A former Red Deer College classmate of Omar Khadr says she was inspired by his efforts.
The current second-year nursing student, who prefered not to be named for safety reasons, said she never had an interaction with Khadr, but they had one class together – a session that brought all the new nursing students in one room in the 2017-2018 school year.
The student does not remember seeing him the second year, which started in September 2018. It is unclear when Khadr dropped out of the college’s nursing program.
“There was no trouble or anything caused by him from what I know,” she said Tuesday.
The student said she did not see him around much, except a couple of times in the hallways – when Khadr was spotted by himself.
Khadr is an ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee who was captured by American soldiers in 2002. Khadr admitted to an assault in Afghanistan in which a U.S. special forces soldier was killed, but he later said the only reason he pleaded guilty was to get out of American detention.
He was back in Canada in 2010 and served the rest of his eight-year sentence. The Canadian government has apologized to Khadr for the torture he suffered and he was granted $10.5 million to settle his lawsuit.
The 22-year-old student said she was inspired Khadr was attending school, signalling to her that he was putting everything behind and moving forward.
“He wanted to do something like that despite what he has been through. I, personally, wouldn’t be able to. It would take me so much courage and time and effort to put myself out there after having such a reputation.
“I applaud him for it,” the Red Deer resident said.
She said she didn’t feel uncomfortable or unsafe having the ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee walking the same hallways as her.
“I didn’t find it was a scary situation. He was there to learn, just like anybody else, and he has every right to learn like everyone that’s there.
“I understand some parents may worry, but I feel he was very young when everything happened.”
She commends the college for giving Khadr a fair chance.
Recently, Khadr was asking Alberta youth court to order his release and declare his eight-year sentence — imposed by a widely maligned military commission in the United States — to have expired.
In a separate application before Federal Court, Khadr is attempting to force national parole authorities to grant him a hearing at which he would argue for release.
The overriding idea, Khadr’s Edmonton-based lawyer said in an interview Tuesday, is to ensure an end point to the eight-year sentence the commission imposed on him in 2010.
Had Khadr remained in custody, his sentence would have expired this past October. However, the clock stopped ticking when an Alberta judge freed him on bail in May 2015, pending his appeal of his military commission conviction for war crimes — a years-long process that still has no end in sight.
With files from The Canadian Press