The U.S. Justice Department seizes propaganda websites linked to Iran-backed Islamist terror groups Hamas, Kata’ib Hizballah, and Houthi militia.
In a sweeping crackdown, the U.S. government took down dozens of Iranian regime-linked “news websites” promoting terrorism and misinformation. The seized domains include propaganda websites belonging to Gaza-based jihadi group Hamas, Iraqi terrorist group Kata’ib Hizballah and Yemeni terrorist Houthi militia — all armed and sponsored by Tehran.
“Today, pursuant to court orders, the United States seized 33 websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites operated by Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), in violation of U.S. sanctions,” The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement issued on Tuesday. The internet users accessing these Iranian terrorism-promoting websites are being directed to a U.S. government takedown notice.
The website of the Iranian regime’s propaganda mouthpiece, Press TV, was also taken down as part of the measure. The English language broadcaster, which carries antisemitic content and pro-regime propaganda, has been taken off the air in Britain and other European countries.
The Associated Press reported the U.S. counter-terrorism action:
American authorities seized a range of Iran’s state-linked news website domains they accused of spreading disinformation, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday, a move that appeared to be a far-reaching crackdown on Iranian media amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
The Justice Department said 33 of the seized websites were used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which was singled out by the U.S. government last October for what officials described as efforts to spread disinformation and sow discord among American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The U.S. says three other seized websites were operated by the Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group, Kata’ib Hizballah, which more than a decade ago was designated a foreign terrorist organization. The group is separate from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group whose news websites remained operational.
The website domains are owned by U.S. companies, but despite the sanctions, neither the IRTVU nor KH obtained the required licenses from the U.S. government before using the domain names, according to the Justice Department. (…)
On Tuesday, visiting the addresses of a handful of sites, including Iran state television’s English-language arm Press TV, Yemeni Houthi-run Al-Masirah satellite news channel and Iranian state TV’s Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam, produced a federal takedown notice. It said the websites were seized “as part of law enforcement action” by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The U.S. government also took over the domain name of the news website Palestine Today, which reflects the viewpoints of Gaza-based Islamic militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, redirecting the site to the same takedown notice. (…)
Yemen’s Houthi rebel group announced that its Al-Masirah satellite news channel went offline Tuesday without prior notice.
The DOJ crackdown comes as President Joe Biden is trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. On Saturday, outgoing Iranian Foreign Minister, and co-architect of the Obama-era nuclear agreement, Javad Zarif, assured that there was a “good possibility” of a Biden-Tehran agreement in the coming months.
Iran on Monday demanded “guarantees” from the Biden administration ensuring that the U.S. will not leave the nuclear agreement, as it did under the Trump presidency. “The US must give a guarantee,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday. “The US has once shown during Trump’s tenure that it can ignore the interests of nations in a defiant manner,” he added.
It is unclear how the Biden administration is to furnish such a guarantee. However, the Iranian foreign minister has asked the White House to “investment” $1 trillion in the regime-controlled economy as compensation for the Trump-era withdrawal.
On Saturday, the Iranian regime declared its favored candidate Ebrahim Raisi, the recent sham presidential election winner. Despite ongoing nuclear talks with the U.S., the new Iranian president rebuffed any suggestion of meeting President Biden.
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