(JTA) — Adam Yahiya Gadahn, one of the two American al-Qaida members killed in the U.S. drone strikes disclosed Thursday by the White House, was himself of Jewish ancestry.
Gadahn, 36, who also was known as Azzam al-Amriki, was born Adam Pearlman in Oregon. His paternal grandfather was Jewish, according to a 2009 al-Qaida video in which he appeared. Gadahn was raised as a Christian and converted to Islam in 1995.
“Your speaker has Jews in his ancestry, the last of whom was his grandfather,” he says in the 2009 video. He notes that his grandfather was “a zealous supporter of the usurper entity ” — Israel — “and a prominent member of a number of Zionist hate organizations.”
Gadahn appeared in several al-Qaida videos between 2004 and his death, according to the Times of Israel. He acted as a translator and media coordinator for the terrorist group. According to Reuters, Gadahn was a “highly important” member of al-Qaida’s media team.
“Given the success of ISIS in media and social media, he would have been much needed, especially in communicating with English-speaking audiences and on websites and so on,” Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid told Reuters.
Gadahn and another American al-Qaida member, Ahmed Farouq, were killed in a drone strike in January five days after the U.S. drone strike in Pakistan that killed American Jewish contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto. Weinstein had been held captive by al-Qaida since 2011 and Lo Porto since 2012. The White House disclosed the two drone strikes on Thursday, apologizing for the one that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto.