The latest on Omar Khadr

If you’ve been following the Omar Khadr saga in Canada, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Canadian government jurisdiction in foreign affairs with respect to the repatriation of Khadr. The Minister of Justice released the following statement yesterday,

“In its ruling, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional responsibility of the executive to make decisions on matters of foreign affairs, given the complex and ever-changing circumstances of diplomacy, and the need to take into account Canada’s broader interests. The Supreme Court did not require the Government to ask for accused terrorist Omar Khadr’s return.

“In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Government of Canada today delivered a diplomatic note to the Government of the United States formally seeking assurances that any evidence or statements shared with U.S. authorities as a result of the interviews of Mr. Khadr by Canadian agents and officials in 2003 and 2004 not be used against him by U.S. authorities in the context of proceedings before the Military Commission or elsewhere.

“Omar Khadr faces very serious charges, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism, and spying. The Government of Canada continues to provide consular services to Mr. Khadr.”

The part about the formal request seeking assurances regarding evidence is interesting. The Supreme Court ruled that Khadr’s Charter rights were violated as Canadian officials were party to an illegal interrogation. A formal request from the government to for the US to reject evidence acquired in collaboration with Canadians, may cure the breach of rights that the Supreme Court references.

Earlier today, Khadr’s lawyers filed an injunction against the formal request complaining that they were not first consulted on the government’s plans. It seems that the ultimate goal for Team Khadr is repatriation of the accused murderer. The legal reality is that the Supreme Court did not compel the government to seek Khadr’s return and it is no secret that this government will never do so. However, a future government may follow this course of action. A request to expunge evidence only can help Khadr’s case. Since repatriation is out of the question for the Harper government, Khadr’s lawyers may have more hope waiting for an Ignatieff government than for their client to face justice in the United States.

Khadr’s supporters seek the 23 year old’s repatriation and reintegration into Canadian society. In Toronto, this weekend a conference titled “Media War on Islam ” was held at a Toronto-area Islamic Centre. Here’s an excerpt from the National Post,

Western media have a “spiteful policy” toward Iran of inventing “fraudulent” news to “increase false national expectation” and “encourage disturbance,” according to the cultural attache in the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Hamid Mohammadi said media deception has caused hatred and fear of Muslims by presenting the “false belief that religion is incapable of running a country” and that Iran is therefore illegitimate. He said the result has been political “position changing” by Western countries against Muslims.

He quoted an “American thinker,” whose name did not come clearly through his strong accent, to the effect that “future wars are in the hands of the media, and their words are more effective than bullets.”

Somehow, his brief scripted remarks were among the least controversial at a conference about the “Media War on Islam” on Sunday night at a Toronto-area Islamic centre, in which the Christmas Day underwear bomber was described as the tool of an Israeli plot; Barack Obama was referred to as “Mr. Black Man”; al-Qaeda was called “the figment of the imagination of the West”; and a video was shown that mocked 9/11 by putting the Muppet Show logo over slow-motion footage of the second plane’s impact, with screams of terror for audio.

According to the Post, the main organizer of the event was a man named Zafar Bangash. Bangash is the director of the Islamic Society of York region. Here are a few quotes from Zafar Bangash,

“Obama could never have been elected president if he were not a slave of the American establishment.”

“Under Obama, there is a greater chance that the US would now launch wars in Africa. A black man in the white house would be better able to pacify African-American sentiment than a white man.”

“Immediately after winning the Democratic Party nomination for president, he went to prostrate before America’s real masters: the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.”

“The first appointment Obama made after winning the election was that of Rahm Israel Emmanuel as his White House chief of staff.”

“Obama’s presidency will not usher change; it will mean more of the same: American and Zionist crimes under a different face with a smooth tongue.”

and other troubling quotes from Bangash,

The West is “murderous, racist and virulent”

Canada is a “fully paid-up member of the Anglo-Saxon mafia, which is responsible for most of the recorded genocides in the world”

“Muslims must strive to overthrow the oppressive systems in their societies through Islamic revolutions, and not by participating in fraudulent elections organized by the elites operating through various political parties that actually divide the people.”

“Muslims have to get their own act together and unite their efforts under a single leadership — that of the leading edge of the Islamic movement, Islamic Iran — to work toward the common goals of the Ummah [Muslim World].”

you can read more here, here and here.

So, what does this have to do with Omar Khadr? Here’s Zafar Bangash with Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney,
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CTV reported that Bangash made the following statement regarding Omar Khadr,

We have put in place arrangements whereby [Omar Khadr] will be accommodated with another family and he will be under close supervision as you can see this plan has the support of members of different faith communities and we of course are one of them, the Muslim community in Canada. He would be provided spiritual counselling as well as assessed periodically to see what kind of progress he is making.

That’s quite a support group. Here’s the CBC’s report,

Later Wednesday, Khadr’s lawyers and Muslim leaders unveiled details of a plan they say will help Khadr gradually integrate back into Canadian society during a news conference in Toronto.

The group, which included lawyer Dennis Edney, Islamic Society of York Region president Zafar Bangash and Canadian Arab Federation head Mohamed Boudjenane, urged Harper to meet with them before Obama’s visit so he can pass along a formal request.

“Call us. Meet with us. Whatever it takes. But your obligation, Mr. Harper, is to bring Omar home and allow him to heal,” said Edney.

The group has signed and delivered a three-page letter to Harper outlining details of the plan.

“We urge you to act expeditiously and request the repatriation of Omar Khadr to Canada, without further delay,” says the letter.

“Our plan is designed to allow eminent organizations, representing a broad cross-section of Canadian institutions and agencies, to take legal responsibility for designing, implementing and supervising all aspects of Omar’s life in Canada, until such time as he is able to become a fully functioning member of the Canadian mosaic.”

Khadr will live with host families and receive spiritual counselling from leading Muslim clerics, it says. Much of his living costs will be paid for by dozens of Canadian Muslim organizations.