The Long Persecution of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban”

John Walker Lindh, strapped to a gurney in Camp Rhino, near Kandahar, after his capture in December 2001, when he had already survived a massacre at the Qala-i-Janghi fort.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

The US establishment is nervous about John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban.” 

A US citizen, Lindh was taken into custody by US forces in Afghanistan in December 2001, along with around 85 other Taliban fighters, survivors of a massacre — the Qala-i-Janghi massacre — that is largely forgotten. He received a 20-year prison sentence in a federal court on the US mainland in May 2002 for providing material support to terrorism, but had his sentence reduced by three years because of good behavior. 

He was released on May 23, but with restrictions imposed by a federal judge. As the Associated Press described it, “Lindh’s internet devices must have monitoring software; his online communications must be conducted in English; he must undergo mental health counseling; he is forbidden to possess or view extremist material; and he cannot hold a passport or leave the US.”

Donald Trump opposed his early release, as did Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It was reported back in 2015 that, from prison, he had expressed support for Daesh (aka Islamic State or Isis). For the Atlantic, staff writer Graeme Wood, based on prison correspondence with Lindh, claimed that he was “permanently devoted” to violent jihad, and that “public security demands nothing less than close observation [of Lindh] for a very, very long time.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Complete Guantánamo Files: WikiLeaks and the Prisoners Released in 2007 (Part Three of Ten)

Please support my work!

Freelance investigative journalist Andy Worthington continues his 70-part, million-word series telling, for the first time, the stories of 776 of the 779 prisoners held at Guantánamo since the prison opened on January 11, 2002. Adding information released by WikiLeaks in April 2011 to the existing documentation about the prisoners, much of which was already covered in Andy’s book The Guantánamo Files and in the archive of articles on his website, the project will hopefully be completed later this year, although that is contingent on finding new funding.

This is Part 33 of the 70-part series. 411 stories have now been told. See the entire archive here.

In late April last year, I worked with WikiLeaks as a media partner for the publication of thousands of pages of classified military documents — the Detainee Assessment Briefs — relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners held at Guantánamo since the prison opened on January 11, 2002. These documents drew heavily on the testimony of the prisoners themselves, and also on the testimony of their fellow inmates (either in Guantánamo, or in secret prisons run by or on behalf of the CIA), whose statements are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion, or because they provided false statements in the hope of securing better treatment in Guantánamo.

The documents were compiled by the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo (JTF GTMO), which operates the prison, and were based on assessments and reports made by interrogators and analysts whose primary concern was to “exploit” the prisoners for their intelligence value. They also include input from the Criminal Investigative Task Force, created by the DoD in 2002 to conduct interrogations on a law enforcement basis, rather than for “actionable intelligence.”

My ongoing analysis of the documents began in May, with a five-part series, “WikiLeaks: The Unknown Prisoners of Guantánamo,” telling the stories of 84 prisoners, released between 2002 and 2004, whose stories had never been told before. This was followed by a ten-part series, “WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released from 2002 to 2004,” in which I revisited the stories of 114 other prisoners released in this period, adding information from the Detainee Assessment Briefs to what was already known about these men and boys from press reports and other sources. This was followed by another five-part series, “WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released After the Tribunals, 2004 to 2005,” dealing with the period from September 2004 to the end of 2005, when 62 prisoners were released. Read the rest of this entry »

The Guantánamo Files: An Archive of Articles — Part Ten, July to September 2011

The Guantanamo Files

Please support my work!

For nearly six years, I have been researching and writing about Guantánamo and the 779 men (and boys) held there over the last ten years, first through my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, as a full-time independent investigative journalist. For three years, I focused on the crimes of the Bush administration and, since January 2009, I have analysed the failures of the Obama administration to thoroughly repudiate those crimes and to hold anyone accountable for them, and, increasingly, on President Obama’s failure to charge or release prisoners, and to show any sign that Guantánamo will eventually be closed.

As the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo approaches, this is an intolerable situation, as the prison remains as much of an aberration, and a stain on America’s belief in itself as a nation ruled by laws, as it was when it was opened by George W. Bush on January 11, 2002. Closing the prison remains as important now as it did when I began this work in 2006.

