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The remarkable true story of Toronto-born Omar Khadr begins in a small Afghan town on July 27, 2002, where the 15-year-old Canadian hid in a compound under attack by U.S. special forces. When the soldiers searched through the rubble at the end of the fighting, they didn't realize anyone was still alive. The Pentagon would allege later that as the soldiers neared him, Khadr threw a grenade, fatally wounding Delta Force soldier Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. Khadr was shot and had his serious wounds attended to at the scene. Taken into custody, he was sent to the notorious American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has passed through puberty in U.S. detention, and his lawyers allege he has been tortured and held in isolation for months at a time.
Guantanamo's Child is a sweeping narrative that reconstructs the life of Omar Khadr, from his childhood spent traveling between a Canadian suburb and Peshawar at the height of the jihad against the Soviets, and into Afghanistan and the homes of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's elite. Based on extensive research and interviews with those connected to Khadr's case throughout Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Pakistan, as well as intensive research at Guantanamo Bay, Michelle Shephard tells the unknown stories of the lives of the U.S. soldiers whom Omar fought and those who knew him in custody. Shephard also delivers an intimate portrait of Khadr's parents and siblings, once called "Canada's First Family of Terrorism," and their escape from Kabul after the 9/11 attacks.
From a U.S. interrogator who screamed the ingredients of a cereal box to scare detainees who didn't understand English, to a ferocious Chechen commander who raised rabbits, to the Scottish-Canadian lawyer who wore cufflinks that read "Old lawyers never die," Shephard brings unprecedented intimacy and insight into the players who have helped shape history and impacted Khadr's life.
But more than just a story of a young Canadian's life, Guantanamo's Child goes behind the scenes in Washington and Ottawa to reveal how Canada has supported Khadr's detention while countries worldwide have condemned the offshore prison and demanded the repatriation of their citizens. Shephard also dissects how the United States has flouted its own and international laws to create Guantanamo's military commissions for its own singular ends.
Omar Khadr is about to make history as the youngest defendant ever to be tried for war crimes. Guantanamo's Child is an essential read for those wanting to understand how the world changed after 9/11, how fear has trumped fundamental rights, how overzealous American policies have turned alleged terrorists into victims, and why so few have cared about a Canadian teenager--perhaps until now.
An excerpt from Guantanamo's Child:
Omar had been through the drill many times before. The guards would arrive early in the morning, shackle him, and cover his eyes and ears for the drive to camp Iguana, where he would wait for his visitors while chained by the ankle to a hook bolted to the floor. that morning, he remained there for hours until Edney and Whitling were led in. the Edmonton lawyers had been fighting for Omar for four years but had never met him. They could hardly believe they were standing in front of him.
Omar smiled. His family had written to him about h is Canadian lawyers and had sent a picture they had taken during one visit, so Omar know the men before him were Dennis and Nate. But his family hadn't prepared him for Edney's accent. Omar had been exposed to many languages inside Guantanamo and had even picked up a Saudi accent, but he had never heard anything quite like Edney's Scottish brogue. Omar began laughing as Edney talked, cutting through the tension.
For two days, Edney and Whitling tried to get to know Omar. Together they ate the picnic lunch of olives, cheese, bread and candies that they had brought, Edney tussling with Omar to make sure he received his fair share of the sweets. Edney talked almost as much as he listened. He told stories about Omar's family and told him about Kareem and Abdullah. "Your sister Zaynab is always trying to bully me," Edney said and flashed a smile. Edney told Omar about his sons and showed him pictures. "You've got to have hope, Omar," Edney told him just before he left. "Without hope, we all die."
"I wont' give up on you," Omar replied, "but you'll give up on me. Everyone does."
Omar hugged them and asked Edney if he could keep a photo of Edney's son Duncan in his hockey uniform. then he gave whitling a paper origami bird and asked him to give it to his wife as a present.
"You will be shocked, saddened and in the end made angry at the story this page-turner of a book exposes. I read it straight through, and Omar Khadr's plight is one you cannot forget."
—Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York
If you follow the CBC and the red star then read this book. If you want the real story then read: The Enemy Within: Terror, Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr.Published on March 2 2012 by S. Vodden
If you want to know how the western media can be fooled by even a 16-year old terrorist, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2011 by John A Fairweather