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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 00:39 GMT
Walker Lindh's strange odyssey
John Walker Lindh
John Walker Lindh after this capture by the US
The American Taleban, John Walker Lindh, met Osama Bin Laden and knew in advance that his al-Qaeda group was planning suicide attacks on the US, according to the affidavit filed against Mr Walker.

The court document tells the extraordinary story of how Mr Walker went from being a language student in Yemen to a highly-trained fighter in Afghanistan.

It also said that Bin Laden, visiting a training camp to lecture his men, met with Mr Walker and four other trainees for five minutes and "thanked them" for taking part in jihad, or holy war.

The charges against Mr Walker
Conspiring to kill US nationals in Afghanistan
Supporting foreign terrorist organisations
Engaging with the Taleban

According to the affidavit, which was compiled on the basis of interviews Mr Walker gave to FBI special agents, Mr Walker converted to Islam in 1997.

In 1998 and again in 2000 he travelled to Yemen to study Arabic and Islam, later travelling to Pakistan.

It was there, around May 2001, that he joined a paramilitary training camp organised by Harakat ul-Mujahideen, in order to help in that organisation's fight in the disputed state of Kashmir.

Mr Walker received 24 days of training in the camp, north of Islamabad, including training with several types of weapons.

Asked if he wanted to continue training or join the Taleban in Afghanistan, he chose the latter.

Suicide attacks

In Afghanistan he was told by the Taleban that he would have to join Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda Arab group since he did not speak Afghan languages.


Walker ... met with Bin Laden for approximately five minutes, during which Bin Laden thanked [him] for taking part in jihad

Affidavit

Since he had received relatively little military training, he was sent to another training camp, al-Farooq, arriving around 1 June.

It was at this point that Mr Walker learnt from one of his instructors that Bin Laden had sent people to the US to carry out suicide attacks.

He received seven weeks of training, including courses in weapons, explosives and battlefield conflict, using shoulder weapons, pistols and rocket propelled grenades.

Bin Laden lectures

Bin Laden visited on three to five occasions, giving lectures on political issues and Afghan-Soviet battles, and meeting some recruits.

At the end of this period, Mr Walker was given the choice of further training or going to the front lines.

He chose to fight, heading off before 11 September with 150 other men to the front line north of Kabul, where the Taleban were fighting against the Northern Alliance.

Mr Walker told his interviewers that after the 11 September attacks, all the training camps were shut and the fighters were sent to the front lines in anticipation of a US response.

He was still with his group when the US bombing began, and was forced to retreat to Kunduz as the Taleban collapse began.

Mr Walker's group surrendered to Northern Alliance warlord Rashid Dostum and its members were trucked to Mazar-e-Sharif.

There he witnessed the attempted uprising by captured Taleban fighters and the killing of one of his interviewers, CIA agent Johnny Spann.

And it was there that the extraordinary story of the American Taleban, shown injured on a stretcher, came to light.

See also:

15 Jan 02 | Americas
American Taleban to face civil trial
14 Dec 01 | Americas
Enigma of American Taleban
05 Dec 01 | Americas
US shocked by American Taleban
20 Dec 01 | Americas
US denies lawyer to American Taleban
11 Jan 02 | Americas
Analysis: Military tribunals
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