Report: American al-Qaeda spokesman caught, held by Pakistani authorities

The day that a video of Adam Gadahn was released, calling on U.S. Muslims to wage attacks, Pakistani intelligence officials claimed they have captured the American al-Qaeda spokesman.

But Sunday evening, there was some confusion about whether officials had identified the right American terrorist operative.

The 31-year-old Gadahn, who grew up Adam Pearlman and converted to Islam as a teen in Orange County, Calif., has a $1 million reward on his head by the U.S. government on charges of treason, providing aid and comfort to al-Qaeda and providing services to the terrorist group.

In a 25-minute video posted on militant websites Sunday, Gadahn praised the Fort Hood shooter as a hero and called on American Muslims to follow in his footsteps.

“Brother Nidal is the ideal role model for every repentant Muslim in
the armies of the unbelievers and apostate regimes,” Gadahn said, referring to Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

Gadahn moved to Pakistan in 1998 and first appeared in an al-Qaeda video as “Azzam al-Amriki” — Arabic for Azzam the American — in 2004. His arrest would be a blow to the carefully crafted P.R. mission of al-Qaeda and its media wing As-Sahab, which used his videos to appeal to English-speaking audiences.

A senior Pakistani government official confirmed to the Associated Press that Gadahn had been arrested in the Karachi metropolitan area in recent days.

The arrest would hand a victory to the Obama administration in terms of both justifying aid to Pakistan to fight terrorists there and showing that Pakistan is indeed a cooperative partner that will use such aid well.

The White House pool report indicated that President Barack Obama ignored a question about Gadahn while leaving a Rose Garden press conference Sunday afternoon to discuss Iraqi elections.

Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported Sunday that another American working for al-Qaeda, Abu Yahya Mujahdeen Al-Adam, was arrested on the outskirts of Karachi. The Pennsylvania-born U.S. citizen and close associate of Osama bin Laden was wanted as a commander of al-Qaeda forces fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

This report gave rise to confusion over whether the wrong American was being identified by Pakistani authorities. U.S. officials weren’t commenting Sunday evening on the verfication of Gadahn’s detention.

In a statement Sunday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said: “We
welcome the reported arrest of Adam Gadahn and repeat the American
Muslim community’s repudiation of all those who would promote or
condone terrorism anywhere in the world.”

Jordy Yager contributed

This post was updated at 6:45 p.m.

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