RM, a fringe anti-Semitic Muslim organization that justified terrorist attacks and other forms of violence for many years, was mostly active in New York until the end of 2010, after which it was shut down and began operating as Islam Policy.
Al-Khattab’s sentencing makes him the last of RM’s leaders to be imprisoned.
Al-Khattab, a.k.a. Joseph Leonard Cohen, cofounded RM in 2007 with Younes Abdullah Muhammad, and served as the group’s amir (leader) and “chief executive officer” until December 2009, when he announced that he was moving to Tetouan, Morocco.
Al-Khattab’s threats against the Jewish community on the RM site were both extensive and shocking. They included a video encouraging viewers to seek out the leaders of Jewish Federation chapters in the U.S. and “deal with them directly at their homes;” directions to specific Jewish facilities alongside a link to a manual for constructing and using explosive devices and a message encouraging readers to “make EVERY attempt to reach these people and teach them the message of Islam;” and a poem listing ways that Jews can be hurt including throwing “liquid drain cleaner in their faces” and burning “their flammable sukkos while they sleep.”
Although it is no longer active, the RM site continues to influence homegrown extremists. Terry Lee Loewen, who attempted to bomb the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in Kansas in December 2013, claimed to have been influenced by the site and allegedly had been sending money to the family of Younes Abdullah Muhammad.
Additional homegrown terrorists associated with the RM website, YouTube channel and associated online forums have included Zachary Chesser, Samir Khan, Jose Pimentel, Carlos Eduardo Almonte, Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, and Colleen LaRose (“Jihad Jane”).
ADL recently released a report exploring the influence of online extremism, including detailed information on RM’s impact.
Yousef Al-Khattab was born in New York where he was raised as an observant Jew. He later lived in Israel. He claims that he converted to Islam following a series of online conversations focusing on rejection of Judaism and hatred of Jews.
Al-Khattab expressed remorse in court and claims to have denounced his past views, and regularly posts rejections of them on Facebook and Twitter. This represents a change from as recently as February 2012, when al-Khattab released a 20-minute video on YouTube expressing his belief that he will be arrested and defending the statements he has issued online over the years.
Today’s sentencing follows al-Khattab’s October 31, 2013 guilty plea.
The other leaders of RM, Younis Abdullah Muhammad and Zachary Chesser, were sentenced to prison in 2012 and 2011 respectively.