"American Taliban" Opposing Group Prayer Ban
John Walker Lindh
So-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh is in federal court in Indianapolis, asking a judge to allow Muslim group prayers behind bars.
U.S. forces captured Lindh in Afghanistan in the first weeks of the war in 2001. He’s been held since 2007 at the federal prison in Terre Haute.
Lindh complains the prison ordered a stop to Muslim group prayer in 2009. ACLU attorney Ken Falk says there's no legitimate security rationale to do so. He and Lindh argue there's no restriction on other group activities, from watching religious videos to playing basketball.
The still-bushy-bearded Lindh testified for two hours to begin what's expected to be a four-day trial.
The government says Lindh and other Muslim prisoners still have the right to pray in their cells, and are allowed to have prayer rugs and other religious accommodations. Lindh argues the Koran teaches that praying in groups multiplies the blessings of prayer in the afterlife.
During the summer, the first and last of five daily Muslim prayers, at sunup and sundown, come during the prison's nine-hour nightly lockdown. Lindh is not trying to force the prison to allow prayer during those hours -- he said, quote, "I don't think I'd win."