Books and Documents

Islamic World News (23 Jan 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Madrasas Promote ISIS Ideology, Shut Them: Indian Shia Board to PM

Prince Faisal bin Salman checked the work to restore parts of the Prophet's Mosque. (SPA)



Madrasas Promote ISIS Ideology, Shut Them: Shia Board to PM

Protesters Slam Ministers For ‘Anti-Human Attitude’ Over Sahiwal Tragedy

Madinah Governor Inspects Prophet’s Mosque Restoration Work

China to Pick Afghan Taliban as Political Force: Envoy

Hamas to Chad: Normalization with Israel ‘Stab in the Back’ Of Palestine

Austrian Politics Sees Significant Rise in Islamophobia



Madrasas Promote ISIS Ideology, Shut Them: Shia Board to PM

Did Mamta Exclusively Promote Islam Or Urdu At The United India Rally?

India Aims To Complete Its Part Of Kartarpur Corridor Work Before Pakistan: Rajnath

Indian police arrest Rohingya Muslim group stuck on Bangladesh border

Jamiat Ulama constructs 85 houses for Muzaffarnagar riot victims

Aligarh Muslim University doctors treated devotees at Kumbh Mela

Kartarpur corridor talks: India proposes two dates for Pakistan delegation visit



Protesters Slam Ministers For ‘Anti-Human Attitude’ Over Sahiwal Tragedy

Sahiwal Tragedy: 16 Counter-Terror Cops Booked, Confirms Mazari

Khadim Rizvi, Other TLP Leaders Sent To Jail On 14-Day Judicial Remand

Muslim campaigner loses High Court fight over grave edging

Pakistani District Council Wants Only Christians as Sweepers

Supreme Court to take up Khadija Siddiqui's appeal against acquittal of Shah Hussain today

Agreement signed for $3bn deposit from Abu Dhabi

FM Qureshi reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment for peace in Afghanistan

Vehicle used in Sahiwal incident was owned by a terrorist: reports


Arab World

Madinah Governor Inspects Prophet’s Mosque Restoration Work

5 Muslim Brotherhood Members Killed In Cairo ‘Shootout’

Security Expert: US Aims to Use Iraq to Wall off Syria from Iran

Turkish Paper: US Delivers Advanced Anti-Tank Missile Systems to Kurds in Manbij

US-Backed Militants Plundering Syria's Infrastructures, People's Assets in Deir Ezzur

Report: US Plotting to Arm Kurds to Block Negotiations with Damascus

Bodies of 800 More Victims of ISIL, US Attacks Found in Raqqa

Russian, Syrian Troops Pound Tahrir Al-Sham's Military Positions in Hama, Idlib

Commander: US Attempting to Provoke Hashd Al-Shaabi into War

UN envoy: No access for UN peacekeepers to Lebanon tunnels

Nearly 5,000 flee last ISIS enclave in eastern Syria

Assad blocks access to Damascus for EU envoys: diplomats

Egypt says clashes kill 7 troops, 59 militants in Sinai

US-led airstrikes kill several Syrian civilians in Dayr al-Zawr

Islamic State-linked plots in region fell in 2018, but terrorism threat to Singapore remains high: MHA


Southeast Asia

China to Pick Afghan Taliban as Political Force: Envoy

Outrage after disabled man denied right to pray inside Padang mosque

Tighten process for marrying foreigners, says ex-immigration official

Death penalty opponents have no humanity, says Hadi

Indonesia backtracks on unconditional release of cleric linked to Bali bombing

Ba'asyir early release plan cancelled: State Palace

Malaysia's Premier Draws Analogy Between Trump Wall, Ban On Israeli Athletes



Hamas to Chad: Normalization with Israel ‘Stab in the Back’ Of Palestine

Turkey Says Planning Intl. Probe Into Murder Of Saudi Critic Khashoggi

Toll from Israel’s Syria strikes rises to 21

Two explosions hit Yemeni capital Sanaa

Head of UN team in Yemen’s Hodeidah intends to leave post: sources

Israeli jets strike northern Gaza Strip in new act of aggression

Lebanon arrests Mossad agent over car bomb attack against Hamas official

Israeli tanks shell Gaza, kill Palestinian

Accidental mines explosion kills 5 Saudi-hired foreign mine experts in Yemen

Prominent Palestinian activist wins legal battle over ‘terrorism’ database

One killed and several injured in Houthi attack in Taiz



Austrian Politics Sees Significant Rise in Islamophobia

UK to review controversial counter-terrorism strategy

Imam Jailed In UK For Sexual Abuse Of Children, Torture

Italy’s Salvini bashes France over Libya role in new diplomatic spat

UK says to pull fighter jets from Syria after Trump’s withdrawal decision

EU sanctions Russians, Syrians over alleged links to chemical attacks

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hold Syria talks in Moscow

British Muslim loses cemetery court battle


South Asia

Pakistan’s JUI-S Leader Urges Taliban to Show Flexibility in Talks with Afghan Government

36 martyred, 58 wounded in security base attack in Maidan Wardak: NDS

Several Taliban militants killed in separate coalition airstrikes

Afghan forces foil Taliban attack on an army outpost in Laghman province

Anger as elite Afghan troops die in deadly Taliban strike

Some in Bangladesh election observer group say they now regret involvement



Cameroon Mobilizes Military Following Boko Haram, Separatist Attacks

Boko Haram: Cameroon allegedly denies refugee status to 9000 Nigerians fleeing violence

Sudan’s Bashir lands in Qatar as protests rage at home

Jordan appoints chargé d’affaires to own embassy in neighbouring Syria

Nigeria: Court Grants Shiite Leader, Zakzaky Access to Doctors

Ex-militant who recognized hotel attacker reveals brutal tactics of al-Shabaab terror group

'Al-Shabaab trainee' escapes, surrenders to police in Nakuru


North America

Four Charged In Bomb Plot against Muslim Community In New York

US service member killed in combat in Afghanistan: Pentagon

US urges coalitions against Iran’s ‘malign meddling’

US: Syrian refugee offers free meal to federal workers

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/madrasas-promote-isis-ideology,-shut-them--indian-shia-board-to-pm/d/117540



Madrasas promote ISIS ideology, shut them: Indian Shia board to PM

Jan 22, 2019

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi on Tuesday said that madrasas promote ISIS ideology.

Rizvi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shut Islamic seminaries across India so that Muslim children are not influenced by it.

“If madrasas across the country are not shut down soon then after 15 years half of the Muslims will start favouring the ISIS ideology. It has been observed across the world that ISIS is targeting children and asking them to follow them,” Rizvi wrote in the letter.

The UP Shia Board chief added that Muslim children should study with students of other religions in schools so that they are able to get better education.

The comments are likely to irk several Islamic clerics and scholars.

In his letter to the prime minister, Rizvi cited the example of Kashmir to substantiate his point

“In Kashmir, ISIS supports can be seen in huge numbers. In rural areas, Madrasas are destroying the future of our children being run on donations as their owners are hungry for money,” he stated.




Protesters slam ministers for ‘anti-human attitude’ over Sahiwal tragedy

Shazia Hasan

January 23, 2019

KARACHI: “Stop killing innocent citizens in the name of law and order; State terrorism is a crime; Stop the illegal use of weapons!”

These were just some of the slogans being chanted by the enraged protesters gathered outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday to register their shock and sorrow over and condemn the Sahiwal incident which they referred to as “state-sponsored lawlessness against citizens”.

The protesters, including Zahra Khan of the Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Habibuddin Junaidi of the Peoples Labour Bureau, Hussain Badshah of the Dock Workers Union, Saira Feroze of the United Workers Federation, Nuzhat Shireen of the Sindh Commission on Status of Women, Sajjad Zaheer of the Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musanifeen Karachi, columnist Comrade Zubair Rehman, among many others, said that only resistance of the masses could stop the growing incidents of state-sponsored lawlessness against citizens.

In a joint statement issued by them on the occasion, they said that the Sahiwal tragedy and incidents like that were proof of growing lawlessness by those who were supposed to protect the law. They said that they were actually terrorists themselves in the garb of law enforcement agencies. They expressed their profound sorrow over the failure of all state institutions to protect innocent citizens.

“It is sad that the elected representatives are trying to hush up these sensitive issues. This anti-human attitude is adopted by the provincial and federal ministers of the PTI government over the Sahiwal tragedy. They are trying to save the culprits behind the tragedy.

“The continuity of such incidents has once again proved that instead of providing safety of life to the citizens, the state is playing with their lives. To stop this maltreatment we the masses have to start an organised struggle. Otherwise, these incidents would not only continue but intensify,” read the statement.

“The previous day, another such incident also occurred in Karachi when a couple were injured in police firing. Also in Karachi last year, Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model, was killed by a so-called police encounter specialist, Rao Anwar, after being dubbed as terrorist. However, action against Rao Anwar is yet to be completed. Similarly, an innocent child, Amal, was also killed in a fake police action.

“Such incidents are occurring continually in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, no punishment could be given to the officials involved in these murders. Instead they were given all sorts of protection and their acts were termed in the best national interest.

“The citizens demand that state institutions should be stopped from extrajudicial murders, illegal and unnecessary use of weapons. We demand that a judicial commission should be constituted to probe the Sahiwal tragedy and all the culprits should be given exemplary punishments,” the statement concluded.

“As has been seen in the past, the rulers would have declared the culprits of the Sahiwal incidents as heroes and termed the victims as terrorists had the citizens not resorted to protest over this matter. It is sad that despite protests the police first lodged an FIR against the victims themselves. But it was thanks to public pressure that they lodged another FIR against ‘unknown’ culprits,” said Zahra Khan of the HBWWF.

“The government also rejected the public demand to set up a judicial commission and instead ordered forming a JIT, which shows that the sitting government is not serious to take the killers to task,” said Karamat Ali of Piler.

“The entire country is sad over the Sahiwal tragedy and the masses are very angry and charged. However, the illegal activities and extrajudicial killings by the law enforcers are yet to be stopped,” said Saira Feroze of the United Workers Federation.




Madinah governor inspects Prophet’s Mosque restoration work

January 22, 2019

JEDDAH: Since its founding, Saudi Arabia has always sought to preserve the heritage and history of the Prophet’s Mosque, Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman said during his inspection of restoration and maintenance work at the mosque’s southern wall.

He was accompanied by Sheikh Saleh bin Khalid Al-Muzaini, undersecretary of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques; Waheeb Al-Sahli, undersecretary for Madinah governorate; and Fahd Albuliheshi, CEO of the Madinah Regional Development Authority.

Prince Faisal said the ancient decorative formations of the mosque’s southern wall have become more distinct since the removal of the wooden doors that covered the wall.

The restoration work was a joint effort by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, and the Madinah Regional Development Authority, he added.

The work was carried out according to the highest standards, with the help of foreign and Saudi experts.




China to pick Afghan Taliban as political force: envoy

Zulfiqar Ali

January 23, 2019

PESHAWAR: Chinese Ambas­sador in Islamabad Yao Jing has said that his country will “pick Afghan Taliban as a political force” in the backdrop of their participation in the ongoing peace talks with the US and at other forums.

Speaking at a roundtable conference at the Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar, on Tuesday, he said that Beijing supported Pakistan’s fresh initiatives for facilitating efforts for political settlement of the Afghan conflict and confidence-building measures in relations with Kabul.

Asked about apparent lack of eagerness on the part of China in the ongoing talks for political settlement of the Afghan issue, the envoy said that his country had contacts with both the Taliban and the Afghan government. China had deputed a special envoy who was visiting the Taliban’s political office in Doha, he added.

“China will pick them (Taliban) as a political force because they are now part of the Afghan political process and they have some political concerns. They have to be allowed to play a legitimate role in the future political settlement,” he further elaborated his government’s policy on the Afghan peace process being discussed at different forums.

“If possible, China can exert pressure on the Taliban to join the peace process,” said the ambassador who had served in Kabul and New Delhi before taking over his new assignment in Pakistan. He urged all external stakeholders, including Afghanistan’s neighbours, to play their role for peace in the war-ravaged country.

“Afghans have been suffering for the last 40 years and they deserve peace and stability,” he said.

Supporting Pakistan’s fresh initiatives for facilitating talks between the Taliban and US administration, he said that China backed this ongoing process and had also played its role in the Moscow meeting and at other forums.

Mr Yao said that Afghans were very friendly towards China which had close relations with their country. “When we look towards west, the immediate challenge for us is Afghanistan having many international terrorist organisations.”

He said that Central Asian states had their own version and vision about Afghanistan and the same was the case of Russia, Iran and Pakistan.

“We are very much hopeful about a peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue, but this is a very complicated issue, which requires a lot of patience,” the envoy said. The US might announce withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan where elections were around the corner, he added.

Clarifying his country’s stance about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he accused western media of spreading negative propaganda against the project. He dispelled the impression that China wanted to establish its economic hegemony in the region through the BRI and the CPEC.

“Why would China want to control Pakistan through the CPEC and why would we spend money to control Pakistan? China could not control Pakistan in the 1960s when you (Pakistan) were in a more difficult position. At that time both countries had good relations,” he said, emphasising that Beijing’s foreign policy was never based on influencing or controlling other countries. He said that China had developed a new concept of foreign policy based on the BRI.

“You should understand China first, instead of judging [it] from the western propaganda. Please talk to us, understand China’s intentions and let us focus on peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr Yao said that the CPEC was purely an economic project, but regional rivalries, militancy and relations among the regional countries could affect the project. He said that India had its own assessment and understanding about the economic corridor. He said that China had very close relations with Pakistan and the CPEC was part of its own development strategy.

The ambassador said that the Gwadar port was presently a “losing” project and the Chinese company which took over it in 2011 was paying $14 million subsidy annually. He said that Pakistan had handed over the port to a Singaporean company in 2008 which had brought only one second-hand crane there.

He said that the CPEC did not encompass the whole relations between the two countries but it was only one part of the bilateral ties. He said that China had been supporting Islamabad at regional and international forums and had started trilateral cooperation comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. The CPEC would play a major role in this regard, he added.

Worried over the prevailing insecurity in the region, the envoy said that the BRI could become a victim of regional instability, insecurity or even state-to-state relations.




Hamas to Chad: Normalization with Israel ‘stab in the back’ of Palestine

Jan 22, 2019

The Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has denounced Chad’s normalization of relations with Israel as a “stab in the back” of the Palestinian nation, calling on the N’Djamena government to reconsider the move.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Chad, where he and Chadian President Idriss Deby “announced the renewal of diplomatic relations between Chad and Israel.”

In a statement on Monday, Hamas condemned Chad’s involvement in a “dangerous wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation.”

The Palestinian movement further denounced Chad’s policy shift “as a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and their just cause” against the Israeli occupation of their homeland.

“While Hamas realizes the dangerous repercussions of normalization with the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian cause, it calls on Chad to reconsider its move, isolate the Israeli occupation, and continue supporting the Palestinian people's freedom struggle against the occupation,” the statement read.

Deby, who won a disputed fifth term in April 2016, visited the occupied Palestinian territories and met with Netanyahu in November, becoming the first Chadian leader to visit Israel, 47 years after the two sides severed ties.

Back then, Israeli media cited sources in N’Djamena as saying that Deby’s visit was focused on “security” and that Tel Aviv had already been supplying weapons and other military equipment to Chad.

Over the past two years, Netanyahu has been seeking to secure a foothold in Africa. He has traveled to several African states in a bid to convince them to stop voting against the Israeli regime at the United Nations in favor of Palestinians.

