Omar Khadr has been sent from Guantanamo to Canada, after returning from the jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khadr is slated to stay in custody for the time being. It is difficult to think of a more mythologized figure in the post-9/11 war on terror. For the worldwide left, Khadr has become a symbol of all that is supposedly wrong with America’s fight against the al Qaeda terror network. He is now, in many minds, a victim. For one Canadian magazine, Omar Khadr is even a Christ-like figure.
But let us briefly review the facts about Omar Khadr.
Khadr killed Sergeant First Class (SFC) Christopher Speer. Khadr’s advocates said this wasn’t true because Khadr was incapacitated during al Qaeda’s firefight with American troops. But they were wrong. Khadr ultimately admitted that he killed SFC Speer.
While Khadr killed one American medic, his life was saved by others. Khadr would not be alive today if U.S. medics had not saved him from extensive wounds.
Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) considered Khadr a “high intelligence value” detainee because he provided “valuable information” about al Qaeda and the Taliban. Khadr’s father was a top al Qaeda figure. Khadr knew his father’s associates well, and spilled the beans on them.
Khadr served as a translator and a minion to a top al Qaeda operative in Afghanistan.
A videotape recovered in Afghanistan showed Khadr assembling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for al Qaeda.
Omar Khadr was not tortured. Khadr’s lawyers made up all sorts of allegations about how their client was treated, and these allegations were widely and reflexively repeated. They claimed, to choose just one example, that he was “used by military police as a human mop to wipe his own urine and pine oil off the floor of an interrogations chamber.” This never happened. It was a lie. As military judge Patrick J. Parrish found: “There is no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured…even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused’s age.”
Omar Khadr was not abused during a routine weigh-in session at Guantanamo. Khadr and his lawyers claimed that he was roughed up while being weighed. Unfortunately for the defense, the session was recorded. “The videotape of the accused being weighed…clearly shows the accused was not abused or mistreated in any way by any of the guards,” Judge Parrish found.
Khadr did have one unfortunate run-in with a military interrogator in Afghanistan, but this can hardly be construed as “torture.” That interrogator said a nasty thing to Khadr – recounting a fictitious story about a young Afghan who was sent to prison and gang-raped. But this had no effect. Judge Parrish found “there is no evidence such a story coerced or in any way caused the accused to make any incriminating statements at any time.”
Finally, Omar Khadr was not a “child soldier,” as he has been widely labeled. He worked for al Qaeda – a global terrorist organization. He was a teenager when his life was saved by American medics after an extended firefight. Teenagers are tried as adults in North America regularly. And Khadr clearly did not think of himself as a child when fighting American forces. According to the stipulation of fact agreed upon by both parties during Khadr’s military trial, Khadr refused to flee the firefight even after American soldiers asked for all women and children to evacuate the premises.
Khadr decided to stay and fight that day in Afghanistan. SFC Speer paid the price for Khadr’s choice with his life.
Khadr lives, as do the many falsehoods his advocates have spread in his defense. Judging by the way ex-Gitmo detainees have been received in the UK and elsewhere, Khadr will find there is a large market for his fiction.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.