The father of American-born Taliban solider, John Walker Lindh, who is serving 20 years in prison, is petitioning for his son to be granted Irish citizenship. It is likely he will seek to settle there on his release.
Frank Lindh also belives that the Irish government could question his son’s treatment by American authorities if he was an Irish citizen.
When John Walker Lindh was captured in Afghanistan he told the soldiers he was Irish to try and disguise his US citizenship. His preferred name is now Abu Sulayman al-Irlandi (the Irlandi title refers to Lindh's claim to be Irish).
The young man’s father, who is Irish American, spoke to Newstalk radio about his son and his plan to get Irish citizenship. Frank Lindh’s mother is from Donegal.
Walker Lindh and his father visited Ireland in 1998 (see photo above) at the time “he found Irish people to be open and accepting,” according to a Broadsheet.ie report.
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In his interview on Newstalk radio in Ireland Lindh’s father stated that
• He believes his son will be released from his 20 yrs sentence in 7 yrs on parole.
• He hopes his son could live in Ireland when he gets out of prison.
• He says his son will not be safe in America. That's why he hopes his son might be able to live in Ireland.
• He thinks many in America believe his son was involved in 9/11. He says that statements by Pres Bush & others have marked John out as a terrorist.
• He is working on getting Irish passports for all three of his kids.
• He expects no issue getting Irish citizenship for JWL
• He figures Irish govt should support him because of human rights issue in John's case.
Last year, Lindh spoke at the University of San Francisco, School of Law and told of how his son was handling prison nearly a decade after being captured. In 2002, his son pleaded guilty to supplying the Taliban government and carrying explosives for them. He was charged with conspiring to kill Americans and support terrorists. Those charges were dropped in a plea agreement.
Walker Lindh met Osama Bin Laden when he visited his training camp.
The New England Review reported that, speaking in San Francisco, Lindh said his son is dealing well with incarceration. Although he was sentenced to 20 years, it is thought that he’ll be out sooner.
He said, “He's a very calm and centered person…He's very spiritual. He does his daily prayers. He's an observant Muslim. We talk heart to heart a lot."
Lindh has been running a campaign to clear his son’s name. He maintains that Walker Lindh was falsely accused and claims that the media wrongly named him a terrorist.
He said his son was serving with the Taliban in order to protect civilians who were being victimized by the Northern Alliance.
Currently, Walker Lindh is being held in a special unit of a Terre Haute Indiana federal prison, which holds mostly Muslim inmates. Their communication with the outside world is limited.
At first, Walker Lindh was held in a SuperMax prison for a year. His father said he remembers his son being brought to see him in chains. However, now Walker Lindh can leave his cell and socialize with his fellow inmates.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Club in California for the first time since his son was captured in 2006, Frank Lindh spelt out his son’s story.
Lindh said, “This is the story of a decent and honorable young man, embarked on a spiritual quest, who became the focus of the grief and anger of an entire nation,” according to AlterNet.
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The father explained that Walker Lindh has first become interested in Islam in 1993, and eventually converted when he was 16. His father said, “I thought he had always been a Muslim, and he simply had to find it for himself.”
At the age of 17 he travelled to Yemen where he studied Arabic. In 2000 he made the decision to travel to Pakistan to continue his study of Islam, memorizing the Koran with the aim of becoming a Muslim scholar.
In April 2001, he wrote to his father to tell him he was going into the mountains to get away from the heat. Lindh said, “What he didn't tell us, what we didn't learn until later, was that John was going over the mountains, into Afghanistan, intent on volunteering for military service in the army of Afghanistan.”
He continued, “John received infantry training at a government-run military training camp. But the training camp was funded by Osama bin Laden…John actually saw Osama bin Laden and met him on one occasion. He came away from those encounters very skeptical about bin Laden because John recognized instantly that bin Laden was not an authentic Islamic scholar based on what John himself knows.”
John Walker Lindh was captured in Takhar province in late November 2001.
John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.
In the video, Lindh sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality by a CIA agent Mike Spann later killed by the Taliban.
"Irish? Ireland?" Spann asks.
Walker remains silent.
As shown on British Channel 4 news, Spann then asks Lindh, "Are you a member of the IRA?
"Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you're willing to be killed here?" Spann asks.