On May 16, a jury returned a guilty verdict against Ali Kourani on terrorism charges, along with sanctions and immigration offenses, for his role within Hizballah’s external operations component. Kourani faces a maximum penalty of life in prison at his sentencing scheduled for late September.
The terror threat from Hizballah to New Jersey is low because the group’s resources and efforts are focused on supporting the Assad regime in Syria. Nonetheless, group supporters and sympathizers are active in the New Jersey region and along the East Coast, primarily in fundraising.
The assassination on May 13 of Mustafa Badreddine—a Hizballah commander in Syria and head of the group’s External Security Organization—will not dissuade Hizballah from supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. According to Hizballah, an unspecified Sunni rebel group conducted the assassination; however, no group has claimed responsibility. Badreddine had been a member of Hizballah since its inception in 1982 and took part in a majority of its operations. According to Western media, he commanded 5,000 to 6,000 Hizballah fighters as of 2011.
Hizballah: Possible Trajectories in 2016; DEA: Hizballah Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Arrests; Hizballah: Exploiting Outbound Cargo Vulnerabilities; Hizballah: Interwoven Money Laundering and Smuggling Systems
Hizballah fighters since 2011 have gained substantial combat experience in the Syrian civil war, conducting offensive operations and developing urban warfare skills that will likely bolster the group’s military capabilities in future conflicts, including with Israel. According to a US think tank, Hizballah as of this year had an estimated 5,000 fighters spread across the Levant region, and a large portion of them have traveled to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.