A New Jersey man has spent the past 22 years training with and scouting terror-attack locations for Hezbollah — and provided the group with intelligence on the Port Authority, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Stock Exchange and the city’s two airports, according to a new federal indictment against him.
Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown — also known as Ali Hassan Saab, Alex Saab, or “Rachid” — was charged Thursday in a nine-count indictment for allegedly providing material support to the deadly organization.
Saab was arrested in July, and remains in federal custody, officials said.
As far back as in 2003, he gave Hezbollah photos and other detailed intel on New York City landmarks and transportation hubs.
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, the federal offices at 26 Federal Plaza, and local airports, tunnels, and bridges, including the George Washington Bridge.
The detailed information recovered from his computers included photographs and details on the structural weaknesses — or “soft spots” — of these locations, officials alleged.
He has also surveilled sites in cities around the US — including the Washington Monument and Boston’s Fenway Park, The Post has learned.
The charges do not allege that Saab conducted any recent surveillance.
“According to the allegations, while living in the United States, Saab served as an operative of Hezbollah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a press statement.
“Such covert activities conducted on U.S. 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.”
Saab joined Hezbollah in 1996, and his earliest activities with the group include spying in Lebanon on the movements of Israeli and Southern Lebanese Army soldiers, and intelligence-gathering in Istanbul, the indictment alleges.
He trained in the use of firearms, including AK-47s, and in 2000 he received extensive training in military tactics, including how to construct bombs and other explosive devices, the indictment alleges.
In 2005, Saab attempted to murder a suspected Israeli spy, pointing a firearm at close range and twice pulling the trigger, only to have the gun malfunction both times, officials said.
In 2004 and 2005, Saab attended explosives training in Lebanon during which he received detailed instruction in, among other things, triggering mechanisms, explosive substances, detonators and the assembly of circuits, the indictment alleges.
In 2000, Saab lawfully entered the United States using a Lebanese passport, and he became a naturalized US citizen in 2008, the indictment alleges.
His former neighbors in Jersey City were stunned by the news.
“He was a nice guy, but quiet, private,” said a neighbor who lives across from Saab’s former rental apartment on the top floor of a two-story house. She asked not to be identified by name.
“He said hi to me and my baby.”
Source: New York Post