US legislators want Jihadi websites taken down

The chairman of the US Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade wants Jihadi-oriented websites and content taken offline.

According to Representative Brad Sherman, such sites are often used by terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda to inspire, recruit and train future extremists.

“Can we [shut them down]? Yes. Will we? No. It is more likely we will tie ourselves up in knots than we’ll do anything useful,” Sherman told AFP  after a Congressional hearing on the matter.

“[Now], I don’t know how much money YouTube makes, but they are endangering people throughout America for their own profit. And it’s not about (YouTube’s) loyalty to the concept of the First Amendment, it’s about their loyalty to money.

“[So, are we] going to be a polite country or safe country? [Clearly, we are] manifestly unable to take down these sites through cyber attack because we are restrained by our own politeness.”

However, Gregory McNeal, a law professor at California’s Pepperdine University, told the hearing that there was “no concerted government effort to shut down Jihadist websites” due to the lack of a clearly defined legal avenue.

“The Supreme Court has never spoken on crime-facilitation speech…There’s always a challenge between drawing the line between merely informative speech and speech that facilitates a crime with the intent of doing so,” he explained.

“Is it surmountable? No. Because unless there’s a triggering event like an attack that was prompted by a video (on an extremist website), it’s easier to keep the status quo. Sadly, we often wait for an attack before we take action.”