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Azzam al-Amiriki

So you're the homeschooled child of Jewish hippies. You grew up on a goat farm in California, introverted but fiercely intelligent, into death metal and other people who are into death metal. Your life is a minus sign. You're looking … Read More

By / January 19, 2007

So you're the homeschooled child of Jewish hippies. You grew up on a goat farm in California, introverted but fiercely intelligent, into death metal and other people who are into death metal. Your life is a minus sign. You're looking for uplift. So what do you do? You join Al Qaeda, of course:

Adam Gadahn’s nom de guerre is Azzam al-Amriki (Azzam the American). He can fluently recite the Koran in classical Arabic, and, since the late nineteen-nineties, when he joined the jihad, his English has acquired a vaguely Middle Eastern accent. At times, he speaks in what might be called Jihadlish—a peculiar fusion of American vernacular and militant Islamist theory. Gadahn may be the first Al Qaeda operative to lace a religious threat with a reference to Monopoly. (“If you die as an unbeliever in battle against the Muslims, you’re going straight to hell, without passing Go.”) Or to adopt the bluster of a barroom pundit. (“Whoever takes over for Bush probably won’t have the guts to bring the troops home.”) Once, referring to Abu Jahal, an early enemy of Islam known as the Father of Ignorance, Gadahn said, “I can’t forget the day, when, as I was praying a prescribed prayer with one of the brothers in a shopping-center parking lot in suburban America, a man sped by in his sports-utility vehicle shouting from his open window, ‘Worship Jesus, your Lord.’ The gas guzzler, cell phone, and college diploma notwithstanding, one couldn’t help but be reminded of Abu Jahal in the seventh century, abusing the Prophet while he prayed.”

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