Army jawans take aim during the encounter at the Rajbagh police station in Kathua on Friday.
Al-Qaeda Takes Control of Yemen’s Southern City Of Al-Houta
At Least 142 People Killed, 351 Wounded In Suicide Attacks At Sanaa Mosques
Three Sons of Turkish Professor Join ISIL
Iranian ship unloads 185 tons of weapons for Houthis at Saleef port
Yemen attacks condemned as ‘unconscionable’
Saudi Arabia condemns Aden air raids, Sanaa attacks
Second air raid targets Yemeni president’s palace
Iranian opposition praised for message of ‘tolerant Islam’
Executions in Iran on the rise, U.N. monitor finds
Israeli forces injure two Palestinians in Gaza Strip
Israel army launches Gaza school shelling probe
Three Polish citizens dead after Tunis attack
Deadly ISIS Attacks in Syria Kill More Than 100
Syria Kurdish Festival Attack Kills At Least 20
ISIS Claims Beheading Of Three Iraqi Kurdish Fighters
Iraqi forces lay siege on strategic town in Anbar province
Those Not Well Versed In Qur’an ‘Should Not Issue Fatwas’: Grand Mufti
Egypt’s security forces look to cooperate with Bedouins
Senior scholars defend KSA’s Islamic laws
Bahrainis stage massive rallies to voice solidarity with prisoners
Baghdad backs peaceful settlement of Syria conflict: Iraq FM
Muslims of Three States Livid Over ‘Wrong Depiction’ Of Caliphs in Textbook
Kashmir Fidayeen Attack, Militants Storm Kathua's Police Station, 4 Killed
Why Millions of Foreign Muslim Tourists Are Hesitant about Visiting India’s Marvellous Mosques
Maldives Opposition Leader Mohamed Nasheed's Wife Laila Ali Seeks India's Help
Pakistan releases 57 Indian fishing boats
Some Bangladesh Higher Education Institution Heads Backing Shibir Terror
Four Terrorists Killed In Khyber Airstrike
U.S. May Stay in Afghanistan After '16
David Mulroney warns Canada should apply Afghanistan's lessons to Iraq
Eight held in Bajaur search operation
Tribal elders pledge not to help fleeing militants
We don’t need dictation on death penalty: Siraj ul Haq
Escaping Boko Haram: Nigerians' Treacherous Passage To Chad
Boko Haram 'Driven Out' Of North-Eastern Nigerian Town
Guards were having coffee during Tunis museum attack: MP
Colombian regrets losing wife, son in Tunisia attack
UN urges Libya warring factions to compromise
Forceful recruitment of children in South Sudan concerns UNICEF
Gunmen trained in Libya
Seminaries Combed Ahead Of Pakistan Day Parade
Bomber Kills Two Paramilitary Troops In Pakistan's Karachi
Gunmen kill Shia cleric in Pakistan’s Punjab
Terrorism haunts Christians in churches
Govt, PTI agree on formation of poll inquiry commission
PPP not to invite Muttahida to join govt till allegations probed, says Qaim
‘The Indus Commission hasn’t played an effective role’
Canadian Teen 'Aiming To Join ISIS' Arrested Before Syria Departure
Petraeus: Iran, not ISIS, is main threat to Iraq
Emails: WHO ‘resisted’ declaring Ebola emergency
SF Muslim Community Looks For New Home
Ancient Ring Links Scandinavians to Islam
Pakistan’s Nuclear programme prone to security risks: US Report
ISIS Said To Be Wooing Maids in HK
Malaysian Move toward Stricter Islamic Law Divides Opposition Party
PAS confident can get Hudud approved on Muslim MPs’ support
Non-banned ‘banned’ books and Malaysia’s unjust Islamic justice system
New Rules Proposed to Stem Outflow to Islamic State
Jokowi Still Mulling Revoking Citizenship of Indonesians Joining IS
Imams and Rabbis to Bike Together In Berlin Tolerance Ride
Germany Charges 6 Men over Alleged Links To Al-Shabaab
54 politicians of Turkish origin to run in local elections in France
U.S. ambassador: Russian veto 'extremely disruptive' on Syria
UK teenager gets 22 years for soldier murder plan
British teenager jailed for 22 years over beheading plot
In Balkans, Threat of Islamic Radicalization, Russian Influence Converge
Four Russians Deported From Turkey for Alleged Attempt to Join Islamic State in Syria
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Al-Qaeda takes control of Yemen’s southern city of al-Houta
20 March 2015
Al-Qaeda took control on Friday of Yemen’s southern city of al-Houta, following heavy clashes with security forces, Al Arabiya News Channel reported, citing security sources.
Earlier, AFP quoted a security official as saying that clashes in south Yemen between security forces and armed groups, including al-Qaeda militants, as well as separatists killed 29 people.
Fierce gunfights erupted when armed men attacked police centers in Lahj, north of Aden, the official said.
He said 29 people, including 27 members of the security forces, were killed.
Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia militants took part in the fighting alongside other armed “outlaws,” said the official, in an apparent reference to southern separatists.
Earlier, another security source said five people, including two police, were killed in the clashes, adding that the southern separatists attacked security forces.
Al-Qaeda is active in southern Yemen where separatists demand secession of the regions of the formerly independent South Yemen from the north.
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has taken Aden as a base after fleeing last month a house arrest in Sanaa under Shiite Huthi militia.
At least 142 people were killed and 351 were wounded when suicide bombers blew themselves up at two mosques attended by Shiite worshipers in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, medical sources said.
Health ministry official Nashwan al-Atab was quoted by AFP as saying that an earlier toll surged following information gathered from various hospitals in Sanaa.
The rebel-owned television channel said 137 were killed and 345 were wounded.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) issued a statement claiming responsibility for the suicide bomb attacks.
The attacks, in which four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted worshippers in and outside the crowded mosques, happened a day after an unidentified warplane attacked the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden.
Anti-aircraft guns opened fire on planes flying high over the presidential compound in Aden on Friday, government sources and witnesses said.
Saudi Arabia condemned the attacks on Sanaa mosques as well as the recent air strikes on the presidential compound in the southern city of Ade.
The Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, with deep concern, followed up the latest painful developments in brethren Yemen, citing an airstrike that targeted Aden city, the Presidential Palace, and surrounding areas yesterday as well as today's bombings, that took place, in Sanaa.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the “terrorist attacks” on the Yemeni mosques.
In a statement from his spokesman Farhan Haq, Ban called on all sides to end hostilities and exercise restraint.
“All sides must abide by their stated commitments to resolve differences by peaceful means, and should engage in good faith in the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations in order to reach a consensus agreement,” the statement read.
Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the north and the U.N.-recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has set up a rival seat in the south with the backing of Sunni-led Gulf Arab states.
The mosques in Sanaa are known to be used mainly by supporters of the Houthi group, which controls most of northern Yemen.
The rise to power of the Houthis since September last year has deepened divisions in Yemen's complex web of political and religious allegiances, and left the country increasingly cut off from the outside world.
One witness said he heard two successive blasts at one of the mosques, known as the Badr mosque, in a busy neighborhood in central Sanaa.
“I was going to pray at the mosque then I heard the first explosion, and a second later I heard another one,” the witness told Reuters.
Hospitals in Sanaa appealed for blood donors to help treat the large number of casualties. A Reuters witness at the scene of the Badr mosque said he counted at least 25 bloody bodies or corpses lying in the street and inside the mosque building.
[With AFP and Reuters]
Three sons of Turkish professor join ISIL
Three sons of an assistant professor at a Turkish university have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Hürriyet has learned.
The assistant professor, whom Hürriyet identifies only as M. Şefik İ. to avoid possible repercussions that may risk his safety, has appealed to the government for help, but security forces determined that his sons have already crossed to Syria.
According to the investigation, 19-year-old Hacettepe University student Süleyman Bengi İ. led his 16-year-old twin brothers, Dilar and Dilşat, in their venture to join ISIL. After crossing Turkey’s border with Syria, the three teenagers continued to Iraq to join the ranks of ISIL there, Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) revealed.
“We have found peace here, don’t worry about us,” Süleyman Bengi İ. sent in a message to his family after they crossed the border.
The family, on the other hand, have called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the MİT and the police to bring their sons back to Turkey.
Turkish authorities continue diplomatic efforts to bring back the three brothers who are still in an ISIL-controlled area of Iraq. Meanwhile, police and intelligence officers are investigating whom Süleyman Bengi İ. contacted in Ankara to cross the border.
Before leaving his dorm in Ankara, Süleyman Bengi İ., a dentist candidate, left a note for his family, urging his mother to distribute the belongings he left behind to the poor.
