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September 5, 2019 5:40 am

New Report Exposes Hezbollah’s Terrorist ‘Media Empire’

avatar by Steven Emerson

Opinion

Hezbollah supporters in Marjayoun, Lebanon, May 7, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Aziz Taher / File.

Hezbollah used its Al-Manar television network on Monday to broadcast footage that it claims shows a missile strike targeting an Israeli military vehicle a day earlier. The attack followed a series of reported Israeli strikes targeting Iranian and Hezbollah infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon.

Sharing the footage allows Hezbollah to save face among its supporters, and signal its resolve to the far more powerful Israeli military. But beyond propaganda and deterrence efforts, Hezbollah exploits its global media empire to strengthen a “resistance society” in Lebanon and cultivate new bases of support throughout the world, according to a new Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report.

Hezbollah’s media domain is just one component of the terror group’s infrastructure, along with its military wing, global terrorist apparatus, and vast network of social institutions spread across Lebanese society.

Iran funds most of Al-Manar‘s budget, which runs into the tens of millions of dollars. While it generates little advertising revenue, the outlet is considered the most vital part of Hezbollah’s extensive media empire. Hezbollah broadcasts propaganda around the world in four languages, primarily targeting the Lebanese population, followed by the Arab and Muslim world. But target audiences in the West are not immune. Hezbollah outlets operate in English- and French-speaking countries, and even some Latin America states. Some countries’ efforts to bar the channels have been circumvented, as Hezbollah now relies on Russian and Indonesian satellite services to continue its broadcasts worldwide.

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The coverage primarily promotes Hezbollah’s terrorist and militant activities, and glorifies its “shahids” (martyrs). But the Al-Manar station also devotes considerable coverage to promoting Iranian propaganda and the Islamic Revolution’s radical ideology. The broadcasts emphasize Hezbollah’s devotion to the Islamic Republic, further proving that the terror group maintains its ultimate allegiance to Iran — not Lebanese society.

In 2006, the US Treasury Department added Al-Manar and Radio Nour to its list of sanctioned Hezbollah affiliates. Yet the media outlets continue to operate freely, including in Ramallah, with the Palestinian Authority’s tacit approval. The remainder of Hezbollah’s media outlets and key media figures remain off the US sanctions list.

Hezbollah’s media is instrumental in Iran’s efforts to promote the Islamic Revolution’s radical ideology and cultivate a terror network throughout the Middle East and the world.

“Such an extensive media empire in the possession of a terrorist organization is unprecedented among terrorist organizations operating around the world,” the Meir Amit report states.

The network of media outlets is led by Hajj Muhammad Affif, who also serves as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s media adviser. Hezbollah also runs several newspapers, websites, and social media accounts. It even engages in violent incitement against the United States through affiliated accounts on Twitter.

The full Meir Amit report is part of a wider research project devoted to exposing Hezbollah’s vast social networks and institutions meant to strengthen the terror group’s stranglehold over Lebanese society and Shiite populations worldwide.

Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

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