CAIRO — An American thought to be an Al Qaeda activist appeared in a videotape with the terrorist group's deputy leader Saturday and called on his countrymen to convert to Islam and for U.S. soldiers to switch sides in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The 48-minute video, posted on a Muslim militant website, had footage of Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman Zawahiri, and of Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a 28-year-old Californian who the FBI says attended Al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and served as an Al Qaeda interpreter.
It was the second time Gadahn had appeared in a video with Zawahiri. In a July 7 video marking the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on London commuters, Gadahn appeared briefly, saying no Muslim should "shed tears" for Westerners killed by Al Qaeda attacks.
But Saturday's video -- and the length of Gadahn's speech -- suggested Al Qaeda had found in him someone who could address the American people in familiar idiom.
Appearing days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Gadahn spoke through most of the video. He wore a white robe and turban and sat in front of a desk with a computer and Islamic books.
The video included no direct threats of attacks.
Gadahn, urging U.S. soldiers to convert to Islam, said, "We send a special invitation to all of you fighting Bush's crusader pipe dream in Afghanistan, Iraq and wherever else 'W' has sent you to die. You know the war can't be won."
Gadahn also urged other Americans to convert to Islam. Zawahiri gave a brief introduction, also calling on Americans to convert.
In the video, Gadahn's uncovered face resembled FBI photos, and his name and nom de guerre -- "Azzam the American" -- were written in Arabic and English next to him.
Little is known about Gadahn's role in Al Qaeda. He disappeared soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2004, the FBI announced it was seeking him in connection with possible terrorist threats against the U.S.