It has now become an annual ritual, as predictable as an eclipse: Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker come out before the media to extol the virtues of their son, Suleyman al-Faris, also known as Abdul Hamid. Don’t recognize the names? Perhaps you may remember him by his real name — John Walker Lindh (“Jihad Johnny”), the American Taliban.
This year is no exception, and Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker want to talk again to anyone who’ll listen, in an effort to get their son out of federal prison. This year, the story has been picked up by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, our friends over at Democracy Now!, the Marxist platform for all things anti-American.Â Naturally, they paint aÂ distorted picture of the events leading up to the day when Jihad Johnny was captured fighting alongside the Taliban shortly after 9/11, and was subsequently sentenced to prison.
Before we get into that, however, let’s review the facts about Jihad Johnny before Goodman and Gonzalez distort them:
Born in 1981, Lindh converted to Islam at the age of 16. After spending time in Yemen in 1998, he moved to Pakistan in 2000, training in an al Qaeda terror camp—which was directly supervised by the world’s most notorious terrorÂ leader,Â Osama bin Laden — before slipping into Afghanistan in 2001. In the fall of that year, Lindh became a soldier in theÂ Taliban army and an operative of al Qaeda, taking up arms against the U.S. troops whoÂ had been sent to Afghanistan after the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks. He was captured, along with some 3,000 other Taliban soldiers, by American and Northern Alliance troops in November 2001. Once in custody, he lied to Northern Alliance forces by telling them his name was Abdul Hamid, but while being interrogated by CIA operative Mike Spann he confessed his American birth and gave his name as John Phillip Walker.
Aside from lying about his name, he failed to tell Spann that the Taliban who were being held in custody were planning a violent jailbreak—one which ultimately would costÂ Spann his life (he left behind a wife and three children). In that uprising, Spann, a true American hero, was able to save the lives of manyÂ others –Â allowing them to escape by holding off Johnnyâ€™s Taliban allies during the insurrection until his ammunition ran out and the Taliban killed him.
For all of his treasonous actions, Lindh received, as punishment, the proverbial slap on the wrist.Â He was offered a plea bargain and was given a light sentence of only 20 years in prison (he could have received 90).
Naturally, Johnny’s parents, along with Amy Goodman and JuanÂ Gonzalez, see things differently.
According to them, the reason Jihad Johnny finds himself in a federal prison today is because of the Bush administration; more specifically, because of the unjustifiable actions of one man: former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
ByÂ Goodman and Democracy Now!‘sÂ telling, John Walker LindhÂ is nothing more than a passionate scholar of Arabic and the Quran. That’s the reason he went to Yemen and Pakistan in the first place—to further his education. Despite his portrayal as some kind of terrorist by the media, our Johnny in fact is a patriot!Â According to Frank Lindh:
John loves America. We love America. John did not do anything against America. John did not take up arms against America. He never meant to harm any American, and he never did harm any American. John is innocent of these charges.
It was Rumsfeld, you see, who gave an evil order which led to this whole mess when he told operatives to â€œtake the gloves offâ€ during interrogations of the prisoners:
FRANK LINDH: And instead of being treated humanelyâ€”itâ€™s a difficult subject for us, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeldâ€”this is a document that came out in the discovery in Johnâ€™s caseâ€”ordered, â€œTake the gloves off.â€ Juan [Gonzalez] referred to this. This was his order, direct order from the Secretary of Defense. And from that point forward, they severely abused John to the point that I would say constitutes torture. He was stripped naked in the winter. His bullet wound was left untreated. They put painful restraints, plastic restraints, around his wrists and his ankles, and he was tied to a gurney and placed naked in a metalâ€”unheated metal shipping container in the desert and left there for two days and two nights shivering. His wounds were leftâ€”
AMY GOODMAN: Donald Rumsfeldâ€”
FRANK LINDH: His wounds were left untreated.
AMY GOODMAN: Donald Rumsfeldâ€™s words? This is on his orders?
FRANK LINDH: Yes, itâ€™s in a document that Johnâ€™s lawyers received from the government, and those are the words in the document: â€œTake the gloves off in your interrogation of John Walker Lindh.â€
No need to read between the lines. Lindh was tortured into confessing to a crime he didnâ€™t commit by an administration eager to find scapegoats to prosecute in a post 9/11 world. Lindh is the victim here, a man who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And there you have it. Another Democracy Now! â€œexclusiveâ€ yarn, spun way too late to be included in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.