Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, an imam from the Shiite Association Bay Area (SABA) Mosque in San Jose, California along with George Abdalah Elders and Justin Yasser Safa (aka Samer Yousef Safa), were arrested Saturday, September 8, in Mérida in southern Mexico. They are suspected of being part of a Hezbollah terrorist cell that operates in Central America and the Yucatán. Labboun is considered the highest ranking Hezbollah member in the San Francisco Bay area.
Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) in cooperation with the FBI and Homeland Security and local police apprehended the suspects. It has long been suspected that Hezbollah was establishing terror cells in South and Central America. Labboun was carrying a false Belize passport with the name Wilhelm Dick, and was deported within hours of his arrest. He had a court appearance on Monday morning, September 10, in Houston and then was returned to the San Jose division of the Northern District Court of California.
A 2010 internal memo from the Tucson Police Department leaked by the hacker group LulzSec had warned that Hezbollah was establishing operations and stockpiling arms in Mexico. In April 2009 Jamal Yousef was arrested in New York and revealed that a huge cache of weapons smuggled by members of Hezbollah were stored in Mexico. In 2010 Hezbollah militant Jameel Nasr was arrested in Tiajuana.
Labboun recently served 27 months in U.S. prison for 7 counts of credit card fraud, involving over $100,000 worth of gold. Authorities believe the money ended up in Lebanon, and was used to finance terrorist activities by Hezbollah.
The imam who replaced Labboun at the SABA mosque, Nabi Raza Abidi, has been denied permanent residency status in the United States and his re-entry into this country was blocked by the State Department last year. The ban was eventually lifted, but Abidi and the SABA mosque are still suspected of ties with Hezbollah and Iran