Posted tagged ‘Department of Justice’

Analysis: 2 US cases provide unique window into Iran’s global terror network

June 23, 2017

Analysis: 2 US cases provide unique window into Iran’s global terror network, Long War Journal, June 23, 2017

On June 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made an announcement that deserves more attention. Two alleged Hizballah operatives had been arrested inside the United States after carrying out various missions on behalf of the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization. The plots took the men around the globe, from Thailand to Panama and even into the heart of New York City.

Both men are naturalized U.S. citizens. And they are both accused of performing surveillance on prospective targets for Hizballah’s highly secretive external operations wing, known as the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO).

Ali Kourani, a 32-year-old who was living in the Bronx, New York (pictured on the right*), allegedly gathered “information regarding operations and security at airports in the U.S. and elsewhere,” while also “surveilling U.S. military and law enforcement facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn.” Hizballah asked Kourani to identify “individuals affiliated with the Israeli Defense Force” inside the U.S. and locate “weapons suppliers in the U.S. who could provide firearms to support IJO operations” as well. Kourani allegedly conducted all of these missions on behalf of his IJO “handler,” who was safely ensconced back home in Lebanon.

Samer el Debek, a 37-year-old resident of Dearborn, Michigan, is charged with “casing security procedures at the Panama Canal and the Israeli Embassy” in Panama, identifying “areas of weakness and construction at the Panama Canal,” and determining for Hizballah “how close someone could get to a ship passing through the Canal.” His “IJO handlers” also “asked him for photographs of the U.S. Embassy” in Panama, as well as “details” concerning its “security procedures.” (El Debek told authorities he did not provide Hizballah with the information requested on the American embassy.)

The charges brought against Kourani and El Debek have not been proven in a court of law. They remain allegations that have yet to be weighed by the criminal justice system. Still, the legal filings in both cases provide a unique window into how the FBI and the U.S. government are tracking Hizballah’s international terror network, including inside America.

Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization first gained infamy in the 1980s, when it orchestrated various attacks on Americans and Europeans in Lebanon and elsewhere. In some ways, the IJO could be credited with launching the modern jihadist war against the U.S., pioneering the use of near-simultaneous suicide bombings. Such tactics would later be adopted by Sunni jihadists, including al Qaeda, with devastating effects.

The IJO has avoided public scrutiny at times. The public’s attention has been mainly focused on the Islamic State of late. This is understandable as the so-called caliphate inspires, directs and guides terrorist operations around the globe.

But the U.S. government’s recent filings, including the sworn affidavits of two FBI agents responsible for tracking Hizballah, make it clear that the IJO continues to manage a sophisticated, clandestine web of operatives who are trained to carry out Iran’s bidding.

The IJO uses multiple aliases, including “External Security Organization” and “910.” The government describes it as a “component of Hizballah responsible for the planning and coordination of intelligence, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of” the terror group “outside of Lebanon.” The IJO’s “operatives” are usually “assigned a Lebanon-based ‘handler,’ sometimes referred to as a mentor,” and this person is “responsible for providing taskings, debriefing operatives, and arranging training.”

The IJO often compartmentalizes its operations, conducting them “in stages” and “sending waves of one or more operatives with separate taskings such as surveillance, obtaining and storing necessary components and equipment, and attack execution.” Indeed, the government explains that the IJO’s handlers keep the procurement of ammonium nitrate-based products used for bomb-making separate from other terror-related tasks so as to avoid generating additional scrutiny.

Neither Kourani, nor El Debek is accused of conspiring to commit an imminent attack. But US officials think their work was part of longer-term planning.

“Pre-operational surveillance is one of the hallmarks of [Hizballah] in planning for future attacks,” Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the New York Police Department (NYPD) explained in a statement.

The surveillance performed in New York City was done “in support of anticipated IJO terrorist attacks,” according to the complaint against Kourani.

Reading through the extensive legal paperwork, totaling dozens of pages, one is left to wonder who else Hizballah may have stationed here inside the U.S. as part of its patient plotting.

The sections that follow below are based on the U.S. government’s complaints and affidavits. In many cases, these same filings say the details cited were originally provided, in whole or in part, by Kourani and El Debek themselves during interviews with the FBI.

Kourani allegedly admitted he was an IJO “sleeper” operative

Ali Kourani (also known as “Jacob Lewis” and “Daniel”) was born near Bint Jbeil, Lebanon in 1984 and relocated to the U.S. as a young man in 2003. He went on to receive “a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering in 2009” and a MBA in 2013.

Kourani sat for “multiple voluntary interviews” with the FBI in 2016 and 2017, and much of the evidence cited in the complaint against him is sourced to his own admissions during these sessions. At one point, he apparently said he hoped to exchange information for “financial support and immigration benefits for certain” relatives, but the FBI says it didn’t agree to this quid pro quo proposal.

