The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 19 pro-government forces and 15 ISIS extremists had been killed since clashes began late Wednesday in the city of Deir Ezzor. (File photo: Reuters)
Islamic cleric blames women for earthquakes because of the way they dress
Turkey, Saudi in pact to help anti-Assad rebels
Prayer, food, sex and water parks in Iran's holy city of Mashhad
Free speech and human rights in decline in Turkey, survey reveals
Saudi-led coalition targets Houthi stronghold city
Clashes between Kurds and Iranian forces after suicide
Turkey orders arrest of ‘Syria arms interception’ prosecutors
Yemeni Forces Capture 4 More Saudi Military Posts
Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for deadly helicopter crash
FO unaware of fresh proof against RAW
Pakistani Taliban says PM’s helicopter was target
Fight against terrorism will continue: Nawaz
Jamaat-i-Islami retains KP seat in by-polls; women stay away
Police moves may lead to bloodshed, warns Fehmida
Hindus protest over alleged harassment by clansmen
UN humanitarian response facility in Lahore
Acid attacker slapped 117-year term, Rs1m fine
Anti-Immigrants Plan Pig Farm to Offend Muslims
Tajikistan to Ban Citizens from Giving Arab Names to Newborns
Srebrenica Muslims accuse Serb authorities of harassment
Spain Anti-Immigrant Law Would Target Muslims, Limit Kebab Shops
Islamic State, cyberspace and takfirists
‘IS cell’ bust in Ratlam sets off turmoil in five families
NIA set to probe ISIS module busted in Ratlam
Bangladesh land swap gets Parliament's stamp after 41 years
Al-Qaida leader involved in Charlie Hebdo attack killed
Islamic State Recruiting Christians? Muslim Converts Joining ISIS Militant Fighters
U.S. starts ‘small,’ begins training 90 Syrian rebels
Multiculturalism helping Muslims adapt to Canada
Iran must not have nuclear arms, Kerry assures Saudis
Texas attack 'inspired' but not directed by IS: Pentagon chief
Pakistani man sentenced to life in US prison for orchestrating 'honour killings'
US terror experts say tracking down lone wolf attackers remains difficult
Nigeria: Vigilance Group Kills 29 Suspected B'Haram Insurgents
Two killed in rocket strike in Libya's Benghazi: Medics
Burundi: Protesters Killed As Burundi Unrest Continues
CAR to Sue French Soldiers Over Alleged Sex Crimes
Nigeria: Baby Burnt in Boko Haram Attack Needs Help
Clashes between Syrian regime, ISIS kill 34
Iraqi Forces Kill 18 ISIL Terrorists in Fallujah
ISIL Redeploying Tons of Ammo from Syria to Iraq
Yemen conflict: Saudi Arabia announces 5-day humanitarian pause
Terror plots with targets in KSA and abroad foiled
Arab coalition vows 'harsh response' to Yemen's Houthis
Egypt to host conference to combat destruction of antiquities by "terrorists"
Saudi FM says ceasefire in Yemen will be 'everywhere or nowhere'
Kingdom declares all-out war against Houthi menace
15 militants killed in southern Afghanistan
Abbas among 37 BNP men chargesheeted
Afghan troops launch major offensive against Taleban
Land Boundary Agreement: Huge diplomatic success, says Hasina
Thailand Wants Meeting With Myanmar, Malaysia Over Human Trafficking Crisis
Terrorist Link Probed in Arrest of Indonesian in Brunei
Women on boards of public companies way behind 30% target, says Najib
Tabung Haji’s police report reeks of NFC scandal, says Muslim group
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
8 May 2015
Earthquakes are caused by women who dress provocatively and tempt people into promiscuity, a prayer leader has controversially claimed.
Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi who is a senior cleric in Tehran made the wild accusation during morning prayers.
In a video posted on YouTube he says: "When promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase."
"There is no way other than taking refuge in religion and adapting ourselves to Islamic behavior," he added.
Sadeghi was last year appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as a substitute prayer leader in Tehran - the second most powerful position behind Khamenei who is the official prayer leader.
Iran has suffered greatly from earthquakes, with one in the city of Bam killing tens of thousands in 2003.
Sadeghi is not the first religious figure to blame the natural disasters on human behaviour.
US televangelist Pat Robertson previously said that Haiti's devastating earthquake was down to an alleged pact the Haitians had made with the devil in the 18th century.
Turkish officials are confirming that their country has forged an alliance with Saudi Arabia to help rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The pact, which provides rebels logistical and financial support, is a concern for a U.S. administration wary of empowering radical Islamist groups in Syria.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been at odds over how to deal with Assad, their common enemy. But mutual frustration with what they consider American indecision has brought the two together in a strategic alliance that is driving recent rebel gains in northern Syria, Turkish officials say.
The Obama administration worries that the revived rebel alliance could potentially put a more dangerous radical Islamist regime in Assad’s place, just as the U.S. is focused on bring down the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Iranian shrine city of Mashhad has much to offer visiting Iraqis wanting to escape violence at home - but locals have mixed views about their guests.
The ticket agent at the gate in Mehrabad airport, Tehran, is irate. He’s shouting at a group of middle-aged Iraqi men, who are having trouble making sense of his flustered Farsi.
“Why didn’t you tie up your baggage before you got to baggage check?” he says with a heavy sigh. The men, some wearing unassuming pants and shirts and others sporting more traditional Arab dress, search for somewhere to set their baggage down and tie some string around it.
The Iraqi passengers on today’s flight to Mashhad number no more than 50, but that’s 30% of the cabin on this old Boeing. The plane has a narrow walkway down the middle of the six-seat rows, and finding one’s seat and a place to store carry-on items seems like a hassle for everyone. Cheerful, attractive flight attendants politely ask standing passengers to take their seats so others can pass.
But the attendants’ voices lose a little something when they address the Iraqi passengers. The Iranian businessman sitting next to me, a resident of Tehran, tells me he has no love for the Iraqis either.
“See how noisy they are?” he says. “Come on, this is a public place!”
As the plane slowly moves away from the gate towards the runway, the Iraqi passengers begin reciting prayers, and when the plane picks up speed and starts to lift off, it’s as though they want the sound of their prayers to overpower the roar of the engines.
Iranians might have engaged in such a ritual up until just a few years ago, but now it seems like the number of Iranians who observe pre-flight prayers lessens with each passing day.
Upon arrival in Mashhad, second most populous city and home to some of its most sacred sites, Iranian and Iraqi passengers alike are handed golden branches at the gate. After moving through the baggage claim, they reach an abundance of kiosks belonging to Mashhad’s various expensive and luxury hotels, where Iraqi passengers have a far warmer treatment than at Mehrabad. The young girls staffing the kiosks usually speak enough broken Arabic to hammer out a deal with the Iraqis, who speak their own broken Farsi.
Iraq has a Shia majority, and interest in visiting Iran’s Shia shrines – especially the tomb in Mashhad of the eighth Shia Imam, Imam Reza – rose after the United States ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003. Since the escalation of the Iraqi violence in 2011 and the appearance of Isis, the so-called Islamic state group, and its capture of a swathe of the country, the number of Iraqi Shia pilgrims to Iran has risen fast.
In January 2015, Mohammad Mehdi Baradaran, deputy of planning and development for the Mashhad mayor’s office, announced that 1.5 million foreign tourists visit Mashhad each year, with 23% from Iraq. “Many of the foreign visitors to Iran are pilgrims visiting the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad,” Baradaran told SMT News, an Iranian industry and business publication. “All of the other cities in Iran put together can’t boast Mashhad’s tourism figures.”
According to SMT’s estimates, every pilgrim visiting Mashhad spends roughly $1,500 (£990) in the city, meaning that the 345,000 who visit Mashhad every year spend $517m (£342m) altogether. However, government figures suggest that the number of Iraqi visitors to Mashhad could be much higher, as in 2014 Saeed Ohadi, president of the Hajj and Pilgrimage Association, a department in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said that 1.3 million Iraqi pilgrims visit Iran each year.
“I’m guessing that most of the Iraqi tourists to Iran do visit Mashhad,” a tourism expert in Mashhad tells Tehran Bureau. “The tourists are mostly Shias, who are fairly observant as far as I know, so they probably wouldn’t miss a trip to the shrine of Imam Reza.”
An official at Hashemi Nejad international airport in Mashhad believes that the number of Iraqis coming on a pilgrimage to the city has risen exponentially since the rise of Isis. “After Saddam fell in 2003, many Iraqis were coming to Iran each year, but then it kind of evened out after two or three years,” he said. “I estimate it hovered at around 100,000 a year for a while. But it’s risen sharply over the past year.”
A few taxi drivers camped out near the airport exit are keen to express their opinions. They too believe that both the number of Iraqi visitors and the time they spend in Mashhad have increased. “I know an Iraqi guy who has been renting a home in the Tabresi neighbourhood for six months,” says Mehdi, 25-year-old taxi driver.
However, taxi drivers working the airport beat in Mashhad are no fonder of visiting Iraqis than the flight attendants. “Somehow their dinar is worth way more than our rial,” says one driver. “They may behave like beggars, but the exchange rate means they can live like kings. When I visited Kerbala in Iraq, I paid the equivalent of about 800,000 rials (£19, $28) to get from the airport to the shrine, but here I only earn about 150,000 rials (£3.50, $5.25) for roughly the same trip. Iran is really cheap for them. But they still complain about even this measly fare, and they come with mostly large parties too. In fact they come like flocks of sheep. I have to stick to no more than four passengers in my car - five people in all including myself - and my car can’t accommodate any more than that. What happens if I get in an accident?”
Mehdi doesn’t have much hope that a surge of Iraqi visitors will do much for Mashhad’s economy, either. “They don’t even spend that much. They’re just here to escape the war. Little mice scampering into holes.”
Mehdi also comments on Iraqi men who come to Mashhad looking to patronize the city’s sizeable population of sex workers, many of which conduct business through a Shia system of ‘temporary marriage’ known in Iran as sigheh.
“They come looking for prostitutes. One day I picked up an Iraqi guy and he asked me if there were any sighehs around. I told him there were, did he want an Iraqi girl? Saudi? Bahraini? Lebanese? They’re here from all over the Arab world.” Mehdi releases a hearty laugh, but he is drawing on a historic animosity many Iranians harbour toward Arabs, and reflecting a sense in the more religiously observant sectors of Iranian society of a threat to the purity of Iranian women.
“We deserve all we get for letting those Arabs into our country,” Mehdi continues. “We have so little honour and pride left that even Arabs are showing up in this most holy city asking around for women. That bastard I just told you about? He actually knew some Farsi. So as soon as he asked about sighehs, I let loose every vile curse I ever heard, pulled over, grabbed him by his collar, and tossed him out of my cab. And as I drove off I yelled, ‘Eat shit!’ - just for good measure.”
Much to his disappointment, Mehdi’s stunt with the Iraqi passenger turned into more than just an amusing story.
“The asshole took down my plates,” he says. “He reported me to the taxi agency, and they called me in, confiscated my taxi for two months, and they made me pay a fine of 4m rials [£93, $140]. Just for standing up for our honour. It’s our right! And instead of thanking me for doing that, they fined me!”
Dozens of five-star hotels, luxury timeshares, and hostels line Imam Reza Street from Bargh Square all the way down to the Imam Reza shrine. Many of the managers of these establishments confirm that a common question from Iraqi visitors is where to find sex workers.
Iranian law expressly forbids an unmarried man and woman from entering a hotel room together, but people find ways. A young man, Alireza, is a kind of arranger for Iraqis looking to hire sex workers. Many hoteliers and shop-owners give Alireza’s number to inquiring Iraqis.
“It’s not just the Iraqis who are into it, man!” Alireza says. “Sex is a can’t-miss item on any good trip’s itinerary. The only thing is, because it’s illegal here, we have to get...creative.”
Alireza says he knows a few sex workers in Mashhad and that he’s happy to facilitate an encounter when Iraqis call upon him. But how does he secure a safe location?
“No problem,” he said. “The women have their own apartments around [middle- and working class districts of] Qasem Abad and Moallem Boulevard. The exchanges are made there.”
Alireza explains that the average price for a night with one of the women he works with is between two and three million rials [£46.50- £69.75, $70.50-$105.75]. “Some of the wealthier customers will hire a woman for the week. For instance, they might take a girl on a trip to Shiraz or something, or maybe up north to the Caspian Sea, Isfahan, places like that. For a week the girls charge between 20 and 30 million rials.”
Although Alireza refuses to set up a face-to-face interview with one of the women or even provide their numbers after I offer to pay him, he does agree to call someone and allow me to speak to her on his mobile. After a brief chat, he hands me the receiver, and I ask how she feels about her Iraqi customers and how they treat her.
“Iraqis are really good people, by and large. Some of them are very shy, but on the whole they’re generous and kind. A lot of them will even pay extra to stay in touch via Facebook or Viber after our time together is over.”
Still, sex isn’t all that’s on offer in Mashhad. Restaurants in the countryside about 20km outside of town, such as Shandiz and Torqabeh, attract a large Iraqi clientele. Shandiz features some of Iran’s most famous kebabs. The shishlik and barg kebabs in particular have a wide reputation that’s no secret to Iraqis.
Abd al-Hamid, a teacher from Najaf, Iraq, has brought his wife and two young daughters. “Everyone in Najaf knows about the food in Mashhad,” he said in heavily accented Farsi punctuated by laughs. “First Imam Reza, then shishlik – that’s the rule.”
Abd al-Hamid says that although he’s enjoyed his time in Mashhad, “I’ve witnessed a kind of disrespect that’s pretty pervasive. When Iranians come to Iraq, we love it and we respect and treat them very well. But I’ve felt really unwelcome by a lot of shop-keepers and taxi drivers here. I can’t say exactly why.”
A researcher from Tehran university says she knows why. “First off, you have to remember that we fought an eight-year war with each other, even though many of Iraq’s Shias opposed Saddam. But many Iranians don’t know that. Fortunately, most Iranians born since the 1980s [after the war] don’t have these feelings toward Iraqis. The other reason is this general anti-Arabism that persists in Iranian society and is part of why Iranians tend to think of themselves as culturally superior to Arabs. But I personally feel that since the emergence of Isis, many Iranians have made an effort to be more sympathetic to their Iraqi neighbours.”
