CENTURY CITY — As a mother, First Lady Laura Bush said she feels sympathy for the American Taliban’s parents, but said they also serve as a valuable example of how important it is to pay attention to adolescents.
She described John Walker Lindh’s predicament as a “sad” journey, saying his story provides a couple of lessons for parents.
“Make sure your children are mature before you allow them to do certain things,” Bush told the San Francisco Chronicle. Her remarks came Tuesday at the Town Hall of Los Angeles. She had previously only expressed sympathy for Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker.
Having spoken frequently on family values, her comments about Lindh came after she had criticized Lindh’s parents for being too lenient. The Marin County couple allowed Lindh to go to Yemen alone at 17 to study Arabic.
Lindh trained in an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan and stayed after he was told Osama bin Laden “had sent forth some fifty people to carry out 20 suicide terrorist operations against the United States and Israel,” the indictment charges.
If convicted, Lindh faces up to life in prison.
“As all parents know, there’s a certain time when children are not going to do what their parents want them to,” said Bush, whose own teen-agers’ foibles have been the subject of news coverage. ”(They) get to a certain age where it doesn’t matter what you say to them.”
Lindh pleaded innocent Wednesday to conspiring to kill Americans. He appeared in court in Alexandra, Va. on a 10-count indictment that included charges of aiding a terrorist organization.
“In some ways, it’s sort of the extreme of what American parents want their children to do ... travel the world,” Bush said.