State of Hawaii v. Trump
MEMORANDUM re 65 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order [MUSLIM ADVOCATES, AMERICAN MUSLIM HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, MUPPIES, INC., THE NATIONAL ARAB AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, AND NETWORK OF ARAB-AMERICAN PROFESSIONALS' BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER], filed by American Muslim Health Professionals, Muppies, Inc., Muslim Advocates, Network of Arab-American Professionals, The National Arab American Medical Association. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Anton A. Ware, # 2 Exhibit 1 - Shutdown Press Release, # 3 Exhibit 2 - Anderson Cooper Interview, # 4 Exhibit 3 - State Rudy Guiliani, # 5 Exhibit 4 - Miller on Fox News, # 6 Exhibit 5 - WaPo Kansas Suspect, # 7 Exhibit 6 - Seattle Kent, # 8 Exhibit 7 - Fire store owner, # 9 Exhibit 8 - WaPo pipe attack, # 10 Exhibit 9 - Spate of mosque fires stretches across the country, # 11 Exhibit 10 - Politico absolute no choice but to close down mosques, # 12 Exhibit 11 - Georgetown Bridge Initiative Trump Cites Flowed Poll, # 13 Exhibit 12 - Republican Candidates Debate in North Charleston, South Carolina, # 14 Exhibit 13 - Transcript Donald Trump's national security speech, # 15 Exhibit 14 - 60 Minutes Trranscript, # 16 Exhibit 15 - Meet the Press, # 17 Exhibit 16 - Presidential Candidates Debates, # 18 Exhibit 17 - Christian Broadcasting Network, # 19 Exhibit 18 - Donald Trump on Twitter defends Muslim ban, calls work a 'horrible mess', # 20 Exhibit 19 - Pew Reseach Center 2016 Refugees, # 21 Exhibit 20 - DJT Tweet, # 22 Exhibit 21 - So called judge tweet, # 23 Exhibit 22 - See you in court tweet, # 24 Exhibit 23 - Sean Spicer press conference, # 25 Exhibit 24 - Stephen Miller key engineer, # 26 Exhibit 25 - Stephen Miller Islamofascism, # 27 Exhibit 26 - Pew Forum, # 28 Exhibit 27 - State Dept Country Report, # 29 Exhibit 28 - DHS, # 30 Exhibit 29 - DOJ Iraqi Kentucky, # 31 Exhibit 30 - Cato, # 32 Exhibit 31 - Lawfare, # 33 Exhibit 32 - Brennan Center, # 34 Exhibit 33 - Letter Former Officials on March 6 EO, # 35 Exhibit 34 - Trump delays new travel ban after well-reviewed speech - CNN Politics, # 36 Exhibit 35 - Families hoping to make the U.S., # 37 Exhibit 36 - Trump Muslim ban is tearing apart families, # 38 Exhibit 37 - Children and Refugees Who Planned Medical Care in the US Stuck After Trump Executive Order - Health News - ABC News Radio, # 39 Exhibit 38 - Trump's Travel Ban, Aimed at Terrorists, Has Blocked Doctors - The New York Times, # 40 Certificate of Service)(Kacprowski, Nickolas) Modified on docket title text on 3/14/2017 (ecs, ).
It’s Not Foreigners Who are Plotting Here: What the Data Really Show
Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 8:48 PM
A little more than a week ago, Benjamin Wittes posted a piece
about the malevolence and incompetence of Trump’s Executive
Order on visas and refugees—an order that, in his words, is both
wildly over-inclusive and wildly under-inclusive. If we take the
ban and its stated purpose at face value (which Ben argued we
should not), at best, the ban is ineffective and fails “to protect
Americans.” At worst, as many experts have suggested over the
past few weeks, the Executive Order is completely
counterproductive. As ten bipartisan former national security
of cials—four of whom were briefed regularly on all credible
terrorist threat streams against the U.S. as recently as a week
before the EO—said in a legal brief on Monday:
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We view the order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United
States, rather than making us safer...It could do long-term damage to our national security
and foreign policy interests, endangering U.S. troops in the eld and disrupting
counterterrorism and national security partnerships.
