By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 4/28/15 (Tue)
Does the name Omar Khadr ring a bell to anyone? How about Sgt. Christopher Speer?
Khadr was grated release on bail Friday after appealing his conviction to a Canadian judge.
Speer was the American medic who was killed in Afghanistan by a grenade thrown by Khadr.
A Canadian citizen, Khadr was a Guantanamo Bay prisoner for several years and released back to Canadian custody in 2012.
And much like today’s ISIS, Khadr, 15 years old at the time, and his older brother, was in Afghanistan to assist the al-Qaeda terrorism threat.
He got into a fire fight with some American troops, his brother was severely disabled and after Khadr threw the grenade, Speer was killed.
This has become a landmark legal battle for several reasons.
First, Khadr was 15 years old and too young to be a part of any military organization. He was a foreign fighter taking part in terroist activities. After capture he was taken to Gitmo and imprisoned as an adult when indeed he was a teenager. And finally, was he Canada’s problem, was he the United States’ problem or was he Afghanistan’s problem?
His defense argued that the U.S. military didn’t have enough evidence to prove he threw the grenade that killed Speer. Circumstantially, there was plenty of evidence and after spending 10 years in Gitmo, he was convicted in 2010, spent an additional two years in the prison in Cuba and was transferred to a Canadian prison to finish out his term.
Khadr pleaded guilty to killing Speer, among other things, but again, his defense argued that he was coerced into making a confession. In other words, the judge on Friday released him because as she put it, “a confession under torture isn’t admissible in this court and we don’t torture children.”
Unfortunately, this story gets more interesting because here we have a known terrorist walking around free in a major city (Edmonton) of an American war ally.
Khadr’s attorney Dennis Edney told the court that under Canadian law, Khadr is entitled to bail. In the United States, he has a meritorious case before the appeals court that will allow him to be freed on bail.
Edney told the court there’s every indication that Khadr presents no risk to Canada.
OK! But what about the United States? He’s going to be living in Edmonton, 170 miles from the Montana border. He’s a known terrorist who has already killed one American Soldier. Shortly after his capture, his mother and sister went on national television in Canada to support him and the terrorist movement in Afghanistan. His father was a senior member of al-Qaeda who was killed in Afghanistan.
According to court documents, Khadr is apparently going to remain in contact with his mother and sister who live in Toronto.
It gets better.
To prove how much Khadr has reformed, he will be living with Edney and his wife in a six-bedroom home in an affluent Edmonton neighborhood near a country club.
And after his release, King’s University in Edmonton has announced that Khadr, now 28, will be given a chance to study there while remanded to Edney’s custody.
“Releasing my client, will allow the world to see this individual out in the community. And to shatter the myth about Omar Khadr forever,” Edney said.
This guy must have gone to the same law school as Johnny Cochran. Khadr’s a terrorist. He’s part of a terrorist family. He plotted against the United States. He should never be released from prison nor should any kind of reduced sentence be negotiated.
If he’s going to live in Canada, he should remain in a Canadian prison where he belongs.
But he just might if the Canadian government, or the Crown, as it’s called, gets its wish.
Almost immediately after the announcement to grant bail to Khadr Friday morning, the Crown announced it will appeal the decision.
Crown attorneys said that Khadr waived any right to freedom when he confessed to plotting terrorist threats against the United States and confessed to killing Sgt. Speer.
Leading up to Friday’s precedent-setting announcement, the government hadn’t produced evidence from psychiatrists or Canadian Prison Security that Khadr is indeed a threat.
Maybe not now. But as time goes on, I get the feeling that he will be studying more than computer programming at King’s University.