Of Masters and Their Slaves

"It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master." ―Ayn Rand

Monday, May 13, 2013

Malcolm Shabazz Murdered in a Bar in Mexico City

Sam Bazzi, counterterrorism activist
Sam Bazzi
By Sam Bazzi, counterterrorism analyst & activist

Malcolm Shabazz, a maternal grandson and the namesake of the late African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X, was beaten to death on Thursday, May 9, 2013, in The Palace Club, a rough dive bar/brothel located near Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City, Mexico. He was 28.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Shabazz went to The Palace along with his friend Miguel Angel Suarez, an organizer of RUMEC, a labor and construction group based in California. Shabazz was relaxing, sipping beer and enjoying the company of female dancers, but during the early hours of Thursday the duo became involved in a violent dispute over a $1,200 bar tab. Shabazz was separated from Suarez and several club employees assaulted him. After severely beating Shabazz, his assailants left him next to a nearby sewage. He later died from several blunt-force trauma injuries.

Malcolm Shabazz praying during the his twisted keynote speech at Saba Islamic Center's Husayn Day "Peace" Walk in downtown Oakland, California.
Prior to his murder, Shabazz, a convert to Shia Islam, was highly active at various Khomeinist Shia centers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Saba Center of San Jose, Fatimiyya Islamic Center of Hayward, and others. Shabazz promoted the Iranian and Syrian regimes as well as Hezbollah among his audiences.


RUMEC leader Miguel Suarez

While the Saba Center Monitor considers Shabazz a traitor and agent of the oppressive anti-America Velayat-e Faqih Iranian regime and totally rejects his radical message and Khomeinist political stance, we also strongly condemn his tragic murder and call on authorities to arrest and prosecute his killers to the fullest extent of the law.

The Monitor also denounces those who are alleging that Shabazz was assassinated by Western intelligence services such as the CIA, FBI, etc.

Sam Bazzi is an American counterterrorism activist and counter-ideology expert. He is the founder of the Islamic Counterterrorism Institute. Bazzi blogs at sambazzi.blogspot.com and tweets at @sambazzi.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rafic Labboun Scheduled for Release from Federal Prison Again

During the past four years, Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck; a.k.a. Raffic Mohammed Labboun Allaboun; a.k.a. Hajj Rafik), a leading Hezbollah operative, convicted felon, fugitive, impersonator, and Imam with Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, California (Shia Association of Bay Area), has spent much of his time touring U.S. Federal prisons.

Labboun is now scheduled for release from the custody of Federal authorities on Saturday, May 11, 2013. However, Labboun might still face charges in Belize for all the troubles he caused during his adventure there last year (2012).

Screenshot of the Federal inmate locator of Rafic Labboun as of April 7, 2013, with the Mexican mugshot of Labboun imposed on it.
Screenshot of the Federal inmate locator of Rafic Labboun
as of April 7, 2013, with the Mexican mugshot of Labboun
imposed on it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sam Bazzi discusses Saba Islamic Center on NITV United with Zia Atabay



IMPORTANT NOTICE:

There has been confusion about the likeness of Rafic Labboun, with some publishers showing the late Edoardo Agnelli as Labboun. Here is the photo of Agnelli:


This is Edoardo Agnelli, NOT Rafic Labboun
This is Edoardo Agnelli, NOT Rafic Labboun.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sammy S. of Daly City Reviews Saba Center on Yelp

Sammy S. of Daly City, California, shared a candid review about Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center) on Yelp. He gave the center only one star. Here is what he wrote:

Shia Association of the Bay Area 
Category: Mosques
8/27/2012 
I dont recommend it. Four parallel halls of fitna, waste of money, more cultural than spiritual. You're better off praying at a park on a  rainy day. Dont let this masjid change your view about the Shia branch of Islam.
If you're a capitalist person of preferably Indian, Pakistani or Iranian origin you'd make a good addition to this so-called "Islamic" community located smack dab in the heart of silicon valley. My best advice is to attend the center for yourself and see if it works for you. Have fun! 
The good thing about this center, however, is the youth are active and challenging the above-mentioned negativity although they make the center feel more like a college than a spiritual center. Good people though.

