It will be painful news for Tabitha Speer today when she learns that the man charged with killing her husband, in the words of his mother “never killed anybody”.
Toronto-born Omar Khadr, the only western citizen detained by the U.S. military in Guantanamo prison, was charged with killing Sergeant 1st Class Christopher J. Speer in Afghanistan in 2002. The same grenade Khadr allegedly lobbed during the firefight that cost medic Speer his life, blinded Sgt. 1st Class and Special Forces Engineer Layne Morris in his right eye.
According to Canadian media reports today, Maha Elsamnah Khadr has finally “broken her silence”. According to those same reports, Khadr “was only 15” when American soldiers captured him.
Khadr says she is not looking for “extra sympathy”. She only wants Omar “to be treated fairly”.
While reports portray Khadr as breaking her silence for the first time in five years, she is on the public record for having talked about her joy when the World Trade Centre came down and the Pentagon was attacked. Happy that her sons trained in terrorist camps, she said in 2004 that it was preferable to them having remained in Canada where they would have been exposed to homosexuality and drugs.
That never stopped Mama Khadr from hightailing it back to Canada from Pakistan in 2004 for a year of free health treatment for her paralyzed son, 14-year-old Karim, wounded by a land mine.
Khadr’s late hubby, the Egyptian-born Ahmed Said Khadr, was alleged to have been an al Qaeda bagman. Killed in 2003 in Pakistan in a house where he was staying with senior al Qaeda operatives, the family patriarch had once been released from custody when former Canadian Prime Minister John Chrétien successfully pressured then Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to set him free.
But when it comes to the public soapbox, Mama Khadr’s got nothing on her daughter, Zaynab.
When mainstream Canadians complained about Zaynab’s 2004 comments to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) about the September 11 attacks, indicating that Americans deserve to feel a pain similar to what they inflicted on others, then Prime Minister Paul Martin reminded them, that as a Canadian citizen she has a right to her opinions.
When Zaynab Khadr slipped quietly into Toronto on February 17 in 2005, officials seized her pictures, papers, laptop and cellphone. Songs praising Osama bin Laden as a hero were later found on the laptop.
Interviewed in a coffee shop dressed in the traditional chador by the Toronto Star, Khadr spoke of bin Laden having been a guest at her wedding.
But that the terrorist had joined her wedding party was no fault of the bride: “I mean, we don’t even write invitations for weddings,” Khadr told the Star. “We just say there’s a wedding and everybody’s invited and everybody passes it on.”
The Toronto Star also published Khadr’s email with a personal invitation from Khadr for Canadians..."if Canadians want to object to her views”.
Meanwhile, silence may be golden, but not if you are one of the Khadr clan.
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