Video shows Guantanamo detainee building bombs in Afghanistan

By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 2010

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA -- During a pretrial hearing here Thursday, military prosecutors played a 25-minute video that showed Canadian detainee Omar Khadr building roadside bombs in Afghanistan with several reputed al-Qaeda operatives.

"Allah willing, we will get a good number of Americans," said a voice on the poor-quality tape, which U.S. forces seized from the rubble of a compound where Khadr was wounded and captured in July 2002.

For the government, the video is a key piece of evidence that shows Khadr conspiring to kill U.S. service members. But the defense views it as illustrating Khadr's youth and that he was in thrall to a group of adults.

Khadr, who was 15 at the time he was captured, was first taken to Pakistan and Afghanistan when he was 10 by his father, an Osama bin Laden associate.

The video cuts among various scenes, including one showing Khadr and others wiring Russian anti-vehicle mines and some that show him sitting in a compound by an AK-47 assault rifle. It also shows mines being planted at night, but Khadr was not seen in those shots.

Khadr did not look up while the video was played and covered his eyes with his hand. The video was also played at a court hearing here in January 2009.

Khadr is accused of a number of war crimes, including murder. He is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. Special Forces medic just before his capture.

The defense is seeking to suppress incriminating statements that Khadr made to his military and FBI interrogators, alleging that he was subjected to abuses. His attorneys also want the video suppressed in advance of a July trial, saying that the U.S. military learned of it only through the abusive interrogation of Khadr.

The government says that Khadr was never subjected to harsh treatment and that the military found the video independently. Prosecutors also said the interrogators found Khadr eager to cooperate because he hoped to be released.

The playing of the video came during the questioning of FBI Special Agent Robert Fuller, who interrogated Khadr at Bagram air base outside Kabul. Khadr was able to identify and discuss several senior al-Qaeda operatives he had met through his father, whom he described as "a moneyman for al-Qaeda," Fuller said.

Fuller said Khadr noted that at one religious feast in 1998, his father sat two seats from bin Laden, signifying his prominence in the terrorist group. Pakistani forces killed Khadr's father in 2003.

Earlier Thursday, proceedings were suspended for the morning when Khadr refused to be brought to court because the military insisted he wear blacked-out goggles and earmuffs as security precautions. He appeared in the afternoon after Judge Patrick Parrish, an Army colonel, said he would have him forcibly brought to the courthouse.

Khadr's attorneys said their client, who has lost sight in his left eye and has poor vision in the right, was in a great deal of pain. They said he has shrapnel in both eyes and has conjunctivitis, adding that the goggles were aggravating his condition and that he needed treatment.

The judge said he would not interfere with the security decisions of the military task force that runs detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay.

Navy Cmdr. Bradley Fagan, a spokesman for the task force, said Khadr was subject to "longstanding security transport proceedings." He said a doctor and an optometrist would see Khadr.

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