Canada admits youth
being held by U.S.

By Jon Dougherty

The Canadian government has admitted that U.S. military forces are holding one of its citizens – a 15-year-old youth with suspected ties to al-Qaida who has been accused of killing a U.S. soldier – in Afghanistan.

In a statement released today by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, officials said the youth, Omar Khadr, was in custody of the “American military,” making him the second Canadian citizen to be detained in Afghanistan.

“On Aug. 20, the Canadian government was contacted by the American authorities seeking information on the nationality of a juvenile, claiming to be a Canadian, whom they had taken into custody,” said the statement. “Subsequently, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was able to confirm that the individual is Canadian.”

The admission comes on the heels of a WorldNetDaily report earlier today quoting U.S. intelligence as saying the youth was responsible for killing a U.S. Special Forces medic in a firefight in Afghanistan July 28.

Reynald Doiron, a spokesman for Canada’s foreign ministry, told WorldNetDaily he did not know the name of the U.S. soldier. A Pentagon spokeswoman also could not identify the soldier.

Sources said the U.S. government is investigating the death of the Special Forces medic as a potential capital crime. One source also said Khadr was being held at Bagram air base outside of Kabul.

“American authorities say that the circumstances surrounding the combat operation are still under investigation and that until the investigation is complete, no conclusions can be reached. Mr. Khadr has not been charged with any crime,” said the foreign ministry statement.

Foreign ministry officials said the International Red Cross had been permitted to meet with Khadr, who was badly wounded in the firefight but reportedly has been treated by U.S. forces and is recovering.

Foreign ministry officials said they had contacted U.S. counterparts Aug. 30 requesting a meeting with Khadr. “Discussions are continuing,” the statement said, hinting that Washington had thus far refused to grant them access to Khadr.

“The Canadian government is satisfied that individuals held by the U.S. are being treated humanely. However, the Department is concerned that a Canadian juvenile has been detained, and believes that this individual’s age should be taken into account in determining treatment,” the foreign ministry said.

“Canada remains strongly committed to the fight against terrorism, including our ongoing efforts in and around Afghanistan. Everything possible must be done to bring al-Qaida and those responsible for the events of Sept. 11 to justice,” said the statement.

The foreign ministry statement said nothing about the Toronto-born Khadr’s suspected ties to al-Qaida. But Reuters reported today that the youth’s father, Ahmed Saeed Khadr, is a Canadian citizen whom the United States has accused of having ties to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group.

“The father had been arrested in 1995 in connection with a bomb at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad,” Reuters said, noting that Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien intervened on his behalf in 1996 with Pakistan’s then-prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Chretien asked Bhutto to give the elder Khadr due process as a Canadian citizen.

The father reportedly had worked for the charity Human Concern International, which the U.S. suspected of funneling money to al-Qaida, a charge lawyers for the group denied last October.

Related story:

Canadian, 15, held as al-Qaida killer

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