- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

VICTORVILLE, Calif., March 6 (UPI) — An apparent assault by fellow inmates at a Southern California prison left "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh with minor injuries earlier this week, the FBI said Thursday.

The FBI was investigating the alleged attack, which came to light through an anonymous tip to the San Bernardino Sun that indicated the assault was allegedly carried out by one or more members of a white supremacist gang at the federal prison in Victorville.

"It is still ongoing," Cheryl Mimura, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, told United Press International. "He did receive some minor injuries, so he was assaulted."

Mimura said further details of the investigation and any possible charges would not be released until the investigation was completed.

The Sun said Thursday that a voice-mail message left at the newspaper's office Monday night by an unidentified male stated that the 21-year-old Lindh "was assaulted this night by a white-supremacist organization that is imprisoned there."

Prison officials declined to comment on the attack or on the reputed white supremacist gang.

A source at the prison told the Sun that Lindh had been moved into the general inmate population last month and was working on an indoor cleaning detail under close scrutiny of guards at the sprawling medium-security facility located around 50 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

He has since been placed in a solitary-confinement unit for his protection, according to the source.

"Walker Lindh remains safely housed at Victorville," Don Dunne, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, told the Sun. "He is being housed there in a unit that is consistent with security needs."

Lindh, born on the East Coast but raised in Northern California's affluent Marin County, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for joining ranks with the Taliban in Afghanistan and taking up arms against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance during a bloody prison uprising.

Lindh's enlistment with the radical Muslim Taliban apparently drew him some initial support among Muslim inmates at Victorville, who admired his commitment and for a time they acted as his volunteer bodyguards. That protection disappeared, according to the Sun's source, after the inmates decided the American Taliban was not militant enough for their taste.

(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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