Religion of Peace in action


spaminator
#571
'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh to be released
Associated Press
Published:
May 22, 2019
Updated:
May 22, 2019 7:03 PM EDT
John Walker Lindh is seen in these two file photos.Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP / AP Photo, File
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — John Walker Lindh, the young Californian who became known as the American Taliban after he was captured by U.S. forces in the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, is set to go free after nearly two decades in prison.
But conditions imposed recently on Lindh’s release, slated for Thursday, make clear that authorities remain concerned about the threat he could pose once free.
Lindh, now 38, converted to Islam as a teenager after seeing the film Malcolm X and went overseas to study Arabic and the Qur’an. In November 2000, he went to Pakistan and from there made his way to Afghanistan. He joined the Taliban and was with them on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The U.S. attacked Afghanistan after the country failed to turn over al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Lindh was captured in a battle with Northern Alliance fighters in late 2001. He was present when a group of Taliban prisoners launched an attack that killed Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann, a CIA officer who had been interrogating Lindh and other Taliban prisoners.
Television footage of a bearded, wounded Lindh captured among Taliban fighters created an international sensation, and he was brought to the U.S. to face charges of conspiring to kill Spann and providing support to terrorists. Eventually, he struck a plea bargain in which he admitted illegally providing support to the Taliban but denied a role in Spann’s death.
This file image taken Dec. 1, 2001, from television footage in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, shows John Walker Lindh, right, claiming to be an American Taliban volunteer. AP Video, File
Lindh received a 20-year prison sentence. He served roughly 17 years and five months, including two months when he was in military detention. Federal inmates who exhibit good behaviour typically serve 85% of their sentence.
His probation officer asked the court to impose additional restrictions on Lindh while he remains on supervised release for the next three years. Lindh initially opposed but eventually acquiesced to the restrictions, which include monitoring software on his internet devices; requiring that his online communications be conducted in English and that he undergo mental health counselling; and forbidding him from possessing or viewing extremist material, holding a passport of any kind or leaving the U.S.
Authorities never specified their rationale for seeking such restrictions. A hearing on the issue was cancelled after Lindh agreed to them.
The Bureau of Prisons said Lindh rejected an interview request submitted by The Associated Press, and his lawyer declined to comment. But there have been reports that Lindh’s behaviour in prison has created cause for concern. Foreign Policy magazine reported in 2017 that an investigation by the National Counterterrorism Center found that Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.”
A former inmate who knew Lindh from the time they spent at the same federal prison said he never heard Lindh espouse support for al-Qaida or indicate a risk for violence, but he found Lindh to be anti-social and awkward around others, with an unyielding, black-and-white view of religion. The inmate spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wanted to avoid further stigmatization from his time in Lindh’s prison unit.
Michael Jensen, a terrorism researcher at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, said it’s clear the government has concerns about Lindh’s mindset.
“For three years he’s going to be watched like a hawk,” Jensen said.
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 offences in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and are eligible for release in the next five years. He said there’s little research to indicate the efficacy of de-radicalizing inmates with connections to radical Islam, but he said the research shows that recidivism rates for those connected to white supremacy and other forms of extremism are high.
Lindh has been housed in Terre Haute, Indiana, with other Muslim inmates convicted on terror-related charges. The rationale was to keep those inmates from radicalizing others in the general prison population, Jensen said. Those inside the unit were supposed to be limited in their ability to communicate with each other.
“But the reality is these guys still talk to each other,” he said.
Lindh, for his part, admitted his role and his wrongdoing in supporting the Taliban, but he and his family have bristled at any notion that he should be considered a terrorist. When he was sentenced, Lindh said he never would have joined the Taliban if he fully understood what they were about. He also issued a short essay condemning acts of violence in the name of Islam that kill or harm innocent civilians.
Lindh’s time in prison has provided only a few clues about his current outlook. He filed multiple lawsuits, which were largely successful, challenging prison rules he found discriminatory against Muslims. In the more recent lawsuits, he used the name Yahya Lindh. One lawsuit won the right to pray in groups at the prison in Terre Haute. A second lawsuit reversed a policy requiring strip searches for inmates receiving visitors, and a third won the right to wear prison pants above the ankle, which Lindh said is in accordance with Islamic principles.
In the strip-search lawsuit, Lindh offered a discussion of Islamic rules prohibiting exposure of the body. If he’s compelled to reveal himself, he said, he’s also compelled under his religion to fight the rules requiring him to sin.
Some have criticized Lindh’s pending release. In March, the legislature in Alabama, where Spann grew up, adopted a resolution calling it “an insult” to Spann’s “heroic legacy and his remaining family members.”
In addition, Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan wrote a letter last week to the Bureau of Prisons expressing concern.
“We must consider the security and safety implications for our citizens and communities who will receive individuals like John Walker Lindh who continue to openly call for extremist violence,” they wrote.
On Monday, Spann’s father, Johnny Spann, wrote a letter requesting that Lindh be investigated before he’s released, citing the National Counterterrorism Center’s investigation as his rationale for concern.
http://torontosun.com/news/world/ame...to-be-released
 
