(CN) – An Indian man who solicited money for a militant group that assassinated politicians and kidnapped the daughter of a government official fits the definition of a terrorist and is not eligible to stay in the country, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The three-judge panel in Stanford, Calif., upheld an immigration judge’s denial of asylum and withholding of removal for Anjam Parvez Khan, who raised money during the 1990s for the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), an often violent group fighting the Indian government for an independent Kashmir.
Khan, who sought U.S. asylum since fleeing India in 1998, said he worked for the non-violent, political arm of the JKLF and knew nothing of the activities of the militant side. He admitted to knowing that he was part of a movement that engaged in armed struggle, but said he was unaware of any “kidnappings, bombings, or activity targeting civilians.”
Writing for the panel, Judge William A. Fletcher said that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, collecting money for a terrorist organization usually makes someone a terrorist.
“An alien’s intention in soliciting funds only for nonviolent activity is irrelevant to this definition, even when an organization has separate political and militant wings, because money donated to an organization’s political wing is considered to be support for the militant wing as well,” Fletcher wrote.
The militant wing of the JKLF is known to have killed moderate politicians, kidnapped the daughter of the Indian Home Minister, and orchestrated repeated attacks on the Indian Army, Fletcher wrote.
Khan also argued that the law’s definition of a terrorist organization was so broad that it would include groups of Jews fighting the Nazis during World War II. He said that a group is not a terrorist organization if it is engaged in armed struggle against an illegitimate government and should be held accountable only “if these actions violate the international law of armed conflict.”
The majority found this argument unconvincing, but in a concurring opinion, Judge Dorothy W. Nelson gave it some credence.
“The majority recognizes the possibility that an interpretation of ‘terrorist activity’ that ignores international law could lead to some bizarre outcomes, including classifying as terrorists Jews engaged in armed resistance against the Nazis,” Nelson wrote. “But such anomalous results are not merely hypothetical: the United States military, whose invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were indisputably ‘unlawful’ under the domestic laws of those countries, would qualify as a Tier III terrorist organization. Accordingly, any individual or group who assisted the U.S. military in those efforts would be ineligible for asylum or withholding of removal. This could discourage sympathetic groups from lending support to the U.S. military, knowing it would preclude them from seeking refuge in the U.S. in the future.”
However, Nelson agreed with the majority that international law doesn’t help in Khan’s case, because he should have known that the JKLF was a terrorist organization.