U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Ali Kourani was recruited, trained, and deployed by Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization to plan and execute acts of terrorism in the United States.  Kourani’s chilling mission was to help procure weapons and gather intelligence about potential targets in the U.S. for future Hizballah terrorist attacks.  Some of the targets Kourani surveilled included JFK Airport and law enforcement facilities in New York City, including the federal building at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan.  Today, Kourani has fittingly been convicted for his crimes in a courthouse that stands in the shadow of one of his potential targets.”

Hizballah is a Lebanon-based Shia Islamic organization with political, social, and terrorist components that was founded in the 1980s with support from Iran.  Since Hizballah’s formation, the organization has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including United States citizens and military personnel.  In 1997, the U.S. Department of State designated Hizballah a Foreign Terrorist Organization, pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and it remains so designated today.  In 2010, State Department officials described Hizballah as the most technically capable terrorist group in the world, and a continued security threat to the United States.

The Islamic Jihad Organization (“IJO”), which is also known as the External Security Organization and “910,” is a highly compartmentalized component of Hizballah responsible for the planning, preparation, and execution of intelligence, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of Hizballah outside of Lebanon.  In July 2012, an IJO operative detonated explosives on a bus transporting Israeli tourists in the vicinity of an airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, killing six people and injuring 32 others.  Law enforcement authorities have disrupted several other IJO attack-planning operations around the world, including the arrest of an IJO operative surveilling Israeli targets in Cyprus in 2012, the seizure of bomb-making precursor chemicals in Thailand in 2012, including chemicals manufactured by a medical devices company based in Guangzhou, China (“Guangzhou Company-1”), and a similar seizure of chemicals manufactured by Guangzhou Company-1 in Cyprus in May 2015 in connection with the arrest of another IJO operative.

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