Morteza, a 25-year-old seller of opal and turquoise stones on the second floor of the Reza Bazaar near the shrine, expresses fondness for Iraqi tourists. “These are really humble, kind, likeable people,” he says. “And they’re always suffering some hardship or another. They had to deal with the cruel dictator Saddam for 20 years, and he screwed up not only their lives, but our lives as well. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they had to put up with the Americans, who violated their women, and now they have those Isis brutes to deal with! Whenever I meet Iraqis, it’s always a friendly interaction. I even give them discounts, if you can believe it. I want to do whatever I can for them.”
Behrouz, a seller of traditional cashmere fabrics on the ground floor of the bazaar, differs. “There’s no one more annoying than those Iraqis!” he said. “They show up, make a lot of noise, bang everything about, and in the end they don’t even buy anything!”
Just as Behrouz’s screed begins to gather steam, an Iraqi customer enters the shop, causing him to break into a wide smile and politely greet the new customer with a few carefully practised words of accented Arabic.
At the Iraqi consulate, an employee offers further insight on the tensions between Iranians and Iraqis. “We rarely receive reports of violence against Iraqi nationals,” he says. “So this idea that there is real racism against Iraqis is not true. Of course we do get complaints - poor treatment by taxi drivers and such - but as far as I know even native Mashhadis aren’t on the best of terms with their taxi drivers. On the whole, Iraqis are satisfied with their visits to Mashhad, and they like the idea of coming back.”
Another can’t-miss for Iraqi tourists in Mashhad is one of the city’s water parks. A ticket seller at Water Waves Land on Andisheh Qasem Boulevard ponders the water parks’ popularity. “Probably 20% of our visitors are Iraqis. They love Mashhad’s water parks, and when they come, they stay for the whole day. It’s like they never get tired of it.”
Mashhad has the highest concentration of water parks in Iran, and they are generally crowded. It’s easy to find Arabic speakers in the masses of people.
Ayad, a 44-year-old electrical appliance seller from Kerbala who speaks a little English, has been in Mashhad for four days. “I never miss coming to this water park when I visit Mashhad,” he said. “It’s so full of energy, even if it’s a little crowded. I’ve been here eight hours but I’ve only been riding slides and stuff for about an hour altogether. But that’s fine by me. Mashhad is a joyful and exciting city. And I mean ‘exciting’ in a good sense, not the kind of excitement we get in Iraq, where bullets and blood are never far away.”
A rising number of people in Turkey believe that the free speech and human rights are declining in the country, according to a new survey.
The rate of Turkish citizens who believe that “people cannot express their opinions freely and without any fear in Turkey” increased from 44 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in 2015, according to the survey conducted by academics Ali Çarkoğlu and S. Erdem Aytaç with the support of the Open Society Institute, Koç University, and the Ohio State University School of Communication.
There is a sharp difference between respondents who plan to vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and those who plan to vote for opposition parties with respect to the perception of freedom of speech, according to the survey, titled “Public Opinion Dynamics ahead of June 2015 elections.”
Among AKP voters, only 28 percent said “people cannot express their opinions freely and without any fear in Turkey,” while this rate is 75 percent among those who will vote for one of the opposition parties, the survey revealed.
The rate of respondents who believe that “the state does not respect human rights” also increased from 38 percent in 2011 to 45 percent in 2015.
With regard to the secular-religion fault line, the rate of respondents who believed that “Muslims can perform their worship freely” increased from 78 percent in 2009 to 90 percent in 2015.
In contrast, a rising number of respondents said they believe that secular people cannot live their life freely, with 11 percent saying this in 2011 and 18 percent in 2015.
On the ongoing process aiming to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey, a large majority of respondents, 65 percent, said they believe the problem can be solved with “economic development” in the country’s southeastern region, rather than the reforms in ethnicity and culture.
The survey was conducted among 2,201 respondents in 49 provinces through face-to-face interviews between March 19 and April 26.
The Saudi-led coalition on Thursday night targeted the Houthis’ stronghold city of Saada after a ministry of defense spokesman warned that the Yemeni militia group has “crossed the red line” and that they will be dealt with differently.
Yemeni security officials reported multiple airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Saada, the birthplace of the Houthi movement, as well as the Red Sea port town of Hodeida, west of the capital. They said there was heavy air activity over Aden late Thursday but no airstrikes.
In Saudi Arabia, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, was meeting Thursday evening with armed forces commanders as a military spokesman vowed a “harsh response” to the death of at least five Saudi civilians in cross-border shelling this week that Riyadh blamed on the Houthis.
Full report at:
Clashes erupted between Kurds and Iranian security forces in Iran’s city of Mahabad where a woman is said to have committed suicide after a man tried to rape her, Al Arabiya reported.
Security forces were deployed to deal with the angry crowds who had gathered to protest against what one source said was Tehran’s discriminatory treatment of its Kurdish population.
According to posts on social media, hotel employee Frinaz Khasarwani committed suicide after a ministry of tourism official tried to sexually assault her, reportedly in collaboration with the hotel’s manager who was trying to get a five-star listing from the ministry.
However, what has been posted on social media is a “weak narration” of the incident, Kurdish news website Rudaw reported citing a resident in the area who called upon the crowds to give authorities enough time to carry out its investigation.
ANKARA: A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for four prosecutors and one military officer in a controversial case over the interception last year of trucks that allegedly contained arms bound for neighboring Syria, reports said Thursday.
The four prosecutors had been reassigned and then suspended after they ordered the search of several trucks and buses in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana near the Syrian border in January 2014 on suspicions of smuggling “ammunition and arms” into Syria.
A series of documents had circulated on the Internet indicating that the seized trucks were actually National Intelligence Agency vehicles delivering weapons to radicals fighting the Syrian regime. Turkey has denied aiding rebels in Syria.
Yemeni tribal forces gained control of 4 more Saudi military posts in retaliation for the Saudi army's blind artillery pounding of their regions.
Reports said the Yemeni tribal forces have gained control of 4 military posts in the Saudi border area of Jazan on Thursday. Several Saudi soldiers were also killed in the raid.
On Wednesday, the tribal forces captured 8 military posts in the Saudi border area of Najran.
5 Saudi soldiers were killed and 11 others injured in tribal forces' mortar attack on Najran.
Earlier reports said the Yemeni tribal fighters had won control over 5 military posts in Jazan and Najran.
The Pakistani Taliban on Friday claimed responsibility for downing a military helicopter, killing six people including the Norwegian and Philippine envoys, and said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was their target.
"The helicopter was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, killing pilots and many foreign ambassadors," an Urdu-language statement emailed by the Pakistani Taliban’s main spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said.
"A special group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had prepared a special plan to target Nawaz Sharif during his visit but he survived because he was travelling in another helicopter," Khorasani added.
It was not immediately possible to verify the claim.
The helicopter that crashed was one of three carrying a delegation of envoys to inspect projects on a three-day trip to Pakistan's northern Gilgit-Baltistan region where they were set to meet with Sharif.
