“I was pretty good at basketball,” Omar Khadr says, a little ruefully, as he looks out of the window of an Edmonton-area apartment, and considers his unlikely road to living rent-free in the heads of Canadian conservatives.
“That might have been an easier way to go. But, like so many other kids, I just couldn’t escape the call of the easy money to be found down that well-established path of living on the front lines of a war in Afghanistan, and being captured at the age of 15 in a battle that nearly killed me and cost me the sight of my left eye. Only to be tortured and refused medical attention in Bagram, and then spending the next 10 years in Guantanamo Bay before finally agreeing I was guilty of murder on the understanding that if I did so, I would be allowed to return to Canada to serve out my sentence in a maximum security prison. All so I could eventually sue the Canadian government for colluding with the United States in my illegal detainment, and the repeated denial of my right to due process and proper representation. It really was just that easy.”
Speaking after having received a sum of money that will never bring back the nearly half of his life he spent in an extrajudicial prison, Khadr was surprisingly subdued, considering he is now a made man.
“I just sometimes wonder if maybe there might have been an easier way to get ahead y’know? One that didn’t involve all the torture, and hunger strikes, and PTSD. Like becoming a bond trader perhaps? Or making an app for people who lost their pets? Something like that.”
He sighs and shrugs. “I guess we’ll never know. That’s what happens when you take the easy way. No real answers. Or right to a fair trial for your first decade of incarceration. Or full vision.”