Khadr family history

While Omar and Abdullah Khadr’s cases are still before the courts, controversy continues to swirl around the now-infamous family. Global News takes a closer look at them:

Omar Khadr was one of the youngest sons of Egyptian and Palestinian parents, raised in Toronto by a fundamentalist Muslim family who were al-Qaeda sympathizers, and thought religious martyrdom a supreme calling.

At 15, Khadr was taken into custody and imprisoned at the U.S naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to the Pentagon, Khadr killed Sgt. Christopher Speer with a grenade during a raid by U.S. soldiers on a suspected al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002. Khadr is the only Canadian to be held at the U.S. prison.

But Khadr’s defence team says Omar was a victim, labeling him a child soldier and raising doubts about whether he actually killed Speer.

Omar’s father, Ahmed Said Khadr, an associate of Osama bin Laden and reputed financier of al-Qaeda operations, was an extreme fundamentalist, who was once quoted in a Rolling Stones article as saying to his children, “if you love me, pray that I will get martyred,” and told his sons it would bring “honour” to the family if his sons were to be suicide-bombers. He allegedly warned his son Abdurahman, “if you ever betray Islam, I will be the one to kill you.”

In 1975, Said left his native Egypt for Canada, and soon after married a Palestinian woman. At the University of Ottawa, he studied computer engineering and did research for a major telecommunications firm. In 1980, an Ottawa-based charity called Human Concern International was founded, ostensibly with the purpose of “alleviating human suffering.” Khadr went to work for the charity which had a record of promoting militant Islam.

While working in Afghanistan in 1985, Khadr met bin Laden and became a close ally of his, and was sometimes described as having one of the highest ranks of al-Qaeda’s 75 Canadian operatives.

In 1998, the family moved to Peshawar, Pakistan; Omar was two years old. Four years later, the family returned to Toronto after Ahmed was almost killed when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan. After Ahmed’s recovery, the family returned to Pakistan, and eventually back to Afghanistan where they lived in a large compound with bin Laden. It is alleged that bin Laden even attended the wedding of the eldest daughter, Zaynab.

It was around this time, the U.S government alleges, that the sons — Omar, Abdullah and Abdurahman — attended a military camp to train in combat tactics, handguns, assault, and bomb-making.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the Khadr family fled Afghanistan when U.S. forces invaded. In October 2003, Omar’s father was killed in a gun battle by Pakistani forces.

Ahmed Said Khadr

Born in Egypt, moved to Canada in 1977. He was married to a local Palestinian woman, and moved the family to Pakistan in 1998. Khadr was accused of being a founding member of al-Qaeda and financier for the organization. He was put on a list of suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In 2003, he was killed in a shootout with Pakistani forces near the Afghanistan border.

Maha Khadr

Born in Palestine and moved to Canada, she married Ahmed Said Khadr in Canada. In the 1980s she moved with her husband and six children to Afghanistan.

Zaynab Khadr

Born in Canada, she is the eldest child of Ahmed and Maha. Zaynab was allegedly involved with her brother Abdullah in running an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s. She is known to be notoriously outspoken, and has been quoted as saying she wished she had “the guts to die a martyr.” While she has never been charged with a crime, her interviews with the media may be so damaging to her brother’s case for freedom that her brothers’ attorney have asked her to not say anything.

Abdullah Khadr

The eldest son, who has admitted to buying weapons for al-Qaeda, saying he was on friendly terms with the leaders because of his father’s prominent role, and was not a member himself. He denies running an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The Taliban released information on Feb. 4, 2004, suggesting Abdullah may have been the suicide bomber who killed a Canadian soldier in Kabul in January 2004. In December 2005, he returned to Canada after he was released from custody in Pakistan, but it is not known who held him or why he was released.

On Feb. 8, 2006 he was indicted in Massachusetts on four charges, including: conspiring to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, and conspiracy to possess a destructive device to commit violent crimes.

Arrested in 2004 in Pakistan on a $500,000 (U.S.) bounty, he was held in a secret safe house for a year, where Canadian and U.S. agents grilled him. He goes on trial in Toronto today on a U.S. bid to extradite him as an al-Qaeda gunrunner.

Abdurahman Khadr

Calls himself the "black sheep" of the Khadr family. In November, 2001, he was arrested as a suspected member of al-Qaeda, and was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2003. He was released and sent to Afghanistan in July 2003, and returned to Canada in October of the same year.

Omar Khadr

In July 2002 he was detained near Khost, Afghanistan at age 15, accused of killing a U.S. serviceman. Omar Khadr is the only Canadian to be held in the U.S prison at Guantanamo Bay. Now 22, Omar has spent the past seven years in detention there.

Abdul Karim Khadr

The youngest son, he was paralyzed in the same attack that killed his father. He returned to Canada with his mother in April 2004 to get medical treatment.


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