Kourani allegedly compared his family to the “Bin Ladens of Lebanon,” describing one brother as the “face of Hizballah” in one area of Lebanon. He was first trained at a 45-day Hizballah “boot camp” in the year 2000. He was just 16 years old at the time, but claimed that his “family’s connections to a high-ranking Hizballah official named Haider Kourani” allowed him to attend the camp. Kourani was allegedly “taught to fire AK-47 assault rifles and rocket launchers, as well as basic military tactics.”

His “family’s home was destroyed by an Israeli bombing” during the 2006 Lebanon War. Approximately two years later, according to Kourani, he was “recruited by” Hizballah’s Sheikh Hussein Kourani to serve in the IJO.

Kourani described the IJO as being responsible for “black ops” carried out by Hizballah and “the Iranians.” Kourani also explained that the IJO is “operated” by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who reports “directly to Ali Khamenei,” the Iranian Supreme Leader.

Kourani told the FBI that he was “recruited to join the IJO in light of his education and residence in the United States.” But there was another sinister motive for Hizballah’s interest in him. The IJO was developing a network of “sleepers” who “maintained ostensibly normal lies but could be activated and tasked with conducting IJO operations,” Kourani purportedly said.

Indeed, Kourani “identified himself” as one of these IJO “sleeper” operatives, “working undercover in the United States” and covertly “conducting IJO intelligence-gathering and surveillance missions” given to him by his handlers in Lebanon.

Kourani identified one IJO handler as “Fadi” (also known as “Hajj”) and explained the elaborate security protocols Hizballah took. In addition to be questioned about his own background, Kourani was trained on “conducting interrogations, resisting interrogations, and surveillance techniques.”

Fadi “typically wore a mask during their meetings,” explaining that the IJO’s “golden rule” is “the less you know the better it is.” Fadi “acted as” Kourani’s handler until about Sept. 2015, when Kourani claims he “was deactivated by the IJO.”

Fadi told Kourani to obtain a U.S. citizenship, a passport and related documents, thereby making it easier for him to travel around the world on behalf of Hizballah. The IJO’s man also instructed Kourani on how they could communicate securely, using code words and other basic tradecraft.

IJO surveillance in New York City, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport

The most striking allegations against Kourani involve his surveillance of potential targets in New York City on behalf of Hizballah.

Fadi “directed” Kourani to “surveil and collect information regarding military and intelligence targets in the New York City area,” the FBI found. Kourani then “conducted physical surveillance” on three locations in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn. The buildings he surveilled include: “a U.S. government facility, which includes FBI offices”; a “U.S. Army National Guard facility”; a “U.S. Secret Service facility”; and a “U.S. Army Armory facility.” Kourani transferred his video surveillance on “at least one” of these targets to “Fadi and other IJO personnel in Lebanon.”

According to the complaint, Fadi had Kourani surveil airports in the New York area. “In response,” Kourani “provided detailed information to Fadi regarding specific security protocols; baggage-screening and collection practices; and the locations of surveillance cameras, security personnel, law enforcement officers, and magnetometers at JFK and an international airport in another country.”

Fadi tasked Kourani with other missions as well. He told Kourani to “obtain surveillance equipment in the United States” – including “drones, night-vision goggles, and high-powered cameras” – “so that the underlying technology could be studied and replicated by the IJO.” He also had Kourani “cultivate contacts” who “could provide firearms for use in potential future IJO operations in the United States” (Fadi allegedly deemed these contacts unsuitable for arms purchases), while also collecting “intelligence regarding individuals…affiliated with the” Israeli Defense Forces.

El Debek’s alleged admissions during interviews with the FBI

As with Kourani, the FBI’s case against Samer el Debek is based in no small part on his interviews with the Bureau. El Debek was interviewed “in person a total of five times between” Sept. 8, 2016 and May 23, 2017, as well as “by phone on a number of occasions.” His testimony was supplemented with evidence culled from his social media, emails and travel documents.

According to the complaint in his case, El Debek allegedly admitted that: he was “first recruited by Hizballah in late 2007 or 2008” and eventually received a salary of $1,000 per month plus “medical expenses”; he “received military training from Hizballah in Lebanon,” including how to use assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and other weapons; he “was trained on at least four occasions between 2009 and 2013 in surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques”; he “attended Hizballah religious training,” during which “a sheikh taught religious rules and topics including martyrdom ideology”; he was trained on the “handling of explosives and the creation of explosive devices,” including landmines, improvised explosive devices and how to remotely detonate such bombs; and he was “taught how specifically to target people and buildings.”

An FBI Special Agent Bomb Technician discussed the “bomb-making techniques” Hizballah imparted to El Debek and found that he “had a high degree of technical sophistication in this area.”