Shia Association of the Bay Area - Category: Mosques - 8/27/2012 - I dont recommend it. Four parallel halls of fitna, waste of money, more cultural than spiritual. You're better off praying at a park on a  rainy day. Dont let this masjid change your view about the Shia branch of Islam. If you're a capitalist person of preferably Indian, Pakistani or Iranian origin you'd make a good addition to this so-called "Islamic" community located smack dab in the heart of silicon valley. My best advice is to attend the center for yourself and see if it works for you. Have fun! The good thing about this center, however, is the youth are active and challenging the above-mentioned negativity although they make the center feel more like a college than a spiritual center. Good people though.
Screen shot of Sammy S.'s review of Saba Center at Yelp

What's most interesting about the post of Sammy S. is that he evidently recognized that the halls of Saba Center are ones of "fitna." Fitna is Arabic for strife and chaos. That's exactly what Saba Center has caused year after year, time and again, for so many people and in so many places in the Bay Area and beyond.

Shame on Saba Center!

Friday, September 21, 2012

No Hezbollah in Mexico?

Janice Kephart
Janice Kephart
By Janice Kephart

Just a month ago, the State Department's Counterterrorism Coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, said Hezbollah is "a very ambitious group with global reach." Benjamin did so at an event that re-designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, this time for its support of Assad's regime in Syria. He was asked more than once about Hezbollah's threat here in the United States, and while he tried to say nothing ("I'll just leave it at that"), he did: not only is Hezbollah an ambitious group with global reach, but clearly there is more to the story. "I'll just leave it at that" from the State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator means "I just can't tell you right now."

So let's not have a chat about Hezbollah's history of criminal activity here in the United States; that is widely available elsewhere and in the federal criminal court system. Let's talk about a strong reminder of how Hezbollah behaves in the United States. A couple of weeks ago there was a small blip in the news cycle providing an update not only on terrorist travel methods, but confirming that Hezbollah finds safe haven (at minimum) in Mexico.

Rafic Labboun "Allaboun" (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck)
Rafic Labboun "Allaboun"
(a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck)
From whom? For Raffic Labboun, 44-year-old Lebanese naturalized U.S. citizen considered to be the San Francisco Bay Area Hezbollah leader, who was arrested earlier this month in Mexico. He followed classic terrorist travel embedding tactics: he attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and graduated as a mathematician, married an American, and had two children here before disappearing back to Lebanon in 2002. He subsequently committed over $102,000 in bank and credit card fraud. He briefly returned to the United States in 2006 to preach at Fatimiyya Islamic Center in Hayward, California, and do business as well. He again returned to the United States in December 2008, but this time he was arrested and in 2009 he was convicted. He was imprisoned until June 2012, and in August he fled abroad only to be found on the east coast of southern Mexico near Belize with a Belizean passport under a false or stolen name. According to Mexican reporting that states its information is from the CIA, this naturalized U.S. citizen was simultaneously a lead recruiter and imam for Hezbollah in San Francisco, preaching at the Iraqi Community Association (ICA) in downtown San Francisco, the Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, CA), and Fatimiyya Islamic Center of Hayward, Calif. For more on the Shia Center and San Francisco replacing Dearborn, Mich., as the U.S. Hezbollah hub, see this article.

Considered one of the smartest and most eloquent of the Hezbollah leadership here in the United States, Raffic Labboun, now referred to as Labboun "Allaboun" but using the false or stolen name of Belizean Wilhelm Dyck when he was picked up by Mexican police, is the epitome of terrorist travel 101. The terrorist travel strategy has core elements: establish residence in the United States, permanently embed, build a family with birthright citizenship ties, and either operationally carry out an attack or more likely support the terror organization from the United States publicly (preaching and recruitment) or privately (often via illegal criminal activity).

