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KNIGHT: New York terror crime trial showed Pearson Airport was a target

There is no question Hezbollah was planning an attack in Canada at Pearson Airport.

Last month a Hezbollah sleeper agent was tried and convicted in New York on multiple charges related to terrorism. And the media hardly noticed. The Canadian media ignored the matter completely.  I should add that Hezbollah is a proscribed international terrorist organization in both the U.S. and Canada.

This should be a concerning story for Canadians because what the Department of Justice’s release did not say was that one of the targets Kourani had along with JFK Airport was Pearson Airport in Toronto. That information came out at trial.

The sleeper agent, Ali Mohamad Kourani aka Jacob Lewis, was convicted on all eight charges in the indictment. He faces a lot of serious jail time when he will be sentenced in September.

Following his conviction, the Department of Justice said this in a press release: “Ali Kourani was recruited, trained and deployed by Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization to plan and execute acts of terrorism in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.

“Kourani’s chilling mission was to help procure weapons and gather intelligence about potential targets in the U.S. for future Hezbollah terrorist attacks.  Some of the targets Kourani surveilled included JFK Airport and law enforcement facilities in New York City, including the federal building at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan.”

Part of the duties assigned to him by his Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) handler was to gather security information on certain facilities. Pearson was one such facility.

He documented everything from uniform security checkpoints, shift changes and CCTV camera locations. There is no question Hezbollah was planning an attack in Canada at Pearson Airport.

But the great work of the FBI that might have succeeded.

One of the key points Kourani identified that he was checking for was whether security officers were armed. True North covered this before in a discussion about CBSA officers who were trained, certified and issued sidearms but were not allowed to carry them at Class 1 Airports in Canada where they were deployed because of a bureaucratic directive.

This one case shows why that directive needs to be repealed as soon as possible.

Kourani was not just an innocuous information gatherer either. A Lebanese national by birth, in 2000, he had specialized weapons training in Lebanon. He emigrated to the U.S. in 2003 and was naturalized in 2009.

The IJO recruited him in 2008 and provided him with specialized training in tradecraft, weapons and tactics. The DOJ press release says that in 2011 “Kourani attended a weapons training camp in the vicinity of Birkat Jabrur, Lebanon, where he used a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, an AK-47 assault rifle, an MP5 submachine gun, a PKS machine gun (a Russian-made belt-fed weapon) and a Glock pistol.”

The press release and the evidence led in the trial described in detail how the IJO controlled Kourani and communicated with him including assigning targets which included prominent Jews to be targeted for assassination.

The U.S. dodged a bullet with the arrest of this man and the disassembling of his network. But so too did Canada. The information about what and how he was acquiring information was included in a CATSA internal newsletter this month.

In the days since 9/11, we have been hearing from the hand-wringers in Canada that we don’t have to worry, that these things can’t happen here.

Well, it seems they can as evidenced by the truck attack in Edmonton last year, the Danforth shooting, the interception in Kingston and the recent seizure of bomb-making precursor materials in Richmond Hill. But, and more to the point, this case shows that those who hate the west and our way of life are definitely actively planning attacks on this country.

Our intelligence and enforcement authorities can’t afford to be complacent or wrong. Those who want to do us harm can afford any number of false starts or failed attempts. Those who protect us can’t afford to be wrong once.

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