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Held Illegally 12 Years by US in Guantanamo, Child Soldier, 15, wins $8.1 Million

Canada apologizes for not aiding its captive citizen

What's not in dispute is that Khadr, whose father, Ahmed Said Khadr had brought his young son along with him at the age of 14 from Canada to help the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, had been killed in battle, leaving his young son alone in the company of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. At one point, the boy was in a housing compound identified by US troops as under Taliban control. The US special forces called in an air strike, and then entered the destroyed site to do a damage assessment. As they picked through the rubble — by one account executing some of the wounded fighters they found — Khadr, himself gravely wounded, was said to have tossed a grenade at them, killing US Sgt. Christopher Speer and blinding Layne Morris, another soldier accompanying Speer.

Had an American soldier done the same thing under the same circumstances and survived, he would surely have been awarded a major medal of some kind for heroism. Khadr, however, was charged with murder.

During Khadr’s long ordeal at Guantanamo, where he was initially held in the prison camp’s facility for children, known as Camp Iguana, saw him grow through his teen years into adulthood, until he was finally, in 2012, transferred to a prison in Canada, and later, on orders of a Canadian court, released to home confinement in 2015. Along the way, he was subjected to abusive questioning and torture by several Canadian intelligence officers sent down by the Canadian government.

Part of Khadr’s problem was that the ruling Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed no interest in helping its young citizen, despite the US government’s clearly being in violation of the Geneva Convention in holding him as a war criminal. Indeed Harper in 2010 called Khadr a “terrorist,” even as the country’s Federal Court at the time declared that his interrogation by Canadian intelligence officials at Guantanamo “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

The current Canadian government headed by Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said of the settlement of his case, “On behalf of the government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm. We hope that this expression, and the negotiated settlement, will assist him in his efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in his life.”

Trudeau personally said that the Khadr settlement was not about the details of Khadr's case but the fact his rights were violated. He said Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms (similar to the US Bill of Rights) protects all Canadians, "even when it is uncomfortable," and added, "When the government violates any Canadian's Charter rights, we all end up paying for it."

Powerful words that it is hard to remember the last time we have heard a US president utter, sad to say -- and Trudeau is taking a lot of heat for them, and for his government's decision to apologize to Khadr, from Canadian's conservative media and political opposition.

While the current Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer termed the settlement “disgusting,” the current Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, said Khadr’s story carried two messages: “Our rights are not subject to the whims of the government of the day, and there are serious costs when the government violates the rights of its citizens.”



story | by Dr. Radut