A drone need not know the name of the face it has targeted to be effective. One of the latest faces is Adam Gadahn, a senior al Qaeda operative who had a $1 million bounty (State Department – National Counterterrorism Center) on his head. On April 23, 2015, the White House announced that Gadahn had been killed inadvertently in a U.S. drone attack in January in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Only 36 at his death, Gadahn had risen within the ranks of al Qaeda to be responsible for al Qaeda’s internet production house known as “As Asab.” Video here.
In 2006, Gadahn was listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list. Gadahn renounced his American citizenship on an al Qaeda video that concluded with his tearing up his U. S. passport (video uploaded January 6, 2008). Gadahn converted to Islam in the 1990’s but his profile rose significantly following the death of Osama bin Laden when it was learned that Gadahn had advised bin Laden regularly on matters concerning Americans, the way they thought, acted and could be manipulated. Here are a few paragraphs from a letter addressed to bin Laden from Gadahn and discovered in files obtained in the Abbottabad raid (the assassination raid of Osama bin Laden):
We should not forget that there are millions of admirers of the Shaykh in the Islamic world, who are eager for his appearance to ensure his health and that he is well. Those should be targeted in our speeches and messages, before the Americans and Europeans, who do not listen to or evaluate what is being said. …
From the professional point of view, they are all on one level except (Fox News) channel which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality too. As for the neutrality of CNN in English, it seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others (except Fox News of course). Its Arabic version brings good and detailed reports about al-Sahab releases, with a lot of quotations from the original text. That means they copy directly from the releases or its gist. It is not like what other channels and sites do, copying from news agencies like Reuters, AP and others. … (Access full pdf of 17 declassified documents here.)
Drones have reportedly killed four other Americans since 2009. The first of the four was al Qaeda’s cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was specifically targeted. Awlaki was described as the “bin Laden of the Internet.” Awlaki was a cleric and his teachings still influence extremists the world over through media outlets. After a request from the U. S. Congress, in November 2010 Google removed many of Awlaki’s videos from its websites; but Awlaki’s influence still lives even though he is dead. Awlaki was the lead cleric for Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, the once-powerful Yemeni branch of al Qaeda — and as long as there are Islamists, Awlaki’s extremists views will continue to speak. Surprisingly, Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, was a Fulbright Scholar who earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at New Mexico State University in 1971, received a doctorate at the University of Nebraska, and worked at the University of Minnesota from 1975 to 1977. The son, Anwar al-Awlaki, was born in New Mexico in 1971.
But let us return to Gadahn to close this point. The real loss to al Qaeda is not likely to be found in the absence of professional quality Internet videos or professionally designed digital media under the As Sahab label. The real loss will be the absence of an American voice broadcasting the messages of al Qaeda to the world; and, the voice of an American that had not only renounced his citizenship but had taken up the Islamist mantra and promoted it in the free democracies of the world; and Gadahn was far more than a “hired hand.” He was an American who had made it big time in tribe of Allah, advising the late Osama bin Laden, no less. Certainly, Gadahn was not the statue of Awlaki, but he was an important and prominent voice within al Qaeda. (For more background on Adam Gadahn read my previous post here: Lone wolf in Canada – Allah’s tribe distinguishes itself again)
The internet is a tool of ever broadening influence in the modern day. It is the primary means of recruitment used by Islamists around the world, particularly with its mastery of social media. In fact, the current leader of al Qaeda core in Pakistan, Ayman al Zawahiri is quoted to have made this statement in a letter written to one of his leutenants: “I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” It seems that ISIS has taken the same approach with its sophisticated online media voice, Dabiq, a quarterly publication focusing on legitimizing its claim to be the Islamic State. Read more. Read more.
In a recent article, Jacob Siegel of the Daily Beast stated,
“The first big turning point was Mosul,” said Emerson Brooking, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, referring to ISIS’s capture of the city in early June. “ISIS put a lot of pre-planning into the social media arm of this offensive, and the effort paid off.” After Mosul, Brooking said, “You see a significant spike in English-language videos and images.”
Comparing the use of social media by ISIS and al Qaeda, the Daily Beast article continues:
“The big difference now is that [ISIS] has its own English speakers,” said Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London. “And they have their own media now where they can put this right out on Twitter and everybody can immediately see it and spread it online.”
One of the recent English speaking voices of ISIS is a Brit known as “Jihadi John” who first appeared on an internet propaganda video on September 14, 2014 as captured Syrian soldiers were executed after first digging their own graves. John was also seen beheading two American journalists and a British aid worker, including James Foley, the first such execution by ISIS.ere are two of his YouTube propaganda videos. John was born in Kuwait and moved to England at age 6. He attended St Mary Magdalene Church of England primary school, and later Quintin Kynaston Community Academy.
Let us not forget the voice of captive John Cantlie, a Brit who was captured by ISIS two years prior and has served as a propaganda voice for ISIS in multiple videos since his capture. In each Cantlie explains the reasons for ISIS’ actions and one wonders if Cantlie is a captive or another voice for Islam. He foresees his own beheading in the same fashion as James Foley but, for the moment, he uses his broadcasting skills and his voice in speaking for Islam.
I cannot help but wonder who will be the next “Azzam the American” or “Jihadi John.” Islam has this way of changing the way one sees the world. It is as if darkness takes hold of the mind and it is only a matter of time before the heart follows. How does one explain a suicide bomber who proclaims, “Allahu Akbar,” as he blows himself and everyone around him to oblivion? Perhaps it is because the Qur’an and Hadith, the holy sources for Muslims, are filled with examples of Muhammad, the messenger of Islam and the perfect role model for Muslims, as he exacts his “sword of peace” to the glory of Allah. Until Muhammad, the messenger, is no longer the perfect role model for Muslims, how do we expect the “Azzam the American’s” to go away? The confusion that non-Muslims have is that we know so many Muslims who are not like Adam Gadahn, Anwar Awlaki or Jihadi John, all of whom were either American or British and who knew what democracy was like, yet chose the way of Islam and Sharia law instead. What is one to do in the times we are in, particularly, when the Islamic paradigm so clearly depicts Islam as the religion through which satan will wage his war against Christians (and Jews) in the end-of-days? Revelation 12:17, Revelation 13:7-8. Of course, the Scripture never states “Islam” is the “4th beast” of Daniel or the “beast of the sea” in Revelation 13. One must painstakingly interpret prophecy verse-by-verse to make such a conclusion– and many have done just that, your’s truly, only one of those. Here is one of such sources.
Jesus come quickly.