An al-Qaeda leader with Jewish origins was killed in a US drone strike in January, the White House announced on Thursday.
Adam Yahiya Gadahn, also known as Azzam al-Amriki, was born Adam Pearlman in Oregon in 1978. He was raised on a goat ranch outside Los Angeles, California and converted from Christianity to Islam as a teenager in 1995. He joined al-Qaeda as a translator and media adviser and appeared in several of the terror group’s videos since 2004.
Gadahn, 36, was killed in a drone strike on an al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan, near the Afghan border.
His paternal grandfather was Jewish, which he publicly acknowledged in a 2009 video released by the group.
“Your speaker has Jews in his ancestry, the last of whom was his grandfather,” he said, referring to his relative as a “Zionist” and “a zealous supporter of the usurper entity [Israel], and a prominent member of a number of Zionist hate organizations.”
In the clip, Gadahn said he has relatives in Tel Aviv, a city his grandfather encouraged him to visit when he was young.
Over the years, the “home-grown” terrorist rose through al-Qaeda’s ranks to become a key member and one of the faces of the organization. He directly encouraged violence “against the Zionists.”
In 2006, he was accused of treason in the US and of aiding a terror group, and the State Department offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest. At the time, he was the first US citizen facing such charges since WWII.
According to a Reuters report, his death was a blow to al-Qaeda which faces competition from other terror groups, primarily the Islamic State.