California man in Qaeda videos indicted on federal charges of treason and aiding terrorists
Reports say that a California man featured in al Qaeda videos was indicted on federal charges of treason and aiding terrorists today.
"A grand jury returned the indictment against Adam Yehiye Gadahn, 28, a suspected al-Qaida operative sought by the FBI since 2004, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because the indictment was to be announced later in the day," the Associated Press reports.
The twenty-eight year old Adam Gadahn is not currently in US custody and is believed to be overseas. On videos released by Qaeda which threaten the United States, the California man is referred to as Azzam the American, and counterterrorism officials suggest that he has "gone from a valuable translator to an invaluable propagandist for the international terrorist network."
"Gadahn's newfound stature is underscored by a sealed federal indictment in Los Angeles that, law enforcement sources say, will charge him with supporting terrorism," Greg Krikorian and H.G. Reza reported for the LA Times on Sunday.
As Reuters reports, Gadahn "could become the first American accused of treason since World War II."
"They said US prosecutors were strongly considering bringing the charges, which carry a maximum punishment of death, against Adam Gadahn, 28, who is believed to be overseas and is not in US custody," Reuters reported.
Excerpts from Sunday's LA Times article:
From journeying to Pakistan to meeting with Osama bin Laden and later self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Gadahn quickly established himself as an American entrusted by Al Qaeda's leadership, counterterrorism officials say. Two of the four videotapes in which he has appeared also featured Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
"Increasingly, the stature of his statements shows that he not only has credibility as an information operative for Al Qaeda … but if you look at it through the lens of Al Qaeda spreading its message, then he is absolutely an instrumental player," said another counterterrorism official who has watched Gadahn's ascent for years.
"I mean, he is now making statements with Al-Zawahiri, who is the No. 2 and the tactician. And [Gadahn] is right there with him at critical periods of time," said the official, who like others in government spoke on condition of anonymity because of the anticipated criminal case against Gadahn.
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