By John Lee.
The United States has seized control of two Iraqi news websites, which it says were unlawfully utilized by Kata'ib Hizballah, a Specially Designated National and a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
In a statement, the US Department of Justice said:
The United States has seized "Aletejahtv.com" and "Aletejahtv.org," two websites, which were unlawfully utilized by Kata'ib Hizballah, a Specially Designated National and a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
"Once again we see designated foreign terrorist organizations turning to the internet to push their message and recruit followers for their violent causes," said John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "We will continue to fight terror recruitment and propaganda efforts in the digital world, as we do elsewhere."
"Our system of commerce and our infrastructure, whether physical or electronic, is to be used by lawfully," said U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak for the Northern District of Georgia. "We will not allow groups that have been rightfully prohibited from obtaining goods and services in the United States to use our internet services - especially to further their terrorist agenda. This seizure underscores national collaboration and a commitment to protecting our commerce and infrastructure."
"The District of Arizona is home to many successful technology companies whose goods and services are capable of being used by individuals across the world," said U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey for the District of Arizona. "We will not allow members of terrorist organizations to illegally use those goods and services to further their propaganda and agenda."
"The National Security of the United States is, and will always be, the top priority for the Bureau of Industry and Security's Office of Export Enforcement. Attempts to surreptitiously utilize U.S. based online networks and services to promote Iran backed terrorist propaganda will immediately be disrupted, disabled, and seized," said P. Lee Smith, Performing the Non-exclusive Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce. "The Bureau of Industry and Security is committed to ensuring the stability of the Iraqi government and protecting our troops and Allied Forces against terrorist acts of violence"
On July 2, 2009, the U.S. Secretary of Treasury designated Kata'ib Hizballah, an Iran-backed terrorist group active in Iraq, as a Specially Designated National for committing, directing, supporting, and posing a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. On the same day, the U.S. Department of State designated Kata'ib Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization for committing or posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.
"Aletejahtv.com" and "Aletejahtv.org," acted as Kata'ib Hizballah's media arm and published internet communications such as videos, articles, and photographs. These communications included numerous articles designed to further Kata'ib Hizballah's agenda, particularly destabilizing Iraq and recruiting others to join their cause. They also functioned as a live online television broadcast channel, "Al-etejah TV." Portions of the communications expressly noted that they were published by Kata'ib Hizballah.
Federal law prohibits designated entities like Kata'ib Hizballah from obtaining or utilizing goods or services, including website and domain services, in the United States without a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. "Aletejahtv.com" and "Aletejahtv.org" are domain names that are owned and operated by a United States company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kata'ib Hizballah did not obtain a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control prior to utilizing the domain names.
On August 31, 2020, pursuant to a seizure warrant, the United States seized "Aletejahtv.com" and "Aletejahtv.org." Visitors to the site received the following message:
This seizure was investigated by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Northern District of Georgia, Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the District of Arizona, and trial lawyers from the Department of Justice National Security Division prosecuted the seizure.
(Source: US Dept of Justice)