Hezbollah plays a long game — inserting trained operatives into foreign countries long before they are needed for an attack. Hiding in plain sight, they collect target intelligence, stockpile explosives and train for the day they are called to act. In 2012, Hezbollah used covert agents to execute attacks in Bulgaria, Thailand, India and the Republic of Georgia. That same year, police disrupted additional plots and seized explosive materials from Hezbollah operatives in Cyprus, Thailand, Azerbaijan and Nigeria. In 2014, Hezbollah operatives were arrested while planning attacks in Bangkok and Peru. In 2015, British authorities discovered thousands of pounds of ammonium nitrate — a key explosive element recovered from ice packs — hidden in four London locations by a suspected Hezbollah member.
Could Hezbollah do this in the United States? We know they can because they already did. In 2017, Ali Kourani and Samer El Debek were arrested in New York and Michigan respectively, and charged with numerous offenses committed while working as agents for Hezbollah. Both were recruited and sent to the United States by Hezbollah’s External Security Organization (ESO); both were trained to use weapons and explosives. Over the course of 15 years in the United States, Kourani collected targeting intelligence on military installations, sought out weapons suppliers for the ESO and corresponded with his Hezbollah handlers through coded messages. An expert bomb maker, Debek lived in the United States while he conducted operations overseas — including cleaning up a Hezbollah bomb factory in Thailand to avoid detection by local authorities. Trained, professional terrorists living and working right under our noses.