a strong rebuff to hate mongers, the Muslim community and a sole Kashmiri
Pandit family have got together to restore temple, which has not been used ever
since the Hindus migrated from there due to militancy.
Probe: Videos of Light Series, Preachers Musa Cerantonio, Anwar Al-Awlaki Were
Used To Influence IS Sympathisers
Message to Haters, Muslims in This Pulwama Village are Restoring 80-yr-old
Temple to its Glory
Nine Nobel Laureates Urge Imran, Modi to Defuse Tensions
Hints Pakistan May Not Oppose Listing of JeM Chief as Global Terrorist By UNSC
Govt Issues Order To Seize Assets of All Banned Outfits under UN Sanctions
Right ‘Infiltrating Children’s Charities with Anti-Islam Agenda’
Movement Targets Dutch Mosque, Insults Prophet Muhammad
Sultan Dismayed By Insults against Prophet Muhammad, Islam
Inmates Sue over Combined Faith Services in Arkansas Prisons
Lawmakers Say Trump Has Taken 'No Meaningful Action' Over China's Treatment Of
Two terrorists killed in encounter with security forces in Tral
J&K's Baramulla, 29 Pandits rely on Muslims to run their shops
forum welcomes Abhinandan’s release
Muslims support ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, condemn Mehbooba Mufti's comments
Pulwama, Navy chief Admiral Lanba warns of sea-borne terror attack
shoots at Pakistan drone over Rajasthan, foils air-intrusion bid
won’t tolerate, says Kejriwal on Amit Shah’s comment on terrorists killed
batch of French-made Rafael jets to arrive in India in September
has endorsed Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir: Qureshi
boycotts PA session after govt refuses to make Naqvi PAC chief
positions pounded after border attack
90 Sikh pilgrims reach Pakistan to attend religious ceremonies
Ajmer pilgrims refused visa by Indian authorities
Experts Concerned About Saudi ‘Anti-Terror’ Laws
Zealand says ISIS recruit to remain citizen, may face charges
Parents Withdraw Kids from UK School Over ‘Homosexuality’ Project
extends sanctions against Assad regime
Islam a threat to British values? Hundreds of people to hear London Muslim
Caliph’s call to peace
to target dual nationals to address ISIS threat
Four More Individuals Probed Over Anti-Islam Posting On Social Media
still needs support from non-Malays, non-Muslims, Umno veep insists
of three founding members of Barisan Nasional say they are 'moving on' from
Wants Indonesians to Wear Sarong at Least Once a Month
Directs US to End Preferential Trade Status For India, Turkey
of American consulate in Jerusalem rapped as ‘political assault’
respond to Omar by drafting anti-Semitism resolution
State Department downgrades Palestinian mission and merges it with Israel
To Safeguard Afghan Peace Push From India-Pakistan Escalation
Taliban militants killed in Helmand, Uruzgan and Jawzjan provinces
bloc approves legal action against Myanmar for Rohingya Muslims
Mine Planters Killed blown up by own bomb in Herat Province
Network surrenders to Afghan forces in Kunduz province
Children in Syria Await Family Reunions
Recruiting ISIL in Southern Yemen
Israel Conducts Fresh Missile Attacks on Syrian Army Positions in Quneitra
Army Preparing for Cleansing ISIL from Badiyeh of Homs, Terrorists Prevent
Israel Spying on Iraqi Fighter Jets
Syrian ministers added to EU sanctions list
attacks kill dozens of Saudi mercenaries in Jizan, Najran: Report
army attacks militant posts in Hama to avenge troops’ deaths
Arabia, UAE, Egypt oppose bids against normalization of ties with Israel:
Daesh fighters using civilians as human shields forced to surrender in Baghouz
for missing Yazidis dim as extremists’ defeat looms
Welcomes Vatican Move To Open Pius XII Archives
insists Moscow ties ‘strong’, shrugs off Israel-Russia coordination
Khamenei speech reveals he doubted Europe’s help against US sanctions
closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission
helicopters strike Hamas posts in Gaza
to Tel Aviv regime, US deploys THAAD to Israel for 1st time
slams merger of US consulate with embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds
of Houthi militia killed in clashes
American tourists, Kenyan pilot killed in chopper crash
allows airlines to resume flights over Syria after 7 years
Who are the al-Shabaab, currently in the middle of a terror attack in Somalia?
by New Age Islam News Bureau
State (IS) sympathisers were using videos of Light Series on YouTube, a Yemen
preacher and writer Anwar Al-Awlaki in the Al-Qaeda magazine, 'Inspire', and
controversial Australian preacher Musa Cerantonio to motivate people to join
them, National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said in a chargesheet filed in a
Delhi court recently.
