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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

Misguided youth?

December 7, 2001

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The term "traitor" quickly and appropriately comes to mind in the John Philip Walker Lindh case.

Get ready for those sad songs and heart-rending violins for John Philip Walker Lindh, originally of California. He's the 20-year-old American who allegedly fought for the Taliban and has been caught.

Immediately, of course, those who "knew him when" declared he is "a nice boy" who just got bad advice, probably was brainwashed and just happened to fall in with a bad crowd. His father explains he is going to support the son but admits he would like to "kick him in the butt."

It's not that easy, or shouldn't be.

Lindh got immediate sympathy from some when he recently appeared on television bearded, in disarray and in pain from wounds he suffered during a prison uprising in Afghanistan. He's lucky it wasn't much worse.

Lindh said he had converted to Islam at 16, had gone to Yemen at 18 to study Arabic, then drifted to Afghanistan six months ago to help the Taliban before the New York and Washington tragedies. He was one of only 86 pro-Taliban survivors of the insurrection at the prison where 600 of his comrades died under U.S. bombs and from northern alliance gunfire. Lindh is the first identified Taliban fighter to have been taken into custody by U.S. forces, and already legal defense forces are rallying to his side.

The man, whatever his age, is a traitor. He willingly entered the Islamic terrorist world, trained in that discipline and then was clearly willing to wage war against his homeland. He could have withdrawn or defected after Sept. 11 if he was so appalled by what happened. Is there no sense of honor anywhere?

If the United States is reluctant to handle Lindh's case, why not turn him over to the northern alliance along with the other captives from the war activity? It is, after all, a world he willingly chose.

But we are going to hear a great deal about the rights of this "American" and how he is entitled to due process under our legal system a system that allowed him to make a choice to join enemy forces and take part in serious activity involving national welfare. He easily could have been one of the Sept. 11 terrorists who wreaked such havoc, even though he would deny that now that he's caught.

Treason? Federal law makes it a crime for anyone "owing allegiance to the United States," such as a citizen, to wage war against the United States.

Defenders of Lindh will say that he was in the movement without knowledge of the bin Laden atrocities. His "citizenship" will complicate the picture.

But whatever is done, Lindh deserves something far more stern than the "kick in the butt" his doting father would mete out. That goes for Lindh and any other American who willingly take part in the vicious "hate America" effort that the terror groups are fostering.

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