Intelligence officers say Pakistani agents arrested American-born al-Qaida spokesman

KARACHI, Pakistan — The American-born spokesman for al-Qaida has been arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers in the southern city of Karachi, two officers and a government official said Sunday, the same day Adam Gadahn appeared in a video urging U.S. Muslims to attack their own country.

KARACHI, Pakistan — The American-born spokesman for al-Qaida has been arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers in the southern city of Karachi, two officers and a government official said Sunday, the same day Adam Gadahn appeared in a video urging U.S. Muslims to attack their own country.

The arrest of Gadahn is a major victory in the U.S.-led battle against al-Qaida and will be taken as a sign that Pakistan, criticized in the past for being an untrustworthy ally, is co-operating more fully with Washington. It follows the recent detentions of several Afghan Taliban commanders in Karachi, including the movement’s No. 2 commander.

Gadahn has appeared in more than half a dozen al-Qaida videos, taunting and threatening the West and calling for its destruction. A U.S. court charged Gadahn with treason in 2006, making him the first American to face such a charge in more than 50 years.

He was arrested in the sprawling southern metropolis of Karachi in recent days, two officers who took part in the operation said. A senior government official also confirmed the arrest, but said it happened Sunday. The discrepancy could not immediately be resolved.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The intelligence officials said Gadahn was being interrogated by Pakistani officials. Pakistani agents and those from the CIA work closely on some operations in Pakistan, but it was not clear if any Americans were involved in the operation or questioning.

In the past, Pakistan has handed over some al-Qaida suspects arrested on its soil to the United States.

Gadahn grew up on a goat farm in Riverside County, California, and converted to Islam at a mosque in nearby Orange County.

He moved to Pakistan in 1998, according to the FBI, and is said to have attended an al-Qaida training camp six years later, serving as a translator and consultant. He has been wanted by the FBI since 2004, and there is a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

The treason charge carries the death penalty if he is convicted. He was also charged with two counts of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The 31-year-old is known by various aliases including Yahya Majadin Adams and Azzam al-Amriki.

His most recent video was posted Sunday, praising the U.S. Army major charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, as a role model for other Muslims. The video released Sunday appeared to have been made after the end of the year, but it was unclear exactly when.

“You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that military bases are the only high-value targets in America and the West. On the contrary, there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage,” Gadahn said, an assault rifle leaning up against a wall next to him.

Pakistan joined the U.S. fight against Islamist extremists following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and several high-ranking al-Qaida and Taliban have been arrested. But critics have accused the country of not fully cracking down on militants, especially those who do not stage attacks in Pakistan, all the time while receiving billions of dollars in U.S. aid.

Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the country, most likely close to the Afghan border.

Al-Qaida has used Gadahn as its chief English-speaking spokesman. In one video, he ceremoniously tore up his American passport. In another, he admitted his grandfather was Jewish, ridiculing him for his beliefs and calling for Palestinians to continue fighting Israel.

Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southfield, Mich., condemned Gadahn’s call for violence, calling it a “desperate” attempt by Al-Qaida’s spokesman to provoke bloodshed within the U.S.

Walid, a Navy veteran, said Muslims have honourably served in the American military will be unimpressed by al-Qaida’s message aimed at their ranks.

“We thoroughly repudiate and condemn his statement and what we believe are his failed attempts to incite loyal American Muslims in the military,” he said.

Imad Hamad, the senior national adviser for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, based in Dearborn, Mich., condemned al-Qaida’s message and said it would have no impact on American Muslims.

“This a worthless rhetoric that is not going to have any effect on people’s and minds and hearts,” he said.

The last person in the U.S. convicted of treason was Tomoya Kawakita, a Japanese-American sentenced to death in 1952 for tormenting American prisoners of war during World War II. President Eisenhower later commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.

Gadahn was last known to be in Southern California in 1997 or 1998. His mother last spoke to him by phone in March 2001. At the time he was in Pakistan, working at a newspaper, and his wife was expecting a child.

Appearing in 2006, in a 48-minute video along with al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, Gadahn called on his countrymen to convert to Islam and for U.S. soldiers to switch sides in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

———

Associated Press Writers Patrick Quinn and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read