Those who know him told Hürriyet he was a successful student who was radicalized after he started to visit Islamist bookstores. The change in his personality became more dramatic after he read a book titled “Promised Heaven,” which he also distributed to his friends.
A billboard poster prepared by the family says that Süleyman Bengi went missing in Ankara, while his brothers went missing in Diyarbakır, on March 10.
Dire situation in numbers
A Hürriyet investigation in September 2014 revealed a number of Islamic associations and bookstores which had popped up across Turkey had become one of the main recruiting tools of ISIL in the country.
Turkish intelligence recently sent a report to Turkey’s associations watchdog, determining that seven associations and foundations should be scrutinized for their suspicious activities.
So far 2,307 Turkish citizens have joined ISIL, according to official figures, with some 700 more linked to the group. Around 1,500 of them still live in the ISIL-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq and most of them are fighting in the ranks of the jihadists.
In 2014 and the first three months of 2015, 680 families in Turkey reported their children went missing to join ISIL.
Officials say 11 Turks have died so far while fighting for the group.
An Iranian ship unloaded more than 180 tons of weapons and military equipment at a Houthi-controlled port in western Yemen, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Friday, quoting security sources.
The ship had docked at al-Saleef port northwest of the al-Hodeida province on Thursday, the sources said.
The Houthi militias reportedly closed the port and denied entrance to employees there. Al-Saleef port is considered the second most vital in Yemen.
The news follows last week’s economic partnership agreements between Iran and the Houthis, including a deal that promises a year’s worth of oil supply from Iran.
Iran has also agreed to provide Yemen with a 200 megawatt power plant, according to Yemeni news agency Saba.
Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in the north, and the internationally-recognized President Abedrabbu Mansorur Hadi, who has set up a rival seat in the south with the backing of Sunni-led Gulf Arab states.
The Shiite Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in September last year before tightening their grip and prompting President Hadi to submit his resignation. Their rise to power has deepened division in Yemen’s web of political and religious allegiances, and left the country increasingly cut of from the outside world.
21 March 2015
The White House condemned as “unconscionable” twin suicide bombings on Yemeni mosques that killed at least 142 worshippers Friday.
Describing the attacks in Sanaa as unprovoked, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “we deplore the brutality of the terrorists who perpetrated today’s unprovoked attack on Yemeni citizens, who were peacefully engaged in Friday prayers.”
In an online statement, the previously unknown Sanaa branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the bombings and said they were “just the tip of the iceberg.”
The White House had earlier said there was no “clear operational” link between Yemeni extremists and ISIS.
“We cannot at this point confirm the veracity of the claim,” it said, referring to ISIS.
“We have seen these kinds of claims in the past from other extremist groups,” Earnest said, adding that claims of allegiance to ISIS are often made for propaganda purposes.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with the bombings.
“This unconscionable attack on Muslim worshipers during Friday prayers only further highlights the depth of the terrorists’ depravity and the threat they pose to the people of Yemen, the region and the world,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.
She urged all Yemenis to be unified in their fight against terror.
“We urge all Yemeni parties to halt unilateral and offensive military actions,” Meehan said in condemning those assaults on Yemen’s “legitimate government” and calling for renewed political dialogue.
Saudi Arabia on Friday condemned both the recent air strikes in Yemen that targeted the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden and the deadly bombings at two mosques in the capital Sanaa, the state news agency SPA reported.
The agency quoted an official source as saying: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, with deep concern, followed up the latest painful developments in brethren Yemen, citing an airstrike that targeted Aden city, the Presidential Palace, and surrounding areas yesterday as well as today's bombings, that took place, in Sanaa.”
“Condemning these terrorist aggressions which will not lead but to more destabilization of security and stability, in Yemen, and exposure of the people of brethren Yemen to the furnace of sedition and destruction, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirms its standing by the side of legitimacy and the Yemeni people, by all means,” the SPA added.
The agency said King Salman bin Abdulaziz “has instructed dispatching medical assistance to the injured in these terrorist attacks and expressed readiness of the Kingdom to transfer critically injured persons to receive medical treatment in medical centers in the Kingdom from both Sana'a and Aden.”
Full report at:
An unidentified warplane targeted on Friday the residential compound of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the southern city of Aden on Friday for the second consecutive day, Al Arabiya correspondent in the capital Sanaa reported.
President Hadi was not harmed in the attack, security sources said. On Thursday he was evacuated to a secure location, according to security sources from Aden.
The attacks on the al-Maasheeq district of Aden came amid a deepening power struggle between Hadi and the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group which controls the capital Sanaa.
“The president is in a safe place and was not in the palace,” one source said. “I heard the sound of the planes and the anti-aircraft guns. There is no damage,” the source added.
Witnesses and a presidential aide earlier said anti-aircraft guns had opened fire on planes flying high above the presidential compound in Aden.
19 March 2015
Vice-President of the European Parliament has hailed Iranian Resistance leader Maryam Rajavi's call for 'tolerant, democratic Muslim movements' as the only viable political alternative to Islamic extremism.
Ryszard Czarnecki wrote in online journal The Hill how he attended a gathering on Islamic extremism in Berlin where Mrs Rajavi delivered her message to 20,000 people.
He said: “The world’s attention is very much focused on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its terrorist acts using the banner of Islam. But the emphasis on Iran and the Iranian democratic opposition at the gathering was appropriate.
"As the US president and some of his Western allies continue to pursue a policy of outreach to Tehran, partly in hopes of finding common cause against ISIS, it is crucially important that we remember that Islamic fundamentalism does not take only one form and that partnering with one set of extremists against another can be dangerous.
"Rajavi’s message to her supporters served as a reminder that opponents of extremism must do more than simply confront the purveyors of that extremism one group at a time.
"Instead, they must understand it as the multifaceted global phenomenon that it is, and set coherent policy accordingly. And they must provide support for tolerant, democratic Muslim movements in order to offer a viable political alternative to malicious entities like ISIS and the Islamic Republic of Iran."
He added: "It may be that President Obama and his supporters have the same strategy in mind amid their negotiations with the Iranian regime, but it is a misguided application of that strategy.
Executions in Iran are on the rise, despite President Hassan Rowhani’s promises to improve the country’s human rights record, a United Nations human rights monitor has said.
In addition to the increase in death sentences, authorities continue to crackdown on criticism of the state, and those “who publicly deviate from officially sanctioned narratives,” Ahmed Shaheed, special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said according to the New York Times.
The Islamic republic has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. The number of death sentences carried out in the country apparently increased since Rowhani took office in 2013, Newsweek reported.
More than 740 people were executed in 2014, a 10 percent increase compared to 2013, the news website reported citing findings by the Iran Human Rights French group Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together against the Death Penalty).
Of the 753 executions of 2013, only 291 were announced by official sources, Newsweek reported adding that the number of death penalties carried out has been steadily rising since 2005.
Shaheed places the number at more than 852 executions between July 2013 and July 2014. Having been barred from Iran, he compiled his report through telephone interviews and contacts inside the country.
The Iranian ambassador to United Nations in Geneva criticized Shaheed’s report as an “approach of ignorance.” He accused the monitor of ignoring positive developments in Iran by highlighting “the empty half of the glass.”
Iran’s participation in the Human Rights Council has placed its human rights record under the lime light.
Mar 21, 2015
Israeli forces have shot and injured two Palestinians in a town east of the Palestinian city of Khan Yunis in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Israeli forces injured two young men in the lower extremities of Absan on Friday, the Ma'an news agency quoted Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, as saying.
An Israeli army spokesman, reached for details of the incidnet by the news agency, said that he was not aware of the incident
In a similar development on Thursday, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen across the al-Sudaniya coastline off Gaza City.
March 21, 2015
JERUSALEM - The Israeli army has launched an investigation into the shelling of a UN school in the Gaza Strip while dismissing several other allegations of misconduct during a bloody war last July-August.
The Palestinians are threatening Israel with action at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes during the conflict, a move that could also open up the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which runs Gaza to investigation.
The Israeli military, for its part, is pressing dozens of internal probes into its conduct during the war, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 72 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers. “Factual findings... indicated the existence of grounds for a reasonable suspicion that the strike was not carried out in accordance with the rules and procedures applicable to IDF forces,” the military Attorney general said.
“As a result, the MAG (military attorney general) has ordered the opening of a criminal investigation into the incident,” it said.
On July 30, during the height of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, shells hit a school run by the United Nations refugee agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, that was being used as a shelter for the displaced, killing 17 people, according to the agency.
