New 48-Minute Video: “Invitation to Islam” Overview

“We invite all Americans and other unbelievers to Islam, wherever they are. Isn’t it the time for the Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists to cast off the cloak of the spiritual darkness which enshrouds them and emerge into the light of Islam?”

3 September 2006: In a 48 minute video message released by al Qaeda propaganda wing as-Sahab Productions, 28 year-old American Adam Yehiye Gadahn, using his nom de guerre “Azzam the American,” appeared in the majority of the video speaking in English with Arabic subtitles appearing on the video under him. He occasionally uttered Arabic verses from the Qur’an and referenced stories from Islamic history.He spoke wearing a white turban and robe, with his face uncovered and his name written in Arabic and English next to him. He appeared seated in front of a desk with a computer screen and Islamic religious books behind him in what appeared to be a room with white walls. Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Egyptian physician Ayman al Zawahiri, appeared at the beginning of the video and provided a brief introduction to Gadahn; consistent with the general message of the video, al Zawahiri called on all Americans to convert to Islam.

Al-Zawahiri then introduced Gadahn after giving his introductory speech, which should be noted that it was the second time Gadahn appeared in the same video with al-Zawahri. Gadahn briefly appeared with al Zawahiri in a video that marked the one-year anniversary of the July 7 terror attack on London commuters, stating in that video that “no Muslim should shed tears for Westerners killed by al-Qaeda attacks.” He is also believed to be the masked figure appearing in two previous videos that were not officially released by al Qaeda. One video was reportedly given to ABC television in 2004, and another was provided less than a week before the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America.

Gadahn spent the majority of the video insulting all religions except Islam, and called on Americans and all westerners to convert to Islam and for U.S. soldiers to change sides in the Iraq and Afghan wars. American intelligence authorities believe that Gadahn attended al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and was used as a translator for the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. In this video, however, it appears that Gadahn’s primary purpose is to more effectively communicate with westerners, especially Americans.

According to western intelligence sources, there is not much known about Gadahn’s specific role in the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. He is originally from California and converted to Islam, disappearing shortly after the 9/11 attacks on America. Gadahn did not attend college, choosing instead to move to the suburbs of Los Angeles where he became a Muslim and worshipped at the Islamic Society of Orange County. There, Gadahn was tutored by Muzammil H. Siddiqi, the former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). While attending Siddiqi’s mosque, Gadahn traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to train at al-Qaeda paramilitary training camps. The mosque later expelled him for attacking one of its leaders. According to his father, Philip, Gadahn grew up on a ranch southwest of Hemet, California where his family moved in the 1970s “to escape the noise and traffic of the city.” The family attempted to make a business out of raising goats, but found little demand for goat in southern California. Now, according to Gadahn’s father, the goats are simply maintained as food for the family and to eat the grass around the family home as fire protection.

Gadahn’s Islamic conversion was memorialized on the official website of the University of Southern California’s Muslim Students Association for over a decade. Gadahn’s story of “Becoming Muslim” was ultimately removed from the USC website shortly after he appeared in the July 7 anniversary al-Qaeda video of the London attacks (but it has been captured by our network analysts and is reposted in its entirety below).

The FBI issued an announcement in 2004 stating that Gadahn was being sought in connection with possible terrorist threats against the U.S.

Gadahn’s “Golden Nuggets” [excerpts from the video]:

Assailing all religions except Islam:

“It is time for the unbelievers to discard these incoherent and illogical beliefs. We invite all Americans and other unbelievers to Islam, wherever they are. Isn’t it the time for the Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists to cast off the cloak of the spiritual darkness which enshrouds them and emerge into the light of Islam?”

He denounced Christianity as a “hollow shell of a religion, whose followers cling to an empty faith and a false conviction in their own salvation.” enshrouds them and emerge into the light of Islam?”

Addressing American soldiers:

“You know that if you die as an unbeliever in battle against the Muslims you’re going straight to Hell without passing ‘Go.’ You know you’re considered by Bush and his bunch of warmongers as nothing more than expendable cannon fodder … You know they couldn’t care less about your safety and well-being.” He added, “the United States is losing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” and told U.S. soldiers they are fighting President Bush’s “Crusades.”

“Instead of killing yourself for Bush … why not surrender to the truth (of Islam), escape from the unbelieving army and join the winning side. Time is running out so make the right choice before it’s too late,” he said.

Gadahn also denounced U.S. soldiers in Iraq, claiming they had murdered and raped Iraqi civilians. Referring to the US military, “Who are the real terrorists?” he asked. Gadahn also appeared to suggest attacking Marine facilities in his home state of California by stating: “It’s hard to imagine that any compassionate person could see pictures … and not want to go on a shooting spree at the Marines’ housing facilities at Camp Pendleton.”

