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So Was Omar Khadr a Child When U.S. Forces Captured Him?

GUANTANAMO BAY — A question that intuitively speaks to the voluntariness of Omar Khadr’s statements to interrogators in Bagram (and later Guantanamo) in 2002 when U.S. forces captured him after a July firefight in Afghanistan’s Khost Province: Was Khadr a child back then?

FBI Special Agent Robert Fuller, who interrogated Khadr six times in Bagram in October 2002, testified earlier this week that he was “aware” of Khadr’s age when interrogating him, but that it didn’t change his interrogation plans in any way. Khadr was born on September 19, 1986. He was 15 years old when the U.S. captured him and had just turned 16 when Fuller interrogated him.

So, Kobie Flowers, Khadr’s attorney, wanted to know, was Khadr a child then? “I guess, depending on [when] you consider a person turning to an adult,” Fuller said. Come again? “I would not legally consider him an adult, but would consider him to be doing adult-like actions, [like] constructing IEDs.”

But that means he’s a kid, right? Flowers said. Particularly the way Khadr looks on the extremist video obtained shortly after his capture? “He looks young,” Fuller said, “younger than when we met him.”

Flowers appeared frustrated. “You’re not gonna give me that he’s a kid?” he asked.

“I’m not going to argue semantics with you,” Fuller replied.

Flower moved on, and recited how old he was when he met a variety of extremists. Khadr was 10 years old when he met someone named Abu Tariq; 10 or 11 when he met Abu Ibrahim and Abu Qatada and the slain al-Qaeda operative Abu Laith al-Libi; 13 years old when he met Ayman Zawahiri and 13 or 14 when he met the long-at-large al-Qaeda military committee member Saif al-Adel and the extremist strategist Abu Mus’ab al-Suri. He was 11 years old when he first met Osama bin Laden.

What about another aspect of the extremist video? Flowers asked. Did Fuller hear Khadr say someone looked “like a teddy bear” and if so, “Does that speak to a certain level of sophistication?” he wondered.

“I don’t know that was a particular nickname someone had,” Fuller said, conceding nothing.

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