'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh to be released from prison Thursday

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- There's a major new development involving Marin County's John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban."

Lindh is scheduled to be released from a U.S. Prison Thursday after serving 17 of his 20-year sentence.

Lindh was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and sentenced to prison for helping the Taliban after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

He is being held at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Upon his release, he will be under three-year supervision. It is unclear if he will be returning to the Bay Area.

Lindh's spiritual journey began in San Anselmo, where he converted to Islam as a teenager and began attending services at the Islamic Center of Mill Valley.

"When he used to come here, he was always calm," Abdel Aziz, a worshipper at the center, told ABC7 Friday. "He was a seeker of knowledge, but he was not, we didn't see any violence."

Lindh's early release has already stoked controversy.

The parents of slain CIA officer Mike Spann have called it "disturbing news," saying the man they blame for their son's death is still a threat. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby also expressed concern. He tweeted that President Trump told him over the phone he, too, believes Lindh should serve his full sentence.

For Lindh's family, however, it's a relief. For years, his father-- a Bay Area attorney -- has been calling for his son's release, saying Lindh was simply a scapegoat for a grieving, post 9/11 country.

"John got caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time," Frank Lindh said in a 2001 interview, "But it's not fair to say John went to Afghanistan to work against or wage war against his own country."

Lindh will be released on May 23.
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