A Michigan-based Islamic preacher’s YouTube account may have helped radicalize one of Saturday’s London attackers, a friend of the attacker told BBCNews Asia.
The preacher, Ahmad Musa Jibril, is well known on youtube for preaching sermons that appear to lionize Islamic terrorists fighting in Syria. The friend of the attacker was so concerned by his obsession with the preacher’s sermons, it prompted him to notify the anti-terror police. The attacker and two accomplices killed seven and injured dozens more after plowing a car into a crowd and stabbing passersby before police could gun them down.
“He used to listen to a lot of Musa Jibril. I have heard some of this stuff and its very radical. I am surprised this stuff is still on YouTube and is easily accessible. I phoned the anti-terror hotline. I spoke to the gentleman. I told him about our conversation and why I think he was radicalised,” the friend told BBCNews.
The London attacker’s enamor with Jibril is no surprise. A 2014 Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence study found that Jibril’s facebook page was the most popular among European and North American jihadists fighting for the Islamic State. Peter Neumann of the Center said that Jibril “provides the political and theological justification” and “comfort” to jihadists, the Counter Extremism project noted.
Jibril is prohibited from posting on social media after a 2015 violation of his probation but his sermons remain widely disseminated online.
During his 2005 trial the U.S. government alleged that Jibril’s then website “encouraged his students to spread Islam by the sword, to wage a holy war [and] to hate and kill non-Muslims.” The ICSR report characterizes Jibril as a “eloquent, charismatic” and importantly notes that he is fluent in English. “Ahmad Musa Jibril is a subtle, careful, and nuanced preacher,” the report continues.
Jibril is a U.S. citizen of Palestinian descent who holds a degree in Islamic law from Saudi Arabia.
Jibril is also a convicted fraudster who at one time owed nearly a quarter of a million dollars in restitution to the U.S. government, and served nearly 7 years in prison. Jibril was released from prison in 2012 at which point he sent condolences to the family of a British jihadist.
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