Omar Khadr

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Omar Khadr born September 16, 1987, is a Canadian who was captured, in Afghanistan, on July 27, 2002. He was 15 years old when arrested for charges including throwing a grenade[1] He has been held in the [ Guantanamo Bay detention camp, since October 2002, was tried in the first group of military tribunals whose results were overturned by Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in July 2006, and retried by the new tribunals authorized by the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Colby Vokey was his lead counsel from 2005 to 2007.

He is the only Westerner, arrested on terror-related charges, who has not been repatriated from Canada. The Canadian Harper government has been reluctant to take him back, but the Supreme Court of Canada set a hearing for November 13. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, said the case needed to go to the Supreme Court due to the severity of the charges.[2]

Life in Canada

Khadr, like his five siblings, was born in Canada.[3] Khadr's parents were Canadian citizens.

During most of the time Khadr, his mother, and siblings, were living in Canada, his father Ahmed Khadr, was living in and working in Afghanistan. Up until 1995 Khadr's father was the field director for a charity, Human Concern International. Khadr's fathers responsibilities for HCI were to supervise the distribution of humanitarian aid. In 1992 Khadr's father was wounded by a land-mine, and spent a year back in Canada recovering his health.

Khadr's father's ties to al-Qaeda

In 1995 Khadr's father was arrested by Pakistani security forces, who said they had evidence that Khadr had been involved in a terrorist incident. Khadr's father was released when the Canadian Prime Minister personally requested the release of an aid worker rounded up through an unfortunate mistaken identity.

It is now widely accepted that the Pakistani security officials were correct, and that Khadr's father was already involved in al-Qaeda. It is now widely believed that Khadr's father was already diverting funds collected by the Canadian charity for humanitarian to support al-Qaeda's activities.

HCI, the charity Khadr's father had been working for, cut their ties with him following his arrest by Pakistani security officials. But he was able to found a charity of his own.

Life in bin Laden's compound

Khadr's father moved his family to Afghanistan at this time, where they lived in Osama bin Laden's compound, and played with bin Laden's children.[4] Khadr's father has been described as one of bin Laden's senior lieutenants.

Omar's older brother Abdurahman Khadr describes being sent to military training camps shortly after his arrival, when he was eleven years old. All of the Khadr boys are believed to have military training when they were children.

Capture

On July 27, 2002, fourteen year old Khadr was in a compound that was surrounded by US special forces. According to the US version of events, the Americans called on those in the compound to surrender. When they refused a firefight ensued. Sergeant Layne Morris was injured early in the skirmish. The Americans called in a bombardment.

Sergeant Christopher J. Speer, was mortally wounded in this skirmish. Sergeant Speer had been trained in a medic. He has been reported to have provided some Afghani children with first aid a few days prior to the skirmish. But, on July 27th Sergeant Speer was leading the squad tasked to comb the ruins for weapons, and evidence of terrorist activity. They believed that all the occupants were dead. Sergant Speer was not serving as a medic that day. Nor had young Khadr pretended to surrender.

According to the US account Khadr threw a grenade, which mortally wounded Sergeant Speer, and was promptly shot by Sergeant Speer's comrades, taking two rounds to the chest. And some point during the skirmish Khadr was blinded in one eye.

Accusations against Khadr

A video-tape was found in the ruins showing Khadr planting mines. The Americans say that, under interrogation, Khadr confessed to entering a US occupied section of Afghanistan, for the purposes of surveillance.

Incarceration at Guantanamo Bay

Khadr was treated as an adult. Khadr has been reported to have been kept in solitary confinement, for long periods of time; to have been denied adequate medical treatment; to have been subjected to "short shackling", and left bound, in an uncomfortable "stress positions" until he soiled himself. In a press conference on January 16, 2005, Khadr's lawyers described how Khadr's captors took Khadr's still bound body and wiped his hair and clothes in his urine and feces.

The Speer/Morris lawsuit

Tabitha Speer, Sergeant Speer's widow, and Sergeant Layne Morris, launched a civil suit against Khadr's father's estate. They argue that Khadr, as a child, was not responsible for his actions -- his parents were. They argue that since Khadr's parents should have kept him from picking up a gun on the battlefield, they were responsible for any wounds he inflicted. Normally, under US law, one can't sue for damages that were caused by "acts of war". Speer and Morris argue that Khadr was engaged in an act of terrorism, not an act of war. They have described the law-suit as an attempt to attack terrorism in its bank account.

2005 Charges

The actual charges Khadr faced were:[5] On November 5th, 2005, shortly after he turned eighteen, Khadr was one of five men to face charges before the Presidentially authorized Guantanamo military commissions.

The charges Khadr faced were:

Charge 1:Conspiracy

Omar Ahmed Khadr did, in and around Afghanistan, from on Template:Sic or about June 2002 to on Template:Sic or about 27 July 2002, willfully and knowingly join an enterprise of persons who shared a common criminal purpose and conspired and agreed with Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, Sheikh Sayeed al Masri, Muhammad Atef (a/k/a Abu Hafs al Masri), Saif al adel, Ahmad Sa'id Khadr (a/k/a Abu Al-Rahman Al-Kanadi), and various other members of the al-Qaeda organization, known and unknown, to commit the following offenses triable by military commission: attacking civilians; attacking civilian objects; murder by an unprivileged belligerent; destruction of property by an unprivileged belligerent; destruction of property by an unprivileged belligerent; and terrorism.