The prime minister was travelling to the region in a separate aircraft at the time of the accident. He has since returned to the capital Islamabad, according to his office, which issued a statement expressing his “deep grief and sorrow” over the crash.
Leif H. Larsen of Norway and Domingo D. Lucenario Jr of the Philippines were killed in the crash along with the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, as well as the helicopter's two pilots, Pakistan’s military said in a tweet.
Polish ambassador Andrzej Ananiczolish and Dutch ambassador Marcel de Vink were also injured, the military added.
It was the worst air crash since 2012 when a civilian 737 went down in Islamabad, killing 130 people.
The incident was also reminiscent of the 1988 plane crash which killed then military-ruler General Zia-ul-Haq as well as the US ambassador at the time Arnold Raphel.
A senior local administration official warned the situation was "urgent" after the helicopter – one of three carrying the delegation, their aides and members of the press – crashed into the school with children inside.
"It was a diplomatic trip with members of 37 countries in total," said a passenger in one of the helicopters, who requested anonymity, adding that the school had caught fire after the crash.
The passenger added that the air convoy was supposed to have included four helicopters but the number was later reduced to three.
A senior local administrative official said: "We have been told to send in as many ambulances as we can because the situation there is 'urgent'".
The injured were being air lifted to a military hospital in Gilgit, the region's administrative capital, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the southwest, added another senior local police official.
In the city of Gilgit, a hospital official said injured were being carried on stretchers to the emergency ward of the Combined Military Hospital.
Known for its spectacular mountain ranges and unique culture, Gilgit-Baltistan is a strategically important autonomous region that borders China, Afghanistan and Indian-held Kashmir.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office appeared ignorant on Thursday about any fresh evidence of the Indian intelligence agency RAW’s growing involvement with terrorism in the country – something that prompted army’s top brass to flag the issue at its monthly corps commanders meeting recently.
Responding to a question whether the government was taking up the issue of RAW’s support of terrorist activities in Pakistan with the Indian government, newly-appointed FO spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said the matter had been discussed with New Delhi in the past.
He, however, had nothing to say if it was being raised again, particularly after the military leaders went public with their concerns.
“We have been taking up the issue of Indian involvement in various parts of Pakistan from time to time, particularly when we have talks with them. I would like to recall that after the visit of the Indian foreign secretary to Pakistan in March, the foreign secretary had briefed the media about the Indian involvement in Fata and Balochistan,” Mr Khalilullah said.
A corps commanders meeting in an unusual statement earlier this week said: “The conference took serious notice of RAW’s involvement in whipping up terrorism in Pakistan.”
The Pakistani Taliban Friday claimed responsibility for downing a military helicopter, killing six people including the Norwegian and Philippine envoys, and said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was their target.
“The helicopter was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, killing pilots and many foreign ambassadors,” an Urdu-language statement emailed by their main spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said.
“A special group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had prepared a special plan to target Nawaz Sharif during his visit but he survived because he was travelling in another helicopter,” Khorasani added.
It was not immediately possible to verify the claim, but the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan’s north where the chopper came down is not known as a stronghold of the militant organization.
ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said fight against terrorism will continue till complete elimination of terrorists and their abettors.
In a statement in Islamabad, he condemned last evening's terrorist attack on a football ground at High School of Ali Zai of Kurrum Agency. The prime minister directed the law enforcing agency to beef up security to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future.
He said that the whole nation was united against terrorism and such attacks cannot weaken our resolve against this menace.
TIMERGARA: Jamaat-i-Islami retained its Lower Dir seat in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in a by-election on Thursday. The PK-95 seat had fallen vacant in March after the party’s Emir, Sirajul Haq, was elected senator.
According to unofficial results, JI’s Izazul Mulk Afkari defeated his nearest rival, Haji Bahadur Khan of the Awami National Party, by 3,856 votes. The Jamaat candidate bagged 19,812 votes while the ANP man got 15,954.
During the 2013 general elections, JI had won this seat with a margin of around 12,000 votes. Sirajul Haq had received 23,030 votes while his rival, Hidayatullah Khan of ANP, got 11,130.
However, the most newsworthy aspect of the day was the total absence of women from polling booths. Not even one, out of the 47,280 women registered to vote, came to exercise her right at any of the 85 polling stations.
BADIN: While a shutdown was observed in several towns of Badin district on Thursday over police failure to arrest former home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza and his associates for allegedly harassing traders and shopkeepers, his spouse MNA Fehmida Mirza warned the district administration and police not to “encourage hostile actions against her family by instigating traders”.
Speaking to the media, she alleged that the law-enforcement agencies under the provincial government were deliberately creating a situation that could ultimately lead to bloodshed.
She demanded immediate transfer of SSP Khalid Mustafa Korai, observing that a siege of her family farms had again been laid by hundreds of policemen one day after a similar one was ended.
NAUSHAHRO FEROZE: The Hindu community in Mehrabpur held a demonstration on Thursday against alleged harassment by a group of people belonging to the Halepota clan.
Members of the Hindu community led by trustee of the main temple in the city Baba Saroop held a demonstration on Mehrabpur-Halani Road and demanded protection against the Halephoto clansmen.
Baba Saroop told the media and police that the clansmen were not only extending death threats to Hindu leaders and visitors to the temple but also hindering performance of their religious rituals and worship.
LAHORE: The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) and the Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) inaugurated the fourth humanitarian response facility -- the first in Lahore -- on Thursday.
Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Maj-Gen Asghar Nawaz, chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Lola Castro, WFP representative in Pakistan jointly opened the facility.
The WFP and the Pakistan government have been working together since 2013 to establish a network of humanitarian hubs in eight strategic locations across the country as part of broader emergency preparedness activities. These relief hubs will allow both the government and the rest of the humanitarian community to respond swiftly and efficiently to emergencies.
LAHORE: Anti-Terrorism Court-II of Multan handed down 117-year rigorous imprisonment, along with Rs1 million fine, to a man for throwing acid on his former wife and her husband. The woman later died in hospital.
According to a prosecution department handout, Muhammad Amjad threw acid on his ex-wife Javedan Bibi and her husband Muhammad Riaz after trespassing on their house on Dec 7, 2014.
Amjad had fled away after committing the crime but was arrested later.
The seriously injured couple was shifted to the Burns Centre of Nishtar Hospital, Multan, where Javedan Bibi succumbed to her acid burns on Dec 26.
The case was registered against Amjad at Raja Ram police station, Multan, under sections 302, 324 and 326-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The case was heard by ATC-II Multan Judge Sajjad Ahmed Sheikh who announced the verdict on Thursday.
Deputy Prosecutor General Ashfaq Ahmed Malik represented the state.
STOCKHOLM – New plans by anti-immigration campaigners to construct a pig farm close to an asylum center to offend Muslim immigrants have been ridiculed as reflecting ignorance about Islam and Muslims.
"This is nonsense and shows just how very little they know about Islam," Åke Sander, Professor of Psychology at the University of Gothenburg, told the TT news agency.
