The US seized over a dozen web domains belonging to the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah and others on Thursday, May 11. The US Department of Justice claimed that the web domains were operated by persons or groups who had been sanctioned by the US government.
Most of these domains were registered in the US and belonged to Al Manar TV which is affiliated to Hezbollah, such as almanarnews.org, manarnews.org, and almanartv.org, among others.
Other prominent web domains include sites belonging to Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem and the website related to the Islamic Resistance Support Association, a charity in Lebanon.
Visitors trying to access these websites can now see a message declaring that “this website has been seized by the United State government.” However, Al-Manar’s main Lebanese domain is still operating.
In a statement, the US Department of Justice claimed that these domains were being used by “Specially Designated Nationals (SNDs), Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) and their members associated with Lebanese Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah, which was founded in 1980 to resist the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and is now the largest political group in the country’s parliament, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US and its allies.
The US government has been selectively targeting media groups and websites critical of its policies in the last few years. It similarly seized the domain of Iranian news channel Press Tv in 2021. The sites of Yemeni Al-Masirah and Palestinian Palestine Today were also seized. All three news outlets have been critical of US interventions in the region and of its closest ally Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the US operations of Russian RT were also shut down due to pressure from the US government.
Neither Al-Manar nor Hezbollah have issued any formal statements on the move so far. However, as Al-Masirah’s statement issued after its web domain was similarly seized in 2021 said, such moves expose “the falsehood of the slogans of freedom of expression and all other headlines promoted by the United States of America, including its ability to confront the truth.”