Two Pakistani officers and a government official said Sunday that an American charged with treason for working with al Qaeda had been captured, a development that could deliver another significant blow in the U.S.-led battle against the terror network.
U.S. defense, intelligence and law enforcement officials could not immediately verify the reported detention of Adam Gadahn, a 31-year-old spokesman for al Qaeda who has appeared on videos threatening the West, including one that emerged earlier Sunday.
The reported arrest of Gadahn follows the recent detention of several Afghan Taliban commanders in Karachi, including the group’s No. 2. Those detentions have been seen as a sign that Pakistan, which has been criticized as an untrustworthy ally, was cooperating more fully with Washington.
Some observers were cautious about giving credence to the claim that Gadahn was in custody as reports emerged that the man arrested might instead be a Taliban militant leader. There was no way of independently verifying the arrest or identity, and detentions of terror suspects in Pakistan are often surrounded by conflicting reports.
CBS News was told by sources in the Pakistan government that it was Gadahn, even after U.S. officials refused to confirm it was the California native for whom a $1 million reward has been posted.
Later, CBS News’ Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad reported that earlier reports the detained individual was Gadahn proved false. According to a Pakistan security official who spoke with CBS News on condition of anonymity, the arrested individual is in fact “a Taliban militant leader who is known as Abu Yahya.”
The official said evidence compiled from an interrogation of the suspect and information exchanged with U.S. officials verified the man’s identify.
The American-born spokesman for al-Qaida has been arrested by Pakistani intelligence officers in the southern city of Karachi, two officers and a government official said Sunday, the same day Adam Gadahn appeared in a video urging U.S. Muslims to attack their own country.
The arrest of Gadahn is a major victory in the U.S.-led battle against al-Qaida and will be taken as a sign that Pakistan, criticized in the past for being an untrustworthy ally, is cooperating more fully with Washington. It follows the recent detentions of several Afghan Taliban commanders in Karachi, including the movement’s No. 2 commander.
Gadahn has appeared in more than half a dozen al-Qaida videos, taunting and threatening the West and calling for its destruction. A U.S. court charged Gadahn with treason in 2006, making him the first American to face such a charge in more than 50 years.
He was arrested in the sprawling southern metropolis of Karachi in recent days, two officers who took part in the operation said. A senior government official also confirmed the arrest, but said it happened Sunday. The discrepancy could not immediately be resolved.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
The intelligence officials said Gadahn was being interrogated by Pakistani officials. Pakistani agents and those from the CIA work closely on some operations in Pakistan, but it was not clear if any Americans were involved in the operation or questioning.
In the past, Pakistan has handed over some al-Qaida suspects arrested on its soil to the United States.
President Obama should immediately press Pakistan to release Gadahn to American authorities and transport his sorry ass to Super Max prison in Colorado until he is tried for treason.
Congrats to Pakistani and American intelligence officers.