Hezbollah Web Sites Continue to Use U.S. Internet Services
Posted: August 8, 2006
Despite being bombarded by Israeli forces in Lebanon, Al-Manar television and Al-Nour radio, Hezbollah's main propaganda arms, continue to operate by utilizing the services of U.S.-based Internet companies.
While Al-Manar and Al-Nour studios are physically located in Lebanon, the Web sites, which similarly glorify terrorism and violence through streaming video and audio feeds, can operate virtually anywhere and often rely on U.S.-based companies for high-end Internet connections and superior hosting services.
At the end of July, after Israel began military operations in Lebanon in response to Hezbollah rocket attacks and the kidnapping of two soldiers, the main Al-Manar Web sites, almanar.com.lb and manartv.com.lb, began using the services of hosting companies in India, Montreal and then Texas. The site now uses the services of a company in Iran.
The manartv.com Web site, a mirror of the main Al-Manar site, used U.S. hosting services in Illinois, New Jersey and New York, as well as in India and Canada. Another U.S. company provided domain name registration, which directs visitors to the proper location on the Internet, but stopped at the end of July.
In New York and Texas, the Al-Manar sites used the services without the knowledge or consent of the owner in order to temporarily keep the site online while they looked for another provider.
While two Al-Nour Web sites, al-nour.net and alnour.net, are no longer active, visitors are now redirected to a new Web site - alnournews.net, which was using registration companies in Baltimore and hosted companies in Chicago as of the end of July.
The new Al-Nour site serves as one of Hezbollah's major news outlets for audio messages and propaganda. It provides streams of recorded news, including the latest messages from Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Although these sites use servers in the U.S., they are frequently forced to relocate once they are reported to, or noticed by, companies providing services to them.
The Al-Manar and Al-Nour Web sites were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities by the U.S. Treasury in March 2006 - it is illegal for U.S. companies or individuals to do business with, or supply services to, these entities. The U.S. previously designated Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity in December 2004, stating that the "television station is an arm of Hezbollah terrorist network."
Other Hezbollah sites, such as its official online newsletters, are not specifically designated and continue to use U.S.-based services legally.
In 2005, at least ten Hezbollah-associated Web sites either moved from or were shut down by Web-hosting companies in the U.S. and Canada.