Throwing a grenade at US Army soldiers and killing their medic at the age of 15 years old makes you a Child Soldier? Aren’t we convicting criminals of the same age as adults here in Canada and the United States? Where’s the difference – that one was fighting an insurgency in a foreign country?

Omar Khadr, now 27, is a Canadian citizen who was captured at the age of 15 years and 10 months in July, 2002 by American Special Forces. He was captured after killing a US Army Special Forces Medic with a grenade in a firefight.

Omar Khadr openly stated that “He felt happy when he heard that he had killed an American” in a document signed as part of his guilty plea. The American soldier was Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, a US Army Special Forces Medic, who was conducting a reconnaissance patrol to establish a Forward Operating Base (FOB) around Ayub Kheyl, Afghanistan.

While the US Army soldiers were giving on-site medical attention to Khadr after he was wounded, he repeatedly asked them to kill him. I had to deal with this a few times during my deployment to Afghanistan where the captured fighting-age male (FAM) would ask us to kill them instead of living their shame of being captured, which we never did.

Khadr receiving first aid from US Army soldiers
Khadr receiving first aid from US Army soldiers.

After spending three months at Bagram Air base, he was moved to Guantanamo Bay.

Khadr accepted an eight-year sentence in October, 2010 after spending ten years at the Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) detention camp. He would be transferred to a Canadian prison after another year in GITMO.

He was charged with war crimes, including murder in violation of the law of war and providing material support for terrorism.

He was moved to the Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security prison, on September 29, 2012 where he would serve the six years he had left.

In January 2014, Khadr was transferred to Bowden Institution, a medium security facility.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney assured Canadians that the government will go out of its way to fight a lighter prison sentence for Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen.

His father, Ahmed, was one of al-Qaeda’s senior associates and their Chief Financial Officer. He was killed in Pakistan by Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border in 2003, alongside members of both al-Qaeda (AQ) and Taliban.

Khadr working on IEDs
Khadr working on IEDs

Omar Khadr was no Child Soldier. With his family’s close ties to AQ, it is hard to pretend that he wasn’t aware of his father’s activity, thus making him willing to become a fighter when he would be old enough, Baaligh, under the Sharia Law.