When John Walker Lindh’s story first broke, I remember reading about it and thinking, Good Lord, he could be my brother. I put together the chart below as one of my first web projects. It feels dated now somehow. Maybe people don’t even remember who John Walker Lindh is. Here is what I wrote about him at the time [1] [2].

Me and John
a handy reference

John Me
YES Reddish 
YES White
YES Converted
to Islam?
16 at
YES Catholic
YES Liberal
YES Influenced
by  Autobiography of Malcolm X?
YES Confusing
Array of Names?
My Yes
YES Hopelessly
arms with Taliban
to Terrorism?
a Tamil Tiger once
Years in Prison
Years in Malaysia

Hope That Cleared Things Up!

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. It was hilarious then, and it’s still hilarious. I don’t share all those similarities with our Taliban friend, but still, it was when I first saw this that I thought maybe YOU could be MY brother;)

  2. Impressive! You both could be my brother! Heck, I’m a closer match to you than him!

  3. the title says “Me and John a handy reference”. Therefore, I thought the left picture is you while the right one John (since I read from left to right). 🙂

  4. Salam
    i read your article you wrote on John Walker Lindh, at the time, and was wondering if your opinions of him have since changed ?
    I’m getting mixed messages, it feels like your against him.

  5. Against him? I’m trying to think what you could mean here. Mixed messages, indeed! I think boiling the world down to absolutes like “for” or “against” is exactly what got JWL into trouble in the first place. JWL’s case is sufficiently complex that any reasonable reaction to him will be “mixed”. I think JWL was a naive and foolish kid with pure intentions who only avoided a futile death through the unpouring of the Lord’s Mercy upon him. I think that any one of us American converts could have wound up that way, but for the grace of God, since authentic Islamic knowledge was so hard to come by in the US at that time (and even now). I think JWL is by no means a simple or one-dimensional character, and what state he is in now or will be when he emerges from seclusion we will all just have to wait to find out. I find it sad that he is as alone now in his quest as he has been from the outset. And I don’t think that he was guilty of breaking the laws of the United States. What I think he is not is any kind of model or example of what an aspiring young new muslim convert should aim for. If you find yourself holding an AK47 within three years of embracing Islam, know that you have gone far far astray. Rather, we should admire his sincerity and determination but pray for more knowledge. The ink of the scholar’s pen is more precious than the blood of the martyr. Ya Rabbi Zidna Ilma!

  6. i dont know what u want to told people about jhon walker lindh.but what he did is some thing i can only wish.when i saw him first time on the newspaper where he seems to be in a miserable condition to the world.but for me he is looking beautiful.a single man from america stood against his own selfish president george bush.
    may ALLAH bless him and freed him as soon as possible.

  7. ” What I think he is not is any kind of model or example of what an aspiring young new muslim convert should aim for. If you find yourself holding an AK47 within three years of embracing Islam, know that you have gone far far astray.”

    You realize that there were sahabah that fought against the enemies of Islam in the very early hours after becomming muslim. Some of them never even prayed 1 rakat before being martyred.

    He is probably in a better position than any of us Allahu aalum. If he had been killed by the enemies of Islam then he would be shaheed if his intentions were right. Thats what all of us should be hoping for. Allah’s(ta aala) greatest reward. How can you call that futile?

    Sufism is far far astray.


    Contact: James J. Brosnahan
    (415) 268-7189

    Statement of John Lindh to the Court

    October 4, 2002

    Alexandria, VA – October 4, 2002 — To begin, I would like to thank God who has protected and sustained me. I would also like to thank the Court for giving me this opportunity to accept full responsibility for violating the U.S. sanctions on Afghanistan last year, to express my remorse for what’s happened, and to express my gratitude to my family and those who have supported me. I would also like to explain how and why I went to Afghanistan as a soldier with the Taliban in its conflict with the Northern Alliance.

    First, I want to express my deepest gratitude to my family for their unfaltering love and support. I know they have experienced a tremendous amount of pain throughout this past year and for that I am sorry.