It was one of seven UNRWA schools hit during the war, during which a total of 83 schools were damaged by fire.
WARSAW - Poland’s foreign ministry said on Friday a third Polish citizen was confirmed dead after Wednesday’s militant attack on tourists in Tunis.
Ten Poles were wounded in the attack, it said in a statement. On Thursday, the ministry said it had established that two Polish citizens were among the tourists shot by gunmen, with one presumed missing. Gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Tunisia’s national museum on Wednesday, killing 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians. On Thursday, Islamic State claimed responsibility. Moreover, The last two missing guests, Spanish couple Cristina Rubio Benlloch and Juan Carlos Sanchez Oltra, were found safe and sound after a night in hiding at the Bardo National Museum, Cristina, who is pregnant, was immediately taken into hospital for observation. Both her and the child are reported well.
More than 100 people were killed in Syria in 24 hours of violence after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked regime troops and a suicide bomber caused carnage at Kurdish New Year celebrations, a monitor said Friday.
More than 70 members of government forces were killed when ISIS attacked checkpoints and other positions in the central Homs and Hama provinces, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP “most of the dead, around 50, fell in the Hama countryside.”
Several militants were also killed when clashes broke out, he added without giving a toll.
The regime controls most of Homs and Hama.
“ISIS has faced setbacks recently in the provinces of Aleppo and Raqa and in Hasakeh in confrontations with Kurds on the one hand and regime forces on the other, and are now trying to score military points, even limited ones, to offset their losses,” said Abdel Rahman.
Activists also reported shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Al-Mashad neighborhood on Friday, according to Reuters news agency. The causalities from this attack were yet to be reported.
Separately, a suicide bomber struck at Syria’s Kurdish minority on Friday, killing more than 33 people as they celebrated Kurdish New Year in Hasakeh, northeast Syria.
Five children and many women were among the dead, the Observatory said.
“33 people were killed in the suicide attack in Hasakeh today, including five children. Many women were among the dead,” Abdel Rahman said.
The victims had gathered for a celebration on the eve of Nowruz, Kurdish New Year.
Dozens more were injured in the blast and the death toll may rise, the monitor added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Abdel Rahman said the suicide bomber could have been a member of ISIS.
He said a second bomb exploded at another Nowruz celebration, wounding dozens of people.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the “heinous” attacks.
“Initial reports suggest that two separate bombings killed and injured up to 100 persons, including women and children,” the U.N. secretary general said in a statement following the attacks.
Syria Kurdish festival attack kills at least 20
ISIS militant suicide bombers targeted a celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian new year, held by Kurdish people in the northern Syrian city of Hassaka, killing 20 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Friday.
The Observatory, which tracks the four-year-old Syrian civil war, said the attack also wounded 80 people and was carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Nowruz is an important festival in Kurdish culture in which people gather to play games, dance and eat. In Syria, Nowruz is also celebrated as an expression of identity for the stateless Kurdish minority.
Syrian state television said the explosions took place in the al-Mufti district of Hassaka.
Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militant group which operates in northeastern Syria, also said ISIS was responsible for the attack, which he said killed mostly women and children.
ISIS claims beheading of three Iraqi Kurdish fighters
20 March 2015
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed to have beheaded three Iraqi Kurdish fighters in an online video and threatened to kill more unless the Kurds stop bombardment of militant-controlled areas.
Peshmerga forces from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, are battling ISIS in the country’s north and have pushed the militants back in Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces.
The video starts with images of people being brought to a hospital and a voiceover saying that they were wounded by Peshmerga rocket fire.
The three prisoners, dressed in orange jumpsuits with their hands bound, are later shown kneeling one at a time with masked militants standing guard at locations said to have been hit by Peshmerga fire, and are then beheaded.
Iraqi forces have laid siege on the central town of al-Karmah in Anbar province in preparation for a major offensive to liberate the strategic town from ISIL Takfiri terrorists, Press TV reports.
Senior security official said on Friday that the armed forces backed by the local tribesmen were tightening the noose around the ISIL terrorists in al-Karmah, which lies some 53 kilometers (33 miles) east of the provincial capital, Ramadi.
Sources say Iraqi forces have also managed to cut off all supply lines of arms and ammunition for the Takfiri terrorists trapped inside the troubled region.
Large contingents of security forces are now deployed on the outskirts of the town in order to mount a major operation.
Security experts say the liberation of al-Karmah will also pave the way for clearing the city of Fallujah of ISIL terrorists.
21 March 2015
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, chairman of the Council of Senior Scholars, has urged government officials, contractors, journalists and scholars to be honest in their dealings with the public.
He said government officials who disclose even a small part of the country’s secrets would be guilty of betraying the public trust. This would also be the case for contractors hired by the government, who must complete public projects on time and meet quality specifications, he said.
Delivering his Friday sermon at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh, Al-Asheikh said that journalists have a duty to report the truth. They should help solve issues that are in the public interest. “They should not spread gossip and false reports.”
EL-ARISH, Egypt — Amid various media statements by Egypt's opposing religious and military forces about the feasibility of the economic conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, the conference's security was a success, coming amid suspicions that terrorist organizations would attempt to thwart the participation of 90 Arab and foreign countries in support of Egypt's faltering economy.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's military regime managed, once again, to thwart threats from its opponents, be they the Muslim Brotherhood, which explicitly called for the need to undermine the conference, or Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group. The latter’s sporadic targets aim at destabilizing the regime that opposes its religious expansion, described by the majority of the Egyptian people as extremist.
A researcher specializing in the affairs of the Sinai Peninsula and the armed groups said, on condition of anonymity, that the holding of the conference without any security obstacles or terrorist operations is a winning card that supports Sisi globally.
The researcher further told Al-Monitor: “Sisi had planned to hold the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the cities of the Sinai Peninsula, which is witnessing violent terrorist attacks carried out by the most powerful terrorist organizations worldwide. It was a smart move aimed at showing the world that he can eliminate terrorism despite all the threats. It looked as if he was saying that if you do not support my policy, the equation will change.”
The researcher added, “The world is aware of the seriousness of the terrorism spread in Egypt, especially in Sinai, which is an important strategic hub. The peninsula is close to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the basis of the conflict and the lack of stability in the Middle East.”
The Council of Senior Scholars has defended the Kingdom’s judiciary, saying it is based on Islamic law and guarantees the rights of all people.
Sheikh Fahad bin Saad Al-Majed, secretary general of the council, said that Saudi Arabia is the center of the Islam world. “The Kingdom is proud of its Islamic laws, which protects human rights, dignity and private property.”
Al-Majed said the country is “a beacon of light” for Muslims worldwide, with millions arriving every year for Haj and Umrah. The attacks on Islamic law only served to strengthen the country, making it more determined to cling to the religion, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, the crown prince and deputy crown prince, he said.
Mar 20, 2015
Large crowds of Bahraini demonstrators have taken to the streets in solidarity with political prisoners and jailed activists, sparking clashes with regime forces.
On Friday, the regime forces launched another heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrators, who had taken to the streets to express solidarity with detainees and demand the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition group.
The massive protest rallies were held in several towns and villages across the Persian Gulf country after Friday prayers.
Witnesses say the rally in Diraz turned violent after Al Khalifa forces fired teargas and birdshots to disperse the anti-regime protesters.
The protesters carried placards of Sheikh Salman, who has been under arrest since December 28 last year.
The top opposition leader has been in custody over allegations of inciting hatred against the government and calling for the overthrow of the regime. Al-Wefaq has rejected the charges as malicious and outright lies.
The European Union has warned that Sheikh Salman’s arrest will worsen Bahrain’s already fragile political and security situation. Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have also called for his immediate release.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’afari says Baghdad supports a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria, which has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.
Addressing students of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy in Moscow on Friday, Ja’afari stated that Iraq wants the conflict in Syria to be resolved peacefully.
He added that Iraq wants to develop relations with any government in Damascus that enjoys the support of the Syrian nation.
“We are not interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries. We cannot say whether we support this government or are against it. It is up to the people to choose their leaders. And we would like to promote relations with any administration that is supported by people,” the Iraqi foreign minister said.
Muslim religious leaders of three states including Jharkhand on Thursday demanded the withdrawal of a history textbook with “faulty, fake and anti-Sharia” depiction of the first two caliphs, the religious and political leaders who succeeded the Prophet.
The alleged “faulty” depictions of the historical figures have been made in the Class 7 history textbook prescribed for schools affiliated to the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE).
A delegation of the Imarat-e-Sharia, an organisation of Islamic Quazis from Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, dashed off a petition to President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday seeking withdrawal of the book.
