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GWU Counterterror Program Hires Convicted Terrorist Supporter who served Partial Prison Sentence

Younus Abdullah Muhammad aka Jesse Morton (Facebook screenshot)

The George Washington University (GWU)’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (CCHS) has hired a convicted terrorist supporter, whose terrorist website promoted Al Qaeda, Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, Anwar Al Awlaki, and others, and who was actively involved with U.S.-based terrorists planning attacks on the United States. The GWU CCHS Program on Extremism (POE) hired this convicted terrorist supporter, slightly over a year after he made a May 2015 announcement of his early release from prison.

The new GWU counterterrorism analyst, Younus Abdullah Muhammad, aka Jesse Morton, was released after serving only 3.5 years of a 12 year prison sentence for promoting terrorism, including promoting terrorist attacks on U.S. soldiers and involvement with individuals plotting terrorist attacks in the United States homeland on the Pentagon, the Capitol, and individuals threatening attacks on U.S. television writers. He was convicted of “conspiracy to solicit murder, make threatening communications, and use the Internet to place others in fear.”

Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the GWU’s Program on Extremism at the CCHS, told CNN that the convicted terrorist Younus Abdullah Muhammad brings a “unique perspective.” Nearly 15 years after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 on the United States, Mr. Hughes also stated that “we haven’t figured out how to reach that individual who’s going down the path of radicalization.”

Per the FBI’s February 9, 2012 press release, Younus Abdullah Muhammad operated “Internet platforms and websites to encourage Muslims to support Usama bin Laden, Anwar Al Awlaki, al Qaida, the Taliban, and others engaged in or espousing violent jihad.”

The FBI stated in 2012 that: “‘Jesse Morton operated Revolution Muslim to radicalize those who saw and heard his materials online and to incite them to engage in violence against those they believed to be enemies of Islam,’ said U.S. Attorney MacBride. ‘We may never know all of those who were inspired to engage in terrorism because of Revolution Muslim, but the string of recent terrorism cases with ties to Morton’s organization demonstrates the threat it posed to our national security. We’re grateful to the FBI, NYPD, and their law enforcement partners throughout the world who made today’s conviction possible.'”

The FBI press release also stated: “‘Individuals such as Morton who encourage violence and create fear over the Internet are a danger to our society and to the freedoms we enjoy as citizens,’ said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. ‘Today’s plea, and other recent cases of those associated with Morton’s organization, demonstrate the widespread nature of this danger. Together with our partner law enforcement agencies, and with the assistance of the community, the FBI will continue to pursue those who promulgate violent extremism and promote the radicalization of others.'”

At the time of his prosecution, prosecutors described Jesse Morton as dangerous: “Morton not only endangered the lives of innocent people, but he also contributed to the destruction of the very freedoms on which our society is based.”

U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride stated about Morton: “We may never know all of those who were inspired to engage in terrorism because of Revolution Muslim, but the string of recent terrorism cases with ties to Morton’s organization demonstrates the threat it posed to our national security.”

According to the Washington Post, “Morton pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiring to solicit murder, making threatening communications and using the Internet to place others in fear. In announcing his plea, federal authorities said his website helped radicalize people across the world, and he had contact with some who had specific, violent plots in mind. For example, he worked with Zachary Chesser — an Oakton High School graduate who tried to join an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Somalia — to promote attacks on the writers of ‘South Park,’ according to his plea. He also was in touch with Rezwan Ferdaus, who admitted to plotting to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, and with Jose Pimentel, who was arrested in a plot to kill members of the U.S. military returning from active duty in Afghanistan.”

The same Washington Post report also stated in February 2016 that “the 37-year-old is out and being paid by the FBI, according to government records and an attorney who says Morton helped federal officials build a case against a client accused of trying to join the Islamic State.”

CNN reported that in 2009, Jesse Morton’s Revolution Muslim website “praised Nadal Hasan for his attack at Fort Hood, Texas, which left 13 people dead and 32 others wounded. They called Hassan ‘an officer and a gentleman.’ ”

Younus Abdullah Muhammad aka Jesse Morton announced his freedom just barely over a year ago on a website dated May 23, 2015, with a group that he founded called IslamPolicy.com (now archived).

Younus Abdullah Muhammad aka Jesse Morton Announces His Release from Prison on Terrorism Charges on his Islam Policy Website (screenshot)

Younus Abdullah Muhammad aka Jesse Morton Announces His Release from Prison on Terrorism Charges on his Islam Policy Website (screenshot)

On his Islam Policy website, Younus Abdullah Muhammad also provided links to the “philosophy” of his “Islam Policy” group, described in a document “On Crafting Islamic Policy: the Methodology of Islamic Social Science,” where he writes “Islam Policy proceeds thereby to continue this call and intends to advance in such a manner that the viral nature of the Islamic worldview can create the type of conditions under which a tipping point of transition can occur and the ideas of Islam can spread to influence every household.” Younus Abdullah Muhammad continues to have this “Islam Policy” philosophy posted on the Internet.

