American al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn captured in Pakistan: Report


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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Meremortal says:

    Filing this under: Important If True. If this clown has been captured, he better be transferred to US custody. Does this mean we are getting closer to Numbers 1 and 2?

  • eldoktor says:

    Yes, hopefully it is true! Come on home, Adam…. we’d like a chat with you son!

  • AAndrew says:

    This is excellent news. He should have a lot of vauable intel, so he needs to be interrogated ASAP and action based on the intel needs to be taken while fresh. If he knows the location of other HVTs (especially the really big fish), this capture could lead to some interesting developments.
    Great job by those involved!

  • SteveO says:

    No. 1 is dead. No. 2 is in Yemen.

  • don juice says:

    wow i hope this true

  • Andy says:

    Death penalty for goat boy.

  • JRP says:

    In all probability Adam Gadahn was picked up only after #s 1 & 2 OK’d it. After the CIA double-cross of December 30, 2009, the USA should trust no one over there, especially not Pakistani authorities. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Gadahn is a willing “dangle”; the highest value “dangle” yet, fed tantalizing disinformation straight from #s 1 & 2 and to be used to accomplish yet another brilliant ambush against us. If America is to avoid another, and God forbid worse, 9/11 catastrophe, we have to come to the realization that in A-Q we are up against the most ruthless, clever, cunning adversaries ever faced by this Country.

  • BraddS says:

    Let’s see how tough this creep talks when he’s back in his cell awaiting trial! All of a sudden martyrdom doesn’t look so tempting. He’ll be screaming for his rights as soon as he lands here, if he hasn’t started already. The ACLU attorneys are probably elbowing each other in the face as we speak, for the chance to be on his defense Dream Team. The Media Circus has already starting trying to dig up the parents in order to start shoving microphones in their face…

  • Tyler says:

    “the most ruthless, clever, cunning adversaries ever faced by this Country.”
    Uhhh, no. We’ve fought superpower after superpower. The British Empire, Third Reich, USSR, Imperial Japan, Mao’s China. Repeatedly faced the legitimate threat of outright annihilation. Fought a five year war that split our country in two.
    Al Qaeda is our enemy, and a formidable, vicious one at that which needs to be defeated. But they aren’t smarter than the KGB. The Soviets, Nazis, and Imperial Japanese didn’t put flunkie California potheads in charge of state propaganda. They can’t overwhelm us. They can’t defeat us in open combat. They can’t lay siege. They have no industrial base. They can’t hold territory. They have little formal military or espionage training. And at no point in the forseeable future will they be able to do so.
    Al Qaeda is a death cult, that 90% of the time only succeeds in murdering the very people they ultimately need to win over to have any sort of staying power. That makes them stupid as well as monstrous.
    Welcome home Adam, we got quite a party planned for ya.

  • Siddique says:

    Well put Tyler. Al Qaeda are indeed a death cult!
    The last few weeks make me feel that this is the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda Central and the Quetta Shura. The tide of history is against them.
    The US could speed things up by further helping civial society in Pakistan and drive home the point that they are not going to leave as they did back in 1989, 2004…this would give added incentive to the Pak military to mop up the remaining dregs of Jihadi groups and Al Qaeda/Taliban..they will only do this when they have security guarentees from the US with regard to India.

  • Charley says:

    The timing of the video release today and the timing of the announcement of his capture (which it seems happened two days back) appear fishy. Are the Paks hoping to squeeze more money from us doing it this way?
    Good catch. That letter from the President to Pak authorities must have been pretty dire. We know Karachi has many more prized assets that they know the co-odinates of for years, as do we. Would drones be necessary in Karachi? Perhaps. Hopefully it is not too late.

  • BullsEye says:


  • Nic says:

    This news reminds me of the quote of U.S. Ambassador to Germany James W. Gerard when ask about the loyalty of German Americans: The Foreign Minister of Germany once said to me “your country does not dare do anything against Germany, because we have in your country 500,000 German reservists who will rise in arms against your government if you dare to make a move against Germany.”
    Well, I told him that that might be so, but that we had 500,001 lamp posts in this country, and that was where the reservists would be hanging the day after they tried to rise.” End quote.
    I think we could find one lamp post for Adam Gadahn.

  • KnightHawk says:

    Fry him.

