‘The American Taliban’ released early from federal prison over objections of Alabama officials, Spann family
John Walker Lindh, a.k.a. “The American Taliban,” on Thursday was released years early from federal prison, despite the objections of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), President Donald Trump, the entirety of the Alabama legislature and the family of Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann, who was an Alabamian and the first American known to be killed in “The War on Terror” in Afghanistan after 9/11.
After being captured in Afghanistan in 2001, Lindh pled guilty to serving as a soldier of the Taliban. He was sentenced to 20 years in a federal penitentiary in 2002 for his role in the death of Spann, a Winfield native and Auburn University alumnus then serving as a CIA officer.
Lindh was released prematurely from federal custody in Indiana on Thursday. As of a 2017 Foreign Policy article, Lindh still intended to spread terrorist ideology upon his release from prison.
CNN has reported that Lindh will live in Virginia under set restrictions.
Alison Spann, the late Alabamian’s daughter, recently wrote a letter to the president calling Lindh’s early release “a slap in the face — not only to my father and my family but, but for every person killed on Sept. 11th, their families, the U.S. military, U.S. [intelligence] services, families who have lost loved ones to this war and the millions of Muslims worldwide who don’t support radical extremists.”
I wrote this letter to @POTUS asking that the early release of John Walker Lindh be stopped. He’s going to be released on May 23, despite reports that he has continued to “advocate for global jihad.” This is not a reformed prisoner… pic.twitter.com/HVOryefVIE
— Alison Spann (@newsgirlalison) May 21, 2019
In an interview with Fox News, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Lindh’s early release as “unexplainable and unconscionable” and followed Shelby in calling for a review of prison system policies.
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) May 23, 2019
Restrictions placed on Lindh, according to the Associated Press, include that “Lindh’s internet devices must have monitoring software; his online communications must be conducted in English; he must undergo mental health counseling; he is forbidden to possess or view extremist material; and he cannot hold a passport or leave the U.S.”
His release came only a day after NBC reported that Lindh, in a letter to a producer from Los Angeles-based affiliate KNBC, wrote in 2015 that the Islamic State group is “doing a spectacular job” and “is clearly very sincere and serious about fulfilling the long-neglected religious obligation to establish a caliphate through armed struggle.”
Yellowhammer News on Wednesday learned that Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) imminently will file legislation to ensure convicted terrorists like Lindh are never released early from federal custody in the future.
On Lindh, Byrne has tweeted, “This man was held responsible for the horrific death of an Alabama CIA officer, and now he is getting out of jail early for good behavior. This is just so wrong!”
John Walker Lindh’s release is disheartening and unacceptable, and this action raises a number of important policy questions that must be addressed.
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) May 23, 2019
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn