An official within the US State Department stated on Tuesday that the US believes that two operatives of the Lebanese-based terrorist group Hezbollah are planning to carry out a terrorist attack within the US.
One of the suspects is Talal Hamiyah, who a US State Department Wanted ad lists as a top Hezbollah military figure heading its external security organization (SEO), with cells around the world. The State Department is offering $ 7M for his capture.
The other Hezbollah operative is Fu'ad Shukr, whom the US believes "played a central role in the planning and executing of the October 23, 1983 US Marine Corps Barracks Bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 241 US service personnel." It is offering $ 5M for his capture.
In June, US federal authorities stated they had arrested a man in Michigan and another in New York planning on carrying out terrorism attacks on US and Israeli targets in New York and Panama.
Samer El Debek of Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested June 1 in Livonia, Michigan, while Ali Kourani was arrested in the Bronx. Both men are being held in New York City.
In a statement, authorities said the men tried to provide support to Hezbollah's Islamic Jihad organization after receiving military training from the group.
Authorities added that El Debek had allegedly looked for potential targets in Panama while Kourani surveilled American targets, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City.
Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed IDF soldiers during a celebratory event marking the festival of Sukkot at his sukkah in the Kirya IDF headquarters based in Tel Aviv, saying that preparation for the next round of hostilities was of paramount importance, highlighting that the lines between countries and regions were rapidly disappearing.
“We have to prepare for every scenario. The new reality poses new challenges for us. If we once spoke about the Lebanese area, now there is no longer such an area. There’s only the northern area,” Lieberman said.
“In any development that takes place, it will be one area—Syria and Lebanon together, Hezbollah, the Assad regime and all collaborators of the Assad regime. Regarding the Lebanese region, we’re no longer talking solely about Hezbollah,” he continued as he delineated, not for the first time, his description of the ‘New Middle East.”
“We’re talking about Hezbollah and about the Lebanese military, and unfortunately this is the reality,” he stated gloomily. “The Lebanese army has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s campaign under its command. The Lebanese army has lost its independence, and has become inextricably linked to Hezbollah.”
The next outbreak of violence, he warned, would require the mobilization of the IDF on multiple fronts, unlike the last few wars it has fought.
“Also if the next campaign develops—and it doesn’t matter where it develops—in the north or the south, it will immediately become a campaign on two fronts. There is no longer a campaign in one area, and this is our fundamental premise. We are preparing the army for this,” the soldiers were told.
In an apparent U-turn, Lieberman's remarks come at a time when the defense establishment has been seeking the retention of the Lebanese military’s independence.
Moreover, Israel has endeavored to develop the Lebanese army and nudge the government in Beirut into reasserting its sovereignty over the country's southern region and its authority over Hezbollah which has for years been given free rein to act as a state within a state.