I wish him well. Even more, I hope he meets Jesus.
A Canadian court Monday determined that Omar Khadr had served his full sentence and was no longer subject to any legal restrictions. He and I now have equal standing before the law. He can apply for a passport, travel and associate with his family.
He also has a $10 million government payout, which is something that irritates many Canadians. I’ll admit that bothered me too, though I understand the legal necessity – our laws are to protect those we dislike, not just those we agree with.
For Canadians, Omar Khadr’s name is a household word. His father was one of Osama Bin Laden’s top lieutenants, a leader of Al Qaeda. The family have been on terrorist watch lists. Omar was wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan in a 2002 battle in which he killed American soldiers. He was 15. Held in Guantanamo Bay for years without trial, he was eventually transferred to Canada to serve his sentence. When it was proved that Canadian officials had breached his rights, he was awarded compensation by the Canadian government.
That summary barely scratches the surface of Khadr’s history. It doesn’t touch on the issue of child soldiers or the legality of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Books have probably already been written, or are being written. I feel sorry for him: when you are raised to be a jihadi, adjusting back to life in Canada must be difficult. Yet by all accounts he has done well while serving his sentence in the community the past few years.
I hope he can understand the unease many people feel about his past and his family. I also hope Canadians can judge him for who he is today. Give the young man the opportunity to live his life. Allow the possibility he has learned from his past and has decided to change his ways.
I don’t know how his upbringing has affected his development. I can only imagine what it is like to be part of a family that sends out a 15-year-old to shoot and kill people in a foreign country. He was born in Canada, he shouldn’t have been killing soldiers in Afghanistan.
As a Christian I believe in repentance and forgiveness. From God’s perspective, my sins are really no different from Omar Khadr’s. I know I have been forgiven – and I hope Omar Khadr is willing to accept that forgiveness also, to set aside the past and move on.
He has spent most of his life in one jail or another. The ones devised by his family he probably didn’t even realize. The ones imposed by Canadian and American authorities he knows all too well.
He has been released from prison, he has served his sentence, but he is not yet truly free. For that, he needs to have that encounter with Jesus. Then he will be free at last.