'American Taliban' Sues for Prison Prayer Rights

John Walker Lindh wants to pray daily with Muslim group
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2012 4:11 AM CDT
Updated Aug 27, 2012 4:39 AM CDT
American Taliban Lindh Sues for Prison Prayer Rights
'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, once called a "misguided Marin hot-tubber" by former President George HW Bush.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

"American Taliban" John Walker Lindh is expected to testify in an Indianapolis court today as part of his lawsuit seeking the right to arrange a Muslim prayer group in prison. Lindh wants the right to pray daily with other inmates in his secret federal prison facility in Indiana, where he has spent the last five years with terrorists, neo-Nazis, and other special inmates, reports NPR. "They can sit around and talk about politics or football or philosophy," says Ken Falk, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who's representing Lindh. "The one thing they're not allowed to do is pray together for their daily prayers, which many Muslims believe is required."

Bureau of Prison officials have argued in court filings that allowing prisoners to pray together could be a security risk, and could provoke violence against Muslims from other prisoners. Officials said the 31-year-old Lindh has been in trouble lately for making an unauthorized call to prayer, praying in a cell with others, and being "insolent" when a family visit was cut short. Officials also claimed he delivered a "radical, all-Arabic sermon" to other Muslims that aligned with recommendations found in a manual seized from al-Qaeda on how to act while in prison, reports the AP. Lindh, who hails from California, was captured in Afghanistan after 9/11 fighting for the Taliban, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He'll be eligible for release in 2019. (More John Walker Lindh stories.)

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