Hezbollah Member Convicted in New York for Planning Attacks

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Hezbollah Member Convicted in New York for Planning Attacks
Friday, 17 May, 2019

This Jan. 6, 2014, file photo shows people in security lines at Kennedy International Airport in New York. (Stan Honda, AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

A US federal court in New York on Thursday convicted a man on charges of buying weapons and plotting attacks on behalf of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Ali Kourani, a 34-year-old American of Lebanese descent, was convicted of eight allegations including conspiracy to use weapons in a violent crime, which is punishable by life in prison.

"Kourani’s chilling mission was to help procure weapons and gather intelligence about potential targets in the US for future Hezbollah terrorist attacks," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement after a weeklong trial.

The targets Kourani surveyed include the JFK International Airport and law enforcement facilities including the building housing the FBI.

"Today, Kourani has fittingly been convicted for his crimes in a courthouse that stands in the shadow of one of his potential targets," Berman said.

Born in Lebanon but naturalized by the US in 2009, Kourani attended several Hezbollah training camps in his country of birth and took orders from agents of the Iran-backed organization after his 2003 arrival in the US.

He has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and a master's degree in business administration.

He could face life in prison at a sentencing scheduled for Sept. 27.

His lawyer, Alexei Schacht, said he'll appeal the verdict on the grounds that statements his client made to the FBI were made involuntarily in response to false promises of confidentiality.

Another man who was taken into custody in Michigan on the same day Kourani was arrested in 2017, Samer El Debek, is still awaiting trial. He is also accused of belonging to Hezbollah.

Washington considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization.


 

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