Rene — U.S. designates al-Manar TV as 'terrorist'

Topic(s): "War on Terror" | Comments Off on Rene — U.S. designates al-Manar TV as 'terrorist'

U.S. designates al-Manar TV as ‘terrorist’
By Caroline Drees
WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) – The State Department on Friday
designated al-Manar television — the mouthpiece of Lebanon’s
Hizbollah anti-Israel guerrillas — as a terrorist organization,
a notice published in the Federal Register said.
The move comes less than a week after France banned broadcasts of
al-Manar’s satellite channel following accusations that its programs
were anti-Semitic and could incite hatred.
The United States already considers Hizbollah a “foreign terrorist
Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington called the designation an
unacceptable act of censorship. In Beirut, al-Manar’s head of news,
Hassan Fadlallah, said the channel knew nothing of the move.
“We have not been informed of any decision,” he said.
Al-Manar’s designation is different and less far-reaching than
Hizbollah’s. The move places al-Manar on the State Department’s
“Terrorist Exclusion List,” which means foreigners providing support
to or associated with the organization may be prevented from entering
the United States or may be deported.
Hizbollah’s long-standing designation has broader legal ramifications,
such as a ban on any material support for the organization by anyone
in the United States, including money and lodging. U.S. financial
institutions must also block funds of designated FTOs and their agents.
“Acting under the authority of … the Immigration and Nationality
Act … and in consultation with the Attorney General and the
Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State has concluded
that al-Manar is a ‘terrorist organization’ within the meaning of
that section of the INA,” Friday’s notice in the Federal Register said.
The register is the U.S. government’s official daily listing of rules
and regulations. The designation is effective upon publication.
Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington, Farid Abboud, said his country
strongly disagreed with such a designation.
“If you want simply to demonize or eliminate one side, you’re not going
to advance the issue,” he told Reuters. “If you are going to focus on
one side simply because of the political message, it’s unacceptable
and it’s a grave breach of the freedom of speech.”
Even before Friday’s designation, the State Department had openly
criticized al-Manar’s programs.
“We consider (al-Manar) to be disgusting programming that preaches
hatred and violence and … ideas that are antithetical to the values
which we believe in,” State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said at
a briefing on Dec. 9.
Al-Manar’s satellite programming can be seen across the globe,
including in the United States.
On Monday, a French court ordered the French-based Eutelsat company
to shut down al-Manar broadcasts.
Al-Manar voluntarily stopped its broadcasts, but it says the French
decision was political and not legal, influenced by Israel and
Jewish lobbies. It plans to pursue its case to restart broadcasts in
France. The ruling has been widely condemned in Lebanon.
The designation by the State Department may only be the first step
against al-Manar in the United States.
The Treasury could decide to include al-Manar on its terrorism
blacklist, blocking its assets and making any financial dealings with
the channel illegal. A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on
any possible designation.
(additional reporting by Joseph Logan in Beirut and Mark Felsenthal
in Washington)
12/17/04 13:55 ET