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'American Taliban' Is Free, Not Going Back to California

John Walker Lindh will live in Virginia for now
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 10:20 AM CDT
In this 2002 photo, John Walker Lindh, his head shaved, leaves the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Va.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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(Newser) – John Walker Lindh, better known as the "American Taliban," left federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on Thursday to restart his life as a free man. The native of Marin County, California, however, won't be returning to his home state, at least not immediately. CNN reports Lindh will live somewhere in Virginia—the state where he was sentenced—as he begins a three-year period of supervised release. He won't be able to have a passport or even use the internet unsupervised during that period. However, Lindh will apparently be able to leave the country after that. Prosecutors initially wanted to put a lifetime ban on foreign travel in place, but Lindh, a Muslim convert, wouldn't agree to it because that would have prevented him from making a pilgrimage to Mecca, reports the Washington Post. The Irish Times notes Lindh has Irish citizenship because his grandmother was born in Ireland.

Lindh served 17 years of a 20-year sentence and was released early for good behavior. Critics say he has voiced support for the Islamic State and should have stayed behind bars. At the Atlantic, Graeme Wood shares his correspondence with Lindh from prison and notes that Lindh indeed seems to have gone from being al-Qaeda supporter to an ISIS supporter while behind bars. "The chances that he will leave prison and immediately start gathering bomb-making materials seem exceedingly slim to me," writes Wood, who eventually expects Lindh to move back to California. "But the chances that Marin County will someday have an unrepentant jihadist praying in its mosques, and soaking in its (woman-free) hot tubs, seem very high." (Read more John Walker Lindh stories.)

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