Al-Qaeda YouTube videos featuring preacher who inspired London Bridge attacker still online
Article RadarTHIS ARTICLE CONNECT:
Affected Countries: united-kingdom;
Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim scholar and cleric, as well as al-Qaeda’s leading English-language propagandist, has inspired acts of terror in the West. One of his latest disciples was the man who killed two people and injured several others near London Bridge last week.
It’s been eight years since US drones took out Anwar al-Awlaki, but his hateful message lives on – apparently in part thanks to YouTube’s sloppiness.
The Times reported on Thursday that it had discovered over a hundred videos of lectures by the Islamist cleric, who was one of al-Qaeda’s most prominent propagandists.
In those videos, Awlaki was said to be glorifying martyrdom as well as encouraging Muslims to attack non-believers and create a global Islamic state.
The Sun claimed it had separately found videos in which Awlaki calls for Islam to be “spread by the sword” among non-believers who resist the faith.
The Counter Extremism Project, a non-governmental group that combats radical groups and their online recruitment efforts, said that one video was used to “rally supporters and lionise terrorists, whom Awlaki refers to admiringly as shaheed (martyrs).”
CEP senior adviser Ian Acheson said: “Try searching for porn on Facebook, you can’t do it. Upload copyright material to YouTube and it’s down within seconds. But it’s not the same for these clips promoting hateful ideologies. The next government must get the Online Harms White Paper into law.”
Google, which owns YouTube, apparently deleted the videos after reporters flagged them. YouTube has made multiple changes to its hate speech policies in the past years, without really going into detail. In September, the platform said it had removed over 100,000 videos and over 17,000 channels for violating its hate speech rules between April and June of this year – five times more than it removed in the previous three months.
Anwar Awlaki, a US-born radical Islamic cleric, was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in 2011. He was one of al-Qaeda’s most influential personalities and is believed to have inspired dozens of terror acts in the US and in Europe. US intelligence officials also designated him “chief of external operations” for al-Qaeda* in the Arabian Peninsula.
It was discovered during the 9/11 investigation that two of the hijackers had attended Awlaki’s mosque in San Diego. Nidal Hasan, the man who killed 13 people in the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, had asked him for guidance about killing US soldiers.
Usman Khan, the terrorist who killed two people in the London Bridge stabbing on 29 November, had served six years in jail for his role in an al-Qaeda inspired terror cell. At the time he was jailed in 2012, a UK court found he was also motivated by Awlaki’s internet propaganda.
The Counter Extremism Project previously said it had identified 90 terrorists in Europe and the US with ties to Awlaki.