Indeed he was, and that was just what was so worrisome about him. The Islam-Is-A-Religion-Of-Peace crowd has never satisfactorily explained how these spiritual quests to learn more about Islam end up as something involving AK-47s, and even more importantly, how they propose to keep that from happening.
"Father: Son Taliban, but not terrorist: Frank Lindh: Son was on 'spiritual quest' to learn about Islam," from AP, with thanks to libbysmom:
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- After years of silence, the father of American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh asked President Bush on Thursday to grant clemency to his son, who he says was wrongly maligned as a traitor and murderer.
"In simple terms, this is the story of a decent and honorable young man embarked on a spiritual quest," said Frank Lindh, swallowing back tears at times during a speech at the Commonwealth Club, a nonprofit organization.
Frank Lindh said that although his son had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks, they ended up adding dire consequences to his decision to join the Taliban, targeted by the U.S. after the 2001 attacks for harboring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden....
"Being viewed through the prism of those attacks has caused this young man to be vilified as a terrorist and a traitor," the elder Lindh said.
Yes, he joined the Taliban, but those guys were pussycats apart from 9/11.
John Walker Lindh, who turns 25 next month, was 20 when he was captured by American forces on November 21, 2001, alongside Taliban fighters.
Charged with conspiring to kill Americans and supporting terrorists, the younger Lindh avoided a potential life sentence in 2002 by pleading guilty to lesser charges of supplying services to the Taliban in violation of U.S. economic sanctions and of carrying weapons against U.S. forces. In exchange, John Walker Lindh agreed to withdraw claims of abuse or torture.
Until now, his parents have mostly maintained a public silence about the case, hoping to avoid a media barrage that could be detrimental to their son. But on Thursday, Frank Lindh shared baby pictures and other photos of his son during the presentation and said he is proud of his child.
Frank Lindh said he decided to break his silence because he hoped the story of his boy's journey from bucolic Marin County to harsh Afghanistan battlefields will help him get a reduction in his 20-year prison sentence. Last year, his son renewed his request for clemency, already rejected once.
John Walker Lindh, raised Catholic, was 12 when he saw the movie "Malcolm X" and became interested in Islam, his father said. A few years later, he converted to Islam in a mosque in Mill Valley.
With his parents' blessings, he headed to Yemen, and later Pakistan, to memorize the Quran and become an Islamic scholar.
To memorize the Qur'an and become an Islamic scholar. Combine that with the innumerable stories we have posted here about Islamic clerics being involved in jihad violence. The bottom line is that these are not likely to be men who don't know their faith. They know what the Qur'an teaches, and they are taking up arms accordingly. Peaceful Muslims must face the implications of that if it is ever going to end. The world is still waiting.
What did Frank Lindh think of his son's decision to pursue these studies?
"It's a wonderful thing for an American kid to go overseas and study, to learn another language, to learn another religion. These are great things," he said.
Sure, it's absolutely the same thing as if he has converted to Buddhism and gone off to Lhasa.
In spring 2001, John Walker Lindh told his parents he was going to dodge the desert heat and spend the summer in the mountains of Pakistan. He did not tell his parents that he planned to cross into Afghanistan and join the Taliban army.
The younger Lindh saw bin Laden speak twice while he was training in Afghanistan, but had no idea that he was involved in terrorism against the U.S., his father said.
What did he think he was involved in? Macrame?
On Thursday, Frank Lindh emphasized that his son was involved in an Afghan war, not a fight against the U.S., when the Muslim convert joined the Taliban army to fight the Northern Alliance. He noted that the U.S. once supported Taliban fighters when they were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
"What happened unfortunately for John is that the United States made an abrupt change after the 9/11 attacks," Frank Lindh said. "We switched sides. John was on the ground there when that happened. He certainly didn't go to Afghanistan to do anything against America. He never fought against America. He never fired a gun at an American. He was simply rescued."
The idea that the U.S. abruptly switched sides and stopped supporting the Taliban after 9/11 is absurd. And so is the idea that John Walker Lindh had no intention of fighting Americans. Anti-American rhetoric among his friends and mentors was running high all through the 1990s. If he really didn't know what he was getting into, he was an astounding ignoramus.