"It is one thing when Muslims try to stay away from pork, alcohol or gambling but there is nothing [in the Koran] that says you cannot be near pigs. This is a last-ditch effort when they [the campaigners] have no arguments left," he added.
Plans were announced on Wednesday when a group of campaigners, organizing themselves in a group called "interest group for Gullberg's survival", sent a note to the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) pledging to breed pigs nearby in order to deter Muslims from seeking asylum in the town.
The note said that it was trying to create a "probably impossible situation for some religious people, especially Muslims", according to Sveriges Radio.
Tajikistan is considering to pass a bill that will ban citizens of the Muslim majority country from giving 'more Arab sounding' names to their children.
Since January, after reports claimed that several nationals of the land-locked country have joined the Islamic State (Isis) militants, the Tajik government has increasingly been trying to dissuade its countrymen from radical Islamic influence.
Reports claim that the Tajik parliament has been asked by President Emomali Rahmon to consider a bill forbidding the Justice Ministry from registering names that are "too Arabic," Interfax reported citing the deputy head of the ministry's Department of Civil Registry, Jaloliddin Rahimov.
Once the bill is passed, "undesirable Arabic and Islamic names" that end with Mullah, Khalifa, Sheikh, Amir, and Sufi can no longer be used. Similarly popular Muslim names for girls such as Sumayah, Aisha, and Asiya; and names for boys such as Muhammad, Yusuf, and Abubakr will be forbidden.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The mayor of Srebrenica, the site of Europe's worst massacre since World War II, has accused Bosnian Serb authorities of harassing Muslims under the pretext of investigating Islamic extremists.
Camil Durakovic, a Bosnian Muslim, said Thursday that Serb police from outside town stormed the homes of Muslims who returned after Bosnia's 1990s ethnic war, and carried out arrests without explanation. He called it a "form of repression."
"Terrorism is a serious global problem and we must all fight against it, but you cannot use it as an excuse to send masked, armed men to search houses of Bosnian Muslims and arrest people without any evidence," Durakovic said.
After the war, Bosnia split into two semi-autonomous parts, a Serb-run Republic and a federation shared by Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Each has its own president, government and police, but they are linked by weak state-level institutions. The United Nations calls the slaughter by Bosnian Serb troops of 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995 a genocide. The town remains in the Serb-run half of Bosnia.
A proposed law in the Spanish municipality of Tarragona designed to limit immigrant "ghettos" would curb the number of new kebab shops along the port city's Mediterranean coast. Seeking re-election in a local vote May 24, conservative leaders have vowed to limit the number of Muslim eateries and other businesses traditionally owned by immigrants, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Alejandro Fernandez, a mayoral candidate and the leader of the Tarragona branch of Spain's ruling Popular Party, said at a city council meeting in January that the changes would prevent immigrant "ghettos" and protect "traditional Spanish businesses." Under the proposed law, business owners would not be able to obtain commercial licenses for new kebab shops, dollar stores or Internet cafes located within 500 yards of existing ones. The unemployment rate in Tarragona is more than 30 percent.
Islamic State, cyberspace and Takfirists
HYDERABAD: The Islamic State (IS) and its brand of fanaticism has struck yet again. And this time, it has claimed the young, but terribly misguided life of an Adilabad-based engineer Mohammed Atif Wasim. Incidentally, Wasim had moved to Hyderabad before being radicalized in the UK, where he went to pursue a masters degree in engineering.
There seems to be an emerging pattern in those volunteering to fight alongside the IS, accepting its brand of "jihad", with which a vast majority of Muslims is at loggerheads. Contrary to the popular notion, that inequality, iniquity, poverty and a lack of education breed terrorism, many of the IS recruits have been educated individuals. Wasim is a case in point. The IS propaganda is a clear centripetal force pulling young men and women into its vortex of violence. But while there are conduits, rabid preachers who covertly "convert", alarmingly, most of the radicalization and recruitment is taking place in vast tracts of cyberspace.
A recent study by the USA based consortium Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) entitled "The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: Branding, Leadership Culture and Lethal Attraction" noted that the IS is unlike al-Qaida and its affiliates. The study has also sought to understand the IS as any organisation in an industry, in this case, the jihad industry. Interestingly, it states that the IS has "adopted several best practices of other industries". The study compares the IS to the Nigeria based terror outfit Boko Haram (BH). It notes that unlike the BH, which destroys telecommunications and power installations to stun and paralyse security forces, the IS, on the other hand makes "strong efforts to control critical infrastructure". The study goes on to reason that this makes the organisation a service provider and has helped in "garnering local civilian support and the support of the local elite."
The IS is in sync with the age of first person shooter games and has used several such games to boost its recruitment drive by targeting tech-savvy groups, the study observes. In what reflects its high level of sophistication, the IS has made modifications to popular video games and used them for its own nefarious purposes and allows players to fight as IS combatants. Using the same principle, the IS launched a video game campaign last year and saw to it that information about the organisation reached a large number of people.
Intelligence sources have called five men arrested from here last month members of the Islamic State’s first known jihadi cell inside India. That’s not what the family members say they have been told.
Rehana, the mother of Imran Muhammad Sharif Khan, the alleged leader of the five, says all they have been told is that their son was involved in “anti-national activities”. She refuses to open the door to her house in Mohan Nagar locality of this communally sensitive town.
When she met him briefly after the arrest, Rehana says, Imran told her, “Mein bilkul bekasoor hoon. Allah jaanta hai maine kuchh nahin kiya (I am completely innocent. Allah knows I did nothing).”
Rehana says her younger son Irfan, who also spent some time abroad like Imran, is now too scared to come home. She claims she doesn’t know where he is. Accusing police of ruining their lives, the mother adds, “We were a happy family till Imran’s arrest. We have now left it to the almighty.”
TNN | May 8, 2015,
NEW DELHI/INDORE/BHOPAL: The home ministry has written to the Madhya Pradesh government proposing a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the ISIS-linked module busted recently in Ratlam in an Intelligence Bureau-led operation.
"We have asked Madhya Pradesh if it has any objections to handing over the case to NIA, given its international linkages. Once the state authorities give their clearance, a formal notification transferring the case to the NIA will be issued," a senior home ministry officer told TOI.
The Islamic State-linked terror module was busted over the last few days, leading to the arrest of five men in Ratlam -- Imran Khan, Waseem, Rizwan, Anwar Qureshi and Mazhar. According to intelligence reports, the module was being persuaded by its Syria-based handlers to target BJP and RSS leaders, apart from police officers, outside Madhya Pradesh. It had, on the instructions of one Yousuf Al Hindi, acquired two pistols and learnt how to assemble IEDs from locally available explosives.
TNN | May 8, 2015
NEW DELHI: India readied a big "thank you" note for friendly Sheikh Hasina regime when Lok Sabha on Thursday clinched the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh after a tortuous wait of 41 years. The lower House passed the constitutional amendment by a unanimous vote just like Rajya Sabha did a day ago.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally thanked Sonia Gandhi after the vote, acknowledging the cooperation extended by opposition Congress.
Though the bill received a bipartisan support, the debate saw saffron members express concern over illegal immigrants from the neighbouring country and Congress 'thanked' BJP for putting a full stop to its flip flop.