“The book has printed (a) picture of first caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq that is fake and imaginary as there was no camera at that time and also there’s no concept of picture or idolism (idol worshipping). There are also some faulty descriptions against the honour of the caliphs on page no 16 to 19,” said the petition, copy of which is with HT.
The petition was submitted to East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal by a delegation led by Quazi Saud Alam Kasmi.
The petition also said the text book “describes the second caliph Hazrat Omar as brother-in-law of Paighambar (messenger) Muhammad whereas both first caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr and second caliph Hazrat Omar were his fathers-in-law as their daughters Ayesha and Sofiya respectively were married to the Paighambar.”
Kazi Saud Alam also objected to the reference to Hazrat Omar as being murdered “whereas he was martyred”.
ZAHID RAFIQ, March 21, 2015
First major militant strike since the new government came to power in J&K, two militants shot dead
In the first major Fidayeen strike since the new PDP-BJP coalition government came to power in Jammu and Kashmir, militants dressed in Army fatigues stormed a police station in Kathua district early on Friday and killed three security personnel and a civilian.
Two militants were killed in the gun battle. Eight CRPF personnel and two J&K policemen were injured.
Addressing the Assembly, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed blamed non-state actors for the attack and said Pakistan needed to be taken on board in the fight against extremism. However, he warned that no one could stop the coalition government from making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of peace and normality.
“I want to say that the House should take notice of it…This might be the work of non-state actors. We should take on board Pakistan, which itself is facing a major war. If there are some non-state actors, there also, they should be isolated.”
“I want to warn those people [who staged the attacks] that the will of the people cannot be weakened by any gun,” the Mufti said.
India ranks 40 on the list of 100 preferred holiday destinations for Muslim tourists in the world.
This is despite the fact that the country is home to the world’s second largest Muslim population ‒ roughly 176 million ‒ after Indonesia. And some of the country’s most popular tourism destinations ‒ Agra and parts of Delhi, for instance ‒ have a distinct Islamic heritage.
The rankings come from the Global Muslim Travel Index 2015, created by credit card firm MasterCard and Crescent Rating, a travel service agency for Halal-conscious Muslim tourists.
For each country, nine factors were weighed upon, including availability of halal food eateries, accessibility of prayer rooms, accommodations, and safety. Under each of these nine criteria, countries were graded out of 100. An average was calculated for the final score.
Muslim travellers are “searching for products and services that take into account their faith-based needs”, the report states, as seen “over the last decade by the accelerated growth of Halal food, Islamic banking and lifestyle sectors”,
Like people from any other religion, Muslims look for family-friendly holiday destinations, with ample options for shopping and sightseeing. Another criterion for the rankings was “safety from the perspective of a Muslim traveller,” the report states. So whether or not there have been specific cases of violence against people of their faith in a country, and any kind of resentment towards traditional Islamic attires for women, including the Hijab and Niqab, naturally factored in.
For 2014, the Muslim travel sector has been estimated to be worth $145 billion (Rs 9.06 lakh crore) ‒ with 108 million Muslim travellers representing 10% of the global travel economy. By 2020, the number of travellers is projected at 150 million visitors ‒ or 11% of the travel economy ‒ worth some $200 billion (Rs12.5 lakh crore).
OIC vs non-OIC
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is a cluster of 57 Muslim countries, across four continents, which typically have those facilities that a Muslim traveller looks out for. Halal food, for instance, is easily available.
Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed's wife Laila Ali seeks India's help
NEW DELHI: The wife of jailed Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has made an emotional appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying India needs to step in to get her husband out of prison and that she fears that plans are afoot to murder the former President in custody.
Speaking with ET, Laila Ali said that India's steps till now condemning the current state of affairs in Maldives are welcome but more has to be done to free her husband, who has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges that include terrorism.
Ali, who spoke on the matter with the international media for the first time, called the trail that led to her husband's imprisonment a "total sham" and said that Nasheed is looking at India to "intervene to restore the democratic rule of law". "I do not know what it will take PM Modi to do it but my wish is that India helps in ensuring that my husband is freed unconditionally and that representative democracy is restored. How India does it is for the PM to decide," she said in a telephonic interview from Male.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities on Saturday released 57 Indian fishing boats held for nearly a year as a goodwill gesture following a visit by New Delhi's top diplomat to Islamabad this month.
The boats, which were being held by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), were towed to the two countries' maritime border before being taken over by Indian authorities, Pakistan's foreign ministry said in a statement.
“As a goodwill gesture, the government of Pakistan decided to release 57 Indian fishing boats,” the ministry said in a statement.
Alleges BCL Bangladesh Chhatra League yesterday alleged that the heads of some higher education institutions are actively patronising Islami Chhatra Shibir cadres in their bid to unleash countrywide terror.
With help from the institution high-ups, the Shibir men are storing arms on campuses, launching grisly attacks on the BCL men and hampering academic activities, said Bodiuzamman Shohag, president of the student front of the ruling Awami League, at a press conference at Modhur Canteen on Dhaka University campus.
The allegations came two days after law enforcers in a raid on Chittagong College and Govt Hazi Muhammad Mohsin College in the port city recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition and held 80 alleged Shibir activists.
“We've learnt the principals and all the departmental heads of both the colleges believe in leftist ideologies. They directly assisted the Shibir men in building arsenals in the two colleges,” claimed Shohag.
Four terrorists killed in Khyber airstrike
KHYBER AGENCY : At least four alleged militants were killed and four others sustained injuries when gunship helicopters targeted a post the militants had occupied here in Khyber Sangar area of Tirah Valley, sources said on Friday.
The official sources said the gunship choppers targeted the post and killed four of them deployed on the post.
The attack forced the militants to evacuate the area and the troops regained control of the post, sources said.
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and MARK MAZZETTI
MARCH 20, 2015
WASHINGTON — A White House official on Friday appeared to leave open the possibility that American troops could remain in Afghanistan after President Obama leaves office, in what would be a marked shift from the administration’s insistence that only a small force based at the embassy in Kabul would remain after 2016.
With the Taliban insurgency still raging, the administration has been weighing options to slow the pullout of the roughly 10,000 American troops and thousands of contractors in Afghanistan. The number of troops was supposed to be cut by almost half at the end of this year, but officials have said in recent days that Mr. Obama was nearing a decision to keep much of the current force in place well into next year to continue training and advising Afghan forces.
While most officials have said that the 2016 deadline for a pullout remains firm, Jeff Eggers, a senior National Security Council official, said Friday that discussions about what to do in the next year or so would lead to a decision about what to do in 2017, “given the intent to maintain this ongoing dialogue” with the Afghan government.
However, he added, “it still remains the intent to consolidate and complete the retrograde down to a Kabul-based security cooperation office mission in 2017.” Retrograde is a military term for the withdrawal of troops and matériel.
Separately, Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the council, said, “President Obama has not opened the door to anything larger than an embassy force after 2016.”
Mr. Eggers’s comments are in line with what other officials say is being debated within the administration, even if Mr. Obama’s focus is currently on what to do next year, not afterward.
Like so many of the plans for Afghanistan laid out in Washington since the war’s outset in 2001, realities on the ground appear to again be forcing American officials to consider revamping their strategy for ending the war.
A former top official on Canada's work in Afghanistan is warning against getting too involved in Iraq without clear and realistic objectives.
David Mulroney, who served as the deputy minister in charge of the Afghanistan Task Force, said Canada hasn't looked closely enough at its experience in Afghanistan.
"When I recently saw Foreign Minister [Rob] Nicholson musing that we'd apply some of the lessons of Afghanistan to our engagement, I kind of sat bolt upright because I think one of the problems is we haven't spent much time learning the lessons of Afghanistan," Mulroney said in an interview to air Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio's The House.
Mulroney said a newly released audit shows "how hard it was to get that development assistance and humanitarian assistance right in a place where none of the officials were really clear about what Canada's objectives were."
Mulroney also served as secretary to the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan, which was led by former foreign affairs minister John Manley, and as foreign and defence policy adviser to the prime minister.
He said the lack of discussion about Afghanistan toward the end of the 10-year mission has kept Canadians from learning key lessons, which include being realistic about how much Canada doesn't know about a region and setting "often very modest" goals.
Mulroney also said Canada needs an exit strategy.
"When does it happen for us and who's around to pick up the pieces of what we've put in place. Until we've really talked honestly about that, I'd be very worried about our ability to pull something off in a place that's as challenging as that nexus of Iraq and Syria."
He also warned the government has to think about how the humanitarian, military and diplomatic pieces fit together.