NIA's claims are mentioned in its supplementary chargesheet filed against
Abdullah Basith and Abdul Qhadeer, both from Hyderabad, who were allegedly
involved in identifying, motivating, radicalizing the gullible Muslim youths to
join hands with them in their attempt to carry out subversive activities in
NIA arrested both of them on August 12, 2018. They are currently in judicial
custody in Delhi's Tihar Jail.
NIA had earlier filed a chargesheet on July 20, 2016 against three accused --
Sheikh Azhar-Ul-Islam alias Abdul Sattar Sheikh, Mohammed Farhan alias Mohammed
Rafiq Shaikh and Adnan Hassan alias Mohammad Hussain.
Azhar-Ul-Islam and Mohammed Farhan had pleaded guilty and were sentenced to
seven years in jail while the trial against Hassan is still going on.
in the supplementary chargesheet filed in February, revealed that Basith was an
associate member of Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) from 2012 to 2014. He
was expelled from SIO in 2014, due to his sympathy with the IS.
a member of SIO, he met one Adnan Ahmed who inspired Basith for watching videos
of light series on YouTube viz. the Light Revelations and Light Reloaded, which
were created and uploaded by Adil DX from Sri Lanka.
Revelation series were against IS, whereas, Light Reloaded series run counter
to Light Revelations and are in favour of IS," the NIA said in the
chargesheet. But the two series have inflammatory contents, NIA said.
also watched videos on the concept of caliphate and speeches of one Anwar
al-Awlaki, a preacher from Yemen, a native of US and also a writer in
'Inspire', the Al-Qaeda magazine, the agency said.
also watched videos of Musa Cerantonio who was arrested by the Australian
authorities in May 2016 for being engaged in hostile activities.
2014, Basith has started joining groups who supported IS on Facebook and was
inclined towards IS.
to NIA, Basith had joined one Al-Muhajiroon, which was run by Anjum Chaudhary,
a preacher in UK, Khilafa chat room and Tauheed Awakening Groups on Facebook
where he came to know about the preachers and other big names worldwide.
Basith also influenced his cousins Maaz Hassan Farooq, Omer Farooq Hussaini and
one friend Abdul Abrar towards the ideology of IS and motivated them to join
him to go to Syria for hijrat.
NIA, in the report, said that Basith came in contact with Abu Zakaria, who was
a native of Spain and had been working for IS in Iraq and Syria, who has
advised him to come to Turkey.
was planning to go to Turkey but was arrested in Kolkata by Telangana Police in
August 2014 who counselled him and let him off by taking a lenient view of his
"first offence". (Amiya Kumar Kushwaha can be reached at
2016, National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered 10 separate cases
against modules of terror outfit Islamic State in various places of the country
including Howrah, Jaipur, Kannur (Kerela), Ahmedabad, Kullu (Himachal Pradesh),
Delhi and Coimbatore. THe cases are at various stages of investigation. Here's
is 2016 case:
January 28 2016: NIA registers case against Sheikh Azhar-ul-Islam, Mohammed
Farhan and Adnan Hussain along with their other unknown aides accusing them of
plotting to motivate, radicalize, recruit and train Indian citizens, both in
India and abroad, for planning and executing terror attacks at home and in
Sheikh Azhar-Ul-Islam and Mohammed Farhan plead guilty, are sentenced by a
Delhi court to seven years in jail. Trial against Adnan Hussain is going on.
February 2019: NIA files supplementary chargesheet against Azhar-ul-Islam's
aide Abdullah Basith and Abdul Qhadeer under charges of Unlawful Activities
Basith and Qhadeer arrested in Hyderabad on August 12, 2018
Pulwama: After more than three decades of silence, muzzein's call from a mosque
and chiming temple bells will again reverberate in a village in Pulwama. The
temple and the mosque at Acchan — a village on Pulwama fringe — lie side by
side but while the mosque remained busy with worshippers, the temple stood in
desolation. But this is now set to change.
a strong rebuff to hate mongers, the Muslim community and a sole Kashmiri
Pandit family have got together to restore the 80-year-old temple, which has
not been used ever since the Hindus migrated from there due to militancy in
12 kilometres from the blast site where 40 CRPF men were killed on February 14,
the village is brimming with a fresh spirit to restart the temple that brings
lot of memories to the elders.
temple in a six kanal compound is being refurbished and soon an idol would be
placed at the sanctum sanctorum for worship and hymns would be chanted aloud.
want to revive it to its previous glory when hundreds would pour into the
village to listen to chanting of hymns,'' said Bhushan Lal, who is supervising
the works with local Muslim Auqaf Trust.
told News18 once the restoration work is complete, they would invite the local
Hindus from neighbouring villages and hold special prayers. ''It will be after
many, many years that the village would come alive with prayers,'' he said with
he added, had 40 families of Kashmiri Pandits living amid almost double the
number of the Muslims in 1990. “But they all left in fear. We want to get them
back,” he said.
the past two weeks, barring a few days when they had to be stopped due to
Indo-Pak tension on border, the villagers have given a facelift to the main
temple building and restored a spring and drainage.
have our task cut out. We need to level the ground, paint the main gate and
install the deity. The dome of the temple would also be redone. It will be done
within weeks,” said Sanjay Kumar, Lal's younger brother. Kumar works in a local
Muslims wanted the family to worship at the temple on Monday - to celebrate the
most popular festival of Maha Shivratri - but had to delay the function because
the repairs were getting delayed due to bad weather.
