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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Dead Al Qaeda Hippie Who Went Viral on TikTok

November 27, 2023 @ Sultan Knish Blog 

 Eight years after he was taken out by a drone strike in Waziristan, Adam Gadahn went viral on TikTok. Had the former Al Qaeda terrorist been alive to see TikTok lefties praising his, “Letter to America”, written in Osama bin Laden’s name, he would have been absolutely thrilled.

Raised by California hippies, Adam Gadahn’s message clicked with TikTok teens because he used to be one of them. After experimenting with heavy metal to rebel against his dad’s terrible folk music (“So tell us what the sign will be/Of the end of the age we know/War and famine everywhere/There’s no place left to go” he went for the ultimate in death metal.

We love nothing more than “slitting the throats of the infidels” he bragged in his videos in a fake Arabic accent right out of ‘Team America World Police’. “You and your people will, Allah willing, experience things, which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11.”

Al Qaeda embraced the previously useless hipster because he promised to teach them how to reach Americans. But the ‘Azzam the American’ experiment never took off. Even after he stopped wearing a burka-like disguise over his square wire rimmed glasses, and wound a tablecloth around his head instead, he never stopped looking like a dork in a costume.

Adam never belonged in Pakistan, he belonged in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ or ‘Napoleon Dynamite’: his blank thousand yard stare had been perfected by getting high, not in Koran study.

Americans did not rush to enlist in Al Qaeda because of his words. Adam had aimed his rhetoric at the Michael Moore demographic that had birthed him, but one it was one thing to jeer Bush in between Starbucks lattes and another to move to a cave on the Pakistani border.

The videos mostly tapered off and he was reduced to translating the speeches of Al Qaeda leaders. After Osama bin Laden’s death, Americans stopped paying attention to Al Qaeda, and Adam’s death in a drone strike took second billing to the deaths of two American hostages.

But Adam or Azzam had been ahead of his time. He had peaked before the age of social media, and he never reached the audience he needed. But that’s changing now.

8 years after he was spattered over parts of Pakistan, Adam is an Al Qaeda influencer now.

The living can catch up to the times, but the dead can only wait for the times to catch up to them. When Adam Gadahn converted to Islam in 1996 and then assaulted his local Imam for not being antisemitic enough, there weren’t a lot of American teenagers like him. But we now live in a world where there are plenty of American teens converting to Islam and going Jihad.

Take Trevor Bickford, a 19-year-old from Wells, Maine, a town of less than 10,000 people, who converted to Islam, and headed down to Times Square to kill non-Muslims. Or Xavier Pelkey, 19, of Waterville, Maine, a city of 15,000, who joined ISIS and planned his own terror attack. Or Jonathan Xie, a 20-year-old from a New Jersey suburb who joined Hamas and threatened to bomb Trump Tower.

When Shannon Maureen Conley, a 19-year-old teenage girl from suburban Colorado converted to Islam and tried to join ISIS in 2014, there were articles and profiles on her. By the 2020s, it’s become common enough that American teens becoming Islamic terrorists has become routine. Hardly anyone bothers with the extended profiles of what is now a social phenomenon.

The handful that actually go all the way, like Adam, Trevor, Xavier, Jonathan or Shannon are the tip of the iceberg. When Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to America”, actually written by Adam, went viral on TikTok, it exposed a much larger contingent of American teens friendly to the Jihad. Most Muslims are not actually terrorists, they’re just sympathetic to their positions. The same is true of parts of the non-Muslim world, including Europe, and it’s true of some American teens.

A poll showing that 51% of Americans 18-24 supported the murders, rapes and kidnappings atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct 7 is not just a statement about Israel. How many of them also think Al Qaeda had a point? There’s no meaningful polling on that: only anecdotal.

Adam’s “Letter to America”, stripped of his terrorist cosplay, the costumes and the droning voice, proved to be effective with teens who are like him, bored, dissatisfied and lacking in meaning. The Al Qaeda influencer rebelled against the Christian and Jewish religions of his parents, adopted Islam and then called for the destruction of America. In a counterculture that prizes teenage rebellion as the ultimate form of cultural change, Adam was the ‘it’ Jihadist.

