In a 48-minute video posted on militant websites, Adam Gadahn directed his appeal to Muslim immigrants in what he called the "miserable suburbs" of Paris, London and Detroit, as well as those traveling to the West to study or work.
"It is the duty of everyone who is sincere in his desire to defend Islam and Muslims today, to take the initiative to perform the individual obligation of jihad ... by striking the Zio-Crusader interests," he said, referring to Western and Jewish interests.
Gadahn, who has been hunted by the FBI since 2004, also sought to discredit attempts by moderate Muslim leaders to suppress the "jihadi awakening."
He spoke in Arabic in the video, which was made available by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.
Gadahn grew up on a farm in California and converted to Islam before moving to Pakistan in 1998 and reportedly attending an al-Qaida training camp.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter, called Gadahn's video "a desperate plea for attention" that will be ignored in the Detroit area - home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.
"I see little to no chance of such sentiment taking root in metropolitan Detroit. ... We're not a group of people who feel powerless," Walid said.
"If any Muslim community has grown in civic engagement and empowerment, it would be this community. He invoked the wrong population to try and stir up."
Associated Press writer Jeff Karoub contributed from Detroit, Michigan.