NY man pleads guilty to broadcasting Hezbollah TV

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization by broadcasting Hezbollah television channel Al Manar to U.S. customers, federal prosecutors said.

In a plea deal, Javed Iqbal, 45, a Pakistani who moved to the United States more than 25 years ago, admitted that between about September 2005 and August 2006 he provided satellite transmission services through his Brooklyn-based company HDTV Ltd to Al Manar, in exchange for thousands of dollars payment.

Hezbollah, an Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shi’ite Muslim group with a powerful guerrilla army, was designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization in 1997.

The U.S. Treasury branded Al Manar a terrorist organization in March 2006, saying it supported Hezbollah’s fund-raising and recruitment activities.

Iqbal was arrested and initially charged in August 2006.

Saleh Elahwal, who lives in New Jersey and who prosecutors say also operated HDTV, faces similar charges and his trial is set to start on January 5.

Iqbal faces up to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced on March 24.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bill Trott