YouTube yanks wanted Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s videos

YOUTUBE has reportedly withdrawn videos featuring calls by Yemen-based radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki for a holy war.

The American-born Awlaki has been cited as a catalyst for terrorist attacks and was charged on Tuesday in absentia in Yemen with incitement to kill foreigners under the banner of al-Qa’ida.

The move by Yemeni prosecutors came several days after parcel bombs destined for Chicago were traced to suspected jihadists in Yemen.

The New York Times reported that removal of some of Awlaki’s hundreds of videos at YouTube follows complaints from American and British officials.

US congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, dubbed Awlaki the “bin Laden of the internet” in a letter sent last week demanding removal of the videos.

“We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror,” Mr Weiner said in a message posted at his website.

“There is no reason we should give killers like al-Awlaki access to one of the world’s largest bully pulpits so they can inspire more violent acts within our borders, or anywhere else in the world.”

Awlaki, a citizen of both Yemen and the US, has appeared in more than 700 YouTube videos that have logged a combined total of 3.5 million views, according to the congressman.

Awlaqi has been connected to several terrorist plots and reportedly met with the 9/11 hijackers prior to the infamous attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

“I understand that YouTube is a clearing house for ideas and that your company aims to not infringe on free speech, but al-Awlaki’s message, promoted via YouTube, has caused violence and is a threat to American security,” Mr Weiner said in his letter to the head of the video-sharing service.

“I request that you remove this man and his hateful rhetoric from your website, as he poses a clear and present danger to American citizens.”

Google-owned YouTube did not immediately reply to AFP requests for comment.

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