Now that the Islamic State (ISIS) is in disarray and all but eliminated, it might be tempting for the US to be lulled into a false sense of security. As the nation is focused on the issue of racial violence, the threat of radical Islamic terror seems to be all but completely forgotten. But a recent report reveals that radical extremists are still intent on targeting the United States.
The next radical Islamic threat may not come from a group like ISIS. Instead, it appears that one of the oldest players in the world of extremism is readying itself to face the United States. Hezbollah, an Iran-backed terrorist group, seems to be gearing up for a jihad against America.
A grand jury recently charged a New Jersey man with being an operative for Hezbollah, an Iranian terrorist organization that is primarily active in Lebanon. The group has a long history of carrying out terror attacks against Israel and fought a bloody war with the Jewish state in 2006.
The authorities are alleging that Alexei Saab, a 42-year-old naturalized citizen from Lebanon, was scouting for potential sites for terrorist attacks. These targets included the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations headquarters, the Empire State Building, and several other sensitive locations.
According to federal authorities, Saab met with a Hezbollah handler while visiting Lebanon in 2003. The operative asked Saab to prepare a guide to New York City, focusing on “the structural weaknesses of locations … to determine how a future attack could cause the most destruction.”
The Justice Department alleged that Saab studied each site and took photographs for the terrorist organization. He later traveled back to Lebanon and wrote a report about each location. The complaint filed by the Justice Department claims that “Saab understood that the information he provided to the IJO would be used to calculate the size of a bomb needed to target a particular structure and the ideal location in which to place explosive devices to maximize damage.”
As stated previously, Saab is only the latest American to be charged with being a Hezbollah agent. In 2014, Ali Kourani was arrested for similar activities. He was accused of scouting out Israelis in New York as well as finding individuals who could supply the group with weapons.
This arrest revealed the existence of several cells planted by the terrorist group in the US. Previously, the intelligence community believed that Hezbollah was unlikely to go after targets on US soil unless Washington took military action against Iran. But now, it seems that the organization might be less predictable than we previously thought.
Hezbollah was once known to have been active in South America. But it’s now evident they’ve set their sights on the United States and Canada. While they have yet to attempt an attack on American soil, these recent arrests show that the group has set up operations in the country.
While ISIS has been seen as the principal radical extremist threat to the west, Hezbollah presents a different type of enemy, one whose operations could drastically raise the stakes. ISIS acted on its own with no country overtly supporting its efforts. But this is not the case with Hezbollah, which has operated as Tehran’s paramilitary arm in other nations. A confrontation with this organization could escalate into a conflict with Iran.
The authorities have not discussed the extent of the group’s presence in the United States. Some of their activities may not involve deadly attacks. Hezbollah’s cells are also intended to raise funds through human trafficking and the illegal drug industry. But with its ties to Iran, the group could present a more sophisticated threat than other terrorist organizations.
This article was originally published in Liberty Nation.
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