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Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
I am a white African. Contradiction in terms? I think not. Sometimes my blog will be serious; sometimes sad; sometimes irreverent; sometimes witty; always my truth simply written.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When Murder isn't Murder

A recent Reuters newspaper report about the trial of a ‘teen soldier’, Omar Khadr, who killed a special forces soldier, US Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer in 2002, has left me very confused.

In the report (The Star, Friday October 29, 2010) Speer’s widow, Tabitha Speer, apparently told Omar Khadr that “You will always be a murderer in my eyes.” Please do not think that I do not feel the utmost sympathy for Tabitha and her kids, but I cannot understand why Tabitha Speer can sincerely believe that this was an act of murder as opposed to an act of war. Premature death is an occupational hazard for anyone in the armed forces.

This Muslim Canadian teenager was living in a village in Afghanistan when a firefight broke out between villagers/militants and the armed forces. During the ensuing fight this Canadian Muslim teenager, aged 15 at the time, apparently killed US Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer and was severely wounded himself.

If Speer had killed Khadr, would Tabitha have considered Speers to be a murderer? If a soldier dies during a firefight is he ‘murdered’ or is he slain on the battlefield?

Each of these men (well, one was a man and one was just a boy who had been brainwashed into thinking he was a man) were fighting for something they believed in.

Perhaps I am a total idiot, but I cannot see Khadr as being a cold-blooded murderer in this instance. Of course, had he been a suicide bomber targeting civilians in a shopping mall, I would have considered that outright murder. But in a politically motivated skirmish in what was to all intents and purposes a war zone?

This is obviously a very complicated story, made more so by the fact that Khadr was tried in a US war crimes(?) tribunal, but even so, from where I sit, I’m not sure that it is right to call a ‘soldier’, who kills another ‘soldier’ during battle, a murderer, irrespective of which side he/she is on.

Tabitha, as a soldier your husband knew that the very nature of war is death and I hope you, and your lovely children, can find it in your heart to forgive this man for killing him because if you can’t you are going to be eaten alive by hatred.

(All rights reserved.)


  1. Thanks Eva. I'm trying to come up with a poem about it... I just cannot believe how this particular case has been handled... but like many people there's a lot I can't believe about the War on Terror...