John Walker Lindh, known as the ‘American Taliban,’ set to be released from prison – National

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However situations imposed just lately on Lindh’s launch, slated for Thursday, clarify that authorities stay involved in regards to the risk he might pose as soon as free.

Lindh, now 38, transformed to Islam as a teen after seeing the movie “Malcolm X” and went abroad to check Arabic and the Qur’an. In November 2000, he went to Pakistan and from there made his solution to Afghanistan. He joined the Taliban and was with them on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida terrorists attacked the World Commerce Middle and the Pentagon.

The U.S. attacked Afghanistan after the nation failed to show over al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Lindh was captured in a battle with Northern Alliance fighters in late 2001. He was current when a gaggle of Taliban prisoners launched an assault that killed Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann, a CIA officer who had been interrogating Lindh and different Taliban prisoners.


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Tv footage of a bearded, wounded Lindh captured amongst Taliban fighters created a global sensation, and he was delivered to the U.S. to face fees of conspiring to kill Spann and offering help to terrorists. Ultimately, he struck a plea discount during which he admitted illegally offering help to the Taliban however denied a job in Spann’s loss of life.

Lindh obtained a 20-year jail sentence. He served roughly 17 years and 5 months, together with two months when he was in army detention. Federal inmates who exhibit good behaviour sometimes serve 85 per cent of their sentence.

His probation officer requested the courtroom to impose extra restrictions on Lindh whereas he stays on supervised launch for the subsequent three years. Lindh initially opposed however ultimately acquiesced to the restrictions, which embody monitoring software program on his web units; requiring that his on-line communications be performed in English and that he bear psychological well being counselling; and forbidding him from possessing or viewing extremist materials, holding a passport of any variety or leaving the U.S.

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Authorities by no means specified their rationale for searching for such restrictions. A listening to on the problem was cancelled after Lindh agreed to them.

The Bureau of Prisons stated Lindh rejected an interview request submitted by The Related Press, and his lawyer declined to remark. However there have been experiences that Lindh’s behaviour in jail has created trigger for concern. International Coverage journal reported in 2017 that an investigation by the Nationwide Counterterrorism Middle discovered that Lindh “continued to advocate for international jihad and to put in writing and translate violent extremist texts.”

A former inmate who knew Lindh from the time they spent on the similar federal jail stated he by no means heard Lindh espouse help for al-Qaida or point out a threat for violence, however he discovered Lindh to be anti-social and awkward round others, with an unyielding, black-and-white view of faith. The inmate spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity as a result of he wished to keep away from additional stigmatization from his time in Lindh’s jail unit.


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Michael Jensen, a terrorism researcher on the College of Maryland’s Nationwide Consortium for the Examine of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, stated it’s clear the federal government has considerations about Lindh’s mindset.

“For 3 years he’s going to be watched like a hawk,” Jensen stated.

He stated Lindh represents an fascinating take a look at case, as he’s on the forefront of dozens of inmates who had been convicted on terror-related offences within the aftermath of Sept. 11 and are eligible for launch within the subsequent 5 years. He stated there’s little analysis to point the efficacy of de-radicalizing inmates with connections to radical Islam, however he stated the analysis exhibits that recidivism charges for these related to white supremacy and different types of extremism are excessive.

Lindh has been housed in Terre Haute, Indiana, with different Muslim inmates convicted on terror-related fees. The rationale was to maintain these inmates from radicalizing others within the common jail inhabitants, Jensen stated. These contained in the unit had been alleged to be restricted of their skill to speak with one another.

“However the actuality is these guys nonetheless speak to one another,” he stated.

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Lindh, for his half, admitted his function and his wrongdoing in supporting the Taliban, however he and his household have bristled at any notion that he ought to be thought-about a terrorist. When he was sentenced, Lindh stated he by no means would have joined the Taliban if he absolutely understood what they had been about. He additionally issued a brief essay condemning acts of violence within the title of Islam that kill or hurt harmless civilians.

Lindh’s time in jail has supplied only some clues about his present outlook. He filed a number of lawsuits, which had been largely profitable, difficult jail guidelines he discovered discriminatory in opposition to Muslims. Within the newer lawsuits, he used the title Yahya Lindh. One lawsuit received the proper to wish in teams on the jail in Terre Haute. A second lawsuit reversed a coverage requiring strip searches for inmates receiving guests, and a 3rd received the proper to put on jail pants above the ankle, which Lindh stated is in accordance with Islamic ideas.

Within the strip-search lawsuit, Lindh supplied a dialogue of Islamic guidelines prohibiting publicity of the physique. If he’s compelled to disclose himself, he stated, he’s additionally compelled below his faith to battle the foundations requiring him to sin.


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Some have criticized Lindh’s pending launch. In March, the legislature in Alabama, the place Spann grew up, adopted a decision calling it “an insult” to Spann’s “heroic legacy and his remaining relations.”

As well as, Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan wrote a letter final week to the Bureau of Prisons expressing concern.

“We should think about the safety and security implications for our residents and communities who will obtain people like John Walker Lindh who proceed to brazenly name for extremist violence,” they wrote.

On Monday, Spann’s father, Johnny Spann, wrote a letter requesting that Lindh be investigated earlier than he’s launched, citing the Nationwide Counterterrorism Middle’s investigation as his rationale for concern.

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