Walker Lindh: Al Qaeda planned more attacks
FBI report: 'He swore allegiance to Jihad'
From Henry Schuster (CNN)
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) --John Walker Lindh told military and FBI questioners he
believed the September 11 attacks were the first of three waves of terrorist strikes
against the United States, according to secret documents obtained by CNN.
Walker Lindh, the first American taken prisoner in Afghanistan as a Taliban
fighter -- and scheduled to be sentenced Friday -- also said he turned down an
offer to take part in suicide attacks against the United States, and that he
believed as many as 50 operatives had been sent on missions against the United
States and Israel.
The secret documents are summaries of his first interrogations by U.S. Special
Forces troops on December 1, 2001, and of three interrogations conducted by
FBI agents in Afghanistan on December 9 and 10.
The FBI's interrogation report says Walker Lindh related that after September
11, one of his former al Qaeda training-camp instructors said "that UBL
(Osama bin Laden) said this was the first attack. ... The group speculated that
the second attack would involve attacking nuclear facilities, oil/gas pipe lines, or
some kind of biological attack."
Walker Lindh's lawyers had sought to suppress these documents as evidence,
saying they were made under duress, but that was before they reached a plea
bargain with federal prosecutors in July. In that bargain, Walker Lindh agreed
to plead guilty to charges that he supplied services to the Taliban and carried an
explosive during the commission of a felony.
Walker Lindh is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison. (Full story)
He was among a group of Taliban soldiers who surrendered to the Northern
Alliance in late November. They were taken to Mazar-e Sharif and questioned
by two CIA employees.
When many of the prisoners staged a revolt, Walker Lindh, who was wounded
in the leg, went into hiding and surrendered again a week later
Walker Lindh was on the front lines, with a Taliban unit, when the September
11 attacks took place. His military questioners write: "Source showed remorse
and signs of regret" when he was asked about the attacks.
He told his interrogators that one of his former instructors said that "this was the
first attack" and that a second wave would come at the beginning of Ramadan,
in mid-November, and "make America forget about the first attack." The
instructor also talked of a third wave, in early 2002, but provided no details.
While Walker Lindh told his Special Forces interrogators that the second phase
of attacks could involve biological weapons or attacks on nuclear weapons
facilities, there is a comment from the questioners saying "source was making
assumptions and conjectures based on talk among his colleagues."
Walker Lindh repeated this account to the FBI, when it questioned him.
California to Afghanistan
Walker Lindh told the FBI that his interest in Islam began when he saw the
1992 film "Malcolm X" when he was 12. That interest launched an odyssey that
took him from being a teenage Muslim convert in northern California to an
Arabic language school in Yemen, and on to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In the summer of 2001, according to interrogation reports, Walker Lindh was
at an al Qaeda-run camp, al Farooq, for a seven-week training course.
He told interrogators that although he wanted to join the Taliban, he was sent to
al Farooq because, "The Arab group is Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda's group ...
and that was the only way to get to the front lines."
Using the abbreviation "UBL" to refer to bin Laden, the FBI report continues:
"Lindh knew UBL's/al Qaeda's purpose was to fight Americans" before he
went to the camp.
Walker Lindh outlined a training course at the camp that included:
Three weeks of familiarization with weapons.
One week's study of topography and maps.
One week of battlefield training.
One week of instruction in explosives.
Walker Lindh told his FBI interrogators that bin Laden visited the camp
three to five times while he was there, usually with one of his sons. He
said he met bin Laden once, for five minutes, with other recruits and that
bin Laden "made small talk and thanked them all for taking part in the
Walker Lindh also told the FBI that the head of all al Qaeda's training
camps personally asked him if he would take part in missions against the
United States and Israel.
He said he declined, and he also turned down a chance to swear
allegiance to al Qaeda. Instead, says the report, "He swore allegiance to
During these initial interrogations Walker Lindh did not mention any other
Americans being at al Farooq, although several men from Buffalo, New
York, would later be arrested and charged with being at the camp at the
same time. (Full story)
Even before he left al Farooq, Walker Lindh said one of his instructors
told him that bin Laden "sent 50 people to carry out 20 ... suicide
operations" and that the group believed the attacks were aimed at the
United States and Israel.
At the end of his questioning by the military, John Walker Lindh shared a
final thought about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.
Walker Lindh said families of al Qaeda members had been moved from
Afghanistan to Yemen during 2001 ... and that he thought "Osama bin
Laden may be planning on moving there."