One Military Veteran’s Honest Opinion of Omar Khadr
ANGLO AMERICA, 17 Jul 2017
10 Jul 2017 – As a ten-plus year veteran of the Canadian Forces, and more specifically, the Royal Canadian Air Force, I have some rather strong opinions when it comes to Mr. Omar Khadr.
I would like to begin by stating that I could not disagree more with the opinion of Omar Khadr seemingly shared by the majority of Canadians. Actually, that statement does not reflect the great disappointment and disgust I feel over the blind, senseless hatred, and complete lack of compassion displayed by many of my countrymen in reaction to this man’s horrific story.
As is all-too-often the case, these hate-fuelled sentiments exploit Canadian patriotism, by essentially disguising their biased rhetoric by wrapping it up in the o
Canadian flag. Well-meaning Canadians see a picture of a smiling Muslim male, framed with the words “Terrorist Murderer Awarded 10.5 Million by Trudeau’s Liberal Government”, and end-up assuming anything that terrible must be true, and must be shared.
Objectivity be damned! Fact-checking is for those who have nothing better to do!
As if that weren’t enough, the manipulation continues through the blatant exploitation of the proud history of the Canadian Forces, and finally Canada’s military veterans, as well as all members who are currently serving in our armed forces.
In no way do my opinions on this matter speak for the entirety of the CF or, I’m certain, for the majority of it’s members. A military has but one need which towers in importance above all others. No, I’m not talking about the need for new technologies, equipment, or more personnel. The need I’m referring to roots right back to the very reason the Canadian Forces exist.
Without them, eighty-eight thousand of Canadian, and two million American citizens would either be unemployed, or forced to make a go of it in the civilian world. In today’s world, with it’s modern comforts and conveniences, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the members of western militaries on point, and of a mindset which is even tolerant to the suggestion of armed conflict, let alone being hungry for a situation as uncomfortable, undesirable and inconvenient as full-scale war tends to be.
Therefore, Canada’s military cautiously walks the fine line found between the perpetration of outdated racist stereotype, and open-arm acceptance of members sourced from every sector of our nation’s multicultural mosaic. This fragile framework maintains itself, due to the manner in which the majority of Canadians, actually view themselves as Canadians, complete with a strong sense of patriotism for their adopted home.
Not as a Jamaican, Indian, or Russian living in Canada, but as a Canadian.
This makes stirring the pot of aggression, and planting the seeds of conflict much easier, than it would be with multiple ideologies, opinions, and systems of beliefs and values. While I won’t go as far as to claim that racism within the Canadian Forces is rampant, I will say that racism certainly exists, and is a tool sometimes used to not-so-gently remind members of the Canadian Forces exactly who the “bad guys” are.
The inhuman treatment which Omar Khadr was forced to endure over the nine years he spent in Guantanamo Bay, was wrong when viewed from a strictly legal standpoint.
However, the fact that Khadr was a child soldier, only fifteen years-old at the time of that horrific firefight in Afghanistan… A firefight in which he sustained injuries so catastrophic, an American Officer nearly instructed a private under his command to answer Khadr’s request to be killed, only to be stopped by American Delta Force soldiers who ordered he be kept alive.
Khadr had been shot twice in the back, leaving two large exit wounds. One was in his chest, and another in his shoulder. He had also been blinded in his left eye by shrapnel from a grenade he, himself may have thrown.
Many call Omar Khadr a “terrorist”. While I readily admit he had direct ties to Al-Qaeda, and had even met with Osama Bin Laden, he was still only a child. He had been brought into that realm by his father, who had brainwashed him in anti-Americanism from a very young age. Omar Khadr was not an evil, blood-thirsty terrorist. Omar Khadr was a fifteen year-old boy who’s biggest crime was worshipping the very ground on which his beloved father walked. Guilty of nothing more than wanting to impress the man who, when hospitalized for a full year, a then nine-year-old Omar spent every night sleeping on the floor beside his father’s hospital bed until his release.
It might sound extreme to us, but at it’s very core, this was a twisted form of father-son bonding. In no way should Omar Khadr be held responsible for any wrongdoing. He only behaved the way most children would.
Since when are acts of war, which are clearly in-theatre, defined as acts of terrorism? Perhaps it was viewed that way, due to the fact they enemy were not members of a traditional armed forces, but in my opinion, this firefight was unquestionably an act of war, and should not be viewed as an act of terrorism.
Both the UN, and international law absolutely prohibit the prosecution of child soldiers. They are victims, exploited by adults they respect and trust. Manipulated into fighting battles which they are far too young to understand. They are no different than juveniles who commit a crime here in Canada, and should never be forced to spend their crucial formative years incarcerated in prisons intended for adults.
It’s completely unacceptable.
