DUBAI (AFP) – An American member of Al-Qaeda urged Islamist militants to target US President George W. Bush “with bombs” during his trip to the Middle East next week, in an message posted online on Sunday.
Bush should be welcomed “not by flowers and applause, but with bombs and car bombs,” said Adam Gadahn, a convert to Islam who has been indicted for treason by a US jury.
The audio message is the first Al-Qaeda warning of 2008, and follows a message from the network’s chief Osama bin Laden on December 30 in which he warned Muslims against supporting Iraq’s US-backed government and promised the “liberation of Palestine.”
The bulk of the 50-minute tape attributed to Gadahn is in English, although the call to bomb the US president is made in Arabic.
“I send this urgent call to our brothers the Mujahedin, mainly in Palestine and the Arabian Peninsula, and in the region in general, to be ready to welcome the Crusader, the butcher Bush… not by flowers and applause, but with bombs and car bombs,” he said, according to a translation.
The message was posted on a website usually used by Islamists.
Bush is due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, the first US president to visit the Jewish state in nine years, in a bid to hasten the search for peace with the Palestinians. He is also due to visit the West Bank as well as five Arab states.
The message strongly criticises Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah who will welcome Bush to their countries as part of his eight-day tour of allies in the region.
It also contains a renewed attack on Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf over his support for the United States.
Gadahn recites verses from the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and reviews the “victories” of the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Maghreb.
He ends the message with prayers “for the victory of Muslims over the Jews, the Americans and their allies.”
Gadahn — also known Azzam al-Amriki and Azzam the American — is a key Al-Qaeda propagandist and is originally from California.
He has appeared in several videotapes for Al-Qaeda since 2004, praising the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and threatening new terror onslaughts.
In October 2006, he became the first person to be charged in the United States with treason since the World War II era. The charge carries a minimum of five years in prison on conviction and a maximum penalty of death.
Gadahn, long believed to be in Pakistan, has a one million dollar reward posted for his capture, and he appears along with bin Laden on a US “Wanted” poster featuring 26 “faces of global terrorism.”
Gadahn was born in 1978 in southern California, the son of a 1960s Jewish rock musician who later converted to Christianity and became a rural goat farmer.
His conversion to Islam came after he attended the Islamic Centre of Orange County, California, where he is believed to have come under the influence of two foreign-born Islamist radicals.
Gadahn is believed to have left California for Karachi in 1998 and gradually lost contact with relatives in the United States.