Purdy: What if Khadr lost his Canadian citizenship?
The father, Said Khadr, moved from Egypt to Canada in 1977, following which he married, and his children, including Omar, were born here. The family lived much of the time in Pakistan, returning occasionally to Canada for periods of time. RCMP officer Konrad Shourie stated that, “The entire family is affiliated with al-Qaeda and has participated in some form or another with these criminal extremist elements.”
Without going into an extensive family history, it is fair to say that the loyalty of the Khadr family was never to Canada, but to the Ummah, the collective Islamic world. From the statements that Omar Khadr has made in recent times during his Guantanamo detention, that is still where his loyalty lies.
His criminal sentence in the U.S. of eight years detention for the murder of an American soldier in Afghanistan provides that after one year he can apply to have his detention transferred to Canada, as a result of his Canadian citizenship. Our question is — what are we going to do with him? Are we going to give him the usual reductions of sentence and then let him walk our streets, planning new terrorist acts? Is he a common criminal or a special one?
Omar Khadr is by no means a common Canadian criminal. He has stated that he is proud that he killed the American soldier. He has never spoken of Canada except with disdain, and he has barely lived here, despite his birth in this country. He is clearly committed to the terrorist goals of al-Qaeda, and will be a continuing danger to this nation as well as all other non-Islamic countries.
So suppose we could revoke his Canadian citizenship? Well, we can’t, as our law now exists. Back in the 1947 version of the Canadian Citizenship Act a Canadian’s citizenship could be revoked if he served in the armed forces of a foreign state, but that was soon revoked during the Trudeau years. Not fair, you know.
The Americans had, and still do have, a similar provision. The problem with those laws is that they refer to serving in the armed forces of a foreign “state.” Terrorist groups, by definition, are not “states.”
There is some consideration in the U.S. to expanding the law to permit revocation of American citizenship if an American serves with, or finances, a foreign terrorist organization.
Surely the first thing that any nation is entitled to demand of its citizens is loyalty. Whether a person is born in Canada, or is a naturalized citizen, loyalty to Canada is a primary requirement. A citizen who takes up arms and becomes a terrorist fighting against Canada and its allies, and even the very idea of all that Canada stands for, has failed in the basic requirement of citizenship, and it should be taken from him.
Omar Khadr is clearly such a person. His physical presence in Canada has been tenuous, and his philosophical connection is nonexistent. He clearly relates and is loyal to the Islamic world Ummah, not Canada.
Fuzzy-minded bleeding hearts, or those with goals compatible with Khadr’s, attempt to whitewash him with phrases like “brainwashed child soldier” or “freedom fighter.” The fact is that he is 23, no longer a child, and he still clings tenaciously to his belief in Islamic jihad through terrorism. He is a very dangerous man to let loose in this country.
Canadian authorities are sweating bullets about what to do with Khadr if he returns here after a year’s detention in the U.S. One thing they have time to do is amend our Citizenship Act to provide that a Canadian’s citizenship can be revoked, following due process of course, if he takes up arms in a foreign terrorist organization, or finances such an organization. Then, if Khadr is transferred to this country, and later released, we would have a legal process available to rid our country of Omar Khadr and all his kind. Even if the law was not retroactive, and could not remove Khadr, at least it would help protect us from those who think and act like him.
Brian Purdy is a Calgary writer and former federal Crown Prosecutor