Whatever Canadians think of the Khadr family it is indisputable that the patriarch was a terrorist.
If you want to get Canadians to disagree – yes Canadians, we agreeable people! – bring up the Khadr family. This brood has vexed us for decades and divided Canadians over whether they are our nation’s #1 family of terrorism or contrarily the victims of salacious and fake allegations.
Omar Khadr, one of the kids shot while fighting for Al Qaeda (AQ) in Afghanistan in 2002, made headlines for a long time over his incarceration in the US Guantanamo ‘jail’ and his subsequent $10.5 million payout by my government for the ‘violation’ of his rights. Gee, you would have thought the Americans should have ponied up. Maybe I’m biased.
Wherever you stand on the Omar-is-a-terrorist/victim spectrum, there is little doubt that Ahmed Said Khadr, Omar’s dad, was a terrorist. After emigrating to Canada from Egypt in the 1970s he took his entire clan to Afghanistan in 1980 as the Pakistan representative for a charity called Human Concern International, believed to have played a role in supporting the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets.
At one point he was described as a ‘lieutenant’ to AQ leader Usama bin Laden: the whole family was living in an AQ compound when 9/11 happened.
Attack on the Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan
Six years earlier, on November 19, 1995, a terrorist attack took place at the Egyptian Embassy in the Pakistani capital city of Islamabad. A suicide bomber slammed a pickup truck loaded with explosives into the gate of the building, killing 15 people and wounding around 60. The senior Khadr was arrested and charged with helping to finance the attack.
A year later then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien went to Pakistan to negotiate Khadr’s release. I am fairly certain that this move went against the recommendation of my previous employer, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – for the record I was not at CSIS in 1996 (I was still at CSE).
Like father, like son?
In October 2003 Khadr and seven other Islamist terrorists hiding in Pakistan’s tribal regions were killed by that nation’s army. A few months later, Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a tape eulogising “brother martyr Aimed Said Khadr.” I guess that means he was indeed with AQ. Oh well, as I often say a dead terrorist is a good terrorist.
Like father, like son? Yes, and in multiple ways. Khadr junior took after Khadr senior. In an interesting twist, so did Chretien junior and senior. Did Jean Chretien go to Khadr’s aid because he was a Canadian incarcerated abroad? Is this a case of ‘a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian’ as the younger Justin Trudeau said with regard to the Omar Khadr case and the decision to compensate him for what the Americans did to him? Great questions!
All I know is that the Khadr family has been a thorn in our collective side for decades.