(New York, NY) – Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Chief Executive Officer Ambassador Mark D. Wallace released the following statement regarding the news that Google-owned YouTube has removed videos and sermons from al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki from its platform:
"This action will save lives. No longer will at-risk persons be able to casually encounter Anwar al-Awlaki. As a society, we must say enough is enough to the extremist takeover of cyberspace. All other responsible social media companies, internet service providers, and communications platforms must take action once and for all to remove the world’s extremists from cyberspace.
"Anwar al-Awlaki has featured prominently in the majority of U.S. terror attacks, those that were planned and disrupted, and some attacks in Europe. His radicalizing influence and calls for terror must be confined to the dustbin of history and no longer be available within the easily accessible reach of an Internet search or social media account,” said Ambassador Wallace.
Beginning in 2015, CEP has called on YouTube to remove all al-Awlaki content from its platform, given his proven radicalizing influence and connection to multiple deadly terrorist attacks. CEP’s effort included direct outreach to the leadership of YouTube's parent company, Google, a sustained effort to highlight issues in the media, including via op-eds in USA Today and Fox News, and a series of original reports detailing Awlaki’s ubiquitous presence on YouTube and other internet platforms, as well as his radicalizing influence on U.S. and European terrorists. For example, CEP researchers identified 90 extremists in the U.S. and Europe with ties to al-Awlaki, including Said and Cherif Kouachi, who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attacks; Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in Orlando; Ohio State car attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan; Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev; and many others.
CEP is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies. Led by a renowned group of former world leaders and diplomats, CEP combats extremism by pressuring financial and material support networks, countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment, and advocating for smart laws, policies, and regulations.