The Toronto Star profiles “Abdurahman Khadr, the 20-year-old Canadian released last month from the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo.”
This is an article-length exoneration of Khadr. I don’t know the details of his case, so it may well be accurate. But it is interesting for its glimpse into the recruitment of jihad warriors in Afghanistan, although it gives no hint of whether or not Khadr was aware of how his leaders were placing the conflict in Afghanistan within the context of a global jihad.
Khadr has actually spent little time in Canada. Mostly he has been in Afghanistan: “Back in 1998, when other Canadian boys his age might be trying to hustle girls, Khadr was a warrior in the making, a 15-year-old enrolled by his father in what he freely volunteered yesterday was an ‘Al Qaeda-related training camp.’
The article explains that at the time the Taliban was the legitimate government of Afghanistan, so Khadr was simply doing what he was expected to do: “‘It’s the normal thing for people to do in Afghanistan,’ he said. So that’s what he and his older brother, Abdullah, did.”
Khadr, however, “said he was not Al Qaeda. In those days, before Osama bin Laden was elevated in the popular mind to the position of world terror mastermind, Al Qaeda was just one of many Islamic factions operating in the crazy dysfunctionality that was Afghanistan.”
This is more than a little disingenuous. By 1998, Al Qaeda was hardly just another faction in Afghanistan. By 1998 it was suspected of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1996 murder of 19 American soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and bombings in East Africa in ’98 itself. Khadr may not have known all this, but the reporter should have.