DEARBORN ― The man in question involving a FBI raid at a Dearborn home Thursday night is suspected of aiding terrorists, The AANews have learned from sources close to the investigation.
Samer ElDebek, a Lebanese American truck driver, was taken into custody and transported to his hometown of New York on Friday on federal charges of providing material support or resources to foreign terrorist organizations and receiving military-type training from them, according to official documents obtained by The AAnews.
The warrant indicated authorities were looking for explosive materials and/or a manual of how to make them. It was issued a day before the raid by a federal judge of the U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York. He is expected to be arraigned in the state on Monday, June 5.
A large FBI squad stormed the unit in the duplex on Johnathon Street in Dearborn on Thursday, June 1 at around 5 in the evening and closed off the street while agents meticulously searched the property.
The FBI initially said it was conducting an operation related to a “national security issue.”
ElDebek’s wife, his two young daughters and an elderly relative left with agents for about an hour before returning home at around 10 p.m. Thursday night.
The AANews spoke to neighbors living on either side of the house, who say they shocked and terrified, especially as agents forced everybody to stay inside their homes.
They also said the family kept to themselves and didn’t say much when greeted by anybody outside.
The AANews attempted to speak to them Thursday night, but they turned off all the lights and did not answer the door.
Sources close to his family deny any wrongdoing. The man is described as a committed family man.
He lived in New York and left eight years ago to Lebanon. He returned last year to New York and later settled in Dearborn about 10 months ago.
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dana Boente, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced that ALI KOURANI and SAMER EL DEBEK, a/k/a “Samer Eldebek,” were arrested on Thursday, June 1, 2017, on charges related to their alleged activities on behalf of Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
EL DEBEK was arrested in Livonia, Michigan, outside of Detroit, for providing, attempting, and conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah; receiving and conspiring to receive military-type training from Hizballah; use of weapons in connection with a crime of violence that is alleged to have involved, among other weapons, explosives, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and machine guns; and violating and conspiring to violate IEEPA. EL DEBEK was presented on Monday, June 5, 2017, before Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in Manhattan federal court.
EL DEBEK’s Alleged Support of Hizballah
EL DEBEK, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was first recruited by Hizballah in late 2007 or early 2008, began to receive a salary from Hizballah shortly thereafter, and was paid by Hizballah through approximately 2015. In July 2006, shortly before he was recruited by Hizballah, EL DEBEK expressed by email his support for Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah.
EL DEBEK received military training from Hizballah in Lebanon on several occasions, from approximately 2008 through approximately 2014. EL DEBEK received training in basic military tactics, the handling of various weapons, surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques, and the creation and handling of explosives and explosive devices. Based on information EL DEBEK provided to the FBI, FBI bomb technicians have assessed that EL DEBEK received extensive training as a bomb-maker, and has a high degree of technical sophistication in the area. EL DEBEK received by email in 2010 a list of raw materials that could be sent from Syria or Dubai, including items often used in explosives and improvised explosive devices.
EL DEBEK also conducted missions for Hizballah in Thailand and Panama. In May 2009, EL DEBEK traveled from Lebanon, through Malaysia, to Thailand, where his mission was to clean up explosive precursors in a house in Bangkok that others had left because they were under surveillance. EL DEBEK used his U.S. passport to enter and leave Thailand, consistent with his instructions from Hizballah to use his U.S. passport in that manner, so he could travel from Malaysia to Thailand without obtaining a visa.
EL DEBEK first traveled to Panama for Hizballah in 2011, where his operational tasks included locating the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, casing security procedures at the Panama Canal and the Israeli Embassy, and locating hardware stores where explosive precursors could be purchased. Shortly before traveling to Panama, EL DEBEK updated his status on Facebook with a post that read, in part, “Do not make peace or share food with those who killed your people.”
In early 2012, EL DEBEK again traveled to Panama for Hizballah, passing through New York and New Jersey, and was asked to identify areas of weakness and construction at the Panama Canal, as well as provide information about how close someone could get to a ship passing through the Canal. Upon his return from Panama, EL DEBEK’s IJO handlers asked him for photographs of the U.S. Embassy there and details about its security procedures.
EL DEBEK has told the FBI that he was detained by Hizballah from December 2015 to April 2016 and falsely accused of spying for the United States. Between November 2014 and February 2017, EL DEBEK, who received religious training from Hizballah, has conducted more than 250 Facebook searches using search terms such as “martyrs of the holy defense,” “martyrs of Islamic resistance,” “Hizballah martyrs,” and “martyrs of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon.”
EL DEBEK, 37, of Dearborn, Michigan, is charged with providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; receiving military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a sentence of 10 years in prison or a fine; conspiracy to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; possessing, carrying, and using firearms and destructive devices during and in relation to crimes of violence, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; making and receiving a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hizballah, in violation of IEEPA, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and conspiracy to make and receive a contribution of funds, goods, and services to and from Hizballah, in violation of IEEPA, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Read the now unsealed complaint here.