American-born jihadi Adam Gadahn, in a 2010 v
American-born jihadi Adam Gadahn, in a 2010 vReuters

Al-Qaeda has confirmed that an American drone strike earlier this year killed its English-language spokesman, a California native known as Azzam the American, AFP reported Thursday, citing the SITE Intelligence Group.

In a special issue of the terrorist group’s English-language magazine Resurgence, editor Hassaan Yusuf wrote that Azzam, whose real name was Adam Gadahn, was killed in a strike thought to have taken place in January on an Al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan.

Yusuf also said Ahmed Faruq, an American described as a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and American and Italian hostages Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, were killed in another strike "a few weeks" prior.

The White House has said neither Gadahn nor Faruq were specifically targeted in the strikes, and President Barack Obama said in April he took "full responsibility" for the accidental killing of the hostages.

Gadahn was a teenage death metal music fan who grew up on a California goat farm before he was drawn into radical Islam.

He was one of the most high-profile figures in the global jihadist movement and a regular online presence, taunting his homeland and inciting attacks, noted AFP.

After the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011, he played a leading role in the movement's shift in focus to an effort to inspire "lone wolf" radicals to mount spontaneous attacks in the West. 

In a two-part, 100-minute video released after Bin Laden's death, he said Muslims living in the West are "perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders."

And in 2012, he marked the anniversary of the September 11 attacks by warning fellow American Muslims that their own government was plotting a "holocaust" against them.