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December 10, 2001
The Johnny Walker story will drive you to drink

By Ahmed Amr.
Editor

 
 

What motivated a young American kid to abandon a charmed life in Marin County, one of the loveliest places on the planet, to join the Taliban in Afghanistan? There is a mystery surrounding John Walker, who was photographed with his elbows tied behind his back in a POW prison camp near Mazar-i-Sharif. He ended up there with thousands of other Taliban POWs who had surrendered in Konduz. By an incredible stroke of luck, he survived the 'prison riot' that decimated virtually all the other prisoners who were technically in the custody of Rashid Dostum, an Afghan warlord fighting under the banner of The Northern Alliance. Just in case there is any confusion about Afghan factions, Dostum is a designated 'good guy' according to the man from Chandrala, Geraldo Rivera. This FOX 'war correspondent' will also like the world to know that he is packing heat along with the abundant hot air he usually carries around. In fact, he is ready to go mano-a-mano with Bin Laden in Tora Bora at the drop of a turban.

Now, Amnesty International is not convinced of the official American narrative of the alleged 'prison riot' that had to be controlled with air power. Before the riot broke out, an Afghan cameraman filmed a CIA agent interrogating Walker, bound and kneeling, apparently refusing to talk. Which prompted one CIA agent, Dave, to make it clear to Walker that he was playing with fire. "The problem is, he's got to decide if he wants to live or die. If he wants to die, he's going to die here. Or he's going to ++++ing spend the rest of his short ++++ing life in prison. It's his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys,' A few days later, the Red Cross was picking up the body parts of the hundreds of POWs who had died in the riot. So the threats to Walker's life were very real.

What should we do with John Walker? Millions of Americans want him tried for treason. Or for sedition. Or for being a Taliban. No doubt, he poses a quandary for the American government which is sure to figure a way to nail him for one charge or another. The 'journalists' at CNN and FOX want to try and convict Walker and then volunteer for the execution squads. Then they will argue among themselves over who gets to shoot first. All I want is an interview with Walker to find out his story, probably one of the most interesting stories to come out of this latest Afghan war.

As far as I know Walker is still considered an American citizen. Incidentally, this week, the Seattle Police finally caught up with the Green River killer who is alleged to have murdered over fifty women. As would be expected, this serial killer will get a fair trial. A fancy trial lawyer has taken his case.
Does Walker have a lawyer? Does he need one?

If you have not noticed, the media wizards have even tried to pin the death of one of the CIA agents on Walker. Very unlikely, considering he was all bound up at the time of the uprising. But, that is just the kind of thing 'journalists' are supposed to do in these times. Not ask troubling questions, if only to demonstrate their patriotism and help their ratings.

The trouble with John Walker is he knows to damn much for a twenty year old kid from Marin County. This kid could have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and hung out in North Beach or headed for Berkley and joined some antiwar group. Instead, he ends up in Yemen to study Arabic and moves on to Pakistan. From there he joins the Taliban in Afghanistan. Just for the record, he joined the Taliban before 911.

Now Americans have a long tradition of taking up arms in other people's struggle. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. The volunteer American pilots who joined the Royal Air Force long before Germany declared war on America. And, of course, there is the tradition of American mercenaries who openly advertise their availability in magazines like 'Soldier of Fortune.' John Walker was nothing like these other Americans. His motivation came from being an Islamic zealot who shared the Taliban's vision of creating a 'purely Islamic State.' In a brief interview with CNN he talked of his great love for the Taliban.

John Walker sounds just like under young American, William T. Vollmann, who also took off for Afghanistan to fight alongside the Mujahedeen. Only he did it in 1982, when that was considered cool by the United States government. He actually wrote a fine book of his experiences called 'AN AFGHANISTAN PICTURE SHOW Or, How I Saved the World' (published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux). I don't believe the United States ever considered taking legal action against William Vollmann.

So, why does the American press want to hang John Walker? Why not give him a chance to write a best seller like Mr Vollmann? Why don't these inquiring journalists want to know the Johnny Walker story?

Well, because John Walker knows too much about what really went down at Mazar-I-Sharif. Moreover, and this is just a hunch, Walker's account is likely to diverge from the Rumsfeld narrative. Which really doesn't matter, because Rumsfeld wasn't there. A twenty year old Taliban POW from Marin County has a story to tell about how he survived the wanton slaughter at Dostum's fort. For obvious reasons, there are many who would rather not hear the Johnny Walker story. It might drive them to drink.