'American Taliban' testifies in Ind. court

Aug. 27, 2012 at 7:18 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- So-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh testified in Indianapolis Monday that a prison ban on group prayer violates his religious rights.

The Indiana Public Media Web site said Lindh told the federal court he and his fellow Muslim prison inmates pose no legitimate security threat by praying together. WRTV-TV, Indianapolis, reported Lindh said the prison's position that group prayer constitutes a threat is "absurd" and "faulty."

Prison attorney Will McCloskey noted in court that accommodations are made for Muslim inmates, such as using a prayer rug, observing Ramadan and reading Islamic texts, as long as they don't jeopardize security.

Lindh, 31, wants to pray with fellow Muslims in the Communications Management Unit, a secret prison facility in Terre Haute, NPR reported.

"They can sit around and talk about politics or football or whatever philosophy," said Ken Falk, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union who's representing Lindh. "The one thing they're not allowed to do is pray together for their daily prayers, which many Muslims believe is required or at least strongly preferred."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons said communal prayers would pose a security threat and could ignite violence against Muslims by prisoners of other faiths.

U.S. authorities detained Lindh in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. He had been allegedly fighting alongside the Taliban. He has seven years left to serve on a 20-year prison sentence.

Lindh grew up in Northern California and converted to Islam as an adult.

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