As the media focus turns to how Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev were radicalized in America, one group says it has identified two stations illegally broadcasting Hezbollah and Hamas television channels in the United States and potentially radicalizing other would-be terrorists within America’s borders.
The Lawfare Project has found that two television stations—NileSat IPTV in New Jersey and ArabTV4ALL in California—are broadcasting transmissions from pro-Hamas (al-Aqsa) and pro-Hezbollah (al-Manar) television stations. According to a memo prepared by the Lawfare Project and shown to the Blaze, both al-Aqsa and al-Manar target children in their broadcasts and encourage them to become suicide bombers.
Anti-Semitic Children's Show Character Farfour (AP/Al-Aqsa TV)
Al-Aqsa uses popular cartoon figures to indoctrinate children and incite them toward hatred and violence. In one example, al-Aqsa featured a Bugs Bunny-like character proclaiming that he “will finish off the Jews and eat them.” In another episode of “Pioneers of Tomorrow,” a young Muslim girl and her friend Farfour, an anti-Semitic Mickey Mouse look-alike, take calls from other Muslim children. One caller proclaims that to liberate Jerusalem, “I will shoot . . . We will annihilate the Jews.” In a June 2007 episode, Farfour was “martyred” by Israeli interrogators. Faced with near-universal outcry, including from the Disney Company, the show’s producers killed off Farfour and replaced him with another mascot to tout the virtues of jihad, telling their children viewers that Israel had killed the popular rodent.
In 2010, the French government outlawed al-Aqsa broadcasts “because the channel repeatedly violated European laws by showing programs which incited hatred or violence for reasons of religion or nationality, mostly against Israel and Judaism.”
Pro-Hezbollah al-Manar is also banned in France, as well as Holland, Spain, and Germany. On September 17, 2001, the network became the first media outlet to allege Israeli and Jewish involvement with the 9-11 attacks.
Like al-Aqsa, al-Manar targets children. On a Feb. 16, 2012 al-Manar talk show, Imad, a Palestinian child no more than four years old, is interviewed about the death of his grandfather, Hezbollah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh. Adult interviewers ask the boy, who is dressed in military garb, what he aspires to be when he grows up. The adults answer for him, responding that he will join the “resistance,” like Mughniyeh. After the young Imad repeats that he will join the “resistance,” he is rewarded with Mughniyeh’s gun, with which he is encouraged to play. In a February 3, 2012 interview on al-Manar, a five-year-old Egyptian child named Ashraf describes his love for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah by imitating the terrorist leader’s speeches and mannerisms, and proclaims “[w]hen I grow up, I want to be like him.”
Al-Manar also provides a free live stream over the Internet, available here. It is unclear whether this live stream programming is the exact same programming as is available via NileSat IPTV and ArabTV4All.
Unlike Al-Jazeera, which produces an English version that is toned down than its Arabic versions, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Manar TV are not “U.S. channels” but rather are more correctly described as foreign channels that can be subscribed to and viewed in the United States.
According to the Lawfare Project’s memo on the broadcasts, AdvancedTV Network currently supplies over 600 Arabic channels from Nilesat and Arabsat directly via the Internet, and its services are made available through resellers within North America, like NileSat IPTV and ArabTV4All.
"By subscribing to NileSat IPTV, the subscriber receives an IPTV box, which can be hooked up to a television set without a satellite dish anywhere in the United States," the memo notes. "A customer simply calls NileSat IPTV and orders a box, which is then delivered to his or her house. The channels are then broadcast using this box and an internet connection."
Brooke Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project, points out that broadcasting terrorist-inspired hate messages may constitute material assistance to a terrorist organization and be illegal.
“We contacted NileSatIPTV way back and they confirmed they air the Hezbollah and Hamas channels,” explains Goldstein.
“It's unthinkable, especially in light of the Boston terror attacks, that our government continues to allow Hamas and Hezbollah, two designated foreign terrorist organizations, to openly and illegally broadcast their stations within our borders--[need an unbroken dash]stations aimed at radicalizing and recruiting Muslim youth towards violence, a most egregious form of child abuse,” she says.
Lebanese Hezbollah fighters stand next to a mock rocket under a poster of Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
David Reaboi, Vice President for the Center for Security Policy, agrees.“While the Obama administration, talking heads in the mainstream media and Islamist pressure groups all assure us we have no problem with domestic so-called 'radicalization' in the American Muslim community, it’s clear that this openly jihadist and genocidal programming has some kind of audience in this country,” says Reaboi.
“These cable channels are, unfortunately, serving their audience with what they seem to crave: annihilationist rhetoric and conspiracy theorizing. The major obstacle to peace in the Middle East has always been a Palestinian culture of blood-lust; that it’s being broadcast inside America is frightening—and gives lie to talking points from Islamist pressure groups and their allies. Looking at the audience for these channels, it’s impossible to conclude that we do not have a domestic Islamist radicalization problem.”
Goldstein, a New York-based human rights attorney, says there is no First Amendment protection for these two television programs and points to legal precedent indicating that such broadcasts constitute material support for the terrorist groups.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear—there is no First Amendment right whatsoever to provide material support to designated terrorist organizations,” she explains. “If this administration is serious about tackling homegrown radicalization, it must at the very least immediately prosecute those who act so brazenly and openly in violation of the law.”
Goldstein says the Lawfare Project has been in contact with New Jersey authorities about criminal enforcement, which have been slow about enforcement.
Goldstein points to the case of Javed Iqbal as a legal precedent. Iqbal was a Pakistani businessman who pleaded guilty to one federal count of providing material support and resources to Hezbollah. Iqbal and his associate had accepted thousands of dollars each month from al-Manar to broadcast the station to their North American customers, and had supplied al-Manar with equipment necessary to produce and promote its broadcasts.
Despite receiving numerous warnings about al-Manar’s relationship to Hezbollah and despite the March 2006 designation of al-Manar as a supporter of terrorism, Iqbal continued to actively market the al-Manar station to his customers in Brooklyn, providing the station as part of an “Arabic package,” which consisted of a variety of benign Middle Eastern channels in addition to al-Manar.
Iqbal was sentenced to 69 months in federal prison.
Neither NileSatIPTV, nor ArabTV4ALL could be reached for comment.