First published in the National Post on October 31, 2014.
Omar Khadr is gearing up for his forthcoming return to free society. His red carpet to cultural exoneration already has been laid by the NDP, the Toronto Star editorial board and Amnesty International. And now Khadr — whether by his own quill or that of a savvy legal and PR team — is trying to whitewash his history and present himself as an activist, rather than a convicted killer eager to apologize for his crimes and reintegrate into Canadian society.
In the wake of two terror-inspired attacks that claimed the lives of two Canadian soldiers last week, Khadr has taken to the op-ed page of the Ottawa Citizen to call out Canada’s allegedly “misguided” security laws, by which he claims to have been victimized.
In his op-ed, published Wednesday, Khadr had little — nothing, in fact — to say about his own actions in a Taliban-controlled Afghan village that led to his arrest, detainment at Guantanamo Bay, interrogations, and eventually his transfer to Canadian custody, where he is serving the remainder of his eight-year sentence at Alberta’s Bowden Institution, the product of a 2010 plea deal with U.S. officials before his military court trial.
The 2002 firefight in which Khadr (by his own admission) killed U.S. army medic Sgt. Christopher Speer with a hand grenade took place less than a year and a half after the wedding of Osama bin Laden’s son, which was attended by Khadr and his family. That was only 10 months the 9/11 terror attacks, for which Khadr’s father, Ahmed, a high-ranking al Qaeda member until his death in 2003, was a primary suspect.
“I was mired in a nightmare of injustice, insidiously linked to national security,” Khadr writes. “I have not yet escaped from that nightmare.”
Khadr sees himself as the victim. Not once does he acknowledge the gravity of the 9/11 attacks — preferring only to comment on “Canada’s post-Sept. 11 security practices” — nor does he ever mention Sgt. Speer. Also conspicuously absent is an apology, or any veiled sense of remorse whatsoever. Falling in line with the reputation created by so-called social justice activists, Khadr sees himself as the wronged party.
“I was apprehended by U.S. forces during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. I was only 15 years old at the time, propelled into the middle of armed conflict I did not understand or want,” he says.
Even to a 15-year-old, the destructive power of a grenade is rather clear
If this conflict was so unwanted, they why has he not condemned it? Why has his leading champion, his sister Zaynab, not deleted her rather concerning Facebook homage to Osama bin Laden, whom she calls “the great martyr”?
More importantly, why has Omar Khadr not distanced himself ideologically from the actions that he took, which his apologists see as excusable on account of his youth at the time. At 28, has he still not learned the difference between right and wrong?
I’ve made many mistakes in my own life. But even to a 15-year-old, the destructive power of a grenade is rather clear.
Khadr has claimed that he should be treated as child soldiers around the world are, and afforded the appropriate protections. Take responsibility for your own actions first, Omar.