New York (AFP) – An American of Lebanese descent was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Tuesday for buying weapons and plotting attacks on behalf of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.
Ali Kourani, 34, was found guilty in May of gathering intelligence on potential attack targets, including New York’s JFK International Airport and a federal building in Manhattan.
A federal court in America’s financial capital convicted him of eight allegations including conspiracy to use weapons in a violent crime.
Geoffrey Berman, attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the lengthy sentence sent an important message to Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.
“If you are caught planning harm against this City and its residents, you will face justice and be held accountable,” he said in a statement.
Born in Lebanon but naturalized by the United States in 2009, Kourani attended several Hezbollah training camps in his country of birth and took orders from agents of the Iran-backed organization after his 2003 arrival in the United States.
Hezbollah was created by Iran in the early 1980s and has fought Israel for decades.
The group has been blamed for attacks in France, Lebanon and Bulgaria, among others.