John Walker Lindh, Known as the ‘American Taliban,’ Is Set to Leave Federal Prison This Week


Professor Karen Greenberg was quoted in a New York Times article covering the release of John Walker Lindh from federal prison after serving 17 years for providing support to the Taliban.

The case of Mr. Lindh, who converted from Catholicism to Islam at 16 and first left his California home at 17 to study Arabic in Yemen more than three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has stirred questions and controversy from the start. His journey took him to Pakistan in 2000 and later to Afghanistan, where he spent time at a Qaeda training camp as a Taliban volunteer.

The government has characterized Mr. Lindh in recent years as holding on to extremist views, and his release has now brought objections from Mr. Spann’s family and elected officials and raised questions about how he can be safely reintegrated into society without some kind of formal government program for rehabilitating former jihadists.

“What training is provided to parole officers or supporting nongovernmental partners to recognize the signs of violent radicalization and recidivism?” Senators Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, a Republican, and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, a Democrat, wrote in a letter last week to Hugh J. Hurwitz, the acting Bureau of Prisons director, questioning the wisdom of Mr. Lindh’s release.

Karen J. Greenberg focused on the Lindh case in her 2016 book, “Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State.”

“He devoted his years in prison to becoming a student of Islamic texts,” said Ms. Greenberg, who is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law. “I think the best you can hope for him is that he finds a way to live a quiet life, along those lines, doing whatever it is he wants to peacefully do.”

Read full article.

See additional media coverage and quotes from Karen Greenberg on this topic:
Voice of America: American Taliban’ Released After 17 Years in Federal Prison
The Atlantic: He Was Branded the ‘American Taliban.’ Now He’s Getting Out of Jail.
Digital Journal: American Taliban’ Lindh to be Released as Afghan War Still Boils
The “American Taliban” Goes Free (SLATE Podcast)



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