Breaking news: Omar Khadr out of Gitmo and into Millhaven Penitentiary

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Crescent International

Dhu al-Qa'dah 12, 1433 2012-09-29

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Khadr was 15 when captured in Afghanistan. Under the Child Soldiers’ Protection convention, he should have been treated as a child soldier and provided help to rehabilitate. Instead, the Americans branded him an enemy combatant and tortured him for more than 10 years.

Toronto

September 29, 2012, 11:40 EST

The travesty of justice perpetrated against Canadian-born Omar Khadr ended partially when he returned to Canada from Guantanamo Bay where he was held for a decade. Early in the day, the CBC had reported that Khadr was on his way to Canada after being put on a military plane in the early hours of Saturday morning at Guantanamo Bay. The CBC quoted reporter Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald for its source saying she had been notified by the military.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews confirmed that the military plane carrying Khadr had landed at Canadian Forces Base Trenton before he was transferred to the Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ontario. He will serve the remainder of his sentence there.

Khadr was captured in Ayubkhel village in eastern Afghanistan following a firefight between US Special Forces and Taliban fighters on July 27, 2002. Khadr was shot by American soldiers twice in the back, the bullets piercing his body that narrowly missed his heart.

When the dust settled following the firefight, America soldier Christopher Speer was dead and Khadr was found, face down and covered in mud, with two gaping holes in his body. An enraged American soldier wanted to kill him but a paramedic at the scene prevented him from doing so.

The initial field report compiled at the scene said another fighter had shot and killed Speer before being shot but later this was altered to accuse Khadr of the killing by throwing a grenade. Shrapnel fragments recovered from Speer’s body were from an American-made grenade rather than a Russian one that the Taliban were using. Thus, the most likely cause of Speer’s death was shrapnel from American grenades that were being tossed around in the confusion surrounding the fighting.

Facts, however, were not allowed to intrude into satiating American rage and lust for revenge. The badly wounded Khadr was moved to Bagram airbase north of Kabul and his torture started almost immediately. In October 2002, he was transported in a military plane, hands and feet bound and blindfolded while his wounds were still raw, to Guantanamo Bay. He was chained to the floor in a painful position unable to move for the 20-hour flight.

At Gitmo, as the Cuban island illegally occupied by the US is known, Khadr’s torture began almost immediately. He was branded a high value al-Qaeda asset and dubbed an al-Qaeda child. He spent years in solitary confinement enduring horrible torture.

The badly wounded Khadr was moved to Bagram airbase north of Kabul and his torture started almost immediately.

In October 2010, as part of a plea deal that his lawyers forced on Khadr, he agreed to accept responsibility for Speer’s killing. In return, he would receive an eight-year sentence with no credit for time already served, of which only one would be served in solitary confinement in Gitmo and the remainder in Canada.

The Canadian government signed on to the deal before Khadr accepted the plea deal but for nearly an additional year now, Ottawa has been dragging its feet. Even the Americans are annoyed at Canadian government behavior that has aroused deep concern within the legal profession as well as the general public.

Canadian government ministers have raised petty arguments against Khadr’s return, trying to delay it as much as possible. Once in Canada, he will be eligible to apply for parole in a year’s time.

Khadr was 15 when captured in Afghanistan. Under the Child Soldiers’ Protection convention, he should have been treated as a child soldier and provided help to rehabilitate. Instead, the Americans branded him an enemy combatant and tortured him for more than 10 years.

Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire, a retired general, among many others has taken up Khadr’s cause and has been campaigning for his release. When told of Khadr’s return in the early morning, he was reported in the CBC report: “I am very satisfied, even if [the repatriation] is done in the dead of night and on a weekend to avoid media attention.”

END

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