On Thursday the man nicknamed the American Taliban will be released after 17 years in prison.
John Walker Lindh was captured by American forces in Afghanistan in December, 2001.
Dust was still settling from the 9/11 attacks, American troops were fighting in Afghanistan, and the hunt was on for Osama bin Laden.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) JOHN ASHCROFT SAYING FEBRUARY 5, 2002: "In the weeks after September 11, the indictment charges that Walker Lindh remained with his Taliban fighting group." The 20-year-old Californian convert to Islam immediately became an object of fascination and hatred for a country still coming to grips with the War on Terror.
Americans wanted to know why one of their own appeared to be fighting for the enemy.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN WALKER LINDH'S FATHER FRANK LINDH, SAYING: "John loves America.
We love America.
John did not do anything against America.
John did not take up arms against America.
He never meant to harm any American.
And he never did harm any American." Lindh converted to Islam as a 16-year-old.
He traveled to Yemen and then Pakistan to study the faith.
His instructor recalled his commitment to learning both the religion and the local language.
Lindh later joined the Afghan Taliban before the al-Qaeda terror attacks of September 2001.
Unlike other Taliban and al-Qaeda captives in the War on Terror, Lindh was spared a trip to Guantanamo Bay.
The U.S. citizen was instead flown to Virginia and indicted on federal terrorism charges.
Lindh plead guilty, accepting a 20-year sentence.
Last month he was granted probation for the last three years of his punishment.