Ben’s piece touched a nerve. It has received nearly half a million pageviews, according to Google
Analytics, and was featured this week on This American Life.
In this post, I want to follow up on and esh out an aspect of the piece that has gotten a lot of
attention but much of it in the vein of repetition, not elucidation. Speci cally, Ben pointed to some
of the most compelling empirical evidence on the issue of ineffectiveness: the EO wouldn’t have
blocked the entry of any of the individuals responsible for recent terrorist attacks on American
soil. Other media organizations have elaborated on the theme, with various news outlets running
stories showing that no one from any of the seven countries included in the Executive Order has
carried out a fatal attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. But there’s more to say on this subject and more
data to share on it, and I suppose I’m as good a person as any to shed some light.
I know something about domestic terrorism
investigations. Before going to law school 18
months ago, I spent ve years at the FBI working
in an analytical capacity. I spent the majority of
that time providing case assistance to FBI agents
working international terrorism investigations
within the United States—in other words, cases
very similar to the ones the president insists we
need to keep Muslims out to stop. I spent those
ve years responding to terrorism threats to the
United States, and working cases up until the
point of arrest. I also worked extensively with
other government agencies and deployed
overseas in support of the Bureau’s
If you are finding Lawfare useful in
these times, please consider making a
contribution to support what we do.
Moreover, because of my background, when I
started working with Lawfare, Ben asked me to track criminal cases for the site, so I have kept up
with the ow of public counterterrorism cases around the country over the last year about as
closely as anyone has. I actually know this data—what they say, and what they don’t say.
There may be people around who know the data even better than I do, but one of them is clearly
not Kellyanne Conway, who either misspoke on national television in a particularly embarassing
fashion or simply made up a terrorist plot. The only true fact she relayed to Chris Matthews about
the “Bowling Green massacre,” was this one: “Most people don’t know [about] that because it
didn’t get covered.” Indeed, the Bowling Green massacre didn’t get covered—because it never
happened. Nonetheless, in response to the media criticism of Conway, the White House released a
list of 78 terrorist attacks it says were underreported; the New York Times has annotated the list
with the paper’s coverage of every attack.
It is true, however, that the volume of cases is much larger than the media’s appetite for in-depth
coverage of them—a fact that is actually true of most crime categories. The FBI arrests dozens of
counterterrorism suspects each year and, generally, those cases receive little more coverage than a
spot on the CNN ticker at the bottom of your screen. For every successful attack, and every
subsequent article asking where and how the FBI went wrong, there are a lot of cases that get
interrupted early or mid-stream. Unless you make a conscious effort, you probably won’t hear
much about most of them.
So the Bowling Green Massacre aside, it’s possible that Conway is right in some larger sense: that a
close look at these cases would show heaps of refugees or immigrants from the seven named
countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—plotting to blow things up and
shoot up nightclubs and concert halls.
So let’s take a hard look at some empirical data I put together on who the terrorists are and how
they relate to the assumptions in the executive order.
For those who don’t want to do this deep dive, here’s a quick two-sentence summary: Conway’s
position is empirically indefensible. Absolutely nothing in the large body of data we have about
real terrorist plots in the United States remotely supports either a focus on barring refugees or a
focus on these particular seven countries.
All of othe data I’m going to cite come from of cial Justice Department documents that have been
made publically available by the department. I began assembling them with a review of the
National Security Division’s press releases, available here, and I tracked all counterterrorism
subjects arrested or charged since January 1, 2015. When determining a subject’s immigration or
citizenship status, I used the criminal complaint or indictment. At times, I had to review additional
court documents to determine the details of a plot or a subject’s background. But all data here
come from the of cial court docket; to the extent I rely on any outside sources, I explicitly refer to
those outside sources explicitly below.