  • Bungo says:

    I always hated this traitor. May I propose a toast to any and all involved in this most excellant capture. Belly up to the bar boys. I’m buying.

  • The_Pacifist says:

    “The ACLU attorneys are probably elbowing each other in the face as we speak, for the chance to be on his defense Dream Team.”
    Well, we can’t just string him up. Somebody has to defend his rights during his trial for treason. This is what makes us civilized.

  • nissonic says:

    JRP: “we have to come to the realization that in A-Q we are up against the most ruthless, clever, cunning adversaries ever faced by this Country.”
    We We We!!! What about your allies? You drag a lot of european countries in the war including Sweden!
    What about them? Recently four swedish soldiers have been killed. Is Americas war on terrorism Swedens war?!?!?
    When will you stop being so disgustingly selfish and call this “Our war” or “Americas war on terrorism”?
    What about your allies? Are they cannon fodder for you only?

  • JRP says:

    Tyler . . . I sincerely hope you are right and I am wrong. Consider the following however . . . On 911 A-Q brought down the Twin Towers; inflicted severe damage upon the Pentagon; and would have destroyed The Capitol Building or The White House were it not for the courage of Flight 93’s passengers.
    A-Q did all of that without overwhelming us; without defeating us in open combat; without laying siege to us; without an industrial base; without holding any of our territory; and without any formal military or espionage training.
    Insofar as “staying” is concerned, A-Q’s goal is not to stay, but to leave. A-Q’s mantra is “We love death more than you love life.” To achieve that goal A-Q intends to acquire a number of atomic bombs, probably from Pakistan, Iran, North Korea or Russian criminal syndicates or any combination thereof, and detonate them in or near any Western World cities they can reach or get near to.
    If it were not for all the successful attacks mounted primarily against Western interests since Clinton’s Presidency, I would rightfully be labeled an alarmist or fear-mongerer. But the evidence of A-Q’s actions, threats, and pronouncements tells me the USA must act with greater urgency, with less political correctness, and with greater preemptiveness lest we find out all too late that by our own hand we’ve turned our Constitution into either a suicide pact or an instrument of surrender.

  • kp says:

    CBS is reporting that it isn’t Adam.

    the arrested individual is in fact “a Taliban militant leader who is known as Abu Yahya.”

  • AnnS says:

    Just received this email:
    “Now, CBS News’ Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad writes that earlier reports the detained individual was Gadahn proved false. According to a Pakistan
    security official who spoke with CBS News on condition of anonymity, the arrested individual is in fact “a Taliban militant leader who is known as
    Abu Yahya.”
    The official said evidence compiled from an interrogation of the suspect and information exchanged with U.S. officials verified the man’s identify.”

  • Marlin says:

    With Pakistan, and Gadahn, nothing can be simple or straightforward.

    Now, CBS News’ Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad writes that earlier reports the detained individual was Gadahn proved false. According to a Pakistan security official who spoke with CBS News on condition of anonymity, the arrested individual is in fact “a Taliban militant leader who is known as Abu Yahya.”
    “In the light of our latest information, I can say, this is not looking like Gadahn. But it is still the arrest of an important Taliban militant,” said the Pakistani security official who spoke to CBS News late Sunday.

    CBS News: U.S.-Born al Qaeda Arrest News Incorrect

  • FredP says:

    In 2001 Al Qaeda was about where the Nazi Party was in the early 30’s. Now they are where Hitler was in the 20’s.
    But don’t underestimate them as like all the previous movements mentioned above they have an ideology that is shared by many. Yes they do not have territory but this is their aim.
    Iraq was the perfect counter stroke against this aim.

  • Paul says:

    Tyler…well said. I would add cowardly enemy to that list. I don’t see OBL or Zawahiri strapping on a vest…no they don’t put their money where their mouths are.

  • InfidelMaximus says:

    A great day for infidels around the world. I just hope that Gadahn is not executed and become a martyr for the Muslim world. Let’s just put him in prison and let him rot.

  • Oz says:

    More proof that Pakistan is an indispensable ally in the long war.
    Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Ramzi bin al Shib, and now Adam Gadahn, captured by Pakistani intelligence. I don’t think there is any reason to doubt this scum bag will be handed over to the US soon.