Indirect ties to Iran’s worldwide terror campaign in 2012

Several of the allegations against Kourani and El Debek connect them – albeit indirectly – to an IJO network responsible for orchestrating a wave of terrorist plots on behalf of the Iranian regime in 2012.

That year witnessed a “marked resurgence of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and Tehran’s ally” Hizballah, the State Department said in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2012. Iran and Hizballah’s “terrorist activity…reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa.”

Foggy Bottom went on to cite plots and attacks in Cyprus, Georgia, India, Kenya, and Thailand as evidence of Iran’s worldwide campaign of terror in 2012. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, State Department highlights Iran’s ‘marked resurgence’ of state-sponsored terrorism.]

Some of these same plots – all carried out under the direction of Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) – are referenced in the complaints filed against Kourani and El Debek.

On July 18, 2012, Hizballah bombed a tour bus carrying Israelis at the Burgas Airport in Bulgaria. Five Israelis and one Bulgarian were killed. The Bulgarian government publicly fingered Hizballah as the culprit.

The FBI discussed the Burgas attack with El Debek, who explained that the bomber, Mohamad Husseini, “was connected to his family.” Husseini was the nephew of El Debek’s aunt. El Debek also “identified a photograph of Husseini,” explaining that “he knew of Husseini’s membership in Hizballah’s ‘External Security’ unit” – meaning the IJO, El Debek’s own parent organization.

The complaint does not cite any evidence directly tying El Debek to the Burgas bombing. But the FBI assessed that El Debek’s training would allow him to build an explosive device similar to the one that killed several Israelis.

The “techniques and methods in which Hizballah trained” El Debek to build an improvised explosive device “are substantially similar to those used to construct the IED used in the” Burgas bombing, FBI Special Agent Daniel M. Ganci wrote in an affidavit. Ganci relied on his conversations with another FBI bomb expert in formulating his assessment.

The complaints cite the IJO’s activities in Thailand, pointing to the Jan. 2012 arrest of Hussein Atris, who was detained as “he tried to board a flight at Bangkok airport.” Atris “subsequently led law enforcement personnel to a commercial building near Bangkok that housed a cache of nearly 10,000 pounds of urea-based fertilizer and 10 gallons of ammonium nitrate,” which “can be used to construct explosives.”

Atris wasn’t the only Iranian-sponsored operative in Thailand at the time. In Feb. 2012, two Iranian men were arrested by Thai police and a third by Malaysian authorities after the group “accidentally set off explosives that were allegedly intended to target Israeli diplomats,” according to the State Department. The explosives “were similar to bombs targeting Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India” during that same timeframe. Still other Iranian agents “successfully fled” Thailand. All of the operatives traveled “through Malaysia” to Bangkok.

In 2009, years before the high-profile arrests, El Debek himself traveled to Bangkok, apparently slipping in and out of Thailand unnoticed. According to the complaint, it was El Debek’s “first mission abroad” on behalf Hizballah. El Debek allegedly told the FBI that he was supposed “to clean up the explosive precursors” left behind at a house in Bangkok by other Hizballah members who were forced to flee “because they were under surveillance.”

Like his Hizballah compatriots who followed him, El Debek traveled through Malaysia en route to Thailand. While in Malaysia, “he met his IJO handler,” who “provided him with a cover story” to use in Bangkok.

El Debek was to hire a sex worker “to draw out any surveillance on the house.” El Debek told the FBI that he did as his handler instructed him, hiring a “female escort” to probe for any suspicious activity around the home. While El Debek watched, she entered the home without any problems. Now confident that authorities weren’t watching the home, El Debek later returned “and found approximately 50 boxes containing materials sealed in plastic.” He told the FBI that “the majority, if not all” of the boxes contained ammonium nitrate. He removed as many as he could in “his rented vehicle” and dumped the rest. Curiously, however, he was instructed a “day or two later” to “return the explosive precursors to the house and pay rent to the landlord.” He complied before returning to Lebanon via Malaysia.

The complaint does not explicitly connect the “explosive precursors” El Debek handled in 2009 to Hizballah’s plots three years later. But the charges, assuming they are true, confirm that the Iranian proxy was laying the groundwork for operations in Thailand years in advance.

In May 2009, Kourani made his own suspicious trip, which also may be tied to the events that unfolded in 2012. Kourani traveled to Guangzhou, China, where the manufacturer of “ammonium nitrate-based First Aid ice packs” was located. The FBI found that these same types of ice packs, from the same manufacturer, were “seized in connection with” the thwarted IJO plot in Thailand in 2012, as well as a separate foiled operation in Cyprus.

In 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a number of Hizballah “front companies” and “agents” used for procurement around the world. One of these, Stars International, Ltd., has a subsidiary in Guangzhou.