Labboun did all of these so well in a post-9/11 environment that only his $102,000 credit card fraud, traced as laundered to finance Hezbollah, led to his downfall; the simple recruitment and alleged leadership of San Francisco Hezbollah on their own would probably not have been enough. Obtaining U.S. citizenship while being affiliated with a terrorist organization has become so commonplace that few do more than shrug at the nonfeasance of USCIS.

What is interesting about this case is that Labboun became such a "Hezbollah in America" poster boy that in the end, he unraveled himself by being textbook perfect in his execution of Hezbollah's travel, embedding, recruitment, and fundraising strategies.

The irony is that Labboun's supporters came to his defense emphatically upon his arrest in 2009, which only verified at least some of the accusations leveled against him: support for Iran, criminal activity, and extreme hatred toward the United States all bundled into public commentary. Instead of supporting Labboun, the YouTube video "Ya RAFIC Labboun!" created upon his arrest, touts his extreme, anti-American views, and specific support for Iran.

If anyone actually wondered if pre-trial allegations about Labboun were true, just listen to his followers rap about "Imam Khomeini standing tall against the Great Satan" ("Great Satan" is the Iranian reference to the United States. "Little Satan" is Israel), followed by this chorus and lyric:

Like Imam Khomeini standing tall against Great Satan
Ya Rafic, we hear the peace you speak
Yo bro, we know their goal is to oppress the weak
You've been blessed with the belief
So they stress your every speech
Yo bro, we know the victory is within reach
Malicious prosecution
Baseless racist devilution
This ain't embarrassing
A Lebanese American
Community leader, father, good Samaritan
Building unity amongst Muslims, Christians, peace believers
They demonize him, terrorize him
With lies that's deceivers
But it's no surprise when
They did it to Seyed at Masjid Nabi
Credit card fraud, just a front sadly
They concoct up a story
So-called plots and schemes
Without any evidence

When Labboun was released from federal prison in June 2012, he immediately violated his parole and left the United States, whereupon an international alert was sent out. U.S. intelligence agencies apparently said that Labboun was part of a Hezbollah cell operating out of the Yucatan and Central America. No wonder he was found near Belize, on the far southeastern coast of Mexico, in Merida, with two other Lebanese men from Belize. No Hezbollah in Mexico, Mr. President? The FBI just proved that comment wrong.

Reports say he arrived in Mexico from London. Belize newspapers said this about his passport:

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


Though he was released from prison only months ago, Allaboun fled to Mexico using a Belizean passport with the name Wilhelm Dyck, hoping to pass as a Belizean Mennonite. … 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 Dyck? 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 accounts, the Belizean identity continues to be flaunted as a cover for criminals and in this case a member of the radical terrorist group, Hezbollah.

While I applaud questioning the Belize passport acquisition by Labboun, I wonder why they assume it was a legitimate passport? In the end, it does not matter very much. What matters is that terrorist travel continues to the United States and is often not caught until after immigration has awarded the terrorist U.S. citizenship. When it will stop, nobody knows.

This article was first published by the Center of Immigration Studies.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hezbollah in Latin America: Terrorism and Organized Crime

Román D. Ortiz
Román D. Ortiz

By Román D. Ortiz

On September 8th, officials from the National Migration Institute of Mexico, supported by the Yucatan state police, captured a U.S. citizen of Lebanese origin, named Rafic Mohammed Labboun, in the city of Merida. Along with Labboun, Belize nationals George Abdalah Elders, Yasser Safa and another three members of his family were apprehended. The next day, Labboun was transferred to the U.S. authorities for violating his probation. In fact, he had been released from prison a few months ago after serving a two year sentence for fraud.

During the trial, the FBI accused Labboun of engaging in systemic bank fraud. Indeed, he was convicted for a scam. However, the recent reopening of this case has highlighted two features of the growing activity of this Lebanese terrorist group in Latin America. Firstly, its determination to increase its presence in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico as a strategy to get into the territory of the United States. Secondly, its involvement in criminal activities such as drug trafficking and financial fraud.

