Could Ali Hassan Saab have avoided prosecution by writing a novel?

According to our Justice Department:

“According to the allegations, while living in the United States, Saab served as an operative of Hizballah and conducted surveillance of possible target locations in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks against the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Such covert activities conducted on U.S. soil are a clear threat to our national security and I applaud the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and prosecution.”

“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,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “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.”

In 2000, Saab lawfully entered the United States using a Lebanese passport. In 2005, Saab 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.” In August 2008, Saab became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Finally, unrelated to his IJO activities, in July 2012, Saab married another individual (CC-1) so that CC-1 could apply for naturalized citizenship in the United States based on their marriage. On March 13, 2015, Saab and CC-1 jointly filed a petition seeking to obtain naturalized citizenship for CC-1. In doing so, Saab and CC-1 falsely claimed under penalty of perjury that their marriage was “not for the purpose of procuring an immigration benefit.”

Could Mr. Saab have done almost everything that he did perfectly legally? What if he wrote and published (electronically) a novel about an American jihad in which targets were scouted out and the characters discussed the challenges and merits of attacking the different targets? He could even have included his explosives drawings and been protected under the First Amendment. Mr. Saab’s colleagues back in Lebanon could have downloaded the book and gotten all of the information that he attempted to convey to them covertly.

[Separately, consider the impact of this event on the American immigration and criminal justice industries. They banked revenue when Mr. Saab immigrated in 2000. They got paid more during his citizenship process. They got paid again, presumably, when it was time for Mr. Saab to bring in his spouse (of unspecified gender ID?), “CC-1”. The press release from the Federales describes a potential prison sentence of 50+ years, so that’s decades of paychecks, health care, and pension checks for people who work in the Federal prisons. Plus a couple of years of paychecks for a judge, lawyers, and other court-affiliated personnel.]

Related:

  • Five fast facts about the accused jihadi: “In 2005, he flew through Turkey back to the U.S. and was stopped and interviewed at the airport ‘due to the detective of an explosive substance on his luggage or clothing.’ He had just completed his explosives training.” (but three years later, he was approved for citizenship)

2 thoughts on “Could Ali Hassan Saab have avoided prosecution by writing a novel?

  1. This is a very confused post. In this little snippet you quote (and the indictment itself likely contains a lot more facts) , the defendant is accused of taking various steps (joining a terrorist organization, lying on a citizenship application, surveillance of targets, phony marriage, etc. ) in furtherance of a crime — the snippet you quote does not seem to identify the crime. If he took those steps and then wrote a novel about it what difference in terms of committing the crime would then writing a novel make? Alternatively, if he fantasized about something, for example committing a crime, and wrote a novel about his fantasies he would not be taking steps in furtherance of committing a crime.

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