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'I only buy and sell weapons for al-Qaeda'

Colin Freeze, Globe & Mail, 3 Nov 06

Article Link

 

Asked by the Mounties if he were part of al-Qaeda, Abdullah Khadr responded, "No, I only buy and sell weapons for al-Qaeda."

 

Over the course of five interviews with the RCMP last year, the 25-year-old terrorism suspect admitted that he "knows everybody" in al-Qaeda and ran guns for the organization to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But he also insisted that if any terrorist "had anything planned for Canada, I'd be the first one to stop it."

 

The Crown this week released two volumes of interviews Mr. Khadr gave to the RCMP between the time he was detained in Pakistan in 2005 and was released to Canada last year. Days after he landed in Toronto, the U.S. government had him arrested and launched an extradition case against him.

 

Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen who grew up in Afghanistan, seems to have been forthcoming during long questioning sessions with police. His lawyers suggest, however, all of the testimony could be tainted by torture he said he suffered in Pakistan.

 

Mr. Khadr's statements give new insights into al-Qaeda and figures who have long been of interest to investigators, primarily himself and his family.

 

"We are one of the most famous families in Afghanistan," he proudly told his interviewers.

 

Abdullah Khadr: The young man told the RCMP how his father enlisted him in an Afghan training camp when he was just 14. He learned how to fire weapons and explode bombs. Mr. Khadr said he began procuring weapons for al-Qaeda after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He said he bought guns and missile launchers and had a role in using a global-positioning-system unit to map co-ordinates for fighters who were later arrested for trying to kill Pakistan's Prime Minister in a missile attack. But he said he was an arms supplier, not a fighter. "I never, like, entered a battlefield."

 

His late father, Ahmed Said Khadr: Abdullah Khadr said his father was a proud man who founded Canadian Muslim student unions, went to Afghanistan to help orphans and became a long-time intimate of Osama bin Laden. Following the 2001 U.S. invasion, the al-Qaeda leadership put the family patriarch in charge of a group of Arab resistance fighters in Logar region of Afghanistan, Abdullah Khadr said. The Pakistani army killed Ahmed Said Khadr in 2003. "My father knows everybody in the al-Qaeda Top 10," he said at one point. But he insisted no funds from his father's charity work ever made their way to al-Qaeda.

 

His younger brother Omar: The teenager has been held in Guantanamo Bay since U.S. forces shot him in a 2002 battle in Afghanistan, during which Omar lobbed a grenade that killed a soldier. Abdullah said his brother was never supposed to have been a fighter. He just disappeared one day after his father sent him toward the front lines. "My father said Omar is translating."

 

His sister Zaynab: The Mounties have suggested they recovered al-Qaeda propaganda videos from her computer hard drive, but Abdullah insisted his sister is no terrorist. She's "patriotic," he said. "But I doubt she can do anything other than talk."

 

Osama bin Laden: The al-Qaeda leader told the Khadr family to "be happy, something is coming" prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Abdullah said.

 

Amer El-Maati: This Canadian citizen, sought by the FBI as a terrorist, worked as a carpet salesmen after al-Qaeda refused to give him a pension, according to Abdullah. He said he last saw the man fighting in Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions in 2001. "But he can't do much due to a brain injury," Abdullah Khadr said. "He was in a car accident in 1992. He cannot walk for long hours."

 

Amer El-Maati's brother, Ahmed, a truck driver jailed in the Middle East after being followed by the RCMP, is suing Ottawa for being complicit in his overseas torture.

 

The Hindy family: The RCMP questioned Abdullah Khadr about Aly Hindy, a controversial Toronto imam and long-time Khadr family friend. Abdullah Khadr recalled a late-1990s visit that the imam's son Ibrahim made to Afghanistan.

 

"He came, he stayed one month in the Musab al-Surri camp, maybe one week less than a month." He said the teenager learned about weapons, including firing Kalshnikovs.

 

Mahmoud Jaballah: Abdullah Khadr said he knew him as "Abu Ahmed," and as an "Arabic tutor in Peshawar for one week."

 

"But to my knowledge he never fought on the front line."


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