Terrorist Organizations

Via Majikthise: a New York businessman was arrested for making the Hezbollah TV station available in the area on the grounds that this constitutes dealing with a terrorist organization. The BBC has the story:

A US businessman has been charged with offering broadcasts of Hezbollah’s al-Manar satellite television station to customers in the New York-area.

Javed Iqbal, originally from Pakistan, is accused by prosecutors of doing business with a terrorist entity.

A lawyer representing Mr Iqbal said he knew of no other case where a person had been accused of breaking US law by offering access to news outlets via satellite dish.

Prosecutor Stephen A Miller had argued against granting him bail, indicating more charges were likely to be filed.

“The charge lurking in the background is material support for terrorism,” the Associated Press news agency quotes him as saying.

There’s a certain hypocrisy that lurks behind the conventional definitions of crime and terrorism, which in effect restrict them to crime committed by poor people and terrorism committed by non-state organizations. Commenting on Majikthise, Dabodius justifies that arrest on the grounds that “Hezbollah is still designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., among other reasons because it has killed more Americans than any other such organization except Al Qaeda. Their welfare operation and the votes they get are irrelevant to their status as a terrorist organization which bombed a JCC and Israeli embassy in Argentina, and was rocketing Israeli cities this very month.”

This argument makes a lot of sense, provided that you’re willing to scrap the idea of free speech and apply the same reasoning to every organization that causes harm. But unless you’re okay with India cracking down on anyone who deals with Coke, the US cracking down on anyone who deals with big tobacco, Mexico cracking down on anyone who deals with Monsanto, and Iran cracking down on anyone who deals with BP, you’re a hypocrite. All of these destroyed many more lives than Hezbollah through greed and criminal negligence, and yet I don’t see anyone refer to them as terrorist organizations.

PZ Myers talks about the IOKIYAC defense – “it’s okay if you’re a Christian” (for example, it’s okay for a pharmacist to refuse to hand out medicine to people based on a political ideology if he’s a conservative Christian). IOKIYAC applies here too, only now C stands for corporation.

20 Responses to Terrorist Organizations

  1. bonhamled says:

    Very interesting article.

  2. gordo says:

    It would be hard to think of a more clear-cut violation of the 1st Amendment. If it’s still legal to publish The Turner Diaries, I can’t think of a justification for arresting someone for broadcasting al-Manar.

    Which brings up another point: Hezbollah has not killed as many Americans as the Klan. In fact, Dabodius is clearly padding Hezbollah’s American body count by including soldiers killed in a war zone.

    But your point about corporations is well taken. I don’t know why terrorism makes people more fearful when the motive is politics, rather than racism, religion (Eric Rudolph), or money.

  3. SLC says:

    Yes, Hizbollahs’ welfare activities are totally irrelevent to their designation as a terrorist organization. Excusing their terrorist activities by their good works is equivalent to excusing Hitlers’ crimes because he built the Autobahn, set up the Volkswagon company and eliminated unemployment. The fact is that the Western world is at war with Islamic terrorism and this scumbags’ rebroadcasting of Hizbollah propaganda is no more acceptable then somebody rebroadcasting Nazi propaganda during WW 2.

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