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American Fighting for the Taliban now P.O.W.

Aired December 2, 2001 - 17:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Among the Taliban survivors of that prison uprising in northern Afghanistan, a wounded fighter who says he is an American, a volunteer in the forces of the Taliban, and for Osama bin Laden. His story is certainly compelling, although it's still unconfirmed. Author Robert Young Pelton, who is working with CNN, found the man and tells his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT YOUNG PELTON, AUTHOR: I met John walker in a hospital in Shpregon (ph) , in northern Afghanistan. Someone had said there was an American among the foreign fighters that had survived prison uprising at Kali Jangi (ph) . The admitting room, where they were doing triage was filled with the dead and dying.

The Afghan doctors told me that most of these badly injured men would die that night. They have survived a week of bombs, grenades, fire bombs, and finally freezing water that was poured into the bunker. When I heard that an American was here, I brought along American Special Forces medics to attend to his wounds. John Walker is 20 years old from Washington, D.C., and he is a member of Ansar, or the helpers, the Arab-speaking fighters funded and supported by Osama bin Laden.

He came here six months ago from Yemen where he was studying Arabic. He had told his parents he was leaving for Afghanistan to become an aid worker.

JOHN WALKER, TALIBAN FIGHTER: I was a student in Pakistan studying Islam. And I came into contact with many people who were connected with the Taliban. I lived in the region in the northwest frontier province there. The people there in general have a great love for the Taliban. So, I started to read some of the literature of the scholars and the history of the movement, and my heart became attached to them.

PELTON: Instead, he want to Kabul to join the Taliban. But because he could not speak Pashtun, they sent him to the Arabic speaking training camps run by bin Laden. He learned how to fire a Kalashnikov and was sent to Kashmir to fight. He saw bin Laden many times. Usually, when Osama would visit the camps and sometimes when visited the front lines.

John began his jihad on the front-lines north of Kabul and later was sent to fight in the province of Takhar, then the war began.

WALKER: When we withdrew from Takhar, we walked by foot maybe more than 100 miles. Afterwards I was really sick for the whole period.

PELTON: Surrendered as part of over 3,000 Taliban fighters in Konduz, he entered in General Rashid Dastun's (ph) fortress at Pali Jungi (ph). John is now a prisoner of war has been removed to a safe place to recuperate and possibly face prosecution. Others were not so lucky. This is Robert Young Pelton for CNN, in Shrebregon (ph), Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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