CBC: Omar Khadr continues to divide Canadians

'There is not a single, radical thought in Omar Khadr’s head,' his lawyer says.

Social media lit up Thursday when Omar Khadr was freed on bail by an Alberta court.

People are parsing his every word, commenting on his smile, offering support — and making threats against him.

Comments pages filled up on news websites.

If Canada is a country at times divided, then Omar Khadr now has his own sense of that reality, especially if he has read or heard the things that have been said about him in the past 24 hours.

An editorial in the Toronto Sun on Thursday called Khadr a "security risk," reminding readers that his late father was a confidant of Osama bin Laden and labelling his relatives "Canada's first family of terrorism."

WNU Editor: What's my take on the release of Omar Khadr .... to put it bluntly it has been a journey .... and I will start at the beginning. My uncle was a senior officer who served two tours for the Soviet army in Afghanistan .... and two of my cousins served in special forces (Spetsnaz) in Afghanistan ... one for one year, the other for two. I also had many friends who served in Afghanistan .... including my best friend who lost his leg. Their war experiences were .... to put it bluntly .... brutal. The Soviet military followed a policy of scorch earth .... and the mujaheddin followed a policy of no mercy. In this mix .... my uncle, my cousins, and my friends .... over the years they all told me the same thing .... the Afghan youngsters/teenagers were the dangerous ones .... they had no morals or fear .... a dangerous combination in a war zone. I never forgot those stories, and that is why when I saw the 60 Minutes video of Omar Khadr handling explosives to be used against U.S. soldiers and the Afghans who opposed Al Qaeda .... I felt no sympathy for him, and doubly so when I learned about the U.S. medic that he killed and the crippling of another U.S. soldier.

But over the years I have mellowed in my opinion on Omar Khadr. This blog has certainly helped me .... it educated me on what is the plight of child soldiers .... but it has also opened doors for me to meet people who are far more knowledgeable about this (and other topics) than I am. Former Canadian Senator and retired Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire is one of them .... his advocacy on the plight of child soldiers is a commendable one, and the one discussion that we have had (it was at a reception in Ottawa last year) involved the impact of war on children and on child soldiers. My mentor in Canada is also another person who has helped in shifting my opinion on Omar Khadr. He use to be a senior official in the Federal Liberal Party of Canada, but his profession was that of a social worker worker who treated youngsters abused by their parents. To him .... Khadr fits that profile to a tee .... his father was a psychotic Osama Bin laden supporter who dragged his family into that vortex of hate and personal destruction ... and as a result the kids suffered from it. But as my mentor told me today .... these type of children usually end up becoming just as bad as their abusers .... or .... the complete opposite .... they dedicate their lives in helping those who experienced the same type of abuse that they did.

Will Omar Khadr embrace a life that is different from the one that his family chose for him when he was a teenager .... I hope so. Upon his release on Thursday he did say the right things .... he was sorry and he did make the point that "jihad" does not interest him. But having said that .... he is still involved in a $20 million civil suit against the Canadian government, and he is still trying to revoke the plea agreement that he made in the U.S. that permitted him to be deported to Canada. He is also being sued by Christopher Speer's widow for the death of her husband .... and I suspect that these legal issues are just the tip of the iceberg for him. But he is now a free man .... and I hope he makes the best of it.

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