The official figured that Kourani and a second sleeper agent named Samer El Debek had almost certainly been replaced after they were arrested on the same day in different cities in 2017. The third, Alexei Saab, who was arrested in July of 2019, had already been in place for years but was unaware of the other two.

“There could be sleeper cells all over the place,” the official said.

And they are presumably under orders, just as Kourani was in the Bronx, El Debek was in Dearborn, Michigan, and Saab was in Morristown, New Jersey. The three were instructed to be as innocuous as the spam email they would receive carrying a one-word coded command from Hezbollah and its ally or front, the Islamic Jihad Organization or IJO.

“These sleepers were tasked to maintain ostensibly normal lives,” the FBI says in court papers. “But could be activated and tasked with conducting IJO operations.”