June 2, 2008— -- The United States is turning up the heat in the hunt for the California boy turned al Qaeda operative, Adam Gadahn, who has been charged with treason and is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. If caught and convicted, Gadahn could face the death penalty.
The State Department along with the Department of Diplomatic Security announced the beginning of a publicity campaign in Afghanistan urging locals to provide any information on Gadahn's whereabouts, with a reward if the information leads to his capture.
Radio advertisements with information concerning the $1 million reward have already begun airing. Additionally, printed materials including matchbooks, handbills and posters will be distributed throughout the region in the coming weeks in attempts to elicit cooperation from members of the Afghan community.
"As the first person charged with treason against the United States since World War II, the capture of Adam Gadahn is a high priority for the Justice Department. This man has advocated the overthrow of the United States government and applauded the murder of United States citizens. He deserves to be prosecuted, and I hope this new campaign will help bring him to justice," said United States Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien.
Gadahn, a native of Orange County, was charged with treason in 2006 after he became a leading propagandist for Osama bin Laden, appearing frequently in al Qaeda videos calling for attacks on America. He's believed to report directly to bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al Zawahri.
Gadahn, a one-time heavy-metal music fanatic, converted to Islam as a teenager. He first surfaced in an al Qaeda video in 2004, using the nom de guerre "Azzam the American." He spoke perfect English and warned, "The streets of America shall run red with blood."
In addition to his propaganda role, Gadahn is believed to be helping al Qaeda with English translations and understanding American culture and vulnerabilities.