About the author  ⁄ WFIN

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Adam Gadahn, the al Qaeda spokesman killed during a U.S. counterterrorism operation, was an American-born suburbanite named Adam Pearlman who went from listening to heavy metal to Islamic radical.

On the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, the State Department had offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of 36-year-old Adam Yahiye Gadahn, who had identified himself as “Azzam the American” and had aliases like Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki. He was indicted in 2006 for treason by a federal grand jury, the first American to have been charged since the 1950s.

A former resident of Orange County, California, he started appearing in a series of videotaped segments broadcast in October 2004, the FBI said. In a 2004 video, he said, “The streets of America shall run red with blood.”

At age 17, Gadahn posted a statement online about his conversion to Islam called “Becoming Muslim,” rejecting evangelical Christianity and what he called his obsession with demonic heavy metal music.

“I discovered the beliefs and practices of this religion fit my personal theology and intellect as well as basic human logic,” he wrote at the time. “Islam presents God not as an anthropomorphic being but as an entity beyond human comprehension, transcendent of man, independent and undivided.”

The son of musician Phil Pearlman, Gadahn was raised in Orange County on a goat farm. He was home-schooled until the age of 15, at which point he moved in with his grandparents in Santa Ana, California, ABC News reported in 2004.

His aunt, Nancy Pearlman, told ABC News in 2004 that Gadahn was a typical teenager with shifting interests.

“Adam was a very loving, caring, intelligent young man,” she said. “He was listening to hard rock music. He gave that up when he got religious.”

Gadahn was recruited by Egyptian Hisham Diab, who ran one of the first al Qaeda support cells out of his apartment complex in Orange County. They met at a local mosque. Gadahn eventually left California for Karachi, Pakistan, where his parents last heard from him in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Diab’s ex-wife told ABC News’ Brian Ross in 2004 that Gadahn was “fresh meat.”

Gadahn was “someone they could control,” Saraah Olson, Diab’s ex-wife said. “Not only that, he’s very unassuming-looking, he can do a lot of their tasks.”

The first piece of evidence that Gadahn was tied to al Qaeda was his name on a tax form for Charity Without Borders, a sham 501(c)3 in Garden Grove, California, that funneled money back to extremists in the Middle East. The group’s listed officers included Diab and Khalil al-Deek, also known as “Joseph Adams,” who was implicated in the Millennium plot to attack western hotels in Amman, Jordan. Gadahn was also listed as an officer of Charity Without Borders, though his importance didn’t become apparent until he appeared in a 2004 al Qaeda video as a masked American promising blood would flow on the streets of U.S. cities.

The “prominent member” of the terrorist organization was killed in January, the White House said on Thursday, “likely in a separate U.S. Government counterterrorism operation,” from that which killed American hostage Warren Weinstein and Italian national Giovanni Lo Porto. The White House said Gadahn wasn’t specifically targeted.

Gadahn once tore up his U.S. passport on camera and regularly produced videos in English and Arabic.

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms,” Gadahn said in a 2011 al Qaeda video urging individual violent jihad. “So what are you waiting for?”

In October 2012, Gadahn urged al Qaeda’s followers to attack the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Gadahn was one of a handful Americans the U.S. had offered millions of dollars in rewards to help capture because they served under Osama bin Laden or his henchmen.

A family member declined to comment to ABC News.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Lyrid meteor shower reached its peak overnight with as many as 20 meteors per hour darting through the night sky.

The meteors are pieces of the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have made an appearance every April for at least the past 2,600 years as Earth runs into a stream of debris from the comet.

Peak meteor action began Wednesday around 10:30 p.m. local time in the Northern Hemisphere, while people in the Southern Hemisphere were able to catch a glimpse after midnight local time.

The most breathtaking views were in areas with an unobstructed view of the sky away from artificial lights. While the Lyrid has peaked, the annual meteor shower is expected to continue to a lesser extent into the weekend.

The annual show is known for its unpredictability. In the past, as many as 90 meteors per hour have streaked across the sky, providing a spectacular view.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — A $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of four thieves who took a baby sea lion from a beach in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department said that the suspects were seen taking a baby sea lion from Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey early Sunday morning at around 3 a.m.

On Wednesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it is offering the $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits. The organization encourages anyone with information to contact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

“PETA is urging anyone with information about this kidnapping to come forward immediately so that if this pup is alive, he or she can receive medical care and hopefully be returned to the sea,” PETA senior director Martin Mersereau said in a statement.

