Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Voice on the Tape: Suspected to be US Citizen Adam Pearlman
According to Drudge: US intelligence officials believe the man on tape may be Adam Gadhan - aka Adam Pearlman, a California native who was highlighted by the FBI in May as an individual most likely to be involved in or have knowledge of the next al Qaeda attacks.
Who is Adam Pearlman?
'Average American boy' accused as terrorist U.S. says Californian is 1 of 7 al Qaeda operatives who may be working on an attack this summer
Yet at 17, he seemed to fit the profile of an average American boy. He loved watching television, listened to music his family disapproved of and drove his parents nuts by keeping his room a mess.
About that time, however, he discovered Islam. And Wednesday, federal authorities labeled him an enemy, saying he was one of seven suspected of being al Qaeda operatives who may be working to mount a terrorist attack this summer in the United States.
Gadahn, now 25, has attended al Qaeda training camps and worked as a translator for the terrorist group, the FBI said. Authorities said he may be using the names Adam Pearlman or Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki.
To his relatives, it came as a shock.
"He never espoused any kind of terrorism,'' said his aunt, Nancy Pearlman of Los Angles. "He was never fanatical. As far as I know, there are no connections with terrorism. I hope I'm proven correct.''
Pearlman described her nephew as a curious, bright, heavyset young man who followed his faith to Pakistan and called her more than a year ago to say he was marrying an Afghan refugee.
In some respects, Gadhan's case is reminiscent of that of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban'' from Marin County, who embraced Islam, traveled to Afghanistan, met Osama bin Laden and was captured by U.S. forces in December 2001.
Pearlman said her brother Phil, Gadahn's father, was a sometimes-rock musician who had been heavily influenced by the 1960s milieu while growing up in suburban Santa Ana. He was Phil Pearlman then, but when he married he and his wife came up with a name that had no particular meaning, Gadahn, his sister said.
Phil Gadahn and his wife, Jennifer, brought up their children on a farm in Riverside County. Among other things, they raised goats, which they butchered in accord with Islamic dietary laws so they could be sold to Muslims.
The couple had no television and no computer. "They live off the grid," Pearlman said. "They chose a more rustic lifestyle."
Adam was the oldest of four children, all of whom were home-schooled. But when he turned 17, eager for the kinds of things other teenagers enjoyed, he chose to move into the home of his paternal grandparents in Santa Ana.
There, Pearlman said, he grew to love watching television, using a computer and the Internet and listening to heavy metal rock music, which she disparaged.
"He was listening to that awful, awful stuff," she said.
That changed, however, when he converted to Islam.
In a 1995 Web posting attributed to Adam Gadahn, entitled, "Becoming Muslim," he wrote that he had turned to Islam after listening to Christian radio programs preaching about the "Islamic threat."
He called the Christian belief in the Trinity "ridiculous'' and "gradually realized I could not be a Christian.''
"Having been around Muslims in my formative years, I knew well that they were not the bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorists that the news media and the televangelists paint them to be," the statement said. "It was really a natural progression."
He had one minor brush with the law in 1997, when he was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery for attacking an employee at the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove.
"He was becoming very extreme in his ideas and views,'' Muzammil Siddiqi, the society's religious director, told the Associated Press. "He must have disliked something.''
Pearlman said she is a committed environmentalist and had encouraged her nephew to participate in a television show she produced. Before his religious conversion, she said, she had thought that Adam Gadahn might become a broadcast journalist.
Until about 18 months ago, they were still close, she said. Then, he seemed to drop out of sight. The family knew he had gone to Pakistan, a country racked by turmoil in the post-Sept. 11 era, but Pearlman said they didn't go to great lengths to contact him.
"He was living his life," she said.
Other relatives told reporters they thought Gadahn had been working for a newspaper in Pakistan.Asked about the FBI's announcement Wednesday, Gadahn's younger brother, 17-year-old Omar Gadahn, told the Associated Press, "I don't believe it, but I don't know. Anything is possible.'' He said his brother "wanted to follow what he believed and that's what he did.''