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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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A Trio of Lebanese men caught in Merida with Belizean passports has raised concerns that there may have been a terrorist cell operating in Belize.

The men are Yasser Safa - who became notorious for various hustles while he was in Belize, George Abdalah Elters who was a mechanic on Coney Drive in Belize City and a man named Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun who had a Belizean passport in the name Wilhelm Dick. According to the Yucatan Times Labboun is a suspected member of the terrorist network Hezbollah. Mexican police descended on his Merida home in force on Saturday night, which is when he presented himself with the fake passport.

George Abdalah Elters and Justin Yasser Safa were also arrested with him. Media outlets in Mexico report that they both had valid immigration forms - and had entered through Chetumal. Some reports suggest that Labboun also entered through Chetumal - while other reports say that he flew into Cancun and others say he flew straight from Los Angeles.

And while there is a great deal of chatter - it is unconfirmed: The fact is Labboun is an American Citizen - who has lived in the US for over 30 years, and was convicted of credit card fraud. He served a custodial sentence and was out on parole - but violated the terms of that parole when he left the US.

Mexican authorities wasted no time with him - and got him out to Houston on the next plane. Yesterday he appeared before a judge in Texas for violating his parole. He was returned to California for imprisonment.

From there - the story takes on a life of its own. According to multiple news reports in Mexico and right wing sites in the United States, Labboun as well as Safa and Elters have suspected ties to Hezbollah - which the US lists as a terror group. Additionally, those news reports say that he is involved with a branch of Hezbollah active in Central America and Mexico. And while there's a lot of speculation - there's not much word on what happened to Safa and Elters - who are both well known in Belize. Some Mexican reports say they along with Safa's children were released because they were legally in Mexico, while other reports say they are detained for further investigation.

We tried but there was no comment from the US Embassy in Belize or the Immigration Department in Belmopan. According to the Ministry of National Security Wilhelm Dick has a Belizean birth certificate which says he was born in Shipyard in 1976 - and he has a Belizean drivers license issued in Belmopan. The Ministry is working to see if it is the case of identity theft or an invented identity.

And if that wasn't enough a Wanted US national Khaffak Sahib Ansari was captured on San Pedro Ambergris Caye, on Thursday September 6th. According to the San Pedro Sun, 46 year old Ansari, who was convicted in the U.S. for fraud in May of 2012, was detained by local authorities after a woman made a report against him at the local police station.

investigators decided to run a search of his name in their database and found that Ansari should have been serving a jail sentence in the USA for charges of fraud.

Channel 7

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Marty Offline OP
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Yasser Safa; "I'm not a terrorist"

Yasser Safa

Two Belizeans are making headlines across the globe tonight. Justin George Abdalah Elders and Yasser Safa who lived in Belama as well as the Los Lagos area are being linked to the radical movement, Hezbollah. Safa, a naturalized Belizean, is originally from Lebanon. The third man who was arrested, Rafik Mohammed Labboun Allaboun, is a U.S. national, who was wanted by his government and has been confirmed as a member of Hezbollah. All three men were arrested in Merida, Yucatan late Saturday in a raid that involved the use of armored vehicles as well as a Barret M-82 or Light Fifty 'anti materiel' rifle. Inside the building that was under seige was Safa's Belizean born wife, Janine Gabb, and their children, who were initially detained but they were eventually released since they are legally living in Mexico It was a highly risky raid because the rounds on the Light Fifty can immobilize a vehicle, breach barriers, penetrate commercial brick walls and concrete blocks. Mexican immigration agents and the police were working in conjunction with the US Homeland Security and the FBI. Reports show that intelligence agencies in the United States were tracking the group as, "part of a cell of Hezbollah-linked Arab terrorists who were operating in Mexico and Central America." Safa and his brother have been in some trouble in Belize but nothing of this magnitude. In his defense, Safa told News Five late this evening that he had met Allaboun five days ago and he never suspected that the man was involved in terrorism. Safa called from Mexico to say that he and his family are innocent and he is not under arrest.

Jose Sanchez

"Yasser, are you a terrorist? Are you related to Hezbollah?"

