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U.S. congressman calls for YouTube to remove videos featuring militant

By the CNN Wire Staff
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YouTube asked to pull militant videos
  • Rep. Weiner writes a letter to YouTube CEO Chad Hurley
  • He asks for the removal of all videos featuring Anwar al-Awlaki
  • Al-Awlaki has been linked to al Qaeda in Yemen, where he is believed to be in hiding
  • YouTube Inc.
  • Anthony Weiner
  • Yemen

(CNN) -- A New York congressman sent a letter to the chief executive of YouTube Sunday, asking that the company remove all videos featuring Anwar al-Awlaki -- a man the congressman called the "bin Laden of the internet."

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, made the request one day after the online appearance of a new al-Awlaki video. The Yemeni-American cleric and militant has been linked to al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, where he is believed to be in hiding.

Weiner said that hundreds of al-Awlaki videos are available on YouTube, with a combined total of more than 3.5 million views.

"A known terrorist named Anwar al-Awlaki, dubbed the 'bin Laden of the Internet,' has been using YouTube to promote his extremist ideology and recruit a new generation of terrorists. I am asking that you remove all videos featuring Anwar al-Awlaki from your website and set up safeguards to prevent future videos of from being posted," Weiner wrote to Chad Hurley, YouTube's chief executive.

An official at YouTube was not immediately available to comment Sunday.

U.S. officials say al-Awlaki helped recruit Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines trans-Atlantic flight as it landed in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day.

Al-Awlaki is also said to have exchanged e-mails with accused Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan.

U.S. officials have confirmed that he is on a CIA and military hit list to be captured or killed.

"I understand that YouTube is a clearing house for ideas and that your company aims to not infringe on free speech, but al-Awlaki's message, promoted via YouTube, has caused violence and is a threat to American security," Weiner wrote. "I request that you remove this man and his hateful rhetoric from your website, as he poses a clear and present danger to American citizens."