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Washington — Al-Manar was added in 2006 to a Treasury Department blacklist of Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity following the determination that it is owned and controlled by Hezbollah.
“When they have the ability to access means of communication, it makes it easier for them to recruit,” said Avi Jorisch, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and a former Treasury Department adviser on terror.
Indeed, the U.S. government made clear its intention to go after those providing services to Hezbollah’s TV station in a 2006 case against two satellite TV operators who were paid by Al-Manar in return for relaying its broadcasts in the United States. The chief operator, Javed Iqbal from Staten Island, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five and half years in prison. His partner, Saleh Elahwal from New Jersey, was convicted and sentenced to 17 months in prison.
Allowing Hezbollah and its affiliates to join these networks “may not necessarily break the letter of the law,” Jorisch said, “but it breaks the spirit of the law.”
That is enough for most companies. Days after MEMRI issued its report on Hezbollah’s use of American social media platforms, many of them took action. Facebook deleted the group’s pages, Apple removed applications from iTunes and Google did the same with Hezbollah’s Android application.
“So far, it has been very successful,” Stalinsky said, touting his report’s impact. But he noted that Twitter and YouTube have yet to join in banning Hezbollah and Al-Manar from their sites. “The report brought a lot of attention to this issue, and hopefully it will also get Twitter to take action,” he said.