Inland-born jihadist Adam Gadahn – raised on a Winchester goat farm – has resurfaced in letters released this week that were tied to the attack against al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Gadahn, 33, has been in Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a decade, officials believe, acting as a propagandist for the terrorist group. He was the first American since World War II to be charged with treason when a California court indicted him in 2005.
Now called Azzam the American and Azzam Al-Amriki, Gadahn wrote a 21-page letter in January 2011 suggesting strategies for spreading al-Qaida’s message for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The letter was released with others Thursday as part of a purge of previously classified material by Combatting Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The letters were collected from bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound, where he was killed by U.S. Special Forces during an attempt to capture the terrorist leader on May 1, 2011.
In the letter, Gadahn offers suggestions on how to communicate with western media, including the idea of offering a handful of journalists a chance to interview high-ranking al-Qaida members, including bin Laden, for the attack anniversary. Gadahn also chastises Western media for not challenging U.S. officials and condemning the jihadist movement.
“They are all on one level except (Fox News) channel which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality too,” Gadahn wrote, according to a translation of the original letter.
But Gadahn is also critical of some terrorist factions in the missive, openly condemning terror sects that bomb mosques while Muslims are praying.
“It has been exploited to distort the picture of the pious and loyal Mujahidin,” he wrote. “Now many regular people are looking at the Mujahidin as a group that does not hesitate to take people’s money by falsehood, detonating mosques, spilling the blood of scores of people in the way to kill one or two who were labeled as enemies.”
Gadahn also questions why senior al-Qaida officials didn’t denounce some of the groups.
“They were able to persuade many Muslims of what they are claiming,” Gadahn said of the groups that attack other Muslims. “The blame or most of it is laid on our shoulders. We contributed to that by not clarifying our stand on those forbidden acts in a sufficient way.”
For the past few years, Gadahn has been one of the most sought-after al-Qaida figures, and is presumed to live with a wife and children in the lawless Waziristan region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite rumors over the past four years, Gadahn is still believed to be alive and active, said Laura Eimiller, a FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles.
The United States is offering a reward of up to $1 million for his capture.
Gadahn, the grandson of a Jewish physician, was raised on a goat farm near Winchester where his father still resides. Nancy Pearlman, Gadahn’s aunt, declined comment Friday when reached by phone.