YouTube finally removes channel that inspired Texas gunman in victory for JC

Tech giant acts after series of investigations exposing Jew-hate on the platform


YouTube has finally removed two channels linked to notorious hate preachers including one whose antisemitism inspired a British Islamist to travel to the US to take Jews hostage at gunpoint.

After weeks of pressure from the JC, the tech giant today removed the channel of Israr Ahmed, and on Wednesday removed the channel of Wagdy Ghoniem. Between them, they had a combined total of more than 3.5 million subscribers.

The JC has been exposing harmful YouTube content in a series of investigations since last June. YouTube had previously not only failed to remove the channels but did not even provide a response.

Testimony from a whistleblower who worked for Crisp, a content moderation firm contracted to YouTube, exclusively published by the JC, has finally prompted the company to act.

The moderator, counter-terrorism expert Khaled Hassan, had repeatedly raised the issue of Jew-hatred on YouTube - including flagging the newly removed channels of Ahmed and Ghoniem - but saw his concerns ignored.

 Mr Hassan had submitted a report to YouTube on 28 October highlighting Ahmed’s videos which “used the phrase ‘Jew World Order’.” The report cited the hate preacher’s statements that Jews – described as “cursed people” and a “cursed race” – had conspired against Muslims for centuries, and that they were “followers of Satan, intent on destroying Islam.”

One video, recorded in Urdu, said Jews “are akin to pigs”. The British broadcasting regulator previously Ofcom fined the channel Peace TV £65,000 for broadcasting talks by Ahmed on the grounds that they constituted hate speech towards Jews. Mr Hassan’s report to YouTube warned that Ahmed’s videos “pose[d] a serious risk of inciting hatred against Jews [and] a realistic possibility of leading to real-world violence.”

The Blackburn-born terrorist Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at gunpoint in a Texas synagogue in January after he had watched Israr Ahmed’s videos, the terrorist’s friends and acquaintances told the JC.

YouTube told the JC that “upon review, we removed the channels belonging…. to Israr Ahmad for violating our hate speech policies, and a further eleven videos have been removed as either a result of this circumvention or for violating our Violent Extremism and hate speech policies.”

It came after pressure from the JC prompted the removal on Wednesday of an account belonging to the Egyptian jihadist and Muslim Brotherhood leader Wagdy Ghoniem, who is banned in the UK. YouTube said Wagdy Ghoniem’s channel had been taken down “for circumvention of our terms of service”.

In August, YouTube had failed to act on a report written by Mr Hassan urging it to take down the channel of Ghoniem, who said those who had “collaborated” with Nato forces in Afghanistan deserved to be “punished” by the Taliban. That video was published when many of those who had helped the West were being shot.

 The report said that Ghoneim “celebrated” the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, describing supporters of the previous, democratic Afghan government as “infidels” who should be “punished”.

Mr Hassan had pointed out that Ghoneim “has been on the list of extremists banned from entering the UK for inciting terrorism since 2009”. He was wanted on terrorism charges in America since 2004, and an Egyptian court had convicted him for leading a terrorist cell in 2014. 

Mr Hassan’s report said that Ghoneim had falsely claimed that Egypt’s President Sisi “is secretly a Jewish person working on advancing the interests of Israel while causing harm to Egypt’s economy and national security”. Moreover, in 2017, YouTube had been forced to apologise to advertisers including mobile phone firm Verizon when it emerged that Ghoneim was “monetising” his channel and running its adverts.

 Failing to remove Ghoneim’s videos amounted to “promoting radical ideologies and enabling radical/terrorist groups to recruit members into their ranks”, the report warned.

YouTube’s publicly-stated policy is that all “hate speech” that promotes “violence or hatred against individuals or groups” based on race or religion “is not allowed” and will be “removed”.

Whistleblower Mr Hassan told the JC that he believed this policy was a “sham”.

Read more:

YouTube's owners should be treated as accessories to murder
The antisemitic videos that YouTube was warned about
Interview: "I couldn’t get YouTube to see that ‘God curse the Jews’ is a form of hate speech"
Revealed: The incendiary reports ignored by YouTube

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