John Walker Lindh is the much-publicized 20-year old American man who was found and taken into custody by American forces in Afghanistan
for fighting for the Taliban
. The man's story has been a focal point of American debate on a variety of fronts: How could a man fight against his own country? Was Walker Lindh brainwashed
? How can he not have remorse
? Should he be put to death for what he has done? Additionally, the story has sparked a vicious
political debate after some in the press made sure to point out Walker Lindh's liberal
Walker Lindh was born in the suburbs of Washington and then moved to Fairfax, California. He grew up in an average, well off Catholic family. He did well in school and participated in normal after-school activities.
After reading a book on Malcolm X at age 16, Walker Lindh converted to Islam. He eagerly studied Islam as well as the Arabic language. After high school graduation and with his parent's blessings and funding, he left for Yemen to study. In November 2000, Walker Lindh enrolled in Islamic school in Pakistan. On April 26 of 2001, John sent an email to his parents stating that he was heading to cooler climates. This was the last contact that his parents received until they saw his face on television nearly 8 months later.
In May Walker Lindh moved into the mountains wanting to help Taliban supporters however he could. He believed that the only government that followed Islamic law closest was in Afghanistan. He eventually made his way to Northern Afghanistan. Along the way the US government alleges that Walker Lindh attended Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and even met Osama Bin Laden himself who thanked Walker Lindh for joining them.
When America first started dropping bombs in Afghanistan in October, Walker Lindh joined in arms with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. He was captured on November 25 near the town of Mazar-e Sharif by anti-Taliban forces and put into their makeshift prison. Here he was questioned by CIA agents. He was quoted as saying "he wanted to be a martyr". During an uprising by the captured Taliban, he is shot in the thigh and hides with a small group in a basement. During the uprising Michael Spann, a CIA agent who had questioned him, was killed which leads to much anger directed at Walker Lindh from the American public even though there has never been any proof that Walker Lindh had anything to do with the uprising nor Spann's death.
After a week of hiding in the basement, the group is flushed out with water by American forces. On December 14 he was moved to an American warship and on January 23, 2002 was transferred to the United States. The following day he made his first court appearance in Virginia. He is indicted on 10 counts by a federal grand jury on February 5 charging he was an Al Qaeda trained terrorist, knew of planned attacks on America and Israel before they happened, and made illegal transactions with the Taliban. The following day bond is denied as the judge decides he is a flight risk.
Walker Lindh's made an agreement with the prosecution to plead guilty to helping the Taliban in exchange for the other charges to be dropped. He was sentenced to 20 years on October 4. At sentencing he said that he had "made a mistake by joining the Taliban" and "had I realized then what I know now about the Taliban I would never have joined them".
Updates to this node shall be posted as they become available.