Mahesh Prasad Varma, better known as “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,” was born near the Indian town of Jabalpur, into a scribe caste family. He died last night at the age of 91.

At times referred to as a “cult leader,” one BBC website called him a “Rasputinesque” figure.

The Indian guru promoted “Transcendental meditation,” known as TM to its fans and followers. This practice involves reciting a mantra over and over again to still the mind.

However, TM critics saw the technique as little more than self-hypnosis or trance induction.

Classes to learn TM don’t come cheap. The current list price is $2,500 for a five-day session.06maharishi6001.jpg

Mahrishi launched his public career as the “Beatles guru.” In 1968 the British group journeyed to his Himalayan ashram to study.

But it wasn’t long before the popular band dumped their would-be teacher.

John Lennon felt that Maharishi’s claim to celibacy was a lie. Lennon said in interviews that the Beatles song “Sexy Sadie,” which includes the lyrics “Sexy Sadie, what have you done, you made a fool of everyone” was originally called “Maharishi.”

This year on January 11th the guru announced his retirement, but apparently he was already quite ill and died in less than a month.

Maharishi and his followers often made ridiculous claims regarding the power of TM, such as a mass meditation session of 7,000 followers somehow being linked to the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War.

Maharishi’s mantra almost always included money.

The TM Web site states, “When the group cannot be maintained financially, new tensions arise in the world.” Such statements almost seem like spiritual blackmail.

Perhaps Maharishi will be most remembered for his shrewd business sense. He leaves behind the legacy of a multi-billion dollar spiritual empire.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that TM has been marketed “with all the zeal of a multinational corporation — which is, effectively, what it became.”

In 1990 Maharishi moved to the Netherlands where he turned a historic former Catholic retreat into his home. The guru created considerable controversy when he attempted to demolish the landmark to suit his own taste.

One of Maharishi’s last fund raising pitches took place in 2002. The guru claimed he wanted to combat world terrorism and war through meditation.

The price tag this time was $1 billion dollars to train 40,000 TMers.

In the United States alone TM accumulated assets of about $300 million, including Maharishi University in Iowa.

Many of the guru’s remaining devotees live in Maharishi Vedic City, which is located a few miles from Fairfield, Iowa.

Maharishi may have been one of world’s most successful “cult leaders.”

That is, if measured by money, rather than mantras.

Karen Robidoux was found not guilty of second-degree murder, in the 1999 death of her infant child this week, reported the Taunton Gazette.

The Massachusetts mother was accused of starving her baby son Samuel to death.

Robidoux’s husband Jacques was convicted for Samuel’s murder in 2002 and is now serving a life sentence.

But the mother’s attorney, Joseph Krowski, offered the defense that cult “brainwashing” coerced Karen Robidoux’s behavior

The attorney argued that his client was victimized, abused and ultimately controlled by an obscure religious sect led by her father-in-law Roland Robidoux called “The Body.”

“There were two victims here, Karen and Samuel,” Robidoux’s older sister told the press.

And after seven hours of deliberation the jury agreed with the defense and its witnesses, acquitting the “cult” mom of murder, but finding her guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery.

“Because a child died, it may be an unpopular verdict, but we felt Karen Robidoux’s intent was not to kill her baby,” the jury foreman told the Boston Herald.

He later added, “I do believe she was psychologically held prisoner,” and concluded “she has suffered enough” reported NBC News.

Private journals kept by a “cult” member were made public after the verdict and they offered further proof of Roland Robidoux’s total control over his followers reported the Boston Herald.

“Dad [Roland Robidoux] feels that the end is coming soon…Our prayers should not be for Samuel to be healed but for God’s purposes to be fulfilled…What can we do for Samuel? Nothing…God is the master. We are his servants,” wrote the “cult” member.

The mother of four was sentenced to time served and walked out of the Bristol courthouse a free woman reported the Boston Globe.

“I’m just glad the nightmare door is shut,” she told reporters on the courthouse steps.

“It was a trail-blazing case that will affect all cult cases nationally. It’s now been proven what can happen when someone is brainwashed,” said nationally known forensic pathologist Dr. Millard Bass.

In Virginia late last year another jury came to a similar conclusion regarding the sentencing of “D.C. sniper” Lee Malvo. His lawyers also claimed their client was “brainwashed.”

The teenager’s defense team contended that he was dominated and controlled by his mentor John Mohammed.

