Parshah Matot – Massei – Numbers 30:2-36:13
Torah Reading for Week of July 15-21, 2012 – Tammuz 25-Av 2, 5772
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“…Hashem declared to them ‘You cried needlessly. Therefore, I will affix this night as a night of crying throughout history.’” (Ta’anis 29a)
‘The ideal person to establish a beachhead for al-Qaeda in Canada’
Dr. Michael Welner is a New York-based forensic psychiatrist who has testified in a number of high-profile cases. He is associate professor of psychiatry at NYU, founder and chairman of the Forensic Panel, and developer of the Depravity Standard, a research study that includes a public survey at www.depravityscale.org. (The Forensic Panel)CBC News: You interviewed Khadr for seven to eight hours. Is that enough time to get a good assessment of an individual?
Welner: The interview was conducted after I had devoted over 300 hours to the study of records ranging from interrogation notes to psychologist observations to medical records to classified documents to correspondence between Khadr and his family, and interviewing many others who had interacted with him in one way or another.
For the questions I was asked to resolve, my interview was adequate. I had the opportunity to ask every question that was appropriate for the occasion of our meeting. Omar answered some questions and obfuscated some others. And then I headed directly to an interview with five different guards who had interacted with him and supervisors of those guards, collecting their insights on how he related to his peers and they to him, and how he to them, as well as his relatedness to the guards and how that evolved over time.
One learns from many sources, and no one accounted for more direct contact with a broader range of source materials than I did. No one. The interview was informative enough that the defence did everything in its power to prevent not only the jury from seeing it, but even the prosecutors.
CBC News: What was your impression of him, in terms of his personality, intelligence?
Welner: He is street smart and carries himself with the bearing of a confident person who knows others are interested in him. He is amiable and has a ready smile, and an easy comportment as long as he is not being confronted. He unfailingly portrayed himself as a victim with nothing of his own to regret or to renounce.
CBC News: What did he say during that time that made you believe he’s a danger?
Welner: His is the dilemma of Michael Corleone, who even when directed to one way of life may not ultimately turn away from family pressures to lead their ambitions for him, and his own visceral identification. Omar Khadr is undisputed al-Qaeda royalty and undeniably has yet to renounce it.
If not de-radicalized, and without a system of checks and balances that protects the pluralistic fabric of Canadian society, the Omar Khadr I evaluated will re-enter Canada ideally positioned and exploited by jihadist elements to legitimize and to promote Islamist aims, to inspire others to hostility to Canada and to avenge his claimed grievance. He is the ideal person to establish a beachhead for al-Qaeda in Canada, and will be pressured by the radicals who expect him to do so.
Mr. Khadr remains in closest identification with his family. That family has publicly characterized itself as an al-Qaeda family. He aims to return to that family and its inspiration when he returns to Canada and has specifically avoided repudiating jihadism in the slightest.
Khadr listens to witness Dr. Welner (right) respond to questioning by prosecution air force Capt. Chris Eason (centre) during his trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Janet Hamlin/Canadian Press)His being a killer of an American soldier has given him great standing among the Guantanamo detainees, who have been his entire community, and are essentially the source of his self-esteem. As the man even elder al-Qaeda and Taliban prevail upon to be their voice in Guantanamo, it is obvious that these elders and others would favour Omar Khadr’s potential benefit to their movement once he has freedom of movement.
His supporters have worsened his risk by enabling him to coast through his process by denying responsibility and therefore, any need to mature in a way that killers customarily come to live with what they have done.
Omar Khadr will not be directly violent; his father was not, yet a leader in al-Qaeda. Mr. Khadr does not need to be in order to promote the aims his father advanced.
CBC News: You have said he’s devout and that he’s angry. Did he show instances of anger? Or was he angry like anyone would be angry over being examined by someone he might think isn’t sympathetic or has an agenda?
Welner: He was not angry over talking to me. The independence of my examination was clear to him and when he questioned it, I replied that the videotaping of my interview ensured complete transparency and would safeguard his interview from potential bias by holding me accountable.
He was angry that he was being incarcerated at all. He was angry when he could not control the interview by directing the discussion to topics of his preference. He was at his angriest when shown the videotape of his bomb-making activity and being asked about it. Experiences that do not make it possible for him to whitewash his killing and attempted killing make him particularly angry.
As he has fired numerous talented and doting attorneys to date, I experienced his anger as the way he in particular reacts to not being in control over a situation.
CBC News: What evidence was there that he’s still radicalized?
Khadr’s history of having killed an American soldier, his being the son of an al-Qaeda leader, his being in a family that fashions itself as an al-Qaeda family and therefore able to provide support from outside prison, his access to media who wish to decriminalize his jihadist violence and to legitimize his grievance, his access to devoted NGOs and pro bono Canadian and American legal talent no ordinary citizen could dream of, his having memorized the Qur’an, his fluency in English and Western social skills with guards prompted numerous blocks within Guantanamo to ask that he be their block leader.
