Backdating Terror Group Membership

Immigration officials may deport a man who gave weapons training and other “material support” to an Iranian terror group in the 1970s even though his help came before the U.S. formally designated the group a terrorist organization.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday rejected a challenge by Gholamreza Bojnoordi to a Board of Immigration Appeals decision that his 1970s support to Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) made him ineligible for immigration.

Bojnoordi, a citizen of Iran, argued the statutory bar to immigration does not apply retroactively to his activities in the 1970s because MEK was not officially designated a terror group.

The court rejected his claim citing the Patriot Act of 2001 and its amendments that allow retroactivity to Tier I and Tier II terror groups.  The MEK, which was a Tier III terror group, is also covered, according to the court.

Under U.S. law there are three categories of terror groups.  Tier I is officially designated by the Secretary of State as a terrorist organization. A Tier II group is designated by the Secretary of State in consultation with the Attorney General or Homeland Security Secretary.  And a Tier III group is a broader designation of any organization which engages in terrorist activities.

According to the State Department 2001 report on terrorist groups, MEK supported the Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy in aTehran in 1979 and allegedly participated in the assassination of six U.S. nationals in the 1970s and opposed release of the U.S hostages after the embassy takeover, the court said.

The BIA determined that Bojnoordi passed out flyers, wrote articles and trained MEK members on weapons use in the 1970s.

Bojnoordi testified that MEK’s goal was to end the regime of the Shah of Iran and that could only be done through violence.  He said that after the revolution the Ayatollah Khomeini treated MEK even worse than the Shah.

In a footnote, the court says Bojnoordi’s participation predated official U.S. designation of MEK as a Tier 1 terrorist group in 1997.  That designation was later removed in 2012.

Case: Bojnoordi v. Holder, No. 10-73588

 

 

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