spaminator
#572
'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh freed after 17 years in prison
Associated Press
Published:
May 23, 2019
Updated:
May 23, 2019 5:10 PM EDT
In this file image taken from video broadcast Dec. 19, 2001.CNN via AP, File
John Walker Lindh, the Californian who took up arms for the Taliban and was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001, got out of prison Thursday after more than 17 years, released under tight restrictions that reflected government fears he still harbours radical views.
U.S. President Donald Trump reacted by saying, “I don’t like it at all.”
“Here’s a man who has not given up his proclamation of terror,” he said.
Lindh, 38, left a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, after getting time off for good behaviour from the 20-year sentence he received when he pleaded guilty to providing support to the Taliban.
It was not immediately clear where the man known as the “American Taliban” will live or what he will do. He turned down an interview request last week, and his attorney declined to comment Thursday.
In a Fox News interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decried his early release as “unexplainable and unconscionable” and called for a review of prison system policies.
The president said he asked lawyers whether there was anything that could be done to block Lindh from getting out but was told no. Trump said the U.S. will closely monitor him.
Under restrictions imposed by a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., Lindh’s internet devices must have monitoring software; his online communications must be conducted in English; he must undergo mental health counselling; he is forbidden to possess or view extremist material; and he cannot hold a passport or leave the U.S.
John Walker Lindh is seen in these two file photos. Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP / AP Photo, File
FBI counterterrorism officials work with federal prison authorities to determine what risk a soon-to-be-released inmate might pose.
Probation officers never explained why they sought the restrictions against Lindh. But in 2017, Foreign Policy magazine cited a National Counterterrorism Center report that said Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.”
On Wednesday, NBC reported that Lindh, in a letter to a producer from Los Angeles-based affiliate KNBC, wrote in 2015 that the Islamic State group was “doing a spectacular job.”
Lindh converted to Islam as a teenager after seeing the movie “Malcolm X” and eventually made his way to Pakistan and Afghanistan and joined the Taliban. He met Osama bin Laden and was with the Taliban on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Lindh was captured on the battlefield after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following 9-11 and was initially charged with conspiring to kill Mike Spann, a CIA operative who died during an uprising of Taliban prisoners shortly after interrogating Lindh.
Lindh denied any role in Spann’s death. But he admitted carrying an assault rifle and two grenades.
Spann’s daughter Alison Spann, now a journalist in Mississippi, posted a letter on Twitter that she said she had sent to Trump. In it, she called Lindh’s early release “a slap in the face” to everyone killed on 9/11 and in the war on terror since then, along with “the millions of Muslims worldwide who don’t support radical extremists.”
I wrote this letter to @POTUS asking that the early release of John Walker Lindh be stopped. He’s going to be released on May 23, despite reports that he has continued to “advocate for global jihad.” This is not a reformed prisoner… pic.twitter.com/HVOryefVIE
— Alison Spann (@newsgirlalison) May 21, 2019
Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan also expressed concern about Lindh’s release in a letter last week to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
“We must consider the security and safety implications for our citizens and communities who will receive individuals like John Walker Lindh who continue to openly call for extremist violence,” they wrote.
The bureau defended itself Thursday in a statement that said Lindh’s release followed federal laws and guidelines. It said it works closely with outside agencies “to reduce the risk terrorist offenders pose inside and outside of prisons,” and added that no radicalized inmate has returned to federal prison on terrorism-related charges.
This file image taken Dec. 1, 2001, from television footage in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, shows John Walker Lindh, right, claiming to be an American Taliban volunteer. AP Video, File
Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo who now serves as director of outreach for London-based CAGE, which supports the rights of those accused of terror-related crimes, said the criticism over Lindh’s early release is misguided. If anything, Begg said, Lindh was imprisoned too long.
He noted that many of the other Taliban fighters who were sent to Guantanamo as enemy combatants were released much earlier.
As for Lindh’s letter in support of the Islamic State, Begg noted that it was written four years ago and that Lindh might not have had full knowledge of the group’s atrocities from behind bars.
“Nobody really knows what his views are right now in 2019,” he said.
In a statement, Begg said: “It is now time for him to be allowed to restart his life in peace and freedom.”

http://torontosun.com/news/world/ame...ears-in-prison
 

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