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Robin Simcox: Why are the New York Times publishing apologies for the Taliban?

Frank Lindh - the father of John Walker Lind - has just had a piece published in the New York Times in which he laments his son's unfair incarceration.

John Walker Lindh is no petty criminal. He was convicted in the US in July 2002 for fighting with the Taliban and carrying weapons while doing so, being sentenced to 20 years. He was known to have trained in Afghanistan in summer 2001, attending al-Qaeda's notorious al-Farouq training camp (which also hosted several of the 9/11 hijackers). While there, he met Osama bin Laden.

Yet to Lindh's father, this is by the by. True, his son may have been fighting for the Taliban, but this was only 'like Ernest Hemingway during the Spanish Civil War.' His path to radicalisation was apparently an 'unusual odyssey of learning and adventure'. What's more, Lindh is 'idealistic', 'spiritual', has 'a wry sense of humor' and is fluent in Arabic. So how can he possibly be a bad guy? The piece goes on to argue that now that bin Laden is dead, Lindh should be freed - an odd interpretation of the US justice system.

I'm not surprised that Lindh's father wants his son released. I am surprised that - at a time when the US is still mired in a war against the very organisation that Lindh was fighting for - the New York Times thought fit to publish the rant of an upset father that seeks to exonerate his actions. It's easy to forget the nightmarish excesses of the Taliban and the horrors of what they inflicted in Afghanistan before the US led invasion of October 2001. Anyone who fought for that group was not an idealist. They were part of a death cult.


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