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DOJ: Trained Lebanese Hezbollah operative given citizenship while surveilling targets in NY, Boston, DC

Sending our military to rebuild Afghanistan while bringing in record numbers of unvetted immigrants from similar Islamic countries is a maniacal betrayal of the lesson of 9/11. Case in point: Alexei Saab.

Yesterday, the Justice Department announced the indictment of Alexei Saab, a Lebanese immigrant living in Morristown, New Jersey, on multiple terrorism-related charges and naturalization fraud. He is accused of surveilling and scouting iconic landmarks and transportation hubs in Washington, Boston, and New York City last decade for Hezbollah. The complaint alleges that he trained with Hezbollah in Lebanon in military tactics, firearms, and bomb-making at the highest levels before and after he came to America.

“In particular, SAAB focused on the structural weaknesses of locations he surveilled in order to determine how a future attack could cause the most destruction,” wrote the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. “SAAB’s reporting to the IJO 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 IJO could exploit if it attacked a target in the future.”

Saab was arrested on July 9, but the formal complaint from the FBI wasn’t unsealed until yesterday.

According to the 33-page complaint, Saab trained with Hezbollah from 1996 to 2000 and conducted missions inside Lebanon that included fighting against Israelis. Then in 2000, the same year he came to America on an unspecified visa category, he was upgraded to the “Islamic Jihad Organization,” which is commonly referred to as “Unit 910.” That is the unit responsible for intelligence and counterintelligence operations outside Lebanon, as well as planning attacks on Western targets. In other words, he likely came here specifically for this purpose.

How he was given a visa is beyond understanding, but at least we can chalk that up to being pre-9/11. But the bigger question is how none of his 10 reported trips back to Lebanon working with Hezbollah were scrutinized during the vetting when he applied for naturalization between 2005 and 2008.

Saab came in on a visa on November 10, 2000, applied for naturalization on December 6, 2005, and became a naturalized citizen on August 26, 2008. It was a very efficient use of his time here, naturalizing at the first possible moment. It is a known hallmark of Unit 910 to use people who could access our immigration system easily, often those with relatives here who are brought in on family visa (chain migration) categories.

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