Crown attacks credibility of eldest Khadr son as extradition hearing begins
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 5, 2009 7:00PM EDT
TORONTO - The eldest son of Canada's infamous Khadr family told his extradition hearing on Monday that he lied to the RCMP during an interview just after he flew back to Canada four years ago because he feared being sent back to Pakistan where he had been tortured.
But the Crown suggested Abdullah Khadr had in fact been more truthful during that interview, and was lying now to minimize his involvement with al-Qaida.
Confronted with the statements he made to RCMP Sgt. Konrad Shourie in 2005, Khadr insisted on the witness stand that he in fact knew nothing about his father's dealings with senior al-Qaida leaders.
He also denied ever buying guns for a man known to supply the terrorist organization with weapons.
"I've never harmed anybody in my life," Khadr told Crown lawyer Howard Piafsky. "Why would I help people buy weapons?"
"To make money," Piafsky responded.
"There are other ways of making money."
The Toronto-born Khadr, 28, is wanted in the United States on charges he procured weapons for al-Qaida and conspired to kill Americans in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Khadr spent 14 months in Pakistani custody following his arrest, which came after the United States put a $500,000 bounty on his head.
His lawyers are fighting his extradition to the United States on the grounds that self-incriminating statements he gave to American and Canadian authorities were the product of torture.
On his arrival back in Toronto from Pakistan in December 2005, Khadr said he was met by heavily armed officers, taken through a separate customs facility, and was then told Shourie wanted to talk to him.
In a videotape played for the court, Shourie tells him he is under investigation for terrorism-related offences, but is not under arrest, is free to leave at any time, and does not have to answer any questions.
Still, Khadr said he felt he had no choice but to talk to Shourie because no one knew he was in Canada and he feared being sent back to Pakistan.
"There were guns all around me," he told court. "What is the choice in that?"
He testified to telling Shourie what he thought the officer, who had previously interviewed him in a Pakistani jail, wanted to hear.
Khadr and his younger brother Omar, who remains in custody in Guantanamo Bay on charges he killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, are sons of Ahmed Said Khadr, a former close associate of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The Egyptian-born Khadr patriarch, who became a Canadian citizen, was killed in 2003 during a raid by Pakistani forces.
Khadr did concede he had been close to his father, who knew most of the top members of al-Qaida.
But he told Ontario Superior Court Justice Christopher Speyer that his father never discussed his ideology with his children.
Piafsky accused him of "brazen misstatements."
Co-defence lawyer, Nate Whitling, said the prosecution was trying to portray his client as guilty by association.
Piafsky, however, called Khadr's credibility central to the case.
"There is a pattern of intentional misleading in this affidavit that goes on and on," Piafsky told the court.
Khadr did concede his affidavit contained "lots of mistakes" about dates and times, but said that was only because he couldn't remember exactly when certain events occurred.
Piafsky also suggested the elder Khadr was a committed anti-American jihadist who used his charity work as a cover for his terrorist fundraising.
"My father's dream was to unite the Muslims, to make them stop fighting each other," Khadr said.
In his brief examination in chief, Khadr's other lawyer Dennis Edney asked about his treatment in custody in Pakistan.
Khadr told court that he was shackled for two months simply for writing a letter to his family saying he was OK.
"After what happened to me in Pakistan -- torture -- I have trouble sleeping," Khadr said.
He has been in custody since his arrest in December 2005 soon after that airport interview with Shourie.
The hearing, expected to last three weeks, continues Tuesday.