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‘American Taliban’ to be released from prison

WASHINGTON: John Walker Lindh, the American captured in 2001 fighting for the Taliban, is to be released early from federal prison on Thursday as some US lawmakers fear he remains a security risk.

Lindh, photographed as a wild-eyed, bearded 20-year-old at his Afghanistan capture, will leave a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana on probation after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence, according to a prison official.

Now 38, Lindh is among dozens of prisoners set to be released over the next few years after being captured in Iraq and Afghanistan by US forces and convicted of terrorism-related crimes following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

His release brought objections from elected officials who asked why Lindh was being freed early and what training parole officers had to spot radicalization and recidivism among former militants.

Leaked US government documents published by Foreign Policy magazine show the federal government as recently as 2016 described Lindh as holding “extremist views.”

“What is the current interagency policy, strategy, and process for ensuring that terrorist/extremist offenders successfully reintegrate into society?” asked US Senators Richard Shelby and Margaret Hassan in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Lindh’s parents Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lindh’s lawyer Bill Cummings declined to comment.

Melissa Kimberley, a spokeswoman for the Terre Haute prison in Indiana, could not confirm details of Lindh’s release other than it would be on Thursday.

US-born Lindh converted from Catholicism to Islam as a teenager. He said he had no intention “to fight against America”.

Lindh told the court he condemned “terrorism on every level”.

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