Congress and BJP itched to take credit for the bill after foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj conceded that she was only following what had been started by Manmohan Singh regime and that BJP had opposed the bill initially. The house toasted Swaraj for the historic agreement and she assured that it would solve many problems. The MPs obliged her with a unanimous vote as she had sought.
Reuters | May 8, 2015
WASHINGTON: A US operation has killed the senior al-Qaida figure who issued the claim of responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, according to US sources familiar with the matter and a reported video posted by the group.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said that its ideologue Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi was killed with his eldest son and other fighters in Yemen in a US air strike, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which cited the online video. Reuters could not independently verify the video.
Ansi's death would suggest the covert US drone programme against the Yemen branch of the global militant group is continuing, despite the evacuation of American military advisers from the country amid a worsening civil war.
The US sources said Washington believed Ansi was the AQAP commander of northern Yemen and that no civilians had been killed.
Ansi, an ideologue and former fighter, had appeared in several of the group's videos. In a message on Jan. 14, he said of the Jan. 7 attack in Paris that the "one who chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation is the leadership of the organisation," without naming an individual.
A week later he called for lone-wolf attacks in Western countries like America, Britain, Canada and France, as such operations were "better and more harmful."
White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment on Ansi's reported death.
"I'll review what we said previously, which is we continue to actively monitor terrorist threats emanating from Yemen. We have capabilities postured in the area to address them," Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One.
When Elton Simpson, a 30-year-old American converted Muslim from Phoenix, joined in an attack on a Garland, Texas, drawing contest for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad this week, it drove home what terror experts have been signaling for some time. The Islamic State group's recruitment campaign in Western countries is attracting converts who intelligence officials and experts say are the most fanatical adherents to radical Islam.
As many as one in six Europeans joining the caliphate are converts to Islam from non-Muslim faiths, including Christianity, the Washington Post reports. Others are coming from non-religious backgrounds. In France, for example, about one in four recruits leaving home to join the Islamic State group were Muslim converts, a ratio that is significantly higher than other European countries, according to intelligence officials and terrorism experts.
Savvy outreach on social media and recruitment drives have allowed ISIS to actively woo the converts. A number of female converts joining the Islamic State go on to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to encourage others to join them.
The United States has begun a long-awaited program to train Syrian fighters to go into combat against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon said on Thursday, deepening America’s role in Syria’s civil war after eight months of airstrikes against the Sunni militants.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the military was starting small, training a first group of just 90 Syrians, who would be paid a stipend and could expect some still-undefined support once they return to the battlefield.
A spokesman for the government of Jordan said the training began there several days ago and U.S. and Middle Eastern sources told Reuters the training would soon start at another site in Turkey.
Syrian rebels and members of the U.S. Congress are deeply skeptical, with some lawmakers saying the program is too small and slow. The Pentagon forecasts it will take three years to train and arm more than 15,000 opposition forces.
Canadians’ belief in multiculturalism is helping Muslim immigrants and others adapt to their new country.
But the current federal government isn’t providing much support for that ideal, a Lethbridge audience was told Thursday. And there’s danger that racist and anti-Muslim attitudes from Europe may spread to this nation.
To increase understanding, sociology professor Abdie Kazemipur suggested, the onus is on Muslims as well as their non-Muslim neighbours to learn about each other. Creating same-faith ghettoes, he told the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs, Thursday, prevents that from happening.
“Both Muslims and non-Muslims have responsibilities,” he said. “We need a two-way process.”
Kazemipur, a University of Lethbridge social sciences researcher, recently completed a book on the subject, “The Muslim Question in Canada: A Story of Segmented Integration.” It outlines how Muslim immigrants have been incorporated in – or excluded from – mainstream life in various nations.
RIYADH: Iran is a destabilising force that must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Saudi Arabia Thursday, aiming to calm Riyadh's worries.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours fear Tehran might be able to develop an atomic bomb despite an international accord being drafted, which aims to prevent that.
A framework agreement between Tehran and the United States, France and other major powers limits Iran's nuclear capabilities in return for a lifting of international sanctions.
Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Shia majority Iran were already divided over Syria, where Saudi Arabia backs Sunni-led rebels and Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
But the war in Saudi Arabia's neighbour Yemen has worsened relations.
Iran has dismissed as “utter lies” accusations that it armed Yemen's Houthi rebels, which a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing since March 26.
“We made clear that we remain concerned about Iran's destabilising actions in the region,” Kerry said after talks with King Salman.
May 8, 2015
WASHINGTON: An attempted attack on an exhibit of sacrilegious caricatures of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) in Texas was inspired — but not ordered by — the Islamic State group, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Thursday.
IS militants had claimed credit for Sunday’s failed attack in which two gunmen, armed with assault rifles, were shot dead by a police officer before they could storm the event in a Dallas suburb.
“Our understanding from the investigations that are going on was that these were inspired by ISIL, not directed by ISIL, which is an important distinction,” Carter told reporters, using an alternative acronym for the extremist group.
“Still in all it’s concerning that there are individuals like this who draw their inspiration from ISIL.”
NEW YORK: A Brooklyn cab driver was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for arranging the “honor killings” of two family members of a man who helped his daughter flee from Pakistan to the United States to escape an arranged marriage.
Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, 62, was sentenced by US District Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn, New York, following his conviction last year on charges including conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country.
Judge Kuntz said Choudhry had orchestrated a “calculated, cold-blooded” scheme after his daughter, with the help of the man she wanted to be with, fled her husband in Pakistan, who she was forced to marry so he could obtain a US visa.
“You were an egomaniacal force who revealed yourself to be self-absorbed and merciless in your pursuit of evil,” Kuntz said.
Terror experts have told the US Homeland Security Committee lone wolf attackers are a bigger threat than fighters returning from Syria or Iraq.
As the FBI continues to dig into the past of the two men shot dead outside a Texas event designed to offend Muslims, experts have again warned this is a sign of what is to come.
The challenge of countering online radicalisation of Islamic State sympathisers has been laid bare in a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Terror experts told the top level Homeland Security Committee lone wolf attackers were a bigger threat than fighters returning from Syria or Iraq.
But tracking them down remains difficult as they do not fit any ethnic profile and the only thing in common is their connection to social media.
Peter Bergen from the New America Foundation detailed the think tank's latest research, telling the Committee they have identified 62 people in the US who have tried to join militant groups in Syria.
EVEN as the military continue their offensive against Boko Haram insurgents in their Sambisa Forest hideout of Borno and Adamawa states, members of Volunteer Vigilante Group clashed with fleeing terrorists in the Hiang-Kukuriyi forest axis and killed 29 suspects at a fish farm on Wednesday by 10.14pm.
The killing of terror suspects, according to the commander of Vigilante Group, Madu Plungwa, was successful because the fleeing insurgents numbering over three dozens in a convoy of Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles stopped at a fish farm to drink and eat, before proceeding towards the border areas of Yobe and Gombe.
"The fleeing insurgents were ambushed at this fish farm when they stopped to refuel and eat roasted fish on the farm. As some of them relaxed, five hunters, who have taken strategic positions near the fish farm, opened fire at them and killed 29 in the exchange of gunfire.
