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memri
December 6, 2011 No.
769

YouTube – The Primary and Rapidly Expanding Online Jihadi Base, Part VI: Following Deaths of Bin Laden and Al-Awlaki, Jihadi Groups Continue To Post Thousands of Videos, Provide Cyber Jihad Tools on YouTube; The Case of 'Muslims Against Crusades'

Introduction

Through our monitoring of jihadi use of YouTube over the past two years,[1]we have determined that YouTube has emerged as one of the leading websites for online jihad. It has replaced – and surpassed – websites administered by the jihadis themselves, which were previously the leaders in online jihadi efforts.

MEMRI has briefed members of the U.S. government and Congress on this issue, and has also met with representatives from Google Inc. to share our findings in identifying videos that incite violence and terrorist acts and to explain the role they play in homegrown terrorism.

During this period, following a substantial amount of negative PR and Congressional pressure, YouTube announced, in November 2010, that it would add a "flagging" system for marking videos that promote terrorism.[2]Previously, all YouTube users had the option of flagging videos as inappropriate; however, the reasons they could give for doing so were limited, including sexual content or copyright infringement but not promotion of terrorism.

Furthermore, in October 2010, Google announced a new initiative: Google Ideas, a division of Google that is a "think/do" tank that "combines a new generation of thinkers with technology to tackle some of the world's most intractable problems."[3] One of Google Ideas' first initiatives was a conference called the Summit Against Violent Extremism. According to the summit's website, it was created to develop "a network of former violent extremists, survivors, activists, experts, and executives united by a common mission: to counter violent extremism."[4]Its purpose is "to collect the work of the many individuals who share these beliefs. Through this platform, we aim to share ideas, foster new collaborations, and speak to the world on the solutions to violent extremism."[5]

According to The Washington Post, Google Ideas itself has no website, which it noted that "some might call strange for an Internet company... Google Ideas has been able to go under the radar because it's not among what many would consider to be its main constituency and it's somewhat guarded in the main Google offices in the Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood."[6] It should be mentioned that Google Ideas' Twitter account[7]appears to be inactive; as of this writing, was last updated on July 27, 2011.

The website of the Summit Against Violent Extremism includes initiatives such as ways "I Can Help." One such initiative, dated September 30, 2011, is the "Al-Awlaki Counter-Campaign." It puts out a call for "Islamic scholars and Anwar Al-Awlaki specialists needed for [a] cross-geographies working group to comprise a fact-based campaign to expose the flaws and lack of credibility in al-Awlaki's propaganda."[8]

However, despite YouTube's efforts with jihadi clip flagging and the Summit Against Violent Extremism, monitoring of online jihad shows that there has been no visible impact on YouTube against jihadi clips. Jihadi groups, ranging from Al-Qaeda to British Islamist groups, continue to have a major presence on YouTube. This presence has only increased following the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki. Thousands of Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki clips have been posted to YouTube, with sermons, propaganda videos by followers and nasheeds (songs usually referring to Islamic beliefs, history, and religion, as well as current events) devoted to them.

A further illustration of jihadis' embrace of YouTube came in the wake of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) confirmation of the death of American citizens Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. The English-language jihadi forum Ansar Al-Mujahideen (AMEF) published a eulogy for Al-Awlaki on October 11, 2011, in which the forum's administrators praised Al-Awlaki for his courage in speaking the truth even at the risk of being arrested, and for coming to Yemen to actively wage jihad. Khan was praised for his online activity as an English-speaking contributor to jihadi forums and a blogger. The eulogy also urged English-speaking jihad activists to redouble their efforts to produce and disseminate jihadi material on websites including YouTube.[9]

Young Americans and Europeans Radicalized on YouTube: The List Keeps Growing

As previous MEMRI reports have highlighted, there has been a series of cases of terrorism in the U.S. conducted by Al-Qaeda sympathizers who maintain active YouTube pages.[10] Most recently, it was announced on December 2, 2011, that a 24-year-old from Woodbridge, VA, Jubair Ahmad, would be entering a plea bargain on charges that he helped produce videos and uploaded them to YouTube for Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani group that has been on the U.S. designated terrorist list since 2001.[11]

