Hezbollah Agent Who Scouted Potential Targets in US Sentenced to 40 Years in Jail
The US Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that 35-year-old Ali Kourani will serve 40 years in prison for terrorism, sanctions and immigration offenses after he was found guilty of helping plot potential attacks by Iran-backed Hezbollah on American soil.
“While living in the United States, Kourani served as an operative of Hezbollah in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said. “With today’s sentence, he is being held accountable for his crimes. Such covert activities conducted on US 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.”
Kourani, a naturalized US citizen, immigrated to New York City from Lebanon in 2003 and was recruited, trained and deployed by Hezbollah to be an operative of the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO), a clandestine unit responsible for preparing and carrying out acts of terrorism throughout the world.
Kourani sought out weapons suppliers, gathered intelligence and conducted surveillance on possible targets, including John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens and the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building in Manhattan. He also identified potential recruits and victims.
US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York noted that Kourani was the first IJO agent “to be convicted and sentenced or his crimes against the United States.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney said Kourani’s sentencing was one of the “many successes” of its Joint Terrorism Task forces throughout the US, adding that Kourani’s case was “a reminder to us all that New York City and its surrounding areas remain primary targets for those looking to conduct a violent attack against our way of life.
The NY Joint Terrorism Task force partnered with the Southern District’s US Attorney’s Office to prosecute Kourani, who was additionally given five years supervised release once he has completed his sentencing.
“The lengthy prison term imposed today on Kourani sends an important message to Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad Organization — if you are caught planning harm against this city and its residents, you will face justice and be held accountable,” Berman warned.