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Jesse Morton: George Washington University Hires 'Ex'-Jihadist

Jesse Morton: George Washington University Hires 'Ex'-Jihadist

Younus Abdullah Muhammad, aka Jesse Morton. (Screengrab of YouTube video post)

By    |   Thursday, 01 September 2016 11:56 AM

Jesse Morton, a former al-Qaeda recruiter who served prison time for threats against the creators of the animation series "South Park," has been hired by George Washington University to do research on "extremism."

Morton, 37, was brought on as a fellow at George Washington's Program on Extremism, and is expected to conduct research on the ideology he led people to, said The New York Times. He was known as Younus Abdullah Muhammad when he was a recruiter for al-Qaeda and ran the website Revolution Muslim from his Brooklyn apartment.

Morton was arrested in Morocco and extradited to face charges in the U.S. in connection with the "South Park" threats, said CNN. He was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison in 2012. The Times said Morton eventually became an FBI informant and was released from prison last year.

The Washington Post said the FBI pushed for Morton's early release.

"I presume that they only did it because he offered substantial assistance to the FBI in other investigations," said former U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, adding that such prison reductions were not common.

Morton's followers have been accused of flying a remote-controlled drone with explosives into the Pentagon and attempting to kill a Swedish cartoonist who satirized the Prophet Muhammad, said the Times.

"As many people as may have traveled, or may have committed criminal acts, because of my words, I hope that I can deter just as many," Morton told the Times about his effort to make amends. "I may never be able to repair the damage that I have done, but I think I can at least try."

The Pennsylvania native said he turned to extremism after being abused by his mother and his school not helping him when he reached out.

"It was not just my dysfunctional family that I couldn't trust, it was society at large," Morton told the Times. "That's where the whole us-versus-them personality comes in, with the perception that society – American society – is not protecting me."

Morton talked about coming in contact with his first iman while in prison in Richmond, Virginia after he was arrested for selling narcotics, said the Times. Along the way, he earned a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University, reported CNN.

New America think tank fellow Nadia Oweidat, who has interviewed dozens of former extremists, told CNN she believes Morton is sincere about his turnabout.

"People go through phases," Oweidat told CNN. "They evolve and are finally able to see the light. … When an extremist defects, they risk being completely targeted by their community – it's like saying you're gay publicly. There are life-altering consequences and you don't approach it lightly."

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Jesse Morton, a former al-Qaeda recruiter who served prison time for threats against the creators of the animation series "South Park," has been hired by George Washington University to do research on "extremism."
jesse morton, ex-jihadist, hired, george washington university
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Thursday, 01 September 2016 11:56 AM
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