Another recent example is Jose Pimentel (Muhammad Yusuf), a 27-year-old from the Bronx who maintained several blogs and both a Facebook and a YouTube page, "mujahidfisabillilah1[12]." Pimentel was arrested November 19, 2011 for trying to build a pipe bomb according to directions published in the Al-Qaeda English-language Inspire magazine.[13]

His YouTube page profile states: "I am a Sunni Muslim BROTHER from the Dominican Republic currently living in Harlem, New York. Allah has guided me out of darkness and into the light. I support Islam and the muslims all the way and of course my heart goes out to the BIG BROTHERS of this Ummah The mujahideen i ask Allah to forgive u and give u victory over the disbelievers. Please Check out this Blog: http://www.islammediaworks.com."

Jose Pimentel's YouTube page includes 51 uploaded videos, among them 12 lectures by Anwar Al-Awlaki. According to his page, he joined YouTube on August 8, 2009, and his most recent video was uploaded November 14, 2011. His page has 4,041 friends and 1,569 subscribers, and he was subscribed to 1,363 other pages. As of November 21, 2011, there were 986 comments on his YouTube page.

Senator Lieberman to Google CEO Larry Page: "Google's Inconsistent Standards are Adversely Affecting Our Ability to Counter Violent Islamist Extremism Online"

After it was revealed that Jose Pimentel had a YouTube page, Senator Joseph Lieberman, who has been a leader in the Senate in fighting online jihad and in particular on YouTube, wrote a letter, on November 22, 2011, to Google Inc. CEO Larry Page strongly criticizing Google Inc. because Pimentel's website, trueislam1.com, was hosted by Google's webhosting site Blogger.

Senator Lieberman wrote: "The private sector plays an important role in protecting our homeland from the preeminent threat of violent Islamist extremism, and Google's inconsistent standards are adversely affecting our ability to counter violent Islamist extremism online."[14]

The Case of the YouTube Page of the British Islamist Group "Muslims Against Crusades"; Ameer of MAC Discusses Bombing America; MAC Representative Calls for Another 9/11

One of the many jihadi groups mentioned in MEMRI research regarding YouTube is the U.K.-based Muslims Against Crusades (MAC). The group was co-founded by British jihadi Anjem Choudary, who is also the group's spokesman and spiritual guide. Choudary was also spokesman for the now-banned British Islamist group Islam4UK, and co-founder, together with Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, of the banned British Islamist organization Al-Muhajiroun.

Among the MAC videos on YouTube are Friday sermons, speeches by its leaders, and protests. One, of a September 11, 2010 protest outside the U.S. Embassy in London, shows burning U.S. flags; in a interview in the same video, a protestor promises another 9/11 attack in the U.S.

In the video, "Asadullah – Ameer of Muslims Against Crusades" says: "But when it comes to one of the Western countries, we bomb them all together and finish them in one small incident. This is how we fund it, something happened in America, so you know we can wipe out the whole population. Be it with daisy cutters, cluster bombs or whatnot."

In another video of the September 11, 2010 protest in London, a member of MAC says: "We see [in] America and other countries of the West a culmination of dishonor and disrespect of Islam. We see this Kuffar, they disrespect our Quran. We see these Kuffar, they disrespect the Almighty Creator. And we will destroy every single one of you together. And then we will throw you into the fire for dishonoring the Muslims and its religion. 'Murder USA,' 'Down, Down USA'… The Shari'a will dominate and we will conquer the White House. 'Burn burn Obama,' 'Obama go to hell.' Do not underestimate the Muslim people. By Allah, this ummah is ummah conquering. By Allah, we have dealt with many nations in the past, and by Allah we will deal with you. We will deal with you the way it has been mentioned in the Quran, because the solution is there to deal with you."

