Kourani spent years scouting out potential targets for terror attacks to be carried out by the Iranian proxy group that he worked for. Locations included New York City federal buildings, international airports and even daycare centers.
“While living in the United States, Kourani served as an operative of Hezbollah in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” Assistant Attorney-General for National Security John C. Demers said. “With today’s sentence, he is being held accountable for his crimes.”
Kourani immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon in 2003, gaining admittance even though he had been involved with Hezbollah since the age of 16. Under questioning by the FBI, he explained he was accepted by Hezbollah at this age because his family was connected to a top official in the terrorist group.
He also related that one of his brothers is the “face of Hezbollah” and boasted that his family’s name is like the “Bin Laden’s of Lebanon.”
Although he immigrated to the U.S. just two years after the 9/11 attacks, none of this information was caught by U.S. immigration authorities.
Once in the U.S., Kourani received a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering in 2009, the same year he applied and became a U.S. citizen. Although during his naturalization process he denied any plans to travel overseas, only a month after becoming a citizen, he went to Guangzhou, China on a “business trip” to procure chemicals commonly used to make explosives.
Guangzhou is home to a medical company that produces chemicals that can be used in bombs. Stolen chemicals from the company were later found in the possession of Iranian terrorists in Thailand who were planning bombings.
By 2013, Kourani had completed a Master of Business Administration degree.