By my count, the FBI has arrested and charged 97 counterterrorism subjects during the past two
years. For those of you tracking these numbers at other institutions, you’ll notice that this number
differs slightly from their reports. The New American Foundation, for example, has counted 123
individuals. The discrepancy is due to the fact that New America’s numbers include not only
individuals who have been charged with terrorism offenses domestically, but also Americans who
have been accused of such activity abroad. For example, I did not include in my review American
citizens who have left the United States and died in Syria ghting for ISIL and were thus never
charged by the Justice Department. Additionally, I did not include individuals who were not
charged because they died while conducting an attack on American soil. So, for example, Abdul
Razak Ali Artan, a Somali refugee who was shot and killed by law enforcement after he attacked
students at the Ohio State University, is not included in the dataset.
In that sense, I suppose, my dataset is biased towards under-inclusion of refugees. In a much larger
sense, however, it is biased in the other direction—i.e. towards the White House’s view of the
matter. The reason is that while these data are not exclusive to ISIL, they are focused on cases that
are much more likely to include attacks by foreigners, and Muslim foreigners particularly, than
attacks by others. That’s because the workload focus of the DOJ’s National Security Division tends
to have an overseas lilt to it. I’ve included arrests of any individual supporting any Designated
Foreign Terrorist Organization, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Shabaab. To
the extent that the Justice Department issues press releases, I also included purely domestic
terrorism subjects, including white supremacists and sovereign citizen attacks. That being said,
much of the violence committed by those groups is prosecuted under state authorities, and when
federal, not necessarily as terrorism. So while the vast majority of arrests in my sample involve
ISIL-sympathizers, that is not the case of the vast majority of terrorist violence in the United
States. If there’s a pool of data that will support the White House’s claims, I’m looking at it.
One quick additional caveat: These data provide an incomplete picture. The FBI has open cases on
individuals who have not been arrested, many of whom never will be; the demographics of those
subjects are obviously not available to the public. In a meeting with the National Association of
Attorneys General in February 2015, FBI Director James Comey told the group that the FBI is
investigating ISIL sympathizers in all 50 states. Moreover, to the extent I am relying on criminal
complaints to categorize a subject and the threat he or she poses to the U.S., understand that only
a tiny fraction of an FBI case le is declassi ed and included in public documents. So you should
understand what follows as a representation of that subset of the data that is available to the
The Program on Extremism at George Washington University has routinely published statistics
indicating that the “vast majority” of individuals charged in the U.S. with offenses related to ISIL
are U.S. citizens. When considering all terrorism offenses, that claim holds up—80 of the 97
suspects arrested in the past two years, or more than 82 percent, are American citizens.
Most of those, notably, are not naturalized citizens. Of the U.S. citizens, only six were naturalized.
In other words, more than 76 percent of individuals arrested by the FBI over the past two years for
terrorism-related offenses were U.S. citizens as a result of having been born in the United States.
Naturalized U.S. Citizens
Where do the naturalized citizens come from?
Of the six naturalized citizens on the list, two—Nihad Rosic and Mediha Medy Salkicevic—
emigrated to the U.S. from Bosnia, a country not on Trump’s list. While in the United States, the
government alleges that Rosic and Salkicevic raised and sent money to individuals ghting with
ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Both men contributed money from their personal savings, while other
members of the conspiracy sent supplies including tactical gear. At one point, Rosic attempted to
leave the country to join ISIL as a ghter overseas. Neither subject plotted an attack in the United
Another naturalized citizen, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh came to the United States from Israel—a
country that’s really not on Trump’s list. Odeh’s case is unique; she was charged with immigration
violations for failing to disclose a previous terrorism conviction in Israel. Now 68 years old, Odeh
was convicted in Israel for her role in the 1969 bombings of a supermarket and the British
Consulate in Jerusalem, which were carried out on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine (PFLP.) In the past two years, Odeh is the only convicted terrorist to slip through the
cracks and immigrate to the United States. However, the indictment makes no charges that she was
engaged in any sort of terrorist activity while living in the Chicago area.
