DOJ: ‘Trained and skilled’ Hizbullah operative living in NJ scouted landmarks for attacks

by WorldTribune Staff, September 20, 2019

The Department of Justice has charged a Hizbullah operative who was residing in New Jersey with providing material support to a designated terror group after he was found to have scouted locations in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. for potential terrorist attacks.

Alexei Saab scouted several U.S. landmarks as potential terror targets, the Department of Justice said. / DOJ

The nine-count indictment against Alexei Saab, 42, alleged that he scouted such landmarks as the Statue of Liberty and Times Square in New York, Fenway Park and the Prudential Center in Boston, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

“As a member of the Hizbullah component that coordinates external terrorist attack planning, Alexei Saab allegedly used his training to scout possible targets throughout the U.S,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

Hizbullah receives the vast majority of its funding from Iran, which is the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism.

“Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hizbullah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel,” Berman said. “Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”

The complaint against Saab was unsealed on Sept. 19 in Manhattan. He has been in custody since July.

“Saab served as an operative of Hizbullah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement. “Such covert activities conducted on U.S. soil are a clear threat to our national security and I applaud the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution.”

Security Analyst Ed Davis, for Boston’s WBZ, says the 33-page indictment reveals how Saab was a trained and skilled operative working against the United States.

“The next step in that process is to gain intelligence on targets before a plan is put into effect,” Davis said. “And that process of taking photographs, moving photographs to the organization and letting the organization decide how to go at their targets is classic terrorism 101. That’s the way they operate. This person showed that this was much more than hopeful thinking.”

The DOJ said that Saab became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008, roughly a decade after he began training with Hizbullah.

The Department of Justice said Saab conducted operations overseas as well. He allegedly attempted to murder a man he suspected was an Israeli spy. Prosecutors said in that case, Saab pointed a gun at the person and pulled the trigger twice but it did not fire.

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