El Debek’s surveillance in Panama

Another one of El Debek’s alleged missions for Hizballah took him to Panama. He visited the tiny Central American nation twice, with his first trip coming in 2011. El Debek explained that “his operational taskings included learning to drive in Panama, determining the cost of opening a business, locating the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, and determining how to get to the Panama Canal.” He was “instructed to case and identify security procedures at the Canal and the Israeli Embassy,” but said “his purpose for locating the U.S. Embassy was simply to know its location.” According to the complaint, the IJO operative also “located hardware stores” and other places where “acetone and battery acid,” both “explosive precursors,” could be acquired.

El Debek’s second alleged mission to Panama came in 2012. This time it “was more focused on the Panama Canal,” he explained. Hizballah “asked him to identify areas of weakness and construction at the Canal, and provide information about Canal security and how close someone could get to a ship.” He “took a lot of photographs of the Canal, which he later provided to the IJO.”

His “IJO handlers” were keenly interested in the U.S. Embassy, including “details about its security procedures,” as well as “periods of heavy traffic into and out of the U.S. Embassy, and the locations of houses and apartments in close vicinity to” it. El Debek claimed he didn’t go into the embassy, nor did he take photographs of it, so he “did not have a significant understanding of” the Americans’ “security procedures.” He claimed that he merely informed his “IJO handlers” that “people waiting for a visa appointment entered the Embassy and then waited for their appointment inside.”

After returning from Panama to Lebanon, he “met with his IJO handler and the handler’s superior,” providing them “with maps, notes, pictures, and the camera he used in Panama.”

El Debek said that after performing these missions, however, Hizballah turned on him, accusing him of “spying for the United States.” He allegedly offered a “false confession after repeated interrogations,” telling Hizballah “that he worked for the FBI, CIA, and police.” He supposedly named his American handlers as “Jeff and Michael” (names he made up) and said he was “paid $500,000” for his services to the U.S. government.

It is not clear why Hizballah would think that El Debek had doubled-crossed them.

The cult of martyrdom has become a prominent feature of Sunni jihadism, but El Debek’s case includes important reminders that it is still a powerful concept within Iranian-sponsored Shiite jihadism as well. According to the complaint, he performed multiple searches on Facebook using terms such as “martyrs of the holy defense,” “martyrs of Islamic resistance,” “Hizballah martyrs,” and “martyrs of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon.”

Background on Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO)

The world first heard of Hizballah’s “Islamic Jihad Organization” (IJO) in the early 1980s, when Iran’s terrorist proxy struck American and European targets in Lebanon. The IJO was poorly understood at the time. So when the group claimed responsibility for several operations, and threatened to execute more, there was confusion over which party was the real culprit. Some reporting still reflects the initial uncertainty to this day.

In reality, the IJO was one of Iran’s and Hizballah’s early fronts for waging jihad against the West. Western forces were deployed to Lebanon as peacekeepers in the wake of Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982. The Iranian regime and its surrogates went to work. The CIA found that hundreds of members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were deployed to Lebanon, where they built terror networks and began spreading Ayatollah Khomeini’s radical ideology. The IRGC was based in Baalbek and Iran coordinated the IRGC’s activities via its embassy in Damascus, often with the support of Assad regime. The IJO was a key part of these early Iranian plans.

The IJO claimed responsibility for the Apr. 18, 1983 US Embassy bombing in Beirut, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. According to Langley, the bombing was the “deadliest attack in CIA history,” as some of the Americans killed were Agency personnel.

After the Embassy bombing, the CIA’s William F. Buckley volunteered to serve as Station Chief in Lebanon. In March 1984, the IJO kidnapped Buckley. He died in the terrorists’ custody in June 1985. The IJO claimed that it executed Buckley in Oct. 1985, months after US officials say he perished.

US officials also identified the IJO as the Iranian arm behind the Oct. 23, 1983 suicide bombs targeting peacekeepers in the Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF). Twin vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices rocked the barracks for U.S. Marines and French peacekeepers, killing 241 Americans and 58 French service members. The fingerprints of Hizballah’s IJO and its terror master, Imad Mughniyah (pictured on the right), were all over the attacks.

A Sept. 27, 1984 analysis by the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence found that the IJO “almost certainly carried out” the Apr. 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing, as well as the Oct. 1983 attacks on the Marines and French paratroopers. The CIA referred to “Islamic Jihad” (or the IJO) as Hizballah’s “terrorist component,” explaining that it operated with “Iranian assistance” and was “determined to drive the US and Israel out of Lebanon and to establish an Islamic state there.”

