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September 12, 2014 3

Hezbollah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time

Update — 9/19/14: In response to the removal of the app from the Google Play store, Al Manar posted a state­ment attribut­ing the removal to a “cam­paign by the Jew­ish Anti-Defamation League” and promised to find “alter­na­tive ways to pro­vide the appli­ca­tion for Android phones.”

Update — 9/13/14: ADL alerted Google to the re-launched app on Sep­tem­ber 12. The app was removed from Google play later that day. ADL applauds Google’s response to Al-Manar’s repeated attempts to re-introduce this app. 

Last week, al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media arm which is listed as a “Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist Entity” by the U.S. gov­ern­ment, launched an Android phone app through the Google Play online store pro­vid­ing mobile access to its satel­lite tele­vi­sion sta­tion, also known as al-Manar.

Hezbollah's al-Manar app for android

Hezbollah’s al-Manar app for android

Al-Manar adver­tised the launch of the app on the land­ing page of its web­site. The announce­ment asked media net­work fol­low­ers to install the app on their phones to receive al-Manar con­tent and news, includ­ing high pri­or­ity alerts.

This is the third time Hezbol­lah has launched an app with that func­tion; the two prior apps were removed from Google Play. In July 2012, Al Manar first adver­tised its newly-launched appli­ca­tion pro­vid­ing mobile access to its satel­lite TV. Avail­able orig­i­nally through Apple’s iTunes ser­vice, Apple soon removed the app for vio­lat­ing its terms of ser­vice. After the app was removed from iTunes, Hezbol­lah tried to re-launch it again for Android phones only, but the app was soon removed from Google Play as well. In March 2014 free mobile appli­ca­tions appeared on iTunes and Google Play to pro­vide access to Al Manar pro­grams via iPhone and Android smart­phones once more.

Hezbol­lah has attempted to use mobile apps in other con­texts as well.  In June 2014, Al Manar TVlaunched an online com­pe­ti­tion in time for the World Cup called “Expect and Win” that used the California-based instant mes­sag­ing ser­vice What­sApp.The com­pe­ti­tion called on users to sub­mit pre­dic­tions for which teams would win and offered prizes for select­ing the win­ning teams. In Jan­u­ary 2014, Al Manar started using What­sAppto deliver “break­ing news” via text mes­sages to sub­scribers and to allow its sup­port­ers to inter­act with the sta­tion.  In Feb­ru­ary 2013, the mil­i­tary branch of Hezbol­lah, The Islamic Resis­tance (“Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya”) pro­vided a col­lec­tion of free Farsi and Ara­bic lan­guage pod­casts on iTunes. The pod­casts pro­moted both the ter­ror­ist group’s and the Iran­ian regime’s mil­i­tant propaganda.

Con­tin­u­ous attempts by the ter­ror­ist group to re-launch their smart phone app demon­strate their deter­mi­na­tion to exploit mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to broad­cast mes­sages of hate and ter­ror­ism to their sup­port­ers worldwide.

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April 23, 2013 2

Hate App Targets Towson University

Update 8/2/13: A new White Stu­dent Union has formed at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­sity by fresh­man Patrick Sharp.

The increas­ing exploita­tion of easy-to-use soft­ware to cre­ate smart­phone apps by hate groups sig­nals a move into a new realm of dig­i­tal propaganda.

Some hate groups, like the neo-confederate League of the South, have pro­duced apps intended for a gen­eral audi­ence. Oth­ers, how­ever, are devel­op­ing apps with spe­cific pro­pa­ganda tar­gets in mind. For exam­ple, the Tow­son White Stu­dent Union, founded by white suprema­cist Matthew Heim­bach, a stu­dent at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity in Mary­land, has cre­ated an app specif­i­cally tar­get­ing stu­dents at the school.

Like the League of the South’s app, the Tow­son White Stu­dent Union (Tow­son WSU) app is visu­ally crude and tech­ni­cally rudi­men­tary, pri­mar­ily offer­ing a col­lec­tion of links. In the case of the Tow­son WSU app, the links lead to blogs, a group Face­book page, a Twit­ter account for the group’s orga­nizer, a Google search results page, and a YouTube chan­nel for the group.

These Android apps are not avail­able through the autho­rized Google Play web­site. How­ever, as Android apps do not need to be cer­ti­fied for instal­la­tion (unlike iPad/iPod/iPhone apps), they are read­ily avail­able through unof­fi­cial apps dis­tri­b­u­tion websites.

Years ago, tech­no­log­i­cal advances made it easy for hate groups to cre­ate web­sites with­out actu­ally hav­ing sophis­ti­cated com­puter knowl­edge or skills. As the preva­lence of wire­less devices increases and easy-to-use app cre­ation soft­ware pro­lif­er­ates, the pres­ence of this sort of smart­phone and tablet app will undoubt­edly increase.

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August 16, 2012 0

Hezbollah Re-Launches Apps; Blames ADL For Failure Of Previous Effort

Hezbollah’s smart­phone appli­ca­tion, launched at the end of July but promptly removed by Apple and Google, has been rere­leased for the Android oper­at­ing sys­tem and is “back on Ipad and Iphone,” accord­ing to Al-Manar, the Lebanese ter­ror­ist organization’s satel­lite tele­vi­sion station.

Al-Manar’s Eng­lish statement

In a state­ment issued today, Al-Manar says it is “back on Ipad and Iphone appli­ca­tions via alter­na­tive ways, fol­low­ing the cam­paign car­ried out by the Jew­ish Anti-Defamation League to deac­ti­vate Al-Manar appli­ca­tions on smart phones at Google Play and apple store.”

Al-Manar announced its new release for Android this past week­end and sim­i­larly blamed “the Jew­ish Anti-Defamation League” for launch­ing a “cam­paign” to remove the orig­i­nal appli­ca­tion from iTunes and Google Play. “Al Manar is back again. As we promised our audi­ence, we found alter­na­tive ways to make our appli­ca­tion avail­able to be down­loaded on Android phones,” the state­ment reads.

Fol­low­ing the removal of the ini­tial appli­ca­tion by Apple and Google last month, Al-Manar issued a state­ment describ­ing ADL as “US based Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tion” that “mon­i­tors Israel related media espe­cially in Arab and Mus­lim coun­tries” and sends pub­li­ca­tions “to Amer­i­can politi­cians and Con­gress members.”

In an inter­view with Al Intiqad, a Lebanese news site, Mohamed Salah, direc­tor of Al-Manar’s web­site, said that Al-Manar “will spare no effort to respond strongly to this targeting.”

In an effort to avoid dis­trib­u­tor poli­cies and con­trol, the new appli­ca­tions are down­load­able directly from Al-Manar’s web­site, which is hosted British server. The web­site also pro­vides instruc­tions, along with screen shots, on con­fig­ur­ing Android phones to accept appli­ca­tions “not sourced in Android Market.”

The appli­ca­tion directs users to var­i­ous sta­tion con­tent, includ­ing speeches by Hezbol­lah leader, Has­san Nas­ral­lah. Al-Manar broad­casts the ter­ror­ist group’s mes­sages of hate and vio­lence, dis­sem­i­nates anti-Semitic and anti-American pro­pa­ganda and glo­ri­fies sui­cide bomb­ings to mil­lions of view­ers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hezbol­lah is a U.S. des­ig­nated For­eign Ter­ror­ist Orga­ni­za­tion, and Al-Manar was listed as a “Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist” by the Depart­ment of the Trea­sury in 2006.

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