"If it's being done now, this is the time to tell Canadians that people have thought about that. Because if it hasn't been done, we'll get the same ultimately disappointing results that audit points to on Afghanistan."
Mulroney made the comments as the military held what is likely its last briefing on the Iraq mission before the House considers a motion to extend and expand the six-month Canadian Armed Forces operation.
KHAR: The political authorities on Friday launched a crackdown on tribesmen of Kamangara area in Nawagai tehsil and demolished several houses during the action after the area elders failed to fulfil their collective responsibility to provide protection to the polio workers.
Officials said that the action was launched in response to the attack on a polio team by suspected militants on Wednesday that left one polio worker dead and one wounded. They said that at least eight people were also arrested during the joint search operation of Levies personnel and security forces in the area.
They said that the administration had also imposed different sanctions against the tribesmen of Kamangara area for not fulfilling their collective and territorial responsibilities under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) law.
They said that several shops and other businesses of the people were also closed by the administration. Besides, scores of vehicles were seized by the administration in reaction to the attack.
QUETTA: Elders belonging to different tribes pledged here on Friday not to provide shelter and refuge to militants in their areas.
A number of militants have fled North Waziristan and other regions in Federally Administered Tribal Areas after the launch there of Operation Zarb-i-Azb against terrorists and have been seen seeking refuge in Pashtoon-speaking localities of Balochistan near the border with Afghanistan.
Islamabad- Amir Jamaat-e- Islami (JI) Siraj ul Haq has supports death penalty. While reacting to UN statement for ending capital punishment in Pakistan he said: “Pakistan had come into being in the name of Islam and we don’t need any dictation from UN or European Union (EU).”
Escaping Boko Haram: Nigerians' treacherous passage to Chad
March 20, 2015
When Boko Haram attacked the town of Baga in north-eastern Nigeria one night, Moussa Madi ran ran with hundreds of others through the darkness towards the shores of Lake Chad, terrified that he might be captured and killed by the insurgents. By the time the 35-year-old reached the coastline, he had lost his wife and nine children in the chaos. He also saw that he was too late: There were no boats left to take him to safety on the other side of the lake, in neighbouring Chad. As the sound of gunfire drew closer, Madi forced himself to wade into the water. He hardly knew how to swim. "I walked into the lake and tried to get to the nearest island," Madi said. The danger of encountering an aggressive hippo in the murky depths frightened him, Madi said, as did the possibility that he might not make it across. "I held on to reeds when I was tired," Madi said. "I was afraid I would drown."
Sani Abdulhamid also jumped into the water that night, carrying his two youngest children on his shoulders. His 15-year-old daughter Fatima had to fend for herself behind him. "The water was already up to my throat when a man pulled us into a pirogue," the 40-year-old shop owner said. He recalled the desperate cries for help of those who didn't find space in any of the boats as bullets whizzed past his head. "There were hundreds of people in the water," Abdulhamid said. "We had to leave a lot of people behind." Other refugees spoke about bodies floating in the lake the next morning. Madi managed to reach a small island close to Nigeria's side of the shore. He hid there for two days, until a fisherman rowed him nearly 50 kilometres across the lake. After five days on the lake, weak from drinking the muddy water and surviving on raw fish, Madi and the fisherman reached the island of Kangalam on the Chadian side. Madi and a group of other refugees were rescued there by boats hired by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). They were brought to a refugee camp in Baga Sola, in western Chad, where they are housed with about 7,000 others in simple tents pitched in the desert. Now they wait for the day that they can return home.
20 Mar 2015
Soldiers from Niger and Chad have taken the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram, another victory in a regional campaign to wrest back control of swaths of northeastern Nigeria from the armed group.
Damasak, a few kilometres over the border from Niger, was taken from Boko Haram's control over the weekend, a spokesman for Niger's army, Colonel Michel Ledru, said on Wednesday.
In heavy fighting, 228 rebel fighters were killed and one soldier from Niger died, Ledru said. Vehicles and motor cycles riddled with bullets littered the streets.
An Associated Press photographer in the northeastern town said it was largely deserted of civilians.
Four people, including an old man, came onto the street to wave at a convoy among 2,000 troops from Niger and Chad in the town.
The guards supposed to be protecting Tunisia’s parliament and the nearby national museum were having coffee at the time of this week’s deadly assault, a senior politician said Friday.
On Wednesday as gunmen mowed down foreign tourists, “there were no police around parliament and the museum,” deputy speaker Abdelfattah Mourou told AFP.
“I found out there were only four policemen on security duty around the parliament (compound), two of whom were at the cafe. The third was having a snack and the fourth hadn’t turned up,” he said.
A retired Colombian general whose wife and son died in a museum attack in Tunisia lamented the “irony” Thursday of losing his family members after having spent his life “fighting terrorism” in his own country.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called Jose Arturo Camelo, the former military leader, to offer condolences and state aid for returning the bodies of his wife, Miriam Martinez, and their son Javier.
Twenty-one people, nearly all foreign tourists, were killed Wednesday by gunmen who stormed Tunisia’s National Bardo Museum. The radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group would later take credit for the attack.
“Look at the irony of life, all my life I spent in the military fighting terrorism, combating terrorism, and now in a place totally remote from Colombia it takes my wife and son,” Camelo said, according to the president.
Colombia has been wracked by a half-century of civil war that has killed around 220,000 people and displaced millions.
The UN special envoy to Libya has called on the warring factions to work for melting down differences in the upcoming round of talks in Morocco and bring back stability to the country.
The talks over the next few days will revolve around security arrangements, the creation of a national unity government and confidence building measures, Bernardino Leon said in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat on Friday.
“By Sunday (March 22), we would like to have these three documents ready and if possible, published, as already agreed (as) part of what will be a final package,” the UN official added.
He further noted that there was “another sign of alarm” in the recent fatal shooting attack in Tunisia.
The Tunisian government stated on Friday that the two gunmen who killed 21 people at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 were trained in Libya.
“There is a sense of urgency and we believe this should be a decisive round,” Leon said, urging both sides to work in a “spirit of compromise.”
Libya has two rival governments vying for control of the oil-rich country, with one controlling the capital, Tripoli, and the other, which is internationally recognized, governing the cities of Bayda and Tobruk in the east.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern over forceful recruitment for battle of children by South Sudan’s government and opposition forces.
“We have received credible and in some instances verifiable information that forces aligned with the government and opposition have abducted or coerced hundreds of children into their ranks in the past month alone,” Jonathan Veitch, the UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said Friday.
The UN official added that hundreds of children have been coerced into the civil war only in February.
“Our teams on the ground and our partners are reporting a strong upsurge in recruitment at the moment and it is ongoing,” he stated.
According to a UNICEF estimate, a minimum of 12,000 children have been employed by both sides since the beginning of civil war in the world’s youngest nation in 2013.
The photo shows South Sudanese youths posing with guns in the town of Nasir, in the state of Upper Nile, on March 14, 2014.
The UNICEF representative also said the exploitation of children occurs despite the fact that the sides involved in the crisis “signed commitments to end the use of children in armed forces and armed groups.”
TUNIS: The two gunmen who killed 21 people at a museum in Tunis trained in neighboring Libya before carrying out the deadly attack and were known to authorities, Tunisian security officials said Friday.
The attackers slipped out of the country in December and received weapons training in Libya which is awash in well-armed militias fighting for control, said Rafik Chelli, a top official in the Interior Ministry in a TV interview late Thursday.
Seminaries combed ahead of Pakistan Day parade
ISLAMABAD: A joint team of the capital police and paramilitary troops searched different religious seminaries in the capital city as a part of the security measures for the Pakistan Day parade.
Senior officers of the capital administration, including the deputy commissioner, were also present.
Officials said every nook and corner of the seminaries was searched and details of the students and teachers were checked.
The officials said the main concern of the authorities was Jamia Faridia located at sector E-7. Other seminaries were also searched to avoid creating an impression that only Jamia Faridia was targeted.
Bomber kills two paramilitary troops in Pakistan's Karachi
A bomber has rammed a motorbike into a vehicle carrying paramilitary troops in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least two of them and injuring three others.
Local security sources said the attackers targeted the vehicle in the North Nazimabad area of Pakistan's largest city on Friday.
Media reports say police and army personnel have reached the site and cordoned off the area.
The injured security personnel were shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Local security officials say they have launched an investigation into the explosion.
The attack comes as a large contingent of paramilitary forces has been conducting intensive security operations in order to flush militants and criminals out of the troubled city.
It was the second attack in the city after at least two people were killed and several others injured in a bomb attack on a Shia mosque in the congested Aram Bagh area of Karachi.
An improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a bicycle exploded outside the mosque as people were performing Friday prayers.
Gunmen have fatally shot a Shia religious leader in Pakistan’s most populous and eastern province of Punjab, the latest in a long line of targeted attacks against the Shia community in the country.
Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said four men armed with assault rifles opened fire on Mazahir Naqvi, also known as Pyare Sahab, in the town of Gujranwala, located some 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of the capital, Islamabad, early on Friday.
Naqvi died on the spot, and the assailants fled the scene.
The news of the assassination soon spread around the town, with dozens of residents taking to the streets to express outrage over attacks targeting the Shia population in Pakistan.
Also on Friday, at least two people were killed and several others injured in a bomb attack on a Shia mosque in the southern port city of Karachi.
Local security officials said the attack targeted the Saleh mosque in Arambagh area of the city during midday prayers.
Islamabad - Following attacks on churches in different parts of the country, the members of Christian minority living in Islamabad feel themselves insecure while going to churches for religious activities, particularly worship services.
On Sunday last, March 15, a pair of Taliban suicide bombers detonated themselves near churches in Youhanabad area of Lahore that killed 15 people and left more than 70 worshippers injured.
The dual suicide bombing in churches sent shocking wave through the whole Christian community living across the country including the federal capital and according to them they feel “insecure” while going for worship or any religious gathering.
“After recent attacks on churches in Lahore, the Christian community feels itself insecure and a number of our community members visit holy places for religious activities reluctantly.
” said Shaukat, a resident of Mehrabadi, a village in the suburbs of Islamabad.
Referring to All Saint Church Peshawar attack in 2013 when more than 100 people were killed and scores of others got injured in twin suicide attack, he said, “Hardly people have forgotten the incident of Peshawar that Youhanabad incident took place.
We feel insecure in our own country.
Alfred Javed, a resident of F-8, said, “The minorities are soft targets both for the terrorists and other religious extremists; when they don’t find any other target, the militants attack the poor Christians.
He said that the Christians have no enmity with the Taliban or any other extremist groups but they were always targeted for their faith.
ISLAMABAD: In a major breakthrough, the government and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf agreed on Friday to constitute an election inquiry commission, paving way for PTI lawmakers’ return to the National Assembly.
At a joint press conference held at the Punjab House here, chief negotiators from the two sides said they had sorted out their differences over the scope of the proposed judicial commission which would be formally constituted at a ceremony to be held over the next couple of weeks.
“Though we have agreed between us on the terms of reference (ToRs) of the commission, it will be shared with other political parties represented in parliament early next week, before the issuance of required ordinance,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said. The agreement would help bring much-needed political stability to the country, he added.
ToRs of the proposed commission to be shared with other parties represented in parliament
Reading out the ToRs, PTI General Secretary Jahangir Tareen said the commission would investigate and determine whether or not 2013 general elections “were organised and conducted impartially, honestly, fairly, justly and in accordance with the law”. This clause had been taken from Article 218 (III) of the Constitution, he added.
Mr Tareen said the commission would also determine “if the last general elections were influenced or manipulated pursuant to a systematic effort or by design by anyone”.
The third point of difference, on which the two sides eventually agreed, the commission will also determine whether “the results of 2013 general elections on an overall basis provided a true and fair reflection of the mandate of the people”.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the two sides would sign a memorandum of understanding which would become the very basis for the ordinance about the setting up of the commission.
SUKKUR: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said for the time being, the Pakistan Peoples Party will not make any decision on whether or not to invite the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to join the government until a probe into a host of new allegations against the party has been completed.
The PPP had resumed talks with the estranged former coalition partner just days before Senate elections but in view of the prevailing conditions at the moment the MQM was not being included in the Sindh government, said Mr Shah.
He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the 145th Sindh Horse & Cattle Show in Jacobabad on Friday.
Also read: Ibad, PPP under a cloud after Mirza’s disclosures
He said that incidents of targeted killings in Karachi had dropped by a remarkable 75 per cent which spoke volumes for the government’s performance.
MALEEHA HAMID SIDDIQUI
KARACHI: The Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 did not envisage disputes and concerns arising in subsequent years. These include climate changes and groundwater management that were not mentioned when the treaty was being formulated. These thoughts were articulated by former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Shafqat Kakakhel and former managing director of Wapda Khalid Mohtadullah. They were delivering a talk on ‘The Indus Waters Treaty 1960: Issues and Concerns’ at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Friday.
Before delving into the effectiveness of the treaty and challenges in its implementation, Mr Kakakhel, gave a comprehensive background of the treaty to which Mr Mohtadullah added his valuable input.
The treaty, consisting of around eight pages, had four main features, said Mr Kakakhel. “The first pertains to the division of the Indus and its five major tributaries. All the waters of the three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — shall be available to India and Pakistan shall receive for unrestricted use all those waters of the western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) which India is under obligation to let flow.” He emphasised that this was not a water-sharing agreement but a water-division agreement.
The second feature, he said, was about arrangements for compensation to Pakistan for the loss of eastern rivers.
Financing was to be arranged for the building of the “replacement works” i.e. Tarbela Dam on the Indus and Mangla on the Jhelum and eight link canals which were needed to store and transport water from the western rivers to the areas which had up till now been irrigated from the eastern rivers assigned to India under the treaty. “The financing arrangements were a decisive factor in the success of the negotiations. Pakistan would not have agreed to the treaty of the three eastern rivers in the absence of funds for the construction of the dams and link canals,” he said.
Canadian teen 'aiming to join ISIS' arrested before Syria departure
A Canadian teen aiming to join the ranks of ISIS in Syria has been arrested, Canadian authorities said Friday.
The 17-year-old's attempt to embed with the extremist group is "proof that the threat of terrorism is real," a spokesman for Public Security Minister Steven Blaney told AFP.
The teen was arrested Thursday in the town of Beaumont, just south of Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada, by a special division of the Royal Mounted Canadian Police.
"We congratulate our police and national security agencies for their work on this case" said spokesman Jean-Christophe de Le Rue.
The teenager, whose name was not released, was charged on two terror-related counts, according to local media.
He will remain in custody until his next juvenile court appearance on April 9.
At least six Canadians have died over the last two years fighting alongside extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces during the 2007-2008 surge in the Iraq war, has said that Iran and the Shiite militias it backs pose “the foremost” strategic threat to Iraq, superseding the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terror group.
“I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran,” Petraeus told the Washington Post during a recent visit to northern Iraq.
He said while these Shiite militias helped stop ISIS’ advance toward Baghdad, they were responsible for “atrocities” against Sunni civilians and could later emerge to be the dominant power in Iraq outside the government’s control.
“These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger. And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them,” Petraeus said.
“Longer term, Iranian-backed Shiite militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran,” he added.
Petraeus said the increasing Iranian influence in Iraq, through Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Suleimani, underlines “a very important reality: The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East.”
Read also: Obama admin gives cover to Iraq Shiite militia abuses: Ex U.S. official
Answering a question about the IRGC commander Suleimani, who reportedly helped build up the Shiite militias which targeted American troops and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during the surge, Petraeus said: “Yes, ‘Hajji Qassem,’ our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren't suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours.
“What I will say is that he is very capable and resourceful individual, a worthy adversary. He has played his hand well. But this is a long game, so let’s see how events transpire.
“It is certainly interesting to see how visible Suleimani has chosen to become in recent months — quite a striking change for a man of the shadows,” Petraeus added.
The U.S. general, who is widely credited with purging al-Qaeda from Iraq’s Sunni areas in 2006, said that despite Iran’s help in the fight against ISIS, Tehran is “ultimately part of the problem, not the solution.
By early June of last year, the Ebola epidemic centered on Guinea was the deadliest ever recorded. Foreign workers were being evacuated. Top disease-fighters warned that the virus could soon spread across West Africa.
But the World Health Organization resisted sounding the alarm until August, partly for political reasons, despite the fact that senior staff in Africa proposed doing so in June, The Associated Press has found. The two-month delay, some argue, may have cost lives. More than 10,000 are believed to have been killed by the virus since WHO first announced the outbreak a year ago.
WHO has acknowledged acting too slowly to control the Ebola epidemic. In its defense, the agency says the virus's spread was unprecedented and blames several factors, including lack of resources and intelligence from the field.
Internal documents obtained by AP, however, show WHO's top leaders were informed of how dire the situation was. But they held off on declaring an emergency in part because it could have angered the countries involved, interfered with their mining interests or restricted the Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah in October.
