NEW YORK, N.Y. – On any given day, log on to RevolutionMuslim.com and a host of startling images appear:
— The Statue of Liberty, with an ax blade cutting through her side;
— Video mocking the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl, entitled "Daniel Pearl I am Happy Your Dead :) ";
— Video of a puppet show lampooning U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq;
— The latest speech from Sheikh Abdullah Faisal, an extremist Muslim cleric convicted in the UK and later deported for soliciting the murder of non-Muslims.
Even more surprising is that RevolutionMuslim.com isn't being maintained in some remote safe house in Pakistan. Instead, Yousef al-Khattab, the Web site creator, runs it from his home in the New York City Borough of Queens.
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And, because al-Khattab enjoys the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, all the authorities can do is watch.
Formerly known as Joseph Cohen, al-Khattab is an American-born Jew who converted to Islam after attending an Orthodox Rabbinical school, which he later described as a “racist cult.”
The 39-year-old New York taxi driver launched RevolutionMuslim.com with the mission of “preserving Islamic culture,” “calling people to the oneness of God” and asking them to “support the beloved Sheik Abdullah Faisal, who’s preaching the religion of Islam and serving as a spiritual guide.”
In 2003 Faisal was convicted in the U.K. for spreading messages of racial hatred and urging his followers to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. In sermon recordings played at his trial, Faisal called on young, impressionable Muslims to use chemical weapons to “exterminate unbelievers” and “cut the throat of the Kaffars [nonbelievers] with [a] machete.”
Authorities believe Faisal’s sermons have influenced 2005 London transport bomber Germaine Lindsay and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who attended mosques where Faisal preached.
At times, al-Khattab's postings are farcical, such as a picture of him holding the book "Nuclear Jihad" with a wry smile on his face. Other messages call for radical Muslim rule worldwide.
Al-Khattab claims the Sept. 11 terror attacks were an “inside job,” and he blames U.S. foreign policy for spawning the terrorism that carried out the attacks.
He calls Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and beheaded in 2002 by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, “a convicted spy.”
“I could care less about Daniel Pearl,” al-Khattab said in an interview with FOXNews.com. “I’m happy to see that he’s gone.”
The content changes constantly. One reason is that the fast flow of information allows messages to spread through cyberspace quickly. Another, terrorism analysts say, is to make it difficult for law enforcement to monitor the site.
Despite his radical anti-Western views, al-Khattab says he does not support terrorism of any kind.
Yet, RevolutionMuslim.com claims to be the official site of “North American representatives” for Sheikh Faisal, and it appears dedicated to spreading his radical doctrine.
He says Faisal “never said to kill innocent people” and was unjustly imprisoned. He says the real terror organizations are the U.S. Army, the CIA, and the FBI — and the National Coast Guard, “to a lesser extent.”
According to RevolutionMuslim, Faisal — who was deported to his native Jamaica in 2007 — is now receiving donations solicited on the site, including money for a new laptop and DVD burner to spread his message.
It's not illegal to post these messages or collect money for Faisal, but it would be if Faisal were designated a terrorist by the U.S. government. He currently is not listed on any government terror list; a Department of Justice spokesman could not confirm or deny if Faisal is being investigated for any terror related activity.
RevolutionMuslim may look amateurish when compared with other extremist Web sites, but it is no less of a threat, says Mia Bloom, political science professor at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.
“It may lead people who become radicalized by it to turn to other, more dangerous Web sites,” such as those run by terrorist organizations, she said.
Bloom characterized al-Khattab’s message as “narrow” and “misinformed” and said he is attempting to “proselytize or radicalize people who share some of these same ideas.”
“[He] has obviously been duped or is duping others because that’s not what Islam preaches,” she said.
On his site al-Khattab appears to condemn the very democracy that guarantees him the freedom to express himself — a freedom he cites in a disclaimer on his homepage:
“We hereby declare and make absolute public declaration that revolutionmuslim.com operates under the first amendment right to freedom of religion and expression and that in no way, shape, or form do we call for war against the U.S. government or adhere to the enemies of the United States elsewhere.”
Under the law FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said it is difficult to bring criminal charges against the operators of Web sites like RevolutionMuslim.com unless specific threats are made against an individual or individuals.
Kolko while not speaking directly about RevolutionMuslim said radical sites like these are not often prosecuted.
"It's usually a First Amendment right if they don't cross the threshold of making any threats," said Kolko. "There's nothing we should or could do."
“Until the rhetoric reaches the point in which it’s no longer protected speech under the first amendment, it’s hard to stop it,” said security expert, Harvey Kushner.