"Al-Awlaki is… the bin Laden of the Internet."
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, December 29, 2009
The following report is the fourth in a series on the emergence of YouTube as the Internet's primary and rapidly expanding Jihadi base. It focuses in particular on American-born Al-Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, who over the past year has come to depend on YouTube to spread his message to a growing number of young American followers.
It should be noted that as Western governments increasingly take down and interfere with traditional terrorist websites, Al-Qaeda and other jihadists have grown more dependent upon on YouTube and other social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter. To date, these outlets seem unprepared to effectively address this problem.
How Anwar Al-Awlaki Became the Sheikh of YouTube
Following the removal of Al-Awlaki's website on November 9, 2009, YouTube became the largest clearinghouse of his online videos. A quick tabulation of viewings of Al-Awlaki's 2,500-plus clips – comprising lectures, sermons, and compilation videos supporting his jihadist philosophy – now indicates well over three million views, and counting. These clips include Al-Awlaki calling Muslims to jihad, expressions of support for martyrdom attacks, and encouragement to kill American soldiers.
It is worth noting that Al-Awlaki's March 18, 2010 audio recording titled "To the American Muslims" – the first Al-Awlaki recording, audio or video, since he went into hiding months earlier – was posted directly to YouTube, rather than on any of the major jihadi websites which normally carry such content.
Al-Awlaki followers have converted his most popular writings, sermons, and teachings into video format and posted them to YouTube. The most infamous of these is "44 Ways to Jihad," a document published by Al-Awlaki on January 5, 2009; it has been posted on dozens of YouTube pages, and has been cited in at least two major terrorism cases in the U.S. this summer. This document and the videos made from it include a list of instructions for Muslims to follow in order to support jihad, including: "praying to Allah to award you with martyrdom"; "fundraise and finance for mujahideen"; "encourage others to jihad"; "preserving the secrets of mujahideen"; "follow news of jihad and spreading it to scholars and Imams"; "raising children on the love of jihad"; "joining groups that work for jihad"; and "translating jihad literature into other languages."
"44 Ways to Jihad" also calls on Muslims to support "www.jihad.com," that is, "establishing discussion forums that offer a free, uncensored medium for posting information relating to jihad," including the following: establishing email lists to share information [related to jihad] with interested brothers and sisters; Posting or emailing jihad literature and news; and setting up websites to cover specific areas of jihad, such as: mujahideen news, Muslim POWs, and jihad literature."
Al-Awlaki's Online Presence Continues to Radicalize Young Americans
The following is the ever-expanding list of Americans, including Muslim immigrants, converts, and other Westerners , who have been radicalized by Anwar Al-Awlaki through his online presence and are now in jail, wanted, or dead:
- Paul and Nadia Rockwood, an Alaskan convert couple who reportedly created a hit list of local media, religious officials, and military who "desecrated Islam." It has been reported that Mr. Rockwood was inspired by "44-Ways to Jihad"; he pled guilty on July 21, 2010
- Samir Khan, a 24 year-old North Carolina resident who is believed to have fled to Yemen this summer while assisting Al-Awlaki in spreading his online message
- Zachary Chesser, a 20 year-old northern Virginian who is accused of trying to join the Somali Al-Qaeda allied group Al-Shabab and was arrested July 2010
- Sharif Mobley, a 26 year-old Somali-American from New Jersey who will stand trial in Yemen in September for killing a Yemen soldier. Mobley previously worked at nuclear plants based in New Jersey
- Barry Walter Bujol, a Texas resident who was arrested in June 2010 at the Port of Houston while boarding a ship bound for the Middle East
- Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, two young New Jersey men arrested on June 3, 2010 on their way to kill U.S. soldiers in Somalia
- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas Day airplane bomber
- The "Fort Dix Six" would-be bombers
- Mohamed Eli, Ibrahim, a University of Toronto student killed in Somalia this year
- Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter
- Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber
- The 7/7 London bombers
The Case of "Jihadi Fan Club" – A YouTube Follower of Anwar Al-Awlaki in Support of the Ground Zero Mosque
"Anwar Al-Awlaki is NOT a terrorist. He simply wants America to change its unjust foreign policy. He does NOT call for fighting out of hatred for America, he call for fighting in the name of self defense. Anwar Al- Awlaki tells the sincere Muslims to fight against the U.S. troops and all the oppressors of the Muslims. Please pray for the mujahideen and all who are fighting for the success of Islam." So wrote Youtube user "Jihadi Fan Club" about his online sheikh.
