Newly released American military records show that Canadian al-Qaida operative Omar Khadr provided his interrogators at Guantanamo Bay with valuable information into the terrorist group at least through 2004.
Khadr was 15 years old when he was detained on an Afghan battlefield in 2002 after killing a Special Forces medic with a hand grenade. The report, obtained by Wikileaks and posted by the Globe and Mail, indicates that Khadr's father, "a senior Al-Qaida leader in Canada and close associate of Usama Bin Laden," urged Omar to go to Afghanistan to "translate for Al-Qaida personnel and to participate in Jihad against the United States."
Khadr's father, Ahmed Said Khadr, died in a 2003 gunfight with Pakistani soldiers.
A military tribunal last year sentenced Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison. But, under terms of a plea agreement, he will serve no more than eight years. It sounds like a good deal, and it is. That's why efforts by Khadr's defense attorneys to further reduce his sentence – in part by unjustly trashing a government witness – angered Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
In a lengthy article, Joscelyn shows how the criticism is just plain wrong or based on misleading information. Specifically, he stands up for forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, who Joscelyn says attorneys blame for their client's lengthy sentence.
The article, "A False Martyr," is named in reference to Khadr's claims of torture while in U.S. custody. They were rejected last year by military judge Patrick J. Parrish, who ruled there was "no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured…even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused's age."
Welner's testimony, defense attorneys argue in a new motion, was "unscientific," and "designed solely to inflame and mislead the jury."
Defense attorneys say that Welner "intimidated" a jury of senior military officers who handed out the 40-year-term, of which, again, he will not serve more than 20 percent. Psychiatrist Marc Sageman further went after Welner in a letter given to defense lawyers. That letter, Joscelyn argues, involved no direct contact with Khadr. Rather, Sageman reviewed a transcript of Welner's interview with Khadr and Welner's subsequent testimony in order "to take potshots at Welner, and not to do any real analysis of his own."
A video and transcript of Welner's interview with Khadr never made it into the court record, though, Joscelyn writes. "The prosecutors haven't even seen them."
Joscelyn pays Sageman back, noting that in 2005, Sageman told a Frontline interviewer that al-Qaida was "operationally dead," having been replaced by a leaderless jihad that didn't need al-Qaida's training and connections.
Subsequent terrorist attacks in London and elsewhere prove that wrong, Joscelyn writes. Even the Fort Hood shooting followed ongoing inspiration and encouragement from al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
The lesson, Joscelyn concludes, seems to be that "Anyone who stands in the way of Khadr's complete exoneration deserves to be slimed. The defense team has no compunction about making things up. Marc Sageman was more than happy to join their effort. And so a highly-respected forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Welner, is attacked online."
Read the whole article here.