An inmate at a federal prison in Victorville has been charged with assaulting fellow prisoner John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, the U.S. attorney’s office said Thursday.
Lindh, who is serving a 20-year sentence for providing assistance to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, suffered only minor injuries during the March 3 attack in the prison chapel.
The alleged assailant, Richard Dale Morrison, 29, was charged with one count of assault, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of six months in prison.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Stacy declined to disclose what prompted the attack.
Morrison is in prison for setting fire to an African American church in Henderson, Nev., in 1996. He was the first person in the nation to be prosecuted under the 1996 Church Arson Prevention Act, enacted in response to a rash of arson attacks on churches in the mid-'90s, and is nearing completion of a five-year sentence.
When he pleaded guilty to one count of damage to religious property, news accounts reported that he admitted setting the fire at the Church of Christ because it had a mostly black congregation.
News accounts also reported that he had been convicted of making a terrorist threat in Texas. Stacy declined to say whether Morrison identified with the white supremacist movement.
Lindh, a 22-year-old former Marin County resident who converted to Islam, was captured by U.S. authorities in Afghanistan and was accused of being a member of the Taliban army. He pleaded guilty last year and has been housed at the Federal Correctional Institute in Victorville since January.
Since the incident, officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons said they have taken steps to improve Lindh’s security.