(New York, NY) – One year after an American ISIS follower perpetrated the deadliest gun attack on American soil, the power of ISIS to radicalize and encourage horrific violence unfortunately remains unchanged, as highlighted in the Counter Extremism Project’s resource on the Orlando Nightclub Attack.
In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people and injured more than 50 others at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook—and while speaking to a 911 operator—during the hours-long attack, before eventually being killed by police. Following the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility and its online supporters celebrated the violence on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Telegram and other social media platforms, calling Mateen “an Islamic State fighter” and urging similar attacks by other ISIS supporters in the West.
Mateen, like the Fort Hood shooter (13 dead); the San Bernardino shooters (14 dead); and the Boston Marathon bombers (3 dead, hundreds injured), to name just a few, was guided by the radicalizing sermons of radical cleric and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operative Anwar al-Awlaki. CEP has documented 55 cases in the United States alone in which Awlaki’s radicalizing influence was a key factor. Still, a YouTube search for Awlaki regularly yields more than 70,000 hits.
To combat radicalizing and violent online extremist propaganda, CEP and Dartmouth College Computer Science Professor Dr. Hany Farid, the world’s leading authority on digital forensics, developed eGLYPH. Unveiled in June 2016, eGLYPH technology can detect known extremist images, video, and audio files for removal from Internet and social media platforms. It is based on existing “robust hashing” algorithms, which Dr. Farid developed almost a decade ago and which are widely used today to combat child pornography online.