Archive for the ‘Muslim refugees’ category

Trump cuts Obama’s refugee target in half, takes more Christians than Muslims

September 27, 2017

Trump cuts Obama’s refugee target in half, takes more Christians than Muslims, Washington Times,  September 26, 2017

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Nov. 10, 2016. (Associated Press)

President Trump, in just eight months in office, has succeeded in upending U.S. refugee policy, cutting by more than half the 110,000-refugee target that the Obama administration had bequeathed him and dramatically shifting the demographics of who is accepted.

Gone is President Obama’s overwhelming focus on Muslims, and particularly on Syrians fleeing a civil war that his administration facilitated. Under Mr. Trump, the rate of Syrian refugees has been cut by more than 80 percent, and Christians have overtaken Muslims in total refugees resettled.

“It’s impossible to escape the clear message that there’s a new sheriff in town,” said Matthew O’Brien, research director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for stricter refugee controls.

 The Trump changes have reverberated around the globe, with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees drastically cutting the number of refugee candidates it submits to the U.S.

After recommending nearly 35,000 refugee candidates last year, the UNHCR submitted just 3,591 applications from January to July.

Refugee advocates say the U.S. is relinquishing its global leadership and moral standing and have challenged parts of the administration’s policy in the courts, pushing the country to move back toward the goals set by Mr. Obama.

The previous president called for up to 110,000 refugees to be admitted to the U.S. in 2017 and indicated that he wanted Syrians to be a large part of that, with the country on pace for more than 15,000 resettlements this year.

But Mr. Trump, as part of his first “extreme vetting” travel ban executive order, changed all that. He called for cutting the refugee cap from 110,000 to 50,000 and placed a four-month pause on the refugee program and a more lasting ban on Syrians.

Resistance by the courts, immigrant rights activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill dented those plans, but at the end of the fiscal year, it’s clear that the president mostly got his way.

As of Tuesday afternoon, with four days left in the fiscal year, the government had admitted slightly more than 53,000 refugees — less than half of Mr. Obama’s goal but slightly more than Mr. Trump wanted.

Perhaps the bigger impact was within the demographic breakdown, where Muslims dropped from nearly half of refugees under Mr. Obama to slightly more than a third. Christians, meanwhile, went from 43 percent to 53 percent under Mr. Trump.

Syrians, who represented a stunning 15 percent of all refugees under Mr. Obama, dropped to just 8 percent under Mr. Trump.

The State Department didn’t respond to an inquiry from The Times for this article.

Officials at the department are rushing to put together a recommendation for a refugee cap for fiscal year 2018, which begins Sunday.

Under the law, the administration is able to set an overall cap each year. It was set at 80,000 for the end of the Bush administration and beginning of the Obama administration, dropped to 70,000 in 2013, rose to 85,000 in 2016 and then to 110,000 this year.

Mr. Trump proposed cutting this year’s number to 50,000 and came close to fulfilling that, likely ending up just a few thousand over.

Courts had intervened, saying Mr. Trump couldn’t stop the arrival of refugees who had “close” ties to American entities, exempting them from his 50,000 cap.

The president is expected to suggest an even smaller refugee cap for 2018, analysts said. Several reports Tuesday put the figure at 45,000. The administration must conduct official consultations with Congress this week before finalizing the number.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Illinois Republican and co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said he was disappointed by the low figure.

“I believe we can balance both compassion and security and remain the world’s shining city on a hill,” he said in a statement, adding that he believed the U.S. should “trust our long-standing and rigorous vetting system” to weed out dangers while allowing the pipeline of refugees to flow.

Top Democrats, meanwhile, prodded the White House Wednesday over reports that it nixed a study that would have shown refugees were a net plus for the U.S. economy.

“It appears that the Trump Administration may have rejected these facts in order to present a biased, incomplete, and ultimately false political narrative,” the Democrats wrote in a letter demanding documents.

Advocates say the U.S. puts refugees through stricter screening than any other category of visitor or immigrant to the U.S. and that fears of terrorists using the program to exploit weaknesses are overblown.

But security analysts say countries such as Syria are so broken that the U.S. doesn’t have access to databases or on-the-ground information to vet the stories of would-be refugees.

