Man charged with providing broadcasts from Hezbollah TV in New York area

Thursday, August 24th 2006, 6:05 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A businessman was charged with providing satellite broadcasts of a Hezbollah television station to New York-area customers, authorities said Thursday.

Javed Iqbal, 42, was arrested Wednesday on conspiracy charges of enabling the broadcasts of al Manar, which was designated by the U.S. government this spring as a global terrorist entity, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said in a statement.

Garcia said Iqbal used satellite dishes at his Staten Island home to distribute the broadcasts through a Brooklyn company called HDTV Limited.

Al Manar, launched in 1991, features news programming that promotes Hezbollah's positions and shows statements from the terror group and speeches from its leader.

A lawyer for Iqbal, Mustapha Ndanusa, called the accusations against his client ``completely ridiculous'' and said he was unaware of another instance in which someone was accused of violating U.S. laws by enabling people to obtain news outlets with a satellite dish.

Iqbal, who moved to the United States from Pakistan 24 years ago, was surprised by the arrest, Ndanusa said. Iqbal could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Bail was set at $250,000 Thursday. Prosecutor Stephen A. Miller had asked Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein to deny bail, suggesting that more charges were imminent. ``The charge lurking in the background is material support for terrorism,'' he said.

The probe began after a tip from a confidential source in February, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The U.S. government considers Hezbollah, Lebanon's most sophisticated Shiite group, to be a terrorist group. An attack by Hezbollah guerrillas on an Israeli outpost last month plunged Lebanon and Israel into 34 days of destruction that killed more than 800 people.