After years of tracking and monitoring, the Middle East Media Research Institute has documented that web-video giant YouTube is the largest source of online jihadi videos.
As part of its project, the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, MEMRI found that YouTube has surpassed websites administered by large jihadi networks, which were previously the largest online source.
MEMRI volunteered to assist YouTube in its efforts to deter jihadi video posts by helping identify videos that incite violence and terrorist acts for possible removal.
In an effort to bring this danger to light, MEMRI officials met with Google Inc. and YouTube representatives to discuss the issue of jihadi videos.
Following the meeting, YouTube committed to introducing a flagging system that would allow users to flag and report content that “promotes terrorism.”
Once the system was introduced, MEMRI assisted in flagging video it thought would incite possible acts of terrorism. Among the content flagged by MEMRI were videos of Osama bin Laden and 9/11-glorification videos, as well as videos by the late Yemeni-American Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader.
But after being flagged, 58 of 100 of the former remained active; of the latter, 111 out of 127 remained active, despite MEMRI’s warning.
Most recently, a video of known al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was released on multiple YouTube pages on April 6, and posted simultaneously on jihadi websites.
In the video, Al-Zawahiri calls on viewers to “exert every effort to make Syria a jihad-fighting Islamic state” that will be a step toward “restoring the rightly guided caliphate.”
He also expressed his hope that the French forces in Mali would face the same difficulties as the U.S. forces faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The video, posted by user “Arslan Ifriki,” had nearly 17,000 views on the first day it was posted.
Al-Zawahiri was Osama bin Laden’s chief deputy until his death in May 2011. Previously, following 9/11, Al-Zawahiri was placed on the initial list of the FBI’s top 22 Most Wanted Terrorists and the State Department had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his apprehension.
YouTube did not respond to a WND inquiry to the media office.
MEMRI is hardly the first organization to express concern over the use of the web video giant as a platform to promote terrorism.
Counterterrorism experts in the U.S. and abroad have monitored YouTube content for years.
In the U.K., the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the problem of YouTube-based jihadi videos.
On February 26, members of the Home Affairs Committee of the U.K. House of Commons questioned executives from social media giants Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube regarding the monitoring of content on their respective platforms.
The hearing was held partially in response to the conviction of three men who were found guilty of planning a massive suicide bombing attack.
During the trial, a recording of one of the accused was played, which featured him instructing others to listen to the words of Anwar Al-Awlaki, whose messages are available on YouTube.