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Omar Khadr rumoured to be getting married

Omar Khadr speaks to the media after he was granted bail in Edmonton, Alberta on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

Amber Bracken/The Globe and Mail

The Canadian citizen who grew up in Guantanamo Bay is said to be engaged to be married.

Omar Khadr, 30, spent a decade in U.S. custody after being captured in Afghanistan as a 15-year-old fighter. Four years ago, he was released to Canada to complete his U.S. sentence and is now reportedly betrothed to one of the activists who lobbied for his release.

Her name is Muna Abougoush and congratulatory Facebook announcements highlighting their impending nuptials started circulating in recent days.

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"I dedicate this heart to two of my dearest friends in the world, Omar Khadr and Muna Abougoush. … Nothing made me more happy then when Muna told me last week about their upcoming engagement," reads one of the messages.

Nate Whitling, an Edmonton lawyer who has acted for Mr. Khadr, said all he knows about the engagement is what he has read on Facebook, but he doesn't doubt the accounts.

In 2013, Ms. Abougoush was profiled in the Toronto Star as a pro-Khadr activist who had campaigned on his behalf and who had recently visited him in a Canadian prison. "I was nervous," she said at the time. "This case that everyone had been talking about for over a decade was about to become a real person. …

"He is not the monster that had been portrayed by some media," she said.

Mr. Khadr is one of several Canadian-citizen siblings who grew up in Afghanistan after their Egyptian-born father left a technology job in Ottawa to join the global influx of fundamentalist Sunni Arabs then making their way to Afghanistan.

That 1980s call to armed jihad bears some similarities to the current beckoning of foreign fighters to Syria. It was in that milieu that the Khadr family patriarch befriended al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, as Arab factions joined Afghans in fighting Russian forces and their installed government.

For a time, the Khadr siblings grew up in a compound controlled by Mr. bin Laden, even as he turned his rhetoric against the United States.

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U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks. The next year, Mr. Khadr, then 15, was part of an al-Qaeda faction involved in a deadly firefight against American forces. Shot and captured and the sole survivor of his group, Mr. Khadr was taken into custody as U.S. soldiers alleged that he was an illegal enemy combatant who had "murdered" a soldier.

Mr. Khadr spent the next decade of his life as an inmate of Guantanamo Bay, the extraterritorial military-law U.S. prison that operates on historically leased land in Cuba. President Barack Obama has been trying during his nearly eight years of office to repatriate Gitmo's prisoners, but has yet to make good on his promise to shutter the detention camp.

In 2012, Mr. Khadr was released into Canadian custody after a plea deal in which he admitted to the U.S. war-crimes charges he faced. He served some time in Canadian prisons before being released in the care of his long-serving Edmonton lawyer Dennis Edney. Mr. Khadr is still on parole.

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About the Author
National security reporter

Focusing on Canadian matters during the past decade, Colin Freeze has reported extensively on the interplay between government, police, spy services, and the judiciary. Colin has twice been to Afghanistan to be embedded with the Canadian military. More

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