Jewish convert to Islam incarcerated for threatening Jewish groups
New Jersey resident Yousef al-Khattab, born Joseph Cohen, posted articles encouraging action against Jewish leaders, published their addresses.
The founder of a radical Islamic website that praised figures like Osama bin Laden and Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for using the site to threaten Jewish groups.
Yousef al-Khattab, 45, of Atlantic City, N.J., who converted from Judaism, started the Revolution Muslim website in 2007.
Al-Khattab admitted posting articles encouraging readers to take unspecified action against Jewish leaders and publishing names and addresses of Jewish leaders and synagogues.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virgina, "al-Khattab posted a video on 2009 urging viewers to seek out leaders of Jewish Federation chapters in the U.S. and 'deal with them directly at their homes.' Al-Khattab gave the names and addresses of synagogues in New York and another Jewish organization in Brooklyn.
"On January 20, 2009, Al-Khattab posted a video and photo of the headquarters of the Jewish organization in Brooklyn with a map and directions to specific facilities. Al-Khattab also posted a link to 'The Anarchist Cookbook,' which is a manual for (among other things) constructing and using explosive devices. On January 23, 2009, Al-Khattab posted to the Revolution Muslim website a video accusing the Jewish organization of funding terrorism and urging viewers to find the leaders of Jewish organizations and 'hold them responsible.'"
Prosecutors say numerous people who have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses were readers of Revolution Muslim.
According to NPR, these include the Philadelphia woman known as Jihad Jane, arrested in 2009 for plotting to kill a cartoonist who had drawn the Prophet Muhammad; Samir Khan from North Carolina killed by a drone while riding in the same vehicle as radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, and Zachary Chesser, a blogger for RevMuslim, who was arrested boarding a flight to Somalia, intending to join the al-Qaida linked al-Shabab.
Defense lawyers say it is conjecture to assume people were inspired to plot attacks by reading Revolution Muslim. They acknowledged that al-Khattab crossed a line by urging confrontation, but said he was trying to exercise his free-speech rights.
The 30-month sentence given Friday to al-Khattab in U.S. District court was slightly less than the three-year term sought by prosecutors. Al-Khattab's lawyer asked for a one-year sentence.
'I'm a failure'
In an interview for NPR released Thursday, al-Khattab expressed regret for his actions, saying: "What I did was stupid and it was wrong and I am paying the price for that now, period.
"I thought we had stayed on the right side of the line with regard to free speech," he said. "But it appears we went over it, we went too far, and, I'll say it, we were wrong."
Al-Khattab told NPR he is concerned his imprisonment will turn him into a martyr, mujahadid, for the radical Muslim cause.
"This was stupidity and this is what happens when you hang out with the wrong people," he said. "So it is my fault. I know when I go to jail, they will be, 'Allah, Allah, he's a mujahadid.' I am not a mujahadid. I am a failure."
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