Taliban Fighter to Be Freed, the Country That Plans to Take Him Will Shock You
John Walker Lindh, a former American Taliban militant convicted in 2002 for supporting the terrorist organization, is due to be freed in May. He should have faced life in prison or the death penalty for treason but, no, he’s free to go. Experts say, there is nothing the U.S. can do about it.
The former Islamist fighter, dubbed “Detainee 001 in the war on terror,” was arrested in 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks and the start of the war in Afghanistan. Then just 20 years old, he was among a group of Taliban fighters who were captured by U.S. forces, Fox News reported.
Within a year, Walker Lindh was convicted of supporting the Taliban and sentenced to 20 years in prison — even as some hardliners urged authorities to consider treason charges that could have resulted in the death penalty.
The report adds that it’s quite likely that he will move to Ireland, where he claims citizenship. Irish officials have told the media that they’ll let him in if he gets there. All he’ll need is a passport, a ticket and U.S. permission to hop an international flight.
It’s unclear how he obtained Irish citizenship in prison…
If that happens, he’ll be walking Irish, not American, streets. And that will be the last we see of him. So, good luck Ireland – the supposed allying country to Western civilization, the bane of terrorists’ existence.
It’s a very safe bet that U.S. security officials will assess Lindh as a “continuing risk” and put him on a terrorist watch list. Once that happens, the chances of the U.S. government ever letting him return stateside are infinitesimal.
Several attorneys who worked on terrorism cases told Foreign Policy the government doesn’t have any specific conditions in place for extremists once they’re released. Most of the emphasis is on the prosecution up front, and not what happens after they leave prison, they say.
Most sentences for terror-related cases involving U.S. citizens in the post-9/11 era “are ripening into release just now,” said Joshua Dratel, a lawyer who has defended suspected terrorists in federal court. But the government, he notes, isn’t entitled to do anything with them upon their release; they’re free subject to the terms of their release.
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