- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

From combined dispatches
Three Taliban militia fighters who claim to be American citizens are in the custody of U.S. forces or allies in northern Afghanistan, senior defense officials said yesterday.
A man identified as John Walker is receiving medical care from U.S. forces after being discovered among captured Taliban troops and al Qaeda fighters who had holed up in a fortress in Mazar-e-Sharif. CNN reported that Mr. Walker, a convert to Islam, had grenade and bullet wounds.
In an interview posted on Newsweek magazine's Web site, his parents identified him from photos as John Philip Walker Lindh, 20, of Fairfax, Calif.
Two other persons who claim to be Americans are under the control of the Northern Alliance, a defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The official had few details about these two, whose identities have not been established and whose physical condition could not be determined.
Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, the deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he could not say whether Mr. Walker is considered a prisoner of war or whether he would be returned to the United States.
"The only thing that I can say about this individual is that this is somebody who claims to be an American citizen," he said. "That claim is being respected for the moment, until facts can be established."
Mr. Walker's parents fear their son could face stiff penalties in the United States for circumstances that may have been beyond his control, said Bill Jones, a family friend.
"Ashcroft is talking about military tribunals and we don't feel that that would be fair for John," Bill Jones said. "We're afraid that the media has already accused him of being a Taliban fighter and we know that that's not true. So of course they're afraid. They're terrified."
Mr. Walker was born in Washington, D.C., in 1981 but moved to Northern California in 1991. At 16, he embraced Islam and, although his parents did not like it, they accepted his conversion out of belief he needed to find his own path in life, Mr. Jones told reporters.
Two years ago he moved to Pakistan to study the Koran. He kept in regular contact with family members until six months ago when he dropped out of sight. His parents had no idea he had taken up with the Taliban.
Mr. Walker told Newsweek that he came into contact with Taliban teachings while studying in Pakistan and traveled to Afghanistan six months ago to help "because the Taliban are the only government that actually provides Islamic law," the magazine reported.
"I lived in the region, the North-West Frontier Province [of Pakistan]," Mr. Walker told CNN yesterday. "The people in general have a great love for the Taliban so I started to read some of the literature of the scholars, the history of Kabul my heart became attached to that."

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