John Walker Lindh, the Californian who took up arms for the Taliban and was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001, got out of prison Thursday after more than 17 years, released under tight restrictions that reflected government fears he still harbors radical views.
Lindh, 38, left a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, after getting time off for good behavior from the 20-year sentence he received when he pleaded guilty to providing support to the Taliban.
It was not immediately clear where the man known as the "American Taliban" will live or what he will do.
In a Fox News interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decried his early release as "unexplainable and unconscionable" and called for a review of prison system policies.
The president said he asked lawyers whether there was anything that could be done to block Lindh from getting out but was told no. Trump said the U.S. will closely monitor him.
Under restrictions imposed by a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, Lindh's internet devices must have monitoring software; his online communications must be conducted in English; he must undergo mental health counseling; he is forbidden to possess or view extremist material; and he cannot hold a passport or leave the U.S.
FBI counterterrorism officials work with federal prison authorities to determine what risk a soon-to-be-released inmate might pose.
Probation officers never explained why they sought the restrictions against Lindh.
Lindh converted to Islam as a teenager after seeing the movie "Malcolm X" and eventually made his way to Pakistan and Afghanistan and joined the Taliban.
He met Osama bin Laden and was with the Taliban on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaida terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Lindh was captured on the battlefield after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following 9/11 and was initially charged with conspiring to kill Mike Spann, a CIA operative who died during an uprising of Taliban prisoners shortly after interrogating Lindh.
Lindh denied any role in Spann's death. But he admitted carrying an assault rifle and two grenades.
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