June 18, 2017
The charges recently brought against two US citizens for allegedly assisting the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah should prompt increased vigilance at American Jewish institutions, an international security consultant and political risk analyst told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
“We have great law enforcement and intelligence gathering in this country, but the assistance of the Jewish community is critical,” the New York-based Dr. Joshua Gleis, who has worked with several Jewish organizations, said.
Two men were arrested by American authorities on June 1 and later charged with helping Hezbollah to plan and execute attacks in the US and Panama. Prosecutors said Hezbollah recruited the men — Ali Kourani from the Bronx, New York and Samer El Debek of Dearborn, Michigan — as “operatives” and provided them with “military-style training.”
Kourani is suspected of conducting “preoperational surveillance” of military and law-enforcement sites around New York, as well as at JFK Airport in Queens.
Gleis said that terrorists were particularly vulnerable when scouting out a target ahead of an attack. “More sophisticated groups like Hezbollah do the necessary surveillance, and that’s a critical time to be able to identify and catch them,” Gleiss said. “Once they know they’ve been identified, they’re less likely to go for that target and more likely to get caught.”
“When you have institutions that are actively involved in looking for those kinds of activities, you can deter and prevent attacks,” Gleis said.
Hezbollah cells are active in Latin America, where they raise funds through weapons and narcotics deals. As a proxy of Iran, Hezbollah carried out two major terrorist attacks in the region during the 1990s, bombing the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital in 1994.