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Omar Khadr appears in an Edmonton courtroom on Sept. 23, 2013, in this artist’s sketch.
Omar Khadr appears in an Edmonton courtroom on Sept. 23, 2013, in this artist’s sketch.
(Amanda McRoberts/The Canadian Press)

Why Canada’s decision to leave Khadr to the Americans might backfire

For more than a decade, Omar Khadr, the teenaged Canadian captured in Afghanistan after a fierce 2002 firefight in which a U.S. special forces soldier was killed, has played an oddly central role in the long, unfinished saga over the legitimacy of Guantanamo’s military war crimes tribunals.

As a Canadian, Mr. Khadr brought Ottawa and successive Canadian governments into the vexed political debate over Guantanamo, and what constitutes a war crime in 21st-century jihad and unconventional counter-insurgency. Ottawa’s response, both when Mr. Khadr was first captured and for more than a decade subsequently, was essentially to tell the Bush and later the Obama administrations that the Toronto-born son of a major al-Qaeda figure wasn’t a Canadian problem.