The Real Reason John Walker Lindh Joined The Taliban

John Walker Lindh was an American sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding the Taliban. In 2019, after 17 years of incarceration, John was released for good behavior but was put on probation and strict supervision.

John Walker Lindh was born in Washington, D.C., to a Catholic family and grew up in a California suburb. By the time he was 16 years old, John surprised his parents by saying that he was converting to Islam after seeing a movie about Muslim activist Malcolm X. According to theĀ ACLU, Lindh was fully immersed in the Islam religion by 1997, and just a year later, he traveled to Yemen to learn the Arabic language. Later on, he went to Pakistan to pursue further studies, and he eventually ended up in Afghanistan and joined the Taliban forces.

It was just a couple of months after the September 11 attacks when Lindh was captured in Afghanistan along with other Taliban soldiers.

John Walker Lindh's statements in court

Many, including his own family, were surprised about John Walker Lindh's decision to join the Taliban. Through the court hearings, Lindh's parents were supportive of him and believed that their son was not a terrorist, nor did he conspire with them regarding the 9/11 attacks (via BBC). In fact, when Lindh was found by American soldiers in Afghanistan, he had been a prisoner in a fortress and was hiding in a basement during a prisoner uprising that left CIA adviser Johnny Michael Spann, and many others, dead.

In court, Lindh made a statement about his intentions in joining the Taliban. "I went to Afghanistan because I believed it was my religious duty to assist my fellow Muslims militarily in their jihad against the Northern Alliance," he said, per ABC News. He went on to explain that the term "jihad" has been wrongly deemed by many to be associated with terrorism. "In Islamic terminology, jihad refers to the spending of one's utmost exertion in the service of God," Lindh said.

Fight against the Northern Alliance

The Northern Alliance was an anti-Taliban military group. According to John Walker Lindh, perĀ ABC News, he heard reports of the Northern Alliance's violent acts toward civilians, which compelled him to join the Taliban forces. However, he also stated that his intention was never to betray his own country or involve himself in terrorist activities. While in Afghanistan, Lindh also revealed that he was not aware of how the Taliban treated civilians, as he was trained as a soldier. It was only when he was brought back to the U.S. when he learned about the terror the Taliban brought to many people in Afghanistan.

Lindh's goal after converting to Islam was to be a teacher of the religion and to translate Arabic teachings to the English language, which was his reason for pursuing further studies abroad. He also showed remorse and said that if he was more knowledgeable about the Taliban's activities, he wouldn't have joined them. He was also firm in saying, "I did not go to fight against America and I never did."