Mexican mugshot of the convicted felon Rafic Labboun "Allaboun" of Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, California.
Mexican mugshot of the convicted felon
Rafic Labboun "Allaboun" of
Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, California.
Labboun was born in Dahieh (Lebanon) in 1968 and moved to the U.S. at the age of 18 to study mathematics at the U.C. Santa Cruz. After a stay in Lebanon between 2002 and 2006, he returned to the U.S. and settled in the San Francisco area. He became known as a preacher in a network of Northern California-based Khomeinist organizations such as the Shia Association of Bay Area (SABA Islamic Center of San Jose) and Fatimiyya Islamic Center of Hayward. Also, he carried out intense proselytizing activities and participated in the translation of key texts about Shia religious saints. At the same time, he organized a criminal enrichment scheme based on credit card fraud and forging checks. The funds obtained were intended to fill the coffers of Hezbollah. All these activities –quasi legal, quasi criminal– came to an abrupt end when the FBI arrested Labboun at the airport in San Francisco in January 2009. The judge sentenced him to three years in prison and the restitution to the affected banks of more than US $102,000.

The recent arrest of Labboun in Mexico has uncovered a much more extensive and complex plot than the previously known story of a low-level financier of Islamist terrorism. One of the captured Belizeans, Yasser Safa, is well-known by the Central American police. He has been involved in a number of offences, which include selling stolen cars and counterfeiting checks. In addition, he was arrested with three kilos of cocaine in Panama and was accused of smuggling illegal immigrants into Mexico. Beyond these crimes, according to some sources, U.S. intelligence has been monitoring the activities of Safa for some time due to increased suspicion that he was connected to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Labboun carried a fake Belize passport that had been purchased with a birth certificate for a person who died in 1976. This is a sign of the level of corruption that has turned the small Caribbean Republic into a source of documents for trafficking networks sending illegal immigrants into the U.S.

The connection of Labboun with Belize coincides with a number of intelligence reports in recent years that have exposed the presence of the Islamist networks in the Caribbean. According to these sources, the main agent in these clandestine structures is believed to be an individual with dual nationality of Pakistan and Belize that responds to the nickname of “Dr. Vegas” This individual was involved in the narcotics trafficking and counted on the collaboration of the Lebanese network which has been involved in money laundering, human trafficking and the sale of used cars. In this context, the presence of the criminal structures of “Dr. Vegas” in the free zone of Chetumal and the border city of Tijuana is significant. Apparently, during his stay in Merida, Labboun made a short trip to “meet a cousin” in Chetumal. Two years earlier in June 2010, it was reported that Ali “Jameel” Nasr was arrested in Tijuana under the suspicion of trying to organize a Hezbollah support cell composed of Mexicans of Lebanese origin. Thus, the case of Labboun has helped to highlight the extent of the Islamist networks in Central America and Mexico.

It is not the first time that a connection has been identified between Hezbollah and the Latin American criminal networks. In October 2008, the existence of a cooperation network between the Lebanese terrorist organization and the Colombian drug traffickers gang known as the ¨Envigado Office” was uncovered. The key player in this alliance proved to be a Colombian citizen of Lebanese origin, Checky Mahmoud Harb, "Taliban", who coordinated the drug shipments from Colombia to the U.S., Europe and the Middle East through Central America, Mexico and Venezuela. A significant part of the profits produced by this extensive drug trafficking scheme ended up in the pockets of Hezbollah through a series of money laundering activities. However, the network was dismantled after the Titan Operation, launched by the authorities in Washington and Bogota, that resulted in the arrest of 111 people in six countries and Harb's extradition to the U.S.

