The Justice Department today announced the seizure of 13 domains used by Specially Designated Nationals (SNDs), Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), and their members associated with Lebanese Hezbollah.
According to court records, the United States obtained court authorization to seize five domains registered to the Public Interest Registry (PIR) – moqawama.org, almanarnews.org, manarnews.org, almanar-tv.org, and alshahid.org – and eight domains registered to Verisign Inc. – manartv.net, manarnews.net, almanar-tv.com, almanar-tv.net, alidaamouch.com, Ibrahim-alsayed.net, alemdad.net, and naimkassem.net.
“Today’s web domain seizures deny terrorist organizations and affiliates significant sources of support and makes clear we will not allow these groups to use U.S. infrastructure to threaten the American people,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Justice Department will continue to enforce economic sanctions as part of our commitment to deploy all available tools against threats from hostile nation-states and terrorist actors alike.”
“The Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) is at the forefront of ensuring that American internet infrastructure is unavailable for use by international terrorist organizations, their members and affiliates,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the EDVA. “The domains seized through this operation are controlled by individuals and entities engaged in planning or perpetrating acts of terrorism against Americans and thus are not lawfully permitted to use American infrastructure. Operations like this disrupt terrorist activity by blocking one avenue these groups and individuals use to gather support and influence.”
“This seizure demonstrates the FBI’s persistence in using all of our tools to hold accountable terrorists and their affiliates when they violate U.S. laws,” said Assistant Director Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “The FBI, along with our international partners, will continue to seek out those individuals who contribute to the advancement of Lebanese Hezbollah’s malign activities and ensure they are brought to justice, regardless of where, or how, they attempt to hide.”
“These court-authorized domain seizures reflect the FBI’s continued dedication to the fight against terrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley of the FBI Atlanta Field Office. “Along with our federal and international partners, the FBI remains focused on proactively disrupting web domains controlled by Specially Designated Nationals – those who attempt to illegally utilize U.S. infrastructure to incite deadly violence against the United States and our allies to further the objectives of foreign terrorist organizations.”
“Today’s seizure reduces Hezbollah’s ability to peddle their dangerous violent ideology across the globe,” said Matthew S. Axelrod, Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce. “This coordinated enforcement action demonstrates that the U.S. Government will creatively use all available enforcement tools to thwart those who seek to perpetrate acts of terror.”
Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), SDNs and SDGTs, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Al Manar TV, Ali Damush, Ibrahim al-Sayyid, Islamic Charitable Emdad Committee, Martyrs’ Foundation in Lebanon, Naim Qasim, and their members may not obtain services, including website and domain services, in the United States without a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). No such license was obtained for any of the 13 seized domains.
Additionally, these 13 domains are subject to seizure as assets of entities and organizations engaged in planning or perpetrating acts of terrorism against the United States, its citizens and residents, and their property. These domains also afford a source of influence over those entities and organizations. The seizure of these domains will cut off that source of support and influence.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley of the FBI Atlanta Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Duane E. Townsend of the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement made the announcement.
The FBI and Department of Commerce investigated the case.