April 27, 2009
WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Pakistani man living in New York was sentenced to 69 months in prison for broadcasting the Hezbollah television station Al Manar.
Javad Iqbal, 45, pled guilty to providing material support to a foreign terrorist group in December. Prosecutors said Iqbal, who owned the satellite television company HDTV Ltd., transmitted the Beirut-based Al Manar in exchange for payment in 2005 and 2006 and then sold the channel to U.S. customers.
“I am a human being and human beings make mistakes,” Iqbal said in a statement read in court by his lawyer, Joshua Dratel, according to media reports.
Dratel said Iqbal was not an ideological supporter of Hezbollah, and the channel was one of many he offered, including adult entertainment channels, in order to make money. But prosecutors said Iqbal had helped a terrorist organization operate in the U.S.
“He was, in a very real sense, Hezbollah’s man in New York City,” prosecutor Eric Snyder told the court during the sentencing hearing. A second man who also worked for the company, Saleh Elahwal, has pleaded guilty to similar charges.