Mohammed was sentenced to death, but Malvo was sent to prison for life.

In a noteworthy child custody case in North Carolina this fall a judge ruled that the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) exerted “complete control over the mind, body and spirit of its members, both adults and children.”

WOFF led by Jane Whaley has been called a “cult.”

The Carolina judge concluded, “The environment created at WOFF has an adverse effect on the health, safety and welfare of children,” and he subsequently ordered them to be removed from the group.

In a tacit acknowledgement of cult “brainwashing” another judge in California granted the release last year of a woman charged with the death of her small child to receive “deprogramming.”

Later that same judge sentenced the cult leader to 16 years in prison, while charges were dismissed against two of his followers.

The mother charged received an eleven-year sentence and told the court, “Mind control is a reality.”

CultNews reported that professional cult apologist Dick Anthony was involved in both the California and Carolina cases. Anthony is a psychologist and well paid for his work, but he failed his clients abysmally.

Judging from the prosecution’s arguments in the Robidoux case, they apparently were receiving input from someone like Anthony.

But the Robidoux verdict may be the most colossal setback for cults and their apologists to date. And will likely be cited in the future as proof of “brainwashing.”

Overall, 2003 was possibly the worst year ever for cults and their apologists.

They even attempted fruitlessly to dismiss the “brainwashing” of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart.

But brainwashing has become understandable to the public after Jonestown, Waco and the “Heaven’s Gate” suicides. It is no longer the mystery it once was when Charles Manson and his followers entered the California judicial system.

Europeans likewise came to acutely understand the cult brainwashing phenomenon through the Solar Temple suicides in Switzerland. And the Japanese were forced to confront this reality by the cult Aum, when it attacked Tokyo’s subways.

Joseph Kibwetere sent shockwaves through Africa when he led hundreds of his followers to death in Uganda shortly after the Millenium, once again demonstrating the power of cult mind control.

And isn’t “brainwashing” something Osama bin Laden has used to transform his followers into tools of terror?

Cults and their apologists will have increasing difficulty convincing anyone that “brainwashing” is only a “theory.”

The Robidoux verdict is evidence of that.

One of the approaches used at times to “deprogram” cult members is an examination of the leader’s claims within a broader historical context.

For example, David Koresh claimed he was “The Lamb of God,” but within its biblical context did this claim make any sense?

Christian scholars readily recognize that Jesus is “The Lamb of God” according to the New Testament.

But cult leaders often program their followers through distortions and twists of religious scriptures.

Unraveling such a cult program may often include working with a clergy person or someone knowledgeable about the scriptures that have been used to empower the leader and exercise control.

It seems the government of Saudi Arabia understands this principle. They have decided to do their own form of “deprogramming,” in an effort to solicit information from incarcerated terrorists and apparent followers of Osama bin Laden.

Islamic clerics are now working with prisoners to point out how far they may have strayed from basic Moslem teachings. By untwisting the Koran they hope to eventually “deprogram” the terrorists who might then provide helpful information, reports Newsday.

The FBI is observing this approach apparently with some interest.

One Saudi official stated, “It can be effective.”

Though a Saudi professor of religious studies observed that some of the terrorists “have been brainwashed to a point of no return.”

Eric Rudolph, once one of the ten most wanted criminals sought by the FBI, is now behind bars, reports MSNBC.

Indicted for terrorist bombings the white supremacist eluded law enforcement for years and had not been seen since 1998.

Many believed Rudolph was dead, his remains rotting in some remote and forgotten refuge.

But the FBI has confirmed that the alleged murderer is alive.

Rudolph was found by a Sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina, apparently scavenging for food in a garbage dumpster.

The suspicious officer brought in the apparent vagrant, who was later identified as a wanted fugitive.

A former member of the Missouri “Church of Israel” led by Dan Gayman, Rudolph grew up in a world filled with hatred, bigotry and paranoid conspiracy theories.

Beginning in childhood he was submerged in a subculture that includes as many as 50,000 Americans in more than a hundred desperate groups scattered across the country. This subculture is often called the “Christian Identity” movement.

Christian Identity believes that whites are the descendants of the biblical tribes of Israel and God’s elect. And also that the world will soon be engulfed in an apocalyptic struggle. In that struggle whites will battle against a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

According to the movement’s proponents Jews and non-whites are actually descended biologically from Satan. That is, Satan had sex with Eve in the Garden of Eden and this union produced the other races.

