A “Conveyor Belt” For Terrorists, HT Alumni Includes 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
(New York, N.Y.) – On Sunday, the American chapter of noted Islamist extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) hosted its annual Khilafah (“Caliphate”) Conference using Facebook Live. HT is banned in at least 13 countries worldwide and is most notoriously known as the breeding ground or “conveyor belt” for many individuals who have gone on to form or join explicitly violent enterprises, including alumni 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, former al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and al-Muhajiroun founder Omar Bakri Muhammad. The event, titled “Global Turmoil To Global Tranquility,” has been viewed more than 8,300 times, shared by 71 users, and is still accessible online. HT America’s Facebook page has 30,000 followers.
Prior to the HT Conference, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to act to refrain from allowing the extremist group to broadcast its Khilafah Conference via Facebook Live. Neither Zuckerberg nor Facebook responded to the request.
“Facebook is under no obligation to provide a free speech platform to HT America to propagate its brand of hate speech and violence. Although the 2020 Khilafah livestream has already occurred, they can still take the archived video offline,” said CEP Executive Director David Ibsen. “Other commercial enterprises have refused to provide services to the group and have prohibited Khilafah conferences from taking place on their premises. Allowing the video to remain online would exacerbate the risk of online radicalization and extremist activity.”
Hizb ut-Tahrir, which means “Party of Liberation,” supports the restoration of an Islamic Caliphate under a strict interpretation of Islamic law (sharia). During the Facebook Live event, participants focused on capitalism as a failed system that is responsible for the current state of affairs, including the coronavirus pandemic. The speakers, which included members of HT Britain, advocated for an Islamic caliphate as the answer to the problems caused by capitalism. They further encouraged grassroots activism to bring about a caliphate as part of a natural evolution of society and the only possible solution to fixing global problems.
Like many other conferences, HT conducted its 2020 Khilafah Conference online due to restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years, HT America has held its Khilafah Conference at U.S. hotels but several leading American corporations, including the Marriott hotel chain, have rightfully refused to provide a venue for HT and its brand of Islamism. For example, the Marriott in Oak Brook, Illinois, canceled HT America’s conference in 2010. In 2018, the Holiday Inn & Suites in Carol Stream, Illinois, canceled HT America’s reservation.
On March 22, 2019, HT staged a protest in front of the Danish parliament in Copenhagen. In an attempt to stoke more division, HT members described the horrific New Zealand mosque attacks—which killed 51 people, injured 50 more, and was broadcasted on Facebook Live—as representative of “Western Crusader hatred.” Further, as The Times of London reported in September 2018, HT “has launched a recruitment drive in an inner-city neighborhood that is linked to more homegrown terrorists than anywhere else in the U.K.” HT Britain propaganda in 2018 called for “armies to mobilize” against Israel and for “the removal of the Jewish entity.” Lord Carlile of Berriew, former U.K. Independent Reviewer of Terror Legislation, confirmed that such language—pervasive throughout HT chapters—crosses the threshold into hate speech.
To read CEP’s Hizb ut-Tahrir resource, please click here.