Travel ban "playing into terrorist's hands"

A leading security expert says ban effectively makes Donald Trump a "propagandist for Islamist or terrorist organisation like ISIS and Al Qaeda"

Travel ban "playing into terrorist's hands"

President Donald Trump after signing two executive actions at the Pentagon in Washington, 27-01-2017. Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The US President’s travel ban targeting people from certain Muslim-majority countries is fuelling recruitment for terrorist organisations, according to a leading security expert.

Dr John Lamb, lecturer in Criminology and Security Studies at Birmingham City University said the 90-day blanket ban on people from seven Middle Eastern nations has effectively made Donald Trump, “the propagandist for Islamist or terrorist organisation like ISIS and Al Qaeda.”

Dr Lamb told Newstalk Breakfast this morning that the Trump administration’s ban plays into terrorist propaganda that portrays the west as anti-Muslim - rather than anti-terrorist.

“It is feeding into their hands already,” he said. “Many of the ISIS accounts on Twitter have already stopped tweeting their own propaganda and are just re-tweeting accounts from moderate Muslims who have been turned away at borders and airports.”

He said the policy is, “playing directly into their hands and will see people start to look at these groups as providing resistance to Trump and America.”

Protesters at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago

Dr Lamb said the ban has ignored one very high-profile country - Saudi Arabia.

He said the only terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 was the Boston Bombing - which was carried out by two brothers on student visas.

The majority - 15 out of 19 - of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

President Trump - as a private citizen- had a lot of dealings with Saudi businessmen and the US is a long-time ally of the ultraconservative Islamic monarchy.

The United States has supported a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations in an ongoing offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015 with intelligence, weapons and mid-air refuelling aircraft.

“The Saudi state does a lot to combat terrorism but Saudi individuals, wealthy Saudi individuals do donate large amounts of money to Islamist organisations who then go on to commit acts of terrorism,” said Dr Lamb.

“So actually the argument could be made that if Trump wanted to institute a policy that would be more respected in counter-terrorism he should actually take a hard-line against Saudi Arabia.”

Dr Lamb said the US immigration vetting process was “long and detailed” and argued that President Trump’s insistence that the travel ban is in place to protect Americans against terrorism does not stand up to scrutiny.

“It is not people going into the States that kill Americans,” he said. “It is other Americans that kill Americans - in disproportionately large numbers.”

“If we think about the Sandy Hook massacre, we think about the almost daily occurrence of gun violence that goes on; the other  ban that Trump should really seriously consider is some sort of restriction on firearms.”

You can listen back to the full conversation here: