YouTube Yanks Videos Featuring Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

YouTube removed several videos, but this time the Google-owned video site wasn’t reacting to copyright concerns: Videos calling for jihad by American-born, Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki were taken down at the request of government officials from the United States and United Kingdom, The New York Times reported.

The two explosive devices that were intercepted on cargo planes last week likely helped to expedite the decision to pull the videos, as the Times reports that Awlaki has often publicly encouraged violence directed at the West.

YouTube spokeswoman Victoria Grand told the Times the videos were removed because they violated guidelines prohibiting “dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, and incitement to commit violent acts,” or they came from accounts “registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization” or used to promote such a group’s interests.

She added, “These are difficult issues, and material that is brought to our attention is reviewed carefully. We will continue to remove all content that incites violence according to our policies. Material of a purely religious nature will remain on the site.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), one of the officials who pushed for the videos to be pulled off the site, told the Times YouTube gave him a “bureaucratic” response at first, but the discovery of the bombs last week helped to move things along, adding, “It has become increasingly clear that this guy is an international terrorist who is using their service to do illegal things.”

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