Public Safety Minister Vic Toews
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - Omar Khadr won't be coming home to Canada any time soon.
The Canadian government has balked at the return of the convicted war criminal and murderer until U.S. authorities turn over allegedly-damning video footage of psychiatrists' interviews with the Guantanamo Bay prisoner.
In a formal letter sent Thursday to both U.S. defence secretary Leon Panetta and Khadr's Toronto lawyer, John Norris, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews states that in order to have Khadr sent back to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada, officials north of the boarder must be given access to sealed video footage of separate interviews with Khadr that were carried out by two psychiatrists during the lead-up to Khadr's trial in 2010.
Toews also stated complete reports from Dr. Michael Welner and Dr. Alan Hopewell have not been supplied to Correctional Service of Canada and the parole board, and that both are required to administer Khadr's sentence in Canada, according to sources familiar with the letter.
Welner - who interviewed Khadr for eight hours in June 2010 and spent "hundreds of hours" researching his history - charges Khadr has become an even more "dangerous" radical while serving time in Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, mainly because of the hard-line jihadist prisoners that are around him, Khadr's continued connections to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, his loyalty to his radical-Islamist family and his celebrity among militant, anti-West jihadis.
"I came to the conclusion that Omar Khadr (is) highly dangerous because of the nature of his role in the community of al-Qaida and other Islamist terrorists," Welner said, adding the "street smart" Khadr, when he is eventually released from custody, will be "under tremendous pressure" from those around him to be a leader in radical Islam's war on the West.
"His family continues to be ideologically motivated ... (and he) will be under tremendous pressure from (those) people who are the source of his self esteem," Welner said, adding Khadr is considered a "rock star" among the jihadis being held with him in America's Guantanamo Bay prison.
At Khadr's sentencing hearing, Welner submitted a document of 73 facts - all "undisputed" by Khadr's lawyers, he said - as to why Khadr continues to be a threat, including his bragging about killing an American soldier, being "angry" and "manipulative," and having the "capacity to be inspiring to others in his potential for further jihad violence."
Welner also noted in his submission that Khadr "did not want to confront his previous actions and blamed others" when it came to video footage of him as a 15-year-old planting land mines near Khost, Afghanistan, in July of 2002.
Seven days later, Khadr, who was born in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough in 1986 into a family with connections to the al-Qaida terrorist group, was on a fighting mission when he killed U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer with a grenade during an altercation with American troops.
Khadr pleaded guilty to murder and several other charges in 2010 and was sentenced to 40 years, but as part of a plea deal he received eight years and was to be returned to Canada to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
While Canada agreed to his repatriation in 2010, Toews has resisted Khadr's return, arguing public safety trumps the wishes of Khadr's sympathizers for his speedy return to Canada.
Toews has insisted he won't be "pushed" into making a decision, despite attempts by Khadr's legal team to force the matter in federal court, and his letter suggests Canada will not admit Khadr until it receives the documentation and video interviews Canadian officials need to determine how to deal with the convicted terrorist and murderer.
Meanwhile, a movement has been building in Toronto to keep Khadr out of Canada or have him charged with treason if he is returned.