A US federal court has blocked President Donald Trump’s administration from transferring a US citizen currently held in Iraq for seven months to another country, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement.
The American detainee, who has not been identified, gave himself up to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last year after fighting for a rebel group in Syria. He is currently in the custody of US forces in Iraq. It is believed that he fought for Daesh, although this cannot be verified.
Previous court motions have found that the detainee is a dual US-Saudi citizen. Media reports this week suggested that the Trump administration may have considered transferring him to Saudi Arabia.
“This ruling is a victory for the rule of law,” Jonathan Hafetz, ACLU lawyer said. “The court is rightly protecting this US citizen’s constitutional rights and checking the Trump administration’s excessive claims of executive power.”
The government cannot do whatever it pleases with a US citizen without judicial review and a basis in law.
“The long detention of this American is illegal, and forcibly transferring him to another country would have further violated his rights by removing him from the jurisdiction of the American legal system, denying him the opportunity to win his freedom from a US court. After over seven months of imprisonment, the government should either charge or release him. That’s how our justice system works.”
US global conflict on trial
The ACLU argues that Trump’s administration hasn’t authorised the detention of Daesh fighters. The current congressional Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after the attacks on 9/11 in New York only permits the detention of suspects who were part of or supported Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or associated forces. The ACLU claims that the AUMF cannot be stretched to Daesh, as the group did not exist back then. Daesh is also openly at war with Al-Qaeda, making it difficult for Trump’s administration to detain the man in question lawfully over the conflict.
Yesterday, it was revealed that Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-German fighter, was captured by the Syrian Defence Forces in northern Syria. Zammar is accused of planning the 9/11 attacks and arranging travel for Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker from Germany to Afghanistan.