New indictment reveal strong evidence of Hezbollah terror activity in the United States
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An indictment filed in the Southern District of New York last week against a New Jersey man on terror-related charges revealed strong evidence of organized Hezbollah activity in the United States.
Ali Hassan Saab, known also as Alexei Saab, a resident of New Jersey and a U.S. citizen, was charged with nine felony counts based on Hezbollah activity spanning from “at least” 1996 until his capture in 2019. His charges included conspiracy to provide and subsequent provision of support to the Iranian terrorist organization, receiving military training from Hezbollah, immigration fraud to perpetuate international terrorism, and marriage fraud, among others.
Hezbollah is a Lebanon-based Shi’ite Islamic group supported by Iran that has been active since the 1980s. The U.S. designated them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997, and the State Department described Hezbollah as the “most technically capable terrorist group in the world” in 2010.
Saab’s alleged Hezbollah activities over the last two decades reportedly began in Lebanon, doing reconnaissance in Lebanon on Israeli and Lebanese soldiers. After receiving weapons training in Hezbollah camps, he joined the Islamic Jihad Organization, the branch of Hezbollah responsible for outside operations. He is said to have emigrated to the U.S., where he became naturalized in 2008 after falsely claiming that he had never been part of a terrorist organization. Since that time, according to the U.S. attorney, Saab has conducted surveillance on several structures, bridges, and landmarks in New York City, searching them for weaknesses as possible locations for terrorist attacks.
The indictment also claims that Saab continued traveling internationally and continued to train with Hezbollah in Lebanon. He is also accused of two incidents of attempted murder while abroad, including one of a man he suspected of being Israeli.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman, who signed the indictment, minced no words about the severity of Saab’s indictment. “As a member of the Hizballah component that coordinates external terrorist attack planning, Alexei Saab allegedly used his training to scout possible targets throughout the U.S. Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hizballah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel. Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes,” Berman said.
Evidence against Saab in the indictment supports the suspected modus operandi of Hezbollah, which includes achieving dual citizenship for their operatives to gain greater access to target nations. U.S. authorities arrested two men in 2017 suspected of being members of Hezbollah’s External Security Organization, which is responsible for coordinating terrorist attacks abroad. The two men, Ali Kourani and Samer El Debek, had also acquired U.S. citizenship before their capture.
Principal Deputy Attorney General John Cronan of the Justice Department made clear in July his intention to fight Hezbollah with strength. “Destroying Hezbollah’s support networks and neutralizing the Hezbollah threat is a top priority for this Department of Justice and will continue to be,” Cronan said. “Investigations may be covert, charges may be sealed, defendants may be cooperating, and Hezbollah supporters may be facing nonterrorism crimes as we work to build terrorism charges.”
Source: Washington Examiner