The eldest of the Khadr children has emerged from hiding in Pakistan to tell the world he is not the suicide bomber who killed a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan last month.
"If I was the suicide bomber I wouldn't be doing the interview now," Abdullah Khadr, 22, said in an interview with the CBC that aired last night.
His face was obscured and he was speaking from a secret location in Islamabad.
Mr. Khadr has trained in al-Qaeda-operated camps in Afghanistan, and the Canadian government has accused him of running one such camp. While he denies wrongdoing, he admits he is a fugitive who continually moves to avoid capture.
"I have to travel 360 times a year.. . . I can't stay in one place," Mr. Khadr said.
Early this month, a Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan suggested to a wire service reporter that Mr. Khadr killed Canadian Forces Corporal Jamie Murphy of Newfoundland, during a Jan. 27 suicide bombing.
Canadian officials have always treated the Taliban account skeptically, but the report gained credence because Mr. Khadr could not be found and is the only male member of his family who has not yet been shot, detained or killed as a presumed terrorist suspect.
The family spent time in Ottawa and Toronto in the 1980s and 1990s but eventually moved to Afghanistan as their Egyptian-born father, a naturalized Canadian charity worker named Ahmed Said Khadr, became radicalized by the Afghan conflict against the Soviet Union.
A devout muslim long suspected of funnelling funds to fundamentalist groups, the father was killed last fall by counterterrorism forces in the tribal Pakistani province of Waziristan -- the same area where Osama bin Laden, a onetime friend of the Khadr patriarch, is currently being hunted.
During that raid, the youngest Khadr brother, 14-year-old Abdul Karim, was wounded. He is in Pakistan trying to return to Canada.
The two middle brothers were captured separately in Afghanistan months after U.S. forces invaded the country in 2001. They were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After nearly two years in custody, Omar Khadr, 17, remains uncharged in Guantanamo Bay, but there are reports that the United States is preparing to try him for murder in the death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.
The other brother, Abdurahman Khadr, 21, was released after about a year's detention in Cuba and returned to Canada last fall to talk about how he and Abdullah trained in the Afghanistan camps.
Abdullah's accent was thicker than that of his brother's, and those who knew him in Canada have described him as a quiet young man who is a devout muslim, but who also liked movies like Pulp Fiction and dabbled in fixing cars.
The family first gained notoriety in 1996 after the father was arrested in Islamabad -- the city from which his son spoke from yesterday -- on suspicion of financing a deadly bombing of the Egyptian embassy.
Saying he was "100-per-cent an innocent person," the elder Mr. Khadr staged a hunger strike that got him released from prison, and from a hospital he summoned reporters and family members to his bedside. He called upon prime minister Jean Chrétien to intervene for him during a forthcoming Team Canada trade mission to Pakistan -- a gambit that was successful.
Shortly after he was released, Ahmed Said Khadr enrolled his two eldest sons in Afghanistan training camps.
Yesterday, Abdullah recalled his meeting with the Canadian prime minister. "He told me that 'Once, I was the son of a farmer and I became the prime minister. Maybe one day you'll become one."