What to Know
A man convicted of providing material support to Hezbollah by scouting NYC spots for terrorist attacks has been sentenced to 40 years
Ali Kourani was accused of spending years conducting surveillance at federal buildings, airports and even daycare centers
Kourani specifically conducted surveillance of potential military and law enforcement facilities in NYC, feds say
A New Yorker convicted of providing material support to Hezbollah by seeking targets in New York City for terrorist attacks has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Ali Kourani was sentenced Tuesday in Manhattan federal court by Judge Alvin Hellerstein.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a release that Kourani spent years conducting surveillance at federal buildings, airports and even daycare centers. No specific plot was underway, but Kourani allegedly scouted the targets to assess their vulnerabilities, including LaGuardia Airport and FBI headquarters in New York.
Kourani, born in Lebanon where he also later received weapons and bomb-making training, was convicted at a May trial. He could have faced life in prison.
Authorities say Kourani came to the U.S. legally in 2003. They say he earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in 2009 and a master's degree in business administration in 2013.
Kourani attended Hezbollah-sponsored weapons training program starting at age 16, and lied on his immigration application, stating he had no ties to any foreign terrorist organization, the FBI said before his trial. He allegedly joined Hezbollah in 2008 before becoming a naturalized citizen in 2009.
Prosecutors say Kourani was recruited by the terrorist group after a family residence was destroyed in 2006. Hezbollah is a Shia organization in Lebanon founded in the 1980s after Israel’s invasion there. With support from Iran, the group has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks — some which killed Americans.
Prosecutors said Kourani was an active member of the Islamic Jihad Organization – a branch associated with Hezbollah and had traveled to China Guangzhou where Hizballah in the past had been known to obtain bomb making materials for the group. They said he also sought to buy weapons in the U.S. to send to the group.