Why Is A Self-Confessed Terrorist Who Killed an American Being Paid $8 Million?

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

According to The New York Times, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has apologized to a hardened, unrepentant terrorist who killed an American soldier, and has paid that terrorist a reported 10.5 million Canadian dollars (about $8.1 million). The Times reports:

The government of Canada on Friday formally apologized to Omar Khadr, the only Canadian imprisoned at the United States military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It also said that it had paid compensation to Mr. Khadr, a former child soldier, for violating his rights under Canadian law.

"On behalf of the government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm," the government said in its apology . "We hope that this expression, and the negotiated settlement, will assist him in his efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in his life."

His "ordeal abroad"? Omar Khadr is an admitted terrorist, whose father was one of Osama bin Laden's closest advisors, who left Canada and went to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks with the intention of attacking and killing American and Canadian forces. He lived in bin Laden's compound, trained with al Qaeda, and killed an American soldier with a hand grenade before he was captured and taken to Guantanamo Bay.

Omar Khadr listens to a question during a news conference after being released on bail in Edmonton, Alberta, May 7, 2015. Khadr, a Canadian, was once the youngest prisoner held on terror charges at Guantanamo Bay. Todd Korol/reuters

According to WikiLeaks, this is the official US government assessment of Khadr:

In June 2002, detainee was encouraged by his father, a senior Al-Qaida leader in Canada and close associate of Usama Bin Laden n, to travel to Khowst, AF, to translate for Al-Qaida personnel and to participate in Jihad against the United States.

Detainee received training and instruction on how to build and plant Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and how to plant land mines (it is not known where or when the detainee learned these skills).

Detainee has also admitted to taking part in several mining and combat operations. In July 2002, detainee was present during a raid on a suspected Al-Qaida compound by US Special Forces, during which a gun battle ensued. During the raid, detainee threw a hand grenade and killed a US Special Forces soldier. . .

Detainee's father is a senior Al-Qaida financier and reportedly the fourth in command underneath Usama Bin Laden in the Al-Qaida organization… Detainee excelled at his training in Afghanistan, which included small arms, explosives training, IEDs, mines, mine laying, and configuring IEDs for remote detonation using hand held devices.

Detainee admits to having participated in several mining operations and harassing attacks against US Forces, in addition to throwing the grenade that killed a US soldier.

Detainee has never expressed any genuine remorse for the killing of that soldier. He has direct family affiliations with senior Al-Qaida members, has received advanced specialized training in explosives, and has directly participated in hostile attacks against US Forces.

Detainee claims that his entire family lived at one of Usama Bin Laden's compounds in Jalalabad, AF. Detainee continues to provide valuable information on his father's associates, and on non-governmental organizations that the worked with in supporting Al-Qaida, as well as other major facilitators of interest to the US.

Detainee has also provided valuable information on the Derunta, Al-Farouq and Khalden training camps, indicating that the detainee has been to and likely trained at these locations; and he continues to provide valuable information on key Al-Qaida and Taliban members. . . . [H]e remains committed to extremist Islamic values.

Khadr expressed no remorse for killing an American and remains committed to jihad. The idea that Canada would apologize to a man like this, much less pay him a reported $8.1 million in "damages" is simply ludicrous.

The soldier Khadr killed is Sgt. Christopher Speer — a US special operations medic who risked his life not only to protect American and Canadian troops, but innocent Afghans as well. The National Post of Canada reports:

During an attack on an al-Qaida hideout in the midst of the war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Christopher Speer walked out into a minefield.

Two Afghan children were lying wounded among the landmines. Speer applied a tourniquet to one, and flagged down a military truck to take the children to a field hospital.

The Journal of Special Operations Medicine, in a tribute to Speer, wrote that selfless acts like these were celebrated at his funeral, held just weeks later.

There is only one upside of this settlement: Now Sgt. Speer's widow can now go after the money. The National Post reports:

A reported multi-million-dollar payout from the Canadian government to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr could create an opportunity for the widow of a man Khadr was convicted of killing in a firefight to seek compensation.

Tabitha Speer could "absolutely" go after Khadr's assets once he has some, said Howard Anglin, a former deputy chief of staff and legal advisor to Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper. . . .

Speer's wife and [another soldier Layne] Morris who was blinded in one eye in the same attack] sued Khadr for damages and won a default $134 million in 2015 in a Utah court. The settlement was never enforced, which would have required legal action in Canadian court….

"When you get a judgment in another country, in a legal system that Canada generally recognizes, like the US, you need to get a court in Canada to recognize that judgment. So you'd bring an action in Canada to get the Utah judgment recognized," Anglin said.

"I suspect that they didn't do that previously because [Khadr] had no assets. So you'd be spending money on legal fees, coming to court with no prospect of recovering anything. So now that there are assets, in theory at least, they should be able to get the judgment enforced. . . . I'd be surprised if they didn't."

Here's hoping that every single penny Khadr has now goes to the Speer family and to Speer's comrade, Layne Morris. As Morris told CTV Canadian television, "He shouldn't be getting a dime. He should feel grateful that he's walking the streets in the first place. . . . His family owes humanity an apology, to be very blunt. Not the other way around. Canada owes this man nothing."


Marc Thiessen is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). A member of the White House senior staff under President George W. Bush, he served as chief speechwriter to the president and to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Before joining the Bush administration, he spent more than six years as spokesman and senior policy adviser to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC).