Video: American charged with treason

updated 10/11/2006 4:15:02 PM ET 2006-10-11T20:15:02

A 28-year-old Californian who joined al-Qaida and appeared in propaganda videos for the terrorist organization was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of treason and aiding terrorists, a U.S. Justice Department official said.

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.

Gadahn, who is believed to be in or near Pakistan, is believed to have attended the terrorist group’s training camps in Pakistan and served as one of its translators. He has become known by his nom de guerre Azzam al-Amriki, or “Azzam the American.”

Gadahn appeared last month in a 48-minute video along with al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, calling on his countrymen to convert to Islam and for U.S. soldiers to switch sides in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

It was the second time he appeared in the same video as al-Zawahri. In a July 7 video marking the one-year anniversary of the terror attack on London commuters, Gadahn appeared briefly, saying no Muslim should “shed tears” for Westerners killed by al-Qaida attacks.

Beyond that, authorities believe he is the masked figure who appeared in two previous videos not officially from al-Qaida, one given to ABC television in 2004 and another a few days before the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Raised in Southern California on a Riverside goat farm, Gadahn converted to Islam and worshipped at the Islamic Society of Orange County in 1997 before being expelled for attacking one of its leaders.

His mother last spoke to him by phone in March 2001. At the time he was in Pakistan, working at a newspaper, and his wife was getting ready to have a child.

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