A US citizen by the name of Alexei Saab reportedly carried out surveillance work on various US landmarks for the jihadist terrorist group Hezbollah from 2000 to 2005 and was “prepared to attack Americans in popular locations if Iran was attacked by the United States,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Adelsberg said in federal court on Monday.
He made the allegations during opening arguments in Saab’s terrorism trial, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“By day, Saab was a software engineer working for technology companies,” AP Adelsberg said on April 25.
“By night he was ‘a terrorist and a spy’ exploring potential targets of terrorism in New York, Boston, [and] Washington, DC,” AP Adelsberg further paraphrased.
Saab, 45, is a resident of Morristown, New Jersey. He obtained US citizenship in 2008 after first entering the country in 2000 with a Lebanese passport. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced numerous terrorism-related charges against Saab in a press release issued on September 19, 2019. The charges against Saab included the following:
[P]providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; receive military-style training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine.
[C]conspiracy to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, punishable by up to five years in prison; illegal acquisition of citizenship or naturalization to facilitate an act of international terrorism, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
The DOJ accused Saab of working as a member of Hezbollah’s external operations unit, also known as the Islamic Jihad Organization (IOJ), both inside and outside the United States. United States from 2000 to 2005.
Saab monitored several New York landmarks as part of its reconnaissance work, including the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square and Rockefeller Center, according to the indictment.
He has also studied tunnel, bridge and airport developments in the New York area. Saab, a professional engineer, reportedly forwarded information to the OIJ that highlighted perceived structural weaknesses or “weak spots” in the sites he monitored.
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 26, 2018
Hezbollah reportedly planned to use this specific information to help the group determine how to maximize destruction if it planned a theoretical terrorist attack at or near the site.
The official website of the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) defines Hezbollah as both a designated terrorist group and a member of the Lebanese government.
“Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamic organization based in Lebanon with political, social and terrorist components,” according to the September 2019 DOJ press release announcing Saab’s indictment. “Hezbollah was founded in the 1980s with Iranian support after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and its mission includes the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Lebanon.
The US State Department designated Hezbollah a “foreign terrorist organization” in 1997, while the US Treasury Department designated the group a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity” in 2001.