Mr. O’Brien said his group doesn’t oppose refugees, which he said are part of America’s moral obligation. But he said the government simply can’t vet all cases.

“In those situations in the past, the default position has been to look to the interests of the refugee. I think after Sept. 11 that is an impossible circumstance,” he said. “There are some people where it’s just not going to be possible.”

Mr. O’Brien said Mr. Trump is flexing the powers that the law grants the president, learning that he doesn’t have to work through Congress to make major changes.

Even as some in the U.S. protest Mr. Trump’s changes, the rest of the world is adjusting.

The UNHCR — which screens and recommends to the U.S. potential refugees from some of the world’s hot spots — has drastically slowed the pipeline.

The number of Syrians submitted to the U.S. for resettlement screening is down more than 80 percent so far this year. Similar drops were recorded for Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan. Iraq had an even bigger drop in submission rate by the UNHCR.

EXCLUSIVE: Libyan Army Spox Says Obama, Clinton “Abandoned the Libyan People to the Terrorists”

July 11, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Libyan Army Spox Says Obama, Clinton “Abandoned the Libyan People to the Terrorists” PJ MediaPatrick Poole, July 11, 2017

Col. al-Mesmari also claims that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade — hired by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to protect the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi — cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia in attacking the consulate compound on September 12, 2012. 

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In an exclusive interview with PJ Media, the Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman, Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, says that President Obama and Hillary Clinton “abandoned the Libyan people to face these terrorists alone.”

He also implicates the Obama administration in supporting terrorist militias — including Libyan al-Qaeda leader Abdelhakim Belhadj and Muslim Brotherhood militias allied to al-Qaeda.

Rather than backing the LNA and the elected Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) in the fight against these terror groups, the Obama administration — along with the United Nations and the European Union — have been trying to impose a “Government of National Accord” (GNA) that has zero constituency in Libya. Further, it is accused of working with terror-linked militias in Tripoli.

With the continuing crisis between several Arab nations — including the Libyan HoR and Qatar — Col. al-Mesmari discusses Qatar’s role in arming and financing terrorist militias in Libya. He also connects the Muslim Brotherhood militias that have been fighting against the LNA with al-Qaeda and ISIS elements operating in the country.

Col. al-Mesmari also claims that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade — hired by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to protect the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi — cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia in attacking the consulate compound on September 12, 2012. 

That attack led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Libyans celebrated last week when, after three years of battle, the LNA finally liberated Benghazi from all terrorist groups in the city:

Photo published for Libyan Army recaptures Benghazi from ISIS
Libyan Army recaptures Benghazi from ISIS
The Libyan Army announced on Wednesday that it has recaptured the city of Benghazi from ISIS, Al
english.alarabiya.net

Reuters Top News 

And over the past month, Col. al-Mesmari has publicly charged Qatar with direct support of terrorist groups operating in Libya:

Al Arabiya English 

Official says  and  are ‘triad of terrorism’ in http://ara.tv/95xs3 

The following is an exclusive interview I conducted by email earlier today with Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, official spokesman for the Libyan National Army:

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1) It’s been six years since the U.S.-led NATO intervention in Libya. Hillary Clinton was the leading voice in the Obama administration for the U.S. action. What responsibility does she and Obama bear for that decision?

The main responsibility falls on NATO, which interfered in Libya in 2011 to end the Gaddafi regime and destroyed all Libyan army weapons and infrastructure, only to then leave Libya alone to fight the terrorists. They took none of the necessary measures to help rebuild the Libyan Army or even help to reactivate other security facilities.

The U.S. administration led by Obama and Hilary Clinton was not up to the challenge in Libya and didn’t give much attention to the Libyan situation.

We don’t have any doubts that the Obama administration and his ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, had considerable contact with militias and terrorist groups in Libya.

There was a U.S. plan for Libya that we still don’t know the details about, but in the end they abandoned the Libyan people to face these terrorists alone.

2) Given the current crisis over Qatar’s role in financing extremism, what kind of interference by Qatar has been seen in Libya?

Qatar started working in Libya even before NATO arrived. Qatar interfered in Libya under the cover that it was willing to help the Libyan people’s uprising. Later NATO left the scene and Qatar was all over Libya with their support for Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and other militias.

Qatar also supported these groups with money, weapons, ammunition, in addition to transporting fighters from Libya to Syria via Turkey.