Israel is also said to be seeking to take advantage of insurgency and Takfiri militancy gripping parts of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states across the continent.

The Israeli regime is now seeking to restore relations with Mali, a West African country, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

The report, citing unnamed Israeli officials, said the regime is preparing for a visit by Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga “in the coming weeks.”




Austrian politics sees significant rise in Islamophobia


A study by an NGO revealed that in 2018 senior politicians in Austria participated in 20 campaigns against Muslims.

SOS Mitmensch in a news conference on Tuesday shared with journalists its study on Islamophobic and anti-Muslim campaigns in 2018 in Austrian politics.

It said that ruling Freedom Party Chairman and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the party's Group Chairman in the parliament Johann Gudenus, Minister of Social Affairs Beate Hartinger-Klein have played a role in the spread of anti-Muslim campaigns with impunity.

Spokesman of the NGO Mitmensch Alexander Pollak also said that hate campaings against Muslims, because of their religious orientation, has risen to an "unimaginable level" compared to a few years ago.






Did Mamta exclusively promote Islam or Urdu at the United India rally?

Jan 22, 2019

After the mahagatbandhan rally in Kolkata organized by the TMC, social media user Gaurav Pradhan tweeted a screenshot of a television news broadcast attributing a statement to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee which read, “ईमान का नाम है मुस्लमान (faith is a synonym for Muslims -translated)”. Pradhan, who is followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is no stranger to misinformation. A compilation of such instances can be read here

Mamata Banerjee spoke about all faiths

The screenshot tweeted by Gaurav Pradhan is misleading as the statement credited to Mamata Banerjee is incomplete. We found a LIVE video of the ‘United India’ rally shared by Banerjee’s official Facebook page.

At 3:55:24 mins in the video, while speaking in Hindi, Banerjee said, “त्याग का नाम है हिन्दू, ईमान का नाम है मुस्लमान, प्यार का नाम है ईसाई, सिखो का नाम है बलिदान, यह है हमारा प्यारा हिन्दुस्तान (Sacrifice is a synonym for Hindu, faith is a synonym for Muslims, love is a synonym for Christians, martyrdom is synonym for Sikhs. This is our beloved India.-translated)”. Moreover, the screengrab belongs to a live NDTV broadcast of the United India rally. This claim was earlier debunked by India Today.

Not just Urdu script at the rally

A Twitter handle @mirchagalib tweeted two images of the same rally where all the opposition leaders were holding hands in a chain formation. In the second image, a logo of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) written in Urdu was focused on. The claim suggests that Urdu scripts will ‘take over’ neighbourhood shop signs, if PM Modi is not elected back to power.

However, Alt News found that the image of opposition leaders holding and raising hands to show unity was mischievously cropped. The stage also had AITC’s logo in other languages such as English and Hindi. The claim was earlier debunked by an individual Twitter user, @Pun_Starr.

In conclusion, Mamata Banerjee’s statement was based on an out-of-context screen grab from a longer broadcast to mislead social media users. Then, a cropped image of the United India rally’s stage was used to suggest that opposition leaders will promote only Urdu across India, if voted to power. Earlier, a doctored video of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with the claim that Modi and Amit Shah will ruin Pakistan if voted back to power, was circulated on social media.




India aims to complete its part of Kartarpur Corridor work before Pakistan: Rajnath

Jan 22, 2019

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that India is trying to complete its part of Kartarpur Corridor work before Pakistan.

Speaking to ANI, Rajnath said: “India will complete its part of Kartarpur Corridor work in a few days. I held a meeting with ministers to discuss the further plan of the project. I also reviewed the progress of ongoing work of Kartarpur Corridor. The government is trying its best to finish the project before Pakistan.”

“We are getting full support from the Punjab government and I have asked the authorities to handle it well in a time-bound manner,” he added.

The Indian government on the eve of Guru Purab on November 22 last year approved the construction of Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the India-Pakistan international border. Pakistan government had also announced to open the corridor next year.

The Kartarpur route along India-Pakistan border is three kilometres away from Gurdaspur in Punjab. Once functional, the corridor would allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, where Guru Nanak died in 1539.

On November 26 last year, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu had presided over the foundation stone laying ceremony of the corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab.

Full report at:




Indian police arrest Rohingya Muslim group stuck on Bangladesh border

JANUARY 22, 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police on Tuesday arrested 31 Rohingya Muslims stranded on the border after they were denied entry into Bangladesh and border officials failed to agree on what to do with members of the community fleeing a crackdown in India.

India’s Hindu nationalist government regards the Rohingya as illegal aliens and a security risk, and has ordered that tens of thousands of them who live in scattered settlements and slums around the country be identified and repatriated.

The stranded Rohingya, including women and children, had been stuck in no-man’s land on Bangladesh’s border with India since Friday. Two rounds of talks between border officials failed to find a solution.

“We have arrested them under the Foreigners Act on charges of entering India without valid travel documents,” said Ajay Kumar Das, a police official in the northeast state of Tripura that borders Bangladesh.

Hundreds of thousands of members of mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s Rohingya community have left their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the decades, most fleeing military crackdowns and discrimination.

Many have sought shelter in Bangladesh - where nearly one million live - but others have ended up in India, Southeast Asia and beyond.

The 31 had been living in Kashmir and some of them carried identity cards issued by the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

The UNHCR has issued about 16,500 Rohingya in India with identity cards that it says can help “prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and deportation.” India does not recognise the cards.

India’s deportation of seven Rohingya men to Myanmar in October raised fears in the community of a wider crackdown and prompted hundreds of Rohingya families to leave India for Bangladesh.

Indian police arrested another group of 30 Rohingya on Monday in the northeastern state of Assam, where they had moved after living for six years in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state.

Members of the group said they were looking for work after losing their jobs in Kashmir, police said.

Full report at:




Jamiat Ulama constructs 85 houses for Muzaffarnagar riot victims

by Rasia Hashmi

Jan 22, 2019

New Delhi: Several victims of the communal riots occurred in 2013 are still living in camps. There is no hope that the Yogi government of the state will extend any help to the Muslim riot victims. Hence once again Jamiat Ulama on its own constructed 85 new houses for the people who are residing in camps.

Earlier Jamiat Ulama had constructed 365 houses in Muzaffarnagar areas. According to Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, President Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Maulana Syed Arshad Madani will visit Muzaffarnagar and will allot the houses to the riot victims.

Full report at:




Aligarh Muslim University doctors treated devotees at Kumbh Mela

by Rasia Hashmi

Jan 22, 2019

Aligarh: Setting an example of communal harmony, eighteen Post-Graduate (PG) doctors and six Under-Graduate (UG) medical students from the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) conducted a free medical health camp from January 17 to 19 at the Kumbh Mela site in Prayagraj, where millions of devotees gathered for a holy dip in the waters at the confluence of the country’s most sacred rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and Sarasvati. This was reported by the university website. The Under Graduate medical students assisted their seniors. Besides free treatment, they supplied medicines free of cost to thousands of devotees. Around 2 crore devotees attended the Kumbh Mela.

Full report at:




Kartarpur corridor talks: India proposes two dates for Pakistan delegation visit

by Shubhajit Roy

January 23, 2019

A day after Pakistan shared a draft agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor and invited India to “urgently” send a delegation to “negotiate and finalise” the proposal, New Delhi has proposed two sets of dates for a team from Islamabad to visit and firm up the “modalities”.

The government has proposed “26 February and 7 March 2019”, for the Pakistan delegation to discuss and “finalise the modalities so that the Indian pilgrims can visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor at the earliest”, a Ministry of External Affairs statement said.

“Pursuant to the decision taken by the Government of India on 22 November 2018 to expeditiously realise the long pending proposal to establish Kartarpur Corridor, India has today shared the coordinates of the zero point (crossing point) of the corridor along the International Border with Pakistan,” the MEA statement said.

The meeting will be held to facilitate the travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Darbar Sahib Kartarpur Gurudwara in Narowal, nearly 4 km from the Gurdaspur border.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal had earlier said that the draft agreement between the two governments was shared through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

Full report at:






Sahiwal tragedy: 16 counter-terror cops booked, confirms Mazari

January 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said on Tuesday that as many as 16 officials of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) were booked in the Sahiwal tragedy case.

“16 people have been booked under the anti-terrorism law 302,” she said while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly.

“10 of the personnel were in uniform and six in plain clothes,” the minister said further and added that the FIR included murder and terror charges

Four people – including three members of a family – were killed in an alleged encounter in Sahiwal on Saturday.

CTD personnel said they had killed a local commander of militant organisation Daesh and three others in the operation. Eyewitnesses, however, disputed the claim and said the people in the car did not fire at officials, nor were any explosives recovered from the vehicle.

The dead included a man, his wife and their teenage daughter, as well as the driver of the car who, according to the CTD, was involved in terrorist acts.




Khadim Rizvi, other TLP leaders sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand

January 23, 2019

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday sent Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Pir Afzal Qadri and four others to jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

The directive was made during the hearing of a case concerning protests across the country in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Aasia Bibi in October last year.

During the hearing on Tuesday, workers of the party had gathered outside the ATC, with strict security arrangements in place to avoid any violent incidents.

Rizvi, Qadri as well as Allama Farooqul Hassan and Allama Aijaz Ashrafi are facing charges of fueling the protests, inciting followers to damage property and making hate speeches targeting state institutions.

Protests had erupted in several cities after the Supreme Court acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, on October 31.

Enraged masses had blocked several routes across the country for two days, while at some places they had also set fire to vehicles. The demonstrations saw closure of schools, colleges and universities, as well as cancellation of examinations.

The government and the protesters from different religious groups, led by Rizvi, reached an agreement two days later on November 2.

The law enforcement agencies had rounded up around 1,800 individuals after the agreement. The Ministry of Interior had said that the arrested people had been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Full report at:




Muslim campaigner loses High Court fight over grave edging

Murtaza Ali Shah

January 22, 2019

LONDON: A Barelvi British Pakistani Muslim who claimed his human rights have been breached because he cannot install a raised marble edge around his father's grave lost a High Court battle on Tuesday.

Atta Ul-Haq, a practising Barelvi Muslim, wants to erect 10 cm edging to stop people walking across Hafiz Qadri's grave in Streetly Cemetery in Walsall, West Midlands.

He maintained in his court claim that Islamic law forbids people from stepping on graves and claimed that council rules relating to cemeteries breached his human right to exercise religion. He said the right was enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore the court should rule in his favour and against the local council.

Walsall Council leaders said they couldn’t accommodate Ul-Haq's wish without harming the rights of other Muslims.

They said that regulations permit the "mounding of graves", and mounding is the way Muslims normally inhibit people from walking on graves.

The council maintained in the court that their approach has been "careful, sensitive and accommodating".

On Tuesday, Lord Justice Singh and Mrs Justice Carr in London High Court handed down the verdict, ruled against Atta Ul-Haq and dismissed his challenge to the lawfulness of the council's policy on "rules and regulations in respect of cemeteries and crematoria".

The two judges had analysed arguments at a High Court trial in London in December. Judges said, in a written ruling, that what council bosses had decided fell within their "margin of judgment".

They concluded that council bosses had "acted in a way which is justified".

A spokeswoman for Walsall Council said: "The judgment has confirmed that the council’s cemetery and crematorium rules and regulations do not discriminate against any individual or community and are appropriate and fair. Nor do they breach Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, nor discriminate on the grounds of age. The court also stated that the council as the burial authority is best placed at a local level to make rules and regulations which are appropriate.”

Haq’s father Hafiz Qadri died in 2015 and is buried in Streetly Cemetery in Walsall.

Mr Ul-Haq's lawyers said the case could have implications for the Islamic community. Barrister Michael Fordham QC, who led Mr Ul-Haq's legal team, told judges during the trial last year: "Mr Ul-Haq seeks a judicial review of the (council's) 'rules and regulations in respect of cemeteries and crematorium', by which it has and continues to refuse to permit him to erect a raised marble edging around his father's grave.

Full report at:




Pakistani district council wants only Christians as sweepers

January 22, 2019

In the resolution adopted unanimously, the council said all Muslims posted as sweepers should be transferred to other posts such as those of a guard or a peon, the channel reported.

The resolution was presented by the country's ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Akmal Khan, said the channel in its report.

The resolution also stated that the idea was in accordance with court orders.

The document, however, did not specify when a court gave such an order and in what case, the TV channel said.

Akmal Khan told Samaa that he did not remember the date of the court order.

Last year, however, the Peshawar High Court had passed a verdict in which Muslims working as sweepers in the Bacha Khan Medical Complex were to be transferred to other posts, he said.

Human rights lawyer Advocate Mary James Gill strongly condemned the move, saying the resolution was in violation of the Article 27 of the Constitution.

She told Samaa TV that the move not only went against Quaid-i-Azam M A Jinnah's vision for the country, but also the basic principles of Islam.

Christians and Hindus make up the largest minority groups in Muslim-majority Pakistan, with each representing about 1.6 per cent of the population.

Full report at:




Supreme Court to take up Khadija Siddiqui's appeal against acquittal of Shah Hussain today

January 23, 2019

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will take up the appeal of Khadija Siddiqui ─ a law student who was stabbed 23 times in Lahore in 2016 ─ against the acquittal last year of her alleged attacker and fellow student, Shah Hussain.

Siddiqui alleged that she was attacked by Shah Hussain on May 3, 2016, near Shimla Hill where she, along with her driver, had gone to pick up her younger sister from school. Both the sisters were about to get into their car when a helmet-wearing Hussain allegedly attacked Siddiqui with a knife and stabbed her 23 times leaving her critically injured.

Read more: Khadija was stabbed 23 times in Lahore. Here's how she put her attacker behind bars

Khadija, who is currently studying law in the United Kingdom, arrived in Pakistan earlier this week. Justice Khosa, to whom the case was sent for hearing, fixed the date of hearing of the appeal for Jan 23 (today).

Case history

A judicial magistrate had on July 29, 2017, sentenced Hussain to seven-year imprisonment under Section 324 (attempted murder) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), two years under Section 337A(i) (causing injuries), five years under Section 337A(ii), one year under Section 337F(i), three years under Section 337F(ii) and five years under Section 337F(iv).

However, a sessions court in March 2018 had commuted the rigorous imprisonment by two years awarded by the trial court to Hussain while setting aside the other minor penalties.

Hussain, the son of a senior LHC lawyer, then appealed against his conviction in the high court and was acquitted in June 2018. LHC Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem in his detailed verdict had written: "The injured witness ordinarily is not disbelieved but the circumstances of this case forced me to disbelieve the injured prosecution witness."

"I am satisfied that the prosecution has failed in its duty to prove the guilt of the appellant (Hussain) beyond reasonable shadow of doubt and the benefit of the doubt is always extended in favour of the accused."

The judge observed that marks of injury on a witness are only an indication of his presence at a spot but not affirmative proof of credibility and truthfulness: "It is not a universal rule that each and every word coming from the mouth of injured person is truth."

"Mere presence of injuries would not stamp that he is a truthful witness. His testimony is to be tested and appraised on the principles applied for appreciation of any other prosecution witness," Justice Naeem had ruled.

Full report at:




Agreement signed for $3bn deposit from Abu Dhabi

Shahid Iqbal

January 23, 2019

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Tuesday signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) for $3 billion to be deposited in the SBP account.

The announcement came from the Foreign Office in a Twitter post at 8:30pm which added that the funds “will help Pakistan achieve financial stability and overcome economic challenges.”

SBP Chief Spokesperson Abid Qamar, talking to Dawn separately, confirmed the development and said the central bank will release details possibly on Wednesday. He expects the amount to arrive in the country within a week but no final details were available.

