The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today the seizure of 13 domains used by Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), and their members associated with Lebanese Hizballah.
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.
“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 Eastern District of Virginia. “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.”
“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.”
Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), SDNs and SDGTs, such as Lebanese Hizballah, 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 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.
“Today’s seizure reduces Hizballah’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 proactively use all available enforcement tools to thwart those who seek to perpetrate acts of terror.”
“These court-authorized domain seizures reflect the FBI’s continued dedication to the fight against terrorism,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “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 US infrastructure to incite deadly violence against the United States and our Allies to further the objectives of foreign terrorist organizations.”
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office; and Matthew S. Axelrod, Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce, announced the seizure of the domain names.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Peters and Laura D. Withers for the Eastern District of Virginia in these matters.
The Department of Justice’s National Security Division provided assistance on this case.