Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is vacationing in the Dominican Republic this weekend, where he will tee off with former U.S. President Bill Clinton for the newly inaugurated Soft-on-Terror Masters Tournament.
While Chretien golfs, his fellow countryman and favorite accused terrorist Ahmad Said Khadr is still on the loose.
Khadr, an Egyptian-born Canadian citizen, is considered by intelligence officials to be the highest-ranking Canadian within Osama bin Laden's inner circle. He studied computer science at the University of Ottawa and worked for an Ottawa-based Islamic charity, Human Concern International, which was generously subsidized by Chretien's government.
Khadr is suspected of siphoning charity funds to bin Laden and other jihadists, and of serving as a chief terrorist recruiter. Known as "al-Kanadi" (Arabic for "The Canadian"), Khadr had previously been in custody in Pakistan for the 1995 bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad that killed 17 people.
As I've noted before (and it is especially worth repeating in light of attempts by some high-ranking American diplomats to make amends with Canada), our so-called friend and supposed War on Terror partner Chretien was instrumental in securing Khadr's freedom.
Chretien personally intervened on behalf of Khadr during a 1996 state visit to Pakistan. He aggressively sought guarantees from Benazir Bhutto, then the country's prime minister, that Khadr would receive due process and fair treatment. The suspected Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist was released shortly after Chretien's diplomatic lobbying campaign.
The United Nations, U.S. and Canada (last, of course) have since frozen the fugitive Khadr's assets due to his suspected ties to bin Laden. One of his sons, an al Qaeda operative and former terror training camp commander, is on the run with Khadr.
Another of Khadr's sons, 16-year-old Omar, is in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay for his alleged role in an ambush of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan last summer. Omar is accused of lobbing the hand grenade that killed Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, a 28-year-old medic with the U.S. Special Forces.
"That wasn't a panicky teenager we encountered that day," Sergeant First Class Layne Morris of South Jordan, Utah, who lost his right eye in the ambush, told the Boston Globe last month. "That was a trained Al Qaeda who wanted to make his last act on earth the killing of an American."
Speer left behind a wife and two children, ages 3 and 11 months. Just days before his murder, Speer had selflessly walked into a minefield to rescue two wounded Afghan children.
Chretien's government, naturally, is pleading for leniency in Omar Khadr's case.
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