Back To Canada? Please, No!
There, then, is the long-awaited verdict: 40 years earned as a measure to deter other would-be jihadists. Not that this particular case will have much resonance as a deterrence to dedicated fanatics willing and eager to submit totally to a belief that divine will would have a complete personal sacrifice entailing martyrdom in the pursuit of mass slaughter. So the appeal to non-existent reason as opposed to fervent pious faith in a blood-thirsty god who commends followers to murder is a lost cause.
The cause for justice as seen through the lens of those who have been the target of violent Islam is another thing altogether. Excusing as absent in cerebral intelligence those apologists of the Liberal-left who espouse the humility of the guilt-ridden, that the West brings this abhorrent jihadist violence upon itself by its very existence. Insulting to Islam by the very fact that the strictures of the religion have ensured backwardness prevailed in those populations of the devout, while the world of the West has leaped ahead in economic, social, scientific, educational, medical advancement.
The 40 year judgement is a fiction, of course, since it will never be served, although it might have been had Omar Khadr not pleaded guilty to the charges laid against him at the Guantanamo Bay tribunal, and he had faced a full trial. As it is, the plea bargain he agreed to will impose 8 years of imprisonment; one year in a U.S. facility, and a request for transfer back to Canada where he has citizenship entitlements and where he will plan, with his lawyers, to sue for time off for good behaviour, as is customary in Canada.
Omar Khadr did murder an American medic, he was most certainly guilty of conspiring to commit acts of terror, he did train as an al-Qaeda recruit, he was taught how to build explosive devices, he did decide of his own volition to remain in the theatre of conflict rather than withdraw with other young people and women, and it was his choice to throw a grenade after a fire-fight had concluded, that ultimately killed an American medic. And it was American medics who worked unstintingly to put Omar Khadr back together when he was dreadfully wounded.
He did testify that he became aware of an $1,500 reward for the dispatch of Americans, and that it was his intention to attempt to kill "a lot of Americans to get lots of money". He was, therefore, motivated beyond his religious convictions. He was captivated also by the thought that he could earn a substantial cash reward in payment for successfully dispatching Americans, and he found that greatly appealing to his sense of materialistic advantage. Many would caution that this was the child speaking, the fifteen-year-old combatant, not the adult who stood trial for what the young man had done.
Those who are prepared to overlook his role as an al-Qaeda recruit dedicated to violent jihad are content to repeat infinitely that he was a child soldier and as such could not, should not be held accountable for what his father groomed him to accomplish in the name of Islam. They are prepared to give him more than the benefit of the doubt; to completely exonerate him of any responsibility for the choices others made for him, and for which choices he also exercised the free will that we are all endowed with.
It may indeed have been a show trial, as many contend it was. Hardly surprising, given all the attention it has received in the media over the years. But the evidence against "child soldier" Omar Khadr was solid, and it was damning. And his eventual personal decision to set aside his reluctance to participate in his own trial, and to turn it to his advantage by pleading guilty for the opportunity of returning to Canada and testing the assumption that in Canada he might stand a better-than-good chance of early parole, was yet another studied alternative which he chose.
That too, despite the impassioned contentions of his lawyers, was his own free choice. His apology to the widow of U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer was moving, and perhaps it was even sincere. How would we know? What we do know is that profound regret is always a fact and an often-expressed one reflecting an individual's plight, not necessarily that individual's heart-felt personal angst over poor choices. Choices seen in retrospect as having led to extremely uncomfortable personal circumstances. We seldom exercise the value of hind-sight before acting in spontaneous response, even as we know there are consequences for actions, for that knowledge exists dimly within our consciousness.
The trial was a fair one, and it took 7 military personnel close to nine hours of deliberation over a two-day period to arrive at their conclusion: 40 years' penalty for five confessed war crimes, inclusive of conspiracy with al-Qaeda, and murder in violation of the laws of war. Yes, it is ironic that the 'laws of war' are invoked at a time when many accuse the United States of contravening the Geneva Convention at Guantanamo Bay, but the rule of law is often twisted by those with the power to do so.
He spoke of his father Ahmad Khadr, explaining that the combat training was to be used also "in attacks against the Jews because the Jews are always fighting." This slanderous legend has great cachet in the Muslim world. No, quite sincerely, we do not wish to have this "friendly and good-mannered young man" returned to Canada. No less than we would welcome "friendly and courteous" Osama bin Laden to visit Canada and settle down here.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are such horrendously dangerous places yes, but we do not feel comfortable in offering haven to the leaders of al-Qaeda, within Canada. Nor their ardent followers.