Have We Given Justice to Lindh?
American citizen John Walker Lindh is now serving 20 years in this heinous prison for what appears to have been the youthful insanity of fighting in favor of one side of a war in Afghanistan — well before that nation’s Taliban had threatened us.
What dear Mona neglects to mention, of course, is that the “one side” was al Qaeda (really al Ansar), which puts a bit of a crimp in her appeal for clemency. Here’s a brief look at what Jihad Johnny was doing in Afghanistan from the Grand Jury indictment handed down in the case against him (list compiled by PowerLine):
* In or about June and July 2001, LINDH remained at the al-Farooq camp and participated fully in its training activities, after having been told early in his stay at the camp that Bin Laden had sent forth some fifty people to carry out twenty suicide terrorist operations against the United States and Israel.
* In or about June or July 2001, LINDH met personally with Bin Laden, who thanked him and other trainees for taking part in jihad.
* In or about June or July 2001, LINDH swore allegiance to jihad.
* After learning about the terrorist attacks against the United States on or about September 11, 2001, LINDH remained with his fighting group. LINDH did so despite having been told that Bin Laden had ordered the attacks, that additional terrorist attacks were planned, and that additional al Qaeda personnel were being sent from the training camps to the front lines to protect Bin Laden and defend against an anticipated military response from the United States.
* From in or about October through early December 2001, LINDH remained with his fighting group after learning that United States military forces and United States nationals had become directly engaged in support of the Northern Alliance in its military conflict with Taliban and al Qaeda forces.
* In or about November 2001, LINDH’s fighting group retreated from Takhar to the area of Kunduz, Afghanistan, and ultimately surrendered to Northern Alliance troops. On or about November 24, 2001, LINDH and other captured fighters were trucked to Mazar-e Sharif, in Afghanistan, and then to the nearby Qala-i Janghi (”QIJ”) prison compound.
* On or about November 25, 2001, LINDH was interviewed in the QIJ compound by two Americans, CIA employee Johnny Micheal Spann and another United States Government employee, who were attempting to identify al Qaeda members among the prisoners.
* On or about November 25, 2001, Taliban detainees in the QIJ compound attacked Spann and the other employee, overpowered the guards, and armed themselves. Spann was shot and killed in the violent attack. After being wounded, LINDH retreated with other detainees to a basement area of the QIJ compound. The bloody uprising took several days to suppress.
* From on or about November 25, 2001 though on or about December 1, 2001, LINDH remained in the basement area of QIJ with other Taliban and al Qaeda fighters until their recapture. (In violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332(b)(2).)
As the saying goes, any modestly competent prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted, so this is certainly not the be-all-end-all of the matter. However, the evidence against Lindh tended to show that he was in Afghanistan to do much more than fight the Northern Alliance. Robert Young Pelton, author of The World’s Most Dangerous Places and the first person to interview Lindh had this to say about Jihad Johnny:
To me Lindh was just an unpleasant arrogant kid who preferred to stay with his murdering friends. He was, in fact, the second Irish-American Jihadi I have met and interviewed. The first one was a one-legged psychopath who had been trained in the same camps and had fought in Kashmir, Kosovo, Bosnia, Chechnya and Liberia gave me his opinion. When I called him to discuss Lindh’s hejira, Aqil Collins simply called Lindh “a pussy.”
Quite simply, in my opinion, Lindh was a terrorist, a member of what we call al Qaeda, and a man who chose to stay with killers even though he was afforded numerous opportunities to separate himself from his murderous associates. Twenty years in jail may be a blessing compared to how many of his friends have been dealt with since.
Frank Lindh cannot be blamed either for the emotions behind his need to reinvent history or for doing what he can to get his son out of jail. But he is lying. His son did not “love America”: He fought for bin Laden, against us. His son is not “honest”: He lied to his parents and others. His son is not a “decent” young man: He trained to be a murderer. His son went to kill strangers in a stranger land. A spiritual quest? What part of grenades and AK 47s can be described as spiritual? What part of patriotism is eating bin Laden’s food, listening to Usama’s droning hate-filled speeches against America, and sitting obediently within strangling distance of our greatest single enemy?
To think that the American public is that stupid is an insult. John Walker Lindh was an Arabic-speaking member of bin Laden’s terror legions. He called it Al Ansar (the correct term); we call them al Qaeda. He was never a member of the Taliban. Why? Because Lindh only spoke Arabic and English. He would have been useless in a combat situation among Pashto- or Dari- speaking troops. I have seen Taliban ID cards and spent time with bin Laden’s “055 Brigade, “al Ansar” members and al Qaeda. Lindh was exactly the person we were trying to kill in Afghanistan and now around the world. He was an educated, idealistic young Muslim who chose murder of innocent people as his path in life. He is no different that Mohamed Atta, Zarqawi, or thousands of other terrorists that come from nice middle class families.
There’s much more at the link and I encourage to RTWT.
Mona’s uber-moralist senses are piqued, however, and thinks that it’s just awful what poor, poor Johnny is having to endure:
It does not appear he ever turned a weapon on an American, and in May of 2001 when he went to fight the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, this country had “…provided $43 million in aid to the Taliban.”