Declaring an emergency was “a last resort,” Dr. Sylvie Briand, who runs WHO's pandemic and epidemic diseases department, said in a June 5 email to a colleague who floated the idea. “It may be more efficient to use other diplomatic means for now.”
Five days after Briand's email, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan was sent a memo that warned cases might soon appear in Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau. But it went on to say that declaring an international emergency or even convening a committee to discuss it “could be seen as a hostile act.”
Critics and former WHO staff dismiss that reasoning.
"I came from Cleveland Clinic, where we have bigger communities, Muslim communities, community centers, big mosques, Islamic schools, and so forth," the president of the board of the Muslims Community Center of South Dakota said.
His faith helps keep him in Sioux Falls.
"So to have those people coming to Sioux Falls and not to see something similar or at least trying to provide some of those services that they got in those big communities, it might not be the best environment for them to stay, socially, religiously-wise," Elgouhari said.
Elgouhari estimates that around four or five thousand Muslim people live in Sioux Falls, with a few hundred more scattered across the state. In Sioux Falls, they worship at two different mosques.
The Muslims Community Center currently meets in a rented space. Its members are looking for their own larger, permanent home to serve the growing Muslim community.
"We are dreaming to have a permanent community center because the taste that we have been having over the last four, five years since we opened this community center temporarily, is just very delicious, very beautiful, very fruitful," Elgouhari said.
Dr. Mumtaz Niazi is the general secretary of the community center. He believes the people of the local Muslim community are increasingly well-connected.
"You need a place where you can communicate there, your families can come, your kids can come, and they can stay as long as they want and they can pray, they can have fun, they can play around," Niazi said.
Fatima Mohamed teaches Sunday school at the center. She hopes to help her students maintain their culture.
"I need them to keep that because, some people they come here, and they lost their culture," she said. "And I want them to keep it."
"We like this place, it's safe, it's nice, it's good and [we] want [to] stay," Elgouhari said.
And staying includes maintaining that link to their religion.
CAIRO – Unveiling centuries-old close contact between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic civilization, a silver ring engraved with script that reads "for Allah" or "to Allah" has been discovered in Sweden.
"The ring may... constitute material evidence for direct interactions between Viking Age Scandinavia and the Islamic world," researchers from Stockholm University wrote in a research published in scientific journal Scanning, The Independent reported.
Discovered in the late 1800s, the engraved ring is adorned with a violet-colored precious stone, expected to be an amethyst.
Decades after its discovery, the inscription on the stone was found to be either "for Allah" or "to Allah" in an ancient Arabic script.
The antique, which was recovered at a Viking trading centre in Sweden called Birka, was found in a grave north of Borg on the Björkö Island.
With Clothes and jewellery around the decomposed skeleton, the grave is believed to be for a woman whose burial dates back to 850 AD.
NEW DELHI: A report on Pakistan's tactical nuclear programme by a prominent Washington-based think tank raises questions on the country's ability to secure warheads even in peacetime, concluding that the introduction of mini nuclear weapons in the subcontinent has substantially increased the risk of a confrontation with India getting out of hand.
The report comes even as Pakistan's Strategic Plans Division (SPD) that oversees its nuclear programme has admitted to having fired several people with "negative tendencies". Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper has quoted Brig Tahir Raza Naqvi as saying that those sacked were "incorrigible" and could have affected national security. The US report titled 'Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Operational Myths and Realities' has, however, raised the larger question of the implication of battlefield nuclear weapons in the subcontinent.Unlike strategic warheads that are capable of obliterating a large landmass, tactical nuclear weapons like the Nasr missile that Pakistan has introduced are aimed as battlefield weapons directed against troops or armoured formations.
ISIS said to be wooing maids in HK
HONG KONG - Recruiters for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group have reportedly targeted Hong Kong's Indonesian domestic helpers.
A maid agency told Oriental Daily News that many Indonesian domestic workers received what appeared to be ISIS recruitment leaflets from fellow Indonesians on Sunday.
The pamphlet encourages maids to join ISIS, saying it would send them to "work" in China's Xinjiang region, but there are no details on the type of work they would be asked to do.
The flier has a simple design, with a photograph showing more than 10 women covered from head to toe except for the eyes, and carrying an ISIS flag.
Malaysian move toward stricter Islamic law divides opposition party
Calls by Malaysia’s Islamist opposition party for strict Islamic law that includes amputations and stonings is symptomatic of a drift to more conservative Islam in politics and could further strain relations in the multi-ethnic country.
The push by the Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) for the laws, known as hudud, also threatens to split a fragile opposition coalition that has been challenging the long-ruling Muslim party and its allies.
The disparate three-party opposition alliance that includes PAS won the popular vote for the first time in Malaysia’s history in a 2013 election.
While the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its partners still won the most seats, they are more determined than ever to hold on to power which they have enjoyed since independence in 1957.
In February, the opposition alliance’s leader, Anwar Ibrahim, was jailed for five years on a sodomy charge he said was cooked up to finish him politically and foil the opposition challenge.
Any lingering hope the alliance could hold together without Anwar looks doomed with the PAS bent on implementing hudud law in Kelantan state, which it controls.
Anwar’s People’s Justice Party and the allied ethnic-Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) have rejected the hudud proposal and warned that it could mean the end of their Pakatan Rakyat alliance.
“Pakatan would be pushed to a breaking point,” DAP leader Lim Kit Siang told Reuters on Tuesday.
Most states in Malaysia implement sharia, the Islamic legal system, but its reach is restricted by federal law.
PAS confident can get hudud approved on Muslim MPs’ support
KOTA BARU, March 20 — PAS is confident it will get Parliament’s approval to implement hudud in Kelantan after the Shariah Criminal Code II 1993 (Amendment 2015) was passed in the state legislative assembly yesterday.
The party’s deputy secretary-general, Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, said they only needed a simple majority or the support of 112 of the 222 MPs to pass the private member’s bill.
“It is achievable given there are 132 Muslim MPs, including two from DAP,” he told a press conference after the amendments to the law were passed.
“We noticed recently when it comes to matters of religion, the Muslim members accept it with an open heart especially since the hudud bill is meant purely for the Muslims. It will not infringe on the rights of non-Muslims,” he said.
Takiyuddin said the party had not decided which of its MPs should move the bill but PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who is the Marang MP, could be the one.
He said, however, PAS was hoping someone from Barisan Nasional would take up the task.
“If the federal government refuses to do so, then PAS will bring it to Parliament and president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang could be the one to table the motion,” he said
He said PAS had to submit a 14-day notice to Parliament on the bill and the party hoped it could be tabled before the end of the current meeting on April 9.
In his winding-up speech during the state legislative sitting earlier, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob said PAS agreed to pursue only four out of six hudud offences to ensure its success.
Banning books is bad. Criminalizing the sale of “banned books” that haven’t even been banned is just plain batty.
In May 2012, Malaysia’s Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (local acronym JAWI) raided a bookstore in Kuala Lumpur and confiscated copies of Canadian author Irshad Manji’s book “Allah, Liberty and Love.” Six days later, the Home Ministry banned it for being contrary to Islamic principles, a ban that only went into effect three weeks after the raid.
Given chronology, it would be hard to fault the bookstore for selling legal books. That’s kind of what bookstores are supposed to do.
Yet JAWI, perhaps operating in a timewarp, deemed it reasonable to bring criminal charges against store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, who wasn’t even responsible for stocking the book. Nik Raina faced up to two years in prison, all for the crime of doing her job.
Justice has been anything but swift. Because she is Muslim, Nik Raina’s case went to both civil and shariah courts, a quirk not unheard of in other countries. Both courts ruled the raid wrongful and illegal. How could they not? Yet Nik Raina’s trial continued.
The civil court system ruled in favor of Nik Raina, calling the prosecution against her:
“‘unreasonable, irrational’ and done in bad faith, and that it was against the ‘principle of fairness and justice’ for JAWI to prosecute Nik Raina for an offence in the Shariah court simply because she was a Muslim and because it could not charge the company and her non-Muslim supervisor.”
Jakarta. President Joko Widodo is considering issuing an emergency government regulation to deter Indonesians from joining Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq,amid growing concerns that they might pose a major security threat upon their return to Indonesia.
Some 500 Indonesians are believed to have joined IS ranks in both Middle Eastern countries, according to Indonesian counterterrorism officials, but the government currently has little ground to stop them other than charging them with violating laws on immigration or citizenship instead of the harsher anti-terror law.
Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, the chief security minister, said on Thursday that President Joko could soon issue a regulation in lieu of law, or perppu, to penalize those joining or considering joining IS.