However, the impact of the Titan Operation proved to be short lived. In fact, the alliance between the Colombian drug trafficking organizations and Hezbollah has been reconstructed. Again, the key player in this process has been a Colombian citizen of Lebanese origin, Ayman Saied Joumaa, who has built a criminal empire based on the sending of tons of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico to sell to the cartel of “Los Zetas”. The profits are hidden through an extensive network of businesses including hotels, shops and exchange offices in countries such as Lebanon, Colombia, Panama and Benin. According to estimates from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), between 2007 and 2010, the network could have laundered US$ 329 million. Within this scheme, Hezbollah received a share of the profits in exchange for their support in protecting the narcotics and the money received in exchange for them.

With the above in mind, it is clear that Hezbollah has developed a number of connections with organized crime in Latin America. In this context, it is crucial to ask what these partnerships mean to the operational capacity of the Lebanese terrorist group. In other words, to what extent do these links provide new operational opportunities for Hezbollah in the Hemisphere? In this regard, it is worth emphasizing three points. To begin with, it is clear that the Islamist organization has found in its criminal connections an important source of financing. Moreover, the relations with gangsters and criminals have also provided new ways to improve its strategic mobility to penetrate the countries of the region. This is the case of human trafficking networks which make it easier to cross borders. But the same is also true for the possible utilization of semi-submersible vessels used in drug smuggling to transport militants to the coasts where they plan to act. Finally, these types of alliances mean that Hezbollah can hire mercenaries to execute attacks which exceed its operational capabilities, or where the participation of the Islamist group has to be denied and others blamed in its place. The clearest example of the potential of these "attacks by proxy¨ is the case of the Iranian agent arrested by the FBI a year ago when he planned to hire Mexican hitmen to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. From this point of view, the connections between Hezbollah and organized crime can be seen only as bad news for hemispheric security: a more complex environment where it will be more difficult to prevent the threat of terrorism.

The first version of this article was published by Réalité-EU.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rafic Labboun Enters Belize into the World of Terrorism!

Adele Ramos-Daly, Belizean poet, author, journalist and publisher.
Adele Ramos-Daly
By Adele Ramos

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 Mérida, Yucatán, on Saturday, and returned to the USA for charges.

From top left, Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck), George Abdallah Elters, Yasser Safa and Samer Safa
From top left, Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck),
George Abdallah Elters, Yasser Safa and Samer Safa

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

John Saldivar, Belize Minister of National Security
John Saldivar,
Minister of National Security
in Belize
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.

Delroy Cuthkelvin
Delroy Cuthkelvin
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.

Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck) upon his arrest in Mexico
Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck)
upon his arrest in Mexico
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 Yucatán 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, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, for her to advise whether anyone should be charged in connection with the investigations.

This article was first published by Amandala in Belize.

About Adele Ramos


Adele Ramos-Daly, Belizean poet, author, journalist and publisher.
Adele Ramos-Daly
Adele Ramos-Daly is a Belizean poet, author, journalist and publisher. She is assistant editor of the Amandala, a widely circulated tabloid newspaper, published twice weekly. Both her father and her grandfather, the Garifuna leader Thomas Vincent Ramos, were writers for Belize's major newspapers.

Adele Ramos writes short stories, poetry and songs. She was the founding president of the Belizean Poets Society in 2005, since renamed the Belizean Poets and Writers Society. She was reelected president of the society in November 2006. She is also founder of the Belizean Poets Web Group and of Ramos Publishing. In September 2006 Adele Ramos Daly was one of the forces behind the Belizean Poets Society's the first ever Belizean poetry exhibit at the Bliss Institute for the Creative Arts. The exhibit included works from veteran poets like George Price, John Alexander Watler, Dr. Corrinth Lewis, Evan X Hyde and Myrna Manzanares, works from contemporary poets and CDs and DVDs.

Adele Ramos has released two CD's - Red Graffiti (songs and poetry), and Black Orchid Raw: Volume 1 (raw voice poetry).

Bibliography:
  • T.V. Ramos - The Man and His Writings, (National Garifuna Council of Belize, 2000 ISBN 976-8111-56-9). Documents the life and works of her grandfather, a civil rights activist and Garifuna leader.
  • PHASES (2005). An anthology of love poems.
  • Liberated (2005). An anthology of poems by Anne K. Lowe
  • Sunset Jewel (2006). An anthology of poems from a Belizean national poetry contest.
  • X Hyde's Sports, sin and subversion (2008)
This article was first published in Wikipedia.

Note: Adele Ramos is not associated with the Saba Center Monitor, directly or indirectly.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rafic Labboun is Wilhelm Dick: Who helped Hezbollah terrorist get Belizean passport and IDs?

Jose Sanchez of Channel 5 in Belize
Jose Sanchez
The case of the U.S. national who has been deemed part of a Hezbollah terrorist cell operating in the Yucatan area and Central America, has sparked a criminal investigation in Belize because he had Belizean documents. Rafik Mohammed Labboun (Allaboun) was caught during a raid in Merida, Mexico over the weekend and authorities found he had been using the identity of Wilhelm Dick, a Belizean infant who died two months after his birth in 1976.



It is now confirmed that the man linked to the terrorist organization was in Belize in late August when he obtained Belizean documents including a passport in the infant’s name. Because it was a new passport to be issued, Labboun did not possess a social security card or a voter’s Identification. That is why the officer at the Immigration Office in Belize City requested a supervisor to handle the situation. News Five has confirmed that it is the supervisor, Gilroy Guzman who approved the passport to be issued to the man who was posing as Wilhelm Dick.  Sources say that since the police want to question Guzman, he is seeking advice from an attorney. Earlier today, News Five spoke to the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of National Security, Delroy Cutkelvin who says that the situation has morphed to a criminal investigation.

Delroy Cuthkelvin, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of National Security


Rafik Mohammed Labboun Allaboun of Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, CA)
Rafic Labboun (Rafik Mohammed Labboun Allaboun) of Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, CA)
Jose Sanchez
“Belize is a very multicultural society. You know, I can look at someone and identify them as an Arab. He carried the name Wilhelm Dick. Was there any alarm bells called off? What about the J.P. or the Immigration Department? Was there anything of concern when they see this face with that name?”

“Rafik Mohammad Labboun Allaboun. What we have been trying to establish is, you know he was carrying a passport that was referred to as a fake passport, a fake Belizean passport. What we have been trying to establish is, first of all, whether the document and other documents he was carrying were officially issued by Belizean authorities. He was carrying a fake passport in the name of Wilhelm Dick. We have been able to established since then that in fact, when teams went out to Shipyard in Orange Walk which was listed as the place of birth of the person by the name of Wilhelm Dick; that there was in fact a Wilhelm Dick was born in Shipyard, Orange Walk, on the eighth of February, 1976. And that person was registered a month later and that that person was born to parents who are David and Judith Dick—as indeed listed on the birth certificate—because this individual was also carrying a birth certificate under the same name of Wilhelm Dick. He was as well carrying a driver’s license also in the name of Wilhelm Dick and that driver’s license had an address that is a Belmopan address; Number 20 Halfmoon Street. Indeed an application was made at the Vital Statistics Office in Belize City for a copy of a Birth certificate for Wilhelm Dick. In fact we were able to establish that that birth certificate was indeed issued on the twenty-ninth of August 2012. We have been able to establish that that very same day, a person posing to be Wilhelm Dick made an application for a Belizean passport at the Passport Office in Belize City; that’s on the twenty-ninth of August, 2012 and that he paid a hundred dollars to expedite the process for the express issuance of the passport. And we’ve also been able to establish that the following day, a passport was indeed issued; that is the thirtieth of August, 2012, in the name of Wilhelm Dick. The police authorities; this investigation has now been turned over to the Criminal Investigation Branch, C.I.B. and they have demanded and requested all the physical files from the Passport Office and from the Vital Statistics Office.”


