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Iraq: US blacklists Al-Zawraa TV

BBC Monitoring

The United States Treasury Department announced on 9 January that it was to blacklist the Iraqi Al-Zawraa satellite TV channel, which it alleged was "fuelling" insurgent activity in Iraq.

The Treasury also blacklisted the station's owner Mishan al-Juburi, the former Iraqi MP and leader of the Sunni Front for Reconciliation and Liberation, who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in his absence for embezzling Iraqi government funds.

In blacklisting the TV channel, which appeared to close down in July 2007, a US Treasury press release alleges that the station received funding from Al-Qai'dah and broadcast "open-coded messages through patriotic songs to the Sunni terrorist group the Islamic Army of Iraq". The station also broadcast recruitment videos for Al-Qai'dah in Iraq and graphic videos of attacks on US forces, the US Treasury said.

The order prohibits all transactions between Al-Zawraa TV, its owner and any US person, and freezes any asset! s Al-Zawraa may have under US jurisdiction.

Al-Zawraa TV was an Iraqi satellite television channel, known for airing video footage of insurgent attacks on US-led coalition forces, often accompanied by patriotic songs inciting violence against US troops. Rare appearances by on-screen presenters featured newsreaders wearing Ba'athist Party army fatigues.

The station was ordered closed by the Iraqi government in November 2006 for "inciting violence and murder", but re-opened soon after, broadcasting via the Egypt-owned Nilesat satellite from an unknown location.

The channel was also noted in March 2007 broadcasting via the Arabsat-owned Badr-3 satellite, and - briefly - via the Eutelsat-owned Eurobird.

BBC Monitoring was not able to ascertain the location of Al-Zawraa TV's broadcast facilities. The US Treasury Department statement of January 2008 suggests that the station was based in Syria.

The Nilesat transmission was closed in February 2007 a! fter the channel was accused of "interfering with other stations", whi le the Arabsat transmission remained on air for several months.

After several weeks of on-screen captions apologizing to viewers for interruptions to its transmissions, which appeared to be the result of deliberate interference, the station was last observed on 27 July 2007.

In October 2007, Mishan al-Juburi was linked to the proposed Syria-based Al-Ra'y TV channel. Al-Juburi subsequently released a statement through the London-based Quds Press news agency denying that this was the case.

Source: BBC Monitoring research 10 Jan 08



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