With Ramadan attacks ratcheted up to extreme levels this season, vigilance on the streets of America is of extreme importance. One must not narrow these threats down to simply the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (aka ISIL, aka ISIS, aka Daesh). Al-Qaeda, Jabat Al-Nusra, Al-Shabab, and Boko Haram, have all conducted attacks during this “holy month”. Hezbollah should not be overlooked either. Hezbollah is the terrorist arm of Iran. With the revealing of a Hezbollah Training Camp in Cuba, after Obama normalized relations with a communist regime, we should take all threats that they pose towards our nation very seriously. So, the recently thwarted attempt by two individuals in the United States is extremely troubling. But it is calming to know threats are being taken seriously and are being neutralized.
From the U.S. Department of Justice:
Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx, New York, and Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn, Michigan, aka, “Samer Eldebek,” were arrested on Thursday, June 1, on charges related to their alleged activities on behalf of Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kim said: “Recruited as Hizballah operatives, Samer El Debek and Ali Kourani allegedly received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in support of the group’s terrorist mission. At the direction of his Hizballah handlers, El Debek allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal. Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City.”
Kourani was arrested in the Bronx for providing, attempting, and conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah; receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from Hizballah; a related weapons offense that is alleged to have involved, among other weapons, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and machine guns; violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); and naturalization fraud to facilitate an act of international terrorism. Kourani was presented on Friday, June 2, before Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses in Manhattan federal court.
El Debek was arrested in Livonia, Michigan, outside of Detroit, for providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah; receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from Hizballah; use of weapons in connection with a crime of violence that is alleged to have involved, among other weapons, explosives, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and machine guns; and violating and conspiring to violate IEEPA. El Debek was presented on June 5, before Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in Manhattan federal court.
Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD said: “As part of his work for Hezbollah, Kourani and others allegedly conducted covert surveillance of potential targets, including U.S. military bases and Israeli military personnel here in New York City. Pre-operational surveillance is one of the hallmarks of Hezbollah in planning for future attacks. As alleged, Kourani, on at least two occasions, received sophisticated military training overseas, including the use of a rocket propelled grenade. In addition, El Debek is charged in an unrelated complaint, for allegedly possessing extensive bomb making training received from Hezbollah. Today’s charges of two for their work on behalf of Hezbollah is a tribute to the collaborative work of the agents and detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
El Debek first traveled to Panama for Hizballah in 2011, where his operational tasks included locating the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, casing security procedures at the Panama Canal and the Israeli Embassy, and locating hardware stores where explosive precursors could be purchased. Shortly before traveling to Panama, el Debek updated his status on Facebook with a post that read, in part, “Do not make peace or share food with those who killed your people