Delroy Cuthkelvin
Delroy Cuthkelvin
Delroy Cuthkelvin
“The information in the computer also had a photograph of the person purporting to e Wilhelm Dick. And immediately upon pulling up the photograph, the senior immigration officer without any prompting from the police authorities said that that person looks like a Lebanese national. Which raised the question; which has to be asked to the relevant persons who accepted the application and processed the application: if there weren’t some alarms that went off in their head when they saw a person looking like he did appearing before them claiming to be Wilhelm Dick. As you know, when you now apply for a passport, you have to physically go to the office and have your photo be taken. In the past, there was system where you would bring a photograph already taken, the J.P. would just sign the photograph and the birth certificate and would certify you as being the person who appears on the photograph and someone who they have known for a period of time. This instance, there is a Justice of the Peace that has now been detained and is being interviewed by police authorities. That person incidentally was the same person who had their home burnt down over the holidays and so she could not be immediately found yesterday. She has since been found and is now being interviewed.”

Jose Sanchez
“This story broke on Saturday. What day of the weekend was this fire that burned down this J.P.’s home?”

Delroy Cuthkelvin
“To be honest, I don’t recall; they are two separate stories and I am not entirely sure of that right now. I would have to do a check on that.”

Jose Sanchez
“Regarding the immigration officer who may have processed the information for Labboun, is his name being crossed-referenced with maybe other investigations regarding similar incidents that may have been exposed?”

Delroy Cuthkelvin
“This investigation is a thorough investigation. Every aspect of whatever process took place to have this person be in possession of the documents in question, those entire processes are being investigated and anyone who might have been involved in that process. So the Criminal Investigation Branch has requested that all the files be turned over to them and any person who had anything to do with the process will eventually be interviewed and all the pertinent questions will be asked of them in terms of the whole process.”

Jose Sanchez
The house were Rafic Labboun was arrested  in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
The house were Rafic Labboun was arrested
 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
“Regarding Rafik Mohammad Labboun Allaboun’s entrance into Belize, are you looking or talking to the Mexican counterparts? I know at Subtiniente Lopez, they have cameras that record everything. So are you going to ask them to see those videos and when he arrived in Belize? Are you also looking at who may have been accompanying him between this one or two day journey in receiving all of these documents?”

Delroy Cuthkelvin
“All of that will be investigated. I can assure you that our personnel at the Criminal Investigation Branch will do a thorough investigation. Every aspect of when and whether this person came to Belize—as all indications now seem to be that he did come to Belize and made an application for a passport—all aspects of that will be investigated. What name perhaps he came in—whether he came in that same name or his real name or the name that it now seems he was purporting to be. All that will be investigated thoroughly.”


This article was first published by Channel 5 in Belize.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Yasser Safa: “I am not a terrorist!”

Jose Sanchez of Channel 5 in Belize
Jose Sanchez
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 Allabboun (an imam at Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, CA), is a U.S. national, who was wanted by the United States Government and has been confirmed as a member of Hezbollah.
Barrett M-82 or Light Fifty ‘anti materiel’ rifle
Barrett M-82 or Light Fifty ‘anti materiel’ rifle

All three men were arrested in Merida, Yucatan, late Saturday in a raid that involved the use of armored vehicles as well as a Barrett 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 U.S. 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 Labboun 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 Safa
Yasser Safa
“Yasser, are you a terrorist? Are you related to Hezbollah?”


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
Rafik Mohammed Labboun Allaboun of Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, CA)
Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck)
“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
The house were Rafic Labboun was arrested  in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
The house were Rafic Labboun was arrested
 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
“Yes they were detained because they say my wife is Janine Gabb 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 Elders—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
“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
Samer Safa
Samer Safa
“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.”

Rafic Labboun was released this summer from a U.S. Federal prison, where he had served 27 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, Labboun 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 Labboun’s cell may be related to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Delroy Cuthkelvin
Delroy Cuthkelvin

Rafic Labboun 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 Labboun’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 Labboun 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.


Rafic Labboun is an imam at Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center of San Jose, CA).

This article was first published by Channel 5 in Belize.