Toronto Star

Al Qaeda calls for onslaught against Bush

Greet president’s visit to Mideast ‘not with flowers, but bombs’ American member says


CAIRO, EGYPT— In a video posted on the Internet yesterday, an American-born member of Al Qaeda urged fighters to meet U.S. President George W. Bush with bombs when he visits the Middle East. Adam Gadahn also tore up his American passport as part of a symbolic protest in the nearly hourlong rhetoric-dominated tape — Al Qaeda’s first message of the new year. The release comes just three days before Bush is scheduled to arrive in Israel for a week-long trip that will also bring him to the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as part of his push for an Israeli-Palestinia­n peace agreement. “Now we direct an urgent call to our militant brothers in Muslim Palestine and the Arab peninsula . . . to be ready to receive the crusader slayer Bush in his visit to Muslim Palestine and the Arab peninsula in the beginning of January and to receive him not with flowers or clapping but with bombs and booby-trapped vehicles,” Gadahn, 29, said in Arabic. “This just shows once again, Al Qaeda offers nothing but violence and death,” U.S. National Security Council spokespers­on Gordon Johndroe said. “The purpose of President Bush’s trip is to meet with mainstream Arab leaders and people to talk about a positive future for the region, based on hope and opportunit­y.”

As for Gadahn’s tearing up his U.S. passport, Johndroe said: “He is wanted for treason against the United States. His passport was already void.”

The treason charge against Gadahn carries a maximum punishment of death. The FBI has been seeking to question Gadahn since 2004, and the U.S. government has offered up to $1 million cash reward for informatio­n leading to his arrest.

Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, converted to Islam from a Jewish-Christian family when he was 17 and a few years later moved to Pakistan. He was previously known as Adam Pearlman.

During the rest of the 50-minute video, titled “An Invitation to Reflection and Repentance,” Gadahn, who was raised in California, spoke mostly in English, appearing to specifical­ly address the American people. He said Al Qaeda felt the need to release the statement after Washington’s “defeat” in Iraq and Afghanista­n and failed attempts by the Bush administra­tion to bring peace to the Middle East.

“We felt it necessary to address the American people and explain to them some of the facts about these critical and fast-moving events,” said Gadahn, who wore a whiteand-red headscarf and sat behind a desk with a laptop computer and coffee mug nearby.

“The first questions Americans might ask is has America really been defeated? The answer is yes and on all fronts,” he added.

The video could not immediatel­y be independen­tly verified, but it appeared on a website used by Islamic militants and carried the logo of Al Qaeda’s media wing, al-Sahab. At the beginning of the video, the date December 2007 was displayed. Gadahn mentioned Robert Hawkins, who killed eight people at a mall in Omaha, Neb., on Dec. 5.

Gadahn has appeared in several Al Qaeda videos, including one in August when he threatened new attacks on foreign embassies. With files from Reuters

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