“When officers arrived they met with a witness who observed two male suspects and two female suspects harassing and taunting two baby sea lions at Dockweiler Beach,” the police statement read. “The suspects were seen taking one baby sea lion, entered a vehicle and fled from the location with the baby sea lion.”

PETA said the suspects were reportedly seen throwing rocks and cinder blocks at the pup.

The suspects attempted to capture the second sea lion pup, but it put up a fight and got away, ABC News’ affiliate in Los Angeles, KABC-TV, reported. The car is described as a “dark,” two-door Honda Civic with a California license plate ending in 56.

“The suspects are described as two male Hispanics and two female Hispanics” between the ages of 20 and 25 years old, the police statement read.

The Marine Animal Rescue rescued the second baby sea lion, police said.

Peter Wallerstein, director of Marine Animal Rescue, told KABC that sea lions are being stolen more often this year because of the record number of pups turning up sick along the Southern California coastlines.

“People have taken sea lion pups off the beach to bring them to a vet clinic of somewhere else for care,” Wallerstein told ABC News. “Although their intentions were good, this is the wrong thing to do. In this case the people seemed to want the pup for themselves.”

The LAPD is “initiating a cruelty to animal criminal investigation” and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating, because the baby sea lion is a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, came out with a forceful blog post Wednesday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying the administration is hiding the details of the deal from the American people.

“The Administration says I’m wrong — that there’s nothing to worry about. They say the deal is nearly done, and they are making a lot of promises about how the deal will affect workers, the environment, and human rights. Promises — but people like you can’t see the actual deal,” Warren writes.

Warren’s blog post came after President Obama said in an interview with MSNBC that the Massachusetts senator is “wrong” for opposing TPP.

Asked about Democratic opposition to the trade deal, the White House Wednesday admitted that “this has been a difficult political issue for Democrats and political allies in the past,” but that doesn’t mean “we’re going to shy away from this conversation.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Peter Kramer/NBC(LOS ANGELES) — Ben Affleck admitted earlier this week that he was embarrassed to learn that one of his ancestors owned slaves. Now, he’s revealing the name of that person.

“Lots of people have been asking who the guy was,” the actor tweeted on Wednesday. “His name was Benjamin Cole — lived in Georgia on my mom’s side about six generations back.”

Affleck, 42, came under fire after an email exchange posted on Wikileaks revealed that he had asked the team behind the PBS program Finding Your Roots not to include Cole in an episode about his family tree. In the emails, Henry Louis Gates, the host of the program, expressed hesitation to comply with Affleck’s wishes, though, ultimately, Cole was not mentioned in the October episode that featured Affleck.

Meanwhile, the actor pointed out that Finding Your Roots is not a news program, but, rather, “a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.

“We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery,” Affleck said. “It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Facebook users are a key part of how the company makes its money — and the social network can put a price on how much revenue the average user helped generate over the past quarter by interacting with advertisements.

The Menlo Park, California-based company reported increased engagement Wednesday in its earnings call, with 1.44 billion active monthly users. While those users don’t pay Facebook, they do interact with advertisements, making them a key ingredient to how Facebook makes money.

For the first quarter of 2015, the average Facebook user helped bring in $2.50 of revenue to the company, according to investor information posted on Facebook’s website.

Looking at it geographically, the average user in the United States and Canada contributed significantly more revenue — $8.32. Last quarter, each user in the U.S. and Canada brought in $9 in revenue.

Facebook announced a 42 percent rise in revenues, showing $3.54 billion, just falling short of analysts’ expectations of $3.56 billion.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Chelsea Clinton defended her family’s charity Thursday against allegations that foreign governments received favors in return for donations — saying that despite all the questions, the Clinton Foundation does “important” work and is “among the most transparent” of foundations.

“What the Clinton Foundation has said is that we will be even more transparent, even though Transparency International and others have said we’re among the most transparent of foundations,” the former first daughter and vice chair of the Clinton Foundation said when asked during a panel in New York City Thursday morning about claims made in a new book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.

“I very much believe that that is the right policy. That we’ll be even more transparent. That to eliminate any questions while we’re in this time, we won’t take new government funding, but that the work will continue as it is,” Clinton continued, referring to the foundation’s recent policy change to limit donations from foreign governments, like Saudi Arabia.

