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Held Illegally 12 Years by US in Guantanamo, Child Soldier, 15, wins $8.1 Million

Canada apologizes for not aiding its captive citizen


The story of Omar Khadr has always been one of the ugliest chapters of the ugly story of the US War on Terror initiated with the Congressional passage of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the ensuing invasion of Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Khadr finally won a measure of justice when the Canadian government apologized to him for its failure to defend him against his US captors and to seek his release from confinement at the US prison compound at Guantanamo Bay, and awarded him damages of $8.1 million as compensation for his years of suffering.

Imprisoned at 15 at Guantanamo illegally, child soldier Omar Khadr has finally won vindication, an apology and $8 millionImprisoned at 15 at Guantanamo illegally, child soldier Omar Khadr has finally won vindication, an apology and $8 million

His vindication as a victim, and not a villain, was a long time coming.

It was in 2002, during the early days of America’s longest — and still ongoing — war against Afghanistan that Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old native of Canada, was wounded and then captured, still alive, and packed off to Guantanamo Bay, one of a number of child soldiers whom the US, under the Bush/Cheney administration’s rule-free War on Terror, held in violation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that was signed by the US and that is thus part of US law. It declares that all children under the age of 18 captured while fighting in wars are to be offered “special protection” and treated as victims, not as combatants.

Khadr’s story was never properly told in the US media, which simply lumped him in with all the other alleged “terrorists” held at Guantanamo. His 2010 “trial” — one of the few military tribunals actually conducted at Guantanamo — was a charade of justice which led to his conviction for murder and a sentence of 40 years. That sentence was later commuted to 8 years, to be served in Canada, not at Guantanamo, but Khadr had agree to plead guilty to the worst and most outrageous charges against him in order to escape from q lifetime at the mercy of the sadistic US guards at Guantanamo.

Khadr’s crime, according to his US captives? Murder of one US soldier, and the blinding of another, caused by a hand grenade that the young Khadr allegedly lobbed at them.

The truth? It's hard to know. Khadr had always insisted he did not toss a grenade until the deal under pressure that he agreed to, and even then, in "admitting" to throwing the grenade he insisted he did it out of fear, not a desire to kill. In any event, even if he did toss a grenade, he would have been doing what any courageous wounded soldier in his situation would hope to have the guts to do: defend himself, and take out the enemy at the risk of his own life. That would not be murder in an armed conflict!

story | by Dr. Radut