Feds arrest NJ man, 42, who allegedly scouted NYC landmarks for Hezbollah terror attacks

David Caplan
September 19, 2019 - 4:02 pm

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) --  A New Jersey man who acted as a scout for terror group Hezbollah, looking at locations in New York, Washington and Boston for a terror attack, has been arrested on a slew of charges, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, has been in custody since July. 

In 2000, Saab lawfully entered the United States 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 Justice Department alleges that Saab has been a member of Hezbollah since 1996 and that he has extensive firearms and bomb-making training. In approximately 1999, Saab attended his first Hezbollah training, the Justice Department said. 

"Saab’s first Hizballah operation occurred in Lebanon, where he was tasked with observing and reporting on the movements of Israeli and Southern Lebanese Army soldiers in Yaroun, Lebanon," the Justice Department said in a statement. "Among other things, Saab reported on patrol schedules and formations, procedures at security checkpoints, and the vehicles used by soldiers.

Targets that Saab scouted in New York City include Empire State Building, George Washington Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Herald Square and local airports and tunnels. 

He also scouted the Washington Monument in the nation's capital and Fenway Park in Boston. 

“According to the allegations, while living in the United States, Saab served as an operative of Hizballah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

Demers added, “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.”

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said, “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.  Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”

Saab is charged with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a sentence of 10 years in prison or a fine; conspiracy to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization to facilitate an act of international terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison; marriage fraud conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years; citizenship application fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years; naturalization fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years; and making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. 

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.