Over the last six years of researching Guantánamo and writing about it on an almost daily basis, my intention has been to puncture the Bush administration’s propaganda about Guantánamo holding “the worst of the worst” by telling the prisoners’ stories and bringing them to life as human beings, rather than allowing them to remain as dehumanized scapegoats or bogeymen. Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond Guantánamo, New York Times Examines How Federal Prisons Deal with Terrorists

As the debate over the dreadful detainee provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act has demonstrated, when lawmakers, unprovoked, have unilaterally decided that what America needs is mandatory military custody for terror suspects (with the intention of holding people for life without charge or trial), something has gone horribly wrong, and a rational perspective on the success of federal court trials in prosecuting terror suspects has been shamefully discarded.

Above all, this is a sign of how lawmakers — Democrats as well as Republicans — have politicized terrorism, in their obsession with regarding terrorists not as criminals, but as “warriors” in a “war on terror” which they do not wish to end, despite the killing of Osama bin Laden this year, and despite the almost total eradication of al-Qaeda as an entity in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In this absurd climate, lawmakers are shunning federal court trials for terror suspects, even though they have a successful track record, and even though, by any objective measure, that success has been purchased at a distinctly dubious cost  — including a lamentable history of entrapment since 9/11, and the fact that the rules regarding material support for terrorism are so broadly drawn that prisoners are receiving punitive sentences for almost nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

John Walker Lindh, Torture Victim and 9/11 Scapegoat, Profiled by His Father

Back in May, after the assassination of Osama bin Laden should have brought an end to the “War on Terror,” Frank Lindh, the father of John Walker Lindh, the first convicted prisoner in the Bush administration’s phoney war, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, which I cross-posted here with commentary, calling for his son to be released.

John Walker Lindh is the original scapegoat in the “War on Terror,” a young man who never raised arms against anyone, but who was vilified as a terrorist because, in November 2001, he was seized in Afghanistan, where he had traveled because of his interest in the Taliban government. A convert to Islam, Lindh, like many Muslims, wanted to see for himself what life was like in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Lindh was held with hundreds of other men in Qala-i-Janghi, a fortress in northern Afghanistan, but when a CIA officer, Johnny “Mike” Spann, was killed by some of the prisoners, who staged an uprising when they feared that they would be shot, most of those held were killed by Northern Alliance soldiers supported by US and British Special Forces and American bombers. Lindh, however, was one of 86 men (and boys) who survived for a week in the basement of the fort, despite being bombed and flooded. Read the rest of this entry »

Free John Walker Lindh, Scapegoat of the “War on Terror”

With the death of Osama bin Laden, there is now an opportunity for a huge peace dividend — an end to the occupation of Afghanistan, and an opportunity to close Guantánamo — which will probably not happen, even though it should, because of powerful vested interests. These include the lawmakers intent on using bin Laden’s death as an excuse to further ramp up the “War on Terror” by revising the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the founding document of the phoney war, and to claim, in spite of all the evidence, that George W. Bush’s torture program was a good idea and helped to track down bin Laden (which it didn’t), and that Guantánamo was useful for producing reliable intelligence (which it wasn’t).

I tackled all of these dangerous lies and distortions in my articles, With Osama bin Laden’s Death, the Time for US Vengeance Is Over, Osama bin Laden’s Death, and the Unjustifiable Defense of Torture and Guantánamo and No End to the “War on Terror,” No End to Guantánamo, but although I also implied that it was ridiculous to continue holding people at Guantánamo whose only crime seems to have been that they saw Osama bin Laden from afar while attending a training camp in Afghanistan, what I didn’t reflect on directly were specific victims of the hysteria of the “War on Terror.”

Clearly, this process includes dressing up soldiers at Guantánamo as terrorists to placate those who believe that being strong means being both brutal and stupid, but, as the lawyer Frank Lindh explained in an op-ed in the New York Times last week, it also includes his son, John Walker Lindh, forever tarred as “the American Taliban,” who was one of the first scapegoats of the “War on Terror.” Read the rest of this entry »

Back to home page

Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

The Four Fathers on Bandcamp

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

The State of London

The State of London. 16 photos of London

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Afghans in Guantanamo Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners CIA torture prisons Close Guantanamo David Cameron Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Housing crisis Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer The Four Fathers Torture UK austerity UK protest US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo