On Tuesday, the House of Representatives took a major step in curbing the spread of violent jihadist rhetoric over the airwaves. With overwhelming support, the House passed H.R. 2278, a bill targeting those who incite violence against Americans through on-air broadcasts.
Terrorist organizations often rely upon the media to assist in fundraising, propaganda, and recruitment. This bill would curtail the availability of television stations such as the Hezbollah-run al Manar and the Hamas-run al Aqsa. As the bill recognizes, the type of programming on these stations "may increase the risk of radicalization and recruitment of Americans into Foreign Terrorist Organizations that seek to carry out acts of violence against American targets and on American soil."
The bill, as currently structured, has two complementary provisions—one to identify the breadth of the problem, and the other to help combat it. Under the first section, the President would be required to annually provide Congress with a list of media outlets in the Middle East spreading anti-American rhetoric. Under the second portion of the bill, the President would be given the authority to implement punitive measures against satellite providers that "knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists," including possibly designating the satellite providers themselves.
While it isn't entirely clear that these authorities don't already exist—i.e., it is currently a crime to broadcast al Manar programming in the United States—it is good to see the House of Representatives taking this threat seriously.