Younus Abdullah Muhammad stated the call for this Islamic worldview was based on “Syed Qutb, Islamist theoretician and initiator of this call,” which Younus Abdullah Muhammad states is described for the “the modern era explained in Milestones” for the vanguard of those seeking to advance “the viral nature of the Islamic worldview.” (Reference: page 20, Younus Abdullah Muhammad, “On Crafting Islamic Policy: the Methodology of Islamic Social Science.”) In this same “philosophy” statement (Reference: page 5), Younus Abdullah Muhammad also points out how “Islam has entered almost every home in the world despite it being declared not so long ago that Islam would never rise again,” and cross-references this to mistaken views by the British regarding the “defeat of the Ottoman Khilafah.”

Syed Qutb, also spelled Sayyid Qutb, was the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, Syed Qutb was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and was executed by hanging.

Based on his self-documented philosophy promoted on his Islam Policy website at the time of his announcement from release in 2015, it appears that Younus Abdullah Muhammad remains a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, and continues to promote the vision of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. (This website is no longer visible to the public, except through archive access.) However, GWU counterterrorism analyst Younus Abdullah Muhammad retains his pro-Muslim Brotherhood “Islam Policy” statement posted on Scribd.  He has continued to post such “Islam Policy” documents on Scribd, as recently as September 2015, after announcing his release from prison.  (Younus Abdullah Muhammad has 35 documents posted on his Scribd account. )

[NOTE: His “Islam Policy” Scribd account also continues to include documents from his terrorist “Revolution Muslim” website, including one which states: “It is time for the mujahedeen who cut off the head to cut off the hands. There are indications that we will now see movements against the regimes, but we must also formulate a coherent vision of what the Islamic State may look like and develop and advance the battle for hearts and minds. This is evident in the ideologies espoused by the leaders of the jihad. It is time to advance to another stage of the struggle and lose the noose of kufr that controls the land. It is time to begin to think about the necessary next steps that must predicate the conquering of Rome.”]

On a Facebook page with Younus Abdullah Muhammad’s name, photo, and link to his website and IslamPolicy announcement of his release from prison, there continue to be radical followers on Facebook, including one praising and quoting Anwar Al-Aliki.

If Younus Abdullah Muhammad has since rejected this pro-Muslim Brotherhood world view, it has not been clearly expressed, and was not expressed in his announcement of his early release from prison for his terrorist conviction, nor has he removed his Islam Policy philosophy statement on this, despite other updates to his Scribd Internet web postings, after his release from prison and post-release postings to IslamPolicy.com.

While this may seem surprising to those not aware of establishment U.S. government counterterrorism expert views, U.S. government support for the Muslim Brotherhood has been a common and regular fixture in meetings at various levels of U.S. Government counterterrorism and foreign policy organizations. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose motto is “Jihad is our way,” has been viewed as one that should be engaged with, at the highest levels of U.S. government. Even the distinguished West Point Counterterrorism Center (CTC) has published articles calling for engagement and cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood. George Mason University Professor Peter Mandaville used the CTC Sentinel to call for engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The concept behind such tactics is to “engage” with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and legitimize its anti-freedom ideology, as a trade-off for preventing violent terrorist attacks.

The tactic fails to grasp the Human Rights imperative of providing a counter-narrative in support of shared human rights that challenges anti-freedom ideologies, in the false belief, that a weakened commitment to freedom will allow for short term improvements in security measures.

However, Chapter 2 of The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), “The Foundation of the New Terrorism,” cites Muslim Brotherhood leader Syed Qutb for influencing Osama Bin Laden’s worldview in these terms: Qutb “dismissed Western achievements as entirely material, arguing that ‘nothing will satisfy its own conscience and justify its existence.'” “Three basic themes emerge from Qutb’s writings. First, he claimed that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief (a condition he called jahiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed). Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jahiliyya. Second, he warned that more people, including Muslims, were attracted to jahiliyya and its material comforts than to his view of Islam; jahiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam. Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslim – as he defined them – therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction.”

In his May 23, 2015 announcement of his release from prison, Younus Abdullah Muhammad aka Jesse Morton stated he was “particularly intrigued by what has been classified as countering violent extremism (CVE),” and that he rejected ” the conception that terrorism is justified.” He stated “If we are to truly stand for the ummah’s liberation, we will have to locate a balanced position between the day’s extremes.”

He stated that he would “remain staunchly opposed to the national security or counterterrorism state and its connection to the elite, neoliberal order.”

He stated that his “primary interests presently include a concentration on the role of hadith interpretation and its influence on contemporary Islamic movements, on U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world, the state of Islam and Muslims in America, the actual principles embodied in an American system that has been erased from contemporary conceptions (no not the false patriotic fascism promoted by FoxNews), and Islamic politics, economics and society generally.”