The agreement was signed between SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa and ADFD Director General Saif Al Suwaidi at the latter’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

“If $3bn is placed in the SBP account, the amount could be utilised for foreign exchange payments,” Qamar told Dawn. “But the central bank will not transfer local currency equal to this $3bn to the government account.”

He explained that funds in rupee equivalent from a foreign currency loan are directly transferred into the account of the government after the foreign exchange is received in the SBP account.

Pakistan has been facing an acute shortage of foreign exchange and the situation is more serious in the wake of high current account deficit which widened to $7.98bn in the first half of the current fiscal year. The SBP reserves had fallen to $6.9bn on Jan 11 from $12.793bn in Jan 2018.

Pakistan signed a similar agreement with Saudi Arabia for foreign currency deposits of which $2bn has been received while the last tranche of $1bn was still is still awaited.

Along with these inflows, the government hopes to get loans from Beijing. It was also reported in media that the country could borrow from Chinese banks on commercial rates.

The UAE is the second largest trade partner of the country, after China. During July-December FY19, the imports from UAE were $5.119bn and $8.901bn in full fiscal year 2018. However, exports to the kingdom were extremely low, at $636m during the first half and $1.379bn in FY18.

Full report at:




FM Qureshi reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment for peace in Afghanistan

January 23, 2019

DOHA: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Talking on Pak-US ties in an interview, he said recent visit of the US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to Islamabad reflects that bilateral relations are on a positive trajectory.

He said the US Senator gave many indications of moving to strategic ties between Pakistan and the US. Lindsey Graham agreed with Imran Khan that there is no military solution to Afghan conflict. He said the world while appreciating peace and reconciliation efforts of Pakistan understands that the country will have a key role in peace in Afghanistan.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan has clarified to the US Senator that Pakistan is playing its role but it is a shared responsibility. We understand that regional countries will have to play their role too in order to resolve the Afghan issue. The Foreign Minister emphasized the need of Afghans to sit together for their future.

Full report at:




Vehicle used in Sahiwal incident was owned by a terrorist: reports

January 23, 2019

The vehicle used in the Sahiwal incident was owned by a terrorist named Adeel Hafeez who was killed in Faisalabad during the operation of security forces, according to reports.

He had bought the car for Rs680,000 through an online application on May 9, 2018, from a man named Saqib Muhammad. However, the vehicle was under the use of Zeeshan who was killed in counter-terrorism department’s (CTD) encounter in Sahiwal. He has been suspected of having links with Islamic State (IS). A selfie of Zeeshan was recovered from his mobile phone with Usman, another terrorist killed in Faisalabad.

Meanwhile, Zeeshan’s family held a protest demanding the government to take back accusation against the victim. “The government should either take the accusation back or provide evidence that Zeeshan was a terrorist,” they said.

Full report at:




Arab World


5 Muslim Brotherhood members killed in Cairo ‘shootout’


At least five members of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group were killed in a “shootout” with Egyptian security forces, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

According to a ministry statement, the five slain Brotherhood members had been “planning to carry out a series of terrorist attacks against state institutions and military and police personnel”.

“We raided their hideout in Cairo’s Obour City district. All five were killed in an ensuing exchange of fire,” the ministry added without providing further details.

Anadolu Agency has yet to independently verify the ministry's version of events.

Egypt has been roiled by violence since the army ousted and imprisoned Mohamed Morsi -- the country’s first freely elected president and a Brotherhood leader -- in a 2013 military coup.

In the almost six years since, the authorities have cracked down on political dissent, killing hundreds of Morsi’s supporters and throwing thousands behind bars on trumped-up “violence” charges.




Security Expert: US Aims to Use Iraq to Wall off Syria from Iran

Jan 22, 2019

Kazzem al-Haaj was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website as saying on Tuesday that the US wants to establish bases in specific zones with respect to their geographical and demographical conditions in Iraq, specially regions near the Iraqi Kurdistan region, to drive a wedge between Iran and Syria and Lebanon.

He warned that the measure is aimed at paving the ground for Washington to implement the next stage of its plot and launch a war against the resistance front and Iran.

Al-Ma'aloumeh had also earlier this month quoted Iraqi sources as saying that the US army was searching for new locations to establish military bases in the two towns of al-Ramadi and Fallujah in al-Anbar province.

A number of US military advisors along with army forces traveled to the 'Military Farm' region in Eastern Fallujah to find a location for their new base, a source said.

He added that the US forces have located a number of positions in different parts of al-Ramadi, and said that they want to set up new bases in the province.

Full report at:




Turkish Paper: US Delivers Advanced Anti-Tank Missile Systems to Kurds in Manbij

Jan 22, 2019

The US has supplied the YPG with its advanced Javelin and TOW anti-tank missile systems, the Turkish newspaper, Yeni Akit, cited sources as saying.

The sources claimed that right now, Turkey's special forces are trying to track these systems, as the YPG is "preparing a trap for Turkish tanks which are ready to enter Manbij".

The reported developments come after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated during his meeting with Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Turkey's call on the US to promptly withdraw the US-backed YPG forces from Manbij.

Ankara has repeatedly blamed Washington for lending military support to the YPG, while the US insists its backing of the Kurds is needed to counter the ISIL.

In February 2018, then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed that the White House has "never given heavy arms to the YPG".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated  on Tuesday that Ankara has “almost completed” preparations for another military operation in Syria and will launch it if “promises” made by other parties about the protection of its borders are not kept.

Turkey still hopes that talks with the US, Russia and “other parties” will allow it to ensure its security without resorting to force but it is still ready to proceed with a military option and will not “wait forever”, Erdogan said, as he was referring to Ankara’s plans for the Northern Syrian territories East of the Euphrates River, which it seeks to turn into a “security zone” free of any Kurdish militias.

Full report at:




US-Backed Militants Plundering Syria's Infrastructures, People's Assets in Deir Ezzur

Jan 22, 2019

The SDF fighters are stealing from houses in the villages of Albu Badran, al-Sha'afeh and Albu Khater where the ISIL terrorists have retreated from, the media activists in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported.

They said that the residents of the town of Hajin in Southeastern Deir Ezzur have clashed with SDF fighters in protest at the burglaries as tensions between civilians and the SDF have sharply increased. 

Meantime, the SDF fighters have sent several trucks to al-Azba power plant in the surrounding areas of Koneko oil region East of Deir Ezzur to dismantle the power plant and send its components to Hasaka province. The residents of Hasaka have blocked the roads leading to the power plant, in response.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the SDF and the ISIL reached an agreement on terrorists' withdrawal to Badiya (desert) region from the remaining areas under their control in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

"The Syrian Democratic Forces agreed with withdrawal of the ISIL members and their families from the remaining areas under their control in Eastern Deir Ezzur to Eastern Badiya (desert)," the Arabic-language service of Sky News TV channel quoted local sources in Deir Ezzur as saying.

The source reiterated that the SDF has so far dispatched about 35 buses to the towns of al-Souseh, al-Morashedeh, al-Baghouz and al-Safafeneh in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:




Report: US Plotting to Arm Kurds to Block Negotiations with Damascus

Jan 22, 2019

The US and its allies are preparing a scenario for the Eastern Euphrates to victimize that region's residents, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

The SOHR quoted informed sources as saying that trucks containing heavy weapons, logistical equipment and ammunition sent to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Eastern Euphrates is a new plot by the US to empower the SDF fighters and urge them to confront the Turkish Army and its allied militants if they attack this region.

It also noted that the main reason for arming the SDF in Eastern Euphrates is destroying the current negotiations between SDF, Damascus and the Russian side as well as possible agreement between the two sides.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Kurdish fighters during their military operations against the Turkish Army and its affiliated militants in Afrin pounded a military position of Ahrar al-Sham terrorists and Turkish army troops in Jandariseh region of Afrin, severely wounding two Turkish Army soldiers and five Ankara-backed militants, Hawar News reported.

It noted that five members of Farqa al-Hamza and Jbahat al-Shamia were killed and three others were wounded in three consecutive military operations by the Kurdish forces against the Turkish Army and Ankara-backed militants in the Center of Afrin as well as Shirawa and Shara regions in recent days.

Meantime, battlefield sources in Northern Aleppo reported that during the Syrian Democratic Forces' missile attack on a military position of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Kimar village in Afrin region, a terrorist was killed and five others were wounded.

Full report at:




Bodies of 800 More Victims of ISIL, US Attacks Found in Raqqa

Jan 22, 2019

The media activists disclosed on Monday that the new mass grave has been discovered in the village of al-Fakhikheh South of the city of Raqqa.

They underlined that between 600 to 800 corpses have been retrieved from the mass grave, and said that the newly-discovered mass grave was the 14th of its kind found in Raqqa City and its outskirts.

This is while Raqqa's civilian team also discovered more bodies of civilians, who were killed in the US-led coalition's airstrikes on Raqqa City, from under the debris of the destroyed buildings in districts of al-Tosayeh, Nazleh Shahadeh and al-Haramieh in Raqqa City.

A year after the US and its allies earned control over the Raqqa city, the dead bodies of Syrian civilians are still retrieved from mass graves and debris in Raqqa province.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said late last year that the bodies of over 8,000 Syrians killed in the bombing raids carried out by the US and the coalition led by the US had been found in mass graves in Syria’s Raqqa after the rubble was partially cleared away.

"Last week, the Syrian government, in its letters addressed to the UN secretary general and the UN Security Council president, provided the tragic statistics on the victims of the coalition’s bombing raids in the city of Raqqa during its ‘liberation’ from ISIL (known as ISIS or Daesh)," she noted.

"The bodies of over 4,000 people were found while clearing away the rubble in two of the city’s residential neighborhoods left over from the airstrikes and also around the stadium and the zoo. Those were mainly women, the elderly and children. In addition, a mass grave where more than 2,500 people were buried was uncovered at a farm near a pediatric clinic and the National Hospital, while another burial site was opened near Al-Panorama where 1,500 bombing raids’ victims were buried," Zakharova added.

"The letters stressed that to date just two percent of the rubble had been cleared away in Raqqa, which had been literally razed to the ground," Zakharova emphasized.

Full report at:




Russian, Syrian Troops Pound Tahrir Al-Sham's Military Positions in Hama, Idlib

Jan 22, 2019

The Syrian Army's artillery units heavily pounded the military positions of Tahrir al-Sham terrorists in the town of Bab al-Taqeh in Sahl al-Ghab in Western Hama, destroying several of their military centers used to attack the Syrian Army and killing several terrorists.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted the opposition sources as saying that the Russian troops deployed at a base in Qabibat village has targeted terrorists' military positions in the towns of Kafar Zita and al-Latamanieh, al-Zuka village, Ma'arkabeh, Hasraya and other regions in the Northern parts of Hama in massive missile attacks.

Meantime the Syrian Army's artillery units pounded and destroyed the terrorists' movements in the towns of Kafar Nubl and Jorjnaz, the surrounding areas of Sakik in Southern and Southeastern Idlib.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Syrian army warded off new offensives by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at and other allied terrorists in the demilitarized zone in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, inflicting heavy damages and tolls on them.

The Damascus Army units targeted a group of terrorists who intended to penetrate to the government forces' military positions in Northern Hama from the town of Ma'arkabeh, killing a large number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment.

A large number of terrorists were forced to flee the scene after their comrades were killed and wounded in the Syrian Army attacks.

The Syrian Army's artillery units, meantime, pounded Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at terrorists' movements from the farms near the town of Mourek, inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.

The Syrian Army's artillery units also hit Tahrir al-Sham's military positions in the town of al-Latamineh and its surrounding areas, Wadi al-Dorat, al-Siadeh al-Sokhr and Kafar Zita regions in Northern Hama, inflicting heavy losses and casualties on terrorists.

In Idlib, the Syrian Army's artillery units responded to Tahrir al-Sham terrorists' attacks by pounding their military positions in al-Habit, al-Khowein and al-Najieh in Southern and Southeastern Idlib.

Full report at:




Commander: US Attempting to Provoke Hashd Al-Shaabi into War

Jan 22, 2019

"The Americans are stirring tensions by spreading rumors of detention of Hashd al-Shaabi forces, bombing their positions or dissolving the group," Qassem Moslih was quoted as saying by the Kurdish-language Basnews on Tuesday.

He noted that the Americans have lost everything in Iraq and want to provoke Hashd al-Shaabi into war, stressing that the Iraqi popular forces will not be the starter of any war, but they will fight if they come under attack.

"We kept mum on the US and Israeli attacks against Hashd al-Shaabi earlier but we will not remain silent against their attacks from now on," Moslih cautioned.

In relevant remarks last Thursday, Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm newspaper, underlined that Washington's hostile stance towards Hashd al-Shaabi and its quest for dismantling popular groups in the Arab state derived from their opposition to the US forces' occupation of Iraq.

"The US administration in an unprecedented demand called on the Iraqi government on Tuesday to dissolve 67 groups operating in the framework of the Iraqi popular forces, while all these groups were welcomed by Washington when they were fighting against the ISIL alongside the US forces. Then what has changed now," Atwan wrote.

Noting that Iraq's security and national identity is gradually reviving, he said that Hashd al-Shaabi forces or their leaders have demanded withdrawal of all the 5,500 US military troops from Iraq and are opposed to the US use of military bases in Iraq for possible attacks against Syria and Iran.

Atwan added that Hashd al-Shaabi was also hostile to Israel and is in clear solidarity with Syria, which is another reason for the US enmity.

Full report at:




UN envoy: No access for UN peacekeepers to Lebanon tunnels

23 January 2019

The United Nations’ envoy to the Mideast said Tuesday that peacekeepers in Lebanon have not been given access to tunnels stretching into Israel, which UN officials say violate a cease-fire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping mission known as UNIFIL has confirmed that two tunnels crossed the UN-drawn Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, but “has not been granted access to the confirmed entry points of a tunnel near Kfar Kila on the Lebanese side.”

He did not say whether Lebanon’s government or the Hezbollah militant group was blocking access for UNIFIL, but US deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen blamed the government.

Cohen accused Hezbollah, an Iranian ally, of threatening international peace and security with the extensive tunneling exposed by Israel, which has reported uncovering six tunnels into its territory.

“We commend UNIFIL’s work to keep the Blue Line under control, but it is unacceptable that the Lebanese government has not yet given UNIFIL access to the tunnel entrance on their side of the Blue Line,” Cohen told the council.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon complained to the council that “the Lebanese army has taken no action in response, allowing Hezbollah to continue building these tunnels undisturbed.”

Iranian involvement

Danon alleged that Iran funnels $7 billion to militant groups across the region, including $1 billion to Hezbollah, which he said has “grand plans to take over the Israeli Galilee” and invests millions in every tunnel. He provided no information on how Israel calculated its estimate of Iranian spending, which also included $4 billion to the Syrian government, “hundreds of millions” to Iran’s proxies in Iraq, tens of millions to Houthi militias in Yemen, $70 million to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and $50 million to Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Mladenov noted that Lebanon has been without a government for over eight months and called on all parties to resolve their differences so the country “can address the man pressing challenges it faces, including that of a struggling economy.”

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mladenov said that “we should have no illusions about the dangerous dynamics ... which continue to unfold before our eyes” and have eroded “the possibility of establishing a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.”

He pointed to Israel’s latest new settlement plans and approvals, nearly half to be built deep in the West Bank, which the Palestinians say must be part of their state. He also cited “additional attempts to pass legislation that would directly apply Israeli law to the territory of the occupied West Bank, raising fears of future annexation.”

