GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - A war-crimes trial for Guantanamo's youngest detainee opened yesterday with prosecutors showing an al-Qaida video of him making - and apparently planting - bombs in Afghanistan.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers offered competing views of whether Omar Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured in 2002, was capable of acting independently from the Islamic extremist father who took him to Afghanistan.
In the video found in an al-Qaida compound, Khadr showed only the faint beginnings of a mustache. Now a broad-shouldered, full-bearded man of 23, he sat before a military jury charged with crimes including spying, supporting terrorism and murder for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. Special Forces soldier. Khadr has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Prosecutor Jeff Groharing accused Khadr of embracing terrorist ideology as his own and describing operations against U.S. forces with pride even after his capture.
" 'I am a terrorist trained by al-Qaida.' Those are Omar Khadr's own words," Groharing said, describing one of the detainee's first interrogations at Guantánamo. "Omar Khadr decided to conspire with al-Qaida so he could kill as many Americans as possible."
But a Pentagon-appointed defense lawyer said Khadr was a victim himself, pushed into war as an impressionable child by his father, alleged al-Qaida financier Ahmed Said Khadr.
"He was there because his father told him to go there," Army Lt. Col. Jon Jackson said. "He was there because Ahmed Khadr hated his enemies more than he loved his son."
The first day of testimony adjourned early after Jackson collapsed while questioning a witness. He was hospitalized and receiving morphine for a complication related to gall bladder surgery he underwent six weeks ago, said Bryan Broyles, the tribunals' deputy chief defense counsel.