Sep 19, 2007

The Jihad of Adam Yahiye Gadahn

Originally this story was to be entitled "Tracking Down 'Azzam the American", however in the course of writing the story, I found it imperative to give a prologue (so to speak) that attempts to delve into the psyche of Adam Yahiye Gadahn. The videotapes of Gadahn and the more recent tape of Osama Bin Laden do provide us with important clues, clues that only become evident though once we establish a framework of what motivates Gadahn and how he thinks. I'm of the firm belief that without a complete understanding of how Gadahn thinks and what motivates him, that tracking him down becomes nothing more than an exercise in the futility.

In a previous segment, I'd dispute the belief held by much of Western intelligence that Al Qaeda's videotaped messages as delivered by Adam Gadhan (a.k.a. Azzam al-Amriki) are intended for Western consumption. A further empirical analysis would seem to indicate that the videotaped messages are designed to nurture not only a self-awareness but a sense of grievance within the non Arabic speaking Muslim world. Gadahn might appear to be solely speaking to the United States, but it is the non Arabic speaking Muslim world who is listening intently to what he says. In many respects, from an overseas perspective, Adam Yahiye Gadahn is no different than Harry Reid, John Murtha or Michael Moore and to paraphrase Marcus Tullius Cicero, the only difference is that Gadahn has the gravitas to carry his banner openly rather than moving through the nation's gates and the halls of government freely. Further, by subjectively singling out Gadahn for punishment while a host of others are given a pass at 'providing aid and comfort to our enemies' creates a dilemma that only substantiates the conspiracy that Gadahn is singled out because of his religion. It's important for Americans to understand the reasons that support Gadahn's credibility with overseas non Arabic speaking audience.

In ultimately tracking down Adam Gadahn, the first thing we need to do it look beyond the hyperbolic threats and Gadahn's mindless musings on Islamic jurisprudence, something that often times is difficult to do for those who find themselves consumed with the notion that Gadhan might directly or inadvertently reveal clues or details of some "credible and imminent" threat. The inclination of many to entertain the thought that Gadahn might be acting with some sort of autonomy or leadership or that he has his finger on the big red button, or for that matter even knows where the hell the button is, is completely ludicrous. We need to appreciate the significance of the fact that Gadahn is merely the tool and not the force behind it.

An Islamophile, who in his role as a collaborator and cultural translator, Gadhan has come to cultivate a predilection for everything Islamic, as evidenced not only by his gross adulation of the dress and mannerisms of his "brothers" but by his adoption of their dualistic worldview where they see themselves as part of a cosmic, Manichaean struggle between good an evil. For Gadhan the adaptation of which would require the complete repudiation of not only his own cultural beliefs, customs and values but everything that could possibly be linked to Judeo-Christian origin, from the food that he eats to the soap that he uses. For Gadahn, baseball and apple pie are now taboo and replaced with camel racing and baklava. Severed from his roots, Gadahn is a man without a past - which begs the question - So how does one join together with his "brothers" in embracing the nostalgia for an idealized past when you yourself have no past? Would you try to hold back from complete submission and subconsciously try to rebuild yourself or would you willingly subjugate yourself? This is perhaps one of Gadahn's biggest dilemmas, the inability to completely sever the link with Western modernity. For Gadahn, the technology of the internet has become not a means of communication, but a cruel seductress, one with the ability to expose his weakness, tempt him and leave his avowals of pious purity unconvincing.

Provocative parallels exist between the ideology of the today's advocate of Islamic totalitarianism and that of the moral relativist, with the extremists often adopting an authoritative and yet cavalier attitude towards their own religion by cherry-picking what they themselves consider to be inerrant passages from their religious texts. It's ironic in this respect that that in Gadahn's quest for the solace of religious objectivity, that he would find just the opposite.

to be continued...

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