UPDATE, 08 March 2010 – Captured Al Qaeda operative is NOT Adam Gadahn. From the New York Daily News:
Pakistani officials initially thought they nabbed Gadahn, a 31-year-old Californian who has a $1 million bounty on his head for treason.
Officials believe the man picked up in Karachi is an American who goes by the name Abu Yahya, an alias
that Gadahn was known to use.
“Our initial impression was that the guy was Adam Gadahn but that information now looks incorrect,” a
senior Pakistani official told Reuters. “Probably the name and his origin caused the confusion.” “We don’t know yet how big a catch he is,” the official said.
Another Pakistani official, who also asked not to be named, told the Associated Press that the man “feels
proud to be a member of Al Qaeda.”
UPDATE, 5:45pm Eastern: Call him “American Taliban” or “American Al-Qaeda,” or “Azzam the American.” Or more simply, one of the FBI’s Most Wanted. Many news organizations are stating that Pakistani Intelligence officials confirm they have Adam Gadahn in custody. However, the FBI released a statement that they have not yet confirmed this arrest:
After scouring my contacts, the consensus is we should have ID confirmed in next 24 hours. (hopefully) And, a Pakistani official has told the Agence France Presse it is not Gadahn:
Initial unconfirmed reports suggested he could have been US-born spokesman for Al-Qaeda, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, who faces charges in the United States and for whom the US government has a one-million-dollar reward.
But three senior security officials said Abu Yahiya was not Gadahn.
“We thought it could have been a big catch, but it appeared it’s not Gadahn. We’re trying to confirm his nationality and background,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Gadahn was raised in Orange County, California. In 2006, he was charged with Treason and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Al Qaeda. Hopefully, there will be some continuity between the Bush Justice Department and the Obama folks. Here is an excerpt from the DOJ release from 2006:
Gadahn is the first person to be charged with treason against the United States since the World War II era.
Al Qaeda, which has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks around the world, including the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Secretary of State since 1999.
Gadahn appeared in several videotapes that were broadcast between October 2004 and Sept. 11, 2006. In the first tape, Gadahn announced that he had joined al Qaeda, “a movement waging war on America and killing large numbers of Americans,” and that “the streets of America shall run red with blood.”
In another al Qaeda videotape made in September 2005, around the time of the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Gadahn called the attacks “the blessed raids on New York and Washington.” Discussing “jihad against America,” Gadahn referenced terrorist attacks in London and Madrid and stated, “Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing.”
Earlier this summer, Gadahn appeared in another videotape that also contained statements from al Qaeda leaders Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In another videotape that was broadcast around the world on Sept. 2, 2006, Gadahn encouraged American soldiers to “escape from the unbelieving Army and join the winning side.” Recently, in a videotape released to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Gadahn praised the pilots involved in the attacks and referred to the United States as “enemy soil.”
“Adam Gadahn is a U.S. citizen who made a choice to join and act as a propagandist for al Qaeda, an enemy of this country responsible for the horrific deaths of thousands of innocent Americans on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. “The War on Terror is a fight for hearts and minds, and Gadahn gave himself to our enemies in al Qaeda for the purpose of being a central part of their propaganda machine. By making this choice, we believe Gadahn committed treason – perhaps the most serious offense for which any person can be tried under our Constitution.”
“Adam Gadahn represents a new breed of home-grown extremist, who has chosen to betray the country of his birth, and align with the al Qaeda terrorist network,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Willie Hulon, National Security Branch. “Based on this indictment, Gadahn was added today to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.”
“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 U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang of the Central District of California. “The charges returned today by a federal grand jury demonstrate that the criminal justice system will not sit passively by while a United States citizen engages in such activities.”
Gadhan, 28, is a fugitive who is believed to be overseas, and has been added to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists. Photographs, aliases and a full description of Gadahn can be found by visiting http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/fugitives.htm. The Rewards for Justice Program, run by the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to Gadahn’s arrest or conviction.
The charge of treason carries a range of penalties from a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail to a maximum sentence of the death penalty. The charge of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a potential sentence of 15 years in prison.
The Gadahn case was investigated by the FBI’s Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force in Santa Ana, California. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division – formerly part of the Criminal Division – at the Department of Justice.
Original story – 12:19pm Eastern, Via Adam Housley of Fox News, the “American Taliban” Adam Gadahn, wanted by the CIA & FBI, has been arrested in Pakistan. (To be clear, he broke this story – it was at least an hour before any other major news organization got on the story. This is just one more reason why I admire his reporting!)
UPDATE 1:43pm Eastern, via CBS News & The Associated Press:
Pakistani intelligence officers say they have arrested Adam Gadahn, the American-born spokesman for al Qaeda.
Two officers say Gadahn was arrested in the city of Karachi in recent days.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Gadahn has been wanted by the FBI since 2004 and two years later was charged with treason. There is a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction.
UPDATE 1:34pm Eastern, via The Associated Press:
KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistani officials: Adam Gadahn, the American-born spokesman for al-Qaida, has been arrested.
UPDATE 1:24pm Eastern, via Adam Housley:
So I was told by federal officials that they have been told Adam Gadahn is in custody. They are getting their people to the location
UPDATE 1:12pm Eastern, via Pakistan Daily Mail:
The arrested men include Commander Abu Yahya Azam, a close accomplice of Usama bin Laden. They were later shifted to some undisclosed location for further interrogation. Security forces during massive search operation in different areas of Hangu have arrested 21 suspected and have recovered arms and ammunition from their custody.
Sources said that security forces continued search operation and crackdown against the Taliban extremists in different localities of the district in the backdrop of Friday suicide attack. During search operation and crackdowns in different localities across the district, security forces besides detaining 21 suspects also recovered weapons and ammunition from their custody.