Dan Gayman preaches a so-called “two seedline doctrine.” He says the offspring of Satan inhabit the Earth today, but rather slyly insists he doesn’t know who they are.

Gayman has a history of trying to carefully spin his beliefs, in an apparent effort to disarm critics.

Eric Rudolph’s mother introduced her son to Christian Identity.

The widowed Mrs. Rudolph eventually found a haven and home within Gayman’s Missouri compound, where the charismatic preacher became a mentor and paternal figure to her teenage son.

Within this controlled milieu Gayman nurtured Eric Rudolph’s hate and seemingly reinforced it.

It appears that the boy’s mindset was hardened at the Church of Israel. And the beliefs he largely learned there and amongst his other Identity brethren would be the impetus behind Rudolph’s “holy war” as the “Army of God.”

The FBI searching for Rudolph would later question Gayman. But like many hate group leaders, the prejudiced pastor would disavow any responsibility for the crimes committed by his one time follower.

However, Rudolph’s alleged crimes directly reflected the doctrinal focus of hatred inherent within both the Christian Identity movement and the Gayman church.

His targets for destruction would be gays, abortion clinics and the supposed “New World Order,” as expressed by nations coming together at the World Olympics.

How did Eric Rudolph survive for five years in hiding?

Did the subculture that created him sustain the fugitive?

What underground network of friends and support may have existed, that might have made Rudolph’s long-term survival in hiding possible?

Did such a support system suddenly collapse, forcing the fugitive to forage through garbage to feed himself?

The Christian Identity movement has spawned a litany of murderers and violent criminals.

How many more potential Eric Rudolphs are stewing in this sordid subculture, waiting to launch their holy wars?

As investigators unravel the past five years of Rudolph’s life, more will likely become known about this dark organized movement of hate that exists within America.

Since 9-11 Americans have looked outside of the country for the face of terror.

But long before that terrible day it was Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma bombing that made domestic terrorism the primary focus of the FBI.

Since that bombing of the Murrah Federal Building investigations and arrests have put many members of the Christian Identity movement, white supremacists, so-called “militia” men and an assortment of anti-government extremists behind bars.

The saga of Eric Rudolph offers compelling testimony that there are those within America that have a darkly twisted interpretation of religious scriptures, which often leads to bloodshed.

Osama bin Laden’s is not the only hate filled proponent of “holy war.”

Many Davidian followers of David Koresh remain in denial a decade after their “sinful messiah’s” demise.

Despite failed prophecies and an end Koresh did not predict, some still expect a “resurrection,” which would allow the cult leader to somehow fulfill his supposed supernatural role.

Davidian Catherine Matteson now 87 is still waiting. She claims, “Things are going to change soon. He is going to return. He is going to be resurrected,” reports the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Matteson insists her one-time leader was the “last prophet” and that he knew “God’s mind.”

But Koresh’s explicit prophecies long ago expired. And the judgement that he claimed would immediately follow his death never came.

However, this doesn’t deter determined Davidians, who have invested their lives into the now essentially defunct group. Many lost family members and it’s difficult if not impossible for them to face that such a loss was for nothing.

Davidian Clive Doyle still lives near Waco and is waiting devotedly for the return of the man responsible for the death of his 18-year-old daughter.

Doyle like Matteson clings to a belief in a coming Koresh resurrection, hoping his lost daughter will also return to life. He says, “There will be a resurrection, and those of us who died in the past will be brought back,” quoted the Dallas Morning News.

Ironically Doyle himself may have been personally involved in the fire that took his daughter’s life.

Davidians who spread fuel oil and ignited it at three different locations started the fire. This was recorded by infrared aerial photography and additionally substantiated by audio recordings recovered through bugging devices within the compound.

According to court testimony Doyle had traces of fuel on his clothes after he escaped. But the loyal Davidian refuses to accept what happened. And says instead, “I’m not ashamed of who I am and what I’ve been.”

But shouldn’t Davidians like Doyle be ashamed of David Koresh?

The cult leader was certainly a criminal and sexual predator. Some Davidians even cooperated with the purported pedophile, at times providing him with their own children for his sexual gratification.

How do Davidians today deal with such facts?

Koresh’s once estranged mother Bonnie Haldeman now seems to be a true believer. She attempts to explain away her son’s sexual abuse of women and children by claiming it was somehow “justified by scripture.”

