BELIZE CITY–Four Belizean-Lebanese citizens who traveled to Mexico were believed to be Hezbollah terrorists by Mexican police after they were informed that two Middle-Eastern men, believed to be terrorists, were with two women travelling in a grey BMW car with Belize registration on Friday in the Tulum City area of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
The men were believed to be members of the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which, according to some reports, has been operating a cell out of Belize.
The Mexican online newspaper Black Gold, of Friday, August 28, said that “Hacsam Elsayed and/or Hassan El Sayed,” linked to the militant group Hezbollah, had crossed the state onboard a Mercedez Benz from Belize.
The group entered Mexico legally through Subteniente Lopez, a crossing point at the Belize-Mexico border, according to the newspaper.
Although a 5-hour search was mounted for the BMW with registration plates Belize BCC-4400, it was not found, said the newspaper.
Amir Zriba, spokesman for the Arab community in Belize, in an interview with the media this morning, Wednesday, in Belize City, strongly condemns the article and said that one of the two men who was said to be a terrorist was in Belize City that day. His friend, the owner of the car, lent the car to El Sayeed (the Mexican online newspaper’s spelling is wrong), to travel to Merida for medical treatment in that city, in Mexico.
Zriba said that El Sayeed went with his family to Merida and on his return journey to Belize, he was not stopped at the border, and so he was more than surprised to hear that he was wanted as a terrorist in Mexico, when he saw the news on television.
Zriba said that there is no truth to the claim that the men are Hezbollah operatives in Belize. They are Belizeans, and it is another attempt to label the Arab community in Belize as terrorists, he stated. Zriba said that the informant that gave the information to the officials should be called in to verify the accuracy of his information.
According to Zriba, since 2010 false information has been given to the authorities that they were affiliated with Hezbollah and as a result of these false statements, the American visas of 25 members of the Arab community in Belize were cancelled. Now, they cannot travel to the United States and some of them are denied entry into Mexico, and their businesses are struggling as a result. The community is angry and has obtained the services of an international attorney to sue the Mexican newspaper Por Esto for publishing in that newspaper that they are Hezbollah terrorists.
Zriba said that if there were operatives for Hezbollah in Belize, the Arab community would have known, because the country is small and all members of the Arab community know each other. He said that they are really upset because some of them have lost their good reputation and respect in the community because of the allegations made against them.
Zriba said that there is no Hezbollah in Belize. He calls on the American Embassy to carry out a proper investigation, and said that they would be happy to assist. This is the third story claiming that there are terrorists living in Belize, which is all wrong, said Zriba.
They are demanding that all media houses which have besmirched their reputations and made false assertions correct the false reports and issue apologies, he said.
Zriba is also calling on the Mexican Embassy to hold the Mexican newspaper Por Esto accountable for publishing the false information.
On their way to Mexico, the two Middle-Eastern men being labeled as terrorists had stopped at the Corozal Free Zone to service tires, where informants saw them and mistook them for others and erroneously told the Mexican police that they were terrorists, said Zriba.
The owner of the BMW added that he has been in Belize for the past 20 years, and doesn’t know anything about Hezbollah except what he sees on television and reads on the Internet. He also knows his friend and says that he is no terrorist.
Zriba talked about other issues which included the execution of businessman Alfred Shackron and two other members of the Arab community who were killed in Belize in 2012. He said that they had worked closely with the police to get to the bottom of the murders, but nothing else is known. The investigation continues, but no one was arrested and the motive for the killings are yet unknown.
He said that they, the Arab community, work hard like anyone else to make a living.
Zriba went on to note that, in the past, if they wanted to make a trip to the USA, they were able to submit an application at the US Embassy, and were typically given a waiver, but now they are not even considered, or are flatly denied entry without been given a reason.
He calls on the media to stop calling them Hezbollah terrorists, because it is seriously affecting their lives. They are Belizeans of the Arab community of Belize, he said.