Saturday, September 29, 2012

Youngest Prisoner Leaves Guantanamo for Canada


The youngest inmate at Guantanamo Bay, 26-year-old Omar Khadr from Canada, has been repatriated to his home country to serve the remainder of an eight-year sentence he received in 2010 after pleading guilty to a series of crimes, including the murder of a US soldier in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 when he was captured by US forces and has been kept at the controversial detention facility since shortly after his capture. Canada agreed to take him back two years ago and he could be eligible for parole next year.

The US Department of Defense said in a statement: "The United States government has returned Khadr to Canada where he will serve out his remaining sentence. The United States co-ordinated with the government of Canada regarding appropriate security and humane treatment measures."

Khadr was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a US military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay in 2010 on war crimes charges. The charges against him were: murder in violation of the law of war; attempted murder in violation of the law of war; conspiracy; providing material support for terrorism; and spying. But, as part of his plea deal, his sentence was limited to eight years. Under the deal, he became eligible to return to Canada last October.

The majority of Canadians supported the campaign to repatriate Khadr, now 26, though the country remains split over the case. Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist. Many still consider him and some members of his family a threat, while others see him as a child victim of both an extreme Islamist ideology and cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of the US authorities.

Omar Khadr's father, an associate of Osama Bin Laden, took the family to Peshawar, in Pakistan, to support the Afghan mujahideen in their war against the Soviets when Khadr was a child. The father died in a firefight with Pakistani troops near the Afghan border in 2003. One brother is paralyzed from the waist down after being wounded in that same battle. Another has just been released from jail in Toronto after successfully fighting extradition to the US on terror charges. Omar Khadr's sister, Zaynab, and his mother, Maha, are well-known in Canada for their radical views.

Some 166 detainees remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay.

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