The deputy camp commander depicted him, for these reasons, as a “rock star” of the camps. For those who feel he has not been further radicalized, consider this: as radical as the remaining detainees are, would they choose a moderately minded person to act as their leader? Would they choose a child? I don’t think so. Nor does any other person charged with responsibility in Guantanamo think so.
What is different about Omar Khadr is that his advocacy has been so successfully hyped that he has achieved something no one in the world has: the unthinkable makeover of al-Qaeda as a victim and the legitimization of its grievance and to act as it chooses.
CBC News: Many Canadians saw the videotapes of his interrogation by CSIS agents where we see him crying, and he says he was tortured. What did you make of that?
Welner: The tapes are compelling viewing, and if one were to know nothing more of the case, would experience the scene as a teenager in great distress being dismissed by an unusually insensitive adult.
By 2001, the intelligence community had possession of the al-Qaeda handbook seized in Manchester, England. That handbook contained directives to captured al-Qaeda to claim torture and abuse by captors, especially if they gave statements.
Khadr is seen in Guantanamo Bay’s Camp 4, days before the 24-year-old Canadian was convicted of five war crimes and sentenced to eight more years. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)Omar Khadr co-operated with the hope that Canada would repatriate him (as it once did his father, when Ahmed Khadr had been incarcerated in Pakistan). The CSIS agent met with Khadr and found him to be the amiable and charming lad his father raised him to be. To Khadr’s great dismay, the CSIS agent flatly extinguished Khadr’s hopes of returning to Canada, and made note of Ahmed’s terrorist legacy.
When Omar Khadr sat for a followup interview the next day, his presentation was dramatically different. He not only exhibited a dramatically different mood and comportment with no event to explain his distress, but essentially articulated a story that the intelligence community recognized as the de rigeur claim of “torture” as having that familiar Manchester aroma.
CBC News: Khadr is considered by many to be a child soldier. He was brought up in a household where he was brainwashed and trained by his father about al-Qaeda. Why should someone who was only 15 at the time of the killing of Christopher Speer be held accountable for his actions?
Welner: The notion of brainwashing is part of the fiction created of Khadr — consider that his older brother completely rejected living religiously and militantly, yet was never rejected by the family.
Omar Khadr was sent to translate at an al-Qaeda compound where his father was known and no one would have exploited that child. On his own volition, Omar Khadr buoyantly assembled roadside bombs, planted them, and announced that he wanted to kill lots of Americans — as he videotaped the experience. His father was nowhere in sight and this initiative bore no resemblance to his purpose of acting as a translator there, as he had for his father’s terrorist business elsewhere.
When coalition forces converged only to disarm the compound, they gave the occupants 30 minutes to leave. A number of women and children did. Omar Khadr elected to stay, with colleagues who did not attack on impulse, but rather continued to wait while troops slowly gathered at the house to negotiate its disarmament. He therefore chose not only to be part of a group that launched an attack it did not have to, but one which deliberately waited for troops to converge so as to maximize coalition casualties.
A child soldier is ripped from his (often murdered) family and forced and habituated into violence. Omar Khadr enjoyed the martial arts for a number of years and voluntarily engaged in weapons training. He was hardly ripped from his father. The child soldier is drugged into a numbed detachment; Omar Khadr clearly was delighted by being part of the planned destruction. A child soldier is mortified by their actions; Omar Khadr felt glorified by what he did.
CBC News: Xenakis has said in previous interviews that anyone who has had personal contact with Khadr, including the Guantanamo Bay guards, would say, “This is a sensitive, caring, very considerate individual.”
Welner: Mr. Khadr was raised very well, contrary to the public misinformation that his father was a weirdo. His father was a dignified, educated man who ran an orphanage. He was also a terrorist who conducted al-Qaeda business using Omar Khadr as a translator from a very early age. One can have a sensitive and caring example set for him and learn how to carry social graces. Forensic examination does not afford the luxury of limiting an analysis to superficialities.
I would agree that Omar Khadr is very sensitive to his family and to his father’s legacy, and caring of his mother. That he happens to be closest to his family and possessed of such sensitivities is part of the problem.
Mehdi Ghezali is his name. No doubt a friend of Omar Khadr.
Sympathetic Doc About Muslim Terrorist Mehdi Ghazali
The Jewish Defence League will continue to expose and confront the threat of Omar Khadr and his Islamic Nazi allies. Join us and give us your full support.
With Love of Israel,
Meir Weinstein National Director Jewish Defence League of Canada