Despite UN policies, and international law strictly prohibiting the criminal prosecution, and incarceration of child soldiers, the government of the United States illegally incarcerated this teenager in their most notorious prison, and proceeded to illegally torture him for information… For nearly ten years.
As Khadr was a Canadian citizen, the Government of Canada had the power to pressure the American government into handing Khadr over to Canadian authorities. Unfortunately for Khadr, the Government of Canada had no interest in his plight, or in his repatriation. Worse yet, the CSIS Agent who sporadically visited Khadr, “to check on his condition, and well-being” was, in reality, acting only in the capacity of a spy,in order to gather information on Khadr. Information which was subsequently handed directly to the US prosecuting officer to further increase the likelihood of the illegal prosecution, and subsequent illegal incarceration of Omar Khadr.
In 2007, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal ordered the Canadian government to turn over its records related to Khadr’s time in captivity, as judge Richard Mosley stated it was apparent that Canada had violated international law.
On May 23, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the government had acted illegally, contravening Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ordering the videotapes of the interrogation released.
In April 2009, the Federal Court of Canada ruled again that Khadr’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated. It concluded that Canada had a “duty to protect” Khadr and ordered the Canadian government to request that the U.S. return him to Canada as soon as possible.
In August 2009, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the decision in a 2–1 ruling.
Finally, in January 2010, in a unanimous 9–0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the participation of Canadian officials in Khadr’s interrogations at Guantanamo clearly violated his rights under the Charter. In its sharply worded decision, the Supreme Court referred to the denial of Khadr’s legal rights as well as to the use of sleep deprivation techniques to soften him up for interrogation:
“The deprivation of [Khadr’s] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”
The following is the United Nation’s reaction to the attempted illegal prosecution, and failed trials of Omar Khadr:
“The recruitment and use of children in hostilities is a war crime, and those who are responsible – the adult recruiters – should be prosecuted. The children involved are victims, acting under coercion.”
Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Education Fund, or UNICEF, and former U.S. National Security Adviser, expressed opposition in 2010 to the plan to prosecute Khadr by a tribunal. He said,
“Anyone prosecuted for offences they allegedly committed as a child should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards providing special protections. Omar Khadr should not be prosecuted by a tribunal that is neither equipped nor required to provide these protections and meet these standards.”
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative for children and armed conflict, wrote in a 2010 statement that the proposed trial violated international legal norms and “may endanger the status of child soldiers all over the world.”
“Since World War II, no child has been prosecuted for a war crime,” Coomaraswamy said in a statement distributed by the U.N. on the eve of Khadr’s trial at Guantánamo. She also said that Khadr represented the “classic child soldier narrative: recruited by unscrupulous groups to undertake actions at the bidding of adults to fight battles they barely understand,” and called for him to be released into a rehabilitation program.
Failed attempt, after failed attempt, the American government was unable to successfully prosecute Khadr, and with some assistance from then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Omar Khadr was moved to a Canadian maximum security prison.
During Khadr’s nine years in Guantanamo Bay, he endured such acts of torture as:
- The “Fear Up” technique. This technique is described by the judge as “a technique used as an attempt to raise the fear level of a detainee.” In Khadr’s case it included telling him that a detainee who “lied to interrogators” was raped in the showers by “big, black guys”.
- The “love of freedom” and “Pride/Ego Down” techniques which, according to Judge Parrish are “attempts to gather information through appealing to a person’s desire to go home or implying that he was not really an important person..”
- The “Fear of Incarceration” technique, which the judge said was “an attempt to gain cooperation in order to return to a normal life rather than be detained.”
Khadr states that he was refused pain medication for his wounds, that he had his hands tied above a door frame for hours, had cold water thrown on him, had a bag placed over his head and was threatened with military dogs, was flatuated upon, and forced to carry 5-gallon pails of water to aggravate his shoulder wound. Not allowed to use a washroom, he was forced to urinate on himself.
Khadr was often singled out for extensive labour by American soldiers who “made him work like a horse”, referring to him as “Buckshot” and calling him a murderer. They even falsely claimed that he had thrown a grenade at a passing convoy delivering medical supplies.
Khadr recalls being kicked for trying to stretch his arms while shackled and fitted with surgical masks, painted-over goggles and unnecessary hearing protection, which was used for sensory deprivation.
For most of 2003, Khadr had a cell next to the British detainee Ruhal Ahmed; the two often discussed their favourite Hollywood films, including Braveheart, Die Hard and Harry Potter. Ahmed later recalled that while after some interrogations Khadr returned to his cell smiling and discussing what movies he had been shown, other times he returned crying and would huddle in the corner with his blanket over his head.
