Omar Khadr: A Journey To be Understood

Innocent or guilty; not yet truly known
Rahman Mohamed

Omar Khadr.  After spending time at Millhaven prison in Ontario, he was moved to a maximum security federal institution in Edmonton in May 2013.  While there he’s been studying – Shakespeare and Grade 11 algebra.  Not only that, but he’s an honour student, scoring 87 on a social exam.  The Edmonton Journal (2014) reported that Will Van Arragon, history professor at King’s University College, said Khadr was “particularly interested” in Alberta’s Grade 11 curriculum, which includes nationalism, international affairs, two World Wars and the United Nations”.  While in Guantanamo he was being educated from Canada by mail by Arlette Zinck, another professor at King’s.  According to the Winnipeg Free Press she says “I believe in restorative justice … There is no other kind.

He’s filing a $20 million lawsuit against the Canadian government for violation of Charter rights, the ruling expected this year, 2014.  On December 13, 2013 CTV posted an article from Colin Perkel of the Canadian Press reporting that Omar Khadr pled guilty because he was “left with a hopeless choice.

Why was he left with a hopeless choice?

On November 1, 2010 CBC reported then Canadian Foreign Minister, Canon Lawrence said:

Canada will “implement” a plea deal between the U.S. government and Omar Khadr to allow the convicted war criminal to return to Canada after serving one year at Guantanamo Bay

At that time he was 24 and had been sentenced to 40 years of prison for war crimes.

Why?

According to Maclean’s (2010), in 2001, before the strike on the World Trade Centre, Omar’s father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was added to the UN’s Most Wanted List.

A year later Omar was captured in Afghanistan and accused of pulling the pin and throwing the grenade that killed American Sgt. Speer.  He lost one eye during the capture but there were no witnesses that saw him throw the grenade.  It was then reported that he confessed to this crime.  But in 2003, when he was 16, was visited by CSIS and under video tape said that he was “tortured” into confessing that he threw the grenade.

In 2004 he was visited by Canadian Foreign Affairs officials while in Guantanamo.

For 5 years he sat in Guantanamo as a Prisoner of War awaiting his rights of a Prisoner of War to be met.

His trial was set to begin on February 2, 2009, but on February 1 the New York Times reported that President Obama had called a halt to all prosecutions against detainees at Guantanamo Bay

to permit the newly inaugurated president and his administration time to review the military commission process, generally, and the cases currently pending before the military commissions, specifically.

These trials had already been ruled illegal in 2006 by the United States Supreme Court

On Saturday, September 29, 2012 Khadr left Guantanamo and began his journey home even though Canada was going to “implement” a plea deal with America in 2010; this was to see him serve one year in America and then return home.  At that time he was facing 40 years for Prison of War crimes.

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