Weiner: Take Terrorist Off YouTube
On Sunday, October 24, in a letter to YouTube CEO Chad Hurley, Representative Anthony Weiner called for the removal of terrorist videos featuring Anwar al-Awlaki, dubbed the “Bin Laden of the Internet,” who is using the site to find new recruits and promote radical Islamic extremism and violent jihad against Americans.
An examination by Weiner’s office found that al-Awlaki, who shares dual citizenship between the United States and Yemen, has appeared in over 700 videos on YouTube with a combined 3.5 million views.
“We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror,” Weiner said. “There is no reason we should give killers like al-Awlaki access to one of the world’s largest bully pulpits so they can inspire more violent acts within our borders, or anywhere else in the world.”
Al-Awlaki has been connected to several terrorist plots, including contact with three of the 9/11 hijackers who attended his sermons. He reportedly met privately with at least two of them. Currently, al-Awlaki’s sermons can reach countless others via You- Tube and similar social media outlets. To date, hundreds of al-Awlaki’s diatribes have been uploaded to YouTube, many of which have tens of thousands of views. A study by Weiner’s office found 712 videos featuring sermons from al-Awlaki with a combined 3,507,200 views.
Nidal Malik Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter, reportedly attended several of al-Awlaki’s sermons and even corresponded with him. U.S. intelligence intercepted at least 18 emails between Hasan and al-Awlaki between December 2008 and June 2009, including one in which Hasan wrote, “I can’t wait to join you in the afterlife.” After the Fort Hood shooting, al- Awlaki praised Hasan’s actions.
The “Christmas Day bomber,“ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, met with al- Awlaki, and admitted that he was one of his al-Qaeda trainers involved in planning or preparing the attack and providing religious justification for it, according to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials. In March 2010, al-Awlaki said in a videotape delivered to CNN that jihad against America was binding upon himself and every other able Muslim.
According to news reports, al-Awlaki has been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
Additionally, on December 24, 2009 President Obama approved an ultimately unsuccessful strike against a compound where al-Awlaki was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders.
“I understand that YouTube is a clearing house for ideas and that your company aims to not infringe on free speech, but al-Awlaki’s message, promoted via YouTube, has caused violence and is a threat to American security,” Weiner wrote in the letter.