Haldeman says, “He showed it to us…We had studies and studies and studies and had to accept that.”

But weren’t those “studies” just “brainwashing“?

DNA evidence has firmly established Koresh fathered at least one child with a minor and the testimony of a teenager established that he molested children as young as ten.

Doyle makes it clear that Koresh’s “Golden Rule” regarding his behavior was essentially, “My way or the highway.”

He states, “We have had to wrestle with that, but we got to where we accepted it as God’s instruction. If people couldn’t accept it, they walked away.”

Bonnie Haldeman also believes her son was a benign influence and a kind man. She told a reporter, “David didn’t have a mean bone in his body. David did not believe in murder,” reports Associated Press.

McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch sees things differently. He negotiated a cease-fire with the Davidians and says, “There was no religion as you and I understand it. He was using religion to stir up hate against the federal government. He preached if you die fighting the beast, you’ll be immediately translated to heaven.”

But Davidian Sheila Martin who lost her husband and four children in the standoff insists, “We could see the logic in all these things.”

Former ATF spokesman Jack Killorin concluded, “It’s not surprising that Osama bin Laden could employ people to commit suicide and fly planes into buildings. … Waco is a monument to our understanding that such things can and will happen,” reports the Dallas Morning News.

Not only the Davidians lost loved ones in the 1993 raid and subsequent standoff. Four BATF officers were killed.

Jane McKeehan the mother of one of those officers says of Koresh and his followers, “They were wrong. They were breaking the law.”

But Clive Doyle doesn’t see it that way and probably never will. He claims, “People died here for what they believed in, so for those of us who are living, it would be a dishonor to their memory to give it up.”

No doubt Daividians died for something they sincerely believed in, but as Killorin observed so did the followers of Osama bin Laden on September 11th.

Doyle commented that the Davidian compound today is “like a magnet for would-be prophets…poor deluded souls.”

Expect the remaining Davidian diehards to soldier on much like al Qaeda, “poor deluded souls,” invested so deeply in their delusion that as Doyle says, they will never “give it up.”

Earl Krugel has now pleaded guilty regarding a conspiracy to bomb an American mosque.

The 60-year-old Jewish Defense League (JDL) member may ultimately end his life in prison based upon the terms of his plea agreement reports Associated Press and Fox News.

According to the deal negotiated with prosecutors Krugel will serve no less than ten years in prison for his involvement in the bomb plot.

The FBI arrested Krugel and his JDL leader Irv Rubin in December of 2001.

Rabbi Meir Kahane founded the JDL in 1968. A Moslem fanatic murdered him in 1990.

Kahane was not unlike other charismatic hate group leaders such as William Pierce and Osama bin Laden who largely defined their groups through the power of their individual personalities.

The hate-filled rhetoric of the radical rabbi was often described as extremist and incited violence. One man associated with an Israeli Kahane-connected organization murdered 29 Moslems at prayer in a Hebron mosque.

Fortunately it seems the FBI stopped Rubin and Krugel before they could wreak havoc and death on a mosque.

In 1994 the party Kahane founded in Israel was outlawed and later declared a foreign terrorist organization by the United States State Department.

Now perhaps the JDL’s reign of terror will end. Without Rubin or some other strong personality to fill its present void, perhaps the JDL will fade away.

Law enforcement in North Carolina has arrested four suspects and charged them with murder. Included in the arrests was a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and the wife of another Klan leader now in custody, reports Associated Press and Fox News.

It appears the murder victim knew about a planned anti-government bombing and was killed to silence him, reports WAFF News in Huntsville.

The body recovered had two gunshot wounds to the head.

This murder and the plot behind it are a clear reminder that despite the threat to America from without by foreign Islamic fringe groups such as al-Qaeda, there still remains an ever-present threat from within.

It is important to remember that before 9-11 it was American extremist Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, which represented the most horrific historic act of terrorism on American soil.

More American born anti-government fanatics continue to exist and network within the United States. Many experts believe the anthrax attacks after 9-11 was linked to a domestic terrorist.

Yehuda Bauer, a professor emeritus of Hebrew University wrote a piercing analysis of the current wave of violent Islamic fundamentalists, which was run within the Jerusalem Post.

First, Bauer observes that “Islam is not a murderous religion, and Muslims are no different from Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or Confucians.” That is, though obviously there are theological differences between these religions, there is no reason to conclude that Islam is especially predisposed to become violent.

