Published September 27, 2002
NEW YORK – American Taliban John Walker Lindh has a new excuse for his traitorous behavior -- he says Spike Lee made him do it.
Lindh was inspired to become a modern-day Benedict Arnold by Lee's film Malcolm X, which he first saw at the age of 12, his lawyer, Tony West, told People magazine.
What enthralled Lindh was the final scene of the flick in which thousands of Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca to pray at the Great Mosque, according to West.
"When he talks about that last scene, his face still lights up," West said.
"He says that seeing all those people in humbleness and equality all praying together really inspired him."
Lindh faces a possible 20 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to supporting the Taliban and carrying explosives -- reduced from more serious charges against him, including terrorism.
His parents, Frank and Marilyn Lindh, confirmed that Lee's 1992 film, which starred Denzel Washington as the Harlem street hustler turned follower of Elijah Muhammad, was instrumental in guiding their son's sensibilities.
"We always accepted his interest in and conversion to Islam," Frank said.