On May 13, 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation filed an affidavit charging an American convert to Islam, Jesse Curtis Morton AKA Younus Abdullah Mohammed, with communicating threats to the creators of the “South Park” television show in a statement posted in April 2010 on the RevolutionMuslim website, a jihadist website that Morton co-founded in 2008.
Despite being charged for his part in drafting a statement justifying the deaths of Trey Parker and Matt Stone for depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit during an April 14, 2010, episode of South Park, Morton not only continued to promote jihadist ideology in outreach programs through his blog and both jihadist and Islamist English-language forums, and IslamPolicy (www.islampolicy.com), the successor of RevolutionMuslim, but he also focused on social media platforms. These platforms include Facebook and YouTube; Scribd, a document-sharing site; and WizIQ, a platform to distribute online classes and lectures. Morton is the second American convert linked to RevolutionMuslim to be charged for the threats posted on that site. In October 2010, Zachary Chesser AKA Abu Talhah al-Amriki pled guilty to aiding a terrorist organization for his attempts to join the Somali Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement, soliciting violent jihadists to carry out decoy operations to desensitize security officials, and communicating threats to the South Park creators.
A former resident of Brooklyn, New York, Morton moved to Morocco where he maintained his online activity until his May 27 arrest by Moroccan authorities. On IslamPolicy, as well as Facebook and YouTube, Morton and other site contributors uploaded Islamist, jihadist, and anti-American content several times a day. These accounts appear to have been created in January 2011, when content was first uploaded to many of the pages.
Videos and Lectures Distributed Through YouTube
Created on January 5, 2011, the IslamPolicy YouTube channel hosts over 64 videos ranging in content from Morton's response to the death of Usama bin Laden, reactions from jihadist scholars to the Egyptian uprising, and lectures for Islamic lifestyle issues such as Shariah-approved financial dealings and the importance of adherence to Shariah law. Although the number of official subscribers is not publicly available, the channel has been viewed more than 3,500 times.
Motron reacted to the assassination of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in audio messages reiterating the same arguments made on jihadist forums about the incident, and reminding listeners of the desirability of a martyr's death and that although the al-Qaeda leader had died, his followers would continue their battle. His response was divided into two videos, both uploaded to YouTube on May 8. The first, titled “We are all Osama bin Laden - Part 1 Younus Abdullah Muhammad,” and 14-minutes long, was promoted through the IslamPolicy Facebook account and website and garnered over 100 views. The second, the 7-minute long “We are all Osama bin Laden - Part 2 Younus Abdullah Muhammadd [sic],” has received nearly 50 views.
In addition to content created by Morton and IslamPolicy, the IslamPolicy YouTube channel hosts analysis of the American military operation against Usama bin Laden taken from third-party sources, including the National Public Radio (NPR). On May 14, IslamPolicy uploaded an audio file of an NPR broadcast from the same day, titled, “One Last Battle: Spinning Bin Laden's Legacy,” describing the Obama Administration's efforts to control the information released about the raid in order to challenge widespread beliefs about Usama bin Laden's legacy. Re-titled, “Spinning bin Laden's Legacy: CIA Propaganda and the Death of Osama,” and promoted on the IslamPolicy website, the video has been viewed more than 300 times since being uploaded.
Through an account for IslamPolicy on Facebook, Morton and his associates are able to frequently update their followers with views and links to online commentary, and easily communicate with interested individuals. The IslamPolicy Facebook page is directly linked from the main IslamPolicy blog, along with the organization's YouTube page, Skype user account, and American contact number. Beyond providing a vector for communications between the IslamPolicy administration and supporters, the account, which appears to have been established in January 2011, promotes posts on IslamPolicy and Morton's online lecture series. Individuals who “like” the group are able to post messages to the page “wall,” which can be viewed by all members of the Facebook community. The IslamPolicy account has over 180 users who list themselves as followers; however, content posted to the page is accessible to all individuals using Facebook.
For example, announcements of Morton's May 27 arrest in Morocco were quickly uploaded to both the IslamPolicy website as well as the Facebook pages of IslamPolicy and Morton. An official statement regarding his arrest and imminent extradition was posted to the group's Facebook page, where supporters shared words of encouragement:
Morton maintains a Facebook account in his own name, as Younus Abdullah Muhammad, with forty official friends. As with the account for IslamPolicy, Morton's Facebook account permits viewers to access posts and shared media uploaded to his wall. Through the account, he promotes entries on IslamPolicy as well as his Islamic lectures distributed through WizIQ and YouTube.
In posts to the account wall, Morton has promoted posts on IslamPolicy such as an interview about the Egyptian uprisings with a jihadist cleric, Abdullah Faisal, who was deported from the United Kingdom for inciting hatred and encouraging violence against non-Muslims, Americans, Hindus, and Jews.
In conclusion, Morton's online activities distributing jihadist material and encouraging Western Muslims to engage in jihadist activities appeared not to have been affected by charges filed against him in the United States. By maintaining platforms on social networking sites, Morton remained able to continue fostering an online jihadist community and to incite for jihad to an audience around the world. Morton's own pages continued to be active even after his May 13 indictment in the United States, and the IslamPolicy pages continued to be updated by IslamPolicy administrators after his May 27 arrest in Morocco.