Mladenov said the chance for peace opened more than 25 years ago with the Oslo accords, which were enshrined in UN resolutions and bilateral agreements, but has “eroded as the prospect for credible negotiations has dimmed, only to be replaced by the lack of hope and the growing risk of a one-state reality of perpetual occupation.”

He urged both sides to recommit to the principles in those agreements - that key issues can be resolved only through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, told the council that last year “Israel’s illegal occupation became more entrenched, more brutal and extreme” with the political process “deadlocked.”

“Day by day, the occupation is destroying the two-state solution and sowing deep despair among our people,” he said.

Full report at:




Nearly 5,000 flee last ISIS enclave in eastern Syria

23 January 2019

Nearly 5,000 people, including almost 500 ISIS fighters, have since Monday left the extremist group’s last bastion in eastern Syria, where ISIS continues to lose ground, a Britain-based monitor said.

Kurdish-led forces, backed by air strikes of the US-led coalition, have been battling since September to expel the extremists from their enclave in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

“Around 4,900 people, mostly women and children but including 470 jihadists, have since Monday deserted the last IS pocket in the Deir Ezzor province, including 3,500 that left the area on Tuesday,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP on Tuesday.

The majority of the civilians are family members of extremists, the Observatory said.

They were evacuated on dozens of trucks chartered by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led alliance fighting ISIS.

In recent weeks the SDF has seized several eastern villages from ISIS, including Hajin, Al-Shaafa and Sousa.

ISIS is now confined to just 10 square kilometers (four square miles) in Deir Ezzor, the Observatory said.

On Tuesday, the “SDF progressed, without any resistance from IS, into the Baghouz area, the last still in the hands of jihadists,” Abdel Rahman said.

The SDF “now controls half” of Baghouz, he added.

The new wave of departures means that nearly 27,000 people have left former ISIS areas since early December, including almost 1,800 extremists who have surrendered, the Observatory said.

ISIS overran large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in areas under their control.

But they have since lost most of that to various offensives in both countries.

The Kurdish fighters who do much of the ground fighting against ISIS have pressed hard since President Donald Trump announced last month that he was ordering a complete US troop pullout from Syria.

Full report at:




Assad blocks access to Damascus for EU envoys: diplomats

22 January 2019

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has revoked special visas for European Union diplomats and officials traveling regularly between Beirut and Damascus, complicating efforts to distribute aid to civil war victims, three senior EU diplomats said.

Since conflict broke out in Syria in 2011, the EU has used the Lebanese capital, the nearest major city, for its diplomatic base while closing most embassies in Damascus in protest over what they describe as Assad’s brutal assault on the opposition.

But the special permission to use multiple-entry Syrian visas for access to Damascus was rescinded at the start of January with no explanation from the Syrian government, the EU diplomats said, meaning personnel have to apply for time-consuming, single-entry visas every time they wish to travel.

The EU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity said they believed it was an attempt to try to force European governments and the bloc to re-open embassies in Damascus, as the Syrian army, backed by Russian and Iranian forces, regains control of most of the country.

“It’s a serious problem for the EU’s humanitarian assistance,” said one EU diplomat. “This is a measure that hits diplomats and staff of European government embassies and the European Union institutions.”

Reuters was unable immediately to reach Syrian Foreign Ministry officials for comment.

After more than seven years of a devastating war drawing in foreign powers, the European Commission, the EU executive, has channeled almost 800 million euros ($909.44 million) on food, medicine and shelter for Syrians inside the country.

Full report at:




Egypt says clashes kill 7 troops, 59 militants in Sinai

22 January 2019

Egypt says at least seven troops, including an officer, have been killed in clashes with militants in recent operations in restive northern Sinai Peninsula.

The military said in a statement Tuesday that forces have killed at least 59 suspected militants and arrested another 142 suspected militants and criminals.

According to the statement, airstrikes destroyed 56 vehicles containing weapons and ammunition in the Western Desert, south and northeastern border areas.

The military statement gave no timeframe for these recent operations. It wasn’t possible to independently confirm the details as access to northern Sinai is heavily restricted.

Egypt launched a nationwide operation against militants last year. It has struggled to defeat a long-running insurgency in Sinai, which serves as a base for ISIS factions.




US-led airstrikes kill several Syrian civilians in Dayr al-Zawr

Jan 23, 2019

Several civilians have lost their lives and sustained injuries when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group carried out a number of aerial attacks in Syria's troubled eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that the airstrikes targeted vehicles carrying civilians fleeing from areas controlled by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the town of al-Baghuz early on Wednesday.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

Syria has on numerous occasions condemned airstrikes by the US-led coalition, asking the UN to force Washington and its allies to put an end to their military intervention in the Arab country.    

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two separate letters addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the Security Council, Francisco Antonio Cortorreal, on Saturday, censured the latest US-led coalition strikes against al-Baghuz al-Tahtani village in Dayr al-Zawr province, saying the US-led warplanes had targeted dozens of families, who were fleeing from areas controlled by Daesh.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told SANA on January 18 that 20 people were killed when US-led warplanes bombarded residential buildings in the village.

“This new crime is in line with the criminal acts that the US-led coalition is perpetrating systematically and on a daily basis against Syrian people, and in flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The activities of this alliance are illegal as it has been formed outside the UN framework. Such acts have only contributed to the expansion of extremist terrorist organizations, especially Daesh. Cooperation and coordination between these terrorist groups and this alliance has been documented in numerous letters that Syrian Arab Republic has sent to the Security Council,” the letters pointed out.

The ministry then condemned in the strongest terms the US-led coalition’s continued attacks against Syrian people and the conflict-plagued country’s critical infrastructure, energy facilities and public and private property.

It also called on the UN Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities as regards to the establishment of international peace and security, and put an immediate halt to its crimes against humanity that were being carried out by this “rogue” coalition against Syrian civilians and infrastructure.

Full report at:




Islamic State-linked plots in region fell in 2018, but terrorism threat to Singapore remains high: MHA

23 Jan 2019

SINGAPORE: The most pressing terrorism threat to Singapore continues to come from Islamic State, even though the number of plots directed by the militant group fell in the region in 2018.

This is according to the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) latest terrorism threat assessment report which was released on Tuesday (Jan 22).

It warned that other groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al-Qaeda (AQ) are regrouping.

“In Southeast Asia, there is the possibility that JI, which is aligned with AQ, may resume planning attacks,” said MHA.

The ministry added that while there is "no credible intelligence" of a terror attack being planned against Singapore, the possibility cannot be ruled out. “The terrorism threat to Singapore remains high,” said MHA.

MHA noted that even though Islamic State has suffered heavy territorial losses in Iraq and Syria, its virulent ideology persists online and continues to attract supporters in Singapore.

In the past two years, eight self-radicalised individuals - including two women and one youth - were dealt with under the Internal Security Act (ISA), said MHA, bringing the total number of Singaporeans dealt with under this law to 22 since 2015.

In comparison, between 2007 and 2014, there were 11 such radicalised Singaporeans dealt with under the ISA.

However, not all eight cases in the past two years were related to Islamic State, said MHA. Three of them were "influenced by other terrorist rhetoric" and wanted to participate in armed violence in conflict zones in other parts of the world.

In addition, MHA said it continued to detect radicalisation among foreigners living and working in Singapore.

Since 2015, 14 Indonesian domestic workers have been repatriated after they were found to have been radicalised.

Last year, three Malaysian work permit holders were arrested for their suspected involvement in terrorism-related activities. All three were repatriated to Malaysia.

None of the foreigners investigated had any plans to carry out attacks in Singapore, said MHA.


A Singaporean militant who was featured in two Islamic State propaganda videos released in 2017 is believed to be dead, said MHA.

Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad shot into the spotlight after he was seen in one of the videos, along with two other Southeast Asian militants, executing three “agents of the crusader coalition”.

In the other video, Megat Shahdan, who left Singapore in 2014 to work in the Middle East, was seen loading artillery shells onto a military truck and calling for people to join Islamic State.

"Based on available information, Megat Shahdan is believed to have been killed," said MHA on Tuesday.


The threat of Islamic State-inspired attacks persists, as the group’s sympathisers continue to be active, said MHA.

The ministry pointed to Islamic State-linked group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia, which was responsible for coordinated bombings in Surabaya in May last year. The bombings, which killed 28 people (including the perpetrators), are the deadliest Islamic State-linked attacks in Indonesia to date.

JAD was disbanded by a court in Indonesia last July for “conducting terrorism” and affiliating itself with Islamic State.

Islamic State continues to portray Southeast Asia as part of its "global caliphate" and has started to refer to its "East Asia" division in its propaganda, which could attract foreign pro-Islamic State militants to travel to the region, said MHA.

“ISIS’ persistent interest in the region raises the threat to Singapore,” MHA added, referring to Islamic State which is also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"Singaporeans may also be radicalised by ISIS’ propaganda and take up arms for ISIS."

In addition, there are signs that other extremist groups including Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah have been regrouping and may launch large-scale attacks again, said MHA.

“The international focus on countering ISIS has provided AQ with the space to rebuild its capabilities,” said the ministry.

“JI members have been joining pro-AQ groups in Syria to acquire combat skills and experience. JI continues to attract supporters in the region.”


While authorities have put measures in place to enhance Singapore's counter-terrorism abilities, MHA said that it is important for Singaporeans not to become complacent.

A survey conducted by the ministry in June and July last year found that close to 60 per cent of respondents recognised that Singapore was a target for terror attacks.

However, only around 20 per cent felt that a threat was imminent, that an attack might occur in Singapore within the next five years.

Full report at:




Southeast Asia


Outrage after disabled man denied right to pray inside Padang mosque

January 23, 2019

Ivany Atina Arbi

A video of a disabled man being told to pray outside the West Sumatra Grand Mosque in Padang, West Sumatra, because his wheelchair was “not clean” sparked outrage on social media.

Abraham Ismed wrote about his experience and posted a video of an argument he had with a security officer on his Instagram account, @boy1492,on Sunday.

The post has received 582 likes and 241 comments as of Tuesday morning. Most of the commentators condemned the security officers’ act, labeling it as discriminatory, unethical and inhumane.

In his post, Abraham called the policy “illogical.”

“Do I need to [leave my wheelchair] and instead crawl into the mosque to pray? For a disabled person like me, a wheelchair is like my feet,” Abraham said, adding that it was not the first time that he was discriminated against as a man in a wheelchair. 

“Padang is not yet inclusive, neither is West Sumatra. Indonesia is not a disability-friendly country.”

“Please respect someone’s good intention to pray before God, whatever their physical condition is,” wrote an Instagram user, @eziputrisuci, with sad emoticon.

Another user, @aryvigo, asked authorities to take firm action against the security officers as well as the mosque’s management.

Yulius Said, a worker at the mosque, said the security officers had actually offered to assist Abraham to enter the mosque without the wheelchair, but Abraham refused the offer and entered the mosque with the wheelchair instead.

“Using a wheelchair in a mosque is just the same as wearing shoes while praying. We don’t know where wheelchair been,” Yulius said, as quoted by Padang-based media covesia.com.

Many, however, have begged to differ with Yulius. 

Piet Hizbullah Khaidir, a PhD candidate on Quranic exegesis at Sunan Ampel State Islamic University in Surabaya, said that while Islam taught Muslims to be clean when they prayed, there was no scriptural basis for refuting the right of a man in a wheelchair to pray inside a mosque. 

“The majority of clerics argue that dust sticking to people’s feet, even it is contaminated with dry animal feces, is considered clean,” he argued.

Moreover, the mosque’s management should not only considerfiqh(Islamic jurisprudence) in deciding whether someone is allowed to pray inside a mosque. “Other than fiqh, they could also use their empathy,” said Piet, who also teaches at the School of the Quran and Science in Lamongan, East Java. 

West Sumatra Deputy Governor Nasrul Abit was also reportedly irked by the incident, saying that every Muslim, including those disabled, were allowed to enter the grand mosque. “Governor [Irwan Prayitno] has instructed [his subordinates] to speak to the mosque’s authorities,” Nasrul said as quoted another local media, gosumbar.com.




Tighten process for marrying foreigners, says ex-immigration official

Robin Augustin

January 23, 2019

PETALING JAYA: A former immigration department enforcement chief has urged Putrajaya to tighten the process for locals marrying foreigners, amid reports of a crackdown on Pakistani men in Kelantan who wed locals in order to run businesses and stay longer in the country.

Ishak Mohamed told FMT there were existing conditions for foreigners who wished to marry locals. He added, however, that these could be further improved.

According to the Sisters in Islam website, Muslim couples where one is a foreigner need to seek permission from the religious department.

They must provide documentary evidence of their passport and conversion to Islam, if applicable; a valid visa, HIV test results, marriage course certificate, marital status and letters of consent from the state religious department for the Malaysian and the embassy for the foreign spouse.

Ishak said other measures could be taken, including barring foreigners from marrying locals for at least three years after their arrival in Malaysia, and when they are in the country on a social pass.

“We need a new standard operating procedure for all relevant parties so that there is proper screening of foreigners before they are allowed to marry locals,” he said.

This includes interviews by the relevant authorities and background checks by the police with the cooperation of the embassies in question.

“We do not want any extremists or those with a criminal past or criminal intentions to come here,” he said.

“We must protect our interests as we do not want foreigners to use our people to stay here or to run their businesses.”

Bina Ramanand, the coordinator of the Foreign Spouses Support Group, an NGO which assists foreign spouses in Malaysia, also urged the authorities to weed out sham marriages.

“The immigration department has very stringent policies in place,” she told FMT. “Why have these spouses in Kelantan slipped through the cracks?”

She said applications for spousal visas are quite thorough and include requirements for proof of residence and, at times, house inspections.

She said foreigners who marry locals require permission from the immigration department to work or start a business. Their visas to stay in the country are tied to their Malaysian spouses.

“At any time during the marriage, the Malaysian spouse can cancel the spouse visa. Renewals and endorsement to work require the presence of both spouses.

“With all this in place, it is quite shocking that many foreigners are reportedly doing business in Kelantan and not living with their wives.”

She added that sham marriages made it difficult for foreigners in genuine marriages as Malaysia’s stringent rules made it tough for them to work and contribute to the country.

It was previously reported that the immigration department in Kelantan had tracked down Pakistani nationals who married local women, some more than twice their age, so they could run businesses or stay here longer.

Its director Azhar Abdul Hamid said their presence had affected local traders, and that up to 15 travel permits were cancelled after it was discovered that the foreigners were not living with their wives.

Full report at:




Death penalty opponents have no humanity, says Hadi

21 January 2019

By Jerry Choong

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — In his harshest condemnation yet of the move to abolish the death penalty, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang declared that its supporters lack humanity.

In a lengthy statement today, he said Islam upheld the practice of Qisas (retaliatory) punishment for crimes, including that of murder.

“The priority to preserve human life is a living principle to which even dietary laws are rendered secondary, permitting the consumption of prohibited foods rather than death by starvation,” Hadi said.

He said that according to Islamic teachings, the death penalty meted out to criminals gives life, as it saves the lives of countless others by eliminating said criminals who could have gone on to become a disease upon society.

“Those who (hold on to) the theory of abolishing the death penalty are in the wrong, disbelieving in God and lack all humanity,” Hadi said.

He called upon Malaysians to make every effort to fight the abolition of the death penalty, encouraging them to stand up against its supporters, whom he called fools who think themselves better because they are Western-educated even as the West is in the continuous throes of crime.