Rafik Mohammed Labboun Allaboun

Via Phone: Yasser Safa, Says He is not a Terrorist

"From when I will be related to Hezbollah because I am a Lebanese man? Over twenty years I have lived in Belize and my wife is Belizean; all my children live in Belize. My son he is a thirteen year old; his name is Justin Yasser Safa-he is thirteen years old and they say he is a terrorist? They have to look at that too and right now they are looking for me in Mexico and in Belize now they are looking for me-a lot of checkpoints and they say they are looking for a terrorist."

Jose Sanchez

"Yasser, they are saying the man you were found; that U.S. Citizen, he is involved with Hezbollah, he is an associate of yours and perhaps you may have assisted him in getting a Belizean passport with the name that sounds like a Mennonite's name."

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"I noh getting no passport for nobody, number one; and I noh know this man past. Somebody from Belize called to recommend if I could give this man help in Mexico like four, five days-that he's a Lebanese and anybody Lebanese could come and if they need help and I could help them. Like any Belizean right now coming to Merida to hospital we help too here. I don't know what the man doing before and what is the problem. And he walking with my brother is not walking with me. Walking in the street and the police come and arrest and take the two and then say he is a terrorist and then have my brother arrested."

Jose Sanchez

"So the other Belizean that was detained or arrested is your brother?"

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"Yes. He is my brother, Samer Safa."

Jose Sanchez

"Now Yasser, I understand that during this entire thing that your wife and kids were also detained?"

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"Yes they were detained because they say my wife is Janine Goff and because she's my wife and I am a Lebanese then she is a terrorist. So they take her, locked her down over fifteen hours-she and my son and daughter and my next son. And next thing; about the mechanic, George Perez-everybody knows him by Coney Drive he gets same thing in Merida with us because he's Lebanese; they say he is terrorist too that belongs to Hezbollah."

Jose Sanchez

Justin George Abdalah Elders

"Yasser, how long have you met this American guy who they say is actually related to Hezbollah? They have traced his background. How long have you known him since you've been introduced to him?"

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"Five days we know this man. We have a pack in my house with the commandant of police, with the federales, we make food and this man normal like us; like we noh think that he is a terrorist. We very sudden find out that he is a terrorist and all the information come in by the TV and the newspapers and everything come back to me."

Jose Sanchez

"Did he ever tell you he was a Belizean or he's an American? Did he show you this passport that he had from Belize?"

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"He never showed me the passport. He said he was going to Free Zone one day, but to meet a cousin. I don't know who he meet, but he gone and come back the next day; that's all. He said that he lives in the U.S. over twenty, twenty-five years and that he is a teacher-I don't know-in a university. And I noh know nothing about his past."

Jose Sanchez

"But Yasser, unfortunately, you know your name has come up in the news before. So people say, oh you know Yasser may have been involved with some things in the past so why not now? What do you have to say to those people who judge you?"

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"Look, I could involve with a lot of thing illegally maybe-something small. I don't have time to go with terrorist people; I don't go like that. If I am a terrorist person, my wife she is a catholic and I have her dress clothes and like a Muslim-I give her her own religion, follow her own religion and I follow my own religion. I noh believe about god too. How dehn people say I am a terrorist."

Jose Sanchez

"Yasser, at this point, you are on the run; your face is known, you can't hide. At some point do you think you should maybe go and talk to authorities to let them know that you are innocent; just tell them what you know of this guy that you've met for a few days?"

Via Phone: Yasser Safa

"The police of Merida, Yucatan, they already said that they have nothing against me; they noh have nothing. Only the news them make this story that FBI looking for me. And I already talked to the Big Chief of Police. We gone to a lot of people here; what happen man; please lock me down. I am here in the street and I noh have no problem. I am the owner of restaurant, Habibi."