    I would also like to say that I am very grateful to my attorneys whose support of me never wavered, to those who treated my wounds on the USS PELELIU, and to those who helped bring me home. I also want to express my appreciation to the many Americans who have supported me and my family through letters, emails and editorials. I understand why so many Americans were angry when I was first discovered in Afghanistan. I realize that many still are but I hope that with time and understanding, those feelings will change.

    I would like to take some time to explain how I ended up in Afghanistan.

    Prior to May of last year, I was a student of Islam at a school in Pakistan, having previously studied the Arabic language in Yemen. In June, after receiving three weeks of military training in Northern Pakistan, I traveled to Afghanistan in order to assist the Taliban government in opposing the warlords of the Northern Alliance. After being required to take additional military training at a facility in Afghanistan, I volunteered as a foot soldier on the front lines in the province of Takhar, in northeastern Afghanistan. I arrived there on September 6, 2001.

    I went to Afghanistan because I believed it was my religious duty to assist my fellow Muslims militarily in their jihad against the Northern Alliance. Because the term “jihad” has been commonly misunderstood, I’d like to take a few minutes to explain the meaning of the term. In the Arabic language, jihad literally means “struggle.” In Islamic terminology, jihad refers to the spending of one’s utmost exertion in the service of God.

    I have never understood jihad to mean anti-Americanism or terrorism. I condemn terrorism on every level–unequivocally. My beliefs about jihad are those of mainstream Muslims around the world. I believe that jihad ranges from striving to overcome own personal faults, to speaking out for the truth in adverse circumstances, to military action in the defense of justice. The type of jihad one practices depends upon one’s circumstances, but the essence of any form of jihad lies in the intent.

    Last year, I felt that I had an obligation to assist what I perceived to be an Islamic liberation movement against the warlords who were occupying several provinces in Northern Afghanistan. I had learned from books, articles and individuals with first-hand experience of numerous atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance against civilians. I had heard reports of massacres, child rape, torture and castration. I also knew that many of these warlords had fought alongside the Soviet Union in the 1980’s during the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. I went to Afghanistan because I believed there was no way to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people aside from military action. I did not go to fight against America, and I never did.

    I saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets. I knew that the mujahideen had been supported by the United States. In addition, I knew that the Northern Alliance continued to be funded and armed by the Russian government throughout the 1990’s and up until last year.

    My experience of living in Afghanistan was limited to military life as a trainee and as a soldier. In retrospect, I had no real exposure to the life of civilians under the rule of the Taliban. Since returning to the United States, I have learned more about the Taliban, such as reports of the Taliban’s repression of women, which I did not see or hear of while I was in Afghanistan, and which I believe is strongly condemned by Islam.

    I have also become aware of the relationship between the leaders of the Taliban and Usama bin Laden’s organization. Bin Laden’s terrorist attacks are completely against Islam, completely contrary to the conventions of jihad and without any justification whatsoever. His grievances, whatever they may be, cannot be addressed by acts of injustice and violence against innocent people in America. Terrorism is never justified and has proved extremely damaging to Muslims around the world. I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.

    I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression, not to support it.

    Although I thought I knew a good deal about the Taliban when I went to the front line, it’s clear to me now that there were many things of which I was not aware. I made a mistake by joining the Taliban. I want the Court to know, and I want the American people to know that had I realized then what I know now about the Taliban, I would never have joined them.

    When I began my studies in Islam, I had the ambition of one day teaching, writing, and translating Arabic texts into English. I still have these ambitions and hope to pursue my studies in Islam, the Arabic language, World History, Linguistics, Sociology and English Literature. I hope to use this knowledge to serve Islam and the interests of Muslims in America and around the world to the full extent of my capability.

    To conclude, I would like to again thank the Court for giving me this opportunity to speak.

  9. i just know one thing .i love this great man John Walker Lindh (Lindh went by Sulayman al-Faris during his time in Afghanistan, but prefers the name Hamza Walker Lindh today.)

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