On August 15, 2010, Jihadi Fan Club posted a video of himself titled "Ground Zero Mosque: The Best Muslim Response." The video description states: "Thank You Anwar Al-Awlaki & Abu Mansoor – for your inspiration." Abu Mansoor refers to Abu Mansour Al-Amriki, an American-born member of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali group Al-Shabab, whose rap videos inciting to jihad can be found on hundreds of YouTube pages.
According to his profile, Jihadi Fan Club is 27 and from the United States. The 'About Me' section states: "I decided to devote my channel to teaching people about authentic Islam and politics that are going on in the Muslim world. As Muslims it is important that we practice our faith according to the Quran and Hadith. As Muslims it is also essential that we become knowledgeable about politics, economics, and current events, in order to come up with solutions to the worlds problems using Islamic concepts." His interests include: "Ridding the world of moderate Islam." The wallpaper on his YouTube page is an image of Ali Mahmud Ragi, a spokesman for Al-Shabab.
Jihadi Fan Club is a clear example of a young American convert radicalized by YouTube.
"Jihadi Fan Club" Expresses Support for the 9/11 Attacks
(To view this video, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/jihadifanclub#p/a/u/1/f67WsEUmndE)
The transcript of Jihadi Fan Club's video "Ground Zero Mosque: The Best Muslim Response" is as follows: "Assalamulaken to all the Muslims out there and hello to all the non-Muslims out there. As you may have already heard, a lot of people don't want to see a mosque being built at Ground Zero, and the reason it is is because they're saying by building a mosque at Ground Zero, it's pretty much making a dedication to the ideology that caused 9/11. But the reality is the only ideology that caused 9/11 was American foreign policy. And the only religion you have to blame for 9/11 is American foreign policy. The American government for decades thought it could go into the Muslim world and rape, rob, and pillage the Muslim people like it did the native Americans and you could enslave us like you did the millions of black Africans in this country. And you thought you could get away with doing this without feeling retaliation, and the thing is, that's just ridiculous. You know, it's called karma, what goes around comes around. You reep [sic] what you sow. Or as our brother Malcom X says, the chickens coming home to roost."
"Jihadi Fan Club": "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"
"You go around the world hurting people, putting sanctions on them, making their children die of diseases starvation and you think that is acceptable? You think people are just going to sit there and accept that and not fight you back? I mean are you mad, are you crazy? Of course people are going to fight you back. The only people you have to blame is your government because your government knew that what it was doing was wrong, and that possibly people would have attacked. But instead of your government caring about the people of America and saying, 'You know what, if we do something wrong, maybe people might attack us,' they did it wrong anyway not thinking about the wellbeing of the American people. And now that the government has done something wrong and people did attack in retaliation, you want to blame the victims, the people who attacked because America was hurting them in the first place.
"And another thing is, people want to say, 'Well, the people who did 9/11, they attacked innocent people.' Well not necessarily; 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 in the Muslim world. And the Pentagon was the epicenter of the military, which pretty much enforces and executes America's oppression all over the world. If the people who did 9/11 wanted to kill innocent people, they would have bombed a school, they would have bombed a church, they would have bombed a daycare center, they would have bombed a grocery store. No. 9/11 was done as a symbiotic thing to say that we are not going to take your B.S. anymore, and we're going to destroy your economy, we're going to destroy your military, and we're going to destroy your unity. And those are the three things that have happened. You come into our countries and you start – after 9/11 – you invaded our countries, and ever since then your economy has been in intensive care, ever since then, your country has been divided, and ever since then, your military has been spread out to ineffectiveness. So, in other words, you need, Americans need to wake up, use 9/11 as a time of reflection to see what they're doing is wrong, and fixing your own problems instead of blaming Islam and the Muslims for the consequences of their actions."
