Omar Khadr, pictured in this undated photo, is studying Romeo and Juliet as part of his military prison schooling. (Janet Hamlin/Special to QMI Agency)
OTTAWA — O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Turns out, he’s in Gitmo serving time as a war criminal.
Canada’s Omar Khadr, who last fall pleaded guilty to war crimes in a U.S. military court at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is being schooled in his military prison at Guantanamo to prepare for his eventual release.
The Miami Herald is even reporting part of his education — a home schooling-like curriculum — had the 24-year-old read the part of Romeo, while his towering 6-6 military lawyer read the part of Juliet.
(Among the quotable from the Shakespeare classic: “Deny thy father and refuse thy name,” “These violent delights have violent ends,” “A plague on both your houses,” “Tempt not a desperate man” and “A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents.”)
In October, Khadr pleaded guilty to a series of war crimes, including killing a U.S. Special Forces solider with a grenade during a July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan when Khadr was 15.
He was also part of an al-Qaida explosives cell that was making and planting roadside bombs targeting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
According to Dennis Edney, Khadr’s Canadian lawyer, they’ve been bringing Khadr educational materials “on an ad hoc basis” for years, “because there’s no rehab programs there whatsoever.”
“If you ever check out the reports by foreign affairs when they sent officials down to see him over the years, the one thing that cries out is he’s always been asking to be educated,” Edney said. “Of course, that hasn’t happened.”
Edney said Khadr hasn’t received any formal education since elementary school, when his father — a well known al-Qaida financier — moved the family from Toronto to Pakistan.
Khadr’s education curriculum — designed by Edmonton’s Arlette Zinck, a professor at King’s University College ‹ reportedly includes history, math, astronomy, grammar and elocution.
Edney said they’re trying to bring him up to a Grade 12 level.
And according to Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson, Khadr’s military lawyer (a.k.a. Juliet), English education is an emphasis for Khadr to help him qualify as a mature student and be accepted into college if and when he returns to Canada, which could happen as early as this fall.
While the military jury in his war-crimes trial at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay sentenced the Toronto-born Khadr to 40 years behind bars, a secret plea bargain capped his sentence at eight years.
The deal also allows Khadr to apply to return to Canada next fall with the support of the U.S. government after serving one year of his sentence at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.