A political firestorm has been touched off in both the United States and Canada thanks to a decision made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to award the equivalent of $8 million US to convicted terrorist and War Criminal Omar Khadr. Trudeau also officially apologized to Khadr for the alleged mistreatment he received when imprisoned at Guantanamo.

What did Omar Khadr do?

In 2002, during the initial American led coalition invasion of Afghanistan, Omar Khadr was a 15-year-old foreign fighter (he was a citizen of Canada) and a member of Al Qaida, considered of military age in Afghan culture. During a battle, Khadr threw a grenade that killed Sgt.

Christopher Speer, a Delta force medic, and severely wounded another American soldier. Seriously wounded himself, Khadr was taken into custody and transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo.

In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to the murder of Sgt. Speer along with four other charges in exchange for an eight-year sentence. He was later transferred to Canadian custody and then, when he recanted his guilty plea which he claimed was given under duress, was released on bail pending an appeal. Khadr sued the Canadian government for $20 million Canadian for the alleged mistreatment he received at the hands of Canadian interrogators while at Guantanamo.

What Justin Trudeau did

Prime Minister justin trudeau short circuited the court proceeding by intervening and settling with Khadr, giving him millions of dollars and offering a formal apology.

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Trudeau, rather high mindedly, claimed that he took this action in the spirit of adhering to Khadr’s civil rights.

Political reaction in Canada and the United States decidedly negative

In the meantime, Speer’s widow has been awarded a $134 million judgment against Khadr in a court in Utah. An action is pending to make the award enforceable in Canada. However, Trudeau’s decision to immediately award money to Khadr and not allow the court case to proceed complicates hopes of Ms. Speer to garner that award money.

In the meantime, protests have erupted in both Canada and the United States. The Trudeau decision is seen by many to be a slap in the face of both Canadian and American soldiers and veterans. The Canadian Conservative Party has made an issue of the decision in the Canadian Parliament. A funding effort has started among private Canadian citizens to raise money to compensate Speer’s widow.

Some analysts in the American media believe that Trudeau was motivated by a deep seated animus against the United States in general and President Donald Trump in particular. Whatever the case is, relations between the two countries, if not their peoples, have become severely strained.