Omar Khadr, Guantanamo Bay, Date Unknow
Produced in Guantánamo Bay United States Naval Base & Concentration Camp
Omar Khadr ISN US9CA-000766DP Camp Delta, U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba PO Box 160 Washington, D.C. 20053 USA
On July 6, 2011 the FBI had secretly arrested 17 year old Mohammed Khalid, a high school graduate of Ellicott City, Maryland, for terrorism related offences.
His family disclosed that he was questioned by the FBI, without a parent or lawyer present, at least eight times while he was 15 and 16 years old.
Mohammed Khalid’s relatives do not know much about the allegations –or what Mohammed told the FBI –but are confused and angry that they allowed the boy to spend so much time with agents.
“When they said, ‘Can we take him out for a few hours?’ it seemed so informal,” one relative said. “And now, in a way, we feel cheated.”
“Now we know that was a mistake. We had thought everything was taken care of and fine because he talked to the FBI so many times –but the next thing you know, a year later, without any warning, the FBI took Mohammed away. It was a shock to us and to him.”
Khalid had been the rare case of a juvenile in federal custody after his arrest, when he was held at a state youth facility in Berks County. However, he turned 18 late last month and has been moved to a federal adult prison.
Federal charges against juveniles are rare. Nationally, only 100 juveniles are serving federal sentences, and federal officials could not cite another juvenile who has been arrested on terror-related charges.
The reed-thin, serious-looking young man appeared older than his years. Mohammad Khalid had no family or friends in the Philadelphia courtroom. His parents, legal U.S.residents from Pakistan who had pushed their four children to excel in school, were working, a defense lawyer said.
Mohammad Hassan Khalid, now 18, entered a plea of not guilty at his first public court appearance this October.
His lawyer did not seek bail for him although Khalid is due back in court on Nov. 16 to determine where he should be held. A judge set a Dec. 13 trial date, but that is almost certain to be moved given the complexity of the case.
In an indictment released last month, it is alleged that Mohammed Khalid was 15 when he allegedly conspired with Colleen LaRose of Pennsburg, Montgomery County, to solicit money and recruits for a jihad. His case is now unsealed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Mohammed’s father works for a delivery company, his family having emigrated from rural Pakistan four years ago. The family members are all legal residents of the United States, and moved to America for better educational opportunities for their children.
Mohammed and his siblings shined in school, but did not socialize much, relatives said, because their parents insisted that they stick to their studies. “School, education is everything,” a family member said. “If you waste one second on anything else, you are disrespecting your elders.”
A year after they arrived, Mohammed found himself excelling academically, but also, to the concern of other family members, spending hours alone online. He became moody and did not talk much, though he never spoke of violent, religious, or political thoughts –the kind of comments authorities claim he made on the internet.
“We hoped he’d come out of his shell more when he went off to college,” the family said.
His parents are the first in the family to be literate; the children were to be the first generation to attend college. Relatives say that Mohammed was headed to Johns Hopkins University on a full scholarship this fall, a dream shattered by his sudden arrest.
He was also an aspiring writer who received an honorable mention in a contest last year for an essay titled Voices Around the World. A Hopkins spokesman has said that Khalid withdrew from the university after his arrest.
“It’s a true American immigrant story,” another defense attorney said in an interview. “That has turned into a nightmare,” added his colleague.
Moazzam Begg spends much of his life these days in airports and on flights, travelling the world speaking about human rights and his experience as a Guantanamo detainee.
The author of a book about his experience, Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar, Begg was arrested in Pakistan and held at several US detention facilities abroad from 2002 until 2005 by the US government under the Bush Administration. He was never charged with any offence.
Moazzam had planned a 14-day trip to Canada to meet with Maher Arar and Abdullah Almalki, two Canadians rendered to Syria where they were brutally tortured. He had also hoped to meet with the family and legal team of Omar Khadr, the only Canadian child prisoner still held in Guantanamo. Begg met Omar in the US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2002.
However the 42-year-old from Birmingham was denied entry to Canada at the Montreal airport Sunday on the grounds that his name is on a US no-fly list and because he has admitted, after torture and abuse by the Bush Administration, to being a former member of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
It was the second time in six months that Begg, director of a British human rights group, Cageprisoners, has attempted to come to Canada. Air Canada previously stopped him from boarding a flight from London bound for Toronto in May because of concerns the flight could be diverted to the US, he was told. Read the rest of this entry »
This week, I became the first ever former Guantánamo prisoner to have stepped on North American soil as a free man.
Since my return from Guantánamo in 2005, I have travelled the world extensively and been welcomed by ordinary people, as well as world leaders, to talk about the effects of detention without trial and the uncontrolled abuse of power exercised during the US-led “war on terror”. And I’ve had meetings with some of the most powerful political figures in Europe, including Britain, and have delivered speeches in front of presidents and prime ministers. These countries include France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Slovakia, Poland, South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan, UAE, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan – and Libya, where I met with some of that country’s new leaders, who had themselves been victims of US- and British-instigated rendition. I have not been hindered when entering any of these countries.
What I hadn’t done, however, is to take my message toNorth America, where, undoubtedly, I believe it matters most. Despite having had a book published there, I’ve never been to theUS – althoughAmerica has been to me. Notwithstanding numerous videolink lectures I’ve given to American colleges and institutions, I was not prepared to risk a visit to theUS. And I’m certain the feeling is mutual, at least on a governmental level.
Canada, on the other hand, was a different matter – or so I thought. Read the rest of this entry »
To my dear mother,
Assalamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
How are you, mother, and how is your health? I pray to Allah that you are in the best of circumstances and in good health. What is the news of my brothers and sisters and my father? I pray to Allah that you are all well. Forgive me, O mother, for not having written letters to you all because I didn’t know your address. As I write to you, my hand is shaking; I don’t know if it’s due to happiness or sadness. Mother, in your next letter, write to me with news of my father and brothers and sisters and what is happening to them. I know that they are well but give me a few more details and also about Safiyya; I often see her in my dreams and Abdul Karim and the others occassionally. How are Zainab, Abdullah and Maryam? Allah knows that I am longing for you all very much and I hope to see you all soon very soon if Allah wills. Don’t be sad for me. I am in good health; all praise is due to Allah. My injuries have improved and I am exercising and eating. All I lack is your company. When I was captured, in the first few days, I was asleep and I heard your voice; I got up and I couldn’t find you. I pray to Allah to write our reward for us. Make your intentions sincere for Him and do not be angry with what Allah has decreed. Everything happens by the decree of Allah and His divine preordainment. We ask Allah to accept our supplications. I ask all my brothers and sisters and friends to forgive me. Mother, know that man suffers for his faith and continues to suffer until he walks the earth free from sin, so be patient and hope for Allah’s reward in the hereafter. I will be released; there is no doubt about it. I pray to Allah for it to happen very soon. How is Maryam? Does she have measles or a small tumour? I pray to Allah that she is well. How is your health, mother? Don’t be sad, Allah is with us and every believer. Be happy, because after night, there is always a new dawn and a brilliant sun for Islam and the Muslims. O mother, be happy because I memorised the whole Qur’an in […]. I saw one of my uncle’s in my dream. He had a white face, it was illuminated and he was happy. Don’t forget me in your prayers. I never have and never will forget any of you in mine. Increase your obedience to Allah for no calamity befalls us except what Allah has written for us as well as that which is the result of our sins.
With love, my dear mother. Was-salaamu ‘alaikum and greetings for the last four Eids that have gone by.
Omar Ahmed Khadr, 18/6/2004