A Hezbollah terrorist sleeper agent with family in Canada, says his family name is akin to being the “Bin Ladens of Lebanon”

By Christine Duhaime | January 5th, 2020

It seems that some of the “Bin Ladens of Lebanon” are living in Canada.

Let’s go back a month ago to December 3, 2019. On that day, a man named Ali Kourani was sentenced to 40 years in prison in New York for terrorism-related activities. Kourani is deeply connected to the highest ranks of the Hezbollah, and hence to the Iranian regime. Not only is his family the Bin Ladens of Lebanon, as he himself said, but his brother is “the face of the Hezbollah” in southern Lebanon.

Ali Kourani was a sleeper agent for the Hezbollah’s foreign nation unit, called the Islamic Jihad Organization (“IJO“) or “Unit 910”, tasked with procuring weapons and gathering intel in foreign countries on potential targets for Hezbollah terrorist attacks. The IJO is operated by Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, who reports directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran.

When he joined the IJO, Kourani knew that Nasrallah had a direct pipeline to the leader of Iran. He told the FBI that, and more, including that he knew the IJO did “black ops” for Iran.

Kourani was born in Lebanon. When he was 16, he attended a Hezbollah-sponsored military training camp in Lebanon. He was allowed to attend a Hezbollah military camp, he told the FBI, because being related to Haider Kourani, the Hezbollah’s Chief of Military Security for southern Lebanon, opened doors for him.

At the camp, he was trained to use and fire weapons that included rocket propelled grenade launchers, AK-47 assault rifles, an MP5 submachine gun and a PKS machine gun (a Russian-made belt-fed weapon).

In 2003, he visited the US to attend university and graduated with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and later, an MBA.

In 2008, he returned to Lebanon and during that trip, was personally recruited into the IJO unit by Sheikh Hussein Kourani. Sheikh Kourani was a significant person in Lebanon and Iran, considered to be one of the key figures in the founding of Hezbollah and although Lebanese, was buried in the holy city of Qom, Iran, after his death in September 2019.

When he joined the IJO, Kourani was set up with a handler in charge of assigning missions to him and to debrief him. Kourani communicated with his Hezbollah handler using coded emails. In Lebanon, his relatives acted as his contact point to connect with the Hezbollah for meetings.  

One of the IJO’s first instructions to Kourani was to apply for US citizenship and become a dual national. Dual nationality allows operatives to avoid travel scrutiny. Kourani was also instructed to obtain a US passport card so that if his passport was seized, he could switch to his other nationality passport to enter Canada to then enter the US by land using his passport card.

In 2008, Kourani did as instructed by the Hezbollah and applied for US naturalization. In his immigration application, he made material false statements that neither he nor his family were associated with a terrorist organization, and further than he had not participated in military training with a terrorist group. In 2009, he was issued a US passport.

From 2008 until 2015, Kourani was with the IJO as an operative in the US. During that time, he assisted the Hezbollah with surveillance and gathering intel to prepare for potential future attacks against the US. Some of the targets Kourani surveilled included JFK Airport and law enforcement facilities in New York City, including the Federal Plaza in Manhattan.

He also: (a) searched for suppliers in the US who could provide weapons to the Hezbollah; (b) identified individuals affiliated with the Israeli Defence Force that the Hezbollah could recruit or target for violence; (c) gathered information on security at airports in the US; and (d) sought to develop relationships in China to buy ammonium nitrate to be used as an explosive precursor chemical.

Kourani’s handler was responsible for Hezbollah undercover operatives in Canada and the US.

Kourani was charged and convicted of several offences including providing material support to a terrorist organization, receiving military training from a terrorist organization, conspiracy to possess, carry, and use firearms and destructive devices in relation to crimes of violence, and making and receiving funds to and from Hezbollah.

Now back to December 3, 2019.

That was the day Kourani was being sentenced in New York.

At his sentencing hearing, Justice Hellerstein asked Kourani several questions including why he had taken photos of the Fort Washington Armory beside a major hospital in Manhattan. His lawyer replied that he took the photos because the Hezbollah wanted to be ready with a response if the US attacked Iran.

Why Iran wishes to target a major hospital in Manhattan (the Columbia University Irving Medical Center), and how, was never asked of Kourani or answered but what seems clear from the reply, was the key role Hezbollah dual national operatives play in western countries to supply information to Iranian intelligence in preparation of the furtherance of harming other countries.

Kourani’s lawyer had one final request for Justice Hellerstein – to place him in a federal prison in upstate New York to serve his time. Why? Because he has a wife and two children who are Canadian citizens and live in Canada.

As to Kourani’s request to serve his sentence in northern New York, close to his children in Canada – Justice Hellerstein said no.

How the family known to be the Bin Ladens of Lebanon, or part thereof, with deep connections to the Hezbollah and to the Supreme Leader in Iran, came to acquire Canadian citizenship from Lebanon, or to be able to retain it, is unknown.

As for Haider Kourani, the man whose name opened doors for Ali Kourani to attend a Hezbollah military training camp when he was 16? He has a brother named Mahmoud Youssef Kourani who was also convicted of terrorism related offences in the US and was sentenced to 4.5 years in jail for transferring funds to Haider Kourani for the Hezbollah.

You can read more here from Matthew Levitt, a terrorism expert, on the activities of the Hezbollah agents in the US and Canada, including on another Kourani brother convicted of terrorism who is part of Hezbollah, and of Nemr Ali Rahal, a Hezbollah operative, who entered the US from Canada with military-grade explosives residue on his passport.

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