The MAC representative warned, "Let America know, as foolish as you may be, as ignorant as you may be, look what happened to them. Today, 9/11 took place how many years ago. We're calling for another 9/11. 'USA watch your back, the mujahideen are coming back.'"

On September 17, 2010, Revolution Muslim posted a video titled "The Pope Will Be Accounted – Demonstration on Saturday 18 September, Hyde Park."[15] The eight-minute video appears to be in response to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.K.


A MAC speaker in a YouTube video

In this video, the unknown speaker addresses the pope, saying: "We have a message from the Muslims Against Crusades to the enemy of Allah [i.e. Pope Benedict]." Then he accuses the pope of inflicting wounds upon the Muslims, and says that these wounds will not be healed "except by the implementation of shari'a from you, and you [Pope Benedict] know very well what is the ruling of the one who insults the messenger Mohammed [i.e. death]."[16]

Muslims Against Crusades' Second YouTube Page

On November 16, 2010, MAC created a second YouTube page.[17] The page was last updated on September 6, 2011.

November 2011: MAC Banned In U.K., MAC Website and Twitter Accounts Are Shut Down – But MAC YouTube Channels Continues

On November 9, 2011, the U.K. Home Office banned MAC; membership, holding meetings, or wearing clothing or "articles" to show support for the organization are now criminal offenses punishable by up to 10 years in jail.[18] The official announcement of the ban, on the Home Office website, read: "Terror organisation proscribed: The Home Secretary Theresa May today laid an Order proscribing Muslims Against Crusades effective from midnight tonight. She said: 'I have today laid an Order which will proscribe Muslims Against Crusades from midnight tonight. This means being a member of or supporting the organisation will be a criminal offence. I am satisfied Muslims Against Crusades is simply another name for an organisation already proscribed under a number of names including Al Ghurabaa, The Saved Sect, Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK. The organisation was proscribed in 2006 for glorifying terrorism and we are clear it should not be able to continue these activities by simply changing its name.'"[19]

Following this official announcement, the MAC's website and Twitter account were shut down. However, the MAC YouTube page (youtube.com/user/MACrusaders) as well as the YouTube page of its leader Anjem Choudary (youtube.com/user/anjemchoudary) remain active. Notable recent clips include one of Choudary leading prayers following the death of Anwar Al-Awlaki.

Prior to the ban, at an October 1, 2011 demonstration that it held outside the Syrian Embassy in London, MAC condemned the killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Addressing the protesters, group leader Anjem Choudhary condemned Awlaki's killing, calling it a "murder." He said that Awlaki had died as a martyr, and that the jihad will continue despite his death. After he finished speaking, Choudhary led the protesters in a memorial prayer for Al-Awlaki.[20] Choudhary's address and the prayer are seen in a clip uploaded to YouTube channel of the Muslims Against Crusades group. (To view this clip, visit https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=968391363942.)

MAC YouTube Page Includes Hidden Tools for Cyber Jihad

The MAC YouTube page looks similar to the thousands of other jihadi pages on YouTube. But a close examination of the "About Me" section of the page reveals a link: http://sourceforge.net/projects/loic/. Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) is a tool hackers can use to carry out distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. It can be assumed that the link is provided for use by MAC's followers.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a security bulletin in September 2011, from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center warning the security community about new tools and new recruitment techniques being used by various hacker groups. The DHS warning also referred to new tools being used by politically motivated "hacktivist" groups. The DHS bulletin warned that "Low Orbit Ion Cannon" had been repurposed to bring down systems using DDoS attacks. While such attacks are rudimentary, they could cause serious problems if directed at critical transportation systems.[21]

Muslims Against Crusades Renamed United Ummah – YouTube Page

Following the U.K. government's decision to ban MAC, and following the shutdown of its website and its Twitter account, the organization has apparently regrouped under the name United Ummah (UM) and created a YouTube page.[22]United Ummah is as dependent on YouTube to spread its message as was MAC before it.

