TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh has been released after 17 years in prison, multiple news outlets are reporting.
According to CNN, Lindh, now 38, was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 after he joined the Taliban in the run-up to the 9/11 terror attacks.
Lindh, of California, said he converted to Islam after seeing the film “Malcolm X" as a teenager, The Associated Press reported. He left the United States to go to Yemen to study Arabic and the Quran. Then when he was 21 he traveled to Pakistan to join the Islamic fundamentalist group.
He was with the Taliban on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a crashed a fourth plane into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
A little more than two months after the attacks, Lindh was captured when the United States attacked Afghanistan after the country’s leaders refused to turn over 911 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Lindh was taken to the Qala-i-Jangi fortress which was being used as a prison for captured Taliban soldiers. While there, he was interrogated by American intelligence officers.
A violent uprising by the prisoners at Qala-i-Jangi on Nov. 25, 2001, resulted in the death of CIA officer Micheal Spann along with more than 400 Taliban soldiers and supporters. Spann’s family opposes Lindh’s scheduled release.
Lindh is said to have known of the planned uprising at Qala-i-jangi, though he did not directly take part in the attack. Neither did he let American interrogators know about the planned uprising, according to American prosecutors.
Lindh’s defense attorneys entered into a plea bargain in July 2002. Lindh pleaded guilty to two charges – supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony – and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
He was freed from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, early Thursday. CNN reported that he was released early "for good behavior."
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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