That same CIA analysis pointed to an “overwhelming body of circumstantial evidence” showing that Hizballah operated “with Iranian support under the cover name of Islamic Jihad.” Another now declassified CIA assessment concluded that the IJO was not “a distinct organization with identifiable leaders,” but instead “an umbrella name used by a number of Iranian-dominated Shia extremist groups” in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

An observation in the CIA’s Sept. 1984 assessment proved to be a harbinger of things to come. “Radical leaders almost certainly viewed the withdrawal of the Marine contingent from Beirut last winter as proof of the effectiveness of terrorist tactics,” the Agency’s analysts wrote in reference to the aftermath of the IJO’s Oct. 1983 bombing.

Iranian-backed Shiite jihadists were not the only ones who held this view. At the time, a certain young extremist named Osama bin Laden was watching as events unfolded in Lebanon. Bin Laden believed that the American withdrawal signaled weakness. While stationed in Sudan in the early 1990s, bin Laden and al Qaeda even turned to Hizballah, Mughniyah and Iran for assistance in learning how to conduct simultaneous suicide attacks. “Bin Laden reportedly showed particular interest in learning how to use truck bombs such as the one that had killed 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983,” the 9/11 Commission later found. Al Qaeda cadres were trained by Hizballah in Lebanon, as well as in Iran.

Hizballah’s terrorist innovation would become al Qaeda’s modus operandi. Bin Laden’s men directly modeled the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania after Hizballah’s 1983 attacks. As a U.S. court later found, Iran and Hizballah provided al Qaeda with the “technical expertise” necessary to carry out the 1998 Embassy bombings. Bin Laden believed he could drive the U.S. out of the Middle East if his men replicated Mughniyah’s early operations. However, the al Qaeda founder was proven wrong on that score.

Hizballah’s IJO was the spearhead for a series of other Iranian-backed, anti-Western operations in Lebanon and elsewhere. Bombings, kidnappings, assassinations – all were tied to the IJO in the 1980s. A car bombing outside of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 1983 and the assassination of a Saudi government official in Spain were both claimed by the IJO, according to the CIA.
The 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 was another instance of IJO-orchestrated terror.

Callers claiming to be affiliated with the group phoned in additional threats around the globe, promising more terror if all Western and Israeli forces didn’t evacuate Lebanon.

In 1987, on the fourth anniversary of the Marine barracks and French paratroopers bombings, a statement attributed to the IJO was sent to the press. “America failed to do anything. It just collected the limbs of its dead and fled from the Muslims’ fists in Lebanon,” the statement read, according to an account in UPI at the time. The group threatened more attacks against American interests. “And this, with God’s backing, will occur in other Muslim countries soon at the hands of the students of our blessed martyrs.” Photos of two men held hostage by the IJO — American journalist Terry Anderson and French journalist Jean-Paul Kauffman – were attached to the message, along with images the buildings bombed in Oct. 1983. Luckily, both Anderson and Kauffman were subsequently released.

This early campaign of Iranian terror has had lasting effects throughout the region. Some of its participants have continued to push the regime’s agenda decades after the fact.

One such figure is commonly known as Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis (also identified as Jamal Jafaar Mohammed Ali Ebrahimi), the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which is currently fighting the Islamic State inside Iraq. Muhandis, a close confidant of IRGC-Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, was designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist in 2009. The Treasury Department noted that he had “participated in the bombing of Western embassies in Kuwait and the attempted assassination of the Emir of Kuwait in the early 1980s.” Muhandis “was subsequently convicted in absentia by the Kuwaiti government for his role in the bombing and attempted assassination.”

Like so many plots during this timeframe, some sources identified Imad Mughniyah as the chief architect of the 1983 embassy bombings in Kuwait — the same attacks Muhandis was later convicted of participating in. One of Mughniyah’s family members, Mustafa Youssef Badreddin, was among the 17 people arrested in Kuwait and convicted of carrying out the attacks on the U.S. and French embassies, among other targets. In the years that followed, Iran’s terrorist proxies repeatedly demanded that members of this group (dubbed the “Dawa 17”) be released from custody in exchange for Western hostages.

Hizballah’s IJO wasn’t finished in the 1980s. And its operational reach extended into Central and South America. For instance, the IJO claimed responsibility for the Mar. 17, 1992 suicide truck bombing at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A little over two years later, on July 18, 1994, another Hizballah suicide terrorist drove a bomb-laden vehicle into a Jewish community center (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, or AMIA) in Buenos Aires. INTERPOL subsequently issued Red Notices for Mughiyah and several others for their role in the devastating explosions.

Hizballah’s IJO allegedly wanted revenge for the death of Mughniyah

In Feb. 2008, Mughniyah was assassinated in a highly professional operation in Damascus, Syria. The hit was likely carried out by the Israelis, possibly with the assistance of their American allies. The recently released court filings indicate that Hizballah has been seeking revenge, including inside the U.S., since then. Those same documents identify Mughniyah as the IJO’s “leader” until his death.