On a Facebook page with Younus Abdullah Muhammad’s name, photo, and link to his website and IslamPolicy announcement of his release from prison, this Facebook page provides cover art for his “IslamPolicy.com” website, including a man waving an ISIS flag. This was where there was a link to the announcement of his release from prison in May 2015.

Younus Abdullah Muhammad Facebook Page for his IslamPolicy Web Site when he announced his release included man waving ISIS flag (Facebook screenshot)

Facebook Page appearing to be for Younus Abdullah Muhammad’s IslamPolicy Web Site when he announced his release in May 2015, included a man waving an ISIS flag (Facebook screenshot)

In August 2016, another member of the GWU CCHS Program on Extremism, Amarnath Amarasingam, was linked to association with an ISIS-inspired terrorist Aaron Driver, who set off a partial explosion in Strathroy (near Toronto) in Canada. Mr. Amarasingam stated that he was surprised that ISIS terrorist Aaron Driver would commit violence, and he stated that he was trying to discourage him from radical views.

Additional notes: the FBI Press Release on the conviction of Younus Abdullah Muhammad also stated his association with the following terrorist individuals, who were quoted or inspired by his Revolution Muslim website. This included terrorist individuals throughout the United States of America in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.

The FBI stated the following:

In his statement of facts, Morton admitted that the Revolution Muslim websites contained the writings of and/or contributed to the radicalization of individuals who were inclined to engage in violence, including the following:

Samir Khan, previously of Charlotte, N.C., before moving to Yemen in 2009, was authorized by Morton to post materials on Revolution Muslim, and Morton provided Khan with two articles for the first two online editions of Jihad Recollections, an online magazine dedicated to violent extremism. In July 2010, Morton posted the first edition of Inspire magazine, an English-language magazine supporting al Qaeda that Morton believed to be the product of Khan. The magazine included an eight-page article titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of Your Mom,” with detailed instructions regarding the construction of an explosive device.

Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, of the United Kingdom, was provided the password to Revolution Muslim by Morton and given permission to post messages. In November 2010, Ahmad praised Roshonara Choundhry for attempting to kill a British member of parliament over his support for the Iraq war and posted a list of 383 members of parliament who had voted for the Iraq war, along with suggestions on how to get in to see them and a link to a store selling a weapon similar to that used in Choundhry’s attack. Ahmad told Morton that the purpose of the post was to “make those MPs fearful.”

Abdel Hameed Shehedah, a former resident of Staten Island, N.Y., who was charged in October 2010 of making false statements involving his alleged attempt to travel to Pakistan to join a fighting group such as the Taliban. The statement of facts states that Shehedah attended Revolution Muslim meetings, made his website, civiljihad.com, a feeder site for Revolution Muslim and eventually arranged for all visitors to his website be routed automatically to Revolution Muslim.com.

Rezwan Ferdaus, of Ashland, Mass., was charged in September 2011 with plotting to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol using large remote controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives. The statement of facts states that in February 2010, Ferdaus e-mailed Morton asking for counsel regarding his duties as a Muslim and whether martyrdom operations were proper practice. Morton replied that martyrdom operations must be judged by intention but can have “enormous benfits (sic) in a war of attrition.”

Colleen R. LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” of Montgomery County, Pa., was charged in March 2010 with a variety of terrorism-related offenses, including plotting to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who has been the subject of several murder threats based on his artwork depicting Muhammad. According to the statement of facts, Morton notified Sheikh Abdullah Faisal, a Muslim cleric convicted in the United Kingdom of soliciting murder, that LaRose was a subscriber to Revolution Muslim YouTube accounts.

Antonio Benjamin Martinez, of Baltimore, Md., was arrested and charged with plotting to bomb a military recruiting station in December 2010. The statement of facts states that one month prior to his arrest, Martinez viewed a video of Osama bin Laden and multiple terror training camp video clips on the Revolution Muslim website.

Jose Pimental, of New York City, was arrested and charged in November 2011 in connection with a plot to build and use a bomb to assassinate members of the U.S. military returning from active duty in Afghanistan. According to the statement of facts, Pimental contacted Morton saying that he was a big fan of Revolution Muslim, and that Morton recommended that Pimentel stay away from an individual because “there is high probability that he is working for the FBI.”

Mohamed Hamoud Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, both of New Jersey, were arrested in June 2010 on their way to Somalia to join a terrorist organization to kill individuals whose beliefs and practices did not accord with their ideology. The statement of facts states that both Alessa and Almonte were associates of Morton’s within the Revolution Muslim organization, and Morton was interviewed by investigators from the New York City Police Department on the day of their arrest.

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Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) believes that all individuals deserve a second chance in life, and that we can all change our views on issues challenging human rights. However, R.E.A.L. does not believe that the continued support for Muslim Brotherhood anti-freedom philosophy, which inspired terrorists in the past, provides the answer for ending terrorist violence in the future, and it certainly does not respect our shared Universal Human Rights for all.