The Islamic militant who became known as the infamous “American Taliban” member is set to be released from a U.S. federal prison Thursday despite lawmakers’ concerns about the “security and safety implications” of freeing an unrepentant terrorist who officials say continues to “openly call for extremist violence.”
John Walker Lindh, who is currently behind bars in Terra Haute, Indiana, is set to be discharged May 23, several years before he would complete the prescribed 20-year prison sentence he received for joining and supporting the Taliban. The former Islamist fighter and enemy combatant, named “Detainee 001 in the war on terror,” was arrested in 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks and the start of the war in Afghanistan, along with a group of Taliban fighters who were captured by U.S. forces.
“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-Ala., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., wrote in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons late last week that was obtained by the Washington Post.
Lindh has been blamed for playing a role in the death of Johnny “Mike” Spann, a U.S Marine turned CIA paramilitary operative who became the first American to be killed in combat in Afghanistan, amid the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Spann’s daughter, Allison, told Fox News in March that Lindh’s early release “feels like such a slap in the face.”
In November 2001, U.S forces learned that an American – Lindh – was among the cluster of Taliban fighters left in limbo after their leader surrendered to the Northern Alliance in the northern Afghanistan province of Mazar-i-Sharif. Spann was the first to go into a compound there, serving as a prison, to interview Lindh, peppering him with questions about where he was from and what he was doing. But Lindh refused to respond.
“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.”
Hours later, Lindh’s fellow detainees erupted in a violent revolt that left Mike Spann dead.
The initial charges leveled against the then 20-year-old Lindh in 2002 included one for murder conspiracy due to the role he played in the deadly prison rebellion.
However, nine of the ten counts in an indictment were then dropped and Lindh ended up pleading guilty to disobeying an executive order outlawing support to the Taliban and for possessing a weapon in Afghanistan.
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SOURCE: FOX News, Greg Norman