“Get A Mac” Ad Used to Explain al-Qaida’s New Media Ops

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Adam Gadahn as "PC" and Anwar al-Awlaki as a "Mac."

Those iconic “Get a Mac” ads were recently used by an intelligence analyst to explain the emerging styles of two of al-Qaida’s American recruits.

At a classified intelligence conference outside Washington, the audience laughed and applauded when American al-Qaida members Adam Gadahn and Anwar al-Awlaki were swapped in for PC John Hodgman and Mac Justin Long in an Apple commercial.

Other analysts agreed that the award-winning ads featuring an uncool PC and a laid-back, charismatic Mac are apt characterizations of the two high-ranking American al-Qaida media strategists.


Gadahn, a home-schooled kid with hippie parents who favored death metal rock before finding Islam, played the PC character.

“He has this presence where it is very stiff,” Mia Bloom, a terrorism expert at Penn State University said. “He has the tendency to point a lot at the viewers and has this alienating character…And he has never been a very engaging speaker.”

Awlaki’s, on the other hand, has a much more charismatic style.

“Unlike Gadahn, Awlaki has religious credentials and I think is viewed as a more mature character,” says Juan Zarate, a former deputy at the National Security Council during the Bush administration. “Adam Gadahn was always a teenage punk who happened to be there for al-Qaida at its zenith. He served a role, but not very well, frankly.”