No revelations, just a gripping story about how a misfit nerd homeschooled by California hippies found authenticity and acceptance in death metal and then in a death cult. It’s littered with ironic jewels, like how his grandfather sat on the board of the local ADL and how, before he joined Al Qaeda, Gadahn rejected evangelical Christianity because he felt alienated by its “apocalyptic ramblings.” Worth a read if you can spare the time.
What it is, at bottom, is a portrait of a toady.
Hisham Diab noticed Adam Gadahn at the Islamic Society and began inviting him to his home. Sometimes, Khalil Deek would be there, too. “Adam would come and eat lunch with Hisham and Khalil, or they would take him out to lunch,” Olson told me. “They treated him like he was their new pet.” She said that the two men referred to Gadahn as their “little rabbit” because “he would run around and do their little things for them all the time, like he would run over to the bank and make the deposit, or he would go over to the post-office box and get the mail.” When the two men told Gadahn to stop wearing jeans, he stopped wearing jeans. They gave him daily religious instruction, Olson said, which often involved memorizing the Koran, and required him to learn at least three prayers in Arabic every week.
“Adam turned very, very quickly,” Olson told me. “He absorbed it all. At first, he would come into the house, and if I would be making tea he would say, ‘Thank you, sister,’ very loudly into the kitchen. But he never, ever said anything again to me after Hisham told him, ‘You never thank them. That’s their duty.’ ”
Especially interesting is the very last section, in which forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman profiles jihadis. As with most cults, the ideology is mere window dressing for new recruits.