Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Jihadi, or "Jackass"? Either Way, the Joke's On Us
What if Adam Gadahn, rather than engaging in treason or sedition, is simply involved in an elaborate “Jackass” stunt?
Some people inclined to recreational self-destruction put leeches in their eyes, or commit self-lacerating acts of mayhem with heavy machinery. Perhaps Gadahn's conversion to radical Islam, and his emergence as an al-Qaeda spokesman, was prompted by the same masochistic desire for novelty. It's entirely likely that the greatest damage Gadahn will do to our country will result from the precedent likely to emerge from his indictment for treason.
Gadahn was indicted yesterday (October 11) by a federal court in California for providing “material support” to terrorists and enlisting in al-Qaeda. Prior to his conversion to Islam, Gadahn was a very nice Jewish kid named Adam Pearlman who lived on a goat farm in southern California.
In pursuit of madder music and stronger wine – well, not really, since Jihadis generally disapprove of music, and alcohol isn't halal – Pearlman converted to Islam and at some point reportedly traveled to Pakistan. From that distant clime Gadahn/Pearlman, under the stage name “Azzam the American,” has dispatched several propaganda videos praising the 9/11 attacks, issuing threats against the U.S., and admonishing infidels to join al-Qaeda.
“We have a US citizen who betrayed his country,” insists Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, oblivious to the fact that the same can be said of practically everyone in the federal government who takes a taxpayer-funded salary to carry out activities not sanctioned by the Constitution. McNulty insisted that Gadahn's broadcasts served al-Qaeda's cause by helping to “demoralize” and “intimidate” Americans.
Remember that description of Gadahn's offense well, since it will serve as a standard for future sedition trials, whether or not the FBI ever manages to lay its hands on the wretch.
"The war on terror is a fight for hearts and minds, and Gadahn gave himself to our enemies in Al Qaeda for the purpose of being a central part of their propaganda machine,” insisted McNulty. “By making this choice, we believe Gadahn committed treason - perhaps the most serious offense for which any person can be tried under our Constitution." (In fact, it is practically the only crime for which the federal government can prosecute citizens under the Constitution.)
While the description of Gadahn's alleged crimes may be extravagant, McNulty's description of the young man's behavior is plausible: He does seem to have “adhered” to a group identified as an enemy of our nation, an accusation that certainly should be tested in court.
However, Executive Assistant FBI Director Willie Hulon of the agency's National Security Branch was quick to extract from this specific case a general principle that is pregnant with lethal mischief. Gadahn, insisted Hulon, "represents a new breed of homegrown extremist, who has chosen to betray the country of his birth, and align with the Al Qaeda terrorist network."
So far, rather than being a representative of a “new breed,” Gadahn appears to be sui generis. Yes, it's possible that al-Qaeda sleeper cells have been sown in our home soil. But how many of those cells are composed of “homegrown” jihadis, rather than the imported variety? How can they be identified? And – the key question – what measures do the Feds intend to use in identifying them?
U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang, whose Los Angeles office prosecuted the case, accuses Gadahn of “advocating al Qaeda's terrorist agenda, an agenda that includes the overthrow of the United States government and the murder of American citizens.... The charges returned today by a federal grand jury demonstrate that the criminal justice system will not sit passively by while a United States citizen engages in such activities."
So far, Gadahn's “activities” consist not of planting bombs, but rather uttering abominable things. True, making propaganda broadcasts for an enemy in time of war is a criminal offense by any reckoning, but here's the rub: We're not at war. Congress has declined to issue a declaration.
And besides, al-Qaeda is a criminal syndicate, not a sovereign power. This means it should be dealt with primarily as an issue for law enforcement, rather than the military. Yes, that's John Kerry's position, but it's correct anyway – and by being right about this one issue, Kerry has used up his quota.
If the Feebs manage to find Gadahn, he would likely be the first U.S. Citizen to be tried before one of the special tribunals authorized under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. If convicted he could face the death penalty.
Should Gadahn be caught, prosecuted, and convicted, I think a better sentence would be to strip him of his citizenship and banish him from our shores forever, forcing him to live among the Mohammedans, which in my view would be punishment enough.
Yes, this apparently suits him just fine, at least right now, but chances are someone who was raised as a Jewish kid from California, and developed a taste for thrash metal, will eventually grow tired of the ascetic lifestyle imposed on followers of the Prophet. At some point he will ache to see women attired in something other than ambulatory tents, and to hear Biohazard rather than the ululations of the local muezzin – and when this happens, he will suffer.
Yes, I'm being facetious – about a number of things, including the possibility that Gadahn will be caught, since he's probably an intelligence asset, albeit a highly deniable one.
The Los Angeles Times points out that “FBI counterterrorism officials were aware of Gadahn for years.” While in California, “Gadahn had become close to two radical Muslims who were followers of the radical cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called blind sheik who is serving a life sentence in federal prison for his role in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.”
Remember the terror cells that were strewn about our country, and have taken root in some unlikely places? Sheik Omar was the Johnny Appleseed of the American Jihad, and he was deliberately allowed into the country by the CIA. In 1990, Omar was issued a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, despite being on a State Department terrorism “watch list.” The embassy official who approved that visa was a CIA officer.
It's also worth pointing out that Sheik Omar was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an international terrorist fraternity whose chief organizer in recent decades was Said Ramadan. According to Robert Dreyfuss's book Devil's Game, Ramadan became a CIA asset in 1953, and afterwards was involved in every significant phase of building the modern Islamic terrorist network.
After arriving in the US, Sheik Omar was brought into the bosom of a group of radical Muslims who had received training and support from the federal government; they became the cell that staged the first World Trade Center attack. Within that group was a former Egyptian army officer named Emad Salem, who was working as an informant for the FBI – and who was able to demonstrate, after the bombing, that the FBI had prior knowledge of the attack.
The Feds likewise had several informants in the Elohim City white supremacist redoubt that served as a key staging base for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In fact, it's likely that there's not been a significant incident of this kind since COINTELPRO went into business decades ago that has not been run by people connected to the feds in some way.
Whatever becomes of Gadahn, and however he became the bizarre and repellent spectacle he's become, the real story here is that our rulers have now established a precedent for indicting and prosecuting those whose utterances are said to “demoralize” the public in the never-ending “war on terror.”
So if this is Gadahn's idea of an elaborate prank, the joke's on us.
at 11:47 PM