US-born al-Qa'ida leader is arrested in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

The US-born spokesman for al-Qa'ida has been arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers in Karachi, officials said. Adam Gadahn appeared in a video urging US Muslims to attack their own country.

His arrest is a major victory in the US-led battle against al-Qa'ida and will be taken as a sign that Pakistan, criticised in the past for being an untrustworthy ally, is cooperating more fully with Washington. It follows the recent detentions of several Afghan Taliban commanders in Karachi, including the movement's No. 2 commander.



US officials did not immediately confirm Gadahn's capture.



Gadahn has appeared in more than half a dozen al-Qaida videos, taunting and threatening the West and calling for its destruction. A US court charged Gadahn with treason in 2006, making him the first American to face such a charge in more than 50 years.



He was arrested in the sprawling southern metropolis of Karachi in recent days, two officers who took part in the operation said. A senior government official also confirmed the arrest, but said it happened yesterday. The discrepancy could not immediately be resolved.



They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.



The intelligence officials said Gadahn was being interrogated by Pakistani officials. Pakistani agents and those from the CIA work closely on some operations in Pakistan, but it was not clear if any Americans were involved in the operation or questioning.



In the past, Pakistan has handed over some al-Qa'ida suspects arrested on its soil to the United States.



Gadahn grew up on a goat farm in Riverside County, California, and converted to Islam at a mosque in nearby Orange County.



He moved to Pakistan in 1998, according to the FBI, and is said to have attended an al-Qaida training camp six years later, serving as a translator and consultant. He has been wanted by the FBI since 2004, and there is a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction.



The treason charge carries the death penalty if he is convicted. He was also charged with two counts of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.



The 31-year-old is known by various aliases including Yahya Majadin Adams and Azzam al-Amriki.



His most recent video was posted yesterday, praising the US Army major charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, as a role model for other Muslims. The video appeared to have been made after the end of the year, but it was unclear exactly when.



"You shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that military bases are the only high-value targets in America and the West. On the contrary, there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage," Gadahn said, an assault rifle leaning up against a wall next to him.

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