On This Day – The Story of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban

Lindh Captured in US Custody.
Lindh Captured in US Custody.

On this day in 2002, a federal judge ordered John Walker Lindh to be held without bail pending trial. Lindh is an American citizen who was an enemy combatant during the United States’ 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001.

A convert to Islam at the age of 16, Lindh went to Yemen in 1998 to study Arabic for ten months. After returning home for a brief period, he then went out to Afghanistan to help the fighters out there, receiving training at Al-Farouq, a training camp associated with Al-Qaeda. There, he attended a lecture given by Osama Bin Laden, but claimed he found him to be unimpressive. After the New York terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001, which Lindh said he knew nothing about, he continued to stay and fight after he learned that the US was allied with the Northern Alliance.

On February 5 2002, Lindh was indicted by a federal grand jury on ten charges, including conspiracy to murder US citizens or US nationals, one count of supplying services to the Taliban, and contributing services to Al-Qaeda. On February 13, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, but later in July he pleaded guilty to two.

He is currently serving his sentence, with an anticipated release date of May 23, 2019, at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terre Haute, Indiana.