George Washington University is feeling the heat after hiring Jesse Morton, a reformed Islamic extremist, to work as a fellow in its Program on Extremism.

The man who is formerly known as Younus Abdullah Muhammad, spent three years in prison for advocating for Al Qaeda, making threats against people he felt insulted Islam, and denouncing the United States. Now, Muhammad goes by the name Jesse Morton, and the university says that he has renounced his former self, and will be a key to helping them stop others from being radicalized.

George Washington University officials say they are fully aware how risky of a move it is, both from a public relations standpoint, and from their own students and donors.  University officials say their mission is to track, understand and develop ways to prevent people from being radicalized by Islamic extremists – like Morton use to be. They also say they did not make the decision to hire him lightly, they consulted with the FBI who Morton has work with over the past year, and they also spoke to university officials and other law enforcement agencies who vouched that Morton had served his time, reformed himself and is not a threat.

During an interview with Seamus Hughes, the man who hired Morton and also the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, Hughes was asked why he decided to hire someone who has advocated for the downfall of the United States. Hughes told FOX 5 that he believes if Morton can bring himself back from the clutches of extremism, he might be able to help others do the same.

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