Sunday, November 21, 2010
Local jihadist website tied to terror thugs returns under new name, IslamPolicy.com
A militant New York website tied to terror plotters - and shut down for promoting violence - has resurfaced under a new name.
Revolution Muslim has been linked to at least a third of almost two dozen homegrown terror schemes exposed during the past year, investigators said.
The site was taken down Nov. 5, after an uproar over a user posting that called for the assassination of members of the British Parliament who voted for the Iraq war.
The posting, which gave tips on how to meet with the pols, went up after a 21-year-old woman radicalized through the site was sentenced to life for trying to stab an MP.
Website co-founder Younus Abdullah Muhammad, 31, disavowed the posting and others urging violence.
"It was ill-advised and not a platform that I or Revolution Muslim ever held," said the Columbia University graduate. "I did not say, 'Bomb them, kill them,' I don't have those opinions. You cannot be responsible for what people do with your message."
Sources said Google pulled the plug on Revolution Muslim on Nov. 5 at the prompting of the U.S. and U.K. government officials. Eleven days later, a notice went up that its new home was IslamPolicy.com.
Muhammad, who grew up as Jesse Norton before converting to Islam a decade ago, founded Revolution Muslim in 2007 with the help of Brooklyn-born Yousef al-Khattab.
He says the purpose of the site and its successor is to promote a doctrine of "pure Islam" and religion-based Sharia law - and that the feds have no business meddling.
"This is a deliberate attempt [by the government] to connect the actions of physical terrorists to civilians to a group that propogates legitimate resistance," he said. "It's the thought police."
Anti-terrorism experts say no matter what the name, the site is a breeding ground for anti-American hatred and validates terrorist fantasies.
"Revolution Muslim, in its various forms, provided an ideology that could be used to justify violence," said Mitch Silber, head of the NYPD's intellegence analysis division.
Investigators uncovered ties to a roster of terror suspects:
Samir Khan, a former Queens resident, is allegedly behind the new English-language online magazine "Inspire," produced by Al Qaeda's Yemen branch, which tried to bomb two U.S.-bound airplanes. Officials say Khan was a regular in Revolution Muslim chatrooms. Muhammad said while he knew Khan, he didn't recall him posting.
The website's spiritual adviser was Abdullah al-Faisal, a radical Jamaican cleric who intel experts say was a motivator of would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
Former Staten Islander Abdel Shehadeh, who was busted for lying about trying to join the Taliban. Shehadeh allegedly advertised his own jihadist website on Revolution Muslim.
Mohamed Alessa of North Bergen, N.J., and Carlos Almonte of Elmwood, N.J., are accused of trying to travel to Somalia to join an Al Qaeda spinoff. Prosecutors say they drew inspiration from Revolution Muslim.
Revolution Muslim's other co-founder, Khattab, said he hasn't been involved for more than a year because he disagreed with the direction it took.
"RM is not the mainstream view of Islam," said Khattab, 42, who was raised a secular Jew and joined the Satmar Hasidic sect before converting to Islam 11 years ago.
He said he was guilty of providing a platform for "rhetoric" he no longer agreed with.
"I made a mistake," he said.
The site, he said, became a haven for pseudo-Islamic radicals that drew too much scrutiny.
"It's a bug light, and the greatest thing for the government," Khattab said. "Everybody gets zapped."