Randy Hall | Staff Writer/Editor | Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Adam Gadahn, 28 - also known as Azzam al-Amriki or Azzam the American - "gave al Qaeda aid and comfort ... with intent to betray the United States," according to the treason count in the indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana, Calif.
Gadahn was also charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization for making a series of propaganda videotapes for al Qaeda, which has claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States and has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. secretary of state since 1999.
A fugitive who is believed to be overseas, Gadahn has been added to the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists. He appeared in several videotapes that were broadcast between October 2004 and Sept. 11, 2006.
"Adam Gadahn is a U.S. citizen who made a choice to join and act as a propagandist for al Qaeda, an enemy of this country responsible for the horrific deaths of thousands of innocent Americans on Sept. 11, 2001," said Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
"The War on Terror is a fight for hearts and minds, and Gadahn gave himself to our enemies in al Qaeda for the purpose of being a central part of their propaganda machine," McNulty said in a statement.
"By making this choice, we believe Gadahn committed treason -- perhaps the most serious offense for which any person can be tried under our Constitution," he added.
"Adam Gadahn represents a new breed of home-grown extremist, who has chosen to betray the country of his birth, and align with the al Qaeda terrorist network," said FBI Executive Assistant Director Willie Hulon, national security branch.
"By aligning himself with al Qaeda, by moving overseas to be closer to al Qaeda's base and leadership, and by joining in advocating al Qaeda's terrorist agenda, an agenda that includes the overthrow of the United States government and the murder of American citizens, Adam Gadahn has committed treason against the United States of America," said U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang of the central district of California.
"The charges returned today by a federal grand jury demonstrate that the criminal justice system will not sit passively by while a United States citizen engages in such activities," Yang noted.
The treason count carries a range of penalties from a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail to a maximum sentence of the death penalty. The charge of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a potential sentence of 15 years in prison.
Raised in Riverside, Calif., Gadahn converted to Islam and worshipped at the Islamic Society of Orange County in 1997 before being expelled for attacking one of its leaders. He is believed to have attended al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and served as one of its translators.
In his first tape, Gadahn announced that he had joined al Qaeda, "a movement waging war on America and killing large numbers of Americans," and that "the streets of America shall run red with blood."
In another al Qaeda videotape made in September 2005, about the time of the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Gadahn called the attacks "the blessed raids on New York and Washington."
Discussing "jihad against America," Gadahn referenced terrorist attacks in London and Madrid and stated: "Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing."
Earlier this summer, Gadahn appeared in another videotape that contained statements from al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In a videotape broadcast around the world on Sept. 2, Gadahn encouraged American soldiers to "escape from the unbelieving Army and join the winning side."
Recently, in a videotape released to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Gadahn praised the pilots involved in the attacks and referred to the United States as "enemy soil."
Photographs, aliases and a full description of Gadahn can be found by visiting the FBI website. The Rewards for Justice Program, run by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to Gadahn's arrest or conviction.
The last person convicted of treason against the United States was Tomoya Kawakita, a Japanese-American sentenced to death in 1952 for tormenting American prisoners of war during World War II.
His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, and 10 years later, President John F. Kennedy - during the closing of the Alcatraz prison where he was serving his time - pardoned him and had him deported to Japan.
Make media inquiries or request an interview with Randy Hall.
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.
E-mail a comment or news tip to Randy Hall.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.