Beginning in mid-November 2011, Anjem Choudary publicized UM's first official event – a protest at the U.S. Embassy in London, set for December 2, 2011. He tweeted about this demonstration several times on his Twitter page.[23] The Tweet includes a link to a YouTube promo video with a speech by Al-Awlaki praising martyrdom and saying, "If you execute me, I will be a shaheed."

According to media reports, at the protest, which took place as planned on December 2, 2011 and was aimed at condemning the recent surge in U.S. drone strikes in the Muslim countries, 20 Muslims Against Crusades members were arrested. The highlight of the protest was a recorded video message by Dr. Nasser Al-Awlaki, the father of Anwar Al-Awlaki, which was also posted on YouTube (to view the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs5i9mQmRjc ).[24]In his message, Nasser Al-Awlaki accuses the U.N. of assassinating his son and grandson while failing to prove the allegations brought against them. He also urges Muslims to keep his son's message alive by spreading his knowledge.

Nasser Al-Awlaki says that when the U.S. assassinated his son, he was "far from any battlefield." Criticizing what he called the U.S.'s double standard when it came to implementing justice, he says that when it came to targeting his son, "No one was concerned with justice, even their [i.e. the U.S.'s] justice." Instead, he said, the U.S. aimed solely to silence him, and now the U.S. tries to "sweep the whole episode under the carpet."

Nasser Al-Awlaki accuses the U.S. of having no evidence against his son, adding that "they knew that Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki carried an effective message – a message that was simple and straightforward" and that was directed at Muslims living in the West.

He continues by saying that the U.S., in its attempt to silence Anwar Al-Awlaki, "forced him to leave the United States, and tried to obstruct his work there. Then they imprisoned him in Yemen, and finally, they killed him after several failed attempts." He continued, "My son's blood did not and will not go in vain," adding that both Anwar Al-Awlaki and his son "are inshallah alive in Jana [i.e. Paradise]." He says that "Anwar will inshallah continue to be alive by spreading his teachings, sermons, and lectures, [since] it is the precise thing that he lived and died for."

Nasser concludes by saying, "It is the job of all of us to spread his knowledge, and keep it alive."[25]

*Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute.

Endnotes:

[1] Part I – Deleting Online Jihad and the Case of Anwar Al-Awlaki: Nearly Three Million Viewings of Al-Awlaki's YouTube Videos – Included Would-Be Christmas Airplane Bomber, Fort Hood Shooter, 7/7 London Bomber, and Would-Be Fort Dix Bombers, Deleting Online Jihad and the Case of Anwar Al-Awlaki: Nearly Three Million Viewings of Al-Awlaki's YouTube Videos – Included Would-Be Christmas Airplane Bomber, Fort Hood Shooter, 7/7 London Bomber, and Would-Be Fort Dix Bombers

Part II – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: A Look at Al-Awlaki's Followers YouTube Pages, YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Part II

Part III – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Taliban YouTube Page Remains Active, YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base – Part III: Despite Removal Efforts, Taliban YouTube Page Promising Terror Attacks on U.S. Cities Remains Active

Part IV – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base - Part IV: Young American YouTube Follower of Anwar Al-Awlaki on the Ground Zero Mosque and 9/11: 'America Reaps What It Sows'; 'You Pretend Like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Was a Daycare Center or a Maternity Ward; If the People Who Did 9/11 Wanted To Kill Innocent People, They Would Have Bombed a School… Church… Daycare Center,' YouTube - The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base - Part IV: Young American YouTube Follower of Anwar Al-Awlaki on the Ground Zero Mosque and 9/11: 'America Reaps What It Sows'; 'You Pretend Like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Was a Daycare Center or a Maternity Ward; No - The World Trade Center Was the Epicenter of American Economy That Funds So Much Death And Destruction... If the People Who Did 9/11 Wanted To Kill Innocent People, They Would Have Bombed a School... Church... Daycare Center'

Part V - YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube – Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube, Part V: YouTube - The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube - Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube

[2] Part V - YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube – Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube, Part V: YouTube - The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube - Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube

[6] The Washington Post, June 27, 2011.

