Hosting Hate

U.S., U.K. companies host Hezbollah-funded propaganda site

Hezbollah leader speaks on Al Manar TV / AP
• December 10, 2012 5:20 pm


A United States-based Internet company is currently hosting a propaganda website operated by the terror group Hezbollah, potentially in violation of a law meant to prevent Americans from providing material support to U.S.-designated terror groups.

The Missouri-based GSI Hosting is granting server space to Al Manar TV, which is owned and funded by Hezbollah, according to research provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The U.S. has cited Hezbollah and Al Manar as terrorist organizations, a designation that makes it illegal for anyone in America to "knowingly provide ‘material support or resources’" to the groups, according to the State Department.

The U.S., Canada, France, and several other countries have also banned Al Manar, rendering its current dealings with both U.S. and British companies even more problematic to observers.

Al Manar has been known to employ members of Hezbollah, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, and routinely broadcasts anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda.

GSI Hosting, which is owned by the Texas-based Layered Tech, was notified last month by MEMRI that it was hosting Al Manar’s website.

The site was subsequently removed on Nov. 26, but reappeared on the company’s servers on Dec. 6, according to MEMRI executive director Steven Stalinsky. Stalinsky has authored several reports detailing Al Manar’s emergence on both U.S. and United Kingdom-based Internet servers.

Two U.K.-based companies play host to Hezbollah’s website: Coreix and ServerSpace Ltd in addition to GSI hosting.

MEMRI has notified all of these companies that it could be violating the law by hosting the terror group’s website.

"It is one thing for a company not to know who’s on their servers, but after having a major terrorism organization on their servers and being notified it’s unacceptable it has happened again," Stalinsky told the Free Beacon.

Layered Tech, GSI Hosting’s parent company, did not respond to a request for comment about its business dealings with Al Manar.

It was still hosting Al Manar’s website as of Monday.

Hezbollah prides itself on its sophisticated use of the Internet.

The web has become a near-unrestricted breeding ground for terrorist activities and Hezbollah has capitalized on this by disseminating terrorist propaganda and recruiting new operatives.

Hezbollah maintains Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook pages. It also has created applications that have been marketed by Apple and Google.

But the Al Manar site remains its chief propaganda front.

"It’s pretty easy for Hezbollah to have their website and send it to another company to put it on their servers" once one firm has removed it, Stalinsky explained. "But it’s definitely also easy to remove it."

For this reason the website is known to hop from server to server in multiple countries, MEMRI reported.

"Hezbollah has managed to circumvent the ban with its multiple-language website, which live-streams its programming," MEMRI stated in a recent report on the matter.

The Los Angeles-based web hosting company HopOne also briefly hosted Al Manar though it quickly removed the offending site once MEMRI notified them of its presence on their servers.

Companies located in the Netherlands also have hosted the website in recent weeks.

The precise law governing this activity is murky, experts said.

The U.S. clearly prohibits any American from offering "material support" to those it deems as terrorist organizations. Yet legal experts define this term differently, leaving confusing gray areas.

"There’s always the excuse, ‘We don’t know,’" explained Stalinsky. "It’s a very tricky question."

"In the case of Al Manar, they have an English page," he added. "It’s one thing not to know. But when you’re notified, to keep it up" is immoral.

These U.K. and U.S. Internet companies are "in a contract with Hezbollah and helping them disseminate their propaganda," Stalinsky said.

Published under: Hezbollah, Internet, Middle East