In the early spring of 2003, Khadr was told “Your life is in my hands” by a military interrogator, who spat on him, tore out some of his hair and threatened to send him to a country that would torture him more thoroughly, making specific reference to an Egyptian Askri raqm tisa (“Soldier Number Nine”) who enjoyed raping prisoners. The interrogation ended with Khadr being told he would spend the rest of his life in Guantanamo. A few weeks later, an interrogator giving his name as Izmarai spoke to Khadr in Pashto, threatening to send him to a “new prison” at Bagram Airbase where “they like small boys”.
In all, Khadr has been reported to have been kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time; to have been denied adequate medical treatment; to have been subjected to short shackling, and left bound, in uncomfortable stress positions until he soiled himself. Khadr’s lawyers allege that his interrogators “dragged [him] back and forth in a mixture of his urine and pine oil” and did not provide a change of clothes for two days in March 2003. At the end of March 2003, Omar was upgraded to “Level Four” security, and transferred to solitary confinement in a windowless and empty cell for the month of April.
Do you still think the Canadian Government handled the Omar Khadr situation in a prudent and responsible manner when they allowed him to languish for ten years under American torture in Guantanamo Bay?
In order to do so indicates that you clearly have contempt for this nation, and especially it’s laws, and values. (or at least what used to represent Canadian values)
While I agree that it is extremely unfortunate Sergeant Christopher Speer, an American soldier, and two American sympathizing Afghan militants lost their lives during the intense firefight involving Khadr, it should be noted that the deceased likely had no illusions concerning the potential consequences surrounding their ochosen occupations, and the deadly potential of the events which were unfolding during the early stages of the firefight. They were well-trained, and well-aware of precisely what they were laying on the line, and everything they stood to lose. The soldiers fully accepted the potential outcome, whatever it would prove to be. They died in valour, and their sacrifice has been fully recognized. All personnel injured or killed during the firefight were awarded a Purple Heart for their brave efforts in the heat of battle. .
I feel the filing of wrongful death civil suits by the family of the deceased against an individual who was a coerced, brainwashed child at the time of the event, only serve to taint, and cheapen the tremendous efforts, sacrifices, and memories of these exceptionally heroic individuals. Personally, I would never have wanted anything of that sort to occur, had my life ended in the tragic manner which befell Sergeant Chris Speer that day.
I am also of the opinion that these uninformed, misguided postings concerning Omar Khadr do nothing more than amplify the spread of misinformation, blind, baseless hatred, and ensure the cultural divide which is greatly responsible for the very existence of terrorism itself, and our futile war against the groups who commit these horrific acts of violence, continues to widen more every single day,
It’s time that all of us wake up, and take notice of the seemingly endless list of war crimes, and other injustices regularly committed by the militaries of western nations, and our many allies across the world.
I’m not a terrorist sympathizer. One of the major driving factors in my decision to join the RCAF, were the terror attacks of 9/11, and the feeling that I needed to do something to help try and prevent a repeat occurrence of the unspeakable horror which was experienced by people the world over, on that fateful day. I have intense contempt for anyone who slays and injures innocent people, to simply prove a point, or promote an ideology. However, I am not about to blindly wave the flag, and proclaim that Canada is a perfect nation either… I refuse to participate in any act so firmly entrenched in lies and hypocrisy.
I hope that no one who will read this, is naive to the fact that our nation is corrupt, due to the endless corruption of the individuals we elect as it’s leaders. Throughout history, Canadian Governments have committed a number of truly evil deeds… Many of those deeds were even committed against our own people. However, we are a guppy in the pool of evil deeds, when compared to the Great White Shark of evil deeds, the United States of America.
I must resist the urge to delve into our ally’s truly evil history because if I didn’t, I would likely never finish writing this. Especially with their current new-scandal-every-hour administration. I am bewildered any time I read about Canadians who are so absolutely deluded by their hatred, that they view the Trump administration as a positive for the US. Some even speak at length about the many great things he has done, and goals he has achieved…
I’m sorry, but I can’t even force myself to be so stupid.
We must begin to do everything possible to prevent our government from mobilizing our military every time the Americans tell them to. Chasing those warmongers down every last rabbit-hole, has gotten many of our honourable soldiers slain, while hurting our reputation in the international community. Nowhere is this more true than in the Middle East.
We must stop the cycle of endless war.
Are you a Canadian who has stood proud for what it truly means to be a Canadian?
Or, like so many others, have you crossed-over, taking the much easier route of racist finger-pointing, and in the blaming of an entire race, because of an extremely vocal, and extremely violent small subsection of that race?
If you identify with the cowards I described in the latter group, I pity you.
I pity you, because you have lost the joy which comes from simply being Canadian. For without possessing an uncommon level of tolerance, acceptance, and understanding, you are, in essence, nothing more than a hate-filled, war-loving, racist, hell-bent on revenge.
