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As Harper Procrastinates, Khadr Gains Sympathy

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The Omar Khadr saga is becoming increasingly weird, as various factions chime in on why he should -- or should not -- return to Canada.

To make my own position clear (since I've been periodically writing about him and his al-Qaeda family from the very start), I think Canada owes nothing to him, would be well rid of him if he never returned, but I see no way he won't come back.

Born in Scarborough, most of his life has been pledged to furthering the cause of al-Qaeda, following the lead of his father who was killed in a Pakistani ambush.

But to call Khadr a "murderer" because he killed an American soldier who was
invading Afghanistan is ridiculous, even though he confessed to being one as part of his deal to be returned to Canada from Guantanamo Bay.

It's only slightly less ridiculous than justifying or excusing everything he did on grounds that he was a "child soldier" at the time, and did not appreciated the consequences of his actions. Baloney to that nonsense.

There are factions in Toronto and elsewhere that view Khadr as something of a folk-hero and lobby for his return. Others want him banned, of if he returns, charged with treason. Both are extreme reactions.

"Treason?" As far as is known, he's done nothing to undermine Canada.

He was pledged (by his father) to serve an alien cause in Afghanistan before 9/11 happened, so obviously his loyalties were not dedicated to the country of his birth.

But "treason" make less sense than his conviction for "murder" because he fought back against an invading enemy that had killed his comrades.

Now there are psychiatric reports that supposedly claim he's more dangerous than ever, surrounded and influenced in Gitmo by committed Islamic terrorists. His return to Canada is on hold because Public Safety Minister Vic Toews wants to consider the contents of these reports.

It could be argued that Canada's agreed a year ago that he should return. What's now in dispute is the timing. The Harper government is in no hurry for that brouhaha. The longer they procrastinate, the more sympathy Khadr gains.

To call Omar Khadr a "terrorist," is something of a stretch -- especially if those making decisions are denied access to psychiatric assessments done on Khadr.

Press reports say he's become something of a "rock star" among jihadists at Guantanamo -- and among CBC-types. He's evolved from the child soldier of a decade ago into a 25-year-old charismatic, persecuted symbol.

All this and more is apparently in reports and interviews being withheld from Canada. The question begs -- what happens to Khadr if (when) he's returned to Canada?

Will he live peacefully with his family, or will he be an advocate for terror -- a magnet for others who glamorize his radicalism?

One doesn't know.

But when he does return (as one day he will), he should not go to prison, as some advocate. He's served his time. As an enemy combatant of the United States, perhaps he should remain detained in Guantanamo until the "war of terror" is over.

That's not going to happen, but the U.S. would be justified in keeping Khadr incarcerated -- and Canada would be justified in wanting him kept there.

But he's Canadian-born, and we have no option but to accept him. Eventually.