Former Dearborn, Michigan, resident Mahmoud Youssef Kourani was a secret Hezbollah agent sent to infiltrate America in February 2001. He stole over the Mexican border into California with a skill set that court records would later describe as “specialized training in radical Shiite fundamentalism, weaponry, spy craft, and counterintelligence,” picked up in Lebanon and Iran.
Kourani got caught in 2004 and thrown in federal prison for raising money and recruits for Hezbollah, which pioneered the modern art of suicide truck bombing by blowing up American Marines in Beirut.
But the enduring significance of Kourani isn’t that Hezbollah was able to implant the likes of him on American soil. It’s how it was done that reveals an insufficiently known national security danger for the U.S. that emanates to this day from a most unexpected source: Mexico’s foreign service embassies, consulate offices, and “honorary” appointed consuls across the Muslim world.
How was a Lebanese national whose brother was known to be “Hezbollah’s chief of military security for southern Lebanon” able to get within striking distance of California?
According to court records and interviews with knowledgeable sources, a $3,000 bribe was paid for Kourani’s travel documents to a corrupt official of Mexico’s Beirut consulate office. He just flew over, then on February 4, 2001, sneaked into California with help from a smuggling ring that had moved hundreds of Lebanese nationals already.
In this one instance at least, the discovery of the smuggling ring and bribery scheme prompted Mexico to quietly purge and prosecute several of its Beirut workers a few years ago. But I have found that Mexican consulates in other sensitive parts of the world, where anti-American Islamic terror groups thrive, are still open for the same kind of business.
Take the Mexican embassy in Mumbai, India. In all the ink expended about the devastating terror attacks there, none was shed for the fact that only months earlier, three Afghan Muslim travelers were caught posing as Mexicans and carrying genuine Mexican passports on their way out of the region. The trio was switching flights in Kuwait using Mexican pseudonyms and flashing valid Mexican passports, on their way to France and beyond, when an alert customs officer noticed they couldn’t speak Spanish. Subsequent investigation in India showed the passports were purchased for $10,000 each from a corrupt worker in the Mumbai-based Mexican consul office. Were these men terrorists? The answer isn’t public.