YouTube to crack down harder on extremist content

James Marshall
November 14, 2017

A US drone strike in 2011 killed Awlaki, who had ties to multiple hijackers in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when he was an al Qaeda leader in Yemen.

According to The New York Times, YouTube has wiped its archives clean of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical cleric whose videos reportedly served as online grooming to a number of us terrorists, including the shooter of the Orlando nightclub in 2016. The same search on Sunday (12 November), however, yielded just 18,600 videos, most of which were news reports, documentaries and scholarly material about his life and death.

YouTube has reportedly banned almost 70,000 videos depicting lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist jihadist who exhorted Muslims to kill Americans.

Google removed hundreds of al-Awalaki's videos in 2010 which directly advocated violence, following the conviction of Roshonara Choudhry, a radicalized follower who stabbed British MP Stephen Timms earlier that year. His radical message was reportedly influential in attacks on the Boston Marathon, in Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando.

Over the years, many counterterrorism experts and governments have long pushed for his videos, Islamist propaganda and other content that incites violence to be banned from YouTube.

In the past few months, Google has been actively keeping a check on YouTube content. Lawmakers have also voiced serious concerns over the use of social media and online platforms by terrorist organisations to recruit and radicalize people across the globe. The video sharing website had removed several extremist videos from the site.

The Times noted that a small number of clips of Awlaki speaking disappeared after the paper sent an inquiry about the site's policy change last week.

The three websites have all revealed that Russian actors used their platforms during the 2016 presidential campaign to spread propaganda and pose as American voters.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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