“We are considering other forms of the lawbut the fastest [to be enacted] is a perppu,” he said in Jakarta. It is not clear what the perppu will stipulate, but the National Counter Terrorism Agency (BNPT) has been pushing for a similar emergency regulation to expand on prevailing anti-terror statutes.
The president on Thursday confirmed his administration was still looking for ways to deter Indonesians from joining the jihadist militants.
“But it is not yet finalized because there are pluses and minuses,” Joko said.
BNPT spokesman Irfan Idris suggested that the proposed perppu could make it illegal for Indonesians to travel to “conflict prone” countries.
“If there’s a group of people threatening Indonesian sovereignty and spreading hatred or rebellion, action must be immediately taken,” Irfan said.
Approving the request would bring Indonesia in line with neighboring Australia, which has banned its citizens from traveling to conflict zones,such as those in Syria and Iraq.
Calls for the government to stop the wave of Indonesians looking to join IS were renewed after 16 Indonesians were arrested by Turkish officials trying to cross over to Syria, allegedly to join the jihadis.
A team from the BNPT, the National Police’s counterterrorism unit (Densus 88), the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Indonesian Embassy in Ankara are now questioning the Indonesians. Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said the team had not been able to determine whether the group was really trying to join IS.
“All we know is that they were definitely trying to cross the [Turkish] border into Syria,” she said.
Yogyakarta. President Joko Widodo indicated on Friday that the government was yet to take a position on whether Indonesians traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State should have their citizenship revoked.
Joko said on Friday that the government needed more time to assess the merit and the implications of removing the right to an Indonesian passport for those who chose to desert their country of origin in favor of a group claiming to be a state in its own right.
“It’s not time yet,” the president said in Yogyakarta, which he is visiting over the Nyepi holiday. “It might be the case later but it has not yet reached that point.”
Joko is under pressure to quell the flow of Indonesians joining the ranks of the group also known as ISIS. Terrorism in Indonesian has declined since the 2002 Bali bombings. Security and terrorism experts say the threat of mass-casualty attacks was greatly diminished by a successful state campaign to dismantle the international links and senior leadership of Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah, which was responsible for the Bali attacks in which 202 people were killed.
Imams and rabbis to bike together in Berlin tolerance ride
Imams and rabbis are set to share tandem bicycles on Sunday in a mass demonstration appealing for tolerance in Germany's melting-pot capital Berlin.
Organizers said on Friday that so far they had matched up 10 imams with 10 rabbis for the unusual display of solidarity, which will be accompanied by 1,000 Berlin residents riding their own bicycles on a mass ride to city mosques and synagogues.
The city is sending a platoon of helmeted police on motorcycles to join in. The so-called Cycling Unites rally will begin at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.
Germany charges 6 men over alleged links to al-Shabaab
German prosecutors have charged six men over alleged links to the Somali-based Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab.
The federal prosecutors' office on Friday charged five of them with membership of a terrorist organization, and a sixth for attempting to join the group. It said the six, aged 24-31, are all German citizens, and one of them also has Tunisian nationality.
Five of the men are accused of undergoing weapons training at a camp run by al-Shabaab in Somalia starting in 2012. Prosecutors say two of them later planned to join the Islamic State group in Syria.
Fifty-four French politicians of Turkish origin will run as candidates in the upcoming two rounds of local elections.
The first round of elections will be held on March 22. The Justice and Equality Party, which was established by French citizens of Turkish origin, will take part in the elections.
PEJ chairman Hikmet Huseyinbas said that his party embarked on politics due to the dangerously-increasing influence of the far-right National Front Party, led by Marine Le Pen.
"Le Pen always makes politics by keeping racism on the agenda," Huseyinbas said. "Mosques and prayer rooms were attacked in many places around France."
Melek Ekim, 22, is among the youngest candidates running in the elections. She is a candidate from the ruling socialist party.
"As a French citizen, I want to do something for the future of this country," Ekim, who is of Turkish origin, said. "But actually, I became a candidate after the insistence of our Armenian-origin family friend."
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says Russia's vetoes against holding Syria's government accountable are "extremely disruptive" to the U.N. Security Council's ability to restore peace in the conflict, and have emboldened President Bashar Assad to do "almost whatever he wants."
In a brief interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Samantha Power said the civil war continues because the council is unable to get Russia to pressure Assad, its ally. "The things we think are indispensable, Russia is not prepared to do," she said. Power said council members now must "push and push and push" on the next goal: Finding a way to assign blame in the continuing reports of the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.
Neither the United Nations nor the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has a mandate to assign blame in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Syria's conflict is entering its fifth year, with more than 200,000 killed, and the Security Council is often accused of failing Syria's people.
Power said of Assad, "his day will come," but she warned that justice can be slow.
The ambassador spoke shortly after visiting an exhibit of an archive of photographs smuggled out of Syria by a former crime scene photographer for the government, who now lives in exile and used the pseudonym "Caesar."
LONDON - A British court on Friday sentenced a teenager to 22 years in prison for plotting an attack against a soldier inspired by the 2013 murder of Lee Rigby by militants in London.
Brusthom Ziamani, 19, was detained in August 2014 carrying a 12-inch (30.5-centimetre) knife, a hammer and a black Islamist flag in his rucksack.
Police said they were alerted to his intentions after he showed his weapons to his ex-girlfriend. “The defendant... would have carried out the intention he so graphically expressed to his ex-girlfriend just a few hours before,” judge Timothy Pontius told the court. The judge said Ziamani would have to serve at least two-thirds of the sentence before being eligible for parole. A jury at England’s Old Bailey central criminal court in London last month convicted him of “preparing an act of terrorism”.
A British teenager was sentenced to 22 years in jail on Friday for plotting to behead a soldier in London, a plan hatched to imitate the hacking to death of soldier Lee Rigby by two radical Islamists in the capital in 2013.
Muslim convert Brusthom Ziamani was arrested last August, then aged 18, carrying a 12-inch (30-cm) knife and a hammer, wrapped in a black Islamic flag.
Ziamani, from Camberwell in southeast London, had told his ex-girlfriend in graphic detail hours before his arrest of his intention to behead a soldier on the streets of the capital.
His postings on Facebook and text messages showed Ziamani, now 19, had "totally absorbed the twisted interpretation of the Holy Koran that is the hallmark of the fanatical Islamic terrorist," Judge Timothy Pontius said in sentencing remarks.
"Had the defendant not been arrested on Aug. 19, then within hours at most he would have used the hammer and knife to carry out the intention he had so clearly expressed ... with the result that an act of horrifying savagery would again have been perpetrated on the streets of London."
Ziamani had repeatedly expressed admiration for Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, British converts to Islam who are both serving life sentences for killing Rigby by slamming into him with a car then butchering him with knives.
"The defendant was looking for another Drummer Rigby but, if he couldn't find a soldier, I have little doubt that a police officer or other figure of authority would have suited his purpose just as well," the judge said.
March 20, 2015
The White House says violent extremism and Russian aggression in Ukraine are two of the greatest challenges to U.S. national security. And one place those threats converge is the Balkan region, where political instability, outstanding ethnic tensions and economic fragility make the countries of the area particularly vulnerable.
Large Muslim populations and historical and religious ties with Russia make the Western Balkan countries susceptible to these outside forces. Frank Wisner, a former U.S. ambassador and a former special envoy for Kosovo’s final status talks with Serbia, says that even though the Balkans is not a primary sphere of contest, it is affected.
“I think it’s enormously important the Balkans be shielded from the rivalries of the major powers and second, that the issues in the Middle East not infect the Balkans,” he told VOA in an interview. “With regard to the latter, that’s the job of the intelligence services of Western Europe and the United States and those in the Balkans, to make certain that we track very carefully subversive elements flowing to and from the travel areas of the Levant and the Middle East.”
Countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo have approved legislation to prevent their citizens from becoming foreign fighters in conflicts elswhere and have made arrests among radical factions. But Ian Brzezinski, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense and a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, says long-terms security measures require more than mere legislations.
Mar. 20 2015
Four Russians have been deported from Turkey after attempting to cross the Turkey-Syria border illegally in order to join the Islamic State terrorist group, RIA Novosti reported Friday, citing Turkey's DHA news agency.
The four Russians, who were not named in the DHA report, were detained in the border city of Kilis by local police and then taken to Istanbul, from where they were sent back to Russia, the news agency reported.
The Russian Embassy in Ankara was cited as saying the report was being verified.
Up to 1,700 Russians are fighting on the side of the Islamic State — a self-declared international caliphate that controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria — in Iraq, the head of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov told an anti-terrorism summit in Washington last month.