Adam Gadahn

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Adam Yahiye Gadahn, (1978-) also known as Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki, Abu Suhail Al-Amriki, Abu Suhayb, Yihya Majadin Adams, Adam Pearlman, Yayah, Azzam the American, Azzam Al-Amriki, was born in the United States and is a spokesman for al-Qaeda. He is under indictment for providing support to al-Qaeda, for charges including treason, an extremely rare U.S. accusation. [1]

Gadahn is considered an effective propagandist, especially when appealing to potential Western recruits. His appearance in an al-Qaeda video, rather than that of a higher-ranking spokesman such as Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Yahya al-Libi does not lower the importance of the messages, but is a clue as to its targeting. Al-Zawahiri, as an Egyptian, would be a better communicator to Egyptians.

According to the Los Angeles Times, he grew up in rural California, of a Jewish family. He converted to Islam as a teenager, and met recruiter Abu Zubaydah. In a video obtained by CNN, he says, "Let me here tell you something about myself and my biography, in which there is a benefit and a lesson. Your speaker has Jews in his ancestry, the last of whom was his grandfather." Of his grandfather, Carl K. Pearlman, who had received interfaith awards, Gadahn said that urologist "a zealous supporter of the usurper entity, and a prominent member of a number of Zionist hate organizations. ... He used to repeat to me what he claimed are the virtues of this entity and encouraged me to visit it, specifically the city of Tel Aviv, where relatives of ours live." [2]


There were early reports that he had been captured, in March 2010, by Pakistani security forces, [3] but these do not seem to be correct.[4] A U.S.-born sympathizer was captured, but he appears to be Abu Yahya Mujahdeen al-Adam.


In recent broadcasts, he has urged sympathizers not only to support massive attacks of the 9-11 Attack form, but "Even apparently unsuccessful attacks on Western mass transportation systems can bring major cities to a halt, cost the enemy billions and send his corporations into bankruptcy," [5] These are interpreted as invitations for self-radicalized "lone wolf" or small group actions.

In a recent broadcast, he praises the careful technique of Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood. “the Mujahid brother 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 and yearns to discharge his duty to Allah.” He adds that Hasan was the “ideal role model” for Muslims serving in the armed forces of Western countries and of their Muslim allies. Hasan “didn’t unnecessarily raise his security profile or waste money better spent on the operation itself by traveling abroad to acquire skills and instructions which could easily be acquired at home, or indeed, deduced by using one’s own powers of logic and reasoning.” [6]

His emphasis on small attacks reflects what may be a reorientation in al-Qaeda. While the core group always emphasized spectacular attacks, he is encouraging, presumably with support from senior leadership, a style first advocated by Nasir al-Wahayshi, leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in October 2009, which encouraged jihadists to conduct simple attacks with readily available weapons.


  1. Treason - 18 U.S.C. § 2381; Providing Material Support to al-Qaeda - 18 U.S.C. § 2339B; Aiding and Abetting - 18 U.S.C. § 2, Most Wanted Terrorists, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  2. "American Al Qaeda member Adam Gadahn tells of Jewish roots in video", Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2009
  3. Bill Roggio (7 March 2010), "American al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn captured in Pakistan: Report", Long War Journal
  4. "Adam Gadahn May Not Be In U.S. Custody", Huffington Post, 8 March 2010
  5. Lolita C. Baldor (11 March 2010), Al-Qaida seen eyeing less complex attacks on U.S., Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
  6. Scott Stewart (18 March 2010), "Jihadism: The Grassroots Paradox", STRATFOR