Give Us Back Our Terrorist?

April 24th, 2009 at 8:04 pm | No Comments |

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At roughly the same time as diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay were being released by terrorists to return to Canada, troche a Canadian federal judge was “ordering” Ottawa to ask Washington to return terrorist Omar Khadr to Canada.

There’s a certain irony in the two cases.

Fowler and Guay were kidnapped in Niger before Christmas, while ostensibly on a mission for the UN that remains tantalizingly vague. A thundering silence about their disappearance erupted from Ottawa, yet now we learn that, uncharacteristically, Canadian diplomats, the military and RCMP factions were scouring Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and cashing in favours to locate and get the two men freed.

Details are not known, but the men were freed by an al-Qaeda faction in the Maghreb region, and Canada’s efforts deserve the accolades being heaped on those involved.

Bob Fowler is one of our most experienced and influential bureaucrats whose personality is deceptively bland, as befits someone whose exploits are colourful and, at times, controversial. James Bond, move over.

It’s doubtful we’ll ever know what he was up to in Africa. After his ordeal as an al-Qaeda hostage, this former Canadian UN ambassador and former DND deputy minister’s days in the shadows seem over.

The case of Omar Khadr is more awkward for Canada – a terrorist detainee at Guantanamo charged with murdering an American soldier in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was a 15-year-old fighter with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Justice James O’Reilly of the Federal Court said the government’s refusal (so far) to request the U.S. to send Toronto-born Khadr back to Canada “offends a principle of fundamental justice and violates Mr. Khadr’s rights.”

Oh? Forget, for a moment, the stuff about Khadr being a “child soldier” at the time of his capture, which is misleading and pejorative.

There’s no shortage of former “child soldiers” who lied about their age and went to war for Canada in the past, and it should be assumed that with the blessing of his parents, who supported al-Qaeda, Omar Khadr willingly joined al-Qaeda’s cause.

Ottawa doesn’t automatically request the return of citizens who murder in other countries, or who commit crimes abroad. It’s hard to see how Canada “offends a principle of fundamental justice” by waiting to see the outcome of Khadr’s military trial for murder.

Canada would be on stronger ground if it protested Khadr even being charged with murder for fighting back against foreign soldiers attacking the country or cause to which he had pledged himself.

Prisoners of war usually remain in custody until the war is over. They don’t have access to lawyers, but are monitored by the Red Cross – which functions at Gitmo.

Omar Khadr has committed no crime against Canada, and it’s debatable whether he committed a crime against the U.S. So if he does come back, it’s hard to see justification for imprisoning him.

Doubtless, the Harper government, will rationalize a way to have Khadr returned to Canada. That’s the think-alike mood of the courts, civil rights activists, Globe and Mail editorialists, and assorted soft-hearts.

While the government looks good by helping get Bob Fowler and  Louis Guay released, it’s a pity even a portion of the energy and determination unleashed on their behalf, hasn’t been directed at getting another citizen, Huseyin Celil freed by the Chinese who more or less kidnapped him in 2006 when he was visiting Uzbekistan.

But Celil is a Uighur, whom the Chinese brand as terrorist, even though there is no evidence to this effect. Pity Celil is just a citizen and not a diplomat deserving of rescue.

That’s just the way it is.

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