Fadi, the IJO handler, allegedly “directed” Ali Kourani “to identify and collect intelligence regarding individuals in the United States affiliated with the” Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). According to the complaint, Kourani “believed that the IJO gave this tasking to facilitate, among other things, assassinations of IDF personnel in retaliation for” Mughniyah’s death. Kourani “used a social media account to identify members or associates [of the IDF] in the New York City area, and he described his search methodology to Fadi.”

The cases against Kourani and El Debek suggest that the U.S. government will be forced to contend with Hizballah’s international network for the foreseeable future. Just this past week, in fact, the State Department amended its terrorist designation of Hizballah to include additional aliases for the group.

Hizballah’s IJO arguably began the current jihadists’ war against the West in the early 1980s. And it is still plotting more than three decades later.

*The photo of Ali Kourani was first used during a segment broadcast by NY1. A similar image was also used by NBC New York.

On Mueller investigation, Trump should fight fire with fire

June 22, 2017

On Mueller investigation, Trump should fight fire with fire, American ThinkerKarin McQuillan, June 22, 2017

President Trump has the responsibility to re-establish the rule of law in our country, and he will have the enthusiastic backing of his base if he does so.  It is time to end Democrats’ politically motivated abuse of the law.  Stop the Mueller investigation, and go after Obama Inc.’s multiple crimes.

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John Eastman, law professor at Chapman University, writes in American Greatness this week that the powers invested in Special Counsel Mueller to investigate “Russian hacking/collusion/obstruction poses grave dangers to our body politic and our liberty.”  His advice to President Trump: Fight fire with fire.  Turn the law and the courts back on your opponents. Trump is being investigated without any probable cause of a crime.  The Obama administration, in contrast, is a target-rich arena of criminal activity.

It is unconstitutional to issue a search warrant when there has been no crime and there is no probable cause.  But that is exactly what President Trump’s DOJ has inflicted on the president and his team with Mueller’s special investigation.  It was not just cowardice, but folly for the DOJ to buckle to the left-wing media’s hysterical insistence to investigate our president’s alleged collusion with the FSB.  

According to Professor Eastman:

The special counsel will not to track down the details of a crime known to have been committed and determine “who dunnit,” but will scour the personal and business affairs of a select group of people – the President of the United States, members of his family, his business associates, and members of his presidential campaign and transition teams – to see if any crime can be found (or worse, manufactured by luring someone into making a conflicting statement at some point). This is not a proper use of prosecutorial power, but a “witch hunt,” as President Trump himself correctly observed. Or, to put it more in terms of legalese, this special prosecutor has effectively been given a “writ of assistance” and the power to exercise a “general warrant” against this select group of people, including the President of the United States, recently elected by a fairly wide margin of the electoral vote.

That is the very kind of thing our Fourth Amendment was adopted to prevent. Indeed, the issuance of general warrants and writs of assistance is quite arguably the spark that ignited America’s war for independence.

 Professor Eastman suggests fighting fire with fire, prosecution with prosecution.

Unfortunately, the only antidote may be to fight fire with fire. President Trump: Perhaps it is time to make good on that old pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the Clinton “matters” after all. And while you’re add it, add in referrals to the grand jury for the contempt of Congress committed by the IRS’s Lois Lerner and former Attorney General Eric Holder, an FBI investigation of the destruction of government documents and servers in the midst of the IRS scandal, an investigation into alleged perjury committed by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in testimony about those matters given under oath to Congress, an “obstruction of justice” investigation against former Attorney General Eric Holder and others (and related perjury charges against Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez) for allegedly ordering that an egregious voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party be dropped shortly before a default judgment was about to be entered in the government’s favor, etc., etc., etc.

President Obama and his leftist minions spat on our constitution  and flouted the rule of law for eight long years.  Google “Obama flouts constitution,” or see here and here and here and here and here.  Their abuse of power was ignored by the media and our partisan courts, but it has not been forgotten by conservatives.

President Trump’s voters would like to see equality before the law upheld once again in America.  It is bad for our country that rich and powerful Democrat politicians and bureaucrats harm our national security and ruin other people’s lives, in flagrant violation of the law, and are never held to account for their crimes.

Professor Eastman’s advice to fight fire with fire stops short.  Based on his own analysis, it is unconstitutional to do warrantless searches with no probable cause.  Ending the baseless “Russian collusion” witch hunt is fundamental to upholding our constitution.

Those who counseled President Trump to not prosecute Hillary Clinton said a Clinton investigation would distract the White House from furthering Trump’s positive agenda.  That was a strong argument – then.  But as Professor Eastman points out, it backfired.  Perhaps Trump’s civility was taken as a sign of weakness.  Hillary launched the lie that the Russians made her lose the election.  Democrats instigated this phony Russian collusion investigation of Trump, precisely in an effort to distract the White House and halt the Trump agenda.  The best defense is to return to offense.

