For immediate release | Monday, December 21, 2015

CEP Highlights Importance of Removing Anwar al-Awlaki from Social Media – Particularly YouTube

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Lectures and extremist material linked to countless plots and attacks

(New York, NY) -- The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today expressed concern over the continued presence of radical American cleric and propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki’s content on social media, particularly YouTube, and his influence on homegrown extremists. Speaking to the New York Times on December 18, CEP CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace expressed concern that al-Awlaki’s lectures and extremist videos have “inspired countless plots and attacks.”

“President Obama took the extraordinary step of targeting a military strike against al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011 based on his well-established record of planning and directing efforts to murder innocent American citizens,” said Wallace. “Yet because of incendiary materials readily available on social media, particularly YouTube, al-Awlaki continues to inspire murder against Americans from the grave, from the Fort Hood, Texas shootings to the Boston Marathon bombing to most recently, the slaughter of 14 innocent people in San Bernardino, California. It is time that social media, notably YouTube, finally purge al-Awlaki’s despicable and dangerous hate speech.”

Among its profiles of Americans arrested for attempting to join jihadist groups, CEP has documented at least 20 cases in which al-Awlaki’s radicalizing influence was a key factor. A YouTube search for al-Awlaki’s videos resulted in nearly 60,000 hits as of December 21.

Wallace said searching for “Anwar al-Awlaki” on YouTube reveals “Anwar al-Awlaki - Battle of The Hearts and Minds” (video), an hour-long polemic demonizing the United States.

And through YouTube features like autofill, autoplay, and its sidebar, even viewers who may not directly search for al-Awlaki’s most violent teachings are automatically exposed to his extremist and jihadist materials. 

“Social media, particularly YouTube, must take action to permanently remove all of al-Awlaki’s videos,” Wallace said. “There is a direct link between al-Awlaki’s teachings and American deaths. It is time to break that connection.”

To view the profile of al-Awlaki on CEP’s Global Extremist Registry, please click here.