IN the wake of 9/11, newly converted US jihadi Jesse Morton, now 42, became convinced the Western world was evil.

He pumped out propaganda to get young Americans and Brits to join his cause, and published bomb-making instructions used by the terrorists who targeted the Boston Marathon in 2013. 


Now, 20 years on and deradicalised, Jesse is trying to make amends for his crimes, having turned FBI informant while in prison.

Since the Taliban retook Afghanistan in August, Jesse is concerned terrorist chatter on social media is on the rise, and fears a new wave of “lone wolf” terror attacks.

Jesse believes social media platforms like Facebook have been chipping away at vulnerable people’s self-esteem and bombarding them with extreme messages. 

He claimed: “They understand the addiction and the addictive qualities that they are promoting in order to profit over people. 

“My critique of the mainstream social media companies is that they are actually creating the conditions under which an individual is more susceptible.”

Having endured an abusive childhood, by the age of 18 Jesse had served two prison sentences in Richmond, Virginia for drug offences. 

Before his second stint in hail, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Younus Abdullah Muhammed after talking to a US-Afghani jihad behind bars. 

He became a recruiter for Al-Qaeda, mingling with radical clerics and convincing young muslims to become extremists.

"I already hated my country," he told The Sun. "Now I realise that it was largely projected hate.

"Because I felt like my culture in the society I grew up around abandoned me, didn't recognise the abuse and failed to protect me. 

“But I interpreted it as a legitimised and rational hatred of the United States and its Western Allies.”

Jesse was released from custody just one month before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. 

By then Jesse was already harbouring extremist views. 

He explained: “[America] announced a war on terror, and made the claim that you were either with us or you're with the terrorists.

“I was torn. I continued to flirt with looking at what it was the terrorists were saying.”

After making a name for himself as a street preacher aged 24, he joined the Islamic Thinkers society where he felt their views were as radical as his own. 

He said: “It was very helpful to be able to point at me and say, 'Look, we got one of you, we have an all American boy who even agrees with our sentiment'.

“It gave me added appeal.” 

Jesse formed relationships with hate preachers including Jamaican-born cleric Abdullah el-Faisal, who was in Belmarsh Prison until he was deported from the UK in 2007.

Hate clerics 'too soft'

He had been jailed for inciting racial hatred for radicalising 7/7 bomber Germaine Lindsay.

Jesse also held calls with radical cleric Anjem Choudary – who once called for the pope to be executed and saw his ban on public speaking lifted in July. 

But Jesse claims he found London-based Choudary and his organisation Al-Muhajiroun to be “too soft”.

He said: “Truth be told, I found the Al-Muhajiroun to be sort of imbeciles. I didn't think that they had true radicalism.

“I didn't think that they were that politically astute. 

“I thought that their interpretation of the religion was correct, but I actually thought they were too soft because they wouldn't align themselves unabashedly with Al-Qaeda's view."

You can't recruit an individual by telling them they should go blow themselves up

He was then inspired to form his own group, Revolution Muslim, with friend Yousef Al-Khattab. 

He described the outfit as an umbrella group as the war on terror knocked Al-Qaeda’s centralised power. 

The group produced a glossy offshoot magazine Jihadi Recollections – described by commentators as a “Vanity Fair for Jihadis”. 

The magazine is known for publishing an article called "How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom".

The article was then used by brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who made two pressure cooker bombs to attack the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264. 

The group targeted young and vulnerable muslims to fight for the jihadi cause by giving them a sense of community, luring them with slick PR tactics now widely implemented by terrorist groups across the world.

Jesse said: “The way that we did propaganda was, we made an appeal and designed it so that it was more Hollywood or Madison Avenue style.”

He added: “You can't recruit an individual by telling them they should go blow themselves up, or that they should go attack civilians on the street.

Slick propaganda

“You have to appeal to their interests. Their interests are that they need a community they're interested in, or that they're vulnerable, that they are rejecting their society.” 

Jesse now believes he laid the groundwork for ISIS’s highly-produced hate videos.

He said: “We were the first organisation that flirted with downloading Sony software and Adobe After Effects software.

"We weren't that good at it for the video stuff. But we had mastered the Photoshop stuff to make it look like it was magazine quality material. 

“I would say that a lot of the students we influenced were given an opportunity to enhance that video quality by advising ISIS when they travelled to Syria.”

Jesse fled the United States for Morocco in 2011 after issuing a death threat to the creators of South Park for an episode which depicted the prophet Muhammed, violating the First Amendment.

He said: "When I moved to Morocco, I couldn't communicate with the leadership anymore. So I had to kind of think for myself again.”

Two weeks before Osama Bin Laden was killed, Jesse was arrested and imprisoned in Casablanca and later extradited to the USA.

In jail, he was deradicalised and became an informant to the FBI who reduced his sentence from 11-and-a-half years to five. 

Jihadi 'chatter' increasing

He was released from prison in 2015 and founded the deradicalisation group Parallel Networks.

He has now warned that online Jihadi chatter has increased by 10 per cent since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August.  

But he says we are unlikely to see a repeat of young Brits like ISIS bride Shamima Begum and Jihadi John flocking to fight abroad, but warned of "lone wolf" attacks. 

He said: "The risk in 2014 we were unprepared for because we didn't see it coming. 

"Now we have the infrastructure set in place to really identify people that might be travelling abroad to other safe havens like Afghanistan.

“If they are really a committed believer in their own mind, there's only two options – travel to get out of the situation and to join your brothers, your comrades, your community – or carry out an attack at home.

"I think we will see a resurrection of leaderless lone wolf attacks, not so much an emigration to a new hot spot.”

Through his public speaking work, Jesse is hoping to seek forgiveness for his past crimes. 

He said: “Maybe I'll be able to do the best I can to make up for the harm that I committed.

“Part of my personal healing has been to try to forgive myself, and hope that the world around me can forgive me by proving that I am sincere in trying to make amends.”

Listen to Jesse Morton on the podcast Taking Apart Terror.





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