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24 Hours Across Africa

American Taliban freed after 17years in prison.

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Source: Reuters

John Walker Lindh, the American captured in Afghanistan in 2001 fighting for the Taliban, was freed early from federal prison on Thursday after serving 17 years, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said.

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A person reported to be John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban” leaves the federal penitentiary after the conclusion of his prison sentence in Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S. May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Lindh, who was 20 years old when he was captured, was released amid concerns about his rehabilitation.

Lindh, now 38, left the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, Thursday morning. He had been sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty in 2002 to charges of supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

Lindh is among dozens of prisoners to be released during the next few years after being captured in Iraq and Afghanistan and convicted of terrorism-related crimes following the attacks on the United States by al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001.

His release brought objections from elected officials who asked why Lindh was being freed early and what training parole officers had to spot radicalization and recidivism among former jihadists.

Leaked U.S. government documents published by Foreign Policy magazine show the federal government as recently as 2016 described Lindh as holding “extremist views.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Lindh’s release “unexplainable and unconscionable.”

“There’s something deeply troubling and wrong about it,” he said on Fox News on Thursday morning.

“What is the current interagency policy, strategy, and process for ensuring that terrorist/extremist offenders successfully reintegrate into society?” asked U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Margaret Hassan in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The bureau said in a statement that it does not share details of specific inmates’ release plans but that it does have policies for monitoring parolees with ties to terrorism.

During his supervised release, Lindh will not be allowed to possess any internet-capable device with out prior permission from his probation officer, and any such device must be monitored continuously, according to court documents.

He is not allowed to hold a passport, communicate with known extremists or have any online communications in any language other than English unless otherwise approved. He also must undergo mental health counseling, court documents showed.

Lindh’s parents, Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh, did not respond to requests for comment and Lindh’s lawyer, Bill Cummings, declined to comment.

U.S.-born Lindh converted from Catholicism to Islam as a teenager. At his sentencing in 2002, he said he traveled to Yemen to learn Arabic and then to Pakistan to study Islam.

Lindh said he volunteered as a soldier with the Taliban, the radical Sunni Muslim group that ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, to help fellow Muslims in their struggle or “jihad.” He said he had no intention “to fight against America” and never understood jihad to mean anti-Americanism.

Lindh told the court he condemned “terrorism on every level” and attacks by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were “completely against Islam.”

But a January 2017 report by the U.S. government’s National Counterterrorism Center, published by Foreign Policy, said that, as of May 2016, Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.”

NBC News reported that Lindh wrote a letter to its Los Angeles station KNBC in 2015 expressing support for Islamic State, saying the Islamic militant group was fulfilling “a religious obligation to establish a caliphate through armed struggle.”


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24 Hours Across Africa

India doctors embark on strike aimed better security

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Source: Reuters

Thousands of doctors across India went on strike on Friday to demand better security at hospitals days after junior doctors in the city of Kolkata were attacked, leaving services in many government-run health facilities paralyzed.

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The state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is capital, has been the worst hit by the strike with at least 13 big government hospitals affected.

The protests were sparked by an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on June 10 that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.

Doctors demanding better security began a strike but their action was confined to the state until West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned them on Thursday, saying police did not strike when one of their colleagues was killed.

Banerjee’s remarks, which included a warning that junior doctors would be evicted from their college hostels if they did not go back to work, triggered a nationwide reaction.

The Indian Medical Association said the “barbaric” attack at the NRS reflected a national problem, and called for a countrywide protest. It also demanded legislation to safeguard doctors.

Nearly 30,000 doctors were on a one-day strike on Friday, most in West Bengal, New Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra, according to figures proved by medical associations.

The federal health minister, Harsh Vardhan, tried to calm the furor, promising better security at hospitals and calling on Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum.

“I urge doctors to end their strike in the larger interest of society. I will take all possible measures to ensure a safe environment for them at hospitals across the country,” Vardhan said on Twitter.

India spent an estimated 1.4% of its gross domestic product on healthcare in 2017/18, among the lowest proportions in the world. Many millions of Indians depend on the cheap but inadequate public health system.

Saradamani Ray, whose 77-year old father is a patient at the NRS Medical College, said she would have to move him because of the strike.

“I will have to take my father somewhere else for his dialysis, maybe a private hospital,” she told Reuters.

“It will cause a lot of financial strain, but there’s nothing I can do. I will have to pay.”


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24 Hours Across Africa

Cazorla pen New deal for Villarreal

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Villarreal veteran Santi Cazorla re-signed with the La Liga club, it was confirmed on Thursday.

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Spain international midfielder Cazorla, 34, renewed for the 2019-20 season after impressing last term following his return to the Yellow Submarine.

The club announced the news on Thursday at a season ticket campaign presentation in the newly opened Plaza Pascual Font de Mora.

Cazorla was not at the event, but appeared in a video revealing that he had signed on for another season

“My only goal was to stay here and I appreciate the support of the club and coaching staff,” Cazorla said.

After re-joining Villarreal – where he left for Malaga in 2011 – from Arsenal, Cazorla scored seven goals and tallied 11 assists in 46 matches across all.


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