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Is Law Enforcement Able to De-Radicalize Extremists Like John Walker Lindh?

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(Left) A police file photo made available February 6th, 2002, of the “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh. (Right) A February 11th, 2002, photograph of Lindh as seen from the records of the Arabia Hassani Kalan Surani Bannu madrassa (religious school) in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Bannu.

John Walker Lindh, an American former Taliban fighter, is set to be released from prison today. He served 17 years of a 20-year sentence in federal prison for carrying a weapon and grenade under Taliban leadership. Although he was never convicted of terrorism, nor charged with the death of the Central Intelligence Agency officer John Spann who was killed when Lindh’s fellow Taliban prisoners revolted in a prisoner of war camp, he was a subject of controversy in the early years of the Global War on Terror. Many officials worry that law enforcement is not equipped to de-radicalize extremists and are concerned about the release.

According to the National Counterterrorism Center, Lindh has not renounced extremism and remains a devout Muslim. During his imprisonment Lindh was reportedly a quiet inmate. In 2010 he and another prisoner successfully sued the government to allow Muslim inmates to pray as a group in his unit.

Lindh received Irish citizenship in 2013 and had expressed an interest in moving there after serving his sentence, but he must still serve three years of probation. According to the Washington Post, Lindh’s attorney says he must remain in the Eastern District of Virginia for three years according to the conditions of his parole.

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