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Terrorist Organization Hizbullah Makes Extensive Use Of U.S. Social Media

Hezbollah and  Apple iTunes, iPad and iPhone, Google, Android, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – In Violation Of U.S. Law 

U.S. law has clear and effective provisions against terrorist organizations and their online activities, naming certain groups "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" (FTOs) and certain individuals "Specially Designated Terrorists" (SDTs) or "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" (SDGTs). The list of designated organizations and individuals is updated regularly, and made available to the public.[1] These designations have legal consequences.

For example, Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that it is unlawful to provide a designated FTO with "material support or resources," including "any property, tangible or intangible, or services" – among them "communication equipment and facilities."[2]

Hizbullah – A U.S. Government Designated FTO And SDGT

The Lebanese-based Shi'ite terrorist organization Hizbullah was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on October 11, 2005 by the U.S. State Department. It was previously designated an FTO in 1999, but the designation was rescinded in 2001, after it denounced the 9/11 attacks.

Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV was separately designated a SDGT by the U.S. State Department on March 23, 2006, due to the fact that it was "owned or controlled by the Iran-funded Hizbullah terrorist network," having been placed on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations in 2004. On March 23, 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department likewise designated Al-Manar separately as a global terrorist entity, pursuant to Executive Order 13224, citing earlier U.S. laws against Al-Manar which it called "the media arm of Hizbullah."

Hizbullah's Website Hosted On Servers In The U.S. And U.K.: The Gateway To Its Pages On U.S. Social Media Platforms – Which Allows It To Spread Its Online Jihad

Hizbullah's PR efforts can be described as sophisticated. The organization maintains a radio channel, Al-Nour. Another – and most important – front in Hizbullah's PR efforts is its Al-Manar TV and the Al-Manar TV website, which is the main conveyor of Hizbullah's activities to the world.

The primary server for Al-Manar’s internet domain, almanar.com.lb, is located in London, with collocated servers in Florida potentially intended to serve as a backup in case the main systems come under attack (see Appendix I for more information). The company that owns the IP address to the site, coreix.net, is Coreix Limited, registered at Third Floor, Refuge House, 9-10 River Front, Enfield, EN1 3SZ, telephone +44 207-183-1725. The website has Arabic, English, French, and Spanish versions.

Al-Manar TV's website (www3.almanar.com.lb/main.php) is a gateway to its social media pages, including Apple iPhone, iPad,  Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Android, and Google Play; according to the icons already in place on the website, BlackBerry and Nokia are to be added soon.

Al-Manar_TV_website

Hizbullah On Apple iPad and iPhone

On July 25, 2012, Al-Manar TV launched its apps for iPhone and iPad, which can be purchased on iTunes.[3] The apps provide news from Al-Manar, as well as links to support staff at Al-Manar and a link to the developer of Hizbullah's app.[4]

Hizbullah_On_Apple_iPad_and_iPhone

Hizbullah On Facebook

Hizbullah's "community" Facebook page (facebook.com/Hezb.alaah) was created in May 2012 and, as of this writing, has 2,123 "likes." The page's "About" section states simply that Hizbullah are the "victors," and the description of the group provides a historical summary of the group's establishment as a resistance movement. This page mostly contains images and posts glorifying Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and quotes attributed to him.

Hizbullah_On_Facebook

Al-Manar TV also has its own official Facebook page (facebook.com/almanartv.info). The page was created July 18, 2012 and, as of this writing, has 592 "likes."

Al-Manar TV Channel On YouTube

Al-Manar_TV_Channel_On_YouTube

Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV YouTube page (youtube.com/user/AlManarTube?feature=watch) was created on December 22, 2011. As of this writing, it has 1,047 subscribers and 117,529 video views, and 3,181 uploaded videos, with 18 playlists – which include 35 videos of Nasrallah and various types of Al-Manar TV programming. The page also includes a series of links in a sidebar, to the channel's livestream (www1.almanar.com.lb/manarlive.php), website (www1.almanar.com.lb/main.php), Twitter (twitter.com/almanarnews), and Facebook (see above).

