A two-page assessment of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr is among the newly leaked WikiLeaks files. Khadr, of course, killed American serviceman Christopher Speer during a shootout in Afghanistan. His many advocates have turned him into something of a false martyr, however, claiming that Khadr is the real victim of American wrongdoing. This narrative was always false, and the newly leaked assessment, dated January 24, 2004, provides more details about the Khadr family and Omar’s time in detention that undermine it.
It has long been known that Omar’s deceased father, Ahmed, was an Osama bin Laden loyalist and a long-time al Qaeda operative. U.S. analysts concluded that he was very important within al Qaeda, describing him as a “senior al Qaeda financier” and “fourth in command underneath” Osama bin Laden.
Gitmo officials described Omar Khadr as “intelligent and educated,” writing that he “excelled at his training in Afghanistan, which included small arms, explosives training, IEDs, mines, mine laying, and configuring IEDs for remote detonation using hand held devices.” A videotape recovered in Afghanistan shows Omar building and planting some of these IEDs.
Khadr “admits to having participated in several mining operations and harassing attacks against U.S. Forces, in addition to throwing the grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.” But Khadr “has never expressed any genuine remorse for the killing of that soldier.” It came out during Khadr’s military commission that he had not expressed any “genuine remorse” for killing Christopher Speer in the years since this estimate had been written either.
Then there is a new piece of information that has not received any press attention. Omar Khadr was determined to be of “high intelligence value.” His connections to senior al Qaeda terrorists, including his father, gave him insights into how al Qaeda and the Taliban operate. The file reads:
[Omar Khadr] continues to provide valuable information on his father's associates and on non-governmental organizations that he worked with in supporting Al-Qaida, as well as other major facilitators of interest to the US. Detainee has also provided valuable information on the Derunta, Al-Farouq and Khalden training camps, indicating that the detainee has been to and likely trained at these locations; and he continues to provide valuable information on key Al-Qaida and Taliban members.
Khadr’s many advocates have argued that he was tortured while in U.S. custody. There is no evidence that this is true.A military judge threw out the allegations because they were based on nothing. The valuable intelligence gleaned from Khadr’s interrogations was not the result of abusive measures either. Indeed, the 2004 file notes that Khadr “has been generally cooperative and forthcoming.”
Over time, however, Khadr grew “increasingly hostile towards his interrogators and the guard force and he remains committed to extremist Islamic values.”
This, then, is the Guantanamo detainee who has inspired numerous protests (both real protests and in the form of hand-wringing op-eds) against the U.S. military. Omar Khadr killed an American soldier, never expressed any real remorse over it, and cooperated with U.S. officials in giving up “high value” intelligence on al Qaeda and the Taliban. Ever indication suggests that he remains a committed believer in al Qaeda’s ideology.
Gitmo analysts also concluded that Khadr would pose a “high risk” to the U.S. should he be released.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.