Two Hezbollah terrorists were arrested on June 8 in the United States after intelligence determined that they were preparing to carry out attacks in the US and Panama. Both terrorists had received military style training and were personally recruited by the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group. The terrorists are Ali Kourani from the Bronx, New York and Samer El Debek of Dearborn, Michigan. El Debek is a trained bomb maker possessing a high level of sophistication. He worked for the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) which is the international terrorism and counter-surveillance arm of Hezbollah. Debek was arrested in Dearborn and Kourani was arrested in the Bronx. They had been identifying targets in the US and Panama.
Debek conducted surveillance on the Panama Canal looking for vulnerabilities and shipping patterns. He also photographed and examined routines and security procedures at the US and Israeli Embassies in that country.
Kourani was tasked with searching out weapons suppliers in the United States for the IJO. He also identified members of the Israeli military and conducted surveillance of JFK airport along with military and law enforcement facilities, primarily around New York.
One of the key indicators of a possible terrorist attack is pre-operational surveillance. Prior to any sophisticated terror operation, there will always be some level of surveillance, and this is what tipped off the authorities. Hard targets like military, law enforcement and airport facilities conduct their own surveillance and are able to spot unusual activity or behaviors exhibited by others.
Hezbollah remains a viable transnational terrorist organization. It is a Shi’a terrorist group based in Lebanon and is funded by Iran and Syria. They were founded in 1982 and have been on the United States Terrorism Watch list since 1997. Their primary target is the State of Israel and US and israeli interests around the world.