Khadr trial asks jury: Jihadist or scared teen?

Friday, August 13, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

GUANTANAMO BAY — Omar Khadr was either an enthusiastic teen jihadist who happily planted explosive devices and comforted himself in times of loneliness with thoughts of killing U.S. soldiers.

Or he was a frightened, cowed 15-year-old, dragged by a zealous father to Afghanistan against his will, caught up with a bad crowd, taken captive while gravely wounded and tortured into submission and confession by his captors.

The 23-year-old Canadian’s military jury was presented two contrasting portraits of the young man. Duelling sides of his Guantanamo Bay war-crimes trial sought to trump each other in painting what happened during a protracted 2002 Afghan firefight that left a U.S. army sergeant dead and the then-15-year-old severely wounded in U.S. custody.

But the opening salvos in what promises to be a long battle of competing narratives were cut short Thursday when Mr. Khadr’s military-appointed lawyer passed out during cross-examination, apparently from pain related to gallbladder surgery six weeks ago.

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