- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A former recruiter for al Qaeda has a new job as a homeland security expert at George Washington University.

Jesse Morton once considered Islamic terrorists the “family” he never had due to an abusive childhood. He spent three years in prison for threatening the creators of “South Park” in 2011, but he changed his ways after meeting a “sincere” FBI agent. Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber & Homeland Security, said Mr. Morton’s story and “unique perspective” warrants the school’s decision.

“I trust him,” Mr. Hughes told CNN on Tuesday. “We did our due diligence.”

Nadia Oweidat, a fellow at the nonprofit organization New America, told the network that she, too, trusts Mr. Morton.

“When an extremist defects, they risk being completely targeted by their community — it’s like saying you’re gay publicly,” said Ms. Oweidat, who has interviewed many former extremists. “There are life-altering consequences, and you don’t approach it lightly.”

Mr. Morton told the network that he feels a “tremendous amount of guilt” for his previous behavior, but hopes that his new job can serve as a way to “make amends, to some degree.”

The former terrorist was the co-founder of “Revolution Muslim” in 2008 and once praised Fort Hood’s Nadal Hasan for his Nov. 5, 2009, terrorist attack on the military base. The shooting killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

Mr. Morton, who has a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, told the network that he has also helped the FBI on “high profile” cases, although he did not provide specific details.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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