- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Federal officials are confident that an al Qaeda member who called himself “Azzam the American” in a videotape threatening attacks on the United States is a California convert to Islam already wanted by the FBI.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III announced in May that the bureau was looking for Adam Yahiye Gadahn, 26. Investigators said Gadahn, who grew up on a farm in Riverside County, Calif., and converted to Islam as a teen, moved to Pakistan, attended al Qaeda training camps and served as an al Qaeda translator.

Some counterterrorism officials believe Gadahn might be the person on a 75-minute video given to ABC News last month in Islamabad, Pakistan.

“There is confidence that it is him, but there is not certainty,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity yesterday.

An FBI official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because the tape is the subject of an ongoing investigation, said the bureau has not drawn a conclusion about the man’s identity.

The tape was delivered to ABC on Oct. 22 and aired several days later. The speaker praised the September 11, 2001, attacks, called Osama bin Laden and his deputy his leaders, and said a new wave of attacks could come at any moment.

Nancy Pearlman, who is Gadahn’s aunt and has been the family spokeswoman, said relatives have been unable to determine whether he is the shrouded man on the videotape.

“It could or could not be him. We could not tell,” she said.

The family will not comment further unless U.S. authorities provide official confirmation that Gadahn is the man on the tape, she said.

On its Web site, the FBI said it is “urgently seeking information” on the identity of “Azzam the American” or “Azzam Al-Amriki.” The site says he might be outside the United States.

Two U.S. law-enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said some investigators theorize that the person asking questions off-camera in the videotape may be Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, who also is being sought for suspected terrorist connections. El Shukrijumah speaks excellent English and lived for years in South Florida. His whereabouts are not known.

The FBI has a videotape of El Shukrijumah — posted on the FBI Web site — showing him giving a class on how to jump-start a car battery for people learning English as a second language. The officials said analysis of the two tapes was not conclusive about a voice match.

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