WASHINGTON – A former resident of Orange County, Calif., has been indicted in the Central District of California on charges of treason and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization for making a series of propaganda videotapes for al Qaeda, the Department of Justice announced today.
Adam Gadahn, 28, also known as Azzam al-Amriki or Azzam the American, “gave al Qaeda aid and comfort ... with intent to betray the United States,” according to the treason count in the indictment. The two-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana, Calif., today also charges Gadahn with providing material support to al Qaeda.
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.