Imprisoned at the age of 15 following his involvement in a deadly firefight in Afghanistan – where he threw a grenade that killed an American special forces soldier – Canadian citizen Omar Khadr was deemed a Muslim terrorist. Essentially a child soldier that was forced into acting as an interpreter by his vastly more radical father, Khadr was an unfortunate figure caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and amid a North American legal system that still today has little clue what to do with suspected and charged (not convicted) enemy combatants post-9/11. For over a decade before striking a plea deal and returning to Canada, Khadr was subject to “heightened” American interrogation techniques, and a seemingly indifferent Canadian government that not only doesn’t want him back, but that wants to paint his entire family as the country’s primary terrorist threat.
Filmmakers Patrick Reed and Michelle Shephard take a look at the Khadr case from the perspectives of those who know it best, including Omar himself. Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr features a wealth of insightful interviews from government officials, Khadr’s family, former detainees at America’s most notorious prison facility, and U.S. soldiers to create a complex picture of an incredibly messy political, moral, and ideological problem.
While Reed and Shephard spend most of the first third of the film recounting Khadr’s history and early imprisonment, what’s most striking is how much the stories match up between Khadr and the people being interviewed on the U.S. side of the equation. They definitely don’t agree on what happened, but all sides show remarkable regret. Perhaps most telling is how the Harper government can’t be bothered to come on and rebut anything, simply acting like a nefarious spectre over every major event.