BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 06:58 GMT
'American Taleban' had Yemen hopes
John Walker Lindh
Walker Lindh faces multiple life sentences
John Walker Lindh, the US citizen who has become known as the "American Taleban", wrote to his mother a year ago to say he was thinking of settling in Yemen.

Excerpts from Mr Walker Lindh's letters and e-mails were released by the US government as it successfully argued in front of a federal judge that the 20-year-old Moslem convert should not be released on bail.

Mr Walker Lindh poses a danger to the community, if released he would probably disappear

Judge Sewell
Mr Walker Lindh wrote on 8 February 2001 that if an Islamic state was set up in Yemen he would like to build a house there and get married.

"I don't really want to see America again," he wrote.

In an earlier message he referred to President George W Bush as "your new president", adding "I'm glad he's not mine".

During the court hearing, Judge W Curtis Sewell sided with federal prosecutors who maintained that Mr Walker Lindh posed a threat to the public.

The judge rejected defence arguments that Mr Walker Lindh was a loyal American, saying "the evidence before the court belies that assumption".

Judge Sewell said: "[Mr Walker Lindh] poses a danger to the community. If released, he would probably disappear."

Wednesday's hearing came a day after US authorities formally indicted Mr Walker Lindh on 10 charges, including conspiring to kill fellow Americans.

Mr Walker Lindh's lawyers had argued that he never had anything to do with terrorist activities.

After the hearing, one of his lawyers, James Brosnahan, accused US Attorney General John Ashcroft of using "inappropriate" language and taking out his frustrations about terrorism on Mr Walker Lindh.

Click here for a full list of the charges.

"[His language] violated the standards of the Department of Justice, whom several of us have served in the past, and it violated the decorum usually employed by excellent prosecutors across the country," he said.

"I would ask the attorney general not to take it out on John Lindh because in my view they have brought up the cannon to shoot the mouse."

Mr Walker Lindh, accompanied by federal marshals, was driven by motorcade to the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, at 0700 local time (1400 GMT).

Shortly before Mr Walker Lindh arrived at the court, the federal Justice Department filed a motion arguing against his release on bail on the grounds that he had repeatedly expressed "hostility towards his country".

In a written request for Mr Walker Lindh's release, defence lawyers said their client had no previous criminal record, no record of drug or alcohol abuse and no history of violent or dangerous conduct.

John Ashcroft
Ashcroft: "Walker chose terrorists"
But federal prosecutors said, as a former al-Qaeda and Taleban fighter, Mr Walker Lindh is dangerous and must remain in custody.

The prosecution motion quoted another e-mail sent by Mr Walker Lindh to his mother in which he suggested that the 1998 bombing of US embassies in Africa were more likely to have been carried out by the US Government than by Muslims.

Mr Walker Lindh, who faces several life sentences if convicted, made his first court appearance last month, when the charges were read to him.


The 10-count indictment, which was handed down by a grand jury in eastern Virginia on Tuesday, formalised the six charges filed against him last month and added four more.

Announcing the indictment at the US Justice Department, Attorney General John Ashcroft said it described Mr Walker Lindh as "an al-Qaeda-trained terrorist who conspired with the Taleban to kill his fellow citizens".

Asked whether the government would ask the grand jury to charge Mr Walker Lindh with treason, US Attorney Paul J McNulty said: "As far as other charges, we have the opportunity or right to have a superseding indictment if the evidence justifies that."

The charge sheet said that from early summer 2001, Mr Walker Lindh went to an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, joined the fighting against the then opposition Northern Alliance and stayed with Osama Bin Laden's network even though he allegedly knew of their involvement in the 11 September attacks on his country.

The BBC's Michael Buchanan
"He could spend the rest of his life in jail"
US Attorney General John Ashcroft
"Walker Lindh could receive multiple life sentences"
See also:

06 Feb 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' faces new charges
24 Jan 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' appears in court
24 Jan 02 | Americas
Profile: John Walker Lindh
18 Jan 02 | Middle East
'American Taleban's Yemen connection
16 Jan 02 | Americas
US Taleban suspect 'refused lawyer'
16 Jan 02 | Americas
Walker Lindh's strange odyssey
14 Dec 01 | Americas
Enigma of 'American Taleban'
05 Dec 01 | Americas
US shocked by 'American Taleban'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories