Conflict & Justice

John Walker Lindh to argue case for Muslim group prayer in Indiana jail


John Walker Lindh is seen in this police department photo released February 6, 2002 by the Alexandria County Sheriff's Department in Alexandria, Virginia.

John Walker Lindh, the American-born Taliban fighter jailed in Indianapolis, is taking his fight for the right to access a Muslim prayer group in prison to court.

Lindh, 31, a Muslim convert captured by US troops in Afghanistan in 2001 and charged with supporting terrorists, wants the right to pray daily with other inmates, NPR reported

"They can sit around and talk about politics or football or philosophy," NPR quoted Ken Falk, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union who's representing Lindh, as saying.

"The one thing they're not allowed to do is pray together for their daily prayers, which many Muslims believe is required." 

Lindh has claimed that his religious rights are being violated in Indiana's "secret" Terre Haute federal prison, according to the Associated Press.

Muslims are required to pray five times a day, and Lindh — formerly of Northern California — belongs to the Hanbali school, which requires group prayer if possible.

Bureau of Prison officials reportedly argued that allowing prisoners to pray together posed a security risk.

Terre Haute also houses convicted terrorists and neo-Nazis, among other inmates who deemed to need special monitoring.

Lindh has reportedly been the subject of such special monitoring lately, having made an unauthorized call to prayer, praying in a cell with others, and generally being "insolent." 

The AP also cited officials as claiming he delivered a "radical, all-Arabic sermon" at the jail using techniques similar to those in a manual seized from Al Qaeda.

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