Michigan man charged for allegedly scouting for Hezbollah

DEARBORN, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan man is among two people charged with scouting possible targets for terrorist attacks by Hezbollah, according to court documents obtained by NBC News.

Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn and 32-year-old Ali Kourani or New York were arrested last week on weapons-related charges, providing support for a terrorist organization and receiving military training from a terrorist organization, according to U.S. District Court records unsealed Thursday.

In the charging documents, the FBI said el Debek, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, traveled to Panama to pinpoint possible security vulnerabilities at the U.S. and Israeli embassies, as well as the Panama Canal.

Kourani, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Lebanon, surveilled potential military and intelligence targets in New York, looking for security vulnerabilities, the FBI said.

The agency said no specific plot was underway.

According to the FBI, el Debek joined Hezbollah in 2008 and frequently traveled to Lebanon to learn how to make bombs, something in which the court papers say he is “highly skilled.”

El Debek told investigators that one of his relatives was responsible for a 2012 bus station bombing in Bulgaria, which killed six people and injured dozens of others, court records indicate.

The FBI says Kourani began attending Hezbollah training programs at the age of 16. The agency says Kourani was a member of the Islamic Jihad Organization – another name for Hezbollah, according to the federal government.

Both man face up to life in prison if convicted.


The original version of this story was first posted on NBC News’ website.