President Donald Trump’s travel ban unfairly discriminated against Muslims, a federal appeals court ruled, upholding most of the previously issued injunction against it.
Trump’s executive order from January 27 “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination,” wrote Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Virginia-based US Appeals Court in the 4th circuit.
In a 10-3 decision, the majority of judges ruled that they were “unconvinced” the executive order was motivated by national security concerns rather than a “Muslim ban.”
“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation,” Gregory added.
Along the same lines as the injunction issued by the 9th Circuit court in California, the 4th Circuit judgment quotes Trump’s statements from the campaign trail to argue that the “ban on all Muslims entering the US” shows the president’s executive order was motivated by bigotry rather than national security.
“Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims,” wrote Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. in a concurring opinion.
The plaintiffs, which included several individuals and organizations, claimed that the executive order caused “injury to their family relationships,” and that the “anti-Muslim message animating [the executive order] 2 has caused them feelings of disparagement and exclusion.”
International Refugee Assistance Project and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society claimed that they had committed significant resources to dealing with the consequences of the second executive order, and that “they will suffer direct financial injury from the anticipated reduction in refugee cases.”
Judge Stephanie Thacker agreed with the majority, but noted in a separate opinion that the court “need not – and should not – reach this conclusion by relying on statements made by the President and his associates before inauguration.”
Thacker warned her colleagues that adjudicating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution should focus on governmental action, rather than “judicial psychoanalysis” of individuals, and that “looking to pre-inauguration conduct is neither advisable nor necessary.”
Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his father, Ramadan, had long-standing links to a violent jihadist group which may have had British backing for the 2011 Libyan war and a 1996 attempt to kill then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The controversy centers on the role of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was both an anti-Gaddafi and Al-Qaeda subsidiary in the North African state.
Many of the fighters which formed the group in the mid-90s were veterans of the Afghan-Soviet war from the 1980s. They went on to fight the Gaddafi regime in Libya itself.
The war saw the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime and the eventual murder of the leader himself after he was captured by opposition fighters. Since NATO’s intervention, Libya has been in chaos.
It has descended into a protracted civil war, is a major contributor to the international refugee crisis, has its own branch of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), and two opposing governments.
The elder Abedi was reportedly one of the LIFG fighters who fled Gaddafi’s response to the rebels, settling in London and, later, in Manchester.
The area of Manchester in which Salman Abedi grew up was home to a number of other LIFG members, including former senior commanders including Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who left Manchester to go to Libya and run a 200-300-strong militant network for Osama Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Azzouz is reported to be an expert bomb-maker.
In 2002, former MI6 agent and whistleblower David Shayler accused the British spy agency of colluding with the jihadist group in a failed 1996 effort to kill Gaddafi, an allegation the British government strenuously denies.
Allegations have also emerged that in 2011, the UK may have relaxed restrictions on LIFG fighters based in the UK and helped them return to Libya to fight Gaddafi.
The UK was at that time engaged in fighting Gaddafi as part of a US-led NATO coalition. Former fighters interviewed by the Middle East Eye said that the UK actively supported the return of anti-Gaddafi dissidents, including those with Al-Qaeda links, to the North African state.
One fighter who spoke to the Middle East Eye said he had been interviewed by an MI5 agent who asked if he was “willing to go into battle?”
“While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi,” the fighter said.
Others reported that when the war in Libya began, they looked into how to get fake documents, because their passports had been removed as part of restrictive control orders placed on them by the UK government.
One said that within days, the authorities had returned their passports, after which they headed straight to Libya to take on Gaddafi.
At the time of the war, current UK Prime Minister Theresa May was Home Secretary, with oversight of MI5 operations. It is not clear if she was aware of the decision to relax restrictions of jihadists and return their travel documents.
25 May 2017
As the UK hunts down members and friends of a Libyan immigrant family after one of its British-born sons committed the worst terrorist atrocity on U.K. soil in 12 years, across the Atlantic the atrocity also highlights the dangers that made President Trump include Libya on the list of countries included in his much-maligned travel ban.
Salman Abedi, who was born in Britain in 1994 after his family fled from Libya to escape the regime of Dictator Muammar Gaddafi, detonated a bomb Monday at Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Abedi killed 22 people and injured dozens, many of whom were teenage girls and children.
While it was initially thought that Abedi may have been a lone wolf, by Wednesday Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters authorities are now investigating a “network” of terrorists and have arrested six people in the UK – including Abedi’s older brother.
While some outlets were hyping up Abedi’s supposed Britishness, (“He was a fan of Manchester United, like many in his soccer-obsessed hometown” began a New York Times profile on the Islamic jihadist), others have honed in on Abedi’s Libyan roots as a possible key to both his motivation and possible collaborators.
Neighbours told reporters of Libyan flags being flown outside the home, as well as Abedi’s penchant for praying in the street in Arabic. Abedi travelled back to Libya just weeks before the attack, purportedly to visit his parents. Abedi’s father, Ramadan, was arrested by local authorities in Libya, as was one of Abedi’s brothers – who Libyan authorities say travelled to Libya from Britain and who was a member of Islamic State, The New York Times reported.
In the U.K., questions have been raised about terror-related problems with Libyans in South Manchester, where Abedi was from. As Breitbart News reported Tuesday, areas such as Fallowfield, Longsight, Rusholme, and Levenshulme, have high concentrations of Muslims – with 2011 census data registering a 53.8 per cent Muslim population in Longsight, near where Abedi lived in Fallowfield.
Abdalraouf Abdallah, a Libyan refugee, was convicted last year of terror offences after helping a convert to Islam to travel to Syria to join Islamic State. A family friend told The Guardian that Abdallah and Abedi knew one another. The Daily Telegraph, in an article called “The Manchester Libyan connection — a recruiting ground for jihadists” puts South Manchester’s terror problem in stark terms:
In total at least 16 jihadists, who have either been convicted of offences, have travelled to Syria or have died while fighting with [Islamic State], hail from a three mile radius around the south Manchester district which was home to Abedi.
These problems are the kind Trump was seeking to prevent in the U.S. by restricting immigration from terror hotspots – an issue which became a central part of his campaign. In January, Trump signed an executive order and a revised order after a court challenge in March, restricting immigration from a number of terror-prone countries – including Syria, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya.
However, Trump’s order is still challenged in court, and new data shows worrying signs of illegal immigration amongst immigrants from the North African country currently being torn apart by violence. A Department of Homeland Security report on visa overstays released this week found that in FY 2016, 43 percent of Libyan students in the U.S. on student visas overstayed their visas — suggesting monitoring of those in the U.S. is in need of improvement.
In the U.K. meanwhile, questions are being raised about not only the connection to Libya, but also how Abedi and his brothers – despite being monitored by security officials – were able to travel back and forth from the area without any alarm bells ringing.
Additionally, while many politicians and commentators in the U.K. initially attacked Trump for his travel ban, some believe that in the wake of the attack, the British public will be questioning its own policies when it comes to Muslim immigration.
“The public will, I think rightly, be wondering: ‘OK we took this couple in as asylum seekers fleeing Gaddafi’s Libya, and how did we get repaid? By their son going to Manchester Arena last Monday evening,” Douglas Murray, author of The Strange Death of Europe, said on a podcast for The Spectator.
“And this now is going to the root of a very big, underlying, bubbling problem across our whole continent, which is this fear: ‘What if this is the future? What if even our acts of goodness get repaid in this way?’” he said.