[8] http://www.againstviolentextremism.org/marketplace . To date, there has been no information on any follow-up. The website also does not list any staff members. http://www.againstviolentextremism.org/about.

[10] Americans arrested on terror charges include Zachary Adam Chesser, a 20-year-old Northern Virginia suburbanite; Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, a 21-year-old described by his family as an "all-American kid; American Al-Qaeda jihadi Samir Khan, of North Carolina, who was killed September 30, 2011 together with Al-Awlaki; Paul and Nadia Rockwood, an Alaskan convert couple; Sharif Mobley, a 26-year-old Somali-American from New Jersey; Barry Walter Bujol; Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, both from New Jersey; Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas Day 2009 airplane bomber; The "Fort Dix Six" would-be bombers; Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter; and Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber. For more, see Part V - YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube – Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube, Part V: YouTube - The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: One Year Later on YouTube - Anwar Al-Awlaki's Presence Expands, Al-Qaeda Goes Viral, Jihadists Post Thousands of Videos of Killing of U.S. Troops; European Jihadists Also Embrace YouTube and also Endnote 1.

[11] AP, December 2, 2011.

[12] http://www.youtube.com/user/mujahidfisabillilah1. On accessing the link on November 23, 2011, it was found that the account had been terminated by YouTube, "due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines and/or claims of copyright infringement."

[13] For more on Inspire, see: Inspire 1, MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 3075, "Release of Al-Qaeda's New English-Language Magazine Ends in Jihadi Web Disaster," July 1, 2010, Release of Al-Qaeda's New English-Language Magazine Ends in Jihadi Web Disaster; Inspire 2, MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 638, "Second Issue of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) 'Inspire' Magazine: A General Review," October 13, 2010, Second Issue of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) 'Inspire' Magazine: A General Review; Inspire 3, MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 3391, "AQAP Releases Special Issue of 'Inspire' Magazine 'Operation Hemorrhage' – Dedicated Entirely To Explosive Parcels Plot," November 20, 2010, AQAP Releases Special Issue of 'Inspire' Magazine 'Operation Hemorrhage' - Dedicated Entirely To Explosive Parcels Plot; Inspire 4, MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 655, "Fourth Issue of the English-Language AQAP Magazine 'Inspire' – A General Review," January 19, 2011, Fourth Issue of the English-Language AQAP Magazine 'Inspire' – A General Review; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 680, "Issue V of 'Inspire,' the English-Language Magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – A General Review," March 30, 2011, Issue V of 'Inspire,' the English-Language Magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – A General Review; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 4007, "Inspire VI – Uninspiring: Latest Issue of English-Language AQAP Magazine Reflects Al-Qaeda's Setback following Bin Laden Killing, Arab Uprisings," July 19, 2011, Inspire 6 – Uninspiring: Latest Issue of English-Language AQAP Magazine Reflects Al-Qaeda's Setback following Bin Laden Killing, Arab Uprisings; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Report No. 743, "Issue VII of 'Inspire,' the English-Language Magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – A General Review," September 28, 2011, Issue VII of 'Inspire,' the English-Language Magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – A General Review .

[14] Joseph Lieberman to Larry Page, California, November 22, 2011.

[23] https://twitter.com/#!/anjemchoudary. See also MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 755, "Deleting Online Jihad on Twitter: The Case of British Jihadi Anjem Choudary – Tweeting for the Caliphate and the Conquest of the White House," November 4, 2011, Deleting Online Jihad on Twitter: The Case of British Jihadi Anjem Choudary – Tweeting for the Caliphate and the Conquest of the White House

[24] Nasser's message was originally posted on the unitedummah YouTube channel.