John Walker Lindh, set to be released from prison Thursday, wrote a handwritten letter to NBC’s Los Angeles station praising the Islamic State.
Lindh pleaded guilty in 2002 to charges of providing support to the Taliban and carrying a rifle and grenade. The now-38-year-old from California has served 17 years of a 20-year sentence.
In one of four letters sent to the Los Angeles NBC station, KNBC, Lindh responded to a reporter’s question of whether ISIS represented Islam, according to NBC News.
“Yes, and they are doing a spectacular job,” Lindh wrote in the February 2015 handwritten response, NBC4 Los Angeles reported. “The Islamic State is clearly very sincere and serious about fulfilling the long-neglected religious obligation of establishing a caliphate through armed struggle, which is the only correct method.”
These comments came after ISIS publicized videos showing the beheading of numerous American journalists in 2014, according to NBC News.
Lindh has spent his time in jail learning about Islam and said that he is a political prisoner in another letter to the NBC reporter.
“We are in prison due to our beliefs and the practice of our religion, not for committing any crime,” Lindh wrote in a March 2014 letter, according to NBC4 Los Angeles.
The reporter asked through correspondence if time behind bars had changed him.
Lindh responded: “I feel honoured to have been able to take part in the Afghan Jihad and to contribute to the defence of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, albeit only in a very limited capacity.” (RELATED: John Walker Lindh Seeks Ind. Prison Prayer Ruling)
Lindh signed his letters with the name Yahya.
During prison, Lindh joined a successful 2010 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that sought to allow Muslim prisoners at Terre Haute’s Communications Management Unit to participate in group prayer.
The National Counterterrorism Center published a 2017 report that said Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad.” He allegedly made comments saying that he would continue to “spread violent extremist Islam upon his release.”
Lindh said that he “made a mistake by joining the Taliban” in the 2002 trial.
Lindh’s early release has sparked wide concern, including from Sens. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican and New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hasson, as well as former CIA officer Bryan Dean Wright. Also expressing criticism was Johnny Spann, the father of CIA operative Johnny Micheal Spann who was killed during a 2001 prisoner uprising in Afghanistan shortly after interrogating Lindh. (RELATED: ‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh To Be Released Thursday)
He will be under strict rules upon his release that were imposed by Judge T.S. Ellis. These include being banned from foreign travel and total monitoring of his internet use.
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