More Comments From "Jihad Fan Club" on Other Jihad Videos Posted on His YouTube Page – Including Support For Fighting the American Government and For Americans to Join Al-Qaeda
Jihadi Fan Club's YouTube page includes "Favorite Videos" featuring Anwar Al-Awlaki, American Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, and Malcolm X. Other comments posted on this page include praising for Al-Qaeda, Americans joining Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and support for violent revolution. The following are examples, from this summer:
Muslim Hypocrites Refusing to Condemn American Terrorism: "Stand for the Mujadhideen!"
August 12, 2010: "Killing the innocent is WORNG, but CNN has an EVIL agenda which is to trick you into thinking that terrorism is caused by misguided Muslims instead of U.S. foreign policy. They also want you to spend your time condemning terrorist attacks instead of using your power to fight against the American government, its puppet regimes and its allies which is the cause of all the violence in the Muslim world and the terror attacks in the US & Canada. Oh Muslims please do not be fooled by these evil disbelievers and their Muslim lap dogs. A real Muslim is always harsh towards the non Muslims and lenient towards the Muslims. These hypocritical Muslims will condemn Muslims that attack the West yet will not condemn American terrorism even though America is the cause of much of the trouble we face today. Let's not try to be like those who that try to please the disbelievers. Stand for the Mujahideen! Stand for your honor! Stand for Islam!"
More Americans Are Joining Al-Shabaab! Praise Be to Allah!
August 5, 2010: "American Muslims from all races and ethnicities are starting to give up their sparkling shopping malls, video games, hamburgers and other comforts of American life style to join the fight against the crusaders that have invaded Somalia."
Why Muslims Hate the American Government
July 28, 2010: "People believe that 9/11 happened because Muslims hated Americas freedom, Americas 'liberated' women, and wanted 72 virgins. But as a Muslim I beg to differ. Americas foreign policy was the cause for 9/11 and much anti Americanism in the Muslim world. But when I tell people this I am labeled an 'extremist,' 'radical,' or 'terrorist.'
Kabul Dreams (Afghan Rock Band): America Forcing Secularism on Muslims
July 6, 2010: "Another example on America's war on Islam. In Islam the use of musical instruments is not allowed. Therefore the Taliban made the playing of musical instruments illegal.
Today the Americans are undoing Islamic Law and enforcing secular law by making instrumental music permissible. Should stand not support this band (Kabul Dreams) or the secularism the West tries to impose on us."
Osama bin Laden Predicted the Economic Collapse of America
June 30, 2010: "Michael Scheuer speaks on Osama Bin Ladens goal was to collapse the American economy, divide the country and weaken the military through war. Funny enough this is EXACTLY what is happening. Scheuer also talks about how Bin Ladens adherence to Islam is what makes him better than the secular Muslim rulers."
Adam Gadahn Says How Obama Can End Terrorism
June 21, 2010: "Adam Gadahn explains EXACTLY what Muslims want Obama to do in order for there to be peace. Until these demands are met there will always be conflict."
TRUE Muslims are Not Afraid of Violent Revolution
June 17, 2010: "The West and the puppet regimes of the Muslim world will NEVER end their oppression through pacifism. They have NO intentions of practicing justice. Using dialogue is the best way to end oppression. However, our oppressors only seem to respond to violence. There is nothing un-Islamic with physically fighting your oppressors. Stand for the Mujahideen! Stand for justice! Stand for Islam!"
 See also MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 621, "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," July 2, 2010, 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; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 606; "YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Part II,"May 4, 2010, YouTube – The Internet's Primary and Rapidly Expanding Jihadi Base: Part II; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 576, "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," December 30, 2009, 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.
 AP, August 16, 2010.
 NPR, August 18, 2010.
 CNN, July 22, 2010.
 AP, August 25, 2010; ABC News March 12, 2010.
 ABC News, June 3, 2010.
 Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2010.
 Fox News, December 29, 2009.
 The Telegraph (UK), December 27, 2008.
 National Post (Canada) March 25, 2010.
 The Telegraph (UK), November 7, 2009; McClatchy News, November 8, 2009.
 ABC News, May 6, 2010.
 The Telegraph (UK), November 23, 2009.