Investigator testifies before Congress that "some associates of terrorist groups" may be involved in selling pirated DVDs.
That's what the Senate Homeland Security committee heard Wednesday from John Stedman, a lieutenant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department who's responsible for an eight-person team of intellectual property (IPR) investigators.
"Some associates of terrorist groups may be involved in IPR crime," Stedman said. "During the course of our investigations, we have encountered suspects who have shown great affinity for Hezbollah and its leadership."
Even though Stedman's evidence is circumstantial, his testimony comes as Congress is expected to consider new copyright legislation this year. An invocation of terrorism, the trump card of modern American politics, could ease the passage of the next major expansion of copyright powers.
Steadman said he saw Hezbollah flags and photographs of the group's leader in homes that he raided, coupled with anti-Israel sentiments on the part of those arrested.
But another witness, Kris Buckner, the president of a private investigation firm that looks into intellectual property violations, said: "I am also frequently asked if terrorist groups profit from the sale of counterfeit goods. I do not know the answer to that question." Buckner has, however, heard "subjects make anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish statements" on raids.
The 9/11 Commission never managed to link Hezbollah to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the commission claimed that Iran and Hezbollah provided assistance to al-Qaida on other occasions, including joint training exercises.
Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who also testified, said that "Hezbollah depends on a wide variety of criminal enterprises, ranging from smuggling to fraud to drug trade to diamond trade in regions across the world, including North America, South America and the Middle East, to raise money."
Hezbollah has attacked U.S. forces in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and Israelis in many countries.