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Thursday, November 18, 2010

From Somalia to Belize: Human Trafficking in Al Shabaab’s shadow

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Thursday, November 18, 2010

There are more revelations to report in the immigration scam that was cracked since early October. We have so far followed the paper trail on how the Chinese and Sri Lankan nationals make their way to Belize as part of an international human smuggling ring. Tonight our continued investigations take us to Somalia, a country that terrorist organizations use as a safe haven for training and other activities. Earlier, this year on February second, a Ghanaian national, thirty-six year old Lester Wugah, was found with an Ethiopian Passport that belonged to Alavar Demissie Dibaba. The incident generally fell under the radar but being in possession of another person’s passport without justifiable reason is a criminal offense.  The court prosecutor could offer no evidence against him and the matter was struck out on June second. That is only the tip of a web that stretches across the Atlantic Ocean, as News Five Jose Sanchez found out.

During the brief court appearances of Lester Wugah, the prosecutor pointed out that he should not have been given bail because he was a person of interest in another investigation. That investigation involved human trafficking of Africans to the United States of America. 

Six men:  Hadi Shariff Abdi, Abdi Kadir Warsame Hirsi, Ahmed Mohamed Shire, Mustaf Mahad Ali, Ahmed Mohamed Hussain and Mahamed Mahamud Cabdule, were all detained under suspicion after they arrived at the PGIA during the Wugah court appearances.  During the investigation they confessed that not only their names in the passports were fake, but they were not Kenyans either. They were in fact nationals of Somalia.  Trafficking of Somalis is considered high risk because the country is war torn and partially controlled by the militant group, Al Shabaab.

Abu Mansoor, Al Shabaab Leader

abu mansoor

“We are fighting to lift the banner of oppression and colonialism from or country; we are defending ourselves from enemies who attack us. Once we are successful with that, we will fight on and finish oppression. This is one of the many places across the country where all Shabaab fill the political vacuum while still continue their fight for their capita. It now hosts large parts of southern and central Somalia and it is growing in military and territorial strength by the day.”

But how do Somalis get to Belize?  They travel to Kenya and pay 500 US for the Kenyan passport. Then with a new identity, they are given expensive suits to fly to Dubai.  In that nation, they then catch a connecting flight that takes them across Europe to Moscow.  On each leg, agents wire them money to continue on the journey. At Moscow they then take a long flight to Havana, Cuba where they are issued single entry visas to visit Belize. 

From Belize they would then disappear across Mexico’s border and reappear with new identities in America. However, this group of six was arrested and while being questioned, the Somalis indicated that they pay five hundred U.S. for visas in most countries.  The agents that arrange their accommodations and travel also get paid one thousand U.S. dollars. And even though an informant and the Somalis identified their contact in Belize, the Immigration Department did not press any charges.  The six Somalis were then deported to Cuba. Where do poor Somalis get access to thousands of U.S. dollars to reach the United States is not clear, but one Al Shabaab leader provides some clues. 

Ibrahim Almaqdis, Al Shabaab
“We will establish Islamic rule from Alaska and Chile to South Africa, Japan Russia to Solomon Islands and all the way to Iceland. Be warned we are coming.”
“Al Shabaab core principles is that all Muslims are citizens of Somalia. As such multitudes of foreign fighters from around the global have People from across the world have bolstered their ranks.”

Abu Mansoor

“We shall welcome any Muslims from any part of the world who wants to join us. We will allow them to wed our daughters and share our funds. Many have already died fighting our cause and many others are here with us.”
“Al Shabaab dominate all public gathering in areas under their control. Their speeches are laden with calls to the people to join their cause. The public’s response  to Al Shabaab has been one of admiration. Many dress their children like the militia and arm them with toy weapons. After all they are the only meaningful authority they have seen in nearly two decades.”

Six more additional photos of Kenyan passports believed to be Somalis were found on devices allegedly related to Wugah. Phone numbers for Immigration Officers were also found on Wugah’s phone. Whether the goal of the Somalis who traveled across the world to Belize shared visions of Al Shabaab or the American dream, the men would not have received visas to Belize had the Ministry of Immigration Department followed its established policies.  Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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  • Second passport says:
    November 19, 2010 at 7:10 AM

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