- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh described by prosecutors as a "committed terrorist" will remain incarcerated until his trial on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Welton Curtis Sewell found that Lindh, 20, posed a risk of fleeing the country if he were to be released on bail, and that he presented a danger to the community after being trained in combat at an al Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001.
"It may be argued by the defense that the defendant is a loyal American," Judge Sewell said. "But the evidence before the court belies that assertion."
Lindh on Tuesday was indicted on 10 charges, including conspiring to kill Americans in Afghanistan. Several charges were added to ones already outlined by the federal government in its criminal complaint against Lindh. They include that Lindh was trained by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and then conspired with the Taliban regime to kill Americans. Lindh will be arraigned on the charges Monday.
Meanwhile, after the hearing yesterday, Lindh's lead defense attorney, James J. Brosnahan, blasted Attorney General John Ashcroft for making what he called inappropriate comments about Lindh's indictment. Mr. Ashcroft said on Tuesday it was "extraordinary" to charge a U.S. citizen in this case and added that Lindh had "allied himself with terrorists."
"It violated the standards of the Department of Justice," Mr. Brosnahan said outside the courthouse. "I think the American people want the federal government to focus on people who really did the harm to this nation. I would ask the attorney general not to take it out on John Lindh because in my view they have brought up the cannon to shoot the mouse."
During the 45-minute detention hearing in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria yesterday morning, Mr. Brosnahan argued that his client is "a religious person" who had "strong ties to his family and to his country."
"He follows the teachings of the church, not my church, but the church he has adopted," Mr. Brosnahan told Judge Sewell. "He never fought with the al Qaeda and never signed up for terrorist activities."
Mr. Brosnahan claimed Lindh believed he was fighting with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance, not the United States. "[Members of the Northern Alliance] had been communists," Mr. Brosnahan argued. "The Northern Alliance was not any group the United States would have embraced even after September 11."
Mr. Brosnahan also briefly outlined, in dollar figures, the humanitarian aid the United States had provided the Taliban over the past years. "The defendant was aware of that and he knew he was fighting against the people" whom the United States did not support, Mr. Brosnahan said.
"When John Lindh went to the front lines on September 6, there was not a single official in the United States who knew we would be engaged in Afghanistan," Mr. Brosnahan said.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy I. Bellows disputed Mr. Brosnahan's arguments. "John Walker Lindh is a committed terrorist," Mr. Bellows argued. "He not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk, carrying hand grenades and referring to his al Qaeda brothers."
Mr. Bellows argued Lindh showed a pattern of hostility toward the United States long before his capture by U.S. military in December. During his 22-month stay in Central Asia, Lindh sent to his family e-mail messages criticizing the United States and refusing to return to California where he lives, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department yesterday.
Lindh suggested to his mother in one e-mail message that she move to England: "I really don't know what your big attachment to America is all about. What has America ever done for anybody?" he said according to court documents.
Lindh sat quietly between two of his defense attorneys during the hearing. Dressed in a green jumpsuit with "Prisoner" printed across the back, the short-haired, clean-shaven Lindh was not handcuffed or shackled. His parents, Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker, sat two rows behind the defense table and did not speak to reporters after the hearing.


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