Khadr family

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Maha (youngest daughter in arms), Zaynab (Abdulkareem in arms), Abdurahman and Abdullah.

The Khadr family (أسرة خضر) is a Arab family living in Canada noted for their ties to Osama bin Laden and connections to al Qaeda.[1][2]

The Khadr family comprises:

  • Ahmed Khadr (1948–2003), father, an Egyptian-Canadian, killed by Pakistani security forces
  • Maha el-Samnah (born 1957), mother, a Palestinian-Canadian
  • Their children:
  • Zaynab Khadr (born 1979 in Ottawa), a daughter
  • Abdullah Khadr (born 1981 in Ottawa), a son who returned to Canada in 2005, was arrested on behalf of the United States and held for five years while an extradition request was reviewed. Ontario Superior Court ordered him released in 2010 citing "shocking and unjustifiable" human rights violations.[3][4][5]
  • Abdurahman Khadr (born 1982), a son notable for press interviews dubbing the Khadrs "an al-Qaeda family" and his co-operation with the United States intelligence services
  • Ibrahim Khadr (1985–1988), a son who had a congenital heart defect[6]
  • Omar Khadr (born 1986), a son captured by American forces following a 2002 firefight and held in Guantanamo Bay from 2002 to 2012. He returned to Canada in September, 2012.[7]
  • Abdulkareem Khadr (born 1989), a son, severely wounded in the attack in which his father died; is now paraplegic
  • youngest daughter (born 1991)


Ahmed Khadr went to college and did graduate work in Canada, where he met and married Maha el-Samnah. They moved to Pakistan in 1985 because he wanted to do charitable work for Afghan refugees following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. In 1986, the family was living in an apartment in Peshawar on an $800 monthly allowance.[8]

In 1992 the family returned to Canada and rented an apartment near Bloor/Dundas following an incident in Afghanistan that left the father Ahmed disabled and needing rehabilitation. They later moved into the Bloor/Lansdowne area.[citation needed]

The family left a year and a half later and returned to Pakistan. In 1995 Khadr was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan, but was released. In September 1997, the Khadr family moved into a three-room house.[9]

During this time, they visited Nazim Jihad, the family home of Osama bin Laden in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, which the children nicknamed "Star Wars".[10] They stayed at the compound the following year during the father's absence. The family say they stayed two days, while the FBI says it was a month.[10][11]

They subsequently moved to the Karte Parwan neighbourhood of Kabul and lived there from 1999–2001.[12] The Khadrs were registered as operators of a Canadian charity. They closed their office in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood to bring work in their own home.[10]

Maha (Abdulkareem in arms), Omar, Zaynab, Abdurahman (facing camera) and youngest daughter (foreground).

Following the Invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, Maha, with Abdulkareem, Omar, and her young daughter; and Zaynab and her daughter Safia joined a convoy leaving Kabul to travel towards Gardez. They discovered that their intended residence had been bombed.[13]

They traveled to an orphanage that Ahmed had run. In 2003 they stayed briefly with a family in Birmal, Pakistan. They finally moved in with a Pashto family in a hut in the mountains, where they saw Ahmed monthly.[13] In 2002 Omar Khadr was captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan and had since been detained in United States military custody at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. His brother Abdurahman Khadr had been arrested and worked as an undercover informant with the CIA while "held" as a detainee at Guantanamo; he later continued to work undercover in Bosnia.[14]


Ahmed Khadr was killed in 2003 near the Afghanistan border by what has been described in various sources as Pakistan security forces or a US drone. On April 9, 2004, Maha and Abdulkareem used the family's savings to return to Canada;[15] The politicians Stockwell Day, Bob Runciman and John Cannis were among those in a public outcry calling for the Khadrs' citizenship to be revoked, and for the pair to be deported.[16] Others suggested it was unfair to revoke citizenship from people who held views contrary to the government or majority.[16]

Some Canadians complained that the Khadrs had "taken advantage of" Canada, living off its social services, while decrying it as a morally corrupted country.[17] Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty dissented, stating that the province would recognise the family's right to Ontario Health Insurance Plan medical coverage and to be treated like any other Canadian family.[18]

