Creator of Revolution Muslim website, inspiration to US jihadis, pleads guilty

Jesse Curtis Morton, who ran RevolutionMuslim.com, admitted to influencing would-be American militants including 'Jihad Jane' and the Pentagon model-plane bomber. 

A New York man pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges that he created and ran militant Muslim websites – including RevolutionMuslim.com – to encourage others to engage in violent actions to defend Islam from perceived attacks in the West.

Jesse Curtis Morton, who is also known as Younus Abdullah Muhammed, entered his plea in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Morton admitted that he used his websites to solicit the murder of those who had allegedly disparaged the Prophet Mohammed. He also admitted that he made threatening communications and used the Internet to place others in fear.

His websites were supportive of Osama bin Laden, US-born militant cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Muslims promoting jihad. They featured messages in support of the 9/11 attacks and the November 2009 killings at Fort Hood, Texas.

The websites also highlighted the actions of perceived enemies of Islam, including cartoonists in Denmark who had lampooned the Prophet Mohammed, a US-based artist who promoted “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” and the writers of South Park for an episode that featured a person in a bear suit who was supposedly the Prophet Mohammed.

After accepting the plea, US District Judge Liam O’Grady set sentencing for May 18. Morton faces up to five years in prison for each of the three counts.

“Jesse Morton operated Revolution Muslim to radicalize those who saw and heard his materials online and to incite them to engage in violence against those they believed to be enemies of Islam,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride in a statement.

“We may never know all of those who were inspired to engage in terrorism because of Revolution Muslim, but the string of recent terrorism cases with ties to Morton’s organization demonstrates the threat it posed to our national security,” Mr. MacBride said.

Officials say Morton worked closely with Zachary Chesser of Fairfax County, who is now serving a 25-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to communicating threats.

Four days after Mr. Chesser’s arrest, Morton flew to Morocco where he remained until his arrest last May.

As part of his plea, Morton admitted that he contributed to the radicalization of Muslims in the US and other English-speaking countries.

Among the individuals he admitted to influencing:

  • Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., was charged in September 2011 with plotting to fly explosives-laden remote controlled model airplanes into the Pentagon.
  • Another was Colleen LaRose of Montgomery County, Pa., who is also known as “Jihad Jane.” She was charged in March 2010 with plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist based on his depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.
  • Officials said Morton’s websites also played a role in encouraging Antonio Benjamin Martinez of Baltimore to conspire to bomb a military recruiting station in December 2010.

“Individuals such as Morton who encourage violence and create fear over the Internet are a danger to our society and to the freedoms we enjoy as citizens,” said James McJunkin, the FBI’s assistant director in charge. “Today’s plea, and other recent cases of those associated with Morton’s organization, demonstrate the widespread nature of this danger,” he said. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.