President Trump has the responsibility to re-establish the rule of law in our country, and he will have the enthusiastic backing of his base if he does so.  It is time to end Democrats’ politically motivated abuse of the law.  Stop the Mueller investigation, and go after Obama Inc.’s multiple crimes.

H/T: Powerlineblog.com

 

How should Trump deal with the deep state?

June 15, 2017

How should Trump deal with the deep state? Fox News via YouTube, June 14, 2017

 

Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press

June 11, 2017

Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press, PJ Media, Andrew Klacan, June 11, 2017

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

My point is simply this: when you are listening to Comey, and when you are listening to the news media sanctifying Comey or indeed demonizing Trump, just remember who it is you are listening to: unindicted co-conspirators in an administration that was rotten to the core.

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It now seems clear that Barack Obama was a corrupt machine politician in the worst Chicago mold. He used the IRS to silence his enemies, and the Justice Department to protect his friends. His two major “achievements” — a health care law that doesn’t work and a deal that increased the power and prestige of the terrorist state of Iran — were built on lies to the public and manipulation of the press. And that’s according to his own allies! Only the leftist bias and racial pathology of the media kept his administration from being destroyed by scandal, as it surely would have been had he been a white Republican.

I don’t mention this to bring up old grudges, but for what it says about the current moment and the week just passed. Here’s some of what we recently learned:

Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony concerning former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s corruption confirmed our worst suspicions about the Obama DOJ. In an apparent attempt to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Lynch told Comey to refer to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s abuse of classified material as “a matter” rather than an investigation. And, as we already knew but Comey confirmed, Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton so underscored Comey’s sense of her crookedness that the self-serving drama queen Comey actually went around her to publicly declare Hillary guilty-but-not-guilty.

“It won’t get much attention, but that was pretty damning,” said CNN’s John King of Comey’s testimony about Lynch. You can translate “it won’t get much attention” into “we won’t give it much attention.”

But all that was nothing compared to the brutal, nearly 300-page report released last week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a report absolutely blasting the previous Obama AG, Eric Holder. The report details how Holder and the Obama administration labored to cover up the details of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal — a scandal which, unlike the non-collusion-with-Russia non-scandal, was implicated in the murder of an American law officer. Even the mom of the slain officer couldn’t get the truth out of Holder and his cronies. The report says Holder considered the officer’s family a “nuisance” because they were trying to get him to tell them how exactly the lawman died at the hands of gangsters who were wielding guns Obama’s DOJ had allowed them to buy.

We’ve heard a lot from Comey and the press this week about the precious independence of the Justice Department. And yet Attorney General Holder once said, “I’m still the president’s wing-man, so I’m there with my boy.” Holder was also the first attorney general ever to be held in contempt of Congress for not turning over documents relating to Fast and Furious. And, speaking of obstruction of justice — we were speaking of obstruction of justice, weren’t we? — President Obama asserted executive privilege to make it easier for Holder to keep those docs in the dark. Hey, nothing’s too good for the president’s wingman!

What a sleazy bunch they were! Hiding their corruption behind the color of their skin. Criticized for Fast and Furious in 2011, Holder said: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him, both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” What a sleazy bunch.

So let’s remember. Obama is the nefarious machine pol who appointed James Comey to head the FBI in the first place. This is the Comey who took no notes when he spoke with Obama, no notes when he questioned Hillary about her emails, no notes, apparently, during the cover-up conversation with Lynch that left him with “a queasy feeling,” but who suddenly began documenting his exchanges with Trump — exchanges that Trump says never happened. This is the Comey who let Hillary off the hook because he somehow knew she didn’t intend to share classified information (a matter that doesn’t exist in the relevant law), but who cannot comment on whether Donald Trump intended to obstruct justice when Trump expressed his hopes about an investigation.

And the Obama administration — this crooked gang of liars and colluders — this is the gang that was deemed “scandal free” by virtually every “mainstream” news outlet. Indeed, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson had to leave CBS News in large part because CBS would not run her work on Fast and Furious.

My point is not to excuse Trump for any of his inappropriate and sometimes boorish behavior. I hope he learns better. My point is simply this: when you are listening to Comey, and when you are listening to the news media sanctifying Comey or indeed demonizing Trump, just remember who it is you are listening to: unindicted co-conspirators in an administration that was rotten to the core.

Supreme Court Expedites Trump’s Petition on Executive Order Case

June 4, 2017

Supreme Court Expedites Trump’s Petition on Executive Order Case, BreitbartKen Klukowski, June 3, 2017

Molly Riley Reuters

On Friday, the Supreme Court rapidly expedited everything. The ACLU—which represents the plaintiffs—have been ordered to file their response by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 12. The ACLU lawyers must also respond to DOJ’s application for a stay by that time.