In 2005, following the oldest daughter Zaynab's return to the country, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer Konrad Shourie said, "The entire family is affiliated with al Qaeda and has participated in some form or another with these criminal extremist elements".[19]

A noted friend of the family, former Pakistani Air Force officer and ISI agent Khalid Khawaja, spoke in their defense; he said that they were being unfairly targeted by Canadian authorities because of a deference to the United States (who held their youngest son), and Islamophobia.[20] Since returning to Canada, the Khadr family has been described as "poverty-stricken".[21]

In their 2008 report concerning Mahmoud Jaballah, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) stated that Omar and his older brother Abdulkareem attended "training camps".[22] In late October 2010, Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to charges against him in a plea agreement before a Military Commission at Guantanamo, admitting to having received "one-on-one terrorist training from an al-Qaeda operative and that he threw the grenade that killed U.S. Sergeant Christopher Speer".[23] He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, although he had already been held for eight years. In 2012 he was repatriated to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Representation in other media[edit]

  • Son of Al-Qaeda, 2008, PBS Frontline documentary featuring Abdurahman Khadr, also included conversations with other members of his family. Transcript and excerpts from interviews available at website.


  1. ^ Son of al Qaeda, Frontline (PBS)
  2. ^ Faction linked to Khadr claims attacks: Allegedly formed by Canadian, National Post, July 13, 2006
  3. ^ Michelle Shephard (2010-08-04). "Court rejects Abdullah Khadr extradition request". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-08-04. Extradition orders to the U.S. are rarely denied, but Superior Court Justice Christopher Speyer ruled Wednesday that “this was an exceptional case on many levels.”  mirror
  4. ^ Linda Nguyen (2010-08-04). "Court frees Abdullah Khadr, turns down U.S. extradition request". National Post. Retrieved 2010-08-04. “He’s getting married. He’s engaged,” said Mr. Whitling. “He just wants to settle down and live a quiet life.”  mirror
  5. ^ "Abdullah Khadr released after court ruling: Ontario judge denies U.S. extradition request". CBC News. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-05. On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Christopher Speyer granted a stay of proceedings in his case — effectively shelving it, meaning the extradition request was denied. Khadr, 29, was then released from custody. 
  6. ^ Has was cared for and died at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ian Mulgrew (April 26, 2008). "An extreme case: Omar Khadr's upbringing explains a lot". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2008-04-30. 
  7. ^ "Toews confirms Omar Khadr is back in Canada". CTVnews. 29 September 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Cahill, Jack. Toronto Star, "'Pretty toys' maiming Afghan kids", September 25, 1986
  9. ^ Stackhouse, John. Globe and Mail, "Canadian sought for questioning in car bombing", September 5, 1998
  10. ^ a b c Shephard, Michelle (2008). Guantanamo's Child. John Wiley & Sons. 
  11. ^ Hughes, Gregory T. Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Affidavit of Gregory T. Hughes", 2005
  12. ^ Testimony of Abdurahman Khadr as a witness in the trial against Charkaoui, July 13, 2004
  13. ^ a b "Married to the Jihad: The Lonely World of al-Qaida", March 27, 2004
  14. ^ Interviews: Son of Al-Qaeda, 2008, PBS Frontline, accessed 23 January 2013
  15. ^ Yahoo news, "Two members of family that has been linked to al-Qaida return to Canada", April 9, 2004
  16. ^ a b Bagnall, Janet. Montreal Gazette, Citizen of convenience? So what?, March 24, 2005
  17. ^ Rana, Abbas. The Hill Times, "Why Canadian federal political leaders should be talking about Omar Khadr now", April 21, 2008
  18. ^ CTV News, "Khadrs entitled to fair treatment: Ont. premier", April 14, 2004
  19. ^ CTV News, "Khadr laptop seized at Toronto airport: report, Marc 3 2005
  20. ^ Bell, Stewart. National Post, "Khadrs Reveal Bin Laden Ties", January 24, 2004
  21. ^ Humphreys, Adrian. National Post, Khadrs must pay $102M, February 20, 2006
  22. ^ Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Summary of the Security Intelligence Report concerning Mahmoud Jaballah, February 22, 2008
  23. ^ Globe and Mail, [1], October, 2010

External links[edit]