Man believed to be John Walker Lindh seen outside federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana

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Marin's "American Taliban" Freed

John Walker Lindh Served 17 Years

KCBS Radio Morning News
May 23, 2019 - 6:58 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- The man known as "the American Taliban" was released from a federal prison in Indiana on Thursday morning. John Walker Lindh was the first US-born detainee in the war on terror and had served 17 years of a 20-year sentence.

Lindh grew up in Marin County, developed an interest in Islam, and left home at age 17 to study Arabic in Yemen. He eventually made his way to Afghanistan where he spent time in an al Qaeda training camp.

Lindh was captured during the fall 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. He acknowledged playing a role in an uprising that took the life of CIA officer Johnny Micheal Spann.

He was charged with conspiracy to kill Americans, among other crimes.  In 2002, Lindh pleaded guilty to charges of fighting with the Taliban and accepted the 20-year term.

Lindh's attorney told CNN his client, now 38, will live in Virginia. He'll be subjected to stringent parole terms including a restriction on internet use without clearance by his parole officer. If he is permitted to go online, he'll be required to communicate in English.

Critics say Lindh continues to espouse radical ideologies, pointing to a 2017 Federal Bureau of Prisons intelligence assessment that said he had made statements supporting of Islamic State.

The author of a book that focused on Lindh's case told KCBS Radio she does not believe Lindh represents a continuing threat. "There's a difference between what you say and what you do," said Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University Law School.

"But," Greenberg acknowledged, "there is a discomfort" with the notion that Lindh will now be living outside prison.