There is also a link to an older YouTube page, Al-Manar-TV-channel (www.youtube.com/user/sayednasrallah1/featured), which was created May 22, 2010; the last activity shown was on January 7, 2012.  It has 1,660 subscribers, 384,411 views, 2,223 uploaded videos, and seven playlists.

Hizbullah's Al-Manar Twitter Account

Hizbullahs_Al-Manar_Twitter_Account

Hizbullah began tweeting (twitter.com/almanarnews) on November 16, 2011. As of this writing, it has posted 50,942 tweets – that is, an average of about 250 per day – and has 16,932 followers. The tweets are in Arabic, French, and English. They use Twitter tools including "Add This," which bills itself as "the world's largest sharing and social insights platform" to help the user "integrate sharing tools into your site, spread your content, and drive social traffic. In-depth analytics provide insight into your audience and their activity."

Al-Manar's Android App – On Google Play

Al-Manar TV launched an Android application on Google Play on June 21, 2012. The application, which uses English, Arabic, and French, has been downloaded by 10,000-50,000 users, and incorporates news from Al-Manar TV. The Al-Manar application's page on Google Play (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=lb.com.almanartv) also provides an email address for its application developer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Al-Manar_Android_App__On_Google_Play

Google Play is the result of a March 2012 merger of Google's Android Market, Google Music, and Google eBookstore,[5] aimed at making all of a user's applications, music, and print media accessible by all the devices he or she owns. Developers are charged a one-time fee of $25 to upload their applications to Google Play, and are required to provide basic information about their company, and must also agree to the Developer Distribution Agreement.[6]

Hizbullah's Use Of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a standardized protocol for internet access on mobile devices aimed at increasing interoperability.[7] Al-Manar's WAP (www3.almanar.com.lb/wap/) allows readers to access its website's news stories on their mobile devices.

Hizbullah_Use_Of_Wireless_Application_Protocol_WAP

Appendix I: Al Manar TV Website’s Servers Hosted in UK and US

http://www1.almanar.com.lb/english/main.php - Tracerout to this address. Last known hop is in Kansas. Final hop is in control of www.layeredtech.com/

http://www2.almanar.com.lb/english/main.php is near Lansing Michigan. Last known hop is www.liquidweb.com

http://www3.almanar.com.lb/main.php Last known hop is in Lansing, Michigan.  2 hops after that. Last known hop is under control of www.liquidweb.com

http://www4.almanar.com.lb/english/main.php Last hop is in Miami, Florida under the control of plesknoc.com

http://www5.almanar.com.lb/french/main.php Last hop is England under Coreix

http://www6.almanar.com.lb/english/main.php Miami, Florida. Last known hop is under control of vaultnetworks.com

Note: The location of the servers was identified using a visual traceroute tool that gives a graphical interface and geolocation to the well-known internet utility called Traceroute.

*Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

 

Endnotes:

[1] For an updated list of Specially Designated Nationals, see: http://www.treasury.gov/ofac/downloads/t11sdn.pdf

[2] http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/37191.htm. A July 17, 2012 Congressional hearing with the Department of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee discussed Hizbullah and its active role in social media and other online venues. Director of Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University Frank Cilluffo stated in his written testimony: "Hizbullah is deftly exploiting social media tools such as Facebook to gain intelligence and information."

[4] http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/awt/id544607501 . Individuals and companies who intend to develop apps for distribution on the App Store must enroll in the standard iOS Developer Program; enrollment fee is $99. Individual enrollees need to provide a legal name and contact information and a valid credit card; companies/organizations need a registered legal entity name (no fictitious business or trade names accepted); address of principle place of business or corporate headquarters; legal authority to sign iOS Developer Program legal agreements and contracts, and valid credit card (http://developer.apple.com/support/ios/enrollment.html#neededtoenroll).

[7] WAP is controlled by the Open Media Alliance (OMA), an industry forum with member companies that are wireless vendors, information technology companies, mobile operators, and application and content providers (see http://www.openmobilealliance.org/AboutOMA/FAQ.aspx). Among WAP "sponsor" members, which is the highest level of membership and costs $85,000 per year, are Microsoft and AT&T (see http://www.openmobilealliance.org/Membership/CurrentMembers.aspx). OMA was formed as a consolidation of a number of other forums, including the WAP forum and the Open Mobile Architecture initiative.

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