Preliminary investigations have revealed that terrorist suspect, Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, managed to obtain valid Belizean documentation within the span of just a few days, fuelling further speculation about Hezbollah in Latin America and the integrity of Belize’s immigration system.
As the Belize Times reports, Allaboun, a dual citizen of the United States and Lebanon, obtained a false Belizean passport just two weeks ago, after first obtaining a birth certificate and driver’s license under the name of a deceased Belizean citizen. The Times’ investigation suggests Allabounthat obtained all three in only 72 hours.
His birth certificate and passport applications, the latter of which was reportedly refused at first by a junior official but then accepted by a senior immigration officer, have disappeared from the Vital Statistics Unit and the Passport Office.
InSight Crime Analysis
Allaboun was arrested in Yucatan, Mexico on September 8 along with two other men reportedly linked to Hezbollah, and extradited back to the United States. He is suspected of violating his parole, having been released from a US prison in June after serving a 27 month sentence for credit card fraud. Authorities suspected, but were unable to prove in court, that the money he stole was linked to a Hezbollah money laundering operation.
Allaboun’s arrest may prompt a new round of speculation about Hezbollah in Latin America, but US authorities continue to maintain that the organization’s activities in Latin America are limited to fundraising. The State Department’s 2011 Country Reports on Terrorism, released in July 2012, stated that there are no known Hezbollah cells in Latin America.
The speed and ease with which Allaboun obtained false documentation raise some alarming questions about the security of Belize’s immigration control, especially given the possible advantages that come with holding Belizean nationality. Belizeans are required to obtain a visa before entering the United States, but do not need one to enter Mexico — where Allaboun was arrested — or to travel to any other country in Central or South America. Nor are they required to get visas for the UK or Ireland. There have been indications of Central American Mara gangs moving into Belize, as well as Mexican drug cartels.