Here's a murder mystery for you: Why is the man who killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer likely to go free a few short months from now?
A little background and a few clues might help you better understand the case.
Two years ago, a jury of senior military officers at Guantanamo Bay convicted Omar Khadr of war crimes in Afghanistan, including the murder of Speer, 28, a Special Forces medic. But as the jury was deciding to hand Khadr a 40-year sentence, Pentagon prosecutors were concluding a plea bargain with Khadr's attorneys.
"No public explanation for the deal has ever been given," writes Canadian journalist Ezra Levant, the author of a book on Khadr. "But regardless of what the jury decided, Khadr would receive a sentence of just eight years. And he would have to serve only a single year of that sentence in U.S. custody before applying, with Washington's blessing, to transfer to Canada."
Late last month, Khadr was flown from Guantanamo to Ontario, where he is being held in a civilian prison. His lawyers are expected to ask the independent Parole Board of Canada to release him in the spring.
Self-described human rights activists have organized a campaign to achieve that result. My colleague, Thomas Joscelyn, recently wrote: "For the worldwide left, Khadr has become a symbol of all that is supposedly wrong with America's fight against the al-Qaida terror network. He is now, in many minds, a victim."
Khadr's supporters emphasize that he is a Canadian citizen and that when he killed Speer, he was not quite 16 -- a "child soldier." A book on Khadr, Guantanamo's Child, by Toronto Star national security reporter Michelle Shephard, is a bestseller in Canada.
The fact is that before Khadr was Guantanamo's Child he was al-Qaida's child. His father, Ahmed Khadr, was a senior member of the jihad organization and a close associate of Osama bin Laden. An immigrant to Canada from Egypt, Ahmed Khadr moved his family to Pakistan and Afghanistan for the specific purpose of waging jihad.
In Omar Khadr's "stipulation of fact," his confession to the court in Gitmo, he acknowledges that he was trained by al-Qaida in the use of "rocket-propelled grenades, various assault rifles, pistols, grenades and explosives." American troops found videos of Khadr assembling improvised explosive devises.
Khadr also has acknowledged that he chose to remain in a compound with members of an "al-Qaida explosives cell" who refused to surrender peacefully to American forces. He chose not to be among the women and children who accepted an American offer to leave prior to the battle, and who were then escorted to safety by U.S. soldiers.
It was after the firefight was over, when American troops were tending to the wounded, that Khadr threw the grenade that killed Speer. In response, another U.S. Special Forces soldier shot Khadr. Levant recounts that "his first words to the U.S. forces who shot and captured him were in English, cursing the soldiers and calling on them to shoot him again -- and thus make him a martyr."
Instead, U.S. medics treated him and turned him over to American surgeons -- saving his life.
The last chapter in this murder mystery has yet to be written. If Khadr is set free next year, will he return to the battlefield, as have more than 160 of the detainees released from Guantanamo (including the top al-Qaida-affiliated leader in Libya)?
Dr. Michael Welner, an American forensic psychiatrist who studied and interviewed Khadr, concluded that he remains a committed jihadist and may see himself stepping into the shoes of his father, who was killed in a shootout with Pakistani soldiers in 2003.
My guess about where the story goes from here: Khadr, now 26, will be paroled but he won't throw any more grenades.
Nor will he apply to medical school. Instead, he will become a professional propagandist, telling audiences he was tortured in Afghanistan and/or Gitmo (claims not supported by evidence, the military judge presiding over the case ruled), while promoting anti-Americanism and furthering the Islamist cause.
Yes, Khadr has led a tragic life. But the blame for that is not America's or Gitmo's. And, unlike Speer, Khadr still has a life, and before long he is likely to be both free and celebrated by people calling themselves human rights activists. In the real world, you see, murder mysteries don't always have satisfying endings.
(Clifford May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.)