Converting to Islam is a bit of a side road from the one that his Boomer parents took to get to their place in the counterculture. Adam went from his dad’s ‘Beat of the Earth’ and ‘Love Will Find a Way’ to a scorched earth triumph over the infidels, but isn’t this where the Left always ends up? Converting to Islam and joining Al Qaeda is the Zoomer answer to the Boomer side roads of joining Charlie Manson’s race war or drinking Kool-Aid with Jim Jones.

The Age of Aquarius always ends in Altamont and gulags. Why not also Jihad?

Adam Gadahn adapted Osama bin Laden’s message to a generation of teens who grew up believing that America was racist, “freedom and democracy that you call to is for yourselves and for white race only”, destroying the environment, ranting that “you have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gasses… despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement” (Adam had started out as an environmentalist), and oppressing the rest of the world. Starting with the leftist premise that America was evil, Al Qaeda made perfect sense. And to leftists it still does.

The first Al Qaeda influencer is postmortem piggybacking on a culture of radical activism that has made Islamic terrorism into the ultimate counterculture.

The Guardian profiles Americans who reacted to Islamic terrorism by reading the Koran and converting to Islam. The dead-eyed Manson followers and Jim Jones cult members are reading Korans and shouting “ceasefire”, they’re blocking traffic and having hysterics at the Capitol.

The Left has always drawn on fractured souls for its causes. Even more than dynamiting buildings, it set bombs to blow up the culture and its values. The more people it broke, the more recruits it gained. Islamists in America have gone beyond recruiting in prison and are recruiting from this same broken base. Mom and Dad may have protested the war, but Junior is a Jihadist.

Islam, like the Left, promises to destroy a failed world built on oppression and lies, in order to save it. Behind the apocalyptic idealism is the same perversity that led Adam Gadahn to threaten that, “the streets of America shall run red with blood.” Was this rhetoric really all that different from the anarchists, the Black Panthers or the Symbionese Liberation Army?

The radicals have become one great big apocalyptic gestalt, castrating teenagers, burning down pro-life centers, marching through the streets, tearing down statues and looting stores. The spectacle of it matters more than the details of the ideology. Like Mao’s Cultural Revolution, some teens robotically repeat verbose dogma they don’t understand, whether it’s Critical Race Theory or Hadiths, because it lets them run around destroying things and terrorizing people.

The destructive impulses that leftist radicals and Islamic terrorists channel are fairly similar. And not so different from the Hitler Youth. Put on a uniform, shock your parents and wreck things. The more you rage and hate, the stronger you feel and the more you bypass the hard work of adulthood. Radical politics is just another way for teenagers to never grow up.

‘Azzam the American’ was a Jihadist Peter Pan who never had to grow up. He’s dead now. And some of those radicals protesting for Hamas will eventually convert and follow in his footsteps.

Adam Gadahn understood instinctively how to take a foreign ideology and make it palatable to those like him, but we’re now in a world and a country full of Adams. Social decay has been supplemented by educational and pop culture indoctrination. TikTok is happy to spread Osama’s message as long as it weakens America. There is a world of strange bedfellows out there all happy to see us fall. And if we are not careful, some of them will be our children.

The return of ‘Azzam the American’ is a reminder that we’re not just in a war, but a culture war. A broken and divided nation is in no shape to defeat a vast enemy that is already inside our borders. The War on Terror is an extension of the old culture war we’ve been losing until now. Islamic terrorism could not succeed unless it could rely on a fifth column inside our countries.

After 9/11, it was clear that we would have to win an internal war to win an external one. Now as the wars come together and the enemy roams our streets, the need is more urgent than ever.

Either we defeat the enemy within or the war is lost.
Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine. Click here to subscribe to my articles. And click here to support my work with a donation. Thank you for reading.

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