Frank Lindh wants his boy back, says John Rico in GQ. Every other month the San Francisco lawyer travels nearly 2,000 miles to the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., for a four-hour visit with his son, John Walker Lindh, currently serving 20 years for carrying weapons as a member of the Taliban. “When it’s your kid everyone’s going after,” his father says, “you have to be strong.”
In November 2001, John, then 20 and a rabid convert to Islam, was plucked from the rubble of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Outraged commentators began calling for Lindh to be executed as a traitor. But his family stood by him, insisting that he’d never fired a shot against U.S. forces, and had been told by the Taliban that he was fighting against Afghans in the Northern Alliance.
“He never had extremist views,” says Frank Lindh. “That’s not who he is. He was naïve and idealistic.” Frank says his son’s conversion to Islam was sincere—“for John, it was a more authentic experience of God”—but that he has no grudge against America and poses no danger to anyone. “Everyone’s assuming John’s guilty of the worst crime in history. And now here’s his father not apologizing. But I can’t apologize for something that’s not true. He’s a really good person.” He pauses again. “I’m proud of my son.”