He then acknowledges that “There are…’fundamentalist’…trends in all religions. They tend to be exclusionary…fanatic in their beliefs, and try to convert everyone else…They believe in the literal interpretation and absolute truth of every word of their sacred texts.”

Interestingly, Bauer finds that radical totalitarian Islamists seem to have more in common with destructive largely anti-religious mass movements such as the Third Reich of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Communism, as opposed to more mainstream and moderate religion.

Like the Nazis and Stalinists such radical Islamists seeks to control everything and utilize scapegoats to manipulate those who follow them. They also have an absolute worldview that does not tolerate an outside frame of reference.

Bauer says that the ultimate goal of radical, totalitarian Islamists “is to conquer the world and make it Islamic,” and that ironically an important “step toward that goal is the toppling of the existing Arab national regimes.” They see such regimes as essentially shamefully willing to compromise and sinfully open to outside input.

Ultimately their vision of the world is one “ruled by Islamic religious experts,” Bauer concludes.

Like destructive cults such radicals have a rigid mindset and are frequently controlled and/or influenced by charismatic totalitarian leaders, such as Khomeni of Iran and most recently Osama bin Laden.

What Bauer exposes is that the current wave of violence promulgated by this radical and violent mass movement within Islam has no easy resolution. And it will not end through some Middle East peace accord. Even the complete destruction of Israel would not satisfy these extremists, nor is this the real nexus of their agenda.

Bauer likewise tacitly acknowledges not so hidden agenda of extremists within Israel who “under various guises” want some version of “ethnic cleansing,” which they often rationalize through religious proof -texting.

Historically, Europe eventually learned that there was no way to deal with Hitler and that appeasement was not the answer. It should also be noted that the leaders of destructive mass movements, like many cult leaders, are frequently psychopaths and not rational.

Osama bin Laden, like Hitler and other radical totalitarian types, wants nothing less than the triumph of his brand of totalism and world domination. There is no room in his worldview for meaningful diolog and/or genuine negotiation. Eeither you are with him or against him. This includes Moslems, Jews Christians or anyone else who disagrees with what he calls “Islam.”

Many experts have noted that not only has the number of groups called “cults” has grown substantially in the past twenty years, they have also gained considerable momentum and influence within the United States.

A featured presentation about destructive cults at the 2002 annual convention for the American Psychological Association (APA) drew this comment from its President Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo, “When some organizations that promote religious or self-growth agendas become rich enough to wield power to suppress media exposés, influence legal judgments or publicly defame psychology, how can they be challenged?”

Zimbardo observations were published within the APA’s Monitor.

Groups that have often been called “cults” such as Scientology and Rev. Moon’s Unification Church have in fact become “rich enough” to “wield the power” Zimbardo talks about. Within the United States and internationally these two “cults” alone control billions of dollars.

Scientology and the Unification Church have acquired political power that reaches all the way to the White House. This was demonstrated by Scientology’s unprecedented access during the Clinton Administration and the special relationship Rev. Moon has with the Bush Family.

It remains to be seen how Moon’s influence may impact the so-called “Faith Based Initiative” proposed by President George W. Bush, which would fund religious programs with government money.

Rev. Moon’s influence on Capital Hill cannot be denied. He has become part of its establishment, largely through control of the Washington Times. And Moon also courts religious and political leaders through banquets, celebrations and conferences, which are well attended.

Groups like Scientology and the Unification Church also have funded efforts to “suppress media” and “influence legal judgements.”

Scientology has arguably turned litigation into something of a religious rite.

Time Magazine published the cover story, “Scientology: The Cult of Greed,” and was promptly sued for $400 million dollars. Even though Scientology lost, the litigation cost Time millions of dollars and took years to resolve. This produced a substantial chilling effect within the media, which served to suppress stories about the controversial church in the United States.

Likewise, Scientology has made a point of going after its critics personally. This has included defamation, libel and personal injury. The net result is that many that might expose the group don’t—due it seems largely to fear.

The Unification Church has frequently funded efforts to “influence legal judgements.” Notably an ongoing campaign through academic surrogates to discredit research about cults.

Some years ago the APA itself became involved through the filing of a “friend of the court brief.” That brief effectively would have helped the Unification Church in its defense regarding a personal injury lawsuit filed by a former member. However, the brief was later withdrawn.