Addressing the American People:

Sounding more like a hack for an opposing political party, Gadahn said, “We send a special invitation (to convert to Islam) to all of you fighting Bush’s crusader pipe dream in Afghanistan, Iraq and wherever else ‘W’ has sent you to die. You know the war can’t be won.”

If the Zionist crusader missionaries of hate and counter-Islam consultants like … the crusader and chief George W. Bush were to abandon their unbelief and repent and enter into the light of Islam and turn their swords against the enemies of God, it would be accepted of them and they would be our brothers in Islam,” Gadahn said in English.

Becoming Muslim: Gadahn’s Islamic conversion as posted on the USC web site

Yahiye Adam Gadahn

Muslim Students Association

My first seventeen years have been a bit different than the youth experienced by most Americans. I grew up on an extremely rural goat ranch in Western Riverside County, California, where my family raises on average 150 to 200 animals for milk, cheese, and meat. My father is a halal butcher [a butcher who slaughters in an Islamic manner -ed.] and supplies to an Islamic Food Mart a few blocks from the Islamic Center in downtown Los Angeles.

My father was raised agnostic or atheist, but he became a believer in One God when he picked up a Bible left on the beach. He once had a number of Muslim friends, but they’ve all moved out of California now. My mother was raised Catholic, so she leans towards Christianity (although she, like my father, disregards the Trinity). I and my siblings were/are home-schooled, and as you may know, most home-school families are Christian. In the last 8 or so years, we have been involved with some home-schooling support groups, thus acquainting me with fundamentalist Christianity. It was an eye-opening experience. Setting aside the blind dogmatism and charismatic wackiness, it was quite a shock to me when I realized that these people, in their prayers, were actually praying TO JESUS. You see, I had always believed that Jesus (pbuh) was, at the very most, the Son of God (since that is what the Bible mistranslates “Servant of God” as). As I learned that belief in the Trinity, something I find absolutely ridiculous, is considered by most Christians to be a prerequisite for salvation, I gradually realized I could not be a Christian.

In the meantime, I had become obsessed with demonic Heavy Metal music, something the rest of my family (as I now realize, rightfully so) was not happy with. My entire life was focused on expanding my music collection. I eschewed personal cleanliness and let my room reach an unbelievable state of disarray. My relationship with my parents became strained, although only intermittently so. I am sorry even as I write this.

Earlier this year, I began to listen to the apocalyptic ramblings of Christian radio’s “prophecy experts.” Their paranoid espousal of various conspiracy theories, rabid support of Israel and religious Zionism, and fiery preaching about the “Islamic Threat” held for me a strange fascination. Why? Well, I suppose it was simply the need I was feeling to fill that void I had created for myself. In any case, I soon found that the beliefs these evangelists held, such as Original Sin and the Infallibility of “God’s Word”, were not in agreement with my theological ideas (not to mention the Bible) and I began to look for something else to hold onto.

The turning point, perhaps, was when I moved in with my grandparents here in Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange, California. My grandmother, a computer whiz, is hooked up to America Online and I have been scooting the information superhighway since January. But when I moved in, with the intent of finding a job (easier said than done), I begin to visit the religion folders on AOL and the Usenet newsgroups, where I found discussions on Islam to be the most intriguing. You see, I discovered that the beliefs and practices of this religion fit my personal theology and intellect as well as basic human logic. Islam presents God not as an anthropomorphic being but as an entity beyond human comprehension, transcendent of man, independant and undivided. Islam has a holy book that is comprehensible to a layman, and there is no papacy or priesthood that is considered infallible in matters of interpretation: all Muslims are free to reflect and interpret the book given a sufficient education. Islam does not believe that all men are doomed to Hell unless they simply accept that God (apparently unable to forgive otherwise) magnanimously allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross to enable Him to forgive all human beings who just believe that He allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross… Islam does not believe in a Chosen Race. And on and on…

As I began reading English translations of the Qur’an, I became more and more convinced of the truth and authenticity of Allah’s teachings contained in those 114 chapters. Having been around Muslims in my formative years, I knew well that they were not the bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorists that the news media and the televangelists paint them to be. Perhaps this knowledge led me to continue my personal research further than another person would have. I can’t say when I actually decided that Islam was for me. It was really a natural progression. In any case, last week [November 1995 -ed.]I went to the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove and told the brother in charge of the library I wanted to be a Muslim. He gave me some excellent reading material, and last Friday I took Shahada [accepted the creed of Islam -ed.]in front of a packed masjid. I have spent this week learning to perform Salat and reflecting on the greatness of Allah. It feels great to be a Muslim! Subhaana rabbiyal ‘azeem!