Trump Said He Tried to Stop Release of John Walker Lindh, Known as the ‘American Taliban’ – The New York Times

A person reported to be John Walker Lindh leaving federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., early on Thursday.CreditCreditBryan Woolston/Reuters

John Walker Lindh, known widely as the “American Taliban,” has been released from prison in Terre Haute, Ind., according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Mr. Lindh was freed on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence for providing support to the Taliban. He was captured during the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and returned to the United States the next year.

The bureau provided no further details, citing a policy against revealing inmate release plans for “safety, security and privacy reasons.” A lawyer for Mr. Lindh, William Cummings, declined to comment.

The New York Times had previously reported that Mr. Lindh, 38, was scheduled for release on Thursday. At the time, Mr. Lindh, his parents, lawyers and prosecutors all declined to discuss his plans. But CNN has since reported that, according to Mr. Cummings, Mr. Lindh will live in Virginia.

Mr. Lindh was 17 when he left his home in California in 1998 to study Arabic in Yemen. He made his way to Pakistan in 2000 and later to Afghanistan, where he served as a Taliban volunteer at a Qaeda training camp.

After his capture, Mr. Lindh was held at a prison near Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, where an uprising claimed the first United States casualty of the war, a 32-year-old C.I.A. officer named Johnny Micheal Spann.

Mr. Spann was killed after questioning Mr. Lindh, though the government offered no evidence that Mr. Lindh participated in the revolt. At trial, he pleaded guilty to charges of providing support to the Taliban and carrying a rifle and grenade.

Johnny Spann, Mr. Spann’s father, remains disappointed in the outcome of Mr. Lindh’s trial.

“We’ve got a traitor that was given 20 years and I can’t do anything about it,” Mr. Spann, a real estate dealer in Winfield, Ala., previously said to The Times. “He was given a 20-year sentence when it should’ve been life in prison.”

Under the conditions of his release, Mr. Lindh is barred from owning an internet-connected device without permission from the probation office. He is also barred, unless otherwise approved, from any online communications not in English and may not communicate with any known extremists.

Mr. Lindh is prohibited from owning a passport and from international travel, too, a ban that prevents the immediate possibility of a move to Ireland, where Mr. Lindh obtained citizenship through his grandmother while in prison.

Under the terms of his release, he must also undergo mental health counseling.

At his sentencing in late 2002, Mr. Lindh said that he condemned“terrorism on every level, unequivocally” and had made a mistake in joining the Taliban. But assessments in recent years suggest that he may not have fully rejected extremist views.

A 2017 report by the National Counterterrorism Center, first published by Foreign Policy magazine, said that as of the previous year, Mr. Lindh had “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.”

Another 2017 assessment, from the Bureau of Prisons, said he had made supportive statements about the Islamic State.

In a statement on Thursday, however, the Bureau of Prisons said it had found, through staff interviews, that many inmates turned away from radicalized ideology while in prison thanks to “self-study,” prison programming or the length of their sentence.

“While we are aware of a small number of this population who have returned to BOP custody, none have returned to BOP custody for terrorism-related charges,” the agency said.

Source: Trump Said He Tried to Stop Release of John Walker Lindh, Known as the ‘American Taliban’ – The New York Times

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