Hezbollah-Tied Men Busted for Plot to Attack in New York, Panama

Dearborn man trained as bomb maker for Hezbollah arrested on terrorism charges

Hezbollah Terror Suspects from NY, Michigan Indicted in Manhattan Federal Court

One week after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided a Dearborn home in the middle of the night, a new terrorism case surfaced in NY on Thursday involving two men: a Dearborn man who allegedly received bomb-making training from a terror group and another man who allegedly plotted attacks on NY.

The Justice Department alleges that el Debek and Kourani worked as spies for IJO, both in the USA and overseas.

Samer el Debek, 37, was arrested June 1 in Livonia for alleged terrorist activities on behalf of Hezbollah's Islamic Jihad organization.

Both men face a number of charges, which include providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization; possessing, carrying, and using firearms and destructive devices during and in relation to crimes of violence; and making and receiving a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hezbollah.

Both were also arrested for a related weapons offense, which involved explosives, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns.

El Debek allegedly joined Hezbollah in 2008 and traveled to Lebanon for training on numerous occasions, officials said.

At the direction of Hezbollah handlers, el Debek allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the US and Israeli embassies in 2011.

Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential target locations in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City, officials said.

On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said that although the Hezbollah terrorist organization suffered a massive blow during its conflict with Israel in 2006 and in the years since, the group remained Israel's top security challenge.

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According to the Justice Department's unsealed indictment, el Debek was first recruited by Hezbollah in 2007 or 2008.

They said Kourani received additional weapons training, including on a 2011 trip to Lebanon.

El Debek, also a naturalized U.S. citizen, was recruited by Hezbollah in late 2007 or early 2008, according to the Justice Department, which said he conducted multiple covert operations in Panama and Thailand, but his home base continued to be the United States.

Two men traveled repeatedly to Lebanon for years, leading double lives as regular Americans and terrorist operatives for Hezbollah, according to United States law enforcement officials.

Authorities found "250 searches for sites like "Hezbollah martyrs" and 'martyrs of Islamic resistence [sic]'" on his computer.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim called the terrorism charges "serious", adding Debek and Kourani "received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in the support of the group's terrorist mission".

Kourani also earned a B.S. degree in biomedical engineering and an M.A.in business administration.

In May 2009, El Debek used his US passport to go to Thailand on Hezbollah's behalf to clean explosive materials out of a house in Bangkok after others had to leave because they were under surveillance, prosecutors said. Ali Kourani, of the Bronx, was arrested last week on the terror-related charges. He also allegedly assessed areas of weakness at the Panama Canal in 2012. It alleges he conducted covert surveillance of potential USA targets, including US military bases and Israeli military personnel in NY. Between 2014 and 2017, he conducted 258 Facebook searches using search terms such as "martyrs of the holy defense", "martyrs of Islamic resistance", "Hezbollah martyrs" and "martyrs of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon".

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