If Only They Could Collect
SALT LAKE CITY - A soldier wounded in Afghanistan and the widow of his slain comrade were awarded a $102.6 million judgment from the estate of a suspected al-Qaida financier.
U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell said the lawsuit may be the first filed by an American soldier against terrorists under the Patriot Act.
But Sgt. Layne Morris, of West Jordan, and the family of medic Christopher Speer, could have a difficult time collecting their award, because the assets of the suspected financier are unknown.
Other soldiers have difficulty identifying their attackers, making it difficult to hold individuals responsible.
Morris cited news reports - including interviews with his attacker's immediate family - indicating that Omar Khadr, then 15, had wounded him and killed Speer. The ruling, released Friday, cited similar evidence that the boy's father, suspected financier Ahmad Sa'id Khadr, was linked to al-Qaida and trained his son to attack American targets.
Morris and Speer, who served with the 19th Special Forces, were attacked with grenades and automatic weapons in a remote Afghanistan village. Shrapnel severed the optic nerve in Morris' right eye, blinding him.
Soldiers arrested the boy, who is being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The Canadian government has protested the boy's imprisonment, because he is a minor.
In November, the U.S. government charged the boy with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and aiding the enemy.
The ruling said the younger Khadr was 4 years old when his family moved from Canada to Pakistan, where his father co-founded a humanitarian relief organization that supported al-Qaida terrorist training camps. The boy returned to Canada in 1994, where he attended school for a year while his father was imprisoned in Pakistan on charges of funding the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan, the court said.
The next year the family allegedly traveled throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan, meeting al-Qaida leaders including Osama bin Laden. It is believed the father was killed in a firefight in Pakistan.
Attorney Dennis Flynn said the U.S. and Canadian governments have frozen the assets of the elder Khadr.