any rights is beyond the point here.
    This claim suggests that the victims of an armed agression by a foreign country should pay damages to relatives of those of the military invaders who happen to get killed in the process. How can any court even seriously consider such an absurdity?!

    And besides the issue of Omar, I personally took offense at what is said in the film about two Afghans having approached the suspected compound first: the usual Afghan cannon fodder exploited to take the first hit. Not having by far the same body armour as the US soldiers, they were bound to die if attacked and were consciously sacrified. But no one paid their families millions in compensation …

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the victory in Alberta signifies a more significant defeat for the right-wing in Canada. The passages about Omar in the Al-Jazeera article are very good:

    The Harper government, which trots out Khadr as the very scary model of a terrorist, going so far as to bar media access to him, did everything it could to fight his release – as expected. It announced an appeal of the bail decision and then, when it seemed that the proceedings couldn’t be stopped, tried for a stay.

    But, on Thursday, Khadr won his freedom on strict conditions and emerged before a horde of reporters. Social media exploded with Canadians’ overwhelmingly favourable reactions to his charisma and humble demeanour, with many remarking on how Khadr’s appearance put the lie to the Harper government myth of the cut-throat, murderous terrorist, the political football they kick around as they play to their base in their terrorists-under-every-bed tactics.

    As for the compensation claims for soldiers killed in wartime, I agree it’s ridiculous, and would hope it can only be thrown out of court. It’s way past time that the nonsense that saw Omar put forward for a military commission trial at Guantanamo, and then have to accept a plea deal to get out of the prison, is thoroughly discredited.

  20. Sara says...

    Hi Andy,

    I somehow stumbled upon your website and I am ever so grateful I did. I truley appreciate the work you do and all your hard work, this world needs more people like you.

    My question is in regards to Omar Khadr do you have any idea how I can contact or be in touch with him? I have been following Omar’s case since he was first captured and sent to Gitmo , I feel a sincere connection with this young man and would like to show him my support so if you know a way to contact him please let me know.
    Thank you!

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Sara. I don’t have direct contact details for Omar, via Dennis and Pat, so it might be best to approach the campaigners who have worked specifically on his case for many years at the Free Omar Khadr Now campaign.
    See here for details: http://freeomar.ca/contact-us/

Leave a Reply

Back to the top

Back to home page

Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

Love and War by The Four Fathers

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Afghans in Guantanamo Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners CIA torture prisons Clive Stafford Smith Close Guantanamo David Cameron Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer Torture UK austerity UK protest US Congress US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo