Friday, April 24, 2009

6 years in prison for airing Hezbollah TV in NYC

The Associated Press April 24, 2009

A Pakistani immigrant described by prosecutors as "Hezbollah's man in New York City" was sentenced Thursday to nearly six years in prison for airing the militant group's television station.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman handed down a sentence of five years and nine months to Javed Iqbal, who had pleaded guilty in December to providing aid to a terrorist organization.
Iqbal, 45, admitted as part of a plea agreement that he used satellite dishes on his Staten Island home to distribute broadcasts of Al Manar, the TV station of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which has been fighting Israel since the early 1980s and has been branded by the U.S. government as a terrorist group.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Snyder said Iqbal recruited Al Manar, even traveling to "the belly of the beast, South Beirut," to meet with its general manager.
"He was, in a very real sense, Hezbollah's man in New York City," Snyder said.
Snyder said Iqbal bought special satellite equipment to allow Al Manar to provide 24-hour programming from November 2005 through May 2006 so Hezbollah could use it to recruit followers and suicide bombers. Prosecutors said Iqbal's business was paid $28,000 monthly for at least five months for airing the station to its North American customers.
Iqbal's lawyer, Josh Dratel, said his client didn't intend to aid Hezbollah as he tried to build his Brooklyn-based satellite television company, HDTV Limited.
Dratel called the airing of Al Manar "one discreet and narrow aspect" of an otherwise legitimate broadcasting company that also aired Christian programming, adult entertainment, a Jamaican channel and a gay and lesbian channel.
Before Iqbal was sentenced, he had Dratel read aloud a statement he had written. The statement said that he did not make any profit by airing Al Manar and that the resulting criminal charges had "hurt me financially, emotionally and physically."
It asked for leniency from the judge.
In court papers, Dratel argued that Iqbal does not possess any ideology sympathetic to terrorism or other political doctrine, and he noted that one of HDTV's partners was a city police officer.
"He is a businessman and sought to provide services he thought would generate profits," Dratel wrote.
Iqbal, who has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, will most likely be deported once he has completed his prison sentence, Dratel said. Iqbal, a former car mechanic, is married with five children and a sixth child due in July.
The August 2006 arrest of Iqbal initially sparked a First Amendment battle, with claims by his lawyers that he was no different from major news companies and Internet providers, some of which permit live streaming broadcasts of Al Manar. But the arguments were rejected by the court, and there was no mention of the First Amendment at the sentencing.
Hezbollah recently has taken a moderate tone before Lebanon's June 7 parliamentary elections.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tattoos inflicted in Auschwitz lead to happy reunion of inmates 65 years later

JERUSALEM (AP)- April 19, 2009 — As terrified teenagers 65 years ago, Menachem Sholowicz and Anshel Sieradzki stood in line together in Auschwitz, having serial numbers tattooed on their arms. Sholowicz was B-14594; Sieradzki was B-14595.The two Polish Jews had never met, they never spoke and they were quickly separated. Each survived the Nazi death camp, moved to Israel, married, and became grandfathers. They didn't meet again until a few weeks ago, having stumbled upon each other through the Internet. Late in life, the two men speak daily, suddenly partners who share their darkest traumas."We are blood brothers," said Sieradzki, 81. "The moment I meet someone who was there with me, who went through what I went though, who saw what I saw, who felt what I felt — at that moment we are brothers."The twist of fate doesn't end there. Two brothers who were with them in the tattooist's line have made contact since hearing of their story.

read it all here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Iran: Radar Evading Aircraft Prepare for Debut

Commander of the Air Force Brigadier General Hasan Shah-Safi on Saturday said that the first locally-manufactured radar evading aircraft will make its debut on May 24.
“The initial model of this airplane will have an experimental flight and after it passes the test it will be made available to the Defense Ministry for mass production,“ the general told reporters on the sidelines of the ceremonies marking the annual Army Day, IRNA reported.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

French Muslims slam director of the Paris Grand Mosque over statements

ALGIERS (Ramadan Belamry)

Members of France’s Muslim community called for ousting the director of the Paris Grand Mosque after comments he had made in a French magazine that were interpreted as praising Israel and justifying its latest offensive in Gaza.

In an interview Wednesday with the tourist magazine SVP-Israel, the Paris Grand Mosque imam Dalil Boubakeur lashed out at Hamas for firing missiles at Israel and implied that Israel's reaction was justified.

“Concerning the latest event in Gaza, I personally believe that when organizations like Hamas bomb Israel over several years, they essentially generate Israeli reactions and expose the Palestinian population to reprisals,” he told the magazine.

The mosque sought to distance itself from his comments Saturday and reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian people. The mosque has been inundated with calls, from religious organizations to prominent leftist politicians, about his statements, an official at the Paris Mosque told

"They all wanted an explanation to this anti-Palestinian stance despite the fact that Algeria is known for supporting just causes," said Abdullah Zikri, who is also a member of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, which Broubaker heads.

"We do not agree with what Boubakeur said about Israel and I will demand an explanation. If he really said so, it would be an insult that we cannot accept," he said.

Broubaker sought to distance himself from the comments Saturday in an interview with

"The magazine took my statements out of context and I am taking the necessary measures to file a lawsuit," he said.

The article was presented in a Q & A format as part of a dialogue series between the Muslim and Jewish communities started after the Paris Mosque withdrew from the Jewish-Muslim Friendship Association in protest over Israel’s war on Gaza, Boubakeur told

Boubakeur denied allegations that he will visit Israel although he said he had received an invitation from the Jewish community in France.

"The Paris Mosque has always supported Palestinians," Boubakeur added, referring to the humanitarian aid the mosque sent to Gaza via the French Foreign Ministry. The mosque also played a role in saving several Jews during World War II, he told the magazine.

Boubakeur, who is of Algerian origins, also told the magazine that he admired the intelligence of the Israeli people and that the Quran refers to Jews as God's chosen people.

Muslims were outraged by Boubaker’s seeming endorsement of Israeli aggression while other observers said the imam’s statements could be an attempt to woo France’s powerful Jewish lobby

The Franco-Algerian Association said it was preparing an official memorandum against Boubakeur for insulting Algerians and Muslims with his statements.

"We will submit our request after the Algerian presidential elections," Shafia Menshetla, a spokesperson for the association, told (Source)