(CN) – The 8th Circuit ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals to reconsider a Lebanese Christian’s claim that he deserves asylum because Hizballah militants kidnapped him, tortured him and accused him of collaborating with Israel.
The St. Louis-based federal appeals court ruled that the board should reconsider Boutros Habchy’s case based on the recent escalation of violence in that region of the Middle East.
“As a Lebanese Christian and perceived supporter of Israel, Habchy claimed that the escalation of tensions between Hizballah, Israel, and the Lebanese government over the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in July 2006 increased the threat of persecution to a degree that constituted a material change and warranted reopening his asylum proceedings,” Judge Melloy wrote.
The federal appeals court said that current situations in his former country may create an increased risk of future persecution.
Hizballah, or the “Party of God,” is a radical Shia group founded after the Israeli military seized Lebanon in 1982. The group has reportedly been involved in several terrorist attacks against the United States and Israel, including the 1983 suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut.