Adam Gadahn, Catch and Release - Mistaken Identity or Intelligence Blunder?
2010-03-08 0:00

By Elizabeth Leafloor |

An American member of al-Qaida was arrested in a raid in Pakistanís southern city of Karachi, Pakistani officials said Monday.
Gadahn, notorious 31-year-old íspokesmaní for al-Qaida, is known for his videos supporting the actions of al-Qaida and has appeared in "more than a half-dozen al-Qaida videos, taunting the West and calling for its destruction. A video that surfaced Sunday showed him urging American Muslims to attack the U.S."

Adam Gadahn, a convert to Islam who acts as the US spokesman for al-Qaida seen here in an al-Qaida video: Pakistan officials now say the man they arrested on Saturday is not Gadahn. Photograph: AS-SAHAB/AFP/Getty Images

It was claimed they had captured Gadahn, but Pakistani intelligence then reversed earlier assertions that the detained man was the U.S.-born spokesman, claiming there had been a misidentification with a similarly-named man with an uncanny physical resemblance and an American background. American al-Qaida suspect nabbed.

Although this ínow we have him, now we donítí could be a simple snafu on the part of Pakistani intelligence and truly a case of mistaken identity, it is not far removed from the classic ípatsyí scenarios wherein assets of intelligence operations are protected from arrest by handlers so theyíre available when needed.

The timing of his recent video and subsequent capture (and misidentification?) are probably not unrelated.

While Pakistani and western media outlets were altered to his arrest and publishing the news, could it be that US intelligence were scrambling to have their important asset released and back under their covert control, while releasing a new narrative to explain away the coincidences?

Aspects of this story echo in other supposed íblundersí when U.S. forces missed their chance to get bin Laden in 2001, when í9/11 highjackerí Mohammed Atta was pulled over for speeding and released, and where the US government knew the íUnderwear Bomberí, yet allowed him to board anyway.

It is not impossible that Pakistani intelligence simply nabbed a man that was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time, but while it is convenient to have Osama bin Laden continuing to produce videos striking fear, anger, and determination into the hearts and minds of the western world at a time when support for the multiple wars are lagging, so is it very accommodating to have Adam Gadahn escape justice once more to continue his similar video legacy.

American arrested in Pakistan ínot al-Qaida US spokesmaní

Officials who identified American detainee as being Islamic convert Adam Gadahn now say they made a mistake.

Pakistani intelligence officials today denied that an American militant suspect arrested in Karachi was al-Qaidaís US-born spokesman.

Yesterday two intelligence officers and a senior government official identified the detained man as Adam Gadahn, a 31-year-old California-born convert to Islam who has appeared on videos threatening the west, including one that emerged earlier the same day.

But a senior government official and two security agents said today the suspect was not Gadahn.

"Our initial impression was that the guy was Adam Gadahn but that information now looks incorrect," a security official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

The arrested man was believed to be an American who goes by the alias of Abu Yahya. Gadahn is known to have used a similar alias. "Probably the name and his origin caused the confusion," the official said.

Gadahn, the first American to be charged with treason since the second world war era, is one of the FBIís top 10 most wanted terrorists and has had a $1m (£660,400) reward offered for information leading to his capture.

In a video released yesterday , Gadahn praised Nidal Malik Hassan, the Muslim-American army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 soldiers at an army base in Texas in November, calling him a role model.

US embassy spokesman Rick Snelsire said the embassy had not been informed of any American being arrested.

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