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Rpt: American Taliban Met bin Laden

December 23, 2001

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NEW YORK (AP) _ John Walker Lindh, the 20-year-old American captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan, once met with Osama bin Laden while living in a terrorist training camp near Kandahar, according to a published report.

Citing unnamed sources, Newsweek magazine reports Lindh was given the choice between training for terrorist instruction or fighting as an al-Qaida soldier against the northern alliance in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks.

A Justice Department official told Newsweek that Lindh chose to fight _ an issue now at the center of discussions about Lindh’s fate.

``There’s still a lot of missing pieces,″ an official working on the case told the magazine. ``We’re trying to figure out exactly what he did.″

Lindh was captured by U.S. forces after a prison uprising at a fortress in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif this month.

He could face charges such as providing support to terrorists, which carries a 15-year sentence, or life imprisonment, if his support resulted in a death.

Lindh could also be charged with treason, which carries a maximum sentence of death.

Bush administration officials told Newsweek that some authorities may want to delay charging Lindh if he has information that could help prosecute bin Laden or other al-Qaida leaders.

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