For the first time in more than 50 years, federal prosecutors are preparing to charge an American citizen with treason. Barring any last-minute complications, the charges will be filed today against Adam Gadahn, the American who has appeared in at least four al-Qaida videos, the most recent one in September.
Treason is the only crime specified in the Constitution and requires either confession in open court or the testimony of at least two witnesses to get a conviction. Prosecutors believe with millions of witnesses to his videos, they have enough proof, but the decision will be controversial, given that so little is known about the circumstances of the videos.
Born Adam Pearlman in California and raised on a goat farm in Riverside Co., he converted to Islam in his late teens. His parents say he moved to Pakistan in 1998. In 2004, the FBI revealed that it believed he was one of a group of al-Qaida terrorists planning some kind of attack later that year. In October of 2004, calling himself "Azzam the American," he first showed up in an al-Qaida video.