John Walker Lindh, the American convicted of serving with the Taliban, was “roughed up” by a prison inmate earlier this week, FBI officials said Thursday.
Walker Lindh, 21, was not seriously injured in the attack at the federal prison in Victorville, California, officials said. The prison is about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
Lindh attorney Tony West said in a statement the incident happened Monday as Lindh prepared for an evening prayer.
“Our understanding is that the inmate tackled John and began hitting him while screaming obscenities before running off,” West said.
The attorney said his client is fine and in good spirits, and has no injuries apart from “a minor bruise on his forehead.”
West said there’s no reason to believe the attack was anything more than an isolated incident.
FBI officials declined to give details of the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.
Earlier Thursday, Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne in Washington said the prison had assured him Lindh is “safely housed.”
“I checked with the prison last night and was assured he’s completely safe,” said Dunne. “Lindh is in a unit that is appropriate to his safety and security needs.”
Another law enforcement officer, on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press: “It was a minor incident, a prison fight. He got a little scraped up, but he’s fine. One guy was picking on him.” The official could offer no information on the attacker.
The investigation began after someone called the San Bernardino County Sun with an anonymous tip early Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
“Yes, I’d like to inform your newspaper that John Lindh Walker (sic), who is incarcerated in Victorville, was assaulted this night by a white supremacist organization that is imprisoned there. Thank you,” the male caller said in a voice message.
The paper could not identify the caller or the attacker, the AP said.
Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in October after pleading guilty to aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He was moved in January from a federal holding facility in Virginia to the medium-security prison to be closer to his parents, who live in northern California.
The Sun, citing an anonymous source at the prison, reported authorities placed Lindh in the general inmate population in February at his attorney’s request. He was working as a cleaner indoors where guards could keep an eye on him, the source said.
Since Monday, Lindh had been housed in an area similar to solitary confinement for his protection, the source told the Sun.