Federal prosecutors unveiled charges on Thursday for a man allegedly scouting targets in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., for the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Justice Department made public a nine-count indictment against Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, for offenses related to the support of Hezbollah, as well as separate marriage fraud offenses.
According to WNBC, the indictment had been under seal since July, when the suspect was taken into custody.
The government stated that Saab joined Hezbollah in 1996 and has received extensive training in small arms and bomb construction.
Among the dozens of targets the man allegedly surveilled in New York City were the George Washington Bridge, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and local airports and tunnels, according to a statement from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Alleged targets in Boston included Fenway Park, Quincy Market and the Prudential Center.
Read the indictment: Alexei Saab scouted Fenway Park, Prudential Center for terrorist group, feds say https://t.co/RbvTEl2gVX
— Scott Croteau (@ScottCroteauML) September 19, 2019
In Washington, D.C., Saab allegedly scouted the Washington Monument, as well as the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.
“In particular, Saab focused on the structural weaknesses of locations he surveilled in order to determine how a future attack could cause the most destruction,” the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Prosecutors allege Saab was gathering this information for the Islamic Jihad Organization, Hezbollah’s terrorist arm.
Law enforcement officers executed search warrants on the man’s email account beginning in April 2018 and began interviewing him in March 2019, WNBC reported.
The Justice Department stated that Saab lawfully entered the U.S. in 2000 using a Lebanese passport.
“In 2005, Saab applied for naturalized citizenship and falsely affirmed, under penalty of perjury, that he had never been ‘a member of or in any way associated with … a terrorist organization.’ In August 2008, Saab became a naturalized U.S. citizen,” the DOJ statement reads.
In addition to his surveillance activity in the U.S., Saab attempted to murder a man he believed to be an Israeli spy and conducted intelligence-gathering for Hezbollah in Istanbul, Turkey.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated on Thursday that Saab’s allegiance remained with Hezbollah.
“Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hizballah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel,” Berman said.
He added, “Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”
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