The nal three naturalized citizens do come from countries on Trump’s list: Iraq, Syria, and
Somalia. Two of these men however, were not charged with material support to terrorism, but with
making false statements to law enforcement. Iraqi-born Bilal Abood, traveled to Syria in April
2013. He returned to the U.S. in September 2013, but denied supporting any terrorist groups. In
April 2015, Abood falsely told the FBI that he had never pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr alBaghdadi, the leader of ISIL. A review of Abood’s computer proved otherwise. Mohamad Saeed
Kodaimati, originally from Syria, was charged with making false statements involving international
terrorism matters. The charges stem from a conversation he had with FBI agents at the U.S.
Embassy in Ankara, Turkey in March 2015 after a trip to Syria. During that interview, Kodaimati
claimed that he had never been involved in any ghting, red his weapon, met a member of ISIL, or
worked at a Sharia court—all of which was contradicted by the FBI’s investigation. Again, nothing
in the public court documents suggests that either subject engaged in attack plotting in the United
Of the six naturalized citizens on our list, there is exactly one from a newly banned country who
was charged with material support to terrorism. Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud emigrated to the
U.S. from Somalia. In April 2014, Mohamud traveled from Ohio to Istanbul and onward to Syria,
where he received weapons and explosives training. In June 2014, Mohamud returned to the U.S.,
where he told an acquaintance that he wanted to attack a military facility or a prison, killing U.S.
Legal Permanent Residents
In addition to the citizens, the FBI has arrested six counterterrorism subjects with Legal
Permanent Resident status over the past two years—only one of them from a newly-banned
Akhror Saidakhmetov, an LPR and a citizen of Kazakhstan, was arrested at JFK airport in April 2015
as he attempted to board a ight to Istanbul, with the eventual goal of joining ISIL in Syria. His codefendant Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, an LPR and citizen of Uzbekistan, had also purchased a
plane ticket to Istanbul. Both men discussed the possibility of conducting an attack in the United
States if they were unable to travel and ISIL directed them to do so.
Armin Harcevic and Jasminka Ramic, LPRs and citizens of Bosnia, worked with co-defendants
Nihad Rosic and Mediha Medy Salkicevic, referenced above, to provide nancial support to ISIL
Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, an LPR and citizen of India, studied engineering at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before conspiring to provide nancial support to Anwar Aulaqi and
That leaves Mohamed Ra k Naji, an LPR and a citizen of Yemen. In 2015, Naji travelled from New
York to Yemen to join ISIL and ght, the government alleges. Although he initially complained that
it was dif cult to reach the group, he was eventually successful but returned to New York City
several months later. While in New York, Naji disclosed to an FBI source that he was considering
conducting an attack similar to the Bastille Day attack in France, in Times Square. Although Naji
may have voiced aspirations to conduct an attack in the U.S., the government has not made any
suggestions that he made any concrete steps to do so.
So far, in other words, Naji’s is the only terrorist plot that would have been stopped by keeping all
people from the seven countries out—and it was stopped just ne without banning all people from
But the story gets worse for the White House—actually much worse.
In addition to subjects with Legal Permanent Resident status, three arrestees were foreign citizens
who did not have this status in the United States. None came from a banned country.
Yahya Farooq Mohammad, a citizen of India, conspired with Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad,
referenced above, to provide nancial support to AQAP, the government alleges.
Nelash Mohamed Das, a citizen of Bangladesh, considered traveling overseas to join ISIL, but was
eventually arrested after he began plotting an attack in the United States. With the help of an FBI
source, Das identi ed his preferred target—a U.S. military member—and believed ISIL would pay
him $80,000 for killing him, according to the prosecution. Das was arrested by the FBI after he and
the source drove to the target’s house and Das reached for his (inert) weapons.
Azizjon Rakhmatov is a citizen of Uzbekistan, and a co-conspirator of Akhror Saidakhmetov and
Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, both referenced above as LPRs. According to the government,
Rakhmatov helped fund Saidakhmetov’s travel to Syria.
