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Steve Stalinsky

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Steven Stalinsky has been Executive Director of MEMRI since 1999. Mr. Stalinsky's expertise on the Middle East is sought after throughout Washington, D.C., where he has briefed staff of the White House; the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Justice; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; the Government Accountability Office; and other institutions. On Capitol Hill, Mr. Stalinsky frequently briefs Members of Congress and staff on issues related to the Middle East and to the fight against terrorism. His research has been used in major legislation centering on Iran and Egypt, and also for the Saudi Accountability Act, and he was invited to testify about Saudi Arabia before Congress.

Mr. Stalinsky's research has focused on detailing and developing strategies against cyber jihad, describing how terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and others use the Internet, social media, and encryption for propaganda, recruiting, and hacking. He was an early advocate of calling on the tech community to take stronger action on removing terrorist content from their platforms and for creating industry standards to combat it. Stalinsky has published extensive research and documentation of the use of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media by the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Hizbullah, Hamas, and other jihadi groups.

In addition to over 100 original research reports he has authored for MEMRI, Mr. Stalinsky has published articles in multiple newspapers, magazines, and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Weekly Standard, The Middle East Quarterly, National Review, Fox News, The Jerusalem Post, and others.

Mr. Stalinsky's research has also made an impact internationally. His articles have been cited in official United Nations documents, as well as by members of the U.K. and Canadian parliaments. Leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, the Associated Press, The Telegraph (UK), The Daily Mail (UK), Wired, Fast Company, and many others have interviewed Mr. Stalinsky on issues surrounding the Middle East, counter-terrorism policy, and terrorist use of the Internet and combating it. His research has been cited by USA Today, The Guardian (UK), The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, NPR, Fox News, the BBC, and Wired, as well as by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Defense News, and others. He has also been cited by leading Arabic media outlets, including Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (UK), Al-Ahram (Egypt), Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Al-Hayat (UK), Al-Raya (Qatar), Al-Khaleej (UAE), and many others. From 2003 through 2007, Mr. Stalinsky wrote a weekly column for the New York Sun focusing on the Arab and Iranian media.

Mr. Stalinsky is the author of the book American Traitor – The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda's U.S.-Born Leader Adam Gadahn, which provides insight into the mind of the terrorist who led Al-Qaeda media efforts and Internet policy, and into his reasoning for supporting jihad against the U.S.

Prior to joining MEMRI, Mr. Stalinsky spent a decade in Washington, D.C. at various private and government think-tanks. Before coming to Washington DC, he performed public service within the U.S. through a year in AmeriCorps (often considered the urban Peace Corps) as a City Year member. Directly out of college, he worked on the Clinton/Gore presidential campaign. Mr. Stalinsky, who is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in Homeland Security Studies, holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and a B.A. in Religious Studies.

AMERICAN TRAITOR Cover
BOOK REVIEW

AMERICAN TRAITOR

BY Steve Stalinsky • POSTED ON Sept. 11, 2017

Debut author Stalinsky offers a profile of an American who became an al-Qaida operative.

Adam Pearlman’s story begins with his upbringing in rural California, where he, along with his siblings, was home-schooled on the family farm. In his teenage years, he developed an encyclopedic knowledge of death-metal music, and he channeled his interest into writing reviews of new releases and even recording a solo album under the name Aphasia. At the age of 16, however, his life took an abrupt turn. While staying with his grandparents in Santa Ana, California, in the mid-1990s, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Adam Gadahn. As he explained in an essay at the time, “I discovered that the beliefs and practices of this religion fit my personal theology.” Following his conversion, he fell under the influence of a group of “radical jihadists” in the area, eventually traveling to Pakistan and becoming “Azzam the American.” With this new persona, now bearded and frequently brandishing a weapon, Gadahn would help shape al-Qaida’s propaganda wing, appearing in and producing numerous videos over the years. These videos would get the attention of audiences ranging from would-be terrorists to U.S. government operatives, and they’d eventually lead to charges of treason and death by drone-strike. Stalinsky’s book relies heavily on material from other publications; for example, a January 2007 article from the New Yorker proves indispensable to early chapters. However, it’s at its best when laying bare Gadahn’s message over the years. The author makes frequent use of transcripts of his subject’s videos, effectively offering close commentary on his statements and showing how they reflected political developments in the United States and abroad. For example, he tells of how Gadahn produced annual videos celebrating the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, advised American terrorists to purchase firearms at gun shows, and demanded the United States stop sending Peace Corps volunteers to the Islamic world. Stalinsky’s highlighting of such sentiments, particularly when compared with Gadahn’s innocuous teenage praise of obscure bands like Timeghoul, makes for a truly unnerving examination of a real-life enemy of the state.  

An up-close look at one man’s bizarre journey to international notoriety.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9678480-2-0

Page count: 496pp

Publisher: MEMRI Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017