By Marcus Wohlsen for Contra Costa Times:
Father: John Walker Lindh handling prison well
SAN FRANCISCO -- The father of American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh said Wednesday that his son is handling prison well nearly a decade after being captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
Frank Lindh told students at the University of San Francisco School of Law on Wednesday that his son, now 30, spends his days studying ancient Islamic texts and is earning a liberal arts degree at Indiana University.
"He's a very calm and centered person," Frank Lindh said of his son. "He's very spiritual. He does his daily prayers. He's an observant Muslim. We talk heart to heart a lot."
John Walker Lindh is serving a 20-year sentence. He is being held in special unit of a Terre Haute, Ind., federal prison that holds mostly Muslim inmates whose communications with the outside world are restricted.
With time off for good behavior, he'll still be fit and fiddle and ready to play with his fellow "youths" when he gets out in less than 10 years.
Rights groups have criticized the unit as discriminatory. The Bureau of Prisons says the units are intended to house those for whom outside contact poses a heightened security risk but who don't need to be placed in the federal SuperMax prison in Florence, Colo.
John Walker Lindh was held for about a year in the SuperMax prison, where his father told The Associated Press in a rare one-on-one interview that his son was brought out for visits locked in chains.
Frank Lindh said his son handled even the rigid confinement of the SuperMax prison well because of his introverted, studious nature. But he said his son is enjoying the freedom he has to leave his cell and socialize with his fellow inmates at the Indiana prison.
The younger Lindh is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the prison bureau seeking permission to hold daily prayer groups in the cell block. Lindh and a fellow inmate claim the prison's policy restricting group prayer in the Communications Management Unit violates their religious rights.
In 2002, John Walker Lindh pleaded guilty to supplying services to the now-defunct Taliban government and carrying explosives for them. He had been charged with conspiring to kill Americans and support terrorists, but those charges were dropped in a plea agreement.
Frank Lindh's appearance at the school is a part of his long-running campaign to clear his son's name of what he calls false accusations leveled by government officials and the media claiming his son was a terrorist.
Lindh contends his son was serving with the Taliban only to protect civilians who were being victimized by the Northern Alliance, who were fighting a civil war to topple the Taliban government and who became U.S. allies following the invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Lindh Sr. doesn't use his son's preferred name, Abu Sulayman al-Irlandi (the Irlandi bit refers to Lindh's claim to be Irish, in order to get preferential treatment). Lindh Jr. was (is?) a member of Al Qaeda; he fought with the Taliban against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and was responsible for the death of CIA agent Mike Spann during a prison uprising after Lindh's capture.
Mike Spann's family lost a father, husband, and son. Lindh spends his days getting 3 square meals a day, resting comfortably, studying Islamic texts, going to school, and filing lawsuits against the kuffar. And soon enough he'll be free.
Unjust doesn't begin to cover it.