Okay, so what about the elephant in room—the refugees? Over the past two years, the FBI has
arrested four refugees: two came from countries on Trump’s list. According to documents released
by the Justice Department, neither of those arrestees expressed interest in conducting attacks in
the United States. To put those numbers in perspective, the U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees in the
scal year ending in September 2016, according to the Pew Research Center—12,587 of those
refugees came from Syria, while 9,880 came from Iraq.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Sedina Unkic Hodzic, entered the U.S. as refugees from Bosnia. We’ve
already discussed above their co-conspirators: Nihad Rosic, Mediha Medy Salkicevic, Armin
Harcevic and Jasminka Ramic. Both Hodzics took part in the same terrorism- nancing plot.
Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan entered the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq in 2009 and was granted LPR
status in 2011. (I did not count Al Hardan in the LPR number above since he entered the U.S. as a
refugee.) In January 2016, Al Hardan was charged with attempting to provide material support to
ISIL, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements.
According to the Justice Department’s press release, Al Hardan discussed his plans to travel
overseas to ght with ISIL with an FBI source. He asked the source to train him in building
transmitter/receiver detonators for improvised explosive devices, so once in Syria he could build
remote detonators for ISIL. In November 2014, Al Hardan took an oath of loyalty to ISIL and
participated in tactical weapons training with an AK-47. Although he aspired to become a “martyr”
and proclaimed himself to be, “against America,” Al Hardan never made plans to conduct an attack
in the United States but was planning to join ISIL overseas.
Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, a Palestinian born in Iraq, emigrated from Syria to the U.S. as a
refugee in October 2012. At the time of the indictment in early 2016, Al-Jayab remained in the
country with refugee status. According to the Justice Department, Al-Jayab travelled to Syria and
fought with a terrorist organization between November 2013 and January 2014.
To sum up, since January 1, 2015, the FBI has arrested two refugees from countries on Trump’s list.
A Little Perspective
Let’s put these numbers in perspective.
In the past two years, the FBI has arrested ve subjects, all American citizens, from Ohio alone.
Three of them—Christopher Lee Cornell, Munir Abdulkader, Terrence J. McNeil—actively plotted
attacks in the United States. Cornell planned an attack on the U.S. Capitol, while Abdulkader and
McNeil targeted police stations and U.S. military personnel closer to home.
During the same time period, the FBI arrested nine subjects from Virginia, all U.S. citizens.
Since January 2015, the FBI has also arrested more anti-immigrant American citizens plotting
violent attacks on Muslims within the U.S. than it has refugees, or former refugees, from any
banned country. As we wrote about here, here and here, in October 2016, three white men from
Kansas were charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. According to the
graphic complaint, the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant men planned to attack a mosque in the
area. The men progressed quickly with their plot, amassing rearms and explosives. The targets
were people from Somalia, who ironically, would now be covered by Trump’s order.
And nally during the two years of arrests I studied, the FBI arrested six U.S. citizens en route to
Istanbul, who planned to travel on to Syria to join ISIL. In other words, there are more U.S. citizens
arrested while leaving the United States to commit mayhem abroad, transiting through Istanbul
alone, than there are refugees trying to sneak into the country to perpetrate violence here.
Since we’re already on the topic, let’s talk about Americans traveling to join ISIL. Over the past two
years, the FBI has arrested 34 Americans who aspired to leave, attempted to leave or actually left
the United States to join a terrorist group overseas. In other words, although two refugees came
into the U.S. and were charged with material support, seventeen times that number of U.S. citizens
tried to leave the U.S. to conduct attacks and ght overseas. More Americans have snuck into Syria to
join ISIL, than ISIL members have snuck into the United States. In September 2015, a
congressional report indicated that 250 Americans have gone to Syria and Iraq to ght with ISIL.
By comparison, as of December 2015, only 71 individuals in the United States had been charged
with ISIL-related activities—the vast majority of whom were also U.S. citizens, according to George
Trump wants a favorable balance of trade. In the department terrorism, he’s already got a massive
If you’re tracking the numbers, you might have noticed that I actually haven’t accounted for all of
the non-U.S. citizens on our list. That’s because, every year, the FBI seeks extradition of foreign
nationals into the United States to face prosecution in U.S. federal courts. That is, to milk the trade
analogy, we import terrorists for prosecution.