  • John E. says:

    Seriously, how hard can it be to confirm that this guy is either captured or dead ? He’s a fat WHITE kid with an American-English accent.
    Now, reports are saying it wasn’t him but some Taliban commander. NEVER believe anything that comes out of Pakistan. They are absolutely backwards.

  • kp says:

    Another “it’s not Adam” report (with two sources) from the WSJ

    Senior Pakistani official identified the detainee as Abu Yahya or Abu Yahaya.
    Earlier, media reports quoted officials in Pakistan as saying the man was an American-born spokesman for al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn. But the senior Pakistani official said he didn’t believe Mr. Gadahn had been arrested.
    More photos and interactive graphics
    A second senior Pakistani official also denied that any American national has been seized. “Adam Gadahn has not been captured,” he said

    The article also points out that under Bush’s EO Military Commissions do not apply to US citizens. If and when we find him him he will be tried in a regular court.

  • Minnor says:

    Why aren’t they releasing photos of the captured? That is required to demoralize the enemy to surrender.

  • JT says:

    If not Adam the American, looks like it’s this guy:

  • Spooky says:

    If its him, he shall know the consequences of his actions, through the courts, with all the rights afforded him that he so hates.
    If it isn’t him, nice catch.

  • kp says:

    There’s no evidence it’s Abu Yahya al-Libi. I;d love it top be true but there isn’t even evidence. Read the discussion page for that Wikipedia page. I undid an edit on that article by someone who “thought” it was him but his cite (Dawn) shows it clearly isn’t.

    The person is described as an American in all reports not a Libyan. Someone mubling al Azam to a reporter has been mistaken for al-Adam which someone else seems to have said “Ah, an American AQ, called Adam Yahoo or something, clearly it’s …”. It’s all Chinese Whispers.

    There are lots of “Abu Yahya” i.e. father of Yahya (or similar) out there. See my post above for a more probable target. If you don’t understand nisbat modification to the name read the article: you can add multiple nesba to a name (you town, your tribe, your favorite religious leader, your country for non-arabs … its like the tribe).

    Remember the names most of these guys are known by are their nom de guerre with just like being “Bob the Builder from London” or “Joe the Plumber from Boston the Red Sox fan”.

    We’ll find out in a day or two who it really is. The current reports are a bit too messed up to be clear who it is.

  • Jesse says:

    A few comments about the debate in this thread concerning the level of risk posed by Al Qaeda:
    If you want to compare this conflict with past ones such as the fights against Nazism and Communism, then do not weigh the threat of Al Qaeda exclusively.
    The real conflict we witness today is one between liberty and Islamic fascism, or “Islamism.” Al Qaeda represents the most violent and extreme element of this movement, but the threat is much greater. It might be more accurate to compare them to the SS (extreme but rather limited in number) rather than to the whole Third Reich or “fascism” as represented by all three Axis powers.
    However, once a person realizes that even most “moderate” Muslims support the idea of global Islamic dominance then the silence of the “moderates” can be understood and the true scale of the threat reveals itself. From this perspective this conflict seems to dwarf the others and another holocaust seems inevitable.
    The specific danger presented by Al Qaeda seems to be that, as a romantic death cult for muslims with nothing to lose, it can never fully be defeated. It is hard enough growing up as a young man in the West, but imagine trying to survive puberty in a culture that denies you education, freedom, a job, or even a girlfriend. Who wouldn’t want to kill themselves? And how many in this situation, if promised heaven for a half day’s worth of work, complete with 49 virgins, wouldn’t take it!?
    Unfortunately, no matter how many of the “bad guys” we catch, OBL created a cancer that the human race will probably never rid itself of. Not to say we shouldn’t try!

  • TomEgatherion says:

    “Posted by Oz at March 7, 2010 9:11 PM ET:
    More proof that Pakistan is an indispensable ally in the long war.
    Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Ramzi bin al Shib, and now Adam Gadahn, captured by Pakistani intelligence. I don’t think there is any reason to doubt this scum bag will be handed over to the US soon.”
    Oz, with all due respect, Pakistan’s efforts are in Pakistan’s self interest. There has already been ample speculation, here and elsewhere, that Pakistan is carefully selecting non-essential targets to make it seem as though their efforts are sincere.


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