For immediate release | Wednesday, May 29, 2019

CEP to Release New Resources Detailing Links Between Extremism & Online Radicalization

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New Series Will Build Upon Extremism Spotlight Series

Earlier this year, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) highlighted the online presence of dangerous extremist propagandists known to law enforcement and intelligence communities as well as notorious extremist content with links to violence in its Extremism Spotlight series. Continuing to allow this material to remain online to radicalize followers and incite violence is inexplicable, especially in light of Google-owned YouTube’s decision in November 2017 to remove notorious al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki from its platform in a “watershed moment.”  

CEP will release additional resources documenting the real-world consequences of extremists misusing social media platforms to proliferate hateful content and give rise to an extreme, violent following. CEP will highlight:

  • Ahmad Musa Jibril, a radical Islamist preacher who has inspired many extremists, including one of the 2017 ISIS London Bridge attackers.
  • The Turner Diaries, considered the “bible” of the American white power movement, inspiring acts of violence that have resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people.
  • Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the unofficial spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who maintains an extensive online following despite his hate-filled, extremist sermons.
  • Siege, a neo-Nazi book that serves as a manifesto for white supremacy groups.
  • Abdullah al-Faisal, an internationally banned Islamic propagandist who influenced one of the 7/7 bombers who killed 26 people and injured more than 340 others.  

“Awlaki is far from the only extremist that must be permanently removed from the public consciousness by responsible privately held and publicly traded tech companies,” said CEP Executive Director David Ibsen. “There remains countless others who have leveraged social media platforms to radicalize and incite physical violence — underscoring the need for industrywide agreement for their systematic removal online. As shown by Awlaki, one-time removals for positive public relations are only a part of the effort. Once tech companies remove extremists and notable extremist content from their platforms, they must also take steps to prevent any re-uploads of that known material.”

In January, CEP conducted a follow-up analysis of Awlaki’s presence on YouTube, finding that although Awlaki’s content no longer maintains an extensive presence on the platform, some content could still be easily found. CEP’s Extremism Spotlight builds upon its April 2018 resource, Extremists and Online Propaganda. The report details the online platforms sought out by known extremists on their path to radicalism and profiles 168 individuals who consumed official propaganda materials by terrorist organizations meant to inspire and incite to violence.

CEP has strongly advocated for industrywide standards for automatic removal online. Shortly after YouTube’s announcement in November 2017, CEP CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace and CEP President Fran Townsend authored a joint op-ed in The New York Times calling for those designated by the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, those who are on the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List and the United Nations Security Council Sanctions List, and those individuals with demonstrable links to violence, to serve as the basis for any such standard. 

To view CEP’s Extremists and Online Propaganda resource, please click here.

To view CEP’s previous Extremism Spotlight releases on extremists and how they use social media, please see below.