John Walker Lindh, who became known as the “American Taliban” shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, is set to be released this week despite some citing security concerns about letting the allegedly unrepentant man go.
Currently serving his sentence in Terre Haute, Indiana, Lindh will be discharged on Thursday. He was originally given a 20 year sentence shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on U.S. soil.
Lindh was a member of the Taliban and he was arrested along with other members at the start of the war in Afghanistan.
Some lawmakers have objected to the release of Lindh.
“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,” Sens. Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) wrote in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons last week.
The senators also asked for details about how the Bureau of Prisons is determining if someone is an “ongoing threat” to communities.
Others with more personal connections to Lindh has also objected to his release. Allison Spann is the daughter of Johnny “Mike” Spann, a CIA paramilitary operative who was one of the first American casualties in the war in Afghanistan. Lindh has been partially blamed for Spann’s death and Allison told Fox News that Lindh’s release feels like a “such a slap in the face.”
Spann interrogated Lindh in November 2001 after a Taliban leader surrendered to the Northern Alliance in the northern Afghanistan province of Mazar-i-Sharif. Lindh refused to answer any questions. Hours later, other Taliban fighters revolted in what was being used as a prison and killed Spann.
“In those moments, when he chose to stay silent, he sealed his fate as a traitor to the United States,” Allison Spann said. “At any point, he could have warned him that something was being planned.”
Johnny Spann’s father has also stepped forward to protest the release of Lindh. Johnny Spann wrote a letter to a Virginia federal court asking for a thorough investigation into pro-Taliban comments allegedly made by Lindh while in prison.
“If you were here talking to me today and John Walker Lindh had been in prison for the 17 years of a 20-year sentence and he had been a model prisoner… I would have said he served his time, he’s done what they said do,” Spann told CNN. But with all these reports that are out, all these things that have been said and reported, what I am asking to happen is that they do an intense investigation, a thorough investigation of those reports to see if he actually has done that.”
In 2002, a 20-year-old Lindh was charged with murder conspiracy due to his role in the revolt that left Spann dead. Lindh eventually pleaded guilty to disobeying an executive order through his support of the Taliban. The guilty plea allowed other charges against him to be dropped.
Despite over 15 years behind bars, some have accused Lindh of holding strong in his support of the Taliban. The National Counterterrorism Center warned in 2017 that Lindh would continue “advocate for global jihad and write and translate violent extremist texts” if released from prison. Lindh also allegedly told a television producer last year that he would “spread violent extremism Islam” when he got out of prison.
For a wider context of Lindh’s connection to America’s enemies, consider his history before ever going to prison. As a 19-year-old, Lindh travelled through Yemen and Pakistan only months before the September 11 attacks. He trained in Kandahar and even reportedly met with Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden at least once.
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