Hezbollah websites hosted in the United Kingdom
Al Manar's website, an affiliate of terrorist organisation Hezbollah, is being hosted in the United Kingdom
Earlier this year, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that the Hezbollah affiliated website, Al-Manar (www3.almanar.com.lb), which provides live streams of its programmes in order to circumvent broadcasting bans, is being hosted in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands.
While Hizbullah.org and Hizbullah.tv were previously hosted on US and UK servers, these were at one point simultaneously shut down. A Hezbollah official told Reuters news agency, “these are [judicial] measures American and British firms are taking against our sites... Our hosts closed them down because of accusations related to terrorism”
It has now emerged that Hezbollah is continuing to use British servers to host its website, set in place to circumvent previous bans.
A WHOIS search by MEMRI has showed that AlManar.com.lb turns up three IP addresses, listed as being hosted by:
LeaseWeb, Netherlands (188.8.131.52)
Coreix, United Kingdom (184.108.40.206)
ServerSpace, United Kingdom (220.127.116.11)
In 2010, terrorism watchdog Lord Carlile suggested that the monitoring of websites used by terrorists should be placed higher on the government’s anti-terrorism agenda.
He stated, “On the internet there are numerous sites, some highly offensive to those who enjoy our relatively peaceful national political life; some openly encourage violent jihad; some praise the asserted heroism of suicide bombers. International apathy has meant it is extremely difficult to remove these sites, mainly because of jurisdictional issues and in part because providers of the worldwide web are unwilling to judge sites with rigour and remove them, even when they encourage what is serious crime.”
In March 2009, Britain’s then opposition security minister, Baroness Neville-Jones said, “It is shocking the government has failed to shut down a single Web site, even though Parliament gave them that power... this smacks of dangerous complacency and incompetence.”
In order to have the site removed from UK servers, a ‘take-down’ notice must be served by an official to the service provider in question, in this case Coreix and ServerSpace, two British businesses based in Enfield and Central London respectively.
Following this, the government should expect the named providers to cease their service to Al-Manar within two working days, with the exception of a number of national holidays.
One complication that may arise is the designation of Al-Manar and Hezbollah in the United Kingdom. Currently, Al-Manar is not separately named in the list of terrorist organisations in the United Kingdom, though it can be effectively argued that Al-Manar falls under the ‘Hezbollah’ designation.
Hezbollah is recognised as a terrorist organisation in part or in totality by the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Bahrain, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Israel, with many of these countries making the distinction between its ‘military’ and ‘political’ wings, as well as differentiating between Hezbollah and Al-Manar television, the media arm of the terrorist group.
This is an arbitrary distinction, as Hezbollah is, and operates as a single entity with General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah at its helm.
Hezbollah’s media arm, Al-Manar, was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in Beirut. While listed as being owned by the ‘Lebanese Communication Group’, the United States and other countries accept that Al-Manar is the media arm of Hezbollah, as reflected by its inclusion on the Terrorist Exclusion List. This is further confirmed by the fact that Muhammad Afif Ahmad, the station’s second general manager stated that Al-Manar belongs to Hezbollah ‘politically and culturally’. The Independent journalist Robert Fisk, in his article “Television News is the Secret Weapon of the Intifada” reported, “Most of the male reporting staff – there are 40 journalists on Hizbollah’s payroll – have been guerrillas."
Al Manar itself has been proscribed in the United States, France, Germany and Spain. In 2001 its chairman, Nayyef Krayyem stated that Al-Manar is “an important weapon for us”, going on to say, “It’s a political weapon, social weapon, and cultural weapon.”
There has been varied reporting of Al-Manar’s finances, with some claiming that the money is indirectly received through Iran, while Al-Manar officials themselves have claimed that advertising and donations form the backbone of its budget. Krayyem stated in 2001, “Our investors are not thinking of profits. Their motivation is political and religious.” In 2001 it was reported that Al-Manar’s budget was around $10 million, though this sharply increased by 2004 ($15 million)
Accroding to the Anti-Defamation League, in March 2005, the broadcasting regulators in the European Union agreed to ban satellite broadcasting of Al-Manar on the basis that the channel carried racist material and incitement. As a result, several satellite service providers, most of them European, dropped Al-Manar, making it unavailable in North and South America, Asia and Australia. Al-Manar, is, however, still available in Europe through Arab satellite companies and its Web site offers English, French and Spanish translations of its material.
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