John Walker Lindh, often referred to as the "American Taliban," pleaded guilty to two federal felonies today that carry sentences of 10 years each as part of an unexpected plea bargain crafted over the weekend.
According to the Washington Post, Lindh has pleaded guilty to willfully supplying services to the Taliban and to carrying an explosive device while committing a felony.
Lindh, who grew up in Takoma Park and attended Kensington Parkwood Elementary School, moved to California and converted to Islam when he was 16. Several Blair students and their families knew him (see related story, Not just the boy next door, first printed in the February 14, 2002 Silver Chips print edition).
After Lindh finished high school, his interest in Islam grew. In February of 2000, he moved to Yemen to learn more about Arabic and Islam with his parents' support. Little is known about his activities between May 2001 and January 2002, when he was caught fighting with Taliban forces in Mazar-é-Sharif, Afghanistan. Lindh's lawyer said that Lindh wanted to leave after the September 11 attacks but was afraid of death if he tried to escape.
"I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year, from about August to November. In the course of doing so I carried a rifle and two grenades. And I did so knowingly and willingly, knowing that it was illegal," the Washington Post quoted Lindh as saying as part of his guilty plea.
As part of the plea deal, government prosecutors will drop nine other felony charges, including conspiracy to murder Americans abroad and assisting terrorists, and neither side will attempt to either raise or lower the sentence for either charge. Lindh will serve the 10-year sentences consecutively. With good behavior, he could be freed in 17 years. Lindh will also provide the government with all of his knowledge of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, whom he met on several occasions, according to CNN.com.
Additionally, Lindh will not be able to receieve financial compensation for books, TV appearances or other promotions concerning his involvement with the Taliban. Any money he does make in this way will go to the federal government. Lindh also faces the possibility of more jail time should he make contact with terrorists in any way in the future.
According to the BBC, the deal was struck to pre-empt a possible life sentence and to prevent statements made by Lindh from being released to the public.
CNN also reported that President Bush personally approved of the plea bargain. The formal sentencing date is set for October 4.
Information compiled from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6499-2002Jul15.html, http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/07/15/walker.lindh.hearing/index.html and http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid_2129000/2129891.stm.
Kevin Chang. Kevin Chang was born on April 28, 1985. This makes him a bull, and coincidentally, a Taurus. Somehow, he ended up in the Magnet program at Montgomery Blair High School, where he is now a SENIOR! 03! Yes, he is a geek. He is often … More »