Or, in other words… An American.
Canada used to be a wondrous nation, where people of any race were welcome. A nation where if they worked hard, they could make a better life and more secure future for themselves, and for their family.
To those of us who stand in resistance to the rampant spread of hate which has twisted the attitudes and opinions of so many Canadians, that it now threatens our very way of life… Canada still is a wondrous nation. A nation which knows that it’s rich history of multiculturalism is not a weakness, but actually our greatest strength.
Remember folks… Unless you identify as a member of our Aboriginal First Nations, then just like myself and the vast majority of Canadians, you have immigrant blood coursing through your veins.
So I ask you this…
Who the hell are you to deny anyone their dream of a better life in this country?
The Information Age has provided everyone the ability to dig much deeper into any story in which we desire to have a greater understanding, and knowledge. I’m not sure how many Canadians used proper due diligence before they posted uninformed bullshit, like what I’ve seen posted all over facebook, and other social media outlets.
The deluded, self-righteous culture responsible for the creation, and dissemination of this type of hate-fuelled, racist, and misguided propaganda, are nothing short of hate-peddlers. …The misinformation they spread is contributing to a much larger problem, both here in Canada, and around the world.
Omar Khadr no longer prescribes to the ideologies of Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, what remains of his family still cling to their anti-American, anti-western views. He is committed to trying to change their way of thinking, and is hopeful that his fellow Canadians take the time to learn his true story, in hopes that the truth may cause a shift in the Canadian court of public opinion, as it applies to him.
If this was Canada in 1995, I would have no doubt that Canadians would have shifted their negative opinion of Omar Khadr, and began to acknowledge him as being the child soldier, and victim of terrorism he truly is. However, this is the much less understanding, much more racially-intolerant Canada of 2017. Instead of researching the truth, many eagerly accept any theory, as long as it fits their rigidly framed system of right and wrong, and conveniently panders to their deluded and twisted idea which states that all things Canadian are inherently, and by their very design, free from evil.
This extremely dangerous way of thinking must cease, if Canadians hope to stand any chance of avoiding being pulled under by the nuclear-powered vortex of hate, delusion, and lies which has all but consumed what we used to know as the United States.
The saddest part of the western world’s shift away from tolerance, acceptance, and understanding, is what it indicates…
The terrorists are winning.
Remember when Canadians used to resist the natural instinct to fear or hate people simply because they were of a different race? Sure, there were always the uninformed, ignorant racists, but the general culture was one of acceptance, and overall harmony.
I’m sure you’ve heard the statement,
“…when people change their everyday habits, opinions, or way of thinking, this is when the terrorists win.”
The solution to this monumental problem begins with Western society addressing the endless ways our culture has changed over the past sixteen years.
The terrorists haven’t changed. We have.
So many Canadians have permitted the unacceptable acts of a small minority to dictate their view of an entire race of people.
Unfortunately, this is our problem to fix. Our favourite band-aid solution has proven to have the same effect as throwing gasoline on a bonfire.
The time for war is over. It turns out revenge is every bit as evil as the act which is being avenged.
Tolerance, acceptance, understanding and truth now represent the only path back to the world we knew before 9/11… It seems however, that time, and humanity’s sense of innocence were lost forever on that fateful morning.
The best we can really hope for is a future which is brighter the world we know today.
If you agree with the views I have presented in this post, please share with as many people as possible. I intentionally ignored the 10.5 million dollar payout Omar Khadr received from the Government of Canada, as a result of a civil suit.
Khadr’s detractors are politicizing the payout, and using it as a distraction to allow them to spread their biased propaganda, by using the large amount of taxpayer funds paid to Khadr as another weapon to further turn the tide of public opinion against him.
The substantial role which the Government of Canada played in facilitating, and greatly extending his illegal incarceration in Guantanamo Bay, and the sub-human treatment he received over the nearly nine years he was kept at the facility.
Omar Khadr is not a terrorist. He was a loyal son who’s father leveraged the intense love and admiration his son had for him to manipulate that same son into fighting in a war he was too young to fully understand. He now displays great deal of remorse to those who have been forever effected by his actions.
Omar Khadr already had to endure nearly ten years of illegal torture and abuse at the hands of American soldiers. All he wants is to lead a normal life, from his home in Edmonton, Alberta.
I will undoubtedly lose numerous friends for voicing my opinion on this sensitive topic, especially those I gained during my time in the military, but I believe so strongly in this cause, I feel the good that could potentially come from this, outweighs the negative aspects I could potentially experience.
If you feel Omar Khadr has already suffered enough, and deserves to finally have some true peace of mind here in the nation he calls home, please show your support by helping spread the truth about the unacceptable injustices Omar Khadr has faced throughout basically his entire life.
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