GITMO: Murder Charges for Khadr

GITMO: Murder Charges for Khadr

Posted By Greg McNeal On April 24, 2007 @ 4:56 pm In Law Blog, Counterterrorism | 3 Comments

Murder, attempted murder, material support, conspiracy and spying [1] charges were [2] officially referred today against Omar Khadr. Khadr is a Guantanamo detainee captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan at the age of fifteen. Colonel Morris Davis, Chief Prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions recently told me that Khadr is no boy, but a burly full bearded man who could start for a Division 1 football team. Apparently Khadr has taken full advantage of the workout facilities in Guantanamo, and looks nothing like the dated photos circulating in the media. Those photos show a boy who looks even younger than the one captured after his murderous acts. Once the hearings begin in the coming weeks we will likely see better sketch artist images of Khadr, and hear more about his background, association with and dedication to the al Qaeda cause.

Despite likely efforts to paint Khadr as a misguided boy, don’t expect a repeat of the successful strategy pursued by Hicks and his attorneys. There is [3] little political support in Canada for Khadr or his family, and Khadr himself has openly rejected the “court of the infidels” and is unlikely to enter a plea–unless his attorneys can somehow change his mind.

Khadr comes from a dedicated al Qaeda family, with a family tradition of terrorism. Abdurahman Khadr, Omar’s brother boldly stated [4] “I admit it that we are an al-Qaeda family. We had connections to al-Qaeda.” and later revealed that he had been [5] “raised to become a suicide bomber.”

Khadr’s father Ahmad was killed in a targeted missile strike in Pakistan. Prior to his death, Ahmad Khadr was a long time member of al Qaeda and rose to the highest levels of the al Qaeda terrorist network. Ahmad Khadr contributed to al Qaeda in the form of financial support and personnel assistance to further the organization’s international terrorism objectives. In particular, he encouraged his sons to join al Qaed and to carry out its work. Omar Khadr heeded his father’s call.

So what is it that the government believes young Omar, son of a senior al Qaeda member and Osama bin Laden associate did? Well, after moving from Canada to Pakistan, Khadr and his family made yearly trips to the bin Laden compound in Jalalabad Afghanistan, meeting with bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, and other senior leaders. Khadr, not only met with senior leadership, he also attended various training camps learning the tradecraft of an international terrorist. He was trained to use rocket propelled grenades, rifles, pistols, hand grenades and explosives.

He put his skills to use converting land mines to IED’s, planting IED’s along U.S. military routes of travel, and conducting surveillance against U.S. forces in preparation for future attacks. Khadr concluded his al Qaeda tour of duty in a firefight on July 27, 2002, where he threw a grenade killing [6] Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer of the 3rd Special Forces Group and partially blinding Sergeant First Class Layne Morris. In the firefight Khadr was shot four times by U.S. forces who then stepped over the bodies of their comrades to save his life.  He was detained, provided medical treatment and sent to Guantanamo.

Clearly these are serious allegations against Omar Khadr.  There’s substantial publicly available evidence to support the charges against him.  Hopefully coverage of his upcoming military commission will balance arguments about the military commission process with clear descriptions about what Khadr is alleged to have done, who he is and who his family is.

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URLs in this post:
[1] charges : http://www.defenselink.mil/news/commissionsKhadr.html
[2] officially referred today: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/04/24/khadr-charges.html
[3] little political support in Canada : http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/khadr/family/canada.html
[4] “I admit it that we are an al-Qaeda family. We had connections to al-Qaeda.”: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPrint.asp?Page=\Commentary\archive\200403\COM20040316a.html
[5] “raised to become a suicide bomber.”: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3534195.stm
[6] Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer : http://www.groups.sfahq.com/3rd/speer_kia.htm