WASHINGTON – A Canadian teenager is being held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan after being badly wounded, apparently in a firefight in late July in which an American soldier was killed.
Omar Kadr, 15, is the son of an alleged Al Qaeda financial leader, Ahmad Said al-Kadr, said Reynald Doiron, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Thursday that Canada will seek consular access to the young Kadr.
"I have been informed that he has been arrested," Chretien said. "When a Canadian is arrested abroad we always ask to serve the Canadian citizen according to the rules."
U.S. military officials declined to comment.
Kadr was captured on July 27 after being badly wounded in a firefight near Khost, an Al Qaeda hotbed in eastern Afghanistan, Doiron said, citing information provided by the U.S. government. He said both U.S. troops and the force opposing them took casualties, but had no more details on the firefight.
His description matches U.S. reports of a firefight in the region that day. A special forces medic, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher James Speer, 28, of Albuquerque, N.M., was mortally wounded in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon. Four other American soldiers were injured in the fight, and two Afghan allies were killed. Speer died Aug. 7.
The Pentagon also said at the time that one enemy combatant was captured and several were killed.
The U.S. government has told Ottawa that Kadr received medical treatment at a U.S. base at Bagram, north of the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Kadr's older brother, Abdul Rahman Kadr, 19, was captured by the anti-Taliban northern alliance in November, and is being held by the Afghan government, Doiron said.
U.S. officials have previously described their father as a top Al Qaeda financial official who was born in Egypt and has Canadian citizenship. His whereabouts are unknown.
A statement from the foreign affairs ministry said because of the conflict in Afghanistan, the peacetime principles involving Canadians held in foreign countries may not apply.
"The department is concerned that a Canadian juvenile has been detained, and believes that this individual's age should be taken into account in determining treatment," it said.
According to Doiron, Ottawa first learned of Omar Kadr's capture on Aug. 20 when the U.S. government contacted Canadian officials seeking to verify his identity.