Suspected Hezbollah agent on trial in New York

The FBI is accusing Alexei Saab of scoping out potential bombing targets in the U.S. for years, including bridges, tunnels and airports.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An alleged Hezbollah operative is currently on trial in New York, accused of having scoped out potential bombing targets in the U.S. for years in case the terrorist organization decides to retaliate for any attack on Iran.

Alexei Saab, 45, moved from Lebanon to the U.S. in 2000 and later obtained American citizenship. The prosecution says that he came deliberately to work undercover as an agent for Hezbollah while holding a day job as an ordinary software engineer.

His “real” work was to look for places in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. that could be blown up by his terrorist colleagues, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Adelsberg. These included landmarks like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center in New York, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels that link New Jersey to Manhattan, and major bridges and airports.

Adelsberg told the jury that Saab researched “details like how buildings were constructed. How close one could get to a building to plant a bomb as part of an attack. And whether these buildings or landmarks had weaknesses or soft spots Hezbollah could exploit.”

At the time of his arrest in July 2019, NBC quoted FBI sources who said that Saab had “attended terror training overseas in Lebanon” before entering the U.S. The Morristown, N.J. resident had “trained in firearms, military tactics, and how to make bombs,” the report said.

The report showed pictures of New York bridges, the Capitol and other places he had allegedly photographed as far back as 2003 and sent to his handlers in Lebanon.

The FBI believes Saab has been part of Hezbollah since 1996. His lawyer says he cut off ties with the organization in 2005.

Saab is being charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy, receiving military training from a foreign terrorist organization, unlawful obtaining of U.S. citizenship to carry out terrorist acts, and citizenship application fraud.

The last charge refers to Saab allegedly denying on his application that he belonged to a terrorist organization. Adelsberg said in court that Saab had also tried to fire at close range at someone he believed was spying for Israel but his gun jammed. Attempted murder was not included among the charges.

Held without bail since his arrest, if convicted on all charges, Saab may spend the rest of his life in prison.