by WorldTribune Staff, May 24, 2019
President Donald Trump was critical of the early release of John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban,” but said he was powerless to stop it.
Reports say that Lindh was released early for “good behavior,” but he never disavowed his extremist views while in prison and even had praise for Islamic State (ISIS), saying the terror group was doing “a spectacular job,” according to prison correspondence from Lindh to journalists.
Lindh, the California man who joined the Taliban and was captured by U.S. forces after he took up arms against the U.S. government, was released on May 23 after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence.
“I don’t like it at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
In his correspondence from prison, Lindh identified himself as Yahya Lindh, said he spent his days in pursuit of Islamic knowledge and referred to himself as a political prisoner. All correspondence in and out of the prison was subject to inspection.
“We are in prison due to our beliefs and the practice of our religion, not for committing any crime,” he wrote in a March 2014 letter.
Asked whether ISIS represented Islam, Lindh wrote in February 2015: “Yes, and they are doing a spectacular job. The Islamic State is clearly very sincere and serious about fulfilling the long-neglected religious obligation of establishing a caliphate through armed struggle, which is the only correct method.”
When asked whether time behind bars changed his views, Lindh responded in a March 2014 letter: “I feel honoured to have been able to take part in the Afghan Jihad and to contribute to the defence of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, albeit only in a very limited capacity.”
Trump said he looked into Lindh’s case after he received a letter from the daughter of CIA officer Mike Spann, who was killed during a prison uprising in Afghanistan in 2001. Lindh was charged with the murder of Spann but was only convicted of illegally supporting the Taliban as part of a plea bargain.
Trump said he consulted the “best lawyers” to see if he could do anything about Lindh’s release, but was told that he couldn’t.
“Am I happy about it? Not even a little bit,” Trump said. “The lawyers have gone through it with a fine tooth comb. If there was a way to break that, I would have broken it in two seconds.”
Lindh reportedly never disavowed his extremist views while in prison in Indiana.
“This man committed crimes against the United States and against my family,” Mike Spann’s daughter, Alison Spann, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “My siblings and I had to grow up without my father. My younger brother will never know his father. And so my family is serving a life sentence.”
“I’ve spent 18 years without my dad. It never crossed my mind that the United States would let someone like this out early,” Spann said. “Lindh is a traitor, and I think his early release is a slap in the face.”
Trump promised that Lindh would be under close surveillance after he left prison.
“We’ll be watching him, we’ll be watching him closely,” he said.