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American rose through al-Qaida's ranks

Oct. 8, 2006 at 6:58 PM

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say in a sealed indictment in Los Angeles they think a Californian is a valued propagandist in the United States for al-Qaida.

Officials said Adam Gadahn will be charged with supporting terrorism, the Los Angeles Times said Sunday.

Gadahn, who calls himself "Azzam the American," has risen with the terrorist network, but has not pierced its inner circle, the Times said. Counterterrorism officials told the newspaper the Orange County, Calif., native rose from being a trusted translator to an important propaganda tool for al-Qaida.

Gadahn appeared in four videotapes, two of which included Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's reputed second-in-command, the Times said.

"It is an American," a law enforcement officer told the newspaper. "And his target audience is the United States."

A terrorism expert said Gadahn's effectiveness in influencing Western audiences remains to be seen, the Times said.

After converting to Islam in 1995, Gadahn eventually went to Pakistan, where he was introduced to al-Qaida leadership, the newspaper said.

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