Newspaper Articles

YouTube has started removing Al-Qaeda’s videos

YouTube spokeswoman Victoria Grand said the videos by Anwar al-Awlaki violated the site's guidelines prohibiting "incitement to commit violent acts."

YouTube has reportedly started removing hundreds of videos of Anwar al Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric based in Yemen who has been linked to several terrorist plots against the US and the UK, under the instructions of American and British authorities.

According to the Telegraph, US and British officials have been pressuring the website to take down the videos, fearing that al Awlaki’s internet preaching radicalises Muslims.

“Hundreds of al-Awlaki videos are currently available on YouTube, with a combined total of over 3.5 million views. In these videos, al-Awlaki preaches violence against Americans and actions back up his online message,” New York Representative Anthony Weiner said in an open letter sent last week to YouTube CEO Chad Hurley.

Last week, the UK’s security minister Baroness Neville-Jones called on the Obama’s administration to “take down this hateful material” in cases where servers were based in the US, the paper said.

Referring to al Awlaki’s videos, Jones said websites that “incite cold-blooded murder” would “categorically not be allowed in the UK.”

Officials in the UK have been reportedly increasing the pressure on YouTube after a 21-year-old student, Roshonara Choudhry, stabbed and nearly killed a Member of Parliament, Stephen Timms in May after being allegedly radicalized by watching al Awlaki’s sermons on the website. She was handed a life sentence on Wednesday.
The New York Times reported on its website Wednesday that YouTube spokeswoman Victoria Grand said the videos by Anwar al-Awlaki violated the site’s guidelines prohibiting “incitement to commit violent acts.”

Responding to complaints from American and British officials, YouTube on Wednesday removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric based in Yemen who has been blamed for radicalizing Muslims involved in a string of terrorist attacks.

The newspaper says YouTube made the move after a British official urged the videos be removed.

Democratic New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (WEE’-nur) also sent letters to the Google-owned company listing hundreds of videos featuring the U.S.-born Yemeni cleric. Weiner says the company took his request more seriously after last week’s attempted mail bombings from Yemen.

YouTube says it doesn’t comment on specific videos on its site.

The newspaper says YouTube made the move after a British official urged the videos be removed.

Democratic New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (WEE’-nur) also sent letters to the Google-owned company listing hundreds of videos featuring the U.S.-born Yemeni cleric. Weiner says the company took his request more seriously after last week’s attempted mail bombings from Yemen.

According to The New York Times report, YouTube has faced other periods of pressure to remove videos linked to radical Islamists. Jeffrey Rosen, a professor of law at George Washington University who has written extensively about YouTube’s policies, including in The New York Times Magazine, said that in 2007, the Labour Government in Britain called on YouTube to block terrorist recruitment videos featuring Islamic fighters with guns and rockets.

Last May, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s staff asked Google to remove about 120 terrorist recruitment videos from YouTube. Google removed some videos that showed gratuitous violence or hate speech, but refused to take down others.

YouTube has faced other periods of pressure to remove videos linked to radical Islamists. Jeffrey Rosen, a professor of law at George Washington University who has written extensively about YouTube’s policies, including in The New York Times Magazine, said that in 2007, the Labour Government in Britain called on YouTube to block terrorist recruitment videos featuring Islamic fighters with guns and rockets.

Last May, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s staff asked Google to remove about 120 terrorist recruitment videos from YouTube. Google removed some videos that showed gratuitous violence or hate speech, but refused to take down others.

“YouTube and Google deserve credit for trying to distinguish videos that are merely offensive from those that show graphic violence or hate speech or risk inciting imminent violence, which is the line American courts have drawn in free speech cases since the 1960s,” Professor Rosen said.