Striking Out


An ex-Little Leaguer’s personal crusade.


If only Al Qaeda spokesman Azzam the American had been a good baseball player when he was growing up on a goat farm in California.

That might have diverted his attention, and maybe he wouldn’t have converted to a fanatical brand of Islam that led him overseas to become Al Qaeda’s version of Tokyo Rose.

Born Adam Gadahn in 1978 to a Jewish hippie originally named Phil Pearlman who had embraced Christianity, the kid was home-schooled in rural Riverside County. Get the details in a fascinating New Yorker profile of Gadahn by my ex-colleague Raffi Khatchadourian. Adam was a smart kid, but don’t let that fool you. Ezra Pound, a brilliant hero of fellow writers, was also a crackpot anti-Semite.

As for baseball, well, young Adam apparently wasn’t very good, but at least he was faithful:

When Adam was twelve or thirteen, he played Little League baseball. Carol Koltuniak, whose son was on the same team, remembered that Gadahn was quiet and easygoing but not a natural athlete. “He definitely didn’t want to be doing what he was doing,” she said. “He was very much a loner.” But he was also persistent. Adam attended every practice and every game, accompanied by his family.

Years later, Gadahn is still striking out. This time he’s swinging at “those infidels,” meaning us. In a video released Sunday (only the latest of several from him since 9/11), Gadahn said:

The killing of those infidels and the targeting of their dens [diplomatic missions] is a religious duty.

And from this supremely self-hating Jew — his grandfather, urologist Carl Pearlman, with whom he spent time, was a board member of the Anti-Defamation League — here’s some more religious doody:

The amount of respect we have for your international law is even less than the respect you hold for defined Sharia, and our observance of it is comparable to your observance of Sharia.

How can we comply with a law which contradicts divine law in whole and in part?

How can we recognize a law which states that the embassy or consulate is for all intents and purposes an inviolable fortress which the host country has no right to enter or monitor and when our Sharia commands us to liberate every handspan of Islamic land occupied by the unbelievers?

What is this, the Four Questions?