"American Taleban" Feared for His Life in Afghanistan: Lawyer

March 17, 2002 - 0:0
WASHINGTON -- John Walker Lindh wanted to defect from the Taleban after the September 11 terrorist attacks but stayed out of fear for his life, according to court documents filed Friday by his defense attorneys.

In motions filed in Federal Court in Alexandria, Virginia, Lindh's lawyers said their client told U.S. military interrogators in December that he was "obviously disillusioned when he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center and wanted to leave his Taleban unit but could not do so for fear of death."

The attorneys said however that while Lindh's expressions of disenchantment appear in early summaries of government interrogations, later summaries omit that information.

Lindh's attorney petitioned the court to force the government to supply more complete accounts of the interrogations, which could cast their client in a more favorable light, AFP reported.

The Federal Grand Jury that indicted Lindh emphasized that the so-called American Taleban remained with the Taleban even after hearing of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Prosecutors have until March 29 to respond. A court hearing on the defense request has been set for April 1.

Lindh, 21, a convert to Islam, joined the Taleban shortly before the September 11 attacks and was captured last fall during fighting in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors have charged him with conspiracy to kill Americans abroad, providing aid and support to terrorist organizations, and carrying a weapon in the commission of a crime.