Linda Weber, the manager of the International office at King's University College.
Credits: MIKE HENSEN/The London Free Press/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON – Some students at King's University College in Edmonton are willing to offer convicted terrorist Omar Khadr a second chance now that he's back in Canada.
Khadr will be serving out his sentence in Canada after a recent decision was made to move him from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a maximum-security prison in Bath, Ont. He arrived back in the country early Saturday.
Some are looking to his post-prison days when he may choose to trade his cell for a classroom.
"It opens up to a second chance for him," said Brixton Sandhals, a first-year English student at King's.
Khadr confessed to and was found guilty of five war crimes — including the killing of a U.S. special forces medic — during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.
He was 15 years old at the time and during his widely criticized incarceration at the U.S. military prison he has received some educational training developed by staff at KUC.
KUC professor Arlette Zinck, who designed his curriculum, testified on Khadr's behalf during his trial and has said she would support his application as a mature student at KUC once he is released.
Khadr has said he would consider attending the Edmonton school once he is released.
"From 15 years old, people obviously change," said Karyn Roseboom, a first-year environmental science student at King's.
Both Roseboom and Sandhals were not at all concerned by the prospect of Khadr being in a classroom with them in the near future.
Considering Khadr's possible 40-year sentence was cut to just eight years by a U.S. plea deal, and the possibility of early parole in Canada, that situation is a distinct possibility.
Recent KUC philosophy graduate Pawel Zygmunt said there is a lot of discussion around the school from students and staff about the decision to bring Khadr back to Canada. According to him, Khadr's crimes are not the issue.
"Personally, he's like any other human being," said Zygmunt, who has set his own sights on law school.
"If we're taking the approach that this is a Christian college and we should be accepting and allowing everybody the chance for the freedoms that we are given, that we sometimes take for granted, he should be given the opportunity for studying, even if he's served his time."
What may pose a problem for Khadr has more to do with his new surroundings.
Zygmunt said the world is a different place since Khadr first went into prison.
"Lots has changed. He was 15 and he could have changed but it's going to be a huge culture clash and shock to him," said Zygmunt.