|The convicted felon, Hezbollah operative, and|
imam at Saba Islamic Center Rafic Labboun
(a.k.a. Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun;
a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck)
Following the alleged Hezbollah associate Rafic Labboun’s receipt of a Belizean passport in the name of Wilhelm Dyck, the Ministry of Immigration had temporarily closed the Passport Office in Belize City.
After the Hezbollah passport scandal became an international media event, other incidences have come to light. Human trafficking involving natives of Nepal has been uncovered to be simultaneously occurring before and after the Hezbollah incident. According to official documents, the Nepalese nationals have all claimed their trips to Belize were sponsored by the owner of the Bismillah Store in Cayo. But the Bismillah guests have not returned to their country of origin. All that is known is that the man who picked them up at the airport has been identified as Kashif Raza Ali Jaffery, a naturalized Belizean from Pakistan who acted as an agent of his uncle, Khalid Mahmood of Bismillah Store.
But there is another group that is also following a similar pattern. A resident of Santa Elena identified as Zebo Liang makes regular pickups of Chinese nationals at the airport. On September twenty-third, twenty-six year old Shu Bin Zhao, twenty-five year old Huan Wang, twenty-eight year old Xiao Mo Zheng and twenty-seven year old Lun Qin Lin, all arrived on TACA flight 414 and left with the Santa Elena resident. Five days later, on Friday September twenty-eighth, Ziang picked up thirty year old Zhou Qin Ni, twenty-one year old Bin Bin Liu, twenty-one year old Jin Qing Zhao, and thirty-seven year old Yiain Chen, who also came on a TACA flight.
They all had single entry visas that were issued in Belmopan. The policies of the Immigration Department dictate that in the absence of a Belize Embassy, a visitor to Belize would then go to a British Embassy which would facilitate the process of receiving a visa. No one has ever explained how foreigners who have never stepped a foot into the country can travel from as far away as Guang Zhou, China with Belmopan visas already stamped in their passports. A larger group of thirteen Chinese nationals arrived this week using the Havana, Cuba route, that was closed down during a previous immigration scandal when plane loads of Asians trying to reach the U.S. were intercepted. The group arrived on October third on AeroCaribe flight 848. The tourist visas, of course, were all issued from the Immigration Department in Belmopan. Most of the visas were issued in September this year.
This article was first published by News 5 in Belize.
Rafic Labboun is an imam with the Northern California-based Shia Association of Bay Area (Saba Center of San Jose) and Fatimiyya Islamic Center of Hayward.