Younes & Abu Talhah
A Muslim thirty-three year old convert from New York, Jesse Curtis Morton, who is also known as Younus Abdullah Muhammed, agreed to enter a plea of “guilty” at a federal court hearing in Alexandria, Virginia today (Thursday 9 February) for his role in explaining the Islamic ruling regarding those who insult the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in response to news in 2010 that the irreverent South Park television show was planing on airing an episode depicting the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ along with other religious figures such as ‘Isa ibn Maryam عليه السلام.
The writers of South Park were afraid at the prospect that someone might take offense to their disrespectful and provocative insulting depiction of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ or other venerated figures. As a result the Federal government has charged Younus with a count of “conveying threatening communication” and other criminal charges, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Younes was arrested in Rabat, Morocco, last year and brought back to the United States and has been in custody since his arrest in Morocco in October. He faces up to 15 years in prison, and his sentencing is scheduled for 18 May 2012.
As a result of his plea agreement Younes entered threepleas of guilty to “making threatening communications”, “using the Internet to put others in fear” and “using his position as leader of the Revolution Muslim internet sites to “‘conspire’ to commit murder”. He is facing up to five years in prison for each of the three charges.
Younes worked on website postings with Zachary Adam Chesser (Abu Talhah), a Virginia man who pleaded guilty in October 2010 to sending the same “threatening communications” to the writers of South Park. He admitted that he aided Abu Talhah in April 2010 to explain the stance of Islam regarding those who insult and degrade the Prophets عليهم السلام, and the writers of South Park in particular.
Islam considers any depiction of the Prophets as offensive and mocking the religion and Rasul Allah ﷺ is a capital offense. Younes and Abu Talhah posted where the writers resided and encouraged online readers to “pay them a visit,” according to court documents. Younes worked with Abu Talhah to draft a message for the website about the South Park episode and they posted a final version of the statement on various other online forums.
Younes is also also alleged to have conspired with Abu Talhah and others to solicit the murder of an artist tied to the “Everyone Draw Mohammad ﷺ Day” movement in May 2010, including posting online a magazine that included the artist in a hit list.
Four days after the arrest of Abu Talhah in July of 2010, Younes traveled to Morocco, where his wife and her family is from. He was arrested in that country on the request of the US government in May last year and then sent back to the United States.
“Jesse Morton operated Revolution Muslim to radicalize those who saw and heard his materials online and to incite them to engage in violence against those they believed to be enemies of Islam,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement.
Younes admitted that the Revolution Muslim websites contained writings of and/or contributed to the radicalization of some people, including Antonio Benjamin Martinez and Colleen R. La Rose (“Jihad Jane”) Before entering this plea Younes has written two statements from prison, the first from his cell in Morocco titled Seeking Clarification the second from his isolation unit in Virginia, A Letter to the Ummah.
Younes’ wife and lawyer comment regarding his guilty plea:
His wife made the following statement:
‘My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, Younes had no choice but agree for pleading guilty offer to three charges. They have pressed eight charges on him which made a total score of fourty years to life sentence. The case is [a] trap as usual, but this is the same method that many Muslim prisoners went through.
Wa hasbun Allahu wa ni3mal wakeel.’
Brother Younes’ lawyer James Hundley said the case against his client presented free speech issues, but that his client ultimately decided to take the plea the government offered rather than risk trial on more serious charges that could carry an even longer sentence.
‘Certainly, this case had that question: at what point are you exercising free speech and at what point are you verging into prohibited speech of a threatening or inciting nature? That was something we obviously looked at very closely. If he had rejected the plea offer, he’d be facing substantially more than 15 years’
Please remember to support Younes and his family with your du’a. You can write to Younes at:
Jesse Curtis Morton A0153370
Alexandria City Jail
2001 Mill Road