Late Show
Late Show host David Letterman's life has been threatened over an on-air joke. Image: brad_holt/Flickr/CC BY

A jihadist website with alleged ties to al-Qaida has urged American followers to kill comedian and talk show host David Letterman. The site said Letterman deserved to have his tongue cut out for remarks about a slain terrorist leader.

Letterman joked about slain terror leader

The SITE intelligence group, which monitors and translates terrorist websites, says that the writer of the post was angered by Letterman’s comments about Ilyas Kashmiri — believed to be al-Qaida’s military chief — who was killed during a June drone strike in Pakistan.

On his late-night talk show, Letterman joked about Kasmiri’s death and emphasized it by drawing a finger across his throat.

‘A clearing house for al-Qaida’

The message was posted on the website Shumukh al-Islam, which, according to analyst Adam Raisman is “a clearing house for al-Qaida material.”

The message on the website said “This despicable person mocked the leaders of the mujahideen.” The post went on to entreat all U.S. Muslims to cut out the tongue “of this lowly Jew and shut it forever.” Letterman is not Jewish.

FBI taking threat seriously

Peter Donald, an FBI spokesman, said that the agency is taking the threat seriously and looking into the matter. “In the post 9/11 world, we take all of these threats seriously,” he  said.

An unnamed law enforcement official was quoted by CNN, saying these kinds of threats were common:

“We see these kinds of threats frequently against people in business and media. Usually nothing comes of them, but we check them all out.”

Letterman’s publicist, as well as CBS executives, declined to comment on the matter.

Other comedians who received death threats

Letterman is not the first outspoken comedian to receive death threats from Muslim militants in recent years. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the controversial animated television program “South Park,” received a threat in 2010 for depicting the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, in a bear costume. The threat originated from a 21-year old Virginia man who was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

British comedic actor Sacha Baron Cohen received a threat on his life from the Islamic extremist group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, in 2009 for his depiction of the group in the motion picture “Bruno.”


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