(New York, NY) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reiterated today that social media companies are still not doing nearly enough to remove violence inciting content from their platforms. News reports revealed that the leader of the London Bridge attacks frequented the online lectures of extremist Islamic clerics.
Khuram Shazed Butt—the leader of London Bridge attackers—was reportedly radicalized and driven to violence in part by online lectures from extremist clerics Ahmad Musa Jibril and Abu Haleema. Following the attacks, YouTube reportedly removed Haleema lectures but a recent search for “Abu Haleema” on YouTube yielded almost 10,000 results. A search for “Ahmad Musa Jibril” yielded 14,700 hits and his 130 YouTube videos have amassed more than 1.5 million views. YouTube stated that Jibril’s videos did not violate its policies. According to the Telegraph, a former friend noted that Butt “used to listen to a lot of Musa Jibril. I have heard some of his stuff its very radical. I am surprised this stuff is still on YouTube it’s easily accessible.”
YouTube also continues to be an online repository for the radical messaging of extremist clerics that inspire followers to carry out acts of deadly violence, including by deceased American-born cleric and al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki. Among the dozens of U.S. and European extremists influenced by Awlaki were the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen (49 people killed); the Fort Hood shooter (13 people killed); the San Bernardino shooters (14 people killed); and the Boston Marathon bombers (3 killed and hundreds wounded).
A search for “Anwar al-Awlaki” on YouTube yielded 80,300 results as of June 5, 2017, which includes a mix of religious and more radical lectures such as Awlaki’s “Never Trust a Kuffar [non-believer]” and “Battle of the Hearts and Minds.” This figure represents an increase from December 2015, when the same search yielded 61,900 results. Despite YouTube’s pledge to remove hateful material, CEP has instead found Awlaki content to be increasingly available on the platform.