Selected Court Cases

United States v. Omar Ahmed Khadr

Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, son of a leading al-Qaeda financier, was captured on July 27, 2002 in Afghanistan following the murder of Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, a U.S. Army combat medic. Mr. Khadr eventually was detained at Guantanamo Bay, where he gave self-incriminating statements and faced a military tribunal in 2010. The Forensic Panel’s specialist was retained by the Pentagon to evaluate the defendant’s vulnerability to interrogation, defense claims of torture, and his mental state at the time of the offense. Major news media highly publicized support by mental health professionals such as Stephen Xenakis, M.D. and Lawrence Steinberg, Ph.D.


Our specialist accessed a broad range of materials, including an extensive review of Khadr’s very detailed classified files from both Bagram Air Force base and Guantanamo, interviewed many who had interacted Khadr, including every single person who had interrogated him. The Forensic Panel’s specialist, moreover, interviewed Khadr on a videotape in an exam affording complete transparency of notes as well. The many source materials accessed informed a range of opinions about how Khadr came to be involved in events, how he came to confess, and how his claims of torture were specious and manipulated his sympathizers. After our expert forensic psychiatrist submitted a report on the above areas of assessment, the defense withdrew the anticipated testimony of multiple expert witnesses. The presiding military tribunal judge ruled the torture claims to be without merit, and admitted the confessions into evidence.

The defendant soon afterward pleaded guilty, military prosecutors asked the The Panel’s expert to conduct risk assessment of future jihadism in order to inform jury sentencing deliberations. Our specialist ultimately concluded that Mr. Khadr posed a continued risk of jihadist activity, and testified as the principal witness before a jury. In so doing, our specialist provided 73 undisputed facts pertinent to clinical features, family background, and lessons from deradicalization programs geared for jihadists.


The jury sentenced Khadr to 40 years, unaware of a previously arranged plea deal that would require him to serve no more than eight. The Forensic Panel’s work on the case was later heavily cited in the best-selling book by Ezra Levant, “The Enemy Within.” 


Prior to honoring an earlier agreement with the United States Department of State for his repatriation, Canada Interior Minister Vic Toews conditioned Khadr’s return on Toews’ review of our specialist’s videotaped interview with Khadr. 


Read report on Omar Khadr interrogations and criminal responsibility (cleared for release) here


Read court’s decision about meritless claim of torture here


Read testimony before tribunal on risk assessment for future jihadist activity (cleared for release) here