Khadr 'highly dangerous,' psychiatrist tells court
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, October 26, 2010 8:13PM EDT
Omar Khadr is an angry and "highly dangerous" terrorist who shows no remorse for the killing of a U.S. soldier and other crimes, a psychiatrist speaking on behalf of prosecutors told a Guantanamo Bay court Tuesday.
Khadr, who pleaded guilty to five war-crimes charges on Monday, still has strong ties to his "al Qaeda family" and has made no effort to distance himself from extremist views, Dr. Michael Welner told Khadr's sentencing hearing.
"He's highly dangerous," Welner said. "It is his belief that he should not have been here for a day ... and that it is everybody else's fault that he is."
Welner told jurors that Khadr "marinated in radical jihadism" during the eight years he spent in custody in Guantanamo Bay, and was considered a spiritual leader by his fellow inmates.
Welner's testimony concluded the first day of Khadr's sentencing hearing, which is expected to last for several days.
Earlier Tuesday, jurors heard details about Khadr's early life and his actions in Afghanistan, including that he felt "happy" when learned he had killed a U.S. soldier with a grenade eight years ago.
The details of the 2002 firefight in Afghanistan came out Tuesday as military prosecutors read out the agreed statement of facts that were part of Khadr's plea deal.
According to the statement of facts, Khadr threw a Russian-made F1 grenade from behind the wall of a compound in Afghanistan that was under siege from American forces in July 2002. Khadr was in the compound with other members of a terrorist cell with whom he had a pact to die rather than surrender.
"Khadr threw the grenade with the specific intent of killing or injuring as many Americans as he could," prosecutor Jeff Groharing told the court.
The grenade killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. Groharing told the court Khadr was "happy" to have killed a soldier, a fact that would bring him comfort during his time in custody at the Bagram Air Base near Kabul.
"Khadr indicated that when he would get 'pissed off' with the guards at Bagram, he would recall his killing of the U.S. soldier and it would make him feel good," Groharing said, reading from the statement of facts.
The seven U.S. military officers who make up the jury also heard details about the terrorist training Khadr received in his youth and the fact that he considered himself to be a member of al Qaeda.
"Khadr considered himself to be an active member of al Qaeda and he shared the same goals as the organization, which are to target and kill all Americans -- whether civilian or military -- anywhere they can be found, and to 'plunder their money,"' Groharing said.
The first witness called to the sentencing hearing was an FBI agent who showed a photograph of Khadr preparing a landmine when he was younger. The agent also demonstrated how to use an F-1 grenade, and screened a video of a U.S. military vehicle being blown up by a landmine.
Another witness described Khadr as co-operative during questioning by FBI agents, but also said he was "almost bragging" when he discussed Speer's death.
Khadr to return to Canada
On Monday, Khadr pleaded guilty to five war-crimes charges, as part of a deal that will guarantee that the 24-year-old Canadian serves no more than eight years in prison.
But his Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, told CTV News Channel on Monday afternoon that Khadr also acknowledged guilt in two other murders "that no one had ever suggested that Omar had committed."
Edney did not provide further details on how or when the new charges were presented to his client, but said his confession "confirms that he would have admitted to the killing of John F. Kennedy if doing so would have got him out of Gitmo."
The plea deal also ensures that Khadr will be able to apply for transfer to a Canadian prison after serving 12 months of his sentence.
While the full details of the agreement have not yet been made public, CTV's Washington Bureau Chief Paul Workman said the U.S. has made it clear that it will help Khadr return home.
"The diplomatic notes that are attached to the plea bargain state very clearly that he will have the opportunity to come back to Canada," Workman told CTV's Canada AM from Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday morning.
Khadr's trial is still ongoing, and the jurors will still have a chance to impose their own sentence on Khadr. But Khadr will only serve the jury's recommended sentence if it is less severe than the one that has been negotiated in his plea agreement.
The jurors will continue to hear from both prosecution and defence witnesses at the hearing, including Speer's widow.
Deal ends legal limbo
Khadr is the only Westerner still being held at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison. Since his capture in July 2002, Khadr has spent more than one-third of his life in U.S. custody.
His supporters say that Khadr is a child soldier who was dragged into a conflict by his father -- the late Ahmed Said Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was killed in Pakistan after his son's capture.
Khadr has also spent years in legal limbo, waiting for his case to be resolved.
In the agreed statement of facts, Khadr admitted to being an "unprivileged" enemy combatant, a term used to describe a civilian who is not a legitimate enemy soldier and therefore not afforded some rights and protections.
Experts who have watched the controversial military trials at Guantanamo Bay say Khadr had little chance at a fair trial and was forced to make a deal with prosecutors.
With files from The Canadian Press