Chelsea Clinton’s comments come the same morning the New York Times and other media outlets reported on the soon-to-be released book by Peter Schweizer, which asserts that foreign entities have received special favors from Bill and Hillary Clinton after donating to the Clinton Foundation, particularly during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State.

Many of Hillary Clinton’s likely Republican opponents have used the book as a way to attack the Democratic presidential candidate.

The Clinton campaign has brushed off the allegations, saying in a statement released to ABC News that the book is part of the Republicans’ “coordinated attack strategy” against the Clintons.

Hillary Clinton also dismissed the book’s claims, telling reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire this week that the allegations are simply a “distraction” from her presidential campaign.

Chelsea Clinton made her remarks during a panel on women and girls at the Council on Foreign Relations, moderated by ABC News’ JuJu Chang.

During the panel, Clinton also weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s recent presidential announcement, and hinted that her own role on the campaign trail — at least for now — will be more limited than in 2008 due to her responsibilities as a new mom.

“My life is very different now than it was in 2008,” Chelsea said. “I’m a mom and my first responsibility is to my daughter, and ensure that she feels the same way I always felt, that I was the most important person in the world to my parents.”

Chelsea added that “very much for this year” she will likely limit how much she travels, but that she is still very “committed” to helping her mom win in 2016.

“I think certainly all of us try to figure out how to balance roles in our lives,” she remarked. “How I’ll figure that out is an open question. But I’m committed to doing so, and all advice is very appreciated.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The first YouTube video ever was in praise of elephants.

The video sharing website’s story begins with a short video of a guy at a zoo admiring the elephants and their “really, really, really long trunks.”

Ten years later, YouTube has turned into a billion dollar video sharing juggernaut and one of the most visited websites on the Internet. The website is said to be valued as high as $40 billion.

Meanwhile, the first video ever posted on the site 10 years ago on Thursday is nearing 20 million views.

In the 18-second video — entitled “Me at the zoo” — YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim stands in front of the elephant enclosure and delivers a quick message about how the elephants have “really, really, really long trunks,” which he thinks is “cool.”

The video is grainy and a far cry from the slick high-definition videos seen on the site today. It was, however, an important first step in what would become a company that changed the way media is consumed and enabled anyone to build a following and become a star.

Today, as much as 300 hours worth of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Although Karim left YouTube early to get a graduate degree in computer science, he earned a windfall for his work on the site when it was acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion.

The New York Times reported Karim received 137,443 shares, which were worth around $64 million at the time of the deal.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Ivan Konar/LatinContent/Getty Images(SANTIAGO, Chile) — Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted Wednesday after being dormant for more than four decades.

The eruption, the first since 1972, emitted a huge ash cloud and prompted evacuations in nearby towns.

Time-lapse video footage showed an ash cloud forming as the volcano erupted:

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Warren Weinstein’s wife Elaine and their daughters Alisa Weinsten and Jennifer Coakley spoke with reporters in 2013 about Warren’s kidnapping. Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The American held hostage by al Qaeda who was was killed during a U.S. counterterrorism operation was a former Peace Corps official working in Pakistan for community projects.

Dr. Warren Weinstein was taken hostage in 2011 when he was a USAID contract worker in Lahore, Pakistan, who was helping Pakistani families escape poverty, according to President Obama. Gunmen stormed his apartment and took him captive before he was traded to al Qaeda.

Thursday, the White House said Weinstein and another hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national, were killed during an American government’s counterterrorism operation this past January. President Obama called him a humanitarian who “devoted his life” to help people across Africa and South Asia.

Weinstein’s wife, Elaine, spoke to ABC’s Good Morning America in December 2013 after seeing a video of her husband.

“I wanted to die right there on the spot,” Weinstein’s wife, Elaine, said at the time about her reaction to the video, “because he has no idea how hard we’ve tried to get him back…and it’s just heartbreaking because he’s asking for help and I can’t give him any.”

In 2012, Weinstein pleaded with President Obama to comply with the terrorists’ demands, saying, “My life is in your hands, Mr. President,” he said. “If you accept the demands, I live. If you don’t accept the demands, then I die.”

“I’ve done a lot of service for my country, and I would hope that my country will now look after me and take care of me and meet the demands of the mujahedeen,” he added.

“I tell the captive soldiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, ‘We have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,'” al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a 30-minute statement months after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →