The creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are known for pushing buttons. And for a small period of time, they attempted to “push the buttons” of Islamic extremists by “depicting” the prophet Muhammad in two-parter, Episode 200 and 201.
The response from extremists was, as expected, perhaps not so much to the creators but for everyone else watching who feared there would be retaliation.
The leaders and co-founders of an extremist organization out of New York referred to as Revolution Muslim responded, “warning” the creators of South Park that there would be retribution, saying that they would end up as independent Dutch documentary filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered in 2004 in public by an Islamic extremist.
The filmmaker did not depict Muhammad as South Park did, but he did make a film which apparently offended extremists because it showed the oppression of women under Islam.
The warning to the South Park creators was made by a member of the extremist organization named Zachary Adam Chesser, who preferred to be addressed as Abu Talhah al-Amrikee while online. Many argued that it wasn’t a warning but a threat, posting the addresses of various people involved, the offices of Comedy Central and Matt and Trey’s production company, claiming that he did so so that others could go protest.
Chesser would eventually be arrested in 2011 for making threats online and also for going as far as to engage with the terrorist group al-Shabaab. He was arrested while boarding a flight in Uganda to meet with the group in Somalia.
https://t.co/7EgXPM4ows Around the same time in 2010, Mohamed’s 21-year-old friend Zachary Adam Chesser was sentenced to 25 years...— Loreena (@Louangie) June 26, 2016
Soon after, another extremist from the Revolution Muslim organization, Jesse Curtis Morton a.k.a. Younus Abdullah Muhammad, would also be arrested in Morocco.
PBS NewsHour aired a segment in their program Monday about Jesse Morton, who has now reportedly been hired as a researcher for a think-tank at George Washington University.
The video refers to an article by the New York Daily News which reported on his conviction for threatening the creators of South Park in 2012, but the report also says that his sentence was reduced for cooperating with law-enforcement, helping them crack down on Islamic extremist groups.
The former extremist explains that while he was in Morocco, he began to change his mind about his extremism, right before he was arrested.
Morton says that there is a lot of security around his position and therefore, very little risk to the university. NewsHour journalist Hari Sreenivasan appears to highlight the danger he poses to other students, for potentially having a target on his back and being attacked, not because he himself is a threat to others around him.
Jesse Morton — along with other extremists — started the Revolution Muslim website in 2007, taking advantage of the new web 2.0, which made radicalization easier. It posted calls for Jihad, which is a word broadly defined as a call to spread the Islamic religion, though it’s taken a different definition to mean to physically attack “non-believers.”
He says that at a very young age, he rejected American culture because he did not have the support he needed when he was going through his own problems and so he turned to extremism.
In 2006, he joined the Muslim Thinker Society, which allowed him to rise up within the ranks and become a speaker on the streets for the group.
The report also shows Lorenzo Vidino who is the head of the think-tank whose idea was to hire Jesse Morton.
His interest is over the fact that Jesse Morton’s site was the first American-based site to be about radicalization. But many also looked at the organization as amateurish and obscene where they used foul language and knew very little about the Islamic religion, and that the site’s efforts were simply immature.
In any case, other extremists such as “Jihad Jane” were inspired by the site and might even have some connection to people who have joined violent extremist groups in the Middle East.