The documentary Guantanamo’s Child is about 28-year-old Omar Khadr, who has spent half his life behind bars. Courtesy White Pine Pictures
The documentary Guantanamo’s Child is about 28-year-old Omar Khadr, who has spent half his life behind bars. Courtesy White Pine Pictures

Hard-hitting documentary Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival



Guantanamo's Child: Omar Khadr will make your stomach turn. Why the documentary upsets you will depend on your point of view.

Some will find it sickening that a terrorist, convicted of murder, was released from prison four months ago and now walks free in Edmonton, Canada.

Others will be disgusted by the tales of torture that Khadr went through as a teenager at Guantanamo, the notorious United States prison in Cuba.

It is also possible that you will find both reprehensible. Such is the moral ambiguity of the film, which has its premiere on September 14 at the Toronto International Film Festival, and features the first interview with Khadr since he was detained after a gun battle in Afghanistan in 2002.

“Some people say: ‘He seems so composed, relaxed, ­convincing and credible, and this really brought me closer to him,’” says Patrick Reed, who co-directed the film with Michelle Shephard. “Others say he’s composed, ­relaxed and comfortable and the guy’s obviously the master ­manipulator.

“The point of the film was to allow him to speak, for people to see him and to allow a dialogue about the issue. But it wasn’t necessarily to have everyone have the same opinion about him, because I don’t think even Michelle and I have the same opinion about him.”

Khadr was born in east Toronto to an Egyptian-born father, Ahmed, and mother, Maha, but the family moved to Afghanistan to start a charity. Soon after the 1980 Russian invasion, Ahmed met a young mujahideen named Osama bin Laden.

On September 11, this association – bin Laden even attended the wedding of one of Ahmed’s daughters – landed him on the United Nations terrorism list.

When the US invaded the ­following year, Ahmed decided that instead of allowing his ­family to return to Canada they would join him on the run. He was killed during the US invasion, but not before he volunteered his 15-year-old son as an Arabic translator to Al Qaeda-trained fighters. Guantanamo's Child includes footage of the teenager smiling while ­assembling and planting improvised explosive devices with his new companions.

“I wasn’t thinking about the morality of what I was doing,” Khadr says in the film. “It was for a cause: fighting invaders. People said this is what we should be doing, and I said: ‘Sure.’”

On July 22, 2002, US forces tracked down Khadr and his comrades at their compound and a shoot-out ensued. The US called in an airstrike, leaving all of the Al Qaeda soldiers dead. Khadr survived, but lost his left eye and had a hole in his chest. He was patched up and taken to a prison in Bagram, where he met “The Monster”. Damien Corsetti was assigned to be an interrogator as a punishment for getting alcohol poisoning. He had a deep voice, lots of tattoos and a penchant for throwing furniture. He accompanied Khadr three months later when he was transferred to Guantanamo. In the years that followed, Corsetti and others would use techniques such as the Human Mop (forcing prisoners to wipe up their own urine) and the Frequent Flier Programme (sleep deprivation by waking them up every two hours) on Khadr and even force-fed him after he joined a hunger strike in 2005.

Guantanamo's Child is the story of how a teenager dealt with this treatment – the Supreme Court of Canada released a 2008 video of Khadr crying for help from Canadian security officers – but it is also about how that teenager changed the perspective of people like Corsetti.

“Through the injustice of Omar, I started to see the error of my ways,” Corsetti says. “He helped me regain my humanity.”

Reed adds: “People might say: ‘Oh, another waterboarding ­story’ – but this film is also about seeing [Damien] change his mind on the war on terror, to see that transformation because of interactions with our main ­character.”

In 2005, Khadr became the only juvenile to be tried for war crimes. In 2010, he pleaded not guilty to murdering US Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer during the 2002 firefight. Three months later, he changed his plea. Despite the Canadian government’s objections, he was sent to Canada in 2012. Since his release in May, Khadr has lived with his lawyer, Dennis Edney. He wears an ankle bracelet and has a 10pm curfew – but he is free.