During the time period we’ve focused on, a citizen of Kosovo and a citizen of the United Kingdom,
were extradited to the U.S. to face prosecution for material support.
Meanwhile, two citizens of Yemen—Saddiq Al-Abbadi and Ali Alvi—were arrested in Saudi Arabia
and extradited to the United States. Both members were charged with conspiring to murder
nationals abroad and providing material support to al-Qaeda. Both men travelled from Pakistan to
Afghanistan in 2008 to conduct attacks against U.S. military personnel. In May 2008, Al-Abbadi led
a battle against U.S. forces during which one U.S. Army Ranger was killed.
In addition, Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, a citizen of Iraq and the wife of a deceased ISIL leader,
was charged by means of a criminal complaint in February 2016, with conspiracy to provide
material support to ISIL, for her alleged role in the death of U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller. According
to the Justice Department, Bahar is currently in Iraqi custody and facing prosecution in her home
Bringing foreign nationals—even from countries on Trump’s list—to the United States to face
charges, while not common, is not unheard of. In June 2014, the Justice Department announced
that Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a Libyan national who helped to facilitate the September 2012 attacks
on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, had been taken into custody and charged in federal
district court in the District of Columbia. The Washington Post reported that Khatallah was
captured during a joint Special Operations and FBI raid in Benghazi. The previous October, Special
Forces in Tripoli took Abu Anas al-Liby in custody, eventually bringing the suspect to stand trial in
New York City for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The U.S. government actually spends an incredible amount of money and manpower bringing
individuals from overseas to stand trial in the United States. These programs make sense, but rely
on an incredible amount of cooperation, not only between U.S. government entities, but with
foreign partners, throughout the extradition process. Amazingly, there is no explicit provision in
the executive order that allows entry to the country even of terrorist suspects the United States
wishes to bring here for criminal prosecution. Such people could be brought here, as I read the order,
only under a waiver provision that allows the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to make
exceptions to the order: “The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case
basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration bene ts to nationals of
countries for which visas and bene ts are otherwise blocked.” One wonders when the last time was
the United States government issued a visa to someone to come to the country to face prosecution.
Attacks in the United States
As discussed above, over the past two years American citizens have been traveling to Syria in
unprecedented numbers. Others are sending money overseas or helping their friends and family to
travel. That group includes the two refugees on the list, as well as foreign nationals.
But if the goal is really to keep Americans safe, we should take a closer look at who it is that is
actually plotting attacks in the United States.
We’ve already mentioned several subjects on Trump’s list who expressed a desire to conduct an
attack here in the United States: Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a naturalized citizen from Somalia
and Mohamed Ra k Naji, an LPR and citizen of Yemen, both told friends that they were thinking
about conducting an attack at home. However, it may be important to distinguish between
individuals who casually tell their friends that, yeah, they’d like to conduct an attack, and those
people who take concrete steps to do it—whose overt actions are the basis for their material
Focusing on the later group, of those subjects who planned and took concrete steps to conduct an
attack in the United States, only one, Nelash Mohamed Das—the citizen of Bangladesh who was
arrested at the house of his target—is not an American citizen. The remaining 26 terrorism
subjects who plotted terrorist attacks in the United States are all non-naturalized U.S. citizens.
Some like Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, Jonas M. Edmonds, and Munir Abdulkader chose military and
law enforcement targets, as alleged by the government. Several others planned attacks in New York
City, or tried to emulate the Boston Marathon Bombings use of pressure cookers.
This is not to say that travelling overseas to ght for ISIL or providing material support to any
terrorist group that targets the United States does not pose a meaningful threat. It does. But if the
purpose of the Executive Order is to keep Americans safe by keeping foreigners from certain
countries out, it surely bears emphasis that the empirical data indicate that foreign nationals
simply aren’t plotting attacks within U.S. borders at the same rate as U.S. citizens. Indeed, the rates
aren’t anywhere close to comparable.
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