Remember John Walker Lindh, who was dubbed the “American Taliban” and “Marin County Mujahid” when he was discovered two months after the 9/11 jihad attacks fighting alongside the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan? Back in 2002, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison, which was a light sentence to begin with, as he should have been charged with treason but wasn’t. Then in 2019, Lindh was released three years early, despite the fact that there were clear indications that he was still very much a jihadi and would go back to waging jihad as soon as he had the opportunity to do so. How could the Leftist establishment keep a man who hated America so much as to join its bitterest enemies behind bars even a second longer than it had to? But now those who expressed concerns about Lindh getting out early have been (surprise, surprise) proven correct.
At the time of his release, the BBC, of all people, noted that “there are concerns that Lindh has not abandoned his extremism. It cited US government documents saying that Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.” Lindh even “told a television news producer that he would continue to spread violent extremist Islam upon his release.” Journalist Graeme Wood, who corresponded with Lindh, said that he was “unrepentant” and that “his more than 17 years in captivity seem, on the basis of this correspondence, to have converted Lindh from an al-Qaeda supporter to an Islamic State [ISIS] supporter.” Indeed. Rolling Stone (once again, of all people) reported Thursday that Lindh met with “a convicted ISIS supporter in three get-togethers covertly surveilled by the FBI in 2021.”
Rolling Stone does not, however, say anything about Lindh getting picked up and shipped off back to prison for so flagrantly violating the conditions of his supervised release. And why not? Why would the feds be so blasé about someone who is a known and highly public Islamic jihadi walking around loose inside the United States? Yes, of course, John Walker Lindh isn’t a Jan. 6 “insurrectionist” or an angry father at a school board meeting, and so Merrick Garland and his Gestapo have better things to do than be concerned about him. But the new revelation that he met with a known Islamic State operative should make a difference, no? Of course it should. But it probably won’t.
Lindh, after all, has become something of a Leftist pundit. Back on Sept. 11, 2021, The Intercept published an op-ed entitled “The Guantánamo Bay Internment Camp Is an Unresolved Vestige of the American Occupation of Afghanistan,” which takes a great many words to say that jihadis have been and continue to be unjustly treated at Guantánamo, and thus the place should be shut down. The author was identified as a certain “Yahya Lindh,” whose author bio identifies him as “a writer, translator, and former prisoner of war. He is originally from Washington, D.C., and is currently based elsewhere in the Americas.” Lindh further identifies himself early on in his piece with this slyly understated sentence: “During the summer and fall of 2001, I served as a Taliban infantryman in northern Afghanistan.”
Then in November 2021, CAGE, a British NGO that has been accused of justifying terror, published another Lindh piece that also attacked the American government and military: “Nobody Killed Anybody: America’s Denial of the Deadliest Prisoner Massacre in its History.” Since then, Lindh has apparently fallen silent, but he has done enough to establish himself as a voice of hard-Left critics of the United States, and since people of that point of view are in power virtually everywhere these days, it’s easy enough to see one possibility of why he remains free at this point.
Back when Lindh was released, then-President Trump said of the early release: “I don’t like it at all,” but added: “From a legal standpoint, there’s nothing we’re allowed to do.” Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was “unconscionable,” as well as “deeply troubling and wrong,” that Lindh was being released, as he was still “threatening the United States of America” and “still committed to the very jihad that he engaged in.”
Trump and Pompeo were right. Lindh should not have been released early, and he should go back to prison now. But will he? Don’t hold your breath.