A Dearborn man and a Bronx man were arrested earlier this month on charges related to their alleged terrorist activities on behalf of Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad organization. As PJ Media reported on Tuesday, the FBI raided the home of 37-year-old Samer el Debek in Dearborn, Michigan, on June 1. The other man was arrested in the Bronx on the same day.
El Debek and the Bronx man, Ali Kourani, both Lebanese, are accused of being Hezbollah operatives who allegedly received military-style training using weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns, according to the DOJ website. They also allegedly went on missions to Panama “to assess vulnerabilities” and conducted surveillance of potential targets in the United States.
Debek’s charges include:
…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.
Debek is a naturalized U.S. citizen, who was first recruited by Hezbollah in late 2007 or early 2008. According to the DOJ, he “began to receive a salary from Hezbollah shortly thereafter, and was paid by Hezbollah through approximately 2015.”
Kourani’s charges include:
…providing, attempting, and conspiring to provide material support to Hezbollah; receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from Hezbollah; 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 appeared before Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses in Manhattan federal court on June 2 and Debek appeared before Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in Manhattan federal court on June 5.
KOURANI, who was born in Lebanon, attended Hizballah-sponsored weapons training in Lebanon in 2000 when he was approximately 16 years old. After lawfully entering the United States in 2003, KOURANI obtained a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering in 2009, and a Masters of Business Administration in 2013.
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 organization Hizballah.
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.
Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the allegedly destructive designs of these two Hizballah operatives have been thwarted, and they will now face justice in a Manhattan federal court.
Detroit’s WXYZ reported that el Debek may have had “sympathetic support elsewhere in the community.”
Its also unclear how much those in the home that was raided knew about his activity or ideology.
When we knocked, the blinds were quickly closed. Neighbors telling me, those inside have been reluctant to come and go.
Those neighbors, too scared to be identified, still have questions.
“We want to be safe. We want to know exactly what’s going on,” said one.
Another, who lives a few doors down to the home on Jonathon St., added, “I don’t want to be involved in something like this. I like good people. I don’t like bad people here.”
Experts tell me suspects like this often hide in plain sight, because even family members are often unaware of how extreme a loved one’s support for a group has become.