Iran TerrorismMichigan Man Accused of Training as Bomb Maker for...

Michigan Man Accused of Training as Bomb Maker for Iran-Backed Hezbollah

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Iran Focus

London, 13 Jun – A Michigan man was arrested for taking part in missions and military training on behalf of Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terrorist organisation.

Samer El Debek, 37, who was arrested on June 1, first became involved with the terrorist group in 2006, when he sent an email expressing his support for Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.

Allegations

El Debek, a naturalised US citizen, was allegedly receiving a salary from Hezbollah from 2007- 2015.

In that time, he reportedly attended several military training sessions from Hezbollah in Lebanon where he was taught basic military tactics including how to handle a weapon, counter-surveillance, and how to make a bomb.

He also reportedly conducted many surveillance missions for Hezbollah including to Panama and Thailand.

Charges

This is a full list of the charges against El Debek, as reported by Track Persia:

– Providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Conspiracy to receive military training from a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Possessing, carrying, and using firearms and destructive devices during and in relation to crimes of violence

– Making and receiving a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hezbollah, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)

– Conspiracy to make and receive a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hezbollah, in violation of IEEPA

If found guilty of all of these crimes, he would be facing life in prison plus 95 years.

David P. Gelios, the special agent in charge of the Detroit division of the FBI, said: “As it relates to Detroit Metropolitan area and the state of Michigan, Counterterrorism threats are the number one investigative priority of the FBI… and reflect our commitment to protect and defend the United States against terrorist threats. Hizballah is a designated foreign terrorist organisation and its Islamic Jihad Organization has been responsible for terrorist activities and incidents outside of Lebanon… Last week’s arrest related to an alleged illegal activity which did not occur in Michigan. FBI Detroit has no credible information to suggest any terrorism threat to the Metropolitan Detroit area.”

NY arrests

A New Yorker was also arrested on charges related to involvement with Hezbollah.

Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx, reportedly attended Hezbollah-sponsored weapons training in Lebanon in 2000, when he was 16, before coming to the US and earning a BS and an MBA.

However, in 2006 Kourani and some of his relatives became collateral damage in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, with an Israeli strike destroying their home.

It was after this that Kourani joined Hezbollah and applied to become a US citizen by claiming that he was not a member of a terrorist organisation.

He then allegedly proceeded to work on behalf of Hezbollah, flying to China, attending military training in Lebanon, gathering information about the operations at US airports, and providing US-bought firearms to the terrorist group.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “The charges announced today reveal once again that the New York City region remains a focus of many adversaries, demonstrated as alleged in this instance by followers of a sophisticated and determined organisation with a long history of coordinating violent activities on behalf of Hezbollah.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill 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.”

Charges

Here are the charges against Kourani, as described by Track Persia:

– Providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Conspiracy to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organisation

– Conspiracy to possess, carry, and use firearms and destructive devices during and in relation to crimes of violence

– Making and receiving a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hezbollah, in violation of IEEPA

– Conspiracy to make and receive a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hezbollah

– Naturalisation fraud in connection with an act of international terrorism

If found guilty of all crimes, he faces life plus 125 years in prison.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Today, we announce serious terrorism charges against two men who allegedly trained with and supported the Islamic Jihad Organization, a component of the foreign terrorist organisation Hezbollah. Recruited as Hezbollah 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.”

He continued: “At the direction of his Hezbollah 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. Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the allegedly destructive designs of these two Hezbollah operatives have been thwarted, and they will now face justice in a Manhattan federal court.”

 

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