Now 36 years old, Lindh is set to be released in less than two years. And he’ll leave prison with Irish citizenship and a stubborn refusal to renounce violent ideology, according to the U.S. government. Foreign Policy obtained two government documents that express concerns about Lindh: One details the communications of Lindh and other federal prisoners convicted of terrorism-related charges, and the second, written by the National Counterterrorism Center, addresses the intelligence community’s larger concerns over these inmates, once released.
“As of May 2016, John Walker Lindh (USPER) — who is scheduled to be released in May 2019 after being convicted of supporting the Taliban — continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts,” reads the National Counterterrorism Center document prepared earlier this year.
The report, marked “For Official Use Only” and dated Jan. 24, 2017, provides a window into how the intelligence community looks at the prospect of releasing American citizens still considered potential threats. The document indicates that intelligence and law enforcement agencies are already worried that “homegrown violent extremists,” like other criminals, could have high rates of recidivism.
The document, which cites various Federal Bureau of Prisons intelligence summaries, claims that in March of last year, Lindh “told a television news producer that he would continue to spread violent extremist Islam upon his release.”
The Bureau of Prisons document says that “inmate Walker Lindh made pro ISIS statements to various reporters and was subsequently dropped by counsel.” It does not indicate which counsel, nor does it cite any specific statements.
The renowned attorney who represented Lindh in his 2002 trial, James Brosnahan, had “dropped” his client, according to the intelligence summary. (Brosnahan did not respond to a request for comment.)
Frank [Lindh] urged his son “to mend fences with Jim,” referring to his former lawyer, adding that Brosnahan would likely demand that Lindh explicitly reject violence.
But John Walker Lindh refused. Replying to his father, he wrote: “I am not interested in renouncing my beliefs or issuing condemnations in order to please Brosnahan or anybody else.”
A separate article wrote that Lindh has “spent his sentence studying Islam”.