U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has called on YouTube to make terrorist propaganda videos less accessible, particularly those of Anwar al-Awlaki, dubbed the "bin Laden of the Internet."
"We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror," Weiner, D-NY, warned in a letter dated Sunday to YouTube CEO Chad Hurley. "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"
Awlaki, a designated terrorist, has become a potent threat to the United States. As Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey recently explained "he has involved himself in every aspect of the supply chain of terrorism—fundraising for terrorist groups, recruiting and training operatives, and planning and ordering attacks on innocents."
While he was living in the United States, Awlaki served as an Imam with the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami in San Diego and Dar al-Hijrah in Fairfax, Virginia. As an IPT analysis of Awlaki's lectures during that time revealed, the man whose name is now synonymous with terrorism "first demonstrated a concerning radicalism over a decade ago."
Since taking a leadership role in AQAP in Yemen, joint American and Yemeni efforts, have pushed al-Awlaki underground, forcing him to rely upon the Internet to spread his hateful message and incite others to follow in the footsteps of Nidal Hassan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Faisal Shahzad. In one such video interview released May 23, 2010, Awlaki stated:
"my message to the Muslims in general, and to those in the Arabian Peninsula in particular is that we should participate in this Jihad against America…No one should even ask us about targeting a bunch of Americans who would have been killed in an airplane. Our unsettled account with America includes, at the very least, one million women and children. I'm not even talking about the men. Our unsettled account with America, in women and children alone, has exceeded one million. Those who would have been killed in the plane are a drop in the ocean."
Despite the free speech concerns, Weiner urged Hurley to pull hundreds of videos of Awlaki. "al-Awlaki's message, promoted via YouTube, has caused violence and is a threat to American security."