Authorities: Terror suspect plotted with Hezbollah to target NJ locations

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A Morris County man is facing terrorism charges for allegedly plotting with the terror group Hezbollah to target locations in New Jersey and other areas of the United States.

Alexei Saab, 42, was allegedly trained by Hezbollah’s external terrorist operations component in bomb-making and conducted intelligence-gathering for the terror group’s attack-planning efforts.

Saab was born in Lebanon and legally moved to the U.S. in 2000, becoming a naturalized citizen in 2008. He was arrested in Morristown back in July.

Federal investigators say they found numerous pictures on the suspect's devices, including ones he allegedly took of the George Washington Bridge. The complaint alleges he was sending the photos and other intelligence to Hezbollah - hoping to help the terror group plan a possible attack in the United States.

MORE: Click here to read indictment
MORE: Click here to read complaint

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez says that this is proof that the country is always at risk. Menendez is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“There's a reason the FBI and Homeland Security says we are most dangerous 2 miles of America along the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. Between our ports, our airports, chemical factories – so, it’s not surprising that those who want to do harm to the nation would look for most [vulnerable] targets,” Menendez says.

Saab had been living at an apartment complex located at 60 Elm St. in Morristown. Neighbors tell News 12 New Jersey that they had no idea what Saab was allegedly involved in.

Menendez says that this shows that New Jerseyans must remain vigilant.

“Our challenge as a nation is we that have to get it right 100% of the time - in terms of protecting against potential attacks. The terrorists only have to get lucky once to achieve their goals. I’m glad this is another example of law enforcement being able to protect us,” Menendez says.

Federal authorities say that Saab joined Hezbollah in 1996. In 2000, he allegedly transitioned to membership in the Islamic Jihad Organization, which is Hezbollah’s unit responsible for external operations. In 2005, authorities say that he applied for naturalized citizenship and falsely affirmed, under penalty of perjury, that he had never been "a member of or in any way associated with…a terrorist organization." While living in the United States, he allegedly remained an IJO operative and continued to receive military training in Lebanon.

Saab is charged with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He is also charged with marriage fraud for allegedly marrying a co-conspirator in 2012 under false pretenses.

Saab’s indictment comes as the state trial begins for convicted terrorist Ahmad Rahimi. Rahimi is serving two life sentences for bombings in Manhattan and Seaside Park in 2016. He will now stand trial for allegedly attacking police officers in Linden when they tried to arrest him for the bombings.

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