Deleting Online Jihad Websites and the Case of Anwar Al-Awlaki: Al-Awlaki is an important character… he is the Bin Laden of the Internet


In the world of jihad against America, U.S.-born Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki’s stature has risen significantly in recent days. This is because he is now credited with inspiring – through his online activities – 2008 attempted terrorist attack at Fort Dix, New Jersey; November /09 terrorist attack at Fort Hood, Texas; and the December /09 attempted Christmas airplane bombing near Detroit, Michigan.

Al-Awlaki is the Bin Laden of the Internet

One of the most esteemed voices in the Arab media, Al-Arabiya TV director-general Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, wrote on December 29 in the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, “Al-Awlaki is an important character … he is the Bin Laden of the Internet.” Al-Rashed went on to say that there is a need “to wage war against extremist websites in general, which have become larger camps than the first camp that gave its name to the ‘Al Qaeda’ organization.”

Al-Awlaki Inspired Fort Hood Shooter Maj. Hasan

Following the November 5, 2009 shooting at Fort Hood army base in Texas, for which Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan has been charged with killing 13 soldiers, the connection between Hasan and Al-Awlaki came to light. Hasan’s family attended the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, where Al-Awlaki was preaching in 2001, according to a Fort Hood acquaintance, Hasan was an admirer of Al-Awlaki,  and expressed “deep respect” for his teachings.

Hasan was also a frequent visitor to Anwar Al-Awlaki’s website, and that relationship was corroborated by Al-Awlaki in an interview with Al-Jazeera that was translated first by MEMRI on December 23, 2009.

Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing

November 9, 2009 – الاثنين 22 ذو القعدة 1430 by Anwar alAwlaki  
Filed under
Imam Anwar’s Blog

Nidal Hassan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn’t exist. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a US soldier. The US is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges. Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

Shutting Down Al-Awlaki’s Website – Significantly Restricting His Online Influence

On November 9 2009, Al-Awlaki published an article on his website (which was a Just another WordPress weblog that is now shut down) in which he called Hasan a “hero” and “a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.”

Al-Awlaki Online Presence Inspired Would-Be Christmas Day Airplane Bomber

Al-Awlaki again made headlines this week, when authorities announced that he had influenced Umar Farooq Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian man who on Christmas Day attempted to blow up a plane over Detroit. Abdulmutallab reportedly visited Anwar Al-Awlaki’s website often for inspiration, as it was reported that his computer records showed high traffic to the site.

Al-Awlaki’s Online Presence Incited Attempted Fort Dix Bombers, 7/7 London Bombings

During the trial of five Muslim men who had planned to attack the U.S. Army base at Fort Dix in December 2008, it was reported that they had received inspiration from Al-Awlaki’s online sermons. According to media reports, Al-Awlaki’s  website and online videos also inspired the 7/7 London bombers, as well as Mohammad Atif Siddique, who has been called an “aspiring suicide bomber.”

Following the Take Down of Al-Awlaki’s Website – YouTube Becomes the Largest Clearinghouse of His Online Videos

A quick tabulation of viewings of Al-Awlaki’s more than two thousand clips made up of lectures, sermons, and compilation videos supporting his jihadist philosophy – comes to nearly three million and counting. These clips include Al-Awlaki calling Muslims to jihad, expressions of support for martyrdom attacks, and encouragement to kill American soldiers.

The comment sections beneath each clip are full of statements praising him. One viewer commented: “I’m trying to go to Yemen as soon as possible so I can meet him and study with him.” Another viewer wrote, “Al-Awlaki is the incarnate of Ibn Taminya” (sic; Ibn Taymiyya influenced the establishment of Wahhabism). Yet another wrote, “It is unreal how scared they are of Sheikh Anwar, they cant believe this man is delivering the message in such a direct manner where by many of the youth are inspired by his talks, may Allah reward him… inshallah we will be one ummah under one Khalifah very soon [sic].” Hundreds of other such comments are also posted.  

According to the How To Remove Al-Awlaki Videos from YouTube

Youtube Community Guidelines webpage, which is dedicated to rules, and regulations, regarding what types of clips can and cannot be posted, any video may be removed for “…inciting others to commit violent acts…

Following are the steps to have clips removed.

  1. Go to YouTube’s home page,
  2. Type “Al-Awlaki” in the search bar. Note that at the bottom of the page, YouTube provides additional spellings for his names.
  3. The search option also has the capability to search the “playlist,” showing Al-Awlaki’s other clips on other users’ YouTube pages.
  4. Go to the video.
  5. Using the “flag” button beneath the video player, flag the video. (You must be a YouTube member to flag a video.)
  6. Once you have “flagged” the video, a drop-down menu will open up for you to select the “reason” you flagged it.

Contact YouTube

Phone 650-253-0000; write Attn: CEO Chad Hurley, 901 Cherry Ave. San Bruno, CA 94066; or visit .

More on Anwar Al-Awlaki can be found in MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) Project archives.

Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)