New Jersey man indicted on charges of supporting Hezbollah

42-year-old allegedly surveilled dozens of iconic New York City locations and provided Hezbollah with detailed information about them.

Elad Benari ,

Times Square
Times Square
Flash 90

A New Jersey man was indicted Thursday on charges he supported the Hezbollah terrorist organization by scouting possible targets for an attack, ABC 7 New York reported.

Police said Alexei Saab, of Morristown, has been indicted in federal court for scouting locations in the city and sending information back to Lebanon.

Saab was arrested on July 9 but the case was recently unsealed, according to ABC 7.

Officials said while living in the United States, Saab surveilled dozens of iconic New York City locations, including the United Nations headquarters, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and local airports, tunnels, and bridges --- and provided detailed information on these locations, including photographs, to the Islamic Jihad Organization, a component of Hezbollah.

"In particular, Saab focused on the structural weaknesses of locations he surveilled in order to determine how a future attack could cause the most destruction. Saab's reporting to the IJO included the materials used to construct a particular target, how close in proximity one could get to a target, and site weaknesses or 'soft spots' that the IJO could exploit if it attacked a target in the future," court records said.

Saab joined Hezbollah in 1996, according to the documents, and received extensive training in weapons and military tactics, including how to construct and detonate bombs.

Saab entered the United States legally in 2000 and applied for citizenship in 2005. He became a naturalized citizen three years later.

He also conducted similar scouting operations in Washington and Boston, among other cities, according to the report.

Saab, 42, is charged with providing material support to a terror organization among other offenses.

Hezbollah is a designated terrorist organization in the US and has been sanctioned several times by the administration in recent years.

In July, the US Treasury placed two Hezbollah members of Lebanon's parliament on its sanctions blacklist, marking the first time Washington has taken aim at the Iran-allied group's elected politicians.

Since 2013, American prosecutors have charged hundreds of radicalized individuals, mostly with crimes related to support for the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.

In July, two refugees from Somalia were arrested in Arizona and accused of providing material support to ISIS.

In June, a man was arrested after he discussed purchasing explosives with the intention of detonating them in New York's Times Square.

In April, a US Army veteran was arrested for allegedly plotting a large-scale terror attack near Los Angeles.

Earlier that month, a Maryland man was charged with stealing a rental truck that he wanted to use to kill pedestrians at National Harbor in Maryland, in an attack similar to the 2016 truck terror attack in Nice, France.