In May 2012, the immigration board upheld an immigration judge's ruling denying Mustafa asylum, agreeing with the judge's assessment that Mustafa's attackers were only seeking personal revenge in the 2003 incident and that there was no political element.
Mustafa appealed the immigration board's order. He claimed that Pakistani intelligence agents pressured him in early 2000 into disclosing financial information he learned while working at Rehman's construction business in the United Arab Emirates.
Judge Joel Flaum wrote the Seventh Circuit opinion, joined by Judges Richard Posner and Diane Sykes. Flaum wrote that the conclusion of the immigration judge and appeals board that the attack against Mustafa was apolitical "is unsupported by substantial evidence in the record."
Flaum detailed evidence ignored by the immigration judge, including Mustafa's attackers' claim that they acted on behalf of a high-ranking league member; the political environment at the time of the attack; Rehman's verbal rejection of Mustafa's reasons for cooperating with the Musharraf government; and an expert witness's analysis of the political nature of the 2003 attack.
"Collectively, this evidence, which was present in the record but absent from the analysis below, sheds a different light on Mustafa's attackers' use of the word 'traitor' during the beating. Mustafa assisted in the takedown of a high-ranking member of the [league] immediately after the 1999 shift in power in Pakistan, and in the context of the facts articulated above, it would be unreasonable to conclude that his actions were viewed by his attackers as solely apolitical," Flaum wrote.
Mustafa's attorney, Ronald Ng, an associate at the Law Offices of Kenneth Y. Gemen & Associates in Chicago, declined to comment beyond saying he was pleased with the ruling.
The Justice Department declined to comment, according to spokesman Charles Miller.