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Letterman jokes about jihadist website death threat

By Ed Payne, CNN
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Letterman jokes about death threats
  • Letterman doesn't let a death threat stop the jokes
  • He says he thinks of his audience "like a human shield"
  • The comedian's Top 10 list features his response to the threat
  • The FBI says it takes such threats seriously

(CNN) -- Never one to miss a joke, even when it involves a threat on his life, David Letterman came armed with punchlines for Monday night's show, the first since a jihadist website urged its American followers to kill the comedian.

"Tonight, you people are ... more than an audience," Letterman said, as he opened his monologue. "You're more like a human shield."

"Backstage I was talking to the guy from CBS, we were going through the CBS life insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad," Letterman deadpanned.

Sticking with the theme, the comedian unveiled a "Who hates Dave" list, which starts with al Qaeda and Sarah Palin, but also includes Canadians, Dave's clergyman, cats, squirrels and walruses.

The writer who posted the death threat last week was upset by Letterman jokes about Osama bin Laden and another al Qaeda leader killed in Pakistan, according to SITE intelligence group, which monitors and translates online terror activity.

Jihadist group wants Letterman's tongue

"This despicable person mocked the leaders of the mujahideen," the post says.

The death threat urges jihadist followers to cut off Letterman's tongue and "shut it forever."

CNN could not independently confirm the message.

A spokesman for the FBI said last week that the agency is looking into the death threats.

"In the post 9/11 world, we take all of these threats seriously," spokesman Peter Donald said.

Just to show that he wasn't taking it too seriously, Letterman continued the theme into his nightly Top 10 list -- the "Top 10 thoughts that went through my mind after hearing about the threat."

10. Someone wants to silence me? Get in line.

9. Nothing says summer fun like a death threat.

8. Why is the staff in such a good mood?

7. Save me, Oprah.

6. Should I wear my Kevlar hairpiece?

5. And here I thought nobody watched the show.

4. How can someone be so angry at a time when Kim Kardashian is so happy?

3. Some people get Emmy nominations; some people get death threats.

2. This seems like (Jay) Leno's handiwork.

1. Oh my God! They canceled the George Lopez Show