BOSTON (CBS) – A New Jersey man who was indicted on charges he supported the terrorist group Hizballah allegedly scouted locations in Boston for potential attacks. Alexei Saab had video of Fenway Park and the Prudential Center as part of his research, the Department of Justice said on Thursday.
Saab, 42, also known as Ali Hassan Saab, Alex Saab, or Rachid, was indicted on a variety of federal charges, including providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist group.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said Saab scouted locations for potential attacks in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. The charging document includes screenshots from videos prosecutors say Saab had of Fenway Park and the Prudential Center.
Boston Police said there is no credible threat to the city at this time.
The Boston Police Department has been working closely with our law enforcement partners at the FBI to ensure the continued safety of the residents of the City of Boston. The BPD has been briefed by the FBI and we have subsequently notified the properties impacted by the information revealed within this indictment, as well as their respective security teams, of these findings. Along with the FBI, the BPD wants to reiterate that there were no active or credible threats at the time the photos were taken and we are currently not aware of any active or credible threats at this time.
The complaint against Saab was unsealed on Thursday in Manhattan. He has been in custody since July.
WBZ Security Analyst Ed Davis says the 33 page indictment reveals how Saab was a trained and skilled operative working against the United States.
“The next step in that process is to gain intelligence on targets before a plan is put into effect,” Davis said. “And that process of taking photographs, moving photographs to the organization and letting the organization decide how to go at their targets is classic terrorism 101. That’s the way they operate. This person showed that this was much more than hopeful thinking.”
A spokesman for FBI’s Boston division said photographs included in the criminal complaint were taken prior to 2006.
“We were 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,” the FBI said. “Additionally, we currently are not aware of any specific or credible threats to the City of Boston.”
The Red Sox released a statement after the charges were unsealed.
“We have been made aware of the findings of the investigation by law enforcement and they have assured us that there us there is no active or credible threat to the ballpark,” the team said.
Hizballah is a Shia Islamic organization based in Lebanon.
The Department of Justice said Saab conducted operations overseas as well. He allegedly attempted to murder a man he suspected was an Israeli spy. Prosecutors said in that case, Saab pulled pointed a gun at the person and pulled the trigger twice but it did not fire.
“As a member of the Hizballah component that coordinates external terrorist attack planning, Alexei Saab allegedly used his training to scout possible targets throughout the U.S,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. “Even though Saab was a naturalized American citizen, his true allegiance was to Hizballah, the terrorist organization responsible for decades of terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds, including U.S. citizens and military personnel. Thankfully, Saab is now in federal custody, and faces significant prison time for his alleged crimes.”