“The so-called anti-terrorism influence of the West, disguised with the agenda of abolishing the death penalty for the most severe crimes, has successfully influenced some of the rakyat.

“They who uphold such thoughts consider themselves most intelligent, aping the mindset of the supposedly advanced West, but have lost their humanity up to the extent of fighting for terrorists’ basic rights without regard for the true human costs of the victims and their families who deserve sympathy,” he said.

In October last year, Hadi urged the government to review the move to abolish the death penalty thoroughly, with fairness and transparency.

Similar sentiments were echoed by then-MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, who said a Parliamentary Select Committee should be established to review the proposed abolishment.

De facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said last month that the Bill to abolish the mandatory death penalty was expected to be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.

He said the Attorney General’s Chambers was currently in the final stage of preparing the legislative papers for the purpose.

According to the Parliament website, the next Dewan Rakyat sitting is scheduled for March 11 to April 11 next year.

Prior to this, Liew announced that the Cabinet had decided that the death penalty for 33 offences under eight Acts of law would be abolished, including Section 302 of the Penal Code (murder).

Full report at:




Indonesia backtracks on unconditional release of cleric linked to Bali bombing

January 23, 2019

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s president said on Tuesday a radical Muslim cleric linked to the 2002 Bali bombings would only be released from jail if he pledged loyalty to the state and its ideology, after news he would be freed unconditionally sparked criticism.

President Joko Widodo had declared last week that Abu Bakar Bashir, 81, would be freed on humanitarian grounds, citing his age and poor health.

A legal adviser to the president had said the cleric would be granted unconditional release.

But Widodo said in a statement on Tuesday it would be a “conditional release”, a day after the chief security minister said the decision was being reviewed.

“Conditions have to be fulfilled like loyalty to the unitary state of Indonesia, to the Pancasila. That is one of the very basic conditions,” said Widodo

Convicts eligible for early release are required to pledge loyalty to the state and its secular ideology, known as Pancasila, and not to repeat their crimes.

But Bashir’s lawyers say he has refused to do that.

Bashir was the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), an Islamist group linked to al Qaeda blamed for the 2002 bombing of nightclubs on Bali island that killed more than 200 people, most of them tourists, including 88 Australians.

He was convicted in 2010 under anti-terrorism laws for links to militant training camps in Aceh province and jailed for 15 years.

Although linked to the Bali attacks and a bombing at Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel in 2003, Bashir was never convicted for them and denied those ties.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking before Widodo set out conditions for Bashir’s release, urged Indonesia not to show him leniency.

“We have been very clear about the need to ensure that as part of our joint counter-terrorism efforts … that Abu Bakar Bashir would not be in any position or in any way able to influence or incite anything,” Morrison told reporters on Monday.

Suspected political motive

Widodo has also come under fire at home over the possible release. Critics have accused him of trying to win over religious conservatives ahead of a presidential election set for April 17 in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Some members of the ruling coalition, including officials in Widodo’s party, fear Bashir’s release could alienate moderate Muslim and non-Muslim voters.

“Everyone is asking, ‘How can we possibly allow this?’,” said an official from Widodo’s Democratic Party of Struggle.

“Now it’s about how many votes we will lose, not gain.”

Most opinion polls have given Widodo a double-digit lead over rival Prabowo Subianto, a retired general who had also contested the presidency in 2014.

Opponents and hardline Islamists have repeatedly attacked Widodo’s Islamic credentials. During the 2014 campaign for the presidency, he had to battle false rumours he was a communist.

In a move to shore up Muslim support this time, Widodo picked for his running mate an Islamic cleric.

Still, some analysts doubted whether releasing Bashir early would win Widodo many conservative voters.

Security and government officials, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said they backed the plan to release Bashir to avoid the risk of him dying as a martyr in jail, but felt doing so without conditions was risky.

Another official said the government was considering letting Bashir out of jail but placing him under house arrest.

Indonesia-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones told Reuters that waiving the requirement for Bashir to pledge loyalty to the state and secular state ideology would have set a dangerous precedent.

“It risks turning him into even more of a hero because it’s like he has succeeded in defying the state,” she said, speaking before Widodo set conditions on the release.

“The end result is that Widodo ends up looking weak, out-manoeuvred and poorly advised.”

Bill McNeil, a survivor of the 2002 bombings, told The Australian newspaper that he found the prospect of Bashir’s release hard to understand.

Full report at:




Ba'asyir early release plan cancelled: State Palace

January 23, 2019

Marguerite Afra Sapiie

The State Palace has confirmed that the government decided to call off the plan to grant early release to radical Muslim cleric and terror convict Abu Bakar Ba'asyir due to his resistance to pledge loyalty to the state ideology, Pancasila, and the Republic of Indonesia.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo previously planned to release the jailed spiritual leader of Al-Qaeda-affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) on humanitarian grounds, citing his old age and deteriorating health.

However, Ba'asyir was ineligible for unconditional release as he refused to declare loyalty to Pancasila – a special requirement for all terror convicts to obtain parole as stipulated in Government Regulation (PP) No. 99/2012.

"Yes [the plan has been cancelled], because the requirements could not be negotiated," Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said on Tuesday.

The President, who had confirmed the plan on Friday, backtracked on his decision following criticism over it, saying on Tuesday that the requirement in the PP must be met before Ba'asyir can receive conditional parole.

Ba’asyir has been in prison since 2011. He received a 15-year sentence for funding a military training camp for terrorists in Aceh. He is currently detained at the Gunung Sindur prison in Bogor, West Java, and has received treatment for chronic venous insufficiency, blood clots and varicose veins in his leg since 2017.

Full report at:




Malaysia's premier draws analogy between Trump wall, ban on Israeli athletes

Jan 22, 2019

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has defended Malaysia’s ban on Israeli athletes from taking part in international events, comparing the move to President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the United States’ border with Mexico.

"Every country has the right to accept or refuse entry of anybody," the Malaysian premier said during a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday, adding "You can see that in America now they are erecting a very high wall to prevent Mexicans from going to America."

"We have the same idea, that people who are undesirable for our country will be kept out of our country," Mahathir added.

"If their people want to compete in sport, they can go to some other country."

Malaysia recently said it would not allow Israeli athletes to enter the country to compete at any sporting event there after it banned Israeli swimmers from taking part in the World Para Swimming Championships, slated for July in the eastern state of Sarawak. The event is an important milestone toward the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

President Trump has threatened to close the US’s southern border if Congress does not agree to provide $5.7 billion for his wall along the border with Mexico. Trump has also restricted travel to the US from certain Muslim-majority countries, as well as several non-Muslim states.

Trump’s hard stand for an expensive border wall has also witnessed the tragic death of a number of refugee children while in custody of the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

Brandishing Israel "a criminal" entity, Mahathir said the Israeli athletes came from an entity which does what it desires, including building settlements in other people's territories and excluding the very people from their homeland.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Malaysian prime minister denounced the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.

"They have raided our ship carrying aid to the Gaza people, there are many other things done by Israel that are against international laws and against morality," he told reporters.

Israel has called on the International Paralympic Committee to challenge the decision or change the venue of the competition.

Kuala Lumpur, which has no formal diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv, has rejected pleas from the world sporting body the International Paralympic Committee to find a solution to the row. Malaysia has stopped Israeli athletes from competing in a sports event before. Two Israeli windsurfers had to pull out of a competition on Langkawi island after they were denied visa in 2015.

Full report at:






Turkey says planning intl. probe into murder of Saudi critic Khashoggi

Jan 22, 2019

Turkey says it is making preparations to launch an international investigation into the gruesome assassination of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, slamming certain Western countries for what it calls attempts to whitewash the murder.

Speaking at a youth meeting in Istanbul on Monday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed that Ankara was well aware of difficulties on the path to shed light on Khashoggi's murder case.

“There are Western countries trying to cover this case up. I know the reasons. We know and see what sorts of deals are made. We see how those who spoke of freedom of press are now covering this up after seeing money,” he said.

However, he added, Turkey is planning an international inquiry into the case.

“We, however, will go until the end. We made preparations for an international investigation in the coming days and we will take the necessary steps,” Cavusoglu said.

Khashoggi -- an outspoken critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- was killed by a Saudi hit squad inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October.

After weeks of denials of any involvement in the journalist’s disappearance, the Riyadh regime eventually acknowledged the “premeditated” murder, but sought to distance bin Salman from the case.

However, the assassination is widely believed to have been ordered by the heir to the Saudi throne.

The CIA is also said to have concluded that the crown prince had “probably ordered” the murder.

In December 2018, Turkey called for an international investigation into the case. Ankara wants Riyadh to extradite the suspects for them to stand trial in Istanbul, a request rejected by Saudi rulers.

Saudi Arabia held an initial hearing into Khashoggi's murder earlier this month, with the public prosecutor requesting the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects detained.

Full report at:




Toll from Israel’s Syria strikes rises to 21

22 January 2019

The death toll from Israel’s latest bombardment of military targets in Syria rose from 11 to 21, a war monitor said Tuesday, adding that most of those killed were Iranian.

The strikes carried out late Sunday and early Monday hit several positions and assets held by Iran and its allies in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An initial toll of 11 has now risen to 21, the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

“There are 15 foreigners among the dead, including 12 from the Iranian forces," he said. "Six Syrians from the regime were also killed.”

Israel has warned it will continue to target positions in Syria held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.




Two explosions hit Yemeni capital Sanaa

23 January 2019

Two explosions hit south of Yemen's Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, early on Wednesday, with one of them being an operation that targeted missiles and weapons cache near Taiz Street south of the capital.

The second explosion also occured at a missiles and weapons warehouse in the Qaa al-Zaidi area across from the Yemen Petroleum Company, also south of Sanaa.

There were no immediate reports or casualties.




Head of UN team in Yemen’s Hodeidah intends to leave post: sources

22 January 2019

The head of the UN monitoring team in Yemen’s Hodeidah intends to leave his position, Al Arabiya’s New York correspondent reported.

Sources who spoke to Al Arabiya’s correspondent said that Cammaert’s resignation was accepted but the he would remain in his position until his replacement arrives in Yemen.

However, a UN spokesperson says that the Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee General Patrick Cammaert continues his work in Yemen, denying media reports of him leaving his post.

The news comes after Houthi militias opened fire on Patrick Cammaert and his team last Thursday in the Red Sea port city.

Full report at:




Israeli jets strike northern Gaza Strip in new act of aggression

Jan 22, 2019

Israeli military aircraft have carried out a series of airstrikes against targets in the northern part of the Gaza Strip as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its acts of aggression against the besieged Palestinian coastal sliver.

“The strike was executed following earlier strikes during the day and in response to the shooting incidents against our forces,” the Israeli Air Force said in a statement released late on Tuesday.

The statement added that the Israeli warplanes pounded several targets at a training camp belonging to Hamas resistance movement. There were no reports of injuries.

Earlier in the day, at least one Palestinian was killed while four others were injured as Israeli forces shelled the Gaza Strip after an Israeli soldier was shot along the border between the coastal enclave and occupied territories.

Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, identified the fallen Palestinian as 24-year-old Mohammed al-Nabaheen.

Hamas later confirmed he was a member of its military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

The attack came shortly after an Israeli soldier was slightly injured near the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said the soldier was wounded when a bullet struck his helmet.

Palestinians have held weekly protests on the Gaza border, over the siege on the enclave and the right for refugees to return to their homes they fled during the 1948 creation of Israel.

Nearly 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 26,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

On June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.

The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

Full report at:




Lebanon arrests Mossad agent over car bomb attack against Hamas official

Jan 22, 2019

Lebanon’s army says it had arrested a suspected agent of Israel’s spy agency Mossad over a car bomb explosion in the country’s southern city of Sidon, which slightly wounded a member of the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, last year.

The Lebanese Army Intelligence Directorate said in a statement on Tuesday that Hussein Ahmad Batto was captured on January 21 in the Sharhabeel area of Sidon, located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital, Beirut.

The statement added that Batto reportedly admitted that he had been under Mossad’s employment since 2014.

“[Batto] met his employers outside Lebanon, and was handed equipment and devices specifically for monitoring and communication.

“He also admitted to monitoring (Mohammed) Hamdan since the summer the 2017, and that he located his residence, followed his movements and transferred the gathered information to his employers,” the statement pointed out.

Lebanon's army further noted that Mossad ordered Batto to leave Lebanon on January 23, 2018.

“He stayed outside the country for three months and returned based on their request,” the statement said, adding that Lebanese army forces had seized a large number of electronic devices from the Israeli agent.

According to a report published by Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper on January 29, 2018, two Israeli agents were aided by two locals in the assassination operation against Hamdan on January 14 last year. They left Lebanon using Georgian, Swedish and Iraqi passports.

The report added that Lebanese security officials had managed to identify the pair, obtain their photographs and copies of their identity documents, the date of their entry into and exit from Lebanon, their respective roles in the operation and the nationality they used to operate under disguise.

Lebanese intelligence officials, requesting anonymity, told al-Akhbar that one of the Israeli agents was a man holding a duel Swedish-Iraqi citizenship, while another was a Georgian woman working for Mossad.

The officials went on to say that, Mossad kept Hamdan under surveillance for more than seven months.

Hamdan suffered a leg injury in the car bomb explosion. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The explosion destroyed the vehicle and caused damage to a nearby building, sending black smoke rising above the city.

Full report at:




Israeli tanks shell Gaza, kill Palestinian

Jan 22, 2019

At least one Palestinian has been killed and two others have been injured in Israeli shelling in the besieged Gaza Strip amid weeks-long anti-occupation demonstrations.

The Gaza Health Ministry identified the victim as 24-year-old Mahmoud al-Abed al-Nabahin, who was killed after Israeli tanks fired into the northern part of Gaza on Tuesday.

The Israeli military claims it targeted a post belonging to the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas after a group of Palestinians shot and injured an Israeli officer across the border with the occupied territories.

On Monday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at least 254 Palestinians had been killed and over 23,000 injured by Israeli forces since the Great March of Return rallies began along the border on March 30, 2018.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, causing a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.

Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014 and ended in late August the same year. The Israeli military aggression killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and injured over 11,100 others.

Israeli 'agent' detained over anti-Hamas attack in Lebanon

On Tuesday, the Lebanese army detained an agent of Israel's spy agency Mossad over a 2018 bomb attack on a Hamas official in the south of the country. It said in a statement that a second male suspect "who carried out surveillance" before last year's bombing had also been arrested.

In January last year, Mohammed Hamdan, a security official with the Lebanese branch of Hamas, was wounded in the leg in a car bomb blast in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon. Following the January 14 blast, Beirut authorities said they had arrested a man suspected of involvement in the car bombing. A statement at the time said he was "one of the main perpetrators of the crime, who confessed to being tasked by Israeli intelligence."

Full report at:




Accidental mines explosion kills 5 Saudi-hired foreign mine experts in Yemen

Jan 22, 2019

Five foreign nationals working as mine clearance experts for the Saudi-led military coalition have been killed in a mine defusing operation in war-torn Yemen.

According to a report by the official Saudi Press Agency, SPA, on Monday, the experts – two from South Africa, one from Croatia, one from Bosnia and one from Kosovo – were killed in the central province of Ma'rib a day earlier in an accidental explosion when they were transporting extracted mines and explosives to be destroyed.

The report alleged that the mines and explosives had been planted by fighters of Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which, alongside the Yemeni army, has been defending the impoverished nation against a Saudi-imposed war over the past nearly four years.

