NJ Man Accused Of Scouting Potential Terror Targets In NYC For Hezbollah

Marta Zielinska
September 19, 2019 - 3:55 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) A New Jersey man is accused of scouting potential terror attack targets in New York City for Hezbollah.

Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, has been indicted on several terror-related charges, including providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as well as unrelated marriage-fraud offenses.

Federal officials say he has been a member of Hezbollah since 1996. In later years, he allegedly trained with the group learning to use an AK-47 and grenades. Prosecutors say he then learned how to make bombs and triggering mechanisms.

In 2000, he lawfully came to the U.S. using a Lebanese passport and became a naturalized citizen eight years later after lying on his application, claiming he had never been “a member of or in any way associated with . . . a terrorist organization.” 

Federal prosecutors say Saab surveilled dozens of locations in New York City — including the United Nations headquarters, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Empire State Building and the George Washington Bridge.

He's also accused of scouting locations in Boston and Washington, D.C., including Fenway Park and the Washington Monument.

A criminal complaint alleges he sent photos as well as detailed information about the structures' potential weak spots back to leaders of the terror group in Lebanon "to determine how a future attack could cause the most destruction."

Prosecutors say the information included the materials used to construct a particular target, how close in proximity one could get to a target and site weaknesses or “soft spots” that the Hezbollah could exploit if it attacked a target in the future. 

“Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hezballah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. "Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”

The Justice Department says Saab has been in custody since July.