New Channel with Hezbollah Ties Opens Bureau Near White House (PJM Exclusive)
"Its logo design was inspired by Islamic traditions and references in the holy Quran," reads the description. "It translates into 'ember of light,' and the calligraphy resembles the Quranic text as a chapter beginning, 'alef, lam, meem' – A, L, M."
Al-Mayadeen lists its address as an office in the National Press Club building.
The station is classified on Idealist as a "nonprofit or community organization." That would be highly accurate if Al-Mayadeen is the propaganda money drain like Al-Manar -- Krayyem once described the unnamed investors for Al-Manar as having "political rather than financial" aims that compensated for "huge" financial losses.
Al-Mayadeen says the channel is "not affiliated with, beholden to, or funded by any political party, ideological group, or government," echoing Ben Jeddo's claim that the network is not funded by any Arab regime or state.
"Its income is derived solely from private investors who are faithful to its mission," the description adds.
That mission includes featuring the Palestinian cause heavily in its programming, Ben Jeddo said in announcing the venture last year, and excluding any Israeli officials as guests.
Al-Mayadeen has an official position against the normalization of ties with the Jewish state. As Al-Manar general manager, Krayyem once described his station as "carrying the message of facing the Israeli enemy" and featuring a variety of Arab guests to "direct them to one target: the Israeli enemy."
Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen is registered in Britain. That country revoked the license of the state-funded Iran Press TV in January on the grounds that it's a Tehran-controlled propaganda outlet. Iran Press TV currently operates freely in Washington.
An FCC official told PJM that if a channel was transmitting signals from the U.S. it would need a license, but not if it was a bureau in which signals were originating from aboard.
Still, the two media outlets raise questions about sanctions violations.
The growing list of sanctions against doing business with the Iranian regime is well-known, but there are also still those sanctions in place against doing business with Al-Manar.
Because of the past of Krayyem, Al-Mayadeen's co-founder and new general manager, does the establishment of the D.C. bureau violate sanctions?
"As a general matter, there is no prohibition on U.S. persons engaging in transactions with an individual who is a former manager of al-Manar, provided that the individual is not himself designated," a Treasury Department official told PJM. "U.S. persons should exercise significant caution that the transaction does not in any way involve or benefit Al-Manar, Hezbollah, or another designated person."
There are also questions about those investors propping up the effort that allowed a former student activist and Al-Jazeera host to seamlessly become the head of a new network's board of directors -- a station well-heeled enough to be luring other big-name journalists from Arab media outlets.
Sources within Lebanon who wished to not be revealed due to safety concerns told PJM that Al-Mayadeen was established through funding from Iranian and Syrian money, and that the network is wholeheartedly supporting Hezbollah.
Despite Al-Mayadeen's claim that it is not funded by any government, what is indisputable is the sweet coverage given to the station's launch by Iran's official media.
After his new venture was up and running, Ben Jeddo sat down last month with Iran Press TV to decry his former employer as a mouthpiece of the Qatari government and the world's major powers.
"The channels forgot about objectivity and professionalism and became puppets for the governments," Ben Jeddo charged of "non-independent" Arab media, vowing that Al-Mayadeen would offer "bold, objective and balanced coverage."
Meanwhile, as the Syrian regime's bloody campaign against grass-roots democracy activists continues, Assad's government is using posters with Ben Jeddo's face next to a Syrian flag, quoting him as saying, "The truth is like the sun, it cannot be hidden."