Some were however, able to flee in the same vehicles with gunshot wounds," said Plungwa in a telephone interview with The Guardian yesterday in Maiduguri.
He said the insurgents were fleeing towards the south and southeast flanks of Sambisa Forest, so that they could get access to Yobe and Gombe escape forest routes.
"The fleeing insurgents were desperate to escape, because most of them have run out of arms and ammunitions, which they used to attack various towns and villages in Borno and Adamawa states," said the vigilante leader.
Two people were killed when a rocket hit a residential building in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday, bringing the death toll from recent fighting to at least 53 people in the past five weeks, medics said.
Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government have been fighting Islamist groups in the eastern port city, part of a wider struggle in the four years since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed.
Army forces have regained some territory in Benghazi lost last year, but fighters of the Islamist Majlis al-Shura still control several districts and the commercial port area.
On Thursday, a rocket hit a residential building, killing two civilians and wounding around four, a hospital medic said. Around 17 civilians have been killed and 90 wounded in artillery and rocket strikes since the start of April.
At least three people have been killed in Burundi in a fresh outbreak of clashes between police and protesters demonstrating against President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term, Al Jazeera's correspondent said.
The latest casualties bring to seven the number of people killed in unrest that began when the ruling CNDD-FDD named Nkurunziza as its candidate for the June 26 elections, the Red Cross said.
Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb, reporting from the capital Bujumbura, said a grenade had been thrown at protesters in the Cibitoke suburb of the city, killing two protesters.
"Protesters say it was thrown by a man in civilian clothes who they believe to be a member of the ruling party's youth wing, known as Imbonerakure," he said.
"Separately, protesters also burnt a man to death, who they said was Imbonerakure."
Red Cross's Alexis Manirakiza, speaking to Al Jazeera from Bujumbura, said they had recorded 212 people wounded since April 26 when the clashes began.
Tensions remained high in the area on Thursday with protesters arming themselves with sticks and batons.
The Central African Republic will take legal action against the French soldiers accused of raping children in exchange for food at a refugee camp, the country's justice minister has said.
"Legal action will be pursued... These are still very serious acts," said Justice Minister Aristide Sokambi on Wednesday, insisting his nation was not targeting France but individual soldiers.
Several children - the youngest just nine - allege that 14 soldiers dispatched to the impoverished nation as part of a peacekeeping force sexually abused some of them in exchange for food between December 2013 and June 2014.
"We regret the fact we were not brought into these investigations despite the cooperation agreements we have with France," Sokambi added.
"So I have instructed the public prosecutor to open a probe and seek the evidence already at the disposal of the French."
A baby, Aisha who survived severe burns after Boko Haram militants' attack on a village in Maiduguri, Borno state remains critically ill at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Daily Trust learnt.
Baby Aisha was in the room while her mother was in the toilet when Boko Haram set their house on fire.
She lost all fingers on her left hand and also lost an ear in the attack. The baby is now in urgent need of surgery for her face which is completely burnt and her hands. She also sustained severe burns on her legs. Aisha is currently receiving treatment at the Maiduguri Teaching Hospital at the Surgical Paediatric Ward.
A Good Samaritan resident in London, Hajiya Aisha Alubankudi took it upon herself to raise money via facebook for baby Aisha, Daily Trust also gathered. So far, over N500, 000 even without the knowledge of her mother.
Contributions is still needed by kind hearted Nigerians to come to the aid of baby Aisha Ibrahim.
A source told Daily Trust that the state governor has agreed to foot the medical bills including the surgery abroad.
Fierce battles between Syrian regime forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group in eastern Syria have left 34 fighters dead in 24 hours, a monitor said Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 19 pro-government forces and 15 ISIS extremists had been killed since clashes began late Wednesday in the city of Deir Ezzor and around its nearby military airport.
The head of aerial defense at the airport -- one of the few areas left in regime hands in Deir Ezzor province -- was killed in the fighting.
Four government soldiers were beheaded by ISIS Thursday as the jihadists seized a key checkpoint in the city near the air base.
“An ISIS suicide bomber detonated himself by the checkpoint, which IS then seized,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“Seizing the checkpoint gets them closer to the military airport.”
Abdel Rahman said fighting continued into Friday morning with both sides shelling positions on the outskirts of Deir Ezzor city.
Iraqi government forces killed about 18 terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in the Western province of Anbar as they continue to advance against the Takfiri militants.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry said 18 ISIL extremists were killed as Iraqi troopers fired a number of rockets at ISIL positions in the city of Fallujah, located roughly 69 kilometers (43 miles) West of the capital, Baghdad, on Wednesday.
A director for ISIL’s economic and financial affairs, identified as Abu Sora al-Maslawi, was among the slain militants.
The ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently control shrinking swathes of Syria and Iraq. They have threatened all communities, including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Ezadi Kurds and others, as they continue their atrocities in Iraq.
Senior Iraqi officials have blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the growing terrorism in their country.
The ISIL has links with Saudi intelligence and is believed to be indirectly supported by the Israeli regime.
The ISIL terrorist group has transferred several tons of weapons and ammunition from Syria to the Central province of Anbar in Iraq, sources revealed on Thursday.
"The ISIL has transferred several tons of weapons and ammunition from Syria to al-Qaem city, 350km West of Ramadi city," Farhan Mohammad, an official at Anbar province's governor-general's office, was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language Soumeria News website on Thursday.
He warned that the ISIL seeks to recruit forces in al-Qaem to start advancing towards Haditha and al-Baghdadi districts in the Western parts of Ramadi.
Meantime, news reports on Wednesday said that more than 15,000 volunteer forces from the Central province of Anbar have registered to join the Iraqi army to fight against the ISIL terrorists.
Saudi Arabia has announced a five-day ceasefire in Yemen’s war to facilitate aid to civilians in need.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made the announcement at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
That means the Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries will cease airstrikes in Yemen. Al-Jubeir said he hoped Iran-backed Houthis rebels will halt attacks on the ground.
Aid groups say millions of Yemenis are in need of food, fuel and medicine.
It was unclear when the so-called “humanitarian pause” would start.
Security agencies have thwarted several attempts to launch terror attacks in the Kingdom. Targets at home and abroad were in the crosshairs, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif has revealed.
In a speech delivered on behalf of Prince Mohammed, Lt. Gen. Abdullah Al-Qarni, deputy director general of general investigations, said the government was committed to fighting terrorists.
He was speaking at the second meeting of the working group set up to cut off funding to the so-called Islamic State terrorist organization. “The Kingdom succeeded in thwarting and frustrating imminent terrorist plots that were to be executed at home and abroad.”
The prince said victims of terror attacks are mostly innocent citizens, expatriates and security officers. He said the Kingdom had called on the international community in 2005 to establish an international center to combat terrorism. The government has allocated $100 million to support its activities, he said.
A spokesman for the Arab forces has vowed that the coalition would deliver a "harsh response" to Yemen's Houthis following attacks on Saudi citizens, and will not be bound by any restrictions.
"The equation is different, the confrontation is different, and they will pay a harsh and expensive price," coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri told reporters.
"The safety of Saudi Arabia is a top priority for the coalition and the Saudi armed forces. It is a red line they crossed."
