n Jan 14, 2018
n Jan 14, 2018
A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington
The Trump administration’s request to enforce the third incarnation of Trump’s travel ban was approved Monday. The Supreme Court ruling rolls back lower court rulings that restricted enforcement based on bona fide relationships with US persons or businesses. Such exempt relationships had included grandchildren, grandparents, nieces, nephews and cousins of US persons.
The travel ban on US entry for nationals from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen will be in full effect, while it also undergoes challenges in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, and the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, according to AP.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments for and against the current version of the travel ban, updated in September to include some Venezuelan officials and North Korea, next year. Lower courts have already approved of those two latest additions to the list of countries.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, liberals on the high court appointed by presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama respectively, would have left the lower court rulings in place, according to AP.
In court papers, Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued that since June, “multiple government agencies have conducted a comprehensive, worldwide review of the information shared by foreign governments that is used to screen aliens seeking entry to the United States,” according to The Hill.
“Based on that review, the proclamation adopts tailored entry restrictions to address extensive findings that a handful of particular foreign governments have deficient information-sharing and identity-management practices, or other risk factors,” Francisco said.
The American Civil Liberties Union reacted on Twitter, saying the Supreme Court decision lacked merit. “We are at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to argue that the Muslim ban should ultimately be struck down,” the ACLU said.
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
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.
By Jack Montgomery
The son of “deeply religious” refugees who returned to the North African country after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s death, Abedi is said to have had “proven” links to the Islamic State by French interior minister Gerard Collomb, citing “British investigators”.
Collomb said he had been informed that Abedi was a “British citizen of Libyan descent, but who grew up in Great Britain, and suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then probably to Syria, [became] radicalised and [decided] to carry out this attack”.
An unnamed individual who went to school with Abedi told The Times that he “went to Libya three weeks ago and came back, like, days ago”.
Islamic State was one of several jihadist groups which grew in power and influence in Libya after a much-criticised military intervention led by former U.S. President Barack Obama and former British Prime Minister David Cameron. Following the intervention, the country became a failed state, jihadists seizing territory in the west, and an infamous mass beheading of Coptic Christians took place on the Tripolitanian shore.
Whilst the terror group lost control of its Libyan stronghold of Sirte in December 2016, it is thought to maintain a presence in the country’s interior. Security services are trying to establish whether Abedi attended a terror training camp in the south.
Abedi is said to have been acquainted with Abdalraouf Abdallah, another member of the city’s substantial Muslim community, who was imprisoned for nine and a half years in 2016 for helping radicals travel to the Middle East and channelling funds to jihadists.
Security sources told Sky News that more than four hundred “combat-hardened” fighters are thought have returned to Britain from Syria and Iraq in March 2017, but barely an eighth have been apprehended and the true figure is likely far higher.
Speaking to The Telegraph in 2016, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office Chris Phillips said he did not “believe the UK knows how many people have left for Syria or indeed come back”.
“There are many ways of getting back into the UK avoiding checks, including bus routes and ferry crossings,” he added.
“What we have to avoid is a false sense of security just because we have a stretch of water between us and Europe.”
Phillips’s words seem prescient following the May 22nd attack, which has claimed 22 lives so far, with 20 of the 64 injured remaining in “critical care” and receiving treatment for “horrific injuries”.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it “seems likely” Abedi did not act alone, and three arrests have been made in southern Manchester.
Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, estimates that there may be “between 6,000 and 10,000” radical Islamists currently in Britain.