Washington A fugitive Californian who made terrorist threats and praised the Sept.11 attacks under the name "Azzam the American" on five al-Qaida videotapes became the first U.S. citizen to be charged with treason Wednesday since World War II.
Adam Yehiye Gadahn, 28, was charged with treason and providing material support to terrorists by joining al-Qaida and becoming its propagandist in an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana, Calif., on Wednesday. The FBI also placed him on its Most Wanted Terrorists list and offered $1 million for his capture.
Gadahn, who is the grandson of a Jewish doctor and was raised as Adam Pearlman on a goat farm in Southern California, is now believed by the FBI to be in Pakistan. If arrested and convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
"We have a U.S. citizen who has betrayed his country," said Deputy Atty. Gen. Paul McNulty, adding that Gadahn sought to help al-Qaida "demoralize" and "intimidate" Americans with his broadcasts.
Gadahn first appeared in an al-Qaida videotape in October 2004, prompting the FBI to launch a search for him.
The FBI said he was a convert to Islam, had attended al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan and was an associate of Abu Zubaydah.
He next appeared in a tape on Sept. 11, 2005, in which he described the terrorist attacks as "the blessed raids on New York and Washington."
This year, he appeared in a July 7 video that also contained statements by al-Qaida leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and others. In one of two videos released last month, al-Zawahiri introduced him as "our brother, Azzam the American." Gandahn urged Americans to join al-Qaida: "Escape from the unbelieving army and join the winning side."