Two men arrested for terrorist activities in Panama
Ali Kourani, 32, from New York, and Samer el Debek, 37, from Michigan, were arrested on Thursday, June 1, on charges related to their alleged activities on behalf of Hizballah, in Panama.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice, El Debek allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal. Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kim said: “Today, we announce serious terrorism charges against two men who allegedly trained with and supported the Islamic Jihad Organization, a component of the foreign terrorist organization Hizballah. Recruited as Hizballah operatives, Samer El Debek and Ali Kourani allegedly received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in support of the group’s terrorist mission.”
Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney Jr. said: “The charges announced today reveal once again that the New York City region remains a focus of many adversaries, demonstrated as alleged in this instance by followers of a sophisticated and determined organization with a long history of coordinating violent activities on behalf of Hizballah.”
Commissioner O’Neill said: “As part of his work for Hezbollah, Kourani and others allegedly conducted covert surveillance of potential targets, including U.S. military bases and Israeli military personnel here in New York City. Pre-operational surveillance is one of the hallmarks of Hezbollah in planning for future attacks. As alleged, Kourani, on at least two occasions, received sophisticated military training overseas, including the use of a rocket-propelled grenade. In addition, El Debek is charged in an unrelated complaint, for allegedly possessing extensive bomb-making training received from Hezbollah. Today’s charges of two for their work on behalf of Hezbollah is a tribute to the collaborative work of the agents and detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”