For Shephard, an award-­winning journalist at The Toronto Star, the film is the culmination of 12 years of reporting. Producer Peter Raymont approached her to co-direct after reading her 2008 book about the case.

“After so long covering somebody, I finally got a chance to ask him my questions,” she says. “No matter what his answers were, it was going to be unsatisfactory on some level.”

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Founders: Ines Mena, Claudia Ribas, Simona Agolini, Nourhan Hassan and Therese Hundt

Date started: January 2017, app launched November 2017

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Funders: Oman Technology Fund, 500 Startups, Vision Ventures, Seedstars, Mindshift Capital, Delta Partners Ventures, with support from the OQAL Angel Investor Network and UAE Business Angels

Superliminal

Developer: Pillow Castle Games
Publisher: Pillow Castle Games
Console: PlayStation 4&5, Xbox Series One & X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac
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CREW

Director: Rajesh A Krishnan

Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon

Rating: 3.5/5

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

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The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre V8

Power: 503hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 685Nm at 2,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Price: from Dh850,000

On sale: now

Result

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3 – Group 1 (PA) $65,000 (Dirt) 2,000m; Winner: Brraq, Ryan Curatolo (jockey), Jean-Claude Pecout (trainer)

7.05pm: Handicap (TB) $65,000 (Turf) 1,800m; Winner: Bright Melody, James Doyle, Charlie Appleby

7.40pm: Meydan Classic – Listed (TB) $88,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Naval Crown, Mickael Barzalona, Charlie Appleby

8.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Trophy – Group 3 (TB) $195,000 (T) 2,810m; Winner: Volcanic Sky, Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor

8.50pm: Dubai Millennium Stakes – Group 3 (TB) $130,000 (T) 2,000m; Winner: Star Safari, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

9.25pm: Meydan Challenge – Listed Handicap (TB) $88,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Zainhom, Dane O’Neill, Musabah Al Muhairi

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THE POPE'S ITINERARY

Sunday, February 3, 2019 - Rome to Abu Dhabi
1pm: departure by plane from Rome / Fiumicino to Abu Dhabi
10pm: arrival at Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport


Monday, February 4
12pm: welcome ceremony at the main entrance of the Presidential Palace
12.20pm: visit Abu Dhabi Crown Prince at Presidential Palace
5pm: private meeting with Muslim Council of Elders at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
6.10pm: Inter-religious in the Founder's Memorial


Tuesday, February 5 - Abu Dhabi to Rome
9.15am: private visit to undisclosed cathedral
10.30am: public mass at Zayed Sports City – with a homily by Pope Francis
12.40pm: farewell at Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport
1pm: departure by plane to Rome
5pm: arrival at the Rome / Ciampino International Airport

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

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Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

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Heather, the Totality
Matthew Weiner,
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COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Results:

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Second Test: New Zealand 21 British & Irish Lions 24

Third Test: New Zealand 15 British & Irish Lions 15

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The US Congress explained

- Congress is one of three branches of the US government, and the one that creates the nation's federal laws

- Congress is divided into two chambers: The House of Representatives and the Senate

- The House is made up of 435 members based on a state's population. House members are up for election every two years

- A bill must be approved by both the House and Senate before it goes to the president's desk for signature

- A political party needs 218 seats to be in control of the House of Representatives

- The Senate is comprised of 100 members, with each state receiving two senators. Senate members serve six-year terms

- A political party needs 51 seats to control the Senate. In the case of a 50-50 tie, the party of the president controls the Senate

The specs

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Price: from Dh349,545
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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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Director: Richie Mehta

Starring: Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

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THE BIO

Favourite car: Koenigsegg Agera RS or Renault Trezor concept car.

Favourite book: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes or Red Notice by Bill Browder.

Biggest inspiration: My husband Nik. He really got me through a lot with his positivity.

Favourite holiday destination: Being at home in Australia, as I travel all over the world for work. It’s great to just hang out with my husband and family.

 

 

The lowdown

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Produced by: Red Chillies, Azure Entertainment 

Director: Sujoy Ghosh

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh, Tony Luke