Grand Jury Returns 10-Count Indictment Against Walker
(CNSNews.com) - Attorney General John Ashcroft Tuesday announced a 10-count indictment handed down by a Virginia grand jury against alleged American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. If convicted, Walker could receive multiple life sentences - "six additional 10-year sentences plus 30 years," Ashcroft said.
"The indictment rendered this afternoon reiterates the charges previously filed against Walker Lindh and adds additional set of charges," the attorney general said.
The first initial set of charges include: conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals; two counts of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations; two counts of providing support and resources to terrorist organizations; and one count of supplying services to the Taliban.
The additional charges include: conspiracy to contribute services to al Qaeda; contributing services to al Qaeda; conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban; and using and carrying firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence - "a crime which carries a mandatory 30 consecutive sentence," Ashcroft said.
"In this indictment, the grand jury outlines a timeline of terror in which John Walker is an active, knowing participant," he said. In the early summer of 2001, "the indictment places John Walker Lindh in an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, honing his skills in weapons explosives and battlefield combat."
"Later in the summer as terrorists made their final preparations for the September 11 attacks, the indictment charges that Walker Lindh was forging ever deeper bonds with al Qaeda. He met with Osama bin Laden. He chose to go to the front lines to fight with the Taliban," Ashcroft said.
"In the summer of 2001, John Walker Lindh swore allegiance to jihad after being told that Osama bin Laden had sent some 50 people to carry out multiple suicide operations against the United States and Israel," he added.
"In the weeks after September 11, the indictment charges that Walker Lindh remained with his fighting group. He remained despite having learned of the terrorist attacks on his homeland, despite knowing that Osama bin Laden was responsible for those attacks and despite the knowledge that additional terrorist attacks and acts were planned," Ashcroft said.
"It is extraordinary for the United States to have to charge one of its own citizens with aiding and conspiring with international terrorist groups whose agenda is to kill Americans," he said. "Today marks an important step in securing justice for John Walker Lindh."
Ashcroft added: "at each step in this process, Walker Lindh's rights, including his rights not to incriminate himself and to be represented by counsel has been scrupulously honored."
Meanwhile, lawyers for Walker asked a federal court Tuesday to release him pending trial on conspiracy charges. In papers filed in Alexandria, Va., Walker's attorneys said there is no evidence "that Mr. Lindh is a flight risk."
The filing also contended that the government's charges, based on an FBI affidavit, are so weak that they are "insufficient to establish probable cause for the crimes charged."
A hearing was set for Wednesday on his continuing detention. If he is not indicted, prosecutors at the hearing would need to present evidence showing probable cause that a crime was committed. Walker has been held in the city jail since January 23.