Qatar continues until today supporting al-Qaeda militias and Muslim Brotherhood Shield militias in Tripoli and Misrata.

3) Many in the U.S. remember the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. What role, if any, did Qatar play in financing and arming Ansar al-Sharia who conducted the attack?

First, this operation was led by Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya, and also another militia called the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, which is one of the Muslim Brotherhood Shield militias that took part in this attack. Qatar is the main supporter and financier of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda in Libya. In this particular brutal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi they provided weapons and communication equipment to the terrorist militias.

The paradox here is that the 17 February Muslim Brotherhood militia was the militia that the U.S. contracted to protect the consulate. They had an agreement with the attackers to fake a weapons clash then later opened the gates into the consulate for them.

4) What role does Qatar play now in financing and arming extremists in Libya?

The last clear support of Qatar to terrorist groups was their support of the so-called “Benghazi Defense Brigades,” another al-Qaeda affiliate that was labeled terrorist group by the Libyan HoR and by other Arab countries. The Qatari support to them arrived in Al Jufrah in form of weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, telecommunication equipment, and money in cash.

5) The Libyan House of Representatives recently designated several Muslim Brotherhood leaders as terrorists. What connections have been discovered tying the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya to extremists?

In Benghazi we fought against the Muslim Brotherhood militias known as Libyan Shields. These militias fought next to Ansar al-Sharia (al-Qaeda) and ISIS against the Libyan Army.

This alliance shows clearly that the Muslim Brotherhood had an alliance with ISIS and al-Qaeda, and we know that all these groups including the Muslim Brotherhood all have terrorist religious views.

6) What connections have been discovered linking the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt with extremists in Libya?

The Muslim Brotherhood is an international terrorist group and all their groups in any country ideologically go back to their “murshid” or Supreme Guide who is in Egypt.

7) One of the leading militia leaders backed by the U.S. has been former al-Qaeda leader Abdelhakim Belhadj. Many U.S. media outlets describe Belhadj as a former extremist.

Based on the available evidence now, is it true that Belhadj has abandoned extremism, or is he still involved in extremist activity?

Not at all, Belhadj is still a terrorist leader. In addition he has a lot of money to support his terrorist group as well as financing other groups in Tunisia and Syria.

Belhadj is a founder of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and will not let go of his terrorist views. For us Belhadj is the leader of LIFG, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

8) We know that arms from various parties in Libya were being sent to extremists in Syria, particularly in 2011 and 2012. What do we know now about those networks, and who exactly were these arms being sent to? What way, if any, was the U.S. involved in those arms transfers?

First, it wasn’t just sending weapons and ammunition, but also fighters from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and other nationalities.

Their first stops were training camps in Sabratha, Tripoli, Misrata, Derna and Benghazi, then later airlifted and transported by sea to Syria via Turkey.

Liwa Al-Umma in Syria was established from these fighters and their commander was the al-Qaeda terrorist Mahdi al-Harati, who is a Libyan-Irish national. He is one of Belhadj’s inner circle and was fully supported by Belhadj and Qatar. Liwa Al-Umma fought next to Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) in Syria.

We still don’t know exactly what the American role in this was, but we have what makes us believe that the U.S. knew all about it as well as some European countries.

9) This week we saw, after several years of fighting, the Libyan National Army recover all of Benghazi. With that accomplished, what are the next major objectives for the LNA?

Our duty is to protect the Libyan people and we will always be after terrorism and terrorist groups wherever they are. We have no doubt that we will target every al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group in Libya, or any group that affects the security of the Libyan people.

10) We have seen a rise in the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe over the past two years. What role do extremists take in human trafficking in Libya?

You must know that there is zero illegal immigration to Europe from the areas under our control.

We know that some organized crime groups are human trafficking, so some of these groups simply engage in this activity for the sake of the financial income.

We also know that other groups do it to send terrorists to Europe masking them in forms of illegal immigration.

11) Now with a new U.S. administration under President Trump, what are the steps the U.S. can take to assist Libya in moving forward with political and security solutions for the future?

Politics is not my field, so I will leave it to the politicians to answer that question.

Military-wise, we ask the Trump administration to support our armed forces and its leadership so we could easily and fully control our own soil, then we could end illegal immigration by protecting our borders and coast.