Days after Britain's security minister pressed White House officials for action, clips of al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki have started to be removed from YouTube, the Telegraph reports.
Dozens of Awlaki recordings are posted on the popular video site and calls for their removal have been growing because of Awlaki's role in inspiring terrorist attacks. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, wrote YouTube's CEO last week saying the recordings "are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror."
Britain added international pressure last week, after a woman was convicted in the stabbing attack of MP Stephen Timms last May. The attacker reportedly was radicalized by watching Awlaki videos.
Pauline Neville-Jones met with U.S. officials, including White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, demanding action to help get the clips removed. The National Journal quoted prepared remarks on the subject which Neville-Jones delivered at the Brookings Institution:
"Many of these websites are hosted in the US and we want to work closely with you to find ways of preventing such hateful material acting as a recruiting sergeant for men of violence out to harm our citizens. Many would argue -- quite correctly -- that freedom of speech means allowing people to say things that any reasonable person would find abhorrent. But when you have incitement to murder, when you have people actively calling for the killing of their fellow citizens, and when you have the means to stop that person so doing, then I believe we should act."
While the move is meeting with praise, Wired's Adam Rawnsley notes its effect may be limited because there are many ways radical groups can post materials on the Internet. For example, Rawnsley wrote, "The Taliban has an official YouTube channel, now largely dormant, and has since created an online video page on its own website."
In other words, those who want to find Awlaki sermons still can. But once casual viewers, like Timms' attacker, may not. It's a start.