Omar Khadr and the Petition to Bring a Killer Home
Canadian Liberal Senator and Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire has often done his country proud. His service in Rwanda during the genocide there, with very sparse resources at his command, and UN leadership undercutting his every move, was an inspiring example of Canadian heroism. That he came back so psychologically wounded is a stark reminder of the risks even our Generals take when they depart for the field of duty.
But Dallaire isn’t always right. For example, there is the matter of Omar Khadr. Dallaire recently started a petition demanding that Canada repatriate Khadr immediately. It gained 11,000 signatures in a single day, which might seem like an impressive number until weighed against the more than half of Canadians who absolutely do not want Khadr returned. In a country of nearly 35 million people, that makes for more than 17 and a half million Canadians who want Khadr to stay right where he is.
But the petition gives a clear opportunity to examine the reasoning at work in those who support Khadr. Often, the most entertaining thing about left-wing petitions are the comments attached to them. Seeing as how these people attach these comments quite openly, it seems fair to assume they’re comfortable with them being publicly discussed. So here goes.
The first is from Wendy Land of Winnipeg, Manitoba:
“The Harper government's treatment of Omar Khadr embarrasses and enrages me. It reflects the ideology of a small minority of Canadians and has stained our international reputation. Mr Harper, Mr Toews, if you have any real commitment to the human rights values of the vast majority of Canadians you surely will act to BRING OMAR HOME NOW.”
This central claim of the comment, as it turns out, is false. An Abacus Data poll from May of this year found that 53% of those polled opposed Khadr’s return to Canada. They all felt that Khadr is a security threat. Only 13% of those polled supported Khadr’s return. So only a small minority want Khadr in Canada. Wendy Land is one of them.
The next is from Moira Jubrinville on Toronto, ON:
“Child soldiers are already abused, they need help not more pain. For shame Mr Harper - and you claim to be a Christian. Jesus would have run you out of the temple right along with the moneylenders!”
First off, under the definition used by the United Nations, Omar Khadr was not a child soldier. The UN defines child soldiers as youths under 15 years of age who participate in military campaigns under the laws and customs of war. Khadr was 15 at the time when he killed Sgt Speer and did not conduct himself under the laws and customs of war. Ergo, not a child soldier.
Remarkably, under the Islamic beliefs shared by his family, Khadr was considered an adult the day he turned 15 years of age. Not that Islamic law should, by any means, set the bar for international law, but it stands as food for thought.
Tammy Brulegih of Brantford, ON writes:
“You promised, and he deserves to be home! He was following orders, doing what he was told like any child would! Children make mistakes and learn, and he's been punished enough for that mistake.”
The work of Dr Michael Wellner – a forensic psychologist by trade – had already put to lie the myth that Khadr was merely following orders when he killed Sgt Speer. After all, when he threw the grenade that killed him – the medic who, remarkably, was actually on his way to help any survivors – Khadr was the last insurgent left alive. No one was alive who could claim credit for any order to kill Speer. No such order was given.
Khadr killed Speer fully of his own volition. He himself has admitted as much. He was, and remains, a full believer in the Islamofascist ideology that directed his actions. And while it’s entirely fair to question the ability of teenagers to make political decisions (there’s a reason we don’t allow 17 year-olds to vote), the fact remains that he is now an adult, and he still holds those beliefs today.
Reginald Povey of Surrey, BC makes comments that seem to suggest he expects Khadr to be turned loose as soon as he arrives back in Canada:
“Omar Khadr is a Canadian and entitled to the protection of the Canadian government which in this respect has dismally failed him so far. Child soldiers are protected by international conventions which the USA has ignored. The trial and sentence were illegal. The Canadian government should keep to its word, no matter how reluctantly given,and retore Omar to Canada.”
The United States was well within its rights to try Khadr for murder. After all, we try teenagers for murder in Canada. Khadr can be granted none of the protections extended to regular soldiers under the Geneva Convention because, as we have already seen, he was not a soldier. He was, at best, a not-so-common criminal.
Capreol, Ontario resident Carmen Bechamp seems to feel that deals with monsters justify further deals with monsters:
“If the canadian government can make a deal with a monster like Karla Homolka, and fulfill their promise, they should certainly fulfill their promise to Omar Khadr. How can the world continue to trust a government that does not keep its very well published promises??”
The deal with Karla Homolka never should have been made. Few intelligent Canadians would dispute that. And neither should they have made a deal with Omar Khadr.
Sue Stroud of Brentwood Bay, BC seems to be one of the very few Canadians nurturing delusions that Khadr is innocent:
“Omar Khadr deserves to come home. There is no reliable evidence against him, just the most cruel injustice anyone could imagine. Why are we waiting? THIS is why I don't trust my government.”
In Stroud’s imagination, it seems, the grenade that killed Sgt Speer must have simply thrown itself. That must be it. The videos of Khadr assembling bombs simply don’t exist, and neither do his confessions of guilt. She basically falls into the furthest fringe of the “poor little Omar” crowd.
Kim Delay of Wallaceburg, ON implores:
“Canada, give this boy back his life. You promised! The people of Canada are in big trouble when the Canadian government lies and continues the abuse of an already abused child. Let Omar go!!!”
Delay seems to have forgotten – or perhaps has never understood – that Khadr’s life was one of fighting the forces of our allies in Afghanistan, and if he’d never been apprehended would almost certainly have been fighting Canadian forces for the last ten years.
Brigitte Tan of Saskatoon, SK simply wants to shame us:
“it is shameful and cruel how we have treated Omar....it makes me feel ashamed to be Canadian...
where is our compassion?”
Canada has already shown Khadr far more compassion than he showed Sgt Speer. ‘Nuff said.
Elizabeth Hill of Toronto, ON operates under the fiction that Khadr was tortured:
I have followed the case closely for a number of years. I believe Omar Khadr has been abused by the US and is now being let down by Canada after being assured that he can return. He is a Canadian citizen; he was in a war zone and may or may not have killed a US soldier. Even if he did, a soldier in a foreign land is hardly an innocent casualty, quite apart from the fact that Omar was a child at the time and seriously wounded himself.
BRING HIM HOME”
This is as close as the comments get to a full thesis, and there’s some much wrong with it that it’s hard to know where to begin. First off, it’s true that Sgt. Speer was a foreigner in Afghanistan. So was Khadr. He had no more right to kill on that basis than anyone else. Secondly, the Taliban is not even the “home team” in Afghanistan, so to speak. Originating in Pakistan, the Taliban is actually a foreign oppressor in Afghanistan.
Last, but not least, the International Red Cross examined Khadr time and time again, and found no evidence of torture. Khadr comically described the efforts to have him weighed as torture.
Quite the contrary: Khadr was treated to arthroscopic surgery to relieve discomfort in his knees. Contrary to being abused, Khadr’s treatment at Guantanamo Bay was quite exemplary. Facts that don’t seem to matter to the pro-Khadr crowd.
These facts all make the assertion of Brampton, ON’s Bill Saplamaeff all the more comical:
“The US should treat their prisoners the same way they would want their own soldiers treated if they were captured by the other side, regardless of whether the other side are terrorists or not.”
The treatment of Khadr by his jailers at Guantanamo Bay was exemplary. The best a captured American soldier – or a captured Canadian soldier – could have hoped for was to be beheaded on camera. That’s just how they roll, and playing even nicer with Omar Khadr would have done absolutely nothing to change that.
These are, of course, only a miniscule fraction of the 11,000 signatures on the “repatriate Omar” petition. The failure of these people to comprehend just how dangerous Khadr remains might be amusing, if it weren’t so sobering.
Patrick Ross is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist