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Held Illegally 12 Years in Guantanamo BY US, Child Soldier, 15, Awarded $8.1 Million

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The story of Omar Khadr has always been one of the ugliest chapters of the ugly story of the US War on Terror initiated with the Congressional passage of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the ensuing invasion of Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Khadr finally won a measure of justice when the Canadian government apologized to him for its failure to defend him against his US captors and to seek his release from confinement at the US prison compound at Guantanamo Bay, and awarded him damages of $8.1 million as compensation for his years of suffering.

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His vindication as a victim, and not a villain, was a long time coming.

It was in 2002, during the early days of America's longest -- and still ongoing -- war against Afghanistan that Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old native of Canada, was wounded and then captured, still alive, and packed off to Guantanamo Bay, one of a number of child soldiers whom the US, under the Bush/Cheney administration's rule-free War on Terror, held in violation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that was signed by the US and that is thus part of US law. It declares that all children under the age of 18 captured while fighting in wars are to be offered "special protection" and treated as victims, not as combatants.

Khadr's story was never properly told in the US media, which simply lumped him in with all the other alleged "terrorists" held at Guantanamo. His 2010 "trial" -- one of the few military tribunals actually conducted at Guantanamo -- was a charade of justice which led to his conviction for murder and a sentence of 40 years, later commuted to 8 years, to be served in Canada, not at Guantanamo.

Khadr's crime, according to his US captives? Murder of one US soldier, and the blinding of another, caused by a hand grenade that the young Khadr lobbed at them.

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The truth? Khadr, who didn't deny throwing the grenade but said he did it out of fear, not a desire to kill, was doing what any courageous wounded soldier in his situation would have done: defending himself, and taking out the enemy at the risk of his own life.

Khadr, whose father, Ahmed Said Khadr had brought his young son along with him at the age of 14 from Canada to help the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, had been killed in battle, leaving his young son alone with al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. At one point, the boy was in a housing compound identified by US troops as under Taliban control. They called in an air strike, and then entered the destroyed site to do a damage assessment. As they picked through the rubble -- by one account executing some of the wounded fighters they found"

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/3592

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

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