Hezbollah Scout Scoped Out Attack Targets in NYC, Boston, DC: Feds - NECN
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Hezbollah Scout Scoped Out Attack Targets in NYC, Boston, DC: Feds

Alexei Saab allegedly had photos or videos of the Prudential Center, Quincy Market and Fenway Park

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    Hezbollah Scout Allegedly Scoped Targets in Boston

    A U.S. citizen scoped out locations in Boston, New York and Washington for potentially deadly attacks, according to federal authorities.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019)

    Boston landmarks were among the U.S. locations scouted for possible attacks by an agent of the militant group Hezbollah in the 2000s, federal authorities said Thursday.

    The Prudential Center, Quincy Market and Fenway Park — Alexei Saab allegedly had photos or videos of them all, along with famous places in New York City and Washington, D.C., according to prosecutors in New York, who unveiled charges against Saab that include providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

    He was sending Hezbollah reports with "the composition of particular structures" so Hezbollah and a component organization could "maximize destruction of their targets," according to the complaint.

    There were no active plots the United States, however, according to federal law enforcement officials.

    The FBI was "not aware of any specific or credible threats to the City of Boston during the time the photos were taken as it relates to this matter," nor are there any current "specific or credible threats" to Boston, a representative for the FBI's Boston office said.

    The Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police have been briefed on the charges.

    The images were taken before 2006 and weren't specifically ordered by Hezbollah, according to the FBI. 

    Examples of the images shared in the federal complaint are grainy, showing the Prudential Center from up close and across the Charles River, and from high up in the building itself. The screenshot of a video of Fenway shows what appears to be an aerial view from beyond right field.

    An image of Fenway Park allegedly possessed by a man working for Hezbollah and discovered by U.S. law enforcement officers after a 2019 raid of the man's house.
    Photo credit: Evidence via federal prosecutors

    Images of Boston's Prudential Center allegedly taken by a man working for Hezbollah and discovered by U.S. law enforcement officers after a 2019 raid of the man's house.
    Photo credit: Evidence via federal prosecutors

    Images from Boston's Prudential Center allegedly possessed by a man working for Hezbollah and discovered by U.S. law enforcement officers after a 2019 raid of the man's house.
    Photo credit: Evidence via federal prosecutors

    Saab, a 42-year-old New Jersey resident, also allegedly told investigators he recalled taking pictures of Quincy Market. Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol were among the other targets prosecutors said Saab scouted.

    The sites were most likely targeted because they are large venues that hold tens of thousands of people, said homeland security expert and former Massachusetts State Police officer Todd McGhee.

    "This is right out of the al Qaeda and ISIS handbook," he said.

    Saab became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008 but was allegedly a Hezbollah member since 1996. He allegedly has extensive firearms and bomb-making training.

    Law enforcement agents executed search warrants on Saab's email accounts in April 2018 and began interviewing him as far back as March 2019, when his New Jersey home was searched and devices containing the images were found.

    NBC New York's Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report.