U.S. Families Sue Qaida Member for $40M
SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - The families of soldiers who were wounded and killed by a grenade thrown in Afghanistan by Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr have sued the "child soldier" for more than $40 million in Federal Court.
Layne Morris lost one eye; Tabitha Speer lost her husband in Khadr's attack, according to the lawsuit.
Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was 15 years old when he was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. He said his father sent him to the Middle East to translate for members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and al-Qaida.
Khadr admitted he killed Speer's husband, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, and injured Morris by throwing a grenade after a four-hour firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, according to the complaint.
"Layne Morris and Christopher Speer were soldiers in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, serving in Afghanistan as part of the Special Forces unit involved in the firefight," the complaint states.
Citing a Stipulation of Fact in a 2010 Office of Military Commission case against Khadr, the complaint states that after a four-hour fight, in which he fought with al-Qaida, "Khadr stipulated the U.S. Special Forces unit believed that all individuals in the compound had been killed, but when the Special Forces unit entered the compound, 'the unit began taking direct fire from an AK-47.'
"Upon hearing the U.S. Special Forces, Khadr admitted he 'positioned [himself] behind a crumbling wall and three Russian F-1 grenade in the vicinity of the talking soldiers ... with specific intent of killing or injuring as many Americans as he could.'
"Khadr stipulated at the time he threw the grenade, he 'was not under the impression that U.S. soldiers were preparing to charge his position, attack or engage him.'
"Khadr admitted he 'thought the soldiers entering the compound were looking for wounded or dead and that the firefight was over.'
"Khadr admitted the grenade he threw 'exploded near Sergeant First Class (SFC) Christopher Speer, launching shrapnel into his head and causing mortal brain damage.
"Khadr stipulated he knew 'SFC Speer died 12 days later on August 8, 2002,' from the injuries he sustained from the grenade Khadr threw.
"In his stipulation, Khadr admitted he murdered SFC Christopher Speer and Khadr also admitted 'other U.S. soldiers, including SFC Layne Morris (who lost his sight in one eye from grenade shrapnel), were injured' by his actions." (Parentheses, brackets and ellipsis as in complaint; citations omitted.)
Khadr spent 10 years in Guantanamo Bay for the attack and was transferred to Canada in 2012 to serve out his sentence.
According to the Airforce Times, Khadr claims he took a plea deal in 2011 and admitted he'd murdered Speer so he could return to Canada.
Khadr has a history of suing Canadian governmental officials. In 2008 he sued the Canadian government for allowing the United States to torture him. In 2012, he sued Canada again later for dragging its feet on his request to transfer to back to his home country.
The Airforce Times said the families' attorney, Don Winder of Salt Lake City, claimed that Morris and Speer are worried Khadr might get $20 million from that lawsuit.
Morris and Speer seek $44 million in punitive damages for wrongful death and personal injuries. They are represented by Donald Winder with Winder & Counsel, of Salt Lake City.