Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Man Sentenced To More Than Eleven Years For Threatening "South Park" Creators

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia has announced that Jesse Curtis Morton has pled guilty to and has been sentenced for using the Internet for "to incite fear and terror by encouraging violence and radicalization...". According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office,

According to court records, in 2007, Morton founded Revolution Muslim, an  organization that operated internet platforms and websites supportive of  violent extremism. Morton and his associates used the organization’s websites  to encourage Muslims to engage in violence against those they believed to be  enemies of Islam and to support Osama bin Laden, Anwar Al-Awlaki, al-Qaeda, the  Taliban, and others espousing violence. They posted messages in support of the  terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the November 2009 killings at Ft. Hood and  attacks and future threats against Jewish organizations, among others.

Through his online forums, Morton  conspired with Zachary Chesser, of Fairfax County, Va., and others to solicit  the murder of an artist tied to the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” movement in  May 2010, including posting online a magazine that included the artist in a hit  list for violent extremists to take out and a message from Anwar Al-Awlaki that  explicitly called for the artist’s assassination. In justifying these actions,  Morton posted online a speech of his asserting that “Islam’s position is that  those that insult the Prophet may be killed” and exhorting his listeners to  fight the “disbelievers near you.”

In addition, Morton admitted that he  aided Chesser in taking repeated steps in April 2010 to encourage violent  extremists to attack the writers of South Park for an episode that featured  Muhammad in a bear suit, including highlighting their residence and urging online  readers to “pay them a visit.”  Among the  steps they took were posting on multiple occasions speeches by Anwar Al-Awlaki,  which explained the Islamic justification for killing those who insult or  defame Muhammad. Morton worked with Chesser to draft a message for the website  regarding the South Park threats, including a quote from Osama bin Laden that  “If there is no check in the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be  open to the freedom of our actions.” Morton and Chesser posted the final version  of this statement on various extremist online forums, and Chesser told Morton  that he expected the statement would “scare the kuffar.” Kuffar is an Arabic  term, referring to an unbeliever, or disbeliever, in Islam.

More here from the Hollywood Reporter. Here's a link to the plea agreement.

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