The Court could conceivably then vote immediately on whether to take the case, or anytime shortly thereafter. Under a normal briefing schedule, the Court would then hear arguments in October, and issue a decision by the end of 2017.

It’s also possible that the Court could accelerate briefing on an emergency basis, then hold arguments over the summer, or possibly even in June before recessing for the summer. The Court could make clear by the week of June 12 which course it is pursuing.

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Supreme Court took the rare step on Friday of expediting consideration of a major case, rapidly accelerating the schedule for reviewing the Fourth Circuit’s blocking of President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order.

President Trump issued Executive Order 13780 (EO) on March 6, Section 2(c) of which temporarily restricted travel from six Muslim-majority countries associated with terrorism while the United States developed new vetting procedures to keep the nation safe.

Immigration activists sued, along with several immigrants and their families. A liberal federal district judge in Maryland granted a preliminary injunction blocking Section 2(c) of the EO. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit then affirmed the trial court’s injunction in a 10-3 decision, ruling that the EO violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, and taking the almost unheard-of step of all the court’s judges hearing the case, instead of sending it to a three-judge panel.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition for review at the Supreme Court on Thursday. Under the Court’s rules, a response from the plaintiffs would be due July 3. By that time the Court would be on recess for the summer, meaning that the justices would vote at the Court’s annual pre-Term conference, which will take place on September 25, on whether to take the case. That would typically mean hearing arguments in December or January, with a final decision coming down in early or mid-2018.

Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall at DOJ also asked Chief Justice John Roberts (who supervises the Fourth Circuit) to stay the appellate court’s decision until the justices can decide the matter.

On Friday, the Supreme Court rapidly expedited everything. The ACLU—which represents the plaintiffs—have been ordered to file their response by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 12. The ACLU lawyers must also respond to DOJ’s application for a stay by that time.

The Court could conceivably then vote immediately on whether to take the case, or anytime shortly thereafter. Under a normal briefing schedule, the Court would then hear arguments in October, and issue a decision by the end of 2017.

It’s also possible that the Court could accelerate briefing on an emergency basis, then hold arguments over the summer, or possibly even in June before recessing for the summer. The Court could make clear by the week of June 12 which course it is pursuing.

The case is Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, No. 16-1436.

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich

May 26, 2017

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich, Judicial Watch via YouTube, May 26, 2017

(This video covers a lot of ground and is very much worth watching. — DM)

 

Judicial Watch Sues for Records on Obama White House Unmasking Trump Associates

May 26, 2017

Judicial Watch Sues for Records on Obama White House Unmasking Trump Associates, CNS NewsMichael W. Chapman, May 26, 2017

(Will the Department of Justice confess error and turn over the records? — DM)

Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice. (Screenshot: CBS News)

Columnist Andrew C. McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, says,  “The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.”

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(CNSNews.com) — Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department (DOJ) and the National Security Agency (NSA) for information about Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s communications concerning alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election, the hacking of DNC computers, and the “unmasking” (identification by name) of any Trump campaign or transition team personnel as part of U.S. intelligence gathering activities.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton explained: “We want to know about the Obama White House involvement in the unprecedented spying on Donald Trump and other political opponents.”

“This intelligence operation may have led to the illegal ‘unmasking’ of Americans and the leaking of intelligence information to foment the story of Russian hacking of the DNC and sinister Russian influence on Trump and his associates,” he said.   “The Trump administration has an opportunity to expose what the Obama White House was up to.”

President Barack Obama and his National Security Adviser Susan Rice. (Inforwars.)

The lawsuit was filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia because the DOJ and NSA did not respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests previously submitted by Judicial Watch.

Those FOIA requests, submitted on April 4, 2017, asked for the following:

— Any and all requests for information, analyses, summaries, assessments, transcripts, or similar records submitted to the Department of Justice (National Security Agency) or any official, employee, or representative thereof by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice regarding, concerning, or related to the following:

— Any actual or suspected effort by the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government to influence or otherwise interfere with the 2016 presidential election;

— The alleged hacking of computer systems utilized by the Democratic National Committee and/or the Clinton presidential campaign;

— Any or actual or suspected communication between any member of the Trump presidential campaign or transition team and any official or employee of the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government; or

— The identities of U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities.

The timeframe for any communications is from Jan. 1, 2016 to the present, more than a year.

Susan Rice, the former National Security Adviser to President Obama,  has refused to testify before a subcommittee of the Senate Intelligence Committee about her reported role in revealing the identities (unmasking) of people in the Trump campaign who were swept up in regular intelligence gathering by U.S. entitities.

Columnist Andrew C. McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, says,  “The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.”

Rice is also the former Obama official who went on national television after the Benghazi attack in 2012, when four Americans were killed, and falsely blamed the attack on an anti-Muslim video.