Read the last link, and tell me, since this April 2007 story, has anything else come out that would justify this draconian sentence to a dehumanizing nightmare like Colorado’s ADX Supermax?
Whether or not Johnny actually aimed and/or fired his weapon at an actual American is entirely irrelevant since he provided support to those who did. Indeed, even after he was captured and being held at Qali Jangi prison, he withheld specific information from American forces that may have prevented the prisoner uprising and the death of Mike Spann. Robert Pelton again (emphasis added):
Terrified and outnumbered by the false surrender the Afghan guards (there were only about 100 guards for the 460 prisoners) pushed the killers down into the basement of a fortified schoolhouse until they could be searched in the morning. That night in the cramped five-room basement there was an angry and desperate argument among the prisoners. The Saudis and Uzbeks planned an attack; they just needed a diversion to get to the weapons stored a few yards from the pink schoolhouse. The Pakistanis wanted to just surrender and go home. According to the survivors I interviewed, Lindh was an Arab speaking al qaeda member and had full knowledge of this discussion and he has yet to admit which path he was going to choose. …
The next morning two CIA officers went to Qali Jangi to interview the prisoners. Mike Spann and Dave Tyson arrived in separate vehicles. Tyson spoke a number of languages but Spann only spoke English. The prisoners were brought up one at a time. They were searched, bound with their turbans and then marched into lines inside the southern courtyard. Spann walked up and down the lines of prisoners. He asked an Iraqi mechanic who spoke English if there were any other prisoners who spoke English. The Iraqi pointed out the “Irishman”. Lindh had been told to say he was Irish in the camps to avoid problems. Spann had Lindh brought over away from the main group and put out a blanket for him. … Mike pleads with Lindh to talk. Lindh remains hostile and silent.
[O]ne thing is clear; they offer Lindh a way out. Lindh is alone with two of his fellow countrymen with full knowledge of the violence that is about to happen. He says nothing. If there was ever one moment that will define one man and damn another this was it.
Lindh is put back into the lineup, and Mike Spann will die in the next few minutes as Uzbeks rush up from the basement, yelling Allahhuakbar [and] detonat[ing] hidden grenades. The fighting begins. Lindh has once again has been given a clear choice between right and wrong and once again. He makes that clear choice again.
As to what Lindh was doing when he was captured and placed in Qali Jangi (e.a.):
What, you say? I thought poor Abdul Hamid (Lindh, Jr.’s “jihad” name) was fleeing his evil master and seeking help. No. The group of around 460 jihadis that left Kunduz towards Mazar i Sharif were on their way to link up with Mullah Dadullah (now the leader of the Taliban military) in Balkh (just west of Mazar) and then attack the city while the US and Afghan forces were tied up in Kunduz monitoring the surrender. Yes, thousands of fighters did surrender peacefully. But Lindh, again, chose to associate with a rag-tag group of die-hards led by one of bin Laden’s lieutenants; Abdul Aziz, as well as the hardest-core terrorists that comprised Saudi, Uzbek, Iraqi, Russian, Sudanese, Yemeni and Pakistani jihadis.
This group was stopped heading west early in the morning and had an armed standoff with Afghan and US forces. (Yes, Lindh’s group was fully armed during their purported “surrender,” and they had no good reason to explain why they not going east towards Pakistan). The stand off was tense until bombers appeared overhead. Dostum drove by on his way to Kunduz and told them to be disarmed and taken to his garrison called Qali Jangi. Lindh, during that entire time, was within feet of western journalists and US forces and could have simply identified himself as an American. But he chose to stay in the company of killers. Lindh also knew that his cohorts were still secretly armed with pistols, rifles and even grenades tied by shoelaces and dangling around their groin area. A place where they knew Afghans dare not pat down.
Jihad Johnny deserves no sympathy, and I still think he got off pretty lightly.
The US did not give a “gift” to the Taliban. In fact, it was widely reported by CNN and others that the aid consists of $28 million in surplus wheat, $5 million in food commodities and $10 million in “livelihood and food security” programs intended to help alleviate a looming famine. Moreover, as Secretary of State Colin Powell said in his announcement of the aid, it will be distributed through international agencies of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations, not the Taliban. Powell specifically added that the aid “bypasses the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it.”
Far be it for Mona to facts get in the way of her moral outrage. Frankly, her shrill sermonizing is the only thing that should be provoking outrage here. The fate of Jihad Johnny does not justify even crocodile tears.
As an aside, I noticed that Mona’s post and one that she linked to display this picture of Lindh from when he was transferred into U.S. custody:
Notice that it says “Reuters Photo” in the lower right corner. The picture, however, was taken by the U.S. military, and thus cannot be copyrighted:
When Lindh arrived at Camp Rhino his clothes were taken off and he was restrained to a stretcher, blindfolded and placed in a metal shipping container. While bound to the stretcher his picture was taken by American military personnel.
Is Reuters trying to claim a work that is in the public domain as its own? I don’t know the answer, but it is an interesting side question.
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