Murder, attempted murder, material support, conspiracy and spying are the charges against Omar Khadr who recently faced a military commission which heard challenges to its jurisdiction. I’ve previously blogged in detail about those charges here. As I’ve previously noted, Khadr comes from a dedicated al Qaeda family, with a family tradition of terrorism. Abdurahman Khadr, Omar’s brother boldly stated “I admit it that we are an al-Qaeda family. We had connections to al-Qaeda.” and later revealed that he had been “raised to become a suicide bomber.”
Khadr’s father Ahmad was killed in a targeted missile strike(others say in a shootout) 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, commanding a region of Logar per the direct orders of Osama Bin Laden. 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. The recently released “Book of 120 Martyrs” an al Qaeda recruiting tool states that Khadr married a Palestinian who “shared with him his march to jihad, and Allah granted them several sons who shared this long, tiresome march with him.” Omar Khadr heeded his father’s call.
Omar 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 is alleged to have 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.
In fact recently released footage shows Khadr making and emplacing an IED.
Also, footage from Iraq, gives us an idea of the other type of al Qaeda training which Khadr was likely to have gone through (Hat tip to BlackFive). That training shows children learning kidnapping and assasination, the type of conduct for which we wouldn’t hesitate to try a minor as an adult for in a domestic court.
Of course as readers know, Khadr concluded his al Qaeda tour of duty in a firefight on July 27, 2002, where he threw a grenade killing 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.
Khadr’s attorney’s make the argument that he was entitled to kill Sergeant Speer because Speer was a lawful target, and Khadr’s actions were not a war crime at the time he commited them. Furthemore, Defense lawyers and a UN representative have argued that if the U.S. tries Khadr, it will be a violation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, points which Colonel Davis, the former Chief Prosecutor took issue with in the comments here. Davis states:
1) The issue the protocol and lists of countries stating opposition to the recruitment of child soldiers does not speak to their conduct, it speaks to bans on recruitment.
2) Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child places limits on punishment, not prosecution.
3) The U.N. sanctioned Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Statue in Article 7 allowed for jurisdiction over persons 15 years of age.