A terrorist becomes a millionaire courtesy of Canada: His victims may never see a dime of the money


Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau handed millions to Omar Khadr. Khadr's victims may not be able to collect any of the money.

By Peter Kent, The Wall Street Journal 

Omar Khadr pulled the pin from a grenade and tossed it at Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, a U.S. Army Delta Force medic, on July 27, 2002. Those are the facts to which Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, confessed when he pleaded guilty before a Guantanamo Bay war-crimes commission.

For several years Mr. Khadr had been living and training with al Qaeda in Afghanistan under the tutelage of his father, Ahmed. The Khadrs reportedly lived in Osama bin Laden’s Kandahar-area compound.

Speer died of his wounds 1½ weeks after the attack, which left another soldier, Sgt. First Class Layne Morris, partly blind. Mr. Khadr, badly wounded, was treated and transferred to the Cuba base. In 2012 the U.S. returned him to Canada to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence.

Mr. Khadr was just shy of his 16th birthday at the time of the attack. In 2010 Canada’s Supreme Court held that the interrogation of Mr. Khadr at Guantanamo Bay by Canadians in 2003-04 violated Canadian standards for the treatment of detained youths. These violations occurred during the mandates of Liberal Prime Ministers Jean Chr├ętien and Paul Martin. The Supreme Court left it to the government, then headed by Conservative Stephen Harper, to determine an appropriate remedy, and to the civil courts to rule on any damages.

A few months later Mr. Khadr entered his guilty plea on five war-crimes charges. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, reduced by pretrial agreement to eight years. The Harper government determined that returning Mr. Khadr to Canada would be the appropriate remedy. In 2012 he was repatriated to serve the remaining years of his sentence. He was released on bail in 2015.

Mr. Khadr wasn’t satisfied. He sued the Canadian government for 20 million Canadian dollars (about US$16 million at current exchange rates).

Meanwhile in Utah, Sgt. Speer’s widow, Tabitha, his two young children and Mr. Morris sued Mr. Khadr and received a judgment for $134.1 million in damages. Their goal was to preserve possible future action against Mr. Khadr’s assets—at the time a remote possibility.

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