An illegal alien from Lebanon, who snuck into the United States from Mexico, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Michigan for allegedly providing material support to the Hizballah terrorist group, a federal prosecutor announced this week.
“Mahmoud Kourani is charged with conspiring with his brother, the Hizballah Chief of Military Security for Southern Lebanon and other unnamed co-conspirators, to provide material support to Hizballah,” said a statement issued by the office of Jeffrey G. Collins, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“Kourani was a member, fighter, recruiter and fundraiser for Hizballah who operated both in Lebanon and later within the United States,” said the statement. “Kourani entered the country illegally across the U.S./Mexican border.”
The statement by the U.S. attorney’s office described Hizballah as “a worldwide terrorist network which has conducted numerous high profile terrorist attacks in the name of Islamic fundamentalism, including the murder of U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel William R. Higgins while serving in Lebanon as a United Nations Peace Keeper.”
“Material support is defined under the law as including ‘currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets’ not including medicine or religious materials,” the statement explained.
“This is another ploy by the government to attack a vulnerable community after 9/11,” Nabih Ayad, Kourani’s attorney, told the Free Press after his client pleaded not guilty in a federal court. Ayad also told the paper there was “no shred of evidence” that his client had ties to Hizballah. “They’re going after someone because of his blood relations,” Ayad told the paper. “That’s unconstitutional. It’s guilt by association.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Willie T. Hulon was quoted in the statement issued by the U.S. attorney’s office. “The primary focus of the FBI is the prevention of future terrorist attacks,” he said. “This investigation is an example of our continued efforts to aggressively investigate individuals who provide material support to terrorist organizations.”
The Free Press quoted from the indictment: “Kourani was a dedicated member of Hizballah who received specialized training in radical Shi’ite fundamentalism, weaponry, spy craft and counterintelligence in Lebanon and Iran. . . . He also recruited others within Lebanon to become members of Hizballah overseeing their applications and detailed background checks. Among other duties, Kourani held the position of fund-raising soliciter for Hizballah in the vicinity of Tyre, Lebanon.”
“Kourani has been in custody since May 3, when he was arrested for harboring an illegal immigrant,” the paper reported. “He was sentenced to 6 months in jail in that case and was set to be released Dec. 31. A federal immigration judge also ordered him deported. Ayad said the fact that the government waited so long to charge Kourani with a terrorism-related crime proves it has no case against him. . . . The indictment in the earlier case said Kourani concealed a man identified as Ghaleb Youssef Kdouh at his home in Dearborn for two months in 2003. Kourani said the man was his cousin. Prosecutors said the house-sharing arrangement was part of a continuing scheme to smuggle illegal immigrants from Lebanon to the United States through Mexico.”