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American Taliban fighter sues prison for restricting Muslim prayer
 Part of channel(s): Afghanistan (current event)

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN


August 27, 2012 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)

John Walker Lindh, pictured in 2002, is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding the Taliban.



STORY HIGHLIGHTS







  • John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, is suing his prison warden




  • Walker Lindh is accusing the prison of restricting Muslim prayer




  • He is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding the Taliban




  • Lindh is housed in a special unit in a federal prison in Indiana


  • [/list]

    (CNN) -- John Walker Lindh, who is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding the Taliban, heads to federal court Monday in Indianapolis in an attempt to overturn a prison ban that he says severely restricts Muslim prayer.



    Lindh is scheduled to take the stand in a lawsuit he filed against the warden and the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, alleging the warden's ban on daily group prayer violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.



    The warden, according to court documents, has argued that the ban implemented after 2007 is necessary because of security concerns.



    Lindh, 31, is serving his sentence in Terre Haute's Communications Management Unit, which opened in 2006. The unit severely restricts the contact of prisoners with the outside and monitors conversations between the inmates.



    2001: 'American Taliban' talks to CNN

    From the archives: Walker Lindh sentenced to 20 years



    The unit has 55 cells, and the majority of the prisoners are Muslim, according to court documents.



    Also housed with Lindh, according to published reports, are members of the "Lackawanna Six," a group of Yemeni-American friends who were convicted of providing material support to al Qaeda; Ali Asad Chandia, convicted of providing aid to a Pakistani terror organization; and Enaam Arnaout, who pleaded guilty to using donations to his charitable foundation to support fighters in Bosnia.



    At least five inmates, including Arnaout and Chandia, gave depositions in support of the lawsuit.



    Islam requires followers to answer a call to pray five times day. Depending on the religious teaching, the call could be required to be a group prayer.



    Part of Lindh's complaint alleges that before 2007, Muslim prisoners were allowed to pray together in the unit for at least three of Islam's five daily prayers. Since then, other than during the holy month of Ramadan, the prisoners are allowed to gather only once a week, according to court documents.



    The court filings also gave a glimpse inside the prison unit, describing it as "an open unit, meaning that they have freedom to move around various places in the unit during the times they are not restricted in their cells."



    Spate of attacks near Ramadan trouble U.S. Muslims



    There is an area with a computer where they can send e-mail; a food services area with tables and a microwave; a lounge area with multiple televisions; a room with exercise equipment; and a room with a washer and dryer, the records said.



    The warden, who was not identified by name in the records, implemented the ban after the Muslim prisoners, who were engaged in prayer, did not acknowledge a unit lockdown prompted by a fire alarm.



    The prisoners said they did not hear the lockdown because of a noisy fan.



    Lindh, who was born in California, converted to Islam as a teenager.



    He traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 and attended a terror training camp where he was introduced to Osama bin Laden.



    Lindh was captured by the Afghan Northern Alliance on November 25, 2001, and imprisoned in a compound in Mazar-e-Sharif, where he was questioned by CIA agent Johnny Michael Spann, who was killed in an uprising at the compound a short time later.



    As part of a deal, Lindh pleaded guilty to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony. His family filed a petition for clemency to commute the 20-year sentence, a request that was denied by President George W. Bush in one of his final acts in office.


    Added: Aug-27-2012 Occurred On: Aug-27-2012
    By: BekasKhan
    In:
    Afghanistan
    Tags: US, NATO, Occupation, of, Afghanistan, Taliban, Pakistan, terrorist, Punjabi, ISI, Al, Qaeda
    Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
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