In furtherance of this enterprise and conspiracy, Khadr and other members of al-Qaeda committed the following overt acts:

  • On or about June 2002, Khadr received approximately one month of one-on-one, private al-Qaeda basic training from an al-Qaeda member named "Abu Haddi." This training was arranged by Omar Khadr's father, Ahmad Sa'id Khadr, and consisted of training in the use of rocket propelled grenades, rifles, pistols, hand grenades and explosives.
  • On or about June 2002, Khadr conducted surveillance and reconnaissance against the U.S. military. Khadr went to an airport near Khost, Afghanistan, and watched U.S. convoys in support of future attacks against the U.S. military.
  • On or about July 2002, Khadr received one month of land mine training.
  • On or about July 2002, Khadr joined a group of al-Qaeda operatives and converted land mines to improvised explosive devices in the ground Template:Sic where, based on previous surveillance, U.S. troops were expected to be traveling.
  • On or about July 27, 200, Khadr and other al-Qaeda members engaged U.S military personnel when military members surrounded their compound. During the firefight, Khadr threw a grenade, killing Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer. In addition to the death of SFC Speer, two Afghan Militia Force members who were accompanying U.S. Forces were shot and killed and several U.S. service members were wounded.

Charge 2: Murder by an unprivileged belligerent

Omar Ahmed Khadr did, in Afghanistan, on or about July 27, 2002, murder Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, U.S. Army, while in the context of and associated with armed conflict and without enjoying combatant immunity, by throwing a hand grenade that caused Sergeant First Class Speer's death.

Charge 3: Attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent

Omar Ahmed Khadr did, in Afghanistan, between, on, or about June 1, 2002 and July 27, 2002, attempt to murder divers persons, while in the context of and associated with armed conflict and without enjoying combatant immunity, by converting land mines to improvised explosive devices and planting said improvised explosive devices in the ground where, based on previous surveillance, U.S. troops were expected to be traveling.

Charge 4: Aiding the enemy

Omar Ahmed Khadr did, in Afghanistan, on divers occasions between on or about June 1, 2002 and July 27, 2002, while in the context of associated with armed conflict, intentionally aid the enemy, to wit: al-Qaeda.

Khadr's tribunal

Brownback was scheduled to make his ruling as to whether Khadr was an enemy combatant in December of 2007. Thirty-six hours prior to the hearing Khadr's Prosecution informed Khadr's Defense of the existence of "potentially exculpatory testimony". The Prosecution had been aware of the existence of this potentially exculpatory testimony since Khadr's capture. Brownback postponed making his ruling on Khadr's combatant status, to give Khadr a chance to respond.

The statement of witness "OC-1"

On February 6th, 2008, prior to Khadr's next hearing, documents released by the Office wof Military Commissions were not redacted, as planned. After the hearing officials from the Office of Military Commissions would not let reporters leave. They tried to insist that all the reporters give back their unredacted copies of the accidentally released statement. Reporters refused. A 90-minute stand-off ensued. Military officials warned that any reporter who did not give back their document would be barred from Guantanamo. In the end reporters were allowed to keep the document -- provided they agreed not to reveal OC-1's identity, and certain other details from his statement.

The release of this statement stirred world-wide controversy, because it contradicted the Prosecution's and the Bush Presidency's official line, that it was known that Khadr had thrown the grenade that mortally wounded Sergeant Christopher Speer.

In all previous accounts it had been asserted that all the US personnel present had been positive that no one could have survived the aerial bombardment that had destroyed the compound where Khadr and a handful of comrades had refused to surrender.

According to OC-1's testimony the grenade was fired after a survivor fired his rifle after GIs started searching the ruins. OC-1 referred to it as "directed rifle fire". OC-1 testified that he saw a grenade lobbed over a wall. OC-1 testified that he charged across the throat of "an alley" where he believed the rifle fire and grenade had come from, firing as he passed.

OC-1 testified that when he returned to the alley, after the dust started to clear, he saw a man who was still alive, lying near an AK-47. He testified he shot this man in the head, killing him. He testified that when more dust cleared he saw a second figure, sitting, propped against "a bush", facing away from him. OC-1 testified he then shot this sitting figure twice, in the back.

The second figure was Khadr, who according to OC-1's testimony, was not the sole survivor. In contrast to all earlier accounts, none of Americans actually saw Khadr throw the grenade. Commander William Keubler, Khadr's military lawyer, suggested that shooting Khadr in the back may have violated OC-1's rules of engagement.

CDR Lawrence Morris, the prosecutor, stated that while OC-1's testimony was new to the press, Khadr's Defense had been well aware of it, having had it given to them on at least three occasions, suggesting that this was not the "potentially exculpatory evidence" that had been released to the Defense in December.

References

  1. OARDEC (May 15, 2006). List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved on 2007-09-29.
  2. Huguette Young (11 September 2009), "Omar Khadr: Now What?", Americas Quarterly
  3. The Good Son, originally published in the National Post, December 28, 2002
  4. Son of al-Qaeda, Frontline (PBS)
  5. U.S.A. v. Omar Ahmed Khadr. US Department of Defense (November 5, 2005). Retrieved on February 7, 2007.