A naturalized US citizen who lived in the Bronx borough of New York City for sixteen years has been found guilty by a jury of working as a “sleeper agent” for Hezbollah — the Iranian regime’s Lebanon-based Shi’a terror proxy.
Lebanon-born Ali Kourani, who emigrated to the US in 2003, was found guilty on all eight counts of an indictment that charged him with terrorism, sanctions and immigration offenses for his illicit work on behalf of a secretive unit within Hezbollah that plans and executes terror operations on foreign soil.
In a statement, Geoffrey Berman — United States attorney for the Southern District of New York — said that Kourani had been planning terrorist attacks on US domestic targets on behalf of the Hezbollah unit, the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO).
“Ali Kourani was recruited, trained, and deployed by Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization to plan and execute acts of terrorism in the United States,” Berman said. “Kourani’s chilling mission was to help procure weapons and gather intelligence about potential targets in the US for future Hezbollah terrorist attacks”
May 17, 2019 5:25 pm
Targets that Kourani surveilled included JFK Airport and law enforcement facilities in New York City, including the federal building at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan, Berman noted.
“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, following the announcement of the guilty verdict on Thursday.
The indictment against Kourani noted that Hezbollah’s IJO, “also known as the External Security Organization and ‘910,’ is a highly compartmentalized component of Hezbollah responsible for the planning, preparation, and execution of intelligence, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of Hezbollah outside of Lebanon.”
As well as assigning Kourani a handler, the IJO also provided him “with additional training in tradecraft, weapons, and tactics,” the indictment said.
Kourani will be sentenced later this year, on Sept. 27.