Allaboun was released this summer from a federal prison, where he had served twenty-seven months for credit card fraud that authorities suspected was linked to fundraising for Hezbollah in the U.S. Though he was released from prison only months ago, Allaboun fled to Mexico using a Belizean passport with the name Wilhelm Dick, hoping to pass as a Belizean Mennonite. Though it is unconfirmed, several news organizations allege that Allaboun's cell may be related to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Allaboun was immediately taken to a detention center in the U.S. for questioning. News Five attempted several times to speak to the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of National Security, Delroy Cuthkelvin, who said he would get back to us since he is trying to clarify a few details about Allaboun's Belizean passport. We have a few details we also want clarified. When was the passport for the American citizen with a criminal past issued? Which person at the Ministry of Immigration signed the passport, and better yet, who authorized the passport to be issued in the name of Wilhelm Dick? If the person whose face is in the passport is required to take his photo at the Immigration Office, how did Allaboun get his face on the passport without being in the country? One thing is clear, established policies continue to be disregarded, but under whose leadership was the passport issued? From all account, the Belizean identity continues to be flaunted as a cover for criminals and in this case a member of the radical terrorist group, Hezbollah.

Channel 5

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Marty Offline OP
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The Belize Ministry of National Security has launched an investigation to determine how a Lebanese-American imam-said to have key Hezbollah links and who was wanted on a Texas warrant after skipping parole in the US-found his way into Belize and stole the identity of a dead Mennonite by obtaining an official copy of his birth certificate, which he used to obtain a passport and then a driver's license before absconding to Mexico, where he was picked up over the weekend in a heavily armed operation by Mexican security officials aided by US intelligence operatives.

Days before the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, Mexican state police and immigration agents descended with high caliber weapons on a house located in Francisco de Montejo in west Merida and detained Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, 44, an imam from the Shia Association Bay Area (SABA Islamic Center) in San Jose, California. The Islamic spiritual leader has allegedly been linked to a radical cell of Hezbollah agents operating in the US and Central America, who FBI authorities in the US are now investigating for alleged links to the 9/11 incident.

Mexico's National Immigration Institute (Spanish acronym INM) reported in a bulletin on Monday, September 10, that Rafic Labboun-who had allegedly skipped parole and fled to Mexico on a Belizean passport fraudulently obtained under the name Wilhelm Dyck-had been apprehended in M�rida, Yucat�n, on Saturday, and returned to the USA for charges.

The Mexican institute said that at the time of his arrest, Labboun was accompanied by Samer Youssef Safa, 34, who holds Belizean citizenship.

Belize National Security officials say that the third man arrested, Justin George Abdallah Elters, Belizean by naturalization, has been released from custody, but Samer is still in detention and Mexican authorities are interested in questioning his elder brother, Yasser, as well. Both Safa brothers have been in Merida on business.

Mere hours after his detention in Merida, Labboun was flown off to the USA. He was charged in Texas on Monday and immediately transferred to the San Jose division of the Northern District Court of California for booking.

Since 2005, Samer Safa's name has come up in Belize media circles in connection with allegations of multiple cheque fraud in Belize, as well as investigations surrounding duty evasion on late model vehicles that had allegedly been stolen and imported into Belize. There was some confusion over whether it was Samer or his brother Yasser who had been accused of check fraud, since some reports to police implicated Samer while others implicated Yasser.

Meanwhile, Belize National Security Press Officer Delroy Cuthkelvin has indicated to Amandala that Samer and Yasser Safa are also wanted for questioning in Belize, as authorities here try to unravel the mystery of how Labboun entered Belize and obtained the false Mennonite identity. Belizean authorities hope that the Safas would be handed over either today or tomorrow. Belizean authorities are still investigating what name Labboun used to enter Belize.

International press reports say that Labboun had been released this June from a US prison after serving a two-year sentence for credit card fraud, allegedly as part of a fundraising scheme to aid Hezbollah activities in the US. Labboun was bonded to repay over US$100,000 raised via the scheme and he was on a 3-year probation/parole when he fled the country.

Indications are that Labboun was in Belize for at least three days before moving over to Mexico. On Wednesday, August 29, the birth certificate for Wilhelm Dyck was issued by the Vital Statistics Unit in Belize City.

