Video: American al-Qaida

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updated 9/13/2005 12:04:09 PM ET 2005-09-13T16:04:09

The major power outage on Monday just made an already-jittery Los Angeles a little more on edge.

That's because the mistake of a couple of utility workers that caused the blackout came on the heels of an American Taliban found on a tape stating that L.A. and Australia would be targets of the organization. 

Adam Gadahn, the man on the tape that made the threats and an individual who has been seen on tapes making threats before, is not a typical al-Qaida figure.  His parents are Jewish and Catholic, and he grew up in an L.A. suburb. 

Monday, Rita Cosby welcomed Haitnam Bundakji, who knew Adam Gadahn in the '90s and terrorism expert Walid Phares to her 'Live and Direct' program.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

RITA COSBY: Haitnam ... What do you know about Adam Gadahn?  What type of a guy is he?  And was he violent? 

HAITNAM BUNDAKJI, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA:  Well, actually, when I met him, he was quiet or appeared to be quiet.  However, asking about the fact that whether he was violent or not, yes, he was violent, because when he was unhappy with me, he did not hesitate to come to my office, charge into my office, and slap me right across the face.  So I think he's a violent person. 

COSBY:  Are you surprised that here he seems to be now -- at least as of this weekend -- the main terror threat, the biggest concern for us right now, if what he's saying could be true, that L.A. and Australia could be targets?

BUNDAKJI:  Well, I pray to God that you will take that threat seriously.  And I'm not surprised at all. 

When he appeared during the elections a few months ago, I recognized him right away.  And now his face is shown even more.  So it's very, very clear that it was Adam Gadahn, the man that I know. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  We talked to Adam's aunt, actually, earlier today.  And she gave us some quotes.  ... She said she saw the tape, that she cannot tell if it's Adam or not.  "I watched both tapes.  My family cannot tell if it's him or not.  The FBI has not made a definitive statement." ... But Mr. Bundakji, as you see the tape, does it look like him to you? 

BUNDAKJI:  It is funny that his family still do not recognize him.  It is very, very clear. ...

COSBY:  Well ... in fairness, that's what they said to us last time.  And of course, it seemed that they did know right away.  I think they're just playing it safe, of course. 

BUNDAKJI:  I believe so.  I believe so.  But I recognize him very well. 

BUNDAKJI:  Well, it's too close for comfort.  You know, my family and I live around Los Angeles.  So I pray to God that we take his threat seriously and we safeguards our country, our skies, our ports.

And I'm sure that our government is doing a great job in safeguarding our country after 9/11.  And I pray to God that such a tragedy would never happen again, neither here nor anywhere else in the world. 

COSBY:  Yes, let's absolutely hope you're right.  Now, Walid Phares, let me bring you in, if I could.  How concerned should we be, Walid? 

WALID PHARES, TERRORISM EXPERT:  What we should be concerned about is what he represents as a model.  I mean, I followed and researched his road map.  If you want to become a member of al-Qaida or a jihadist, and it's very interesting. 

It's not really the conversion that he had.  I mean, people convert from one religion to the other.  That isn't the issue.  It's who basically, at the end of the day, converted him to the ideology of the terrorists. 

Now, he said it.  It's posted on Internet.  He said that it was through Internets, through chat rooms, the same chat rooms basically which are recruiting people from around the world. 

And this insistence, on behalf of al-Qaida, to recruit American-born, European-born, people with no accent, with passports, and who can basically convince others to follow the same path. 

COSBY:  Walid, is there anything we can make of the timing?  Here I am in New Orleans.  And I'll tell you, I've been out with some of the top law enforcement officials in the city.  The biggest concern that they just told me about a few hours ago is another threat, something, while we're so vulnerable here, throwing us a tape somewhere else.  Do you make anything of the timing of this?

PHARES:  Look, Adam is American.  He knows American mentality, political culture, psychology.  He does his first tape last year before the elections, maximizing as much as he can.  He does his second tape on September the 11th. 

So every time there's a possibility for him to impact us, intimidate the American public, he'll do it.  I don't think it's linked directly to an operation. 

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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