An Oregon-born terrorist was killed by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan. According to the White House, Adam Gadahn, 36, who fled to the Middle East in 1998 to join up with al-Qaeda, was collateral damage in a counter terrorism operation. The Pentagon also said that another U.S. terrorist, Ahmed Farouq, had been killed in a separate operation, also in the mission that killed Farouq, an American hostage, Warren Weinstein, was also dead.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Wasn’t Being Targeted When He Was Killed
The White House announced Gadahn’s death at the same time the said fellow American-born terrorist Ahmed Farouq had been killed in a separate strike. An official statement said that neither man had been targeted during the strike. The White House also said that Maryland aid worker and Al-Qaeda hostage Dr. Warren Weinstein had been killed along with an Italian hostage during a separate counter terrorism operation.
NBC News reports that Weinstein had been working in Pakistan when he was taken from his home by armed gunmen in August 2011.
2. His California Parents Hadn’t Spoken to Him Since 2002
Gadahn worked primarily as a spokesman for Al-Qaeda. He converted to Islam in 1995 at the Islamic Society of Orange County in California, according to a 2007 article in the New Yorker. He was kicked out of that mosque in 1997 for attacking the chairman, Haitham Bundakji, Gadhan later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery and spent two days in jail. He left the U.S. for Pakistan in 1998, his parent had their last contact with him in 2002, reports CNN.
3. The FBI Was Offering $1 Million For His Capture
He was known by the aliases Azzam the American, Adam Pearlman, or Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki, according to the FBI. The Feds had issued a $1 million reward for his capture. He was first named by the FBI in 2004 as part of an Al-Qaeda cell that was intending to attack events relating to the 2004 presidential election.
4. His Grandfather Was a ‘Zealous Israel Supporter’
CNN reports that Gadahn was raised on a goat farm by his parents Philip and Jennifer. He didn’t watch TV as a youth and when he was 18, he moved in with his father’s parents, who were secular Jews. In 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gadahn referred to his grandfather as a “zealous Israel supporter.” Though, Gadahn had been raised a Christian and prior to converting to Islam, had sought to become more involved in Christianity due to what he referred to as a “yawning emptiness.”
5. He Once Described President Obama as ‘a Devious, Evasive & Serpentine American President With a Muslim Name’
In his last public address in August 2013, he praised the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghzai. Throughout his time making videos for Al-Qaeda, he’s praised the London terror attack in 2005 and praised Osama bin Laden. It was in 2006 that he first appeared in a video without a disguise. Later that same year, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, he praised the hijackers saying “All the brothers who took part in the raids on America were dedicated, strong-willed, highly motivated individuals with a burning concern for Islam and Muslims.” Later, on video, he would renounce his U.S. citizenship and describe President Obama as “a devious, evasive and serpentine American president with a Muslim name.” A New York-based terrorism researcher, Evan Kohlmann, described Gadhan’s video-making style to the Washington Post saying He’s not just speaking English, he’s speaking American. He’s using American vernacular and talking in terms we can understand.