On Thursday, August 30, 2012, the same birth certificate was used to obtain an emergency passport in Belize City for a fee of $100. The identity of persons seeking Belizean passports, by law, has to be verified by a Justice of the Peace (JP).

In this case, Juliana Arana, whose house, incidentally, was burned down in what authorities suspect was an act of arson, is the JP on record as having verified the identity of the man posing as Wilhelm Dyck. Cuthkelvin said that Belize police have since questioned Arana, but she has indicated that she does not recall having authenticated the identity of the man.

Police have also questioned Gilroy Guzman, the Immigration supervisor at the Belize City Passport Office, who authorities said received and approved the application after the front desk clerk sent back the man posing as Wilhelm Dyck because he did not have the required photo ID.

Guzman has since claimed that he was presented with a Social Security ID when he received the passport application, said Cuthkelvin.

On Friday, August 31, 2012, after the passport was issued, it was used to obtain a driver's license in Belmopan. Oddly, license #12,571 was issued by the Belmopan office although, according to the Ministry of National Security, they had not yet reached the 12,000 series.

There are other glaring anomalies: Investigators have said that they have been unable to source the original applications filed at the Vital Statistics and Passport offices - documents they say could be key in unraveling the case.

Cuthkelvin, who agreed that the country's national security system has been breached, told our newspaper that investigations are ongoing, as authorities try to determine who may have facilitated Labboun in Belize.

Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse told Amandala today that there was a lengthy meeting with senior immigration staff, and they have rechecked their system in an effort to find out what went wrong. Hulse said that an internal investigation is ongoing at the highest level, as they are trying to look at tightening up potential loopholes in the system.

For the meantime, said Minister Hulse, Government has discontinued the issuance of emergency passports, unless they are approved by the Director of Immigration Ruth Meighan or her deputy. By next week, said Hulse, the Ministry of Immigration hopes to announce new passport application procedures. He told us that Guzman has not been interdicted from duty.

The case of Rafic Labboun is now an international investigation that spans at least three countries - the USA, Belize and Mexico: right after assuming the identity of Wilhelm Dyck of Shipyard Orange Walk, the man reportedly fled the border. The day after obtaining his Belmopan driver's license, Saturday, September 1, 2012, the man now identified as Rafic Labboun crossed the Mexican border to Quintana Roo and then made his way to Cancun, where he was arrested a week later, on Saturday, September 8.

Criminal investigations immediately launched in Belize verified that William Dyck, born February 8, 1976, died 2 months after birth and his parents, David and Judith Dyck, have since passed away. This was reportedly verified by his sister in Belize.

The international news reports also say that Samer Youssef Safa, who is being linked with Labboun's escape from the US, may be related to top Hezbollah security chief, Wafik Safa, who is also married to Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah's sister.

Mexican immigration sources have indicated to Belizean officials that Samer arrived in Quintana Roo on May 12, 2012, and was granted a 6-month entry as a tourist. However, he also holds a Mexican residency card issued last December and valid for one year. It is an inconsistency that we understand also concerns Mexican authorities - he can't be both tourist and resident.

According to Vision Radio of Mexico, the US Embassy in Mexico and its Merida consulate have been investigating the possible presence of Hezbollah in Yucat�n since 2009, and the possibility that they may have been using the same narco-trafficking and human trafficking routes that have been used to access the US.

The Hezbollah/Al Qaeda links in Belize have also been under watch by US and Mexican authorities.

The report points to a Pakistani businessman and two Lebanese residents of Belize, with Chetumal connections, as agents for a terrorist network which launders money and traffics drugs, arms, people and stolen vehicles from Central America to Lebanon to aid terrorist activities.

For now, though, the Belize Ministry of National Security is focusing its investigations on how Labboun could have breached Belize's borders.

According to Cuthkelvin, Mexican Immigration sources have indicated that when Safa took Mexican authorities to find Elters, Yasser Safa's wife, Janine Gabb-Safa, and their three children, all born in Belize, were at the same location in Mexico.

Amandala was advised at press time this evening that Belize police have forwarded a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Chery-LynnVidal, for her to advise whether anyone should be charged in connection with the investigations.


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