Tuesday, December 14, 2010

YouTube Becomes 'National Security Issue'

Conducting interviews on this topic is the news editor of WND.com, the largest independent Internet news service in the U.S., Bob Unruh.

Forum called 'leading website' for online jihad

By Bob Unruh
(c) 2010 WorldNetDaily

A new report from the Middle East Media Research Institute charges that YouTube has emerged as "the leading website for online jihad," replacing and surpassing even websites that the jihadists themselves are running.

The in-depth report, with dozens of examples, links and illustrations, documents that MEMRI already has briefed members of the U.S. government and Congress on the issue, and has offered its expertise to YouTube directly to identify videos that "incite violence and terrorist acts for possible removal.'

The report by Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of MEMRI, a donor-supported organization that monitors and reports on media issues from the Middle East, calls the use of the video-sharing service by terrorists worldwide "a grave national security issue."

The report was published only days ago, but is part of a series of analyses of the issue that MEMRI has been documenting for some time. And in fact the LA Times reported just yesterday that YouTube has created a new option that users now can flag a video for removal because of its promotion of terrorism.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Independent senator from Connecticut, called the protocol a "good first step toward scrubbing mainstream Internet sites of terrorist propaganda," according to the Times.

It was several weeks ago when YouTube banished from its servers videos - numbering in the hundreds - that featured the American-turned-fugitive Anwar al-Awlawki. His videos, however, still can be fouind on the site.

YouTube officials did not comment when WND asked for confirmation that the investigation produced its policy change, but they told the Times that they are committed to making sure the site isn't used to spread "terrorist propaganda or incite violence."

MEMRI said it has investigated thoroughly the issues of YouTube, especially relating to al-Awlaki, and in fact, has reported on the videos he posted, those who watched them, the YouTube work of the Taliban as well as the expanding jihadi base committed to using YouTube.

The newest chapter documents the posting of videos of American soldiers being killed by improvised explosive devices and snipers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"While YouTube should be applauded for adding new staff and a new function to identify and remove jihadi videos, this is only a beginning," MEMRI reported. "The removal of content is one part of the problem; the other part is keeping these videos from being posted in the first place - as shown by the recent removal of hundreds of Anwar al-Awlaki videos that were quickly reposted to other pages.

"It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of assorted jihadi videos can be found on YouTube They include sermons by terrorist leaders, training videos by terrorists, footage of terrorist attacks, songs (nasheeds) to inspire terrorists, and much more. These videos are not only in English, but in dozens of other languages."

The report said the YouTube action followed the reporting that over the last few months, "numerous followers of Anwar al-Awlkai have been found guilty of involvement in terrorism. They all have one thing in common - they were incited by viewing him on YouTube."

Cited as an example was a video from "WachdogofAllah1" who posted a message on Nov. 4, warning of looming violence in Iraq, Egypt and "other countries."

"You have among us hundreds of thousands of followers, and hundreds of churches," the video warned, "and they will all be our targets if you do not respond."

Another video, the report said, praised Nidal Hassan, accused of killing more than a dozen at Fort Hood in Texas, as "a wonderful example."

MEMRI said among those who have been inspired to jihad by YouTube videos, had have subsequently been arrested, include:

* Zachary Adam Chesser, 02, from Virginia, who was arrested in July 2010 attempting to carry out jihad with al-Qaida in Somalia.

* Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 21, who was arrested in Hawaii on October 21, 2010, for making false statements in a terrorism case.

* Paul and Nadia Rockwood, Alaska, a converted couple who pleaded guilty in July 2010 after being accused of creating a hit list of local media, religious officials, and military who "desecrated Islam."

* Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, New Jersey, arrested in June 2010 en route to join al-Qaida forces in Somalia, hoping to kill U.S. troops.

"Al-Qaida and its affiliates use YouTube to spread propaganda online and to train followers for various actions," the report said. "Most jihadi websites now post links of major terrorist videos directly to YouTube."

Further, the jihadi-promoting videos include disturbing images of U.S. soldiers being killed in IED attacks as well as U.S. soldiers being shot and images of a decapitated soldier.

One YouTube Channel is marked "mujahidRPG's Channel" and features video after video after video of coalition vehicles disappearing into a a flash of flame and black smoke.

"In addition to clips of jihad against the West and the Jews, YouTube also has clips by Islamist groups calling for jihad against Christians. In one recent example, dated November 4, 2010, YouTube user 'WachdogofAllah1' posted a 'message from the soldier of the martyr battalion to the Christians in Egypt,'" the report said.
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