BEYOND THE DROPZONE
Posted by W. Thomas Smith Jr. on 3 May 2009 at 5:07 pm UTC
In a May 2 article (published in the New York Post and elsewhere), Kenneth Bandler, communications director for the American Jewish Committee, writes, “The case of ‘Hizballah’s man in New York’ offers a compelling glimpse into the expansive world of 21st-century terrorism, where democratic free-speech rights are exploited by terror groups as part of their war against the West.”
Hizballah’s “man in New York,” as Bandler is referring to, is convicted terrorist-enabler Javed Iqbal, who is presently serving a six year prison sentence after having pled “guilty to aiding terrorists through his activity in America” in December 2008.
Iqbal, based in Brooklyn, was being paid to help facilitate the broadcasting of Al Manar, Hizballah’s satellite-television network.
We know Al Manar has satellite-subscribers estimated in the tens-to-hundreds of millions (numbers vary widely from one source to the next). Al Manar was at one time being broadcast over much of Europe, Africa, and the Far East until the U.S. government and others shut down much of its overseas operations. And the U.S. government listed Al Manar a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity” in March 2006.
The problem is Hizballah has deep pockets: The terrorist group is heavily funded by Iran, and operationally supported by Iran and Syria. And for some reason – which continues to confound and frustrate the pro-democracy World Council of the Cedars Revolution – far too-many Western journalists are putting their heads in the sand regarding several dark albeit glaringly obvious realities about Hizballah beyond its satellite TV operations:
First – and though a no-brainer, sometimes we need to be reminded – Hizballah is a bloody organization: As Bandler points out: “Hizballah’s raison d’etre is to further Iran’s radical Islamist agenda through violence.” Hizballah is responsible for murdering more Americans than any other terrorist organization prior to 9/11, including the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.
Former U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff says, Hizballah “makes al Qaeda look like a minor league team.” And retired British Army Col. Richard Kemp, terrorism advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, says, “Hizballah is probably the world’s most effective terrorist organization, and that includes Al Qaeda.”
Second, powerful political concessions were granted Hizballah after the group (and its allies like Amal, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, and others) turned their weapons on the Lebanese government and innocent men, women, and children in May 2008.
For its bloody behavior, Hizballah was granted veto power over Lebanese government decisions, additional cabinet seats, permission to keep its previously covert telecommunications system operational, and so much more. Yet for some bizarre reason, world leaders seemed to tip their hats at Hizballah’s strategic gains (after Hizballah’s burning and killing spree to achieve those gains) as some sort of just and equitable step in the right direction for Lebanon.
Moreover, in Lebanon’s present corrupt political environment, Hizballah and its cronies stand a good chance of winning the most parliamentary seats in next month’s elections, slated for June 7. Keep in mind Hizballah is the only so-called political party (that’s how the group likes to present itself) in possession of huge stockpiles of military grade weapons staged all over the country. The possession of those weapons is not being challenged, which violates both United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.
Hizballah sympathizers and apologists – as well as corrupt journalists and others who pretend to be opposed to Hizballah (typical propaganda ploy), but who deceptively downplay the group’s strength and activities – continue to soft-soap Hizballah. Hizballah has been directly involved – both financially and operationally – in terrorist attacks or in support of terrorist operations on five continents.
Worse, for Americans: There are Hizballah cells and supporters currently operating throughout the Western Hemisphere, and our sources are telling us there are many more Javed Iqbals where he came from. As Bandler concludes, “Iqbal’s sentencing for aiding Hizballah sets a precedent, but he is only one individual in a single locale. Vigilance will be essential to prevent other satellite providers from willingly or naively aiding Hizballah in America.”
But a deeper vigilance – beyond just who’s broadcasting what – as well as proactive counterterrorism measures are essential to shutting down this heavily funded and increasingly politically leveraged terrorist group. Hizballah is operating asymmetrically, expanding globally, and will stop at nothing to achieve its objectives. Meanwhile, the rest of the world (much of it in denial or confused by Hizballah propaganda) is just watching, waiting, and hoping for the best.
Visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at uswriter.com.