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'American Taleban' Pleads Guilty to Some Charges - 2002-07-15

In a surprise decision, John Walker Lindh, the 21-year-old American charged with aiding the Taleban in Afghanistan has reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to some of the charges leveled against him. The agreement is an unexpected twist in the case of the American Taleban fighter.

Captured by American forces in Afghanistan, Lindh originally pleaded 'not guilty' to charges of conspiring to kill Americans and supporting the Taleban and al-Qaida terrorist network. Monday's surprise agreement with prosecutors would allow the Californian to avoid the possibility of life in prison in exchange for a guilty plea on two lesser charges, each of which carries a ten-year prison sentence.

"He's pleading to the fact that he was a foot soldier in the Taleban's army and that he was armed in so doing," Prosecutor Paul McNulty said to reporters outside the Virginia courthouse.

A federal indictment accused John Walker Lindh of spending weeks training in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, and of meeting Osama bin Laden, who is accused by the United States of masterminding last September's terrorist attacks. Lindh's parents say their son was brainwashed, and that he never intended to harm fellow Americans or his own country.