Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Al Qaida sermons 'still on YouTube'

MPs asked a Google boss about videos of an extremist available on its website YouTube
MPs asked a Google boss about videos of an extremist available on its website YouTube

Radical teachings of al Qaida supporter Anwar al-Awlaki are still widely available on YouTube and will only be removed if flagged by the website's users, MPs have been told.

A gang of terrorists convicted last week for plotting to attack Britain with suicide bombs were heavily influenced by the dead Yemeni-based preacher al-Awlaki.

Addressing representatives of YouTube owner Google, Facebook and Twitter, home affairs select committee chairman Keith Vaz MP said only that morning he had found videos featuring al-Awlaki online.

Google head of UK public policy Sarah Hunter said YouTube's guidelines "go beyond the law" but as 72 hours of footage are uploaded every minute it is impossible to look at all the videos uploaded.

Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid, and Ashik Ali, all from Birmingham, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court last week of planning an attack that could have been bigger than the July 7 atrocities. The three viewed videos of al-Awlaki, once said to be number three to Osama bin Laden and who was killed in a US unmanned drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.

Mr Vaz said: "I went on YouTube this morning, which is of course owned by Google, I noticed the fact that the preachings of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was head of the al Qaida in the south Arabian peninsula, are still on YouTube.

"Those addresses, some of which could be seen to be inciting religious and racial hatred are still on YouTube. Why is it that they are retained on there given the record of that individual?"

Ms Hunter replied: "We in no way condone the use of YouTube for terrorist content. To that end we have very strict community guidelines, which go way beyond the law. When a user flags to us that there is content on there breaking those guidelines we review that content and we take it down and these flags get reviewed within an hour, so it's a very quick process."

Mr Vaz asked Ms Hunter: "And you're satisfied that this is not content YouTube is concerned about, and that ought to be taken down? Someone has looked at this content, they're very happy that it comes within your guidelines and it therefore remains on the internet. You're happy with that are you?"

Ms Hunter replied: "I haven't personally looked at all of this content... We rely upon our users and there are hundreds of millions of people across the world looking at YouTube all the time - when they tell us there's content that breaks the guidelines that's when our team reviews it and removes it."

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