Dr. Dick Anthony was the psychologist largely responsible for that effort. Anthony continues to work for groups called “cults” and is paid $3,500 per day for his efforts. One of his employers is Scientology, which also recommends him, through a front organization called the “reformed Cult Awareness Network.”

Defenders of “cults” such as Anthony are anxious to disprove the “theory of mind control.”

However, Zimbardo has acknowledged the existence of mind control. He stated, “Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes.”

But how does this ultimately affect the general public?

In a survey done in 1980 by Zimbardo of more than 1,000 high school students in the San Francisco Bay area 54% reported a cult had attempted to recruit them and 40% said they had experienced multiple attempts.

Certainly on college campuses groups like the “International Church of Christ” (ICC), which has often been called a “cult,” are very active. The ICC has been banned by many colleges and universities, due largely to its aggressive recruitment practices.

And cults are not restricted exclusively to large metropolitan areas or schools. They are increasingly active in small towns and rural areas. In some situations groups called “cults” eventually exercise considerable influence within the small communities they inhabit.

A recent example is the “Fellowship of Friends,” which has been called a “cult.” The group led by Robert Burton has a troubled history in Yuba County, a rural area in California. Likewise the group known as the “Twelve Tribes” has moved into small towns in upstate New York.

The parallels between cults and terrorist groups cannot be ignored.

A charismatic and totalitarian leader who supposedly speaks for God dominates many terrorist groups, not unlike destructive cults.

What is the difference ultimately then, between suicide at Jonestown and the suicide bombers of al-Qaeda?

Each group had devoted followers willing to die for its cause. Jim Jones called this an act of “revolutionary suicide,” Osama bin-Laden said it was “Jihad.” But in the end the mindset is the same.

In the end the only practical difference between bin Laden and Jim Jones is the level of destruction wrought by their madness. The group dynamics that produce the tragedy are essentially the same.

Zimbardo concluded, “Understanding the dynamics and pervasiveness of situational power is essential to learning how to resist it and to weaken the dominance of the many agents of mind control who ply their trade daily on all of us behind many faces and fronts.”

It seems that “mind control” has become a modern mental health hazard. However, this illness unlike others, can potentially affect more than the personal lives of individuals.

This was first made clear through a horrific gas attack upon Tokyo’s subways by the cult Aum in 1995.

Today that realization is even more painful whenever we see the changed Manhattan skyline.

According to the father of al-Qaeda terrorist Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” who attempted to blow up a plane bound for the United States from Britain, his son was once “gentle and caring,” reports the BBC. But then Reid’s father says his son was “brainwashed” by Muslim extremists to do things “not by our family beliefs.”

However, the father of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban,” apparently doesn’t see his son as “brainwashed,” despite his strange transformation from a California child of affluence to an Afghan “freedom fighter.”

Frank Lindh instead seems to think that his son found his “inner Muslim.” Mrs. Lindh explains, “As a parent, you want your kids to follow their heart,” reports Time Magazine.

Frank Lindh takes the stance of almost an apologist. He concludes, “John went (into Afghanistan) to help the mujahedin, as he understood the people Ronald Reagan called the ‘freedom fighters.’”

Mrs. Lindh explains, “When kids get a certain age, you let them go. You wish them well, and you help them, and you support, and you never stop loving them, but you let them explore the world and find themselves.”

The Lindhs not only let their son go, they paid $6,000 for him to be “brainwashed” at an Islamic school in Yemen and quite literally were his “support” financially to “explore the world” of radical Islam.

Should the Lindhs have paid closer attention to their vulnerable son? Did their permissiveness and money enable John Walker Lindh to ultimately become an “American Taliban”?

John Walker Lindh apologized and wept when he was recently sentenced to twenty years in prison. Now the Lindhs will only be a part of their son’s life through scheduled visits observed by guards.

Richard Reid laughed when he pled guilty in a Boston court and boasted of his commitment to Osama bin Laden. His father expects him to die in prison.

There is little sympathy for “brainwashed” Islamic extremists in the United States. The hijackers who murdered more than 3,000 people on September 11th ended that.

As other terrorists and extremists are arrested, more sad stoies will likely emerge of children lost to “brainwashed” fanaticism. But hopefully these fanatics will be stopped before murdering the members of other families.

Richard Reid’s father said, “I am just grateful that he did not succeed. There were 196 other souls on that plane other than my son.”