US reverses deportation of Hamas terrorist after he already landed in Israel
A Muslim terrorist who says he fears torture at the hands of Israeli authorities is back in the US after a judge’s order forced immigration authorities to reverse his deportation and bring him back from Israel before he ever got off the plane.
Abdelhalim al-Ashqar recently served 11 years in prison for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the Hamas terror group.
In 2005, he ran to succeed arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, all while confined to his Alexandria home on house arrest as he awaited trial.
In 2007, al-Ashqar was convicted of donating funds to the Hamas terror group and was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a US court.
According to court papers and interviews, US authorities arrested al-Ashqar on Tuesday and quickly deported him on a chartered flight after misleading him about his need to report to an immigration office to process paperwork.
By Thursday, though, the Muslim terrorist was back in the US. He’s now at a detention facility as his case awaits an expedited ruling.
The turnaround followed a late-night emergency hearing Tuesday in federal court in which the judge inquired about turning around the plane carrying al-Ashqar mid-flight.
Ultimately, though, the plane landed in Israel, where US officials say they planned to make arrangements to turn him over to PA authorities.
After the hearing, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III issued a ruling in which he largely said he said he had no authority to intervene in the deportation. He did say, though, he was concerned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not carrying out the deportation properly.
He stated in a footnote that his ruling “must not be construed in any way as accepting as true
petitioner’s [Hamas terrorist’s claim] that he was tortured by Israeli officials in the past and that he has a bona fide fear that he will be tortured.”
Hamas terror group issued a statement condemning the deportation and holding the US accountable for his treatment.
The statement said al-Ashqar “is a national icon who is known for his sense of nationalism and loyalty for his people. … Indeed, all the
Palestinian people [Muslim Jihadists] are proud of him.”