While the U.S. and Canada spar over the fate of a 15-year-old Toronto youth accused of murdering a U.S. Special Forces medic, more information is surfacing closely tying the teen’s family to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.
As WorldNetDaily reported exclusively yesterday, Omar Khadr of Toronto, who will turn 16 this month, is being held at U.S. military headquarters in Bagram, Afghanistan, north of the capital city of Kabul.
Sources said the Canadian government is pressuring Washington for the return of its citizen, while the U.S. government is investigating the death of the Special Forces medic, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28, as a potential capital crime. Only in the last several days has the youth been interrogated regarding the July 28 killing. Injuries sustained in the altercation with the medic had prevented it earlier, intelligence sources told WorldNetDaily.
Khadr is the son of Ahmed Saeed Khadr, a Canadian citizen whom the U.S. has accused of having direct ties to bin Laden. The Khadr incident could be an embarrassment for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who once intervened on behalf of the father.
The father was arrested in 1995 in connection with a bomb at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad – a suicide attack that killed 17. According to the Ottawa Citizen, a Canadian Security Intelligence Service report says Khadr is “alleged to have moved … money through” Human Concern International, a Canadian relief agency, “from Afghanistan to Pakistan to pay for the operation.”
Chretien pressed Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto during a trade mission to give Khadr due process in Canada.
“I wanted to very clearly make sure that due process is followed in this case, and they gave me all the guarantees that I could have expected,” Chretien was quoted by the Ottawa Citizen as saying at the time.
In October 2001, just after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Canadian treasury department ordered the freezing of the elder Khadr’s assets. He was running the Afghan operations of a relief group that is said to be a front organization for bin Laden’s terrorist network.
Khadr has denied all links to terrorism, insisting he is simply an aid worker. After his 1995 arrest, the Canadian International Development Agency suspended funding of Human Concern International projects.
Intelligence sources tell WorldNetDaily that Khadr’s wife, Maha Elsamnah, is also suspected of being involved in terrorist financing.
The Egyptian-born Khadr, 53, was graduated from the University of Ottawa with a computer engineering degree in the early 1980s. Khadr and his wife became Canadian citizens in the mid-1970s. They have six children, but, according to the Ottawa Citizen, the couple has not lived in Canada since the mid-1990s.
Khadr and his wife are listed as joint directors of a charitable business called Health and Education Project International, an organization that claims to deliver aid to “orphans, widows and needy Afghans,” according to the Ottawa Citizen.
The Canadian government yesterday admitted U.S. military forces are holding Omar Khadr for the murder of the Special Forces medic, after WorldNetDaily broke the story. 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.
“On August 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 foreign ministry statement. “Subsequently the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was able to confirm that the individual is Canadian.”
“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 statement.
Foreign ministry officials said the International Red Cross had been permitted to meet with Khadr, who was badly wounded in the firefight but has reportedly 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.
WorldNetDaily staff writer Jon Dougherty contributed to this report.