The foreign nationals were all working for a Saudi demining program in Yemen, known as Masam Project, and were killed in a huge blast taken place due to the suspected miscarriage of a large number of mines and explosives in their vehicle as the team was on route from the project’s headquarters in the provincial capital of the same name to a remote locality for safe destruction, it added.

Separately, Ousama Algosaibi, the managing director of Masam, in a posting on Twitter on Monday confirmed the explosion. Furthermore, the so-called King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, KSRelief, also confirmed that the foreign “demining experts” were killed in the incident. The Masam Project is a part of the KSRelief.

Leading a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had resigned amid popular discontent and fled to Riyadh, and to eliminate the Houthis, who have been running state affairs of their war-ravaged country since the onset of Saudi brutal campaign against Yemen.

The invasion, which has failed to achieve any of its goals, has reportedly killed over 56,000 people. It has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.

The Saudi-led coalition has employed foreign fighting forces, most notably from Sudan, as mercenaries in its war against Yemen and used other foreign nationals as experts in its brutal war machine. 

The UN officials has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:




Prominent Palestinian activist wins legal battle over ‘terrorism’ database

Jan 22, 2019

A prominent Palestinian activist has won a two-year legal battle over his listing on the World-Check financial database, which linked him to “terrorism” based on an unsubstantiated claim by Israel.

In a settlement announced on Monday at the high court in London, Majed al-Zeer, the chairman of the Palestinian Return Center (PRC) -- which is recognized by the UN for campaigning for the Palestinian refugees’ right of return -- was removed from the “terrorism” category and paid $13,000 in damages plus legal fees.

According to lawyers representing al-Zeer, he had been added to World-Check, the financial intelligence service owned by Thomson Reuters, because of a “politically motivated” proscription by the Israeli regime.

Zeer, who is also a British citizen, told the Middle East Eye news portal on Monday, “For the Palestinian cause, this is a historic moment.”

“It’s the starting point for anyone who is Palestinian or who works for Palestine to start chasing up World-Check for their false information, which has been spread everywhere to stop Palestine becoming free and Palestinians claiming their rights,” he said.

Zeer said the designation had played a crucial role in the closure of three bank accounts belonging to him and the PRC between 2009 and 2015.

“The curtailment of our banking facilities severely hindered our ability to operate and live and we were unable to penetrate the cloak of secrecy surrounding World-Check and their relationship with the banks,” he said.

In comments to Al Jazeera, Zeer said, “World-Check has been a bad tool for governments to hammer people who are just trying to say the truth about their illegal activities.”

“Israel has used all means - whether moral or immoral, legal and illegal - to deprive Palestinians of even a narrow space to shout,” he added.

Farooq Bajwa, a solicitor representing Zeer, argued that Israel’s “use of these databases is sinister and has far-reaching consequences for the people whom they name.”

“It has almost become another form of legal warfare or coercion to put people on these lists without any real justification in many cases. We believe the PRC case is a prime example of this,” he said.

‘Significant victory’

British Labour MP Andy Slaughter, the secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on Britain-Palestine, who has spoken at PRC events, described the Monday ruling as a “significant victory for the Palestinian Return Center in challenging those who blindly adopt such labels and become vehicles for propaganda.”

He said that “labeling organizations as terrorist or otherwise restricting them just because they are critical of” Israel’s “policy or are promoting the rights of Palestinians is undemocratic and highly prejudicial.”

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt also said, “It’s pleasing to see justice at least partly done. The difficulty of representing Palestinian interests when they are under occupation supported by an alliance that includes the world’s most powerful interests cannot be overestimated.”

Full report at:




One killed and several injured in Houthi attack in Taiz

January 22, 2019

DUBAI: A Houthi attack on Tuesday, on the Ash-Shamsi district in central Taiz left one woman dead and a further 13 people injured, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The 14 civilians were taken to a hospital in the city, but one woman died on arrival, a medical source told the Yemeni Saba News.

Seven of the admitted civilians are in the intensive care unit, the source added.






UK to review controversial counter-terrorism strategy

Shafi Musaddique

January 22, 2019

An independent review will take place of the controversial counter-terrorism ‘Prevent’ programme, the UK government said on Tuesday.

Security minister Ben Wallace told Britain’s Parliament that the time had come for a review of Prevent.

“I have decided that the time is now right to initiate a review of Prevent. Communities across the country have got behind the policy and are contributing to it because they want, as we do, their own young people to be protected from grooming and exploitation by terrorists.”

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch penned an open letter to politicians in November urging for an independent review to take place, amid concerns of discrimination against Muslims.

In reference to critics of the strategy, Mr Wallace said, “Prevent is not about singling out any particular group or ideology but is similar to other forms of safeguarding, carried out every day by social workers, teachers and police.”

Rachel Logan, Amnesty International UK’s legal expert, said the government’s counter terrorism strategy is a “highly dubious scheme built on shaky, almost evidence-free, foundations” in need of a review.

"Peers need to ensure that Prevent is rigorously and independently assessed, with all the human rights impacts of the scheme fully investigated,” she said.

Over 1,200 people have received “mentoring and support” through the scheme, according to the UK Home Office.

“Prevent is about working in areas where there are risks of radicalisation and offers support predominantly through local community partnerships,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

The UK Home Office said further details of the review will be set out “in due course”.




Imam jailed in UK for sexual abuse of children, torture

January 22, 2019

An Imam found guilty of sexually abusing two young girls who he privately tutored has been jailed in United Kingdom.

According to Metropolitan Police, Hafiz Azizur Rehman Pirzada, 76 (19.08.42) of Laughton Road, Northolt was sentenced to a total of eight years' imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday, 21 January for child abuse offences.

Pirzada will also have to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and a Sexual Harm Protection Order was issued.

He was found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault of a child, and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity after a trial at the same court in September 2017.

During the trial, the court heard how the victims, both sisters, came forward to speak to police in July 2015.

Between 2007 and 2009 the two girls, aged between nine and 11 when the abuse took place, were taught the Quran by Pirzada when he was an Imam appointed by the family.

On 28 July 2016, Pirzada was arrested at his home address and bailed pending further enquiries. He was later charged with all ten counts on 16 March 2018; eight counts of sexual assault with a female under 13, and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Detective Sergeant Tony Killeen, from the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Team, said: "This is a case which dates back more than ten years, but despite the length of time since the incidents Pirzada has been convicted of his crimes.

"Pirzada exploited the trust placed in him as a religious leader to assault these two young girls.

"The victims have shown great courage, persistence and determination in securing the conviction, having persevered with the allegation and supporting the police investigation.

"The victims have had to live with this trauma and the appalling abuse they endured for the years they were taught by Pirzada, and will have to live with these memories for the rest of their lives.

Full report at:




Italy’s Salvini bashes France over Libya role in new diplomatic spat

22 January 2019

Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini, stoking a war of words between Rome and Paris, said on Tuesday that France did not want to bring calm to Libya because its energy interests there clashed with those of Italy.

Relations between Italy and France, traditionally close allies, have grown frosty since the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement formed a coalition last year and took aim at pro-EU French President Emmanuel Macron.

A source in Macron’s office dismissed the latest attack as “ludicrous”, while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sought to ease the escalating tensions, saying relations between the two countries remained strong despite a string of recent rows.

On Monday, France summoned Italy’s ambassador after Salvini’s fellow deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, accused Paris of creating poverty in Africa and generating mass migration to Europe.

Salvini backed up Di Maio, saying France was looking to extract wealth from Africa rather than helping countries develop their own economies, and pointed particularly to Libya, which has been in turmoil since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that overthrew strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

“In Libya, France has no interest in stabilizing the situation, probably because it has oil interests that are opposed to those of Italy,” Salvini told Canale 5 TV station.

A French diplomatic source said it was not the first time that Salvini had made such comments and that it was probably because he felt he had been upstaged by Di Maio.

The source added that the accusation was baseless and reiterated that French efforts in Libya were aimed at stabilizing the country, preventing the spread of terrorism and curbing the migration flows.

Italy’s Eni and France’s Total have separate joint ventures in Libya, but Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi denied in a newspaper interview last year that there was any conflict between the two firms in the North African state.

Diplomatic rupture

Salvini is head of the League, while Di Maio leads 5-Star. Both are campaigning hard for European parliamentary elections in May and are eager to show they have broken with the consensual politics of Centre-left and Centre-right parties.

The two men have repeatedly targeted neighboring France and accused Macron of doing nothing to help handle the hundreds of thousands of mainly African migrants who have reached Italy from

Libya in recent years.

Asked about the latest diplomatic spat, Salvini said on Tuesday: “France has no reason to get upset because it pushed away tens of thousands of migrants (at the French border), abandoning them there as though they were beasts. We won’t take any lessons on humanity from Macron.”

A French presidential source said populist forces in Italy and elsewhere were looking to undermine countries like France and Germany which wanted to strengthen the EU.

“The European elections will be the place where we confront those -- as you can see again today with the ludicrous comments from the Italian government -- who seek to destroy the European project and the Franco-German partnership,” the source said.

Looking to prevent a diplomatic rupture, the Italian prime minister issued a statement praising relations with Paris, saying that Rome merely wanted a debate within Europe on difficult issues such as immigration.

Full report at:




UK says to pull fighter jets from Syria after Trump’s withdrawal decision

Jan 22, 2019

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is set to call back more than half of its fighter jets from Syria after US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from the Arab country.

British commanders confirmed on Monday that at least eight RAF Tornado jets would return to their bases in the UK next month, reducing to six the total number of British aircraft committed to the US-led aerial campaign in the country, the Daily Mail reported.

The decision comes after Trump’s announcement in December that US military forces were going to evacuate Syria as their mission to “defeat Daesh” had come to an end.

The US and Britain, alongside their other allies, have been pounding alleged Daesh positions in Syria since 2014.

Besides fighter jets, London has also deployed a number of its special forces to parts of Syria to carry out secret missions in coordination with over 2,000 American troops stationed in various bases across the war-torn country.

The ageing Tornados were scheduled to be retired in March but British officials shelved plans to replace them following Trump’s decision, the report said.

“Anything [the US] does in the operational theater affects us,” an unnamed RAF source told the Mail, confirming that the decision would have “undoubtedly” included air power.

The planned withdrawal leaves the UK with six advanced Eurofighter Typhoon jets and around 10 Reaper drones to carry out future operations.

The report said London would also reduce the number of its special forces in Syria in the coming weeks.

“The UK remains fully committed to the fight against Daesh [IS], and the retirement of the Tornado will be not lead to a reduction in the capability of the RAF’s contribution to the global coalition,” the Mail quoted a Ministry of Defense spokesman as saying.

1 in 3 UK fighter jets can’t fly, including Typhoons

It was revealed on Monday that at least a third of the UK Royal Air Force’s large fleet of fighter jets, including some Typhoons, were unable to fly.

Data made available under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws showed that 142 of RAF’s 434-aircraft fleet were either under repaired or mothballed – cannibalized for parts or stored for future use.

The jets unable to fly included 55 out of RAF’s entire fleet of 156 Typhoons, which the UK has used in its Syria operations.

They are the same jets that RAF uses to intercept Russian or other foreign jets that occasionally fly near British airspace.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Ming Campbell told The Mirror that the number was greater than what was expected for a fleet of this size.

Full report at:




EU sanctions Russians, Syrians over alleged links to chemical attacks

Jan 22, 2019

The European Union has imposed sanctions against a number of Russian and Syrian individuals over what it claims to be their links to chemical weapons attacks.

During a Monday meeting in the Belgian capital, Brussels, EU foreign ministers agreed to slap travel bans and asset freezes on four Russians working for the country’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, in connection with the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in March 2018.

The punitive measures target the GRU head, deputy head and two officials “for possession, transport and use in Salisbury of a toxic nerve agent,” the ministers said in a statement.

The Skripals escaped death, but months later, a Salisbury resident died after coming into contact with the nerve agent, which had been put in a perfume bottle, and her partner had to be given extensive medical treatment.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the fresh bans “deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organization.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the sanctions as “groundless,” saying, “We have still not heard any evidence” against those accused in Skripal’s case.

“We reserve the right to take retaliatory measures over this unfriendly step,” a Russian Foreign Ministry statement read.

“An information campaign unleashed by the British authorities over this case primarily has a domestic agenda. It is telling that its new round coincides with a new crisis in Brexit talks,” it added.

Alongside the Russian individuals, the EU slapped sanctions on Syria’s state-run Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) as well as five of its staff over what it calls the use of chemical weapons.

The EU foreign ministers said in their statement that the new sanctions contribute “to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, which poses a serious threat to international security.”

Hunt claimed that the Syrians targeted are responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, including the one that hit the Damascus suburb town of Douma on April 7, 2018.

Western states blamed the Syrian government for the incident, but Damascus firmly rejected the accusation.

One week after the suspected gas attack, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

This is while Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the OPCW and the UN.

Separately on Tuesday, the EU added 11 Syrian businessmen and companies that support the administration of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to another sanctions list.

Full report at:




Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hold Syria talks in Moscow

January 23, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will hold Syria talks in Moscow on Wednesday, with Turkey saying they will focus on Ankara's "security zone" in northern Syria.

The two leaders are on opposite sides of the conflict: Russia provides critical support to the Syrian government, while Turkey has backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar Al Assad's forces.

Despite this, they have worked closely to find a political solution to the seven-year conflict. Russia and Turkey have agreed to co-ordinate ground operations in Syria following US President Donald Trump's shock announcement on pulling 2,000 American troops out of Syria last month.

In a speech on Monday, Mr Erdogan said he would discuss with Mr Putin the creation of a Turkish-controlled "security zone" in northern Syria, suggested by Mr Trump.

The US-allied Kurds, who control much of northern Syria, have rejected the idea, fearing a Turkish offensive against territory under their control.

Moscow, a long-time supporter of Mr Assad, is likely to oppose the plan, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week saying Damascus must take control of the country's north.

Nearly eight years into Syria's deadly conflict, the US pull-out has led to another crucial step in Mr Assad's Russian-backed drive to reassert control over the country.

Kurdish forces who were left exposed by Mr Trump's pledge to withdraw US troops have asked the Syrian regime for help to face a threatened Turkish offensive.

The Kremlin hailed the entry by Syrian forces into the key northern city of Manbij for the first time in six years after Kurds opened the gates.

Moscow plans to organise a three-way summit with Turkey and Iran at the beginning of this year as part of the Astana peace process, launched by the three countries in 2017.

"So far, no date has been set but after negotiations with President Erdogan, we will begin preparations for the trilateral summit," Putin's foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters last week.

The last meeting between Mr Putin, Mr Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani took place in Iran in September last year with the fate of the rebel-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.

Ties between Russia and Turkey plunged to their lowest level in years in November 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane over Syria.

Full report at:




British Muslim loses cemetery court battle

January 22, 2019

A British Muslim has lost a High Court battle over his plans to put up a 10 cm marble edging around the grave of his father.

Atta Ul Haq had claimed that his rights to freedom of religion had been breached when officials refused to allow the barrier to stop people walking across the grave of the respected Islamic scholar.

His father, Hafiz Qadri, who lived in Walsall, central England, died in 2015 and was buried in one of the town’s cemeteries.

Mr Ul Haq applied to put the edge in place to prevent visitors and workers from stepping on to the grave but was refused by the operators of the cemetery. Mr Ul Haq put up a temporary barrier but it was removed by officials.

Leaders of the council said they could not accommodate his wishes without affecting the rights of other Muslims and were concerned they could not properly cut the grass around the graves.

Officials said the rules against barriers did not prevent “mounding” of graves to stop trespassers.

Months of negotiations between the two sides failed to reach a compromise.

