'American Taliban' Lindh released from prison

Clay Curtis
May 23, 2019

American John Walker Lindh, who was captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan in November 2001, is due to be released from prison on May 23.

The 38-year-old was captured with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in November 2001 and failed to warn USA forces of a planned uprising at the Qala-i-Jangi jail in Balkh where he was being held.

Lindh is still believed to be a follower of Islamic extremism, the same kind of views that compelled him to travel to Afghanistan and join up with the Taliban in 2001.

Lindh, photographed as a wild-eyed, bearded 20-year-old at his capture, will leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence, according to a prison official.

Lindh told the court he condemned "terrorism on every level" and attacks by the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, were "completely against Islam".

The Arabic speaker is not allowed to have an internet-capable device without prior permission, nor communicate online in any language other than English.

He said Lindh represents an interesting test case, as he is on the leading edge of dozens of inmates who were convicted on terror-related offenses in the aftermath of September 11 and are eligible for release in the next five years.

Veteran U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad has been conducting several rounds of peace talks with the militants.

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Lindh's parents, Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh, did not respond to requests for comment.

Central Intelligence Agency paramilitary officer Johnny "Mike" Spann, 34, was killed in a Taliban prisoner uprising, shortly after questioning the captured Lindh. Eventually, he struck a plea bargain in which he admitted illegally providing support to the Taliban but denied a role in Spann's death. "I have never supported terrorism in any form, and I never will ..." He filed multiple lawsuits, which were largely successful, challenging prison rules he found discriminatory against Muslims.

Lindh signed his letters with the name Yahya.

While in prison, Lindh successfully lobbied to overturn a ban on group prayer by Muslim prisoners. A second lawsuit reversed a policy requiring strip searches for inmates receiving visitors, and a third won the right to wear prison trousers above the ankle, which Lindh said is in accordance with Islamic principles. If he's compelled to reveal himself, he said, he's also compelled under his religion to fight the rules requiring him to sin. Given the charges for which Lindh was convicted, his release was inevitable.

In addition, Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., to take up the matter with the White House. Maggie Hassan wrote a letter last week to the Bureau of Prisons expressing concern.

Johnny Spann, Mike Spann's father, is also taking action since CNN has reported that he is asking the courts to investigate comments Lindh has made in prison which suggest he still believes in promoting Islamic radicalism.

Some US lawmakers fear Lindh remains a security risk.

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