December 23, 2008 | Press Release
FDD’s Coalition Against Terrorist Media Calls Hezbollah Al Manar Guilty Plea “Sobering”
December 23, 2008
FDD's Coalition Against Terrorist Media Calls Hezbollah Al Manar Guilty Plea “Sobering” and “Significant”
Washington, DC — The Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM), a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), called today's guilty plea by Mr. Javed Iqbal “sobering” and “significant,” in what is believed to be the first legal case in the United States involving Hezbollah's Al Manar television.
Pakistani-born Javed Iqbal, who was due to stand trial on January 5, 2009, in New York's Southern District Court, reportedly pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah's Beirut-based Al Manar television. He admitted to providing satellite transmission services through his Brooklyn-based company HDTV Ltd to Al Manar, in exchange for payment, according to several reports.
The United States designated Al Manar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity in March 2006. Hezbollah is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
“This guilty plea is significant and a sobering reminder of the threat Iranian-backed Hezbollah continues to pose to Americans,” said Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Al Manar was correctly designated as a terrorist entity by the U.S. government and many satellite companies around the world have made the right choice in stopping Al Manar broadcasts.”
Asiasat, Eutelsat, Globecast, NSS, Intelsat, Hispasat, Amazonas, TARBS and Thaicom are some of the satellite companies that have ceased broadcasting Al Manar.
“Free speech is no defense when a so-called ‘media outlet' is working with a terrorist organization, and providing it with support for fundraising, recruitment and pre-attack surveillance,” said May. He continued, “In providing this support, Al Manar does more than yell fire in a crowded movie theater. It provides the match, the gasoline and the arsonist.”
When Al Manar was launched, its website stated its purpose: to wage “psychological warfare” against its enemies, including the United States. In an interview, an Al Manar official said its programming is meant to “help people on the way to committing what you call in the West a suicide mission.” Al Manar uses music videos and programs aimed at children which glorify suicide bombers and encourage children to engage in terrorist activity.
While Iqbal pleaded guilty, another individual, Saleh Elahwal, reportedly faces similar charges and his trial is set to start on January 5.
Iqbal faces up to 15 years in prison and will reportedly be sentenced March 24.
CATM, a coalition of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular organizations and individuals in Europe, the Middle East and the United States, works to educate the public, the satellite industry and governments about media outlets that are owned or funded by terrorist organizations and those which advocate or incite violence. It is a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, D.C.-based policy institute focusing on terrorism.
For more information, please contact Toby Dershowitz at [email protected] or 202-256-6387.