Mr Ul Haq took the case to court under laws governing discrimination and human rights.

He claimed that it was his “religious belief that the grave is sacrosanct and stepping on the grave is an offensive, religiously proscribed act that must be prevented”, according to court papers.

Full report at:




South Asia


Pakistan’s JUI-S leader urges Taliban to show flexibility in talks with Afghan government

22 Jan 2019

The leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-islam-Sami (JUI-S) Maulana Hamidullah Haq has urged the Taliban group to show flexibility in inclusion of Afghan government in peace talks.

In his speech during a gathering on Monday, Maulana Hamidul Haq said that talks were the only solution to restore peace to the war-torn country, according to the local media reports.

This comes as efforts are underway to start direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban group in a bid to end the 17-year-long war and violence in the country.

Maulana Fazal Ur Rehman, the President of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal had earlier promised to support an Afghan-led peace process to end the violence in Afghanistan.

He made the commitment during a meeting with Mohammad Umer Daudzai, the Secretariat Chief of the Afghan High Peace Council and Senior Presidential Envoy for Regional Consensus for Reconciliation earlier this month.




36 martyred, 58 wounded in security base attack in Maidan Wardak: NDS

22 Jan 2019

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) has confirmed that 36 security personnel embraced martyrdom and 58 others were wounded in a coordinated attack on a security base in central Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the suicide bomber managed to breach the security barrier by driving a Humvee armored personnel carrier packed with explosives and detonate it near the main building of the base.

The statement further added that three other militants who were looking to detonate another vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and carry out shooting spree after the first explosion, were shot dead and the car bomb was defused.

According to the National Directorate of Security, at least 36 security personnel embraced martyrdom in the attack and 58 others were wounded with majority of them sustaining minor injuries who were discharged after receiving initial medical care.

Full report at:




Several Taliban militants killed in separate coalition airstrikes

23 Jan 2019

Several Taliban militants have been killed in separate airstrikes conducted by the coalition forces in four different provinces of the country.

According to the informed military sources, the coalition forces conducted two airstrikes in Maidan Shahr district of Maidan Wardak province in the past 24 hours, leaving at least 9 Taliban militants dead.

The sources further added that a coalition air strike killed 5 Taliban fighters in Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

The coalition forces also conducted an airstrikes in Tarin Kot city of Uruzgan province in the south, leaving 2 Taliban fighters dead, the sources said.

Full report at:




Afghan forces foil Taliban attack on an army outpost in Laghman province

22 Jan 2019

The Afghan security forces have foiled an attack by Taliban militants on an army outpost in eastern Laghman province, leaving at least two militants dead.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said the Taliban militants launched an attack on an army outpost in Kashmand Village in Qarghayi district late on Monday night.

The statement further added that the armed forces effectively responded to the attack leaving two militants dead.

The dead bodies of the two militants were left the area along with an Ak-47 assault rifle, the 201st Silab Corps said, adding that the security forces have not suffer any casualty in the attack.

Full report at:




Anger as elite Afghan troops die in deadly Taliban strike

January 22, 2019

KABUL: They were among Afghanistan’s best and most experienced fighters —  elite Afghan special forces who had survived years of deadly combat on battlefields around the country.

But that was no protection on Monday when a Taliban attack on their military compound, 30 km west of Kabul, left more than 50 soldiers dead, with some estimates putting the death toll as high as 120.

The attack on the National Directorate of Security (NDS) complex began early in the morning when a US-made armored Humvee vehicle was driven inside the base and blown up. Gunmen then opened fire before being killed by security forces.

Dozens of Afghan troops died in the blast as they huddled around stoves in a dining hall, sharing breakfast with new recruits.

The assault — one of the bloodiest in the 17-year history of the conflict — is the latest in a series of deadly attacks by the Taliban, which has seized control of large areas of Afghanistan.

Afghan officials on Tuesday declined to comment on the attack, but their dismay, anger and frustration were visible when they discussed the strike in Maidan Wardak province, a major gateway to the capital.

The NDS issued a statement on Tuesday saying 36 soldiers had died and 58 were wounded in the attack.

“I do not know how many have been killed, all I can say is the attack is among the worst seen in years and the casualties were the highest inflicted on special forces in a single incident,” a security source told Arab News on condition of anonymity.

The troops were among the best trained by US, well-equipped and highly paid compared with other national forces. Some had taken part in dozens of raids in rugged areas of Maidan Wardak, a region that is home to a large number of militants, two officials said. As the soldiers were having breakfast in the heavily fortified compound, a man wearing a special forces uniform drove an armored Humvee up to the complex, managed to get past the security gate and set off explosives hidden in the vehicle outside the entrance to one of the buildings.

Humvees are provided by the US military to Afghan forces, and the Taliban has used them in past attacks on Afghan bases after seizing the vehicles in raids around the country.

“The explosion was powerful and shattered windows residential houses well away from the site of the attack,” Khalid Ahmad, a resident, told local TV. Many troops were killed when a roof collapsed in the blast, Mohammad Sardar, a member of the provincial council, told Arab News by phone.

Minutes later, four Taliban gunmen entered the compound in a car and fought for several hours with survivors of the blast, residents said.

More than 160 soldiers were believed to have been present at the base during the attack.

Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, a retired general and security analyst, said the attack was the result of “serious negligence” and could have been carried out with inside help.

“The commander of the base should have identified which areas of the compound were vulnerable and taken the decision to (protect) them,” Yarmand told Arab News.

Full report at:




Some in Bangladesh election observer group say they now regret involvement

22 Jan 2019

DHAKA: A top official at an observer group that monitored Bangladesh's election, as well as one of its foreign volunteers, have said they regret participating in the process, casting doubt on the credibility of a vote won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling alliance.

The president of the SAARC Human Rights Foundation told Reuters he now believed there should be a fresh vote after hearing accounts from voters and officials presiding over polling booths that activists from Hasina's Awami League stuffed ballot boxes the night before the poll and intimidated voters.

"Now I have come to know everything, and can say that the election was not free and fair," said Mohammad Abdus Salam, a 75-year-old former high court division justice.

A Canadian observer who was brought in by the foundation has also said she now wishes she had not been involved.

Bangladesh, which is an important supplier of clothing to major Western High Street brands and is the second-biggest garments exporter in the world behind China, had already faced criticism from European Union, United States, and British officials for irregularities observed during the polling.

Transparency International last week said its investigation into the Dec 30 election found irregularities at 47 of the 50 constituencies surveyed, including fake votes, ballot stuffing, and voters and opposition polling agents barred from entering polling centres. It found the ruling party was alone in actively campaigning at all areas surveyed, sometimes with help from local law enforcement officials and government resources.

The government has dismissed the Transparency International investigation as lacking in credibility. Hasina's political adviser H T Imam called the group "a puppet" of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The BNP-led alliance has rejected the election, calling it rigged, after the Awami League and its allies swept more than 95 per cent of the parliamentary seats. The United States, European Union and Britain have since called for allegations of ballot-rigging and intimidation to be investigated.

Ahead of the election, the US State Department had expressed disappointment that several US-funded observers had been forced to cancel plans to monitor the polls as Bangladesh didn't issue visas "within the timeframe necessary". Bangladesh denied delaying visas and said it was following due process.

Political experts said observers were key to establishing the credibility of the poll, which was Bangladesh's first fully participatory election in a decade. The BNP had boycotted the last vote in 2014.


The SAARC Human Rights Foundation brought in observers from Canada, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, who spoke to the press on election day and the day after, endorsing the fairness of the voting, often in glowing terms.

On New Year's Eve, hours after being declared the winner of a contest that brought her a third straight term in power, Hasina sat on a white couch at her residence to address an audience of journalists and election observers.

"They voted so enthusiastically, especially women and the young generation," Hasina said. "By coming to my country, you have also given us good opportunity to show how democracy is working."

As a microphone was passed around the room, monitors from the SAARC Human Rights Foundation as well as other observers, including those from the Saudi Arabia-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, congratulated Hasina on the win.

The first to speak was a representative of the foundation, a Canadian woman named Tanya Foster, who called the election "very fair and democratic". "In Canada I feel that it is a similar type of process," Foster said, as Hasina smiled back.

Hasina's son, Sajeeb Wazed, who is the government's information and communication technology adviser, repeatedly tweeted out statements made by the foundation's observers calling the election fair and peaceful.


Though the initials and logo it uses closely resemble those of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the SAARC Human Rights Foundation has no affiliation with that inter-governmental body.

The foundation's Secretary General Abed Ali told Reuters the group had applied for approval from SAARC and was expecting it soon. A spokesman for the Kathmandu-based SAARC, though, told Reuters it had never heard of Ali or his group. "The organization is not recognised by SAARC and does not have any relation with SAARC whatsoever," the spokesman said.

The SAARC Human Rights Foundation's website says it is based in Dhaka and its initials stand for South Asian Association for Research Council.

Its advisory committee includes a lawmaker from Hasina's Awami League, and one from the Jatiya Party, which has often been allied with the Awami League. A former minister in a previous BNP government is also listed on the panel, but no current opposition members.

Bangladesh law bars the Election Commission from allowing observer groups with links to political parties from monitoring polls.

The secretary of Bangladesh's Election Commission, Helal Uddin Ahmed, said it had no knowledge of links between Ali's groups and any political party.

Referring to the Awami League and Jatiya Party lawmakers on the group's board, Ali said: "They are just supporting our humanitarian activities."

"I want to make it clear that we have no affiliation with any political party," he added.


But at the headquarters of the foundation, a dusty two-room ground floor apartment in the industrial town of Mirpur on the outskirts of Dhaka, there are regrets.

Salam, the group's president, said the observers fielded by his organisation had only monitored a few polling stations, so were in no position to make a clear assessment of the election's fairness.

He said some presiding officers had told him they had been forced to stuff ballot boxes. "I want to speak the truth," he told Reuters. "I am not doing this for any political gain."

He said he was not directly involved in organising the poll observers.

Ali dismissed the president's comments, saying: "Can you write something just based on someone saying something?"

Tanya Foster, a policy analyst in the Saskatchewan provincial government, told Reuters she had heard from Bangladeshis in Canada that a group known as the SAARC Human Rights Foundation was looking for foreign election monitors.

"I asked about the qualifications because I thought it would be an interesting experience. I applied to SAARC and to the Election Commission and they vetted me and offered me an invitation to be an observer," said Foster, whose daughter Chloe Foster also joined the observer's panel.

They had never acted as international observers to a national election before.

Foster said she was not aware of the foundation's links to the Awami League or the lack of affiliation to SAARC.

In hindsight, she said "I don't feel great about it. I feel like I was too naive".

"I don't know that our reports are of that much value, considering we only visited nine polling centres and only in Dhaka," she added. "We didn't go to the more hostile areas. We didn't audit the election commission or conduct background checks of the presiding officers or poll agents."

Chloe Foster was not available for comment.

Ali, the foundation's secretary general, said the women had experience monitoring elections in Canada. He said it was not possible for any group to monitor all polling stations.

To be sure, not all the observers fielded by the foundation regret endorsing the voting. Gautam Ghosh, a Kolkata, India-based lawyer, and Hakimullah Muslim and Nazir Miya - members of Nepal's ruling Communist Party - said they stood by their initial statements that the polls were fair.

Full report at:






Cameroon Mobilizes Military Following Boko Haram, Separatist Attacks

January 22, 2019


Cameroon says it is mobilizing troops along the country’s northern border with Nigeria and in the western English-speaking regions, following renewed attacks by Boko Haram in the north and separatists in the west.

Cameroon’s military calls for troops to assemble at its headquarters in Yaounde ahead of major deployments.

Defense Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Rene Claude Meka said 2019 will see Cameroon fight for national unity and territorial integrity.

He said they have re-mobilized the military to all trouble spots. Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based Islamist terrorist group, is again recruiting fighters in Cameroon and attacking our northern border, said Meka. Meanwhile, separatists fighting to create an English-speaking state have recruited mercenaries from neighboring countries to destabilize Cameroon, he said.

Cameroon’s military says there is a Boko Haram resurgence on its northern border with Nigeria. It reports five attacks across the border and in the Lake Chad basin this month.

Last week three people were reported killed in the border town of Fotokol as troops repelled a Boko Haram attack.

Separatist fighting also intensified in Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions in the northwest and southwest. The military said at least 45 rebels have been killed in the first three weeks of the year. Separatists say they are the ones killing the soldiers.

Although the numbers cannot be independently verified, villagers have confirmed fighting has recently increased.

Twenty-seven-year-old Elengu Noella said two of her three children were killed in heavy fighting around the southwestern town of Buea and she has not been able to find her husband.

She said a Catholic Church Hospital ambulance helped her and four other women escape as a battle raged between Cameroon’s military and separatists.

Separatists seeking an independent English-speaking state are accused of abducting and killing opponents and trying to make their regions ungovernable.

Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said President Paul Biya also ordered troops to Cameroon’s eastern border. He said spill-over from fighting in the Central African Republic has increased criminal activities.

"2019 will not be a bed of roses. We shall continue with various operations in the far north, northwest and southwest regions, reactivation of special operations in the Adamawa region where criminal groups specialized in kidnapping are wreaking havoc and requesting for ransom," he said.

Isaac Sama is a political analyst at Cameroon’s Center for Peace and Development. He said while troop deployments to fight foreign invaders is justified, the government should attempt to negotiate with the separatists.

Sama said more and more civilians are displaced by the fighting each time the military attacks the rebels.

"We have practical situations of people who actually died and then those who are in the bushes, they are also in bad conditions. They have no access to anything."

Cameroon says since fighting broke out with separatists in 2016, more than 1,200 people have been killed and nearly a quarter million displaced.




Boko Haram: Cameroon allegedly denies refugee status to 9000 Nigerians fleeing violence

January 22, 2019

By Maina Maina

More than 9,000 Nigerians, who had crossed to Cameroon where they hope to find refuge, were said to have been denied refuge by Cameroonian authorities following a deadly attack against the town of Rann, in northeast Nigeria.

A statement from Hajer Naili, a roving Regional Communications Adviser

Central and West Africa, Head Office / Senegal, stated that the NRC is worried over the violence in the northeast Nigeria that has continued to send thousands fleeing their homes.

The statement added that more worrisome is the denial of refugee status to people fleeing violence from Nigeria’s northeast town of Rann by Cameroon authorities.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, called for Nigerian and Cameroonian authorities to provide immediate assistance to thousands of Nigerian civilians fleeing violence.

According to NRC, the forced return of civilians to areas of violence is a breach of international and regional agreements, such as the Tripartite Agreement that guarantees the protection of human rights of forcibly displaced persons.

“The authorities on both sides of the border should provide necessary assistance and safety for the displaced people and allow aid workers to assist,” Eric Batonon, Nigeria Country Director of NRC said.

According to him, the Norwegian Refugee Council is deeply concerned by the recent violence.

Full report at:




Sudan’s Bashir lands in Qatar as protests rage at home

23 January 2019

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Qatar on Tuesday for a two-day visit, Doha state media reported, his first trip abroad since nationwide protests against his rule erupted last month.

Bashir was met at the airport by Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi, a minister of state for foreign affairs, according to the Qatar News Agency.

The Sudanese leader will meet senior officials in Qatar, including its ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the official news agencies in both countries said.

“Bilateral relations will be discussed during his visit,” the SUNA news agency in Sudan reported.

The veteran leader was also expected to discuss with Doha “ongoing peace efforts in Darfur,” it added, referring to the western region of Sudan that has been ravaged by a conflict between Sudanese forces and ethnic minority rebels.

