Friday, March 24, 2006

The Treasury Department struck a blow against one branch of Iran’s propaganda network on Thursday, designating Hezbollah’s al Manar satellite television operation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. The designation prohibits transactions between Americans and U.S. entities and al Manar, and freezes any assets al Manar may have under American jurisdiction. It constitutes a huge victory for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Coalition Against Terrorist Media, an organization founded by FDD in an effort to press foreign governments to impose sanctions against al Manar and to discourage satellite providers from carrying it.

Al Manar had hoped to stave off the designation as a terrorist entity by framing criticism of its connection to Hezbollah as an effort to deprive it of its First Amendment rights. But as the Treasury Department made clear, the issue is not al Manar’s role as a television station but its role in facilitating the activities of Hezbollah, an organization that has killed more Americans than every other terrorist group save al Qaeda.

“Any entity maintained by a terrorist group — whether masquerading as a charity, a business or a media outlet — is as culpable as the terrorist group itself,” said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. The Treasury Department cited an incident in which an al Manar employee carried out operational surveillance for Hezbollah while acting under cover of employment by al Manar.

Moreover, the organization has supported Hezbollah’s fundraising and recruitment efforts, and Hezbollah-affiliated charities have aired commercials on al Manar, providing bank account numbers for donations. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah publicized an invitation for all Lebanese citizens to volunteer for Hezbollah military training on al Manar. And in addition to supporting Hezbollah, Treasury said, “al Manar has also provided support to other designated terrorist organizations, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, notably transferring tens of thousands of dollars for a PIJ-controlled charity.”

It should also be pointed out that, since the war in Iraq began three years ago, al Manar has specialized in depicting American soldiers as war criminals. The Treasury Department gets it right: Al Manar is a propaganda arm of the Islamofascists who are fighting against the United States.

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