Asseri comments came hours after Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir proposed a five-day ceasefire in Yemen's war to facilitate humanitarian aid to civilians, but only on the condition that the Houthi rebels also halt the fighting.
Egypt will host for the first time a two-day international conference aiming to unify efforts to combat the destruction of antiquities by terrorist groups, a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry read.
The conference is scheduled to take place on May 13 and 14.
A number of countries from within the Middle East, as well as representatives from UNESCO, are expected to attend the conference, the statement said.
It is also anticipated that a number of experts and officials from the United Nations plan to attend the conference, with the aim "of unifying regional and international efforts to combat the phenomena of looting and destroying antiquities by terrorist organisations."
Egypt signed agreements of bilateral understanding with a number of countries to impose restrictions on the importing and exporting of antiquities.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s proposed five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen, saying the truce could also be extended.
Kerry, speaking during a joint conference with his Saudi counterpart in the capital Riyadh, also expressed his concern over Iran’s “destabilizing actions in the region.”
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. both accused Iran of backing the Houthi militia group, which attempted a coup against Yemeni President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair said the proposed five-day humanitarian truce depends on the Houthis respecting the ceasefire.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition has vowed that it would deliver a “harsh response” to the Houthis following attacks on Saudi citizens, and will not be bound by any restrictions.
Houthi militias in Yemen have crossed a “red line” and will pay a high price for their deadly bombardments of Saudi Arabia, the coalition said on Thursday.
“The equation is different, the confrontation is different, and they will pay a harsh and expensive price,” coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri told reporters.
“The safety of Saudi Arabia is a top priority for the coalition and the Saudi armed forces. It is a red line they crossed,” the general said.
Al-Assiri’s warning came after Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired a meeting of top commanders to review the situation along the Kingdom’s southern borders.
May 08 2015
15 militants have been killed and 19 others wounded in fresh military operations in southern Afghanistan.
Officials at 205th Atal “Hero” corps in south say the operations were conducted in Zabul, Kandahar and Urozgan provinces in past 24 hours.
Eight militants were killed and six others wounded during military operation in Ibrahimkhil village of Shah Joy District in Zabul province.
Four militants including a Taliban commander identified as Idrees were killed and five others wounded in Klankicha village of Maiwand District in Kandahar province.
Three insurgents were killed and eight others wounded during a gun battle in Tur Nasir village of Dehrawad District in Urozgan province.
Afghan National Security Forces have initiated large-scale military operations across the country.
Police yesterday submitted the charge sheet against BNP Standing Committee member Mirza Abbas, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and 35 other activists in a case filed over the death of a Chhatra Shibir member in 2013.
Sub-Inspector of Rampura police station Mamun-ur-Rashid, also the investigating officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet to Dhaka’s Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court.
Metropolitan Magistrate SM Ashikur Rahman signed the charge sheet after it was submitted. The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of two BNP leaders - Sadeque Hossain Khoka and the party’s Joint Secretary General Salahuddin Ahmed.
KABUL: Commercial flights to Afghanistan’s besieged northern city of Kunduz have been suspended, an official said on Thursday, as hundreds of Taleban militants fought against government forces struggling to oust them from the city’s outskirts.
Officials have said some foreign militants operating in the area have sworn allegiance to Islamic State. However, Hussaini said police had found the Taleban’s white flag along with the foreign fighters killed.
“We haven’t found any evidence that Islamic State is involved in the Kunduz fighting,” he said.
The Taleban’s major push in the north, away from its traditional strongholds in the south and east of Afghanistan, is seen as a bid to take territory from areas where Afghan forces were spread thin.
Nearly two weeks of clashes around Kunduz have forced thousands of people to flee their homes and posed the biggest challenge to the NATO-trained Afghan army and police since foreign combat troops withdrew at the end of last year.
The passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill in India paving the way for the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh has drawn a positive response across Bangladesh’s political and social circles.
Most major newspapers have highlighted the passage of the Bill and wanted the border pact implemented early. Terming the adoption of the Bill “a huge diplomatic success,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday commended all those involved in the process.
Thailand Wants Meeting With Myanmar, Malaysia over Human Trafficking Crisis
Bangkok. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday called for a three-way meeting with neighbors Malaysia and Myanmar to try to resolve a regional human trafficking crisis following the discovery of a mass grave in the country’s far south.
Thirty-three bodies, believed to be migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, have been found in shallow graves over the past week in Songkhla province, near the Malaysian border. Three suspected trafficking camps have also been found.
“I have ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to liaise with Malaysia and Myanmar to hold a meeting to resolve this,” Prayuth told reporters. “We think this meeting can be held by the end of this month.”
Malaysia’s foreign ministry declined immediate comment, and Myanmar officials could not be immediately reached.
Police General Aek Angsasnanont, deputy commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, said, so far, eight people have been arrested — seven Thais and a Myanmar national — suspected of having links to human trafficking networks.
A “top figure” in a regional trafficking network had been arrested, police added, without providing details.
Jakarta. The National Police’s counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, on Friday said that it had not yet established a connection between any terrorist group and Indonesian man detained by authorities in Brunei.
Rustawi Tomo Kabul, 63, was arrested on Saturday after an X-ray inspection at Brunei International Airport revealed bullets inside his luggage. He was later found to have an “Islamic State symbol” among his belongings.
“His name has not yet appeared on the list … so we still can’t find if he has any connection to any terrorist group,” a Densus 88 officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said on Friday.
Brunei Police are still investigating the case.
Management at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, meanwhile, have denied airport security was negligent when inspecting Rustawi’s luggage.
Yanus Suprayogi, the airport’s general manager, told news portal Tempo.co that immigration authorities conducted a thorough inspection and the X-ray machine worked properly.
“We were aware that he had bullets in his luggage but the security officers said that those bullets were not real because they did not contain any gunpowder,” Yanus said.
Rustawi was flying to Saudi Arabia for umrah, or minor hajj pilgrimage, with 51 other people from Malang, East Java.
8 May 2015
Malaysian women only make up 16% of the boards of public companies, far behind Putrajaya's target of 30% women participation in top positions by 2016, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The number of women sitting on listed boards is even more abysmal, registering at only 10.3%.
"I wanted to see women make up 30% of the boards of all public companies. But, on this, we are currently behind target,” said the prime minister when launching the “Lead the change – getting women on boards” event in Kuala Lumpur today.
"So I urge the leaders among you to do more, to take the next step, to break those glass ceilings and install women on your boards.”
Najib also launched the Malaysian chapter of the 30% Club aimed at promoting more women in decision-making positions.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) has questioned today Lembaga Tabung Haji’s (LTH) police report against a local blog for leaking its property transaction documents.
According to Abim, the pilgrim fund board’s decision to do so was similar to the one taken by National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp), the company at the centre of the RM250 million cattle farming scandal that led to the fall of a senior Umno minister.
“Abim takes this action seriously because it seems like there is a confidential matter to be kept secret from public knowledge,” the group’s president Amidi Abd Manan said in a brief statement.
“This action was similar to the NFCorp which sought action against individuals who exposed it to the public.”