“Al-Awlaki is… the bin Laden of the Internet.”
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, December 29, 2009
The following report is the fourth in a series on the emergence of YouTube as the Internet’s primary and rapidly expanding Jihadi base. It focuses in particular on American-born Al-Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, who over the past year has come to depend on YouTube to spread his message to a growing number of young American followers.
It should be noted that as Western governments increasingly take down and interfere with traditional terrorist websites, Al-Qaeda and other jihadists have grown more dependent upon on YouTube and other social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter. To date, these outlets seem unprepared to effectively address this problem.
How Anwar Al-Awlaki Became the Sheikh of YouTube
Following the removal of Al-Awlaki’s website on November 9, 2009, YouTube became the largest clearinghouse of his online videos. A quick tabulation of viewings of Al-Awlaki’s 2,500-plus clips – comprising lectures, sermons, and compilation videos supporting his jihadist philosophy – now indicates well over three million views, and counting. These clips include Al-Awlaki calling Muslims to jihad, expressions of support for martyrdom attacks, and encouragement to kill American soldiers.
It is worth noting that Al-Awlaki’s March 18, 2010 audio recording titled “To the American Muslims” – the first Al-Awlaki recording, audio or video, since he went into hiding months earlier – was posted directly to YouTube, rather than on any of the major jihadi websites which normally carry such content.
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