Thomas Fuentes, the FBI’s special agent in charge of International Operations, noted in 2007 that Hizballah is reluctant to launch violent attacks on U.S. soil because it would hinder their overall operations: “They want to maintain a low profile by engaging in criminal activity [but] not direct attacks….They’ve not been enthusiastic about doing it on US soil because of the attention and reaction that would occur.”
That may be changing now.
“Feds: Dearborn man was a trained bomb maker for terror group,” by Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, June 8, 2017:
One week after the FBI raided a Dearborn home in the middle of the night, a new terrorism case surfaced in New York on Thursday involving two men: a Dearborn man who allegedly received bomb-making training from a terror group and another man who allegedly plotted attacks on New York.
Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn and Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx were arrested a week ago and charged with training and working on behalf of Hizballah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization based in Lebanon.
“FBI bomb technicians have assessed that el Debek received extensive training as a bomb-maker,” the Justice Department stated.
The charges were unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, one week after federal agents raided a Dearborn home in what they described as an operation involving national security. Sources familiar with the case tell the Free Press the raid involved el Debek, who was arrested in Livonia that same day and subsequently charged with numerous crimes — though none involved plotting attacks in New York.
In December, another Dearborn man was sentenced to five years in prison for seeking to join Hizballah in Lebanon. Also, in 2014 in a separate case, a former Dearborn resident was killed in Syria while fighting for Hizballah.
According to criminal complaints unsealed Thursday in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court, el Debek and Kourani were recruited as Hizballah operatives and received military-style training, including in the use of rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns, in support of the group’s terrorist mission.
Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in the U.S., including military and law enforcement facilities in New York, authorities said….
El Debek, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was first recruited by Hizballah in late 2007 or early 2008. Shortly before being recruited, he expressed his support for the terror group’s leader in an e-mail and eventually received a salary from Hizballah through 2015.
For years, authorities said, el Debek received military training from Hizballah in Lebanon. From 2008 through 2104, the terror group taught him how to make bombs, handle weapons and conduct surveillance and countersurveillance.
According to the government, el Debek was trained in techniques and methods similar to those used to build the bomb that in 2012 blew up a bus in Bulgaria that was transporting Israeli tourists, killing six and injuring 32. That terror attack, the government said, was carried out by one of el Debek’s relatives.
While working for Hizballah, el Debek conducted missions in Thailand and Panama. One of his missions was to clean up explosive materials in a house in Bangkok that others had left because they were under surveillance, the government said. At the direction of Hizballah, el Debek used his U.S. passport to enter and leave Thailand so that he could travel from Malaysia to Thailand without obtaining a visa.
El Debek’s missions in Panama included locating U.S. and Israeli Embassies, casing security procedures at the Panama Canal and the Israeli Embassy and locating hardware stores where explosive materials could be purchased. After returning from a 2012 trip to Panama, el Debek’s handlers asked him for photographs of the U.S. Embassy and details about its security procedures….