Canadian al Qaida militant returns home in plea deal

The last Westerner detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay has been returned to his native Canada.

Canada’s public safety minister Vic Toews announced that 26-year-old Omar Khadr was transferred from Guantanamo Bay to a Canadian military base Saturday and was then sent to the Millhaven maximum security prison in Bath, Ontario.

Khadr is a controversial figure in Canada, both because he comes from a family of al Qaida-linked militants and because he was only 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002.

Toews said he is satisfied that Canada’s correctional service can manage Khadr’s incarceration while protecting the safety of Canadians. He said any decisions on Khadr’s future will be made by Canada’s parole board.

Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, where he was apprenticed to al Qaida militants. He has admitted to war crimes including killing a U.S. soldier with a hand grenade. In 2010 he was sentenced to eight years in prison. His return to Canada is part of a plea deal.

The Pentagon has confirmed the transfer and says there are 166 detainees left at Guantanamo.

Amnesty International has praised the return of Khadr to Canada, saying it represents progress in the Obama administration’s glacial pace toward closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention center. A spokeswoman called on Canada to investigate allegations that Khadr was tortured while in detention.

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