HEZBOLLAH, THE RADICAL Shiite terrorist organization in Lebanon, is
best known for attacking Israelis. But the organization also attempts to gain
the support of Lebanese citizens with a sophisticated network of social
services, political outreach, and financial aid. And recently, the militia has
turned to advertising campaigns to bolster its image.
Hezbollah owns or controls at least two known advertising companies:
Ressalat and Media-Publi Management. The U.S. Department of the Treasury should
designate both as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities (SDGTs)
immediately as part of its ongoing campaign to cut off Hezbollah from the global
According to a
recent article in the Lebanese al-Nahar, Ressalat is a
"Hizbullah-funded organization that handles advertising and cultural
events for the group." The company does not appear to have a web presence,
but al-Nahar identified Mohamed Noureddine as Ressalat's creative
French report also identified Noureddine as the director of a think tank
tied to Hezbollah's secretary general Hassan Nasrallah. His name can also be
found alongside pro-Hezbollah
videos on YouTube. After the car bombing that killed Hezbollah commander
Imad Mughniyeh on February 13, Noureddine and his team launched a sophisticated
advertising campaign to lionize the slain terrorist leader. Within hours of the
bombing, colorful stencil drawings of Mughniyeh's bearded and bespectacled face
appeared on huge billboards throughout Lebanon. The stenciled portrait was
similar to the iconic drawing of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara.
These Mughniyeh billboards--some of which read: "Prophecy
of the Final Victory"--now line the road from the Beirut airport to the city's downtown
district. According to Mohammed al-Amin, managing director of a billboard
company that rented space to Ressalat, the entire network of billboards along
the airport road and within the group's stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut cost at least
In 2006, following Hezbollah's war against Israel, the group reportedly
paid an unnamed public relations firm some $140,000 to design an ad
campaign called "Divine Victory," glorifying the 34-day war that
ended with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire on August 14, 2006. Last year, Hezbollah posted a
huge billboard in southern Lebanon, facing northern Israel, with
the faces of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Additionally, near the coastal town of Naqura
(where the U.N. peacekeeping force maintains its headquarters), Hezbollah
posted a large mural portraying an Israeli warship that had been hit by the
terrorist group during the 2006 war.
Was Ressalat behind all of these billboards? The answer is still unknown.
There may be other unidentified Hezbollah advertising companies lurking in Lebanon.
However, Hezbollah's advertising operation is not limited to billboards. As first revealed by analyst Avi
Jorisch, a Lebanon-based company called Media-Publi Management handles ads and
promotions for al-Manar, Hezbollah's television station. Media-Publi is now
listed (complete with address and phone number) with the Lebanese
Advertising Agencies Association. The company also openly operates a
website (www.mpmlb.com), which actually
lists al-Manar's scheduled programming and boasts of serving as "the
exclusive media representative of al-Manar T.V. station...We are responsible of
reservation and monitoring of the ads on al-Manar [sic]."
Media-Publi reportedly worked with numerous advertising
agencies, including the world-renowned Saatchi and Saatchi, selling ad space to
numerous multinational corporations. After the SDGT designation of al-Manar
in March 2006, however, many advertisers pulled their products from
Media-Publi has four known employees: Saeed T. Fadel (Marketing
Coordinator), Hussein Nassour (Account Handler), Ahmad Haidar (Account Handler),
and Ibrahim Farhat (General Manager). Farhat
identifies himself as the public relations manager for al-Manar. It is
unclear whether the others are Hezbollah members.
It is equally unclear whether either of these two advertising companies
belong to the Lebanese Media Group, the parent company of al-Manar, which was
also designated by the U.S. Treasury as an SDGT in March 2006. If these
companies are part of this broader network, Treasury's designation already
applies to them. The designation must simply be enforced.
If these companies are not subsidiaries of the Lebanese Media Group, the
U.S. Treasury Department should consider a new round of designations to include
Media-Publi, Ressalat, as well as the four Media-Publi employees listed on the
site. Similarly, other banking systems and companies around the world should be
encouraged to cease doing business with them. Hezbollah's Lebanese advertising
operations must not be allowed to continue.