Omar Khadr, Once Guantánamo’s Youngest Prisoner, Finally Out of Jail

The story of Omar Khadr is horrific, and a powerful illustration of how this so-called “War on Terror” has been conducted. His story has been long and drawn out, and out of sight of most of the world. This article provides an excellent overview. I quote:

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was once the youngest inmate held at Guantánamo Bay, was today let out on bail from a Canadian prison — walking free for the first time since he was captured by U.S. forces when he was 15 years old. A judge today ruled that Khadr should be released from a medium security prison near Edmonton, Alberta, while he appeals his conviction for throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier during a raid near Ayub Khel, Afghanistan in 2002.

Khadr, who spent nearly 10 years at Guantánamo, will live with his lawyer, Dennis Edney, and Edney’s wife. “I look forward to Omar Khadr letting the Canadian public see who he is,” Edney said outside the courtroom after the judge’s decision was rendered.

Who Khadr is has been a subject of intense political debate in Canada and abroad. The right-wing Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vociferously opposed Khadr’s release for years, characterizing him as a hardened and unrepentant terrorist guilty of war crimes. The Harper government fought until the last moment to prevent Khadr from leaving prison, even applying for an emergency stay of bail on the grounds that his release would harm relations with the United States, a charge the U.S. State Department publicly denied.

In the aftermath of the decision, which finally thwarted years of government attempts to keep Khadr behind bars, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney expressed disappointment with the ruling, lamenting the release of a “convicted terrorist.”

To many, however, Khadr is not a terrorist but a long-abused child soldier. Born in Canada in 1986, Khadr spent his childhood in the suburbs of Toronto before being taken by his now-deceased father, Al Qaeda financier Ahmed Khadr, to Afghanistan in the late-90s. Brought into the orbit of militant groups at a young age, Khadr’s life would take a further turn for the worse following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent U.S. invasion of the country.

End of quote.

I commend Omar’s story to you, as it is a powerful illustration of how the West has played the terrorism game. And for my Aussie friends, but for the fear-filled scampering by John Howard when he realised the ongoing imprisonment of David Hicks had swung from a political asset to a liability, Hicks’ story would likely look a lot like this one. They were both pawns in the game.

Here is Khadr’s press interview upon his release. Does he look like a terrorist to you? No wonder the Canadian PM wanted to keep him locked away. Such an innocent, disarming smile.

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