The logo of SATELINDO
SATELINDO's ground satellite station
|The coverage of the Indonesian communications satellite PALAPA-C2 (satjournal.tcom.ohiou.edu)|
1. About two months ago, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV channel started broadcasting via an Indonesian communications satellite called PALAPA-C2. The satellite’s coverage includes, inter alia, China , East Asia, and Australia .
2. A local newspaper in Perth , Australia published an article (August 21) saying that Al-Manar’s broadcasts could be viewed across Australia . According to the article, the channel airs talk shows and documentaries inciting against Israel and the West. The channel also airs children’s shows and music shows, and calls upon the viewers to donate to Hezbollah. The article further states that Australia’s Minister of Communications examines the legal aspect of the channel’s broadcasts in order to report to the government whether those broadcasts contradict the Australian law (according to which any channel which encourages viewers to join or support terrorist organizations should be banned).
3. The US Embassy Spokesman in Indonesia noted that the US government was concerned about the use made by Al-Manar of the Indonesian communications satellite, as the US declared Al-Manar a terrorist entity in December 2004. Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Information Mohammad Nuh said that the broadcasts were "purely commercial” and that the US had no right to meddle in the company’s affairs. He further stated that such TV channels as BBC also made use of satellites.
4. The Indonesian PALAPA-C2 is a third-generation communications satellite launched in 1996. Owned by Indonesia Telkom, it is operated by the SATELINDO Group from Jakarta , Indonesia . Most of Indonesia Telkom’s shares are held by the Indonesian government, which has the right to veto strategic decisions. The satellite is suited to the rainy weather in Indonesia and the surrounding region, so that it can broadcast with almost no interruptions. It provides video transmissions, cellular phone services, and Internet access. 1
The logo of SATELINDO, the operator of the
satellite which broadcasts Al-Manar
SATELINDO’s ground satellite station
Summary and assessment
5. Indonesia ‘s readiness to allow the broadcasting of Al-Manar via an Indonesian communications satellite impedes the international struggle against Al-Manar’s inciting broadcasts. Participated by the US and several European countries, that struggle has had partial success, reducing the availability of Al-Manar worldwide. For example, in August 2005, the activity of Asiasat, a communications satellite which broadcasted Hezbollah’s TV channel to Asian countries, was terminated. In addition, limitations were imposed on the channel’s broadcasts to the US , Europe, and South America . 2
6. In January 2008, the Al-Manar channel started broadcasting via Thaisat, a communications satellite operated by a Thai company which covered Southeast Asia . The Middle East correspondent of an American news agency approached the company management after the affair was exposed in an Information Bulletin of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center . As a result of the exposure, Thaicom officially announced that it was taking Al-Manar off its satellite starting January 11, 2008 . 3
7. Now, therefore, Hezbollah has recovered from the blow it took in Thailand (and elsewhere) by broadcasting Al-Manar via the Indonesian communications satellite. This will allow Hezbollah (and Iran, which sponsors it) to significantly improve the availability of Al-Manar’s inciting broadcasts, particularly among Muslim target audiences in Southeast Asia, China, and Australia.
1 Palestinian terrorist organizations’ websites, such as those of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, rely on Indonesian Internet service providers, seeing as some Western companies have stopped servicing them.
2 The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has been following that process from the start. For example, see our Information Bulletin: "The Spanish government ordered the banning of Hezbollah TV station’s broadcasts to Latin America via its satellite company, Hispasat” ( July 11, 2005 ).
3 See our Information Bulletin: "Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV channel has started broadcasting via the THAICOM communications satellite. A Thai satellite, it broadcasts to most Asian countries, Australia, Africa, and Central Europe . This compromises the efforts of the international community to limit the spread of Hezbollah’s incitement programming” (January 10, 2008); as well as "The Thai communications satellite Thaicom stopped broadcasting Al-Manar TV a short time after it began. That was the result of the public exposure of the services it was providing for Hezbollah (Follow-up report)” ( January 14, 2008 ).