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memri
February 8, 2013 No.
928

Hizbullah Circumvents August 2012 Bans By Apple And Google And Violates U.S., Dutch Law By Providing Ways To Download Its Apps For iPhone And iPad – Via Its Website – And For Android – Via The Netherlands-Based Aptoide And The TX-Based WhatsApp

Introduction

In its July 27, 2012 report Designated Terrorist Organization Hizbullah Makes Extensive Use Of U.S. Social Media – Apple iTunes, iPad and iPhone, Google, Android, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – In Violation Of U.S. Law, MEMRI detailed how Hizbullah uses U.S.-based social media.

Following the publication of this MEMRI report, Apple removed Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV's iPhone and iPad apps from iTunes, Google removed Al-Manar TV's Android app from Google Play, and Facebook removed Hizbullah's two Facebook pages (see MEMRI Report on Hizbullah's Use Of U.S. Social Media Companies Leads To Facebook, Apple, Google Removing Their Content; Twitter And YouTube Still In Violation Of U.S. Law, August 2, 2012).

After its removal by Apple, Google, and Facebook, Hizbullah announced, on August 2, 2012, that it would find other ways to deliver the "message of resistance." In a report dated the same day, the Al-Manar website quoted an "Al-Manar website supervisor" as saying that "the media war began as soon as we signed up for the Facebook site about five years ago. Five accounts were deactivated during this period" (see Following MEMRI Report And Its 'Expulsion' From Apple, Google, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV States: We'll Find Other Ways to Deliver 'Message of Resistance' August 6, 2012).

The following are Hizbullah's attempts since then to disseminate its apps by circumventing the Google Play and Apple Store bans.

I. Al-Manar Website Posts Instructions For Circumventing Ban, Downloading Apps Via Website And Via Aptoide: "Despite All Attempts to Remove It, Al-Manar Now on Android"


Al-Manar TV website shows how readers can follow its content.[1]

Shortly after its announcement that it would find other ways to "deliver the message of resistance," Al-Manar posted, in an article titled "Despite All Attempts to Remove It, Al-Manar Now on Android," instructions for circumventing the Google Play and Apple Store bans and downloading its apps to Android devices "through our website." The post read:

"After the campaign to stop Al-Manar TV applications on smart phones, Al-Manar is now back, as it promised her audience to find alternative ways for the download of google play and apple store applications on Android devices through our website by following the instructions below:[2]

"1. Download the application by clicking on the link below:
http://www.almanar.com.lb/AlmanarTv.apk
"2. When you have finished the download, install the application by clicking on it (you'll find the application in the list of applications that have been downloaded)
"3. Then a warning appears that this application has been downloaded from outside google play
"4. Click on settings
"5. Allow installation of non-Market applications

"Now, you can install the application and follow-up our news.

"Another Way

"You can download Al-Manar application through Aptoide market, a market similar to google play store and contains a lot of applications.

"You can find Al-Manar application on Aptoide by searching for AlmanarTv.

"You can also check the following link for further inquiry or to download the Aptoide application."


Al-Manar app on Aptoide.[3]

Al-Manar TV Downloads On Aptoide

A search at for "almanar" on the Aptoide website turned up 1,181 downloads of 17 Al-Manar apps:


Captured January 9, 2012.

About Aptoide

The Netherlands-hosted Aptoide (aptoide.com), formerly BazaarAndroid, is an open source Android application that allows the user to install software,[4] and is billed as giving users the ability to "Own your Android Market."[5] According to its website, it began "as a project to develop an open Marketplace to the Android Platform," and "allows developers, OEM, Telcos and enterprise to distribute their Android apps through their own stores." It says that it is "the 1st Android Independent Marketplace" and that it "distributes over 60,000 different Apps, through over 50,000 independent stores, having reached over 45 million downloads."[6]

CONTACTING APTOIDE

The registration and contact information for Aptoide.com is as follows:

Registrant Contact:
Aptoide
Paulo Trezentos ()
Fax:
R.Frei Jose Maria Evora,5
Vila Lusitano, Horta das Figueiras
Evora, PT 7005-495
PT
Administrative Contact:
Caixa Magica
Paulo Trezentos ([email protected]aptoide.com)
+351.266707007
Fax: +351.266747909
R.Frei Jose Maria Evora,5
Vila Lusitano, Horta das Figueiras
Evora, PT 7005-495
PT
Technical Contact:
Paulo Trezentos ([email protected]aptoide.com)
+351.266707007
Fax: +351.266747909
R.Frei Jose Maria Evora,5
Vila Lusitano, Horta das Figueiras
Evora, PT 7005-495
PT
Status: Active
Name Servers:
ns1.bazaarandroid.com
ns2.bazaarandroid.com
Creation date: 01 Sep 2009 17:14:25
Expiration date: 01 Sep 2013 17:14:00

Besides the information above, Aptoid's contact email as given on its website is [email protected].[7] It also has a presence on Facebook and on Twitter.

To submit a report of abuse, which its website defines as "Infringement of an Application Copyright," users must register and log in.[8]

II. Hizbullah Provides WhatsApp Signup For Receiving Al-Manar Updates

Another post on the Al-Manar website, dated December 3, 2012, explains to visitors how to use the WhatsApp mobile messaging app to receive updates from Al-Manar.

The post explains that those who sign up for WhatsApp will be able to receive the latest news from Al-Manar via their cellphones, and adds that the channel is offering these updates as a free service.

It says that in order to receive these updates, visitors must first join Al-Manar's mailing list and provide their email address and phone number, and then follow a link to activate their WhatsApp subscription.[9]


Joining WhatsApp mailing list on Al-Manar TV website[10]

Activating WhatsApp subscriptions on Al-Manar TV website[11]

About WhatsApp

According to its website, the Dallas, TX-hosted WhatsApp is "a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android and Nokia."[12] The company was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both veterans of Yahoo, and is based in Santa Clara, CA.[13] The app is available through Apple Store, BlackBerry App World, Windows Phone Market, Google Play, and Nokia Store. The app marked its 100 million download mark on Google Play in early November, and as of then was the top overall paid app in the Apple App Store in 119 countries. It continues to be the top paid social networking app in the U.S. [14]


WhatsApp.com home page

CONTACTING WHATSAPP

The registration and contact information for WhatsApp.com appears to be Domain Protected, and what is available is as follows:

Domain Name: WHATSAPP.COM
Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
Referral URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/
Name Server: NS1.SOFTLAYER.COM
Name Server: NS2.SOFTLAYER.COM
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 08-sep-2010
Creation Date: 04-sep-2008
Expiration Date: 04-sep-2017

The website itself provides two contact email addresses: one for product support, [email protected], and one for business inquiries, [email protected],[15] but no phone numbers or other information. The company has a presence on Facebook and on Twitter.

III. Al-Manar Website Posts Instructions For Downloading "Special Apps" For iPhone And iPad "As It Promised Its Audience"

On December 2, 2012, Al-Manar posted, in an article titled "As It Promised Its Audience… Al-Manar Returns On I-Phone And I-Pad," instructions for downloading "special apps" for the iPhone and iPad "in alternate ways, following the campaign [against it launched] by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in order to stop Al-Manar channel's apps [being downloaded to] smartphones from Google Play and Apple Store." It stated that the apps "can be uploaded through Al-Manar's website" and went on to provide instructions for doing so, with images, as follow:[16]

"1. Click the following link to upload [sic; meaning download] the program to your PC.
"2. Then, extract the zipped file onto your computer.
"3. Connect your I-Pad/I-Phone to your computer.
"4. Open the itool.exe file that can be found in the almanartv/itools directory.
"5. Click the word application.
"6. Click "Install" and choose "iPhone/iPad App."
"7. After installation, the following image will appear: [see below]

"And this is how you can successfully download the Al-Manar channel app.

"Note: this app is available only for iPhone and iPad 5 or above."

*Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of MEMRI; R. Sosnow is head editor at MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[2] http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?fromval=3&cid=21&frid=23&seccatid=14&eid=64621 The post, which is dated August 11, 2012 and is marked as updated August 17, 2012, is originally in English.