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Mar. 7 2010 - 1:40 pm | 392 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Reports: Adam Gadahn, top American al-Qaida member arrested in Pakistan

Update: So, maybe not. Sigh.

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Two hours ago, NBC News tweeted via Breaking News Online that Adam Gadahn, known also as ‘Azzam al-Amriki’ or ‘Azzam the American’ was arrested in Pakistan (Here’s their consolidated news report). Now the Associated Press is reporting it, too.

Dawn, a Pakistani news service, seems to be one of the first outlets to issue an actual news report on the subject (HT: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air):

Pakistani security forces along with help of US intelligence arrested Abu Yahya Mujahdeen Al- Adam, who is a close associate of Osama Bin Laden. Abu Yahya was arrested on Sunday from an area surrounding the super highway, on the outskirts of Karachi.

Sources confirmed that the arrested militant commander has been shifted to Islamabad for further investigation.

This is rather interesting timing. The AP report says that Gadahn was arrested “in recent days.” Today, the AP also reported that one of Gadahn’s epistles went live on the Islamic terrorist undernet. In this one, he saluted Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan for shooting up Fort Hood and killing his fellow soldiers, and he encouraged other American Muslims to do the same. I would suppose his fellow terrorists raced to get his latest piece of propaganda out in order to rebut claims that he had been arrested.

For more background on Gadahn, I encourage you to read all of Raffi Khatchadourian’s profile in the New Yorker from January 2007. I’m fascinated by how much I have in common with Gadahn. He’s about a year younger than me. We are both part Jewish. He spent his teenage years on the Internet trading obscure music with strangers, and so did I. I lived down the street in Chicago from Devon Avenue’s Indian and Pakistani communities, and various Muslims societies and Islamic reading rooms. While I had some ‘crisis of identity’ issues in those years, too, I never walked into those places to learn more about Islam. Gadahn did in Orange County, California.

Unquestionably, this is great news for the Obama administration and its counterterrorism efforts. Gadahn was al-Qaida’s chief English-language propagandist in the post-9/11 period. He evaded capture during the 7 years of President Bush’s Global War on Terrorism. A year into President Obama’s post-Bush pursuit of terror, we are seeing real results in rolling back the core of al-Qaida overseas. He is charged with treason, but if there is any possibility that a deal can be struck to get intelligence on the whereabouts of top Qaida planners and financiers, it might be worth it for the sake of America’s security. However, Gadahn may be so poisoned by ideology that he will welcome martyrdom.

Of course, there will be spin here. Partisan compatriots of Liz Cheney will be demanding that Gadahn be subjected to ‘enhanced interrogations’ we know as torture to the edge of his life to extract actionable intelligence. Then they’ll seek military tribunal kangaroo courts, or indefinite detention of this key American figure in al-Qaida’s efforts to bring about an Islamic Caliphate via acts of terror. But there cannot be any question that Gadahn is the latest major al-Qaida or Taliban figure to be captured or killed. You just can’t spin your way around that to prove that our current president is being weak on terrorism.


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  1. collapse expand

    First and foremost, the man is most likely guilty of treason. That said, I think pulling the death penalty off the table is appropriate here. It’s much harder to be a martyr if you’re alive. A quick military tribunal court ought to settle things nicely.

    Then, faced with a lifetime in Supermax, I think this nut will crack. “Enhanced Interrogation?” I don’t see the need. While it is almost certain that this traitor has strategic usefulness, it is not nearly as certain that he has tactically useful intelligence.

  2. collapse expand

    “Of course, there will be spin here”
    The Fox Headline tomorrow will be; Obama FAILS to get information from American al-Qaida member. And the story will read something like; ‘they can’t even get intel from an English Speaking Terrorist, which they should have been able to get in the first 4 seconds of capture, because they didn’t waterboard him.’
    Sorry if I ruined the suspense for you Fox Watching Neo-Cons out there.

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