The US Department of Justice confirmed Thursday that two men were arrested for planning attacks against Israeli and US targets in Panama. The arrests took place on June 1. Ali Kourani was arrested in the Bronx, while Samer El Debek was arrested in Michigan. Both men were arrested for "providing, attempting, and conspiring to provide material support to Hezbollah; and receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from Hezbollah." Both were also arrested for a related weapons offense, which involved explosives, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns.
Kourani and El Debek are both alleged to have been recruited to train and support the Islamic Jihad Organization, a part of Hezbollah.
Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon H. Kim said, "At the direction of his Hezbollah handlers, El Debek allegedly conducted missions in Panama to locate the US and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal. Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City. Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the allegedly destructive designs of these two Hezbollah operatives have been thwarted, and they will now face justice in a Manhattan federal court.”Hezbollah is listed as terrorist organization by the United States and Israel.