Adam Gadahn, al Qaeda’s American spokesman, from “A Call to Arms,” a videotape released in March 2010.
Reports from Pakistan indicate that the American-born al Qaeda spokesman who has been charged with treason in the US was captured today in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.
Adam Gadahn and an associate are reported to have been captured during a raid by Pakistani special forces on a home at the Super Highway in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.
US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they believed Gadahn has been detained but would not confirm the report.
Gadahn’s capture was first reported in the Pakistani press; he was not directly named, however. Geo News identified the captive al Qaeda leader as Commander Abu Yahya Azam while Dawn identified him as Abu Yahya Mujahdeen al Adam. Adam Gahdan’s nom de guerre is Abu Azzam al Amriki.
“The Pakistani press often incorrectly reports the names of foreign fighters arrested in the country, especially Arabic noms de guerre,” Arif Rafiq, the editor of The Pakistan Policy Blog, told The Long War Journal.
Gadahn was likely detained in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood in Karachi, Rafiq said. “Sohrab Goth is a major Pashtun area in northern Karachi,” he said. “Many Mehsud tribesmen live there.”
The reported capture of Gadahn comes the same day as As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, released a video of him praising Major Nidal Hasan, the Muslim US Army officer who murdered 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009.
“Brother Nidal is the ideal role model for every repentant Muslim in the armies of the unbelievers and apostate regimes,” Gadahn said, according to a partial translation provided by CTV.
“Nidal Hasan is a pioneer, a trailblazer and a role-model who has opened a door, lit a path and shown the way forward for every Muslim who finds himself among the unbelievers,” Gadahn continued.
Gadahn also called for additional attacks in the US, mirroring the tactics used by Hassan, but said the attacks should not be limited to US military targets.
“You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that military bases are the only high-value targets in America and the West,” Gadahn said. “On the contrary, there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage.”
The current reports of Gadahn’s capture come as six top leaders of the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta Shura, or executive leadership council, have been detained in Pakistan. The Pakistani military and government have previously denied that the Quetta Shura existed and said no senior Afghan Taliban leaders were present in Pakistan.
Gadahn, who is better known as Azzam the American or Azzam al Amriki, was born Adam Pearlman and converted to Islam in 1997. It is believed that he joined al Qaeda in 2003 and was recruited by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on America. In October 2004, Gadahn appeared in his first al Qaeda video, and he has been featured in several videos since. In a video released in 2008 and titled “An Invitation to Reflection and Repentance,” Gadahn tore up his US passport and called for Americans to join al Qaeda.
In October 2006, he was indicted in a US federal court under charges of treason and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization for making al Qaeda propaganda videos. “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 US Attorney Debra Wong Yang. He is the first American to be indicted for treason since 1952.
Gahdan was rumored to have been killed in a US airstrike in North Waziristan in January 2008, but he later resurfaced and released several videotapes.