Students believe U.S. too lenient on Lindh

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“I think he nulled his U.S. citizenship when he raged war against the U.S.,” said recent SHSU graduate Daniel Herbrich.The man to whom Herbrich refers is Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh.”He should no longer be considered a U.S. citizen,” Herbrich said.Lindh, a 20-year-old California native, has been transferred back to America to stand trial for his crimes against the United States.Lindh converted to Islam in 1997. He assumed the name Suleyman al-Faris and began studying at the Islamic Center in Mall Valley, California.After journeying to Yemen and Pakistan to continue his Islamic studies, he joined a paramilitary camp run in Kashmir and then moved to Afghanistan where he joined the Taliban military camp in Kabul in May 2001.Jeremy Pavlich, a sophomore communication major from Lamar University, said according to his actions Lindh was not fully sane.”I think he’s mentally unstable. I don’t think he was a rational person,” said Pavlich.According to the official FBI affidavit for an arrest warrant against Lindh, he surrendered along with 30 other members after the Taliban withdrawal from Kunduz in November.Lindh was then transferred to the Qala-i Janghi prison near Mazar-e-Sharif, site of a prison uprising in late November that resulted in the death of CIA agent John Spann.Lindh was wounded during the subsequent retaking of the prison and was identified as an American citizen by U.S. military and medical personnel. Because of his nationality he will not be tried in a military tribunal with his fellow Afghan fighters. He will instead be tried in the federal court system as a U.S. citizen.Freshman computer technology major Chris Barrintez said Lindh does not deserve special treatment.”He chose to go over and there and fight against his own country,” said Barrintez.Barrintez also felt if Lindh was going to join a foreign regime like the Taliban, he shouldn’t be allowed to use the U.S. legal system to his advantage.”If he wants to do it, he can do it. As long as he gets his citizenship, right,” said Barrintez.Herbrich said the U.S. was being too lenient on Lindh.”America is always trying to be politically correct, even when they need to be more stern,” said Herbrich.Lindh is being charged with conspiracy to kill American citizens outside the United States and providing material, support and aid to known terrorist organizations. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.Barrintez said he feels that Lindh should have been tried in a military court rather than a civilian one.According to Pavlich, the fact that Lindh is being given a civilian trial says a lot about the concept of justice in the United States.”It justifies my point that this is a great country. America doesn’t just give up on its people,” said Pavlich.Lindh is being transferred from the Middle East to America and will arrive at Dulles Airport in Virginia under military transport. He will stand trial at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va.At the same time, his family and their attorney departed from San Francisco and are heading to Alexandria to meet with Lindh.Herbrich said he thinks Lindh’s trial will be a bold statement about America’s definition of when, if ever, someone stops being an American.”It will be about America’s stance of where we draw the line between considering someone an American and when they’re an ex-American,” Herbrich said.Herbrich also said he doesn’t believe Lindh will show any remorse for his actions.”In his mind, his religion frees him of any guilt he might feel,” said Herbrich.The rest of the Taliban fighters are being held in a detention center at the U.S. Military Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite some criticism about the conditions of the center, nicknamed “Camp X-Ray,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the treatment of the prisoners is “humane, it’s appropriate and it is fully consistent with international conventions.”