Bashir’s regime has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and he has been charged by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The visit to Qatar is Bashir’s first overseas trip since anti-government protests erupted across Sudan on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

Officials say 26 people have died so far in the protests, while rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at more than 40.

The protests are the biggest challenge yet to the authority of Bashir, who swept to power in 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup.

On Tuesday, riot police fired tear gas at crowds in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman protesting against the fatal wounding of a demonstrator last week, witnesses said.

Sudan is facing an economic crisis, driven by a shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation.

Full report at:




Jordan appoints chargé d’affaires to own embassy in neighbouring Syria

Jan 22, 2019

Jordan seeks to boost relations with neighboring Syria as Amman says it has appointed a new chargé d’affaires to its embassy in Damascus, another sign of a thaw in ties between the Syrian government and the Arab world.

“It was decided to appoint a Jordanian diplomat at the rank of charge d'affaires in the Jordanian embassy in Damascus,” Jordan’s media quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Sufian Salman al-Qudat as saying on Tuesday.

The “decision has been made in line with Jordan’s stance since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011 to keep the Jordanian embassy in Damascus open," the Jordanian official was further quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Jordan News Agency, the country’s official news outlet, announced the news on its twitter account.

More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world body’s refugee organization, in Jordan.

The refugees have fled their homes amid militancy that Jordan has supported along with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the West and some other countries since 2011.

Jordan has provided training ground and safe passage to some of the most violent extremists who have traveled to Syria to fight government troops.

The development came as the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and Bahrain opened their embassies in Damascus last month and Kuwait also said that it would consider opening its embassy in Syria soon after several years of closure.

Full report at:




Nigeria: Court Grants Shiite Leader, Zakzaky Access to Doctors

22 JANUARY 2019

A Nigerian court has ordered the secret police to allow a detained pro-Iranian cleric to see his personal doctors as his health was worsening, his legal team said on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), has been held in Department of State Service (DSS) custody since December 2015.

He was arrested as part of a military crackdown on IMN supporters in the northern city of Zaria, in which troops killed more than 300 and buried them in mass graves.

"We applied to the court today (Tuesday) for an order directing the DSS to give access to his personal doctors to enable them to treat him in custody," Maxwell Kyon told AFP by telephone from court in the northern city of Kaduna.

"The court granted the order and directed that the DSS should allow his personal doctors access to him."

Kyon, who said Zakzaky was present at Tuesday's hearing, said the ruling was necessitated by his ailing health.

"My client is not given any special medical attention," he added.

"Every time you see him his health condition appears worse. It is only when he receives special medical care that his health condition will improve."

During the hearing, charges against two IMN supporters were struck out after the prosecution failed to produce them in court, he added. The case was adjourned to March 25.

Zakzaky's supporters have repeatedly protested in Abuja and several northern cities against the continued detention of their leader.

In October, the IMN and human rights groups said more than 40 people were killed when the security forces opened fire on crowds on the outskirts of the capital.

The army maintained six people died and that soldiers acted in self-defence.

Full report at:




Ex-militant who recognized hotel attacker reveals brutal tactics of al-Shabaab terror group

January 22, 2019

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)He chose to join a terrorist group, fought for it, was blooded in atrocities, escaped and repented. Now he lives in well-founded fear for his life.

Not least because the day after al-Shabaab militants attacked the Dusit Hotel complex in Nairobi, the former al-Shabaab fighter we'll call "Musa" realized he had met one of the terrorists, seven years earlier, in Somalia.

Ali Salim Gichunge, a thick-set Kenyan militant, was caught on security camera footage during the 20-hour attack on the Dusit and was killed alongside three other gunmen by Kenyan special forces. Authorities have since arrested a number of people allegedly connected to Gichunge.

A suicide bomber detonated himself at the start of the rampage, which left 20 civilians and one policeman dead.

Al-Shabaab claimed that it carried out the massacre at the Dusit in revenge for President Donald Trump's decision to move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

A nationwide manhunt is now underway for alleged collaborators including women who, local media say, the police suspect of being weapons couriers between Somalia and Kenya.

Kenyan attacker linked to Somalia

But Musa's identification of Gichunge is the first public evidence that links the Kenyan attacker to Somalia.

Musa said Gichunge was a member of the feared Amniat, al-Shabaab's internal security service, and that he met him in Baidoa, central Somalia, in 2012.

Musa's descriptions of the town, and video evidence he had of his time in al-Shabaab, were examined by CNN and proved beyond doubt that his claims to have been a fighter in Somalia were legitimate.

Gichunge, wearing a baseball cap on backward, is clearly visible in CCTV footage released to the media after the attack.

"I was shocked. When I saw the CCTV I said 'I know that guy!'" Musa told CNN in an exclusive interview.

CNN has not revealed Musa's identity for his own safety. He says he has survived one assassination attempt by al-Shabaab in Nairobi after former comrades were sent back to his home town to kill him as punishment for defecting.

His would-be assassins were later killed by Kenyan police after they committed a string of robberies.

While in Somalia, Musa said he was subjected to a "jovial" interrogation over lunch by Gichunge.

"They'll eat with you but they are just interrogating you: 'How do you love al-Shabaab? How did you come here? Why did you join al-Shabaab?'

"That sort of question, but we knew he's interrogating us," Musa said.

He added that anyone failing such a "test" by Amniat agents like Gichunge would be imprisoned for months -- or worse.

Many of the most radicalized al-Shabaab volunteers were fighters who had converted from Christianity, he added, including Gichunge.

Musa says he walked for nine days into Kenya through bush to escape al-Shabaab. He eventually was given amnesty under a Kenyan government program to rehabilitate al-Shabaab defectors who had been lured from Kenyan mosques to Somali battlefields by recruiters embedded in the local community.

Methods used by al-Shabaab revealed

Musa's experiences reveal the extent to which "brainwashing" by al-Shabaab continues after volunteers have been smuggled into Somalia and offers a rare insight into the methods the terror group uses to instill absolute loyalty among its followers.

Speaking in a secret location in Nairobi, Musa said he had taken part in the decapitation of a prisoner of war.

He was part of group that took turns with a knife to saw at the neck of the victim -- a tactic used by the terror group to ensure everyone's involved in the crime.

"That's part of the brainwashing," he said. "They told us it's part of the training."

He said he was then ordered to "surround the head, kick it like football and pass it to another person."

Basic military training is reinforced by involuntary collusion in atrocities."It's to reduce fear in you," he added.

Al-Shabaab has used suicide bombers to devastating effect, not just at the Dusit but in numerous attacks inside Somalia.

In October 2017, more than 500 people were killed in a truck bomb suicide attack in Mogadishu in the deadliest single terror attack since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

In January 2016, a similar weapon was used in the vanguard of an al-Shabaab assault on Kenyan troops in El Adde, Somalia. The Kenyan base was overrun and at least 140 troops were killed.

Foreign fighters from US, Australia and UK

Musa told CNN that suicide bombers go through a rigorous selection process.

New recruits are asked explicitly if they want to volunteer to "blow yourself up." Those selected are then taken away from the main group and indoctrinated for at least a year with daily Quranic studies, lectures by a "sheikh," and intense physical and military training.

"Training with al-Shabaab is very, very tough," he said.

Basic military training is reinforced by involuntary collusion in atrocities."It's to reduce fear in you," he added.

Al-Shabaab has used suicide bombers to devastating effect, not just at the Dusit but in numerous attacks inside Somalia.

In October 2017, more than 500 people were killed in a truck bomb suicide attack in Mogadishu in the deadliest single terror attack since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

In January 2016, a similar weapon was used in the vanguard of an al-Shabaab assault on Kenyan troops in El Adde, Somalia. The Kenyan base was overrun and at least 140 troops were killed.

Foreign fighters from US, Australia and UK

Musa told CNN that suicide bombers go through a rigorous selection process.

Full report at:




'Al-Shabaab trainee' escapes, surrenders to police in Nakuru

JANUARY 22 2019

Police are investigating the case of a 23-year-old who surrendered at Nakuru Central Police Station, claiming to be a member of terror group Al-Shabaab.

County police boss Samuel Obara told reporters on Monday that the man went to the station on Sunday evening.

“He turned up unarmed,” Mr Obara said, adding he was questioned immediately at the office of the Director of Criminal Investigations in Nakuru.

A senior detective, who did not want to be named, told the Nation that the man said he escaped from an Al-Shabaab training camp at Bombolulu in Mombasa County and that he had been fearing for his life.

He told police he joined the terror group in September 2018 and had been trained for five months.

Anti-Terror police unit from Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, were also called to question the suspect.

Full report at:




North America


Four charged in bomb plot against Muslim community in New York

23 Jan 2019

The alleged plot was uncovered after a student at Odyssey Academy, a school in Greece, New York, showed a classmate a photograph of another student and said, “He looks like the next school shooter, doesn’t he?” Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan told reporters at a news conference.

The remark was reported to school security, which along with local police interviewed both the student who had the photograph as well as the student in the picture.

The investigation eventually led police to execute several search warrants and arrest four people, including the student who showed off the photograph.

The group had planned to attack Islamberg, a small enclave in the Catskill Mountains about 150 miles northwest of New York City. The town was founded more than three decades ago by a group of black Muslims who follow the teachings of Pakistani Sufi cleric Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani.

Brian Colaneri, 20, of Rochester; Andrew Crysel, 18, of East Rochester; and Vincent Vetromile, 19, face weapons and conspiracy charges. The student, who is 16, was charged with the same offenses but was not identified due to his age.

It was not immediately clear whether the defendants had attorneys.

The three improvised explosive devices were found at the teenager’s house, Phelan said. The weapons were all legally owned shotguns and rifles.

“If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, people would have died,” Phelan said. “I don’t know how many and who, but people would have died.”

Police declined to provide details about how the investigation into the student’s seemingly offhand remark led to the arrests.

Three of the four defendants were in the Boy Scouts together, Phelan said.

Islamberg has been targeted in the past. Two years ago, a Tennessee man was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for plotting to attack the enclave.




US service member killed in combat in Afghanistan: Pentagon

Jan 23, 2019

The US military has announced the death of one of its service members in a combat mission in Afghanistan.

The US Department of Defense made the announcement on Tuesday, saying that the soldier had been killed “as a result of enemy small arms fire,” without disclosing the name of the service member or the branch of the military.

"In accordance with US Department of Defense policy, the name of the service member killed in action is being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin is complete," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The NATO mission in Afghanistan – Resolute Support Mission (RSM) – said the incident was under investigation, declining to provide further details.

This is the second US service member killed in military operations in Afghanistan in 2019.

US Army Sergeant Cameron Meddock died last week at a medical facility in Germany of injuries sustained during a combat operation on January 13 in the northwestern Afghan province of Badghis.

More than 2,400 American forces have been killed in the country since the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in October 2001. The offensive removed the Taliban regime from power, but after more than one and a half decades, the foreign troops are still deployed to the country.

According to the Pentagon, there are about 14,000 troops, mostly from the US and NATO countries, in Afghanistan for “advice and assist mission.”

Last month, US President Donald Trump ordered the military to begin plans to withdraw about 7,000 American troops from Afghanistan in coming months but the pullout has yet to start.

The US is currently pushing for a peace deal with the militants to spare its troops but negotiations remain deadlocked over the Taliban demand that American forces leave Afghanistan.

Full report at:




US urges coalitions against Iran’s ‘malign meddling’

January 23, 2019

DAVOS: The US wants to build more coalitions in the Middle East to counter the “very real” threat of Iran’s malign meddling in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

Speaking via video link, Pompeo said the US was committed to a “secure and stable” Middle East and had assembled a “global coalition of nations to confront Iran and support the aspirations of the Iranian people.”

Pompeo said: “America is committed to helping the Middle East be secure and stable. We are a force for good in the region, and we have been for an awfully long time.”

He said the biggest threat to regional stability was Iran, especially in crisis zones such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and in its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“Those are places where Iran is truly the malign actor, and that is why we are so happy with the coalition we have built,” he said.

“It is so central to creating the stability the people of the Middle East so richly deserve.

“There are political and diplomatic solutions to all of these problems, and we need all our diplomats, from all across the region, working to solve them.”

Pompeo also expressed optimism about an end to the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition is supporting the legitimate government against Iran-backed Houthi militias.

“I am very hopeful we can make progress there,” he said. “We made a big step forward with the agreement surrounding the port of Hodeidah; we got real commitment from all the parties.

“It was most unfortunate that the Houthis made a major break on Jan. 10 to that cease-fire by using an Iranian-designed instrument of war to kill people after those agreements were reached back in December.

“I know that the Gulf states are committed to achieving that outcome; we are committed here in the United States.”

Pompeo also spoke briefly about peace between Israel and Palestine, and said talks would not be “driven by the US” but by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

Globally, Pompeo praised a wave of “disruption” in world politics, including the election of Donald Trump, the UK vote to leave the European Union and elections in France and Malaysia.

He renewed Trump’s criticism of international institutions and the US president’s calls for “strong borders” to protect national sovereignty. “New winds are blowing across the world,” he said. “I’d argue that this disruption is a positive development.”

Full report at:




US: Syrian refugee offers free meal to federal workers



A Syrian refugee living in the U.S. provides federal government employees with free meal everyday at his restaurant, as Washington is going through a partial government shutdown.

Yassin Terou, the owner of the Yassin’s Falafel House in Tennessee, launched the campaign on Jan. 14, which offers free meals to federal workers when they show their employee ID cards.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Terou said he came to the U.S. in 2011 after the civil war broke out in Syria, and opened the restaurant in 2014.

“People in Tennessee showed us so much love at that time,” Terou said, adding that they started the campaign to return the favor of “hardworking and helpful” people.

The owner of the restaurant said the number of people who benefit from the campaign -- "launched for love”-- was increasing day by day.

Terou said the move did not have any political concerns and it does not matter if the people coming to his shop are Republican or Democrat.

“We’ve received so much support for this campaign,” he added.

Turkish people show great hospitality to Syrians

Terou also thanked the Turkish nation for hosting the Syrians.

“Turkish nation has shown a big help and hospitality to people who sought refuge in the country due to the situation in Syria,” he said.

Terou also said he wishes to hear stories similar to his own from his Syrian brothers living in Turkey.

Yassin’s Falafel House was named the Nicest Place in America by the Reader’s Digest magazine in 2018.

The ongoing partial government shutdown has become the longest closure in U.S. history as the President Donald Trump continues to insist on funding for his border wall, a demand that Democrats have staunchly resisted.

The shutdown has entered second month on Tuesday with hundreds of thousands of federal employees continuing to miss their paychecks.

Full report at:



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  • Shias played a pivotal role in waging war and terrorism in Iraq, Syria and other countries.
    Now they are playing the same sectarian role in India.
    Shias are not less than Salafis.

    By Talha - 1/24/2019 12:19:33 AM

  • "Madrasas promote ISIS ideology, shut them".
    Any schools that poison the minds of our children must be shut down. This would include many madrasas and many RSS shakhas and shalas.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 1/23/2019 1:06:46 PM

  • @Waseem Rizvi sb. 
    Please stop injecting venom into the minds of people. 
    You should learn politics from Mamta in Bengal and now from Kejriwal in Delhi. Kejriwal has called all Imams and increased their salary: which has encouraged positivity in the minds of Muslims.
    But your repeated venom is doing nothing but to make Muslims feel negativity. 
    It would be better if you learned how to win the hearts and stop creating enmity.

    By Ghulam Ghaus غلام غوث الصديقي - 1/23/2019 9:33:32 AM

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