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Last Westerner at Guantanamo Returns to Canada

The last Westerner held in the U.S. prison for terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, who was arrested as a teen in Afghanistan, returned to his native Canada on Saturday, a Canadian cabinet minister and the Pentagon said.

Omar Khadr, now 26, left the prison in Cuba on a U.S. military plane and arrived at a Canadian air base in Trenton in Ontario province at 1140 GMT, said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

Khadr was sent to the Millhaven maxiumum security prison Bath, Ontario, the minister said in a statement he read to reporters.

"Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the al-Qaida terrorist network and a convicted terrorist," Toews said.

The Pentagon confirmed the transfer but gave few details. It said 166 inmates remain in Guantanamo.

Born in Toronto in 1986 to a family of militants, Khadr was 15 when he was wounded and captured by U.S. troops in 2002 during a four-hour U.S. ground and air attack in Afghanistan.

Khadr, the youngest detainee ever held at the U.S. naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, filed a formal transfer request with U.S. authorities in November.

Now a tall man with a heavy beard and a scarred face, Khadr has been eligible for a transfer to Canada since October 2011 after pleading guilty in 2010 to five war crimes, including for throwing the grenade that claimed the life of U.S. soldier Christopher Speer.

Both Ottawa and Washington had approved his plea deal, but a final nod was delayed as Ottawa and Washington bickered over details.

The Khadr family went to Pakistan when Omar was a child to help with reconstruction along the Pakistan-Afghan border following the withdrawal of Russian troops, according to an online family biography.

After 1996, the family lived in a compound in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where young Khadr allegedly met the late al-Qaida terror network chief Osama bin Laden.

Source: Agence France Presse


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