Omar Al-Kanadi (Omar Khedr) | Prisoner 345 | My Six Years in Guantánamo

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Omar wasn’t taken alone by the Americans, they also took his brother and killed his father in a single confrontation on the Pakistani border. The Americans had gone into a house in that area, intending to kill all its inhabitants, and Omar was among them. In the confrontation, one American soldier was killed and another injured, so they accused Omar of having thrown the explosive device that killed him.

When he first arrived, he was only 14 or 15 and had been shot in the eye and the lung. There he was, so young and so small, locked up alone in a cell. He grew up in prison, and to his credit, he grew up to be a fine man and left Guantánamo with a fine character.

I was in Charlie block when Omar arrived, and he was brought in and placed two cells away from me. I heard them go to his cell to torment him with photos of his father after he had been killed.

We were able to talk to each other by shouting out of our cells, and I learned a bit about him, but he was later moved to Camp 4, so I asked some of his cellmates and closest friends in the prison about his story, as well as my lawyer. His closest friend in the camp was Salem, a Saudi fellow, and I spoke to him a lot about Omar.

I found out that Omar was Canadian-Egyptian and had come to Afghanistan with his father who was an aid worker. Because of his youth, he was frightened and traumatized by his time in Guantánamo even more than the rest of us. He was also injured, as I mentioned, and his vision was very weak, with one eye blinded and the other barely functioning.

His brother, Abdelrahman, was also detained in the same block, but he was turned and worked as a spy for the Americans, which meant that he was able to get out, but Omar remained for years until he was finally able to return to Canada.

About the Author: Sami Alhaj

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