Yunus, a villager, said they want the temple to get ready at the earliest so
that the Hindu families can pray like Muslims do in a nearby mosque. He is
hopeful that his migrant Hindu neighbours would return to their roots. “I wish
we could relive the old days. I appeal to our Pandit brothers and sisters to
come back to the village,” Yunus said.
recalled that as young children they used to go to the temple once a week. “'An
old pujari at the temple would give us sweets, dry fruits and jaggery. We would
run to him after playing games,” he said.
local Auqaf had earlier written to the administration for the overall
development of the village. ''Some four lakh rupees were set aside for the
temple repairs,'' said Nazir Mir, chairman of the Auqaf.
temple repairs likely to get over soon, the village hopes to revive the
centuries-old bond between the two communities. “We hope the village becomes an
example for others to follow suit. Kashmiryat will triumph eventually, despite
the vagaries of the time,” said Mir.
nine Nobel laureates urge Imran, Modi to defuse tensions
Fifty nine Nobel laureates have written letters to the Prime Ministers of India
and Pakistan urging them to “defuse the rising tensions” between the two
countries, according to a statement.
letter signed by the Nobel laureates, under the aegis of the Laureates and
Leaders for Children — a platform founded by Nobel peace laureate Kailash
Satyarthi — was submitted to India and Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to
the UN on Saturday, the statement said on Sunday.
the best interest of our children, we, the Laureates and Leaders for Children
call upon the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the Pakistani Prime
Minister Imran Khan to demonstrate wise leadership and exercise immediate restraint
at this critical juncture, to avoid any escalation into a full-fledged war,”
the letter read.
is no place for violence, extremism and terrorism in a civilised world. This
epidemic has to be uprooted through concrete and time-bound actions.
reiterate that children never create wars but are the worst sufferers.
Therefore, we appeal to the two Prime Ministers, faith institutions, media,
youth and the citizens of both India and Pakistan to work towards the
restoration of peace in the region with utmost urgency,” the letter stated.
Nobel laureates who signed the appeal included Malala Yousafzai, Leyma Gbowee,
Shirin Ebadi, Tawakkol Karman, Muhammad Yunus, José Ramos-Horta, Edvard Ingjald
Moser and May-Britt Mose among others.
hints Pakistan may not oppose listing of JeM chief as global terrorist by UNSC
Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday hinted that his
country may not oppose a joint move by France, Britain and the US in the UN
Security Council to list Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group's chief Masood Azhar as
a global terrorist.
has come for Pakistan to decide in its own interests. We will do what's in
Pakistan's interests," Qureshi told Geo TV in an interview.
week, the US, the UK and France moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security
Council to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject
him to global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
Security Council Sanctions Committee has 10 working days to consider the fresh
proposal submitted by the three members. It is the fourth such bid at the UN in
the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist.
asked whether Pakistan will request its close ally China to veto the resolution
once again in the UNSC, Qureshi said his government will try to build a
consensus among all parties and do what's in Pakistan's interests.
have some global commitments ... We will have to take action which doesn't harm
our global reputation," he said, without elaborating.
the situation following the Pulwama terror attack as a "defining
moment" for Pakistan, he said Pakistan doesn't want to go for a war with
want peace. Our people want jobs, they want reforms in institutions, they want
us to crackdown on corruption ...," he added.
2009, India moved a proposal to designate Azhar, whose UN-proscribed
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the suicide attack against
Indian security forces in Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve
Police Force (CRPF)
2016 again, India moved the proposal with the P3 - the US, the UK and France in
the UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee to ban Azhar, also the mastermind of the
attack on the air base in Pathankot in January, 2016.
2017, the P3 nations moved a similar proposal again. However, on all occasions,
China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, blocked
India's proposal from being adopted by the Sanctions Committee.
remains to be seen how China will vote on the proposal this time.
has strongly reiterated its appeal to all members of the international
community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including Azhar, as
designated terrorists under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security
Council, and to ban terrorist organisations operating on territories controlled
between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based
JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir on February 14. India on Wednesday
handed over to Pakistan a dossier on "specific details" of
involvement of JeM in the attack.
asked about the dossier on JeM handed over by India, Qureshi said, "We are
examining it and we will respond accordingly."
to a top government source here, Pakistan has decided to launch a crackdown on
terror outfits, including JeM and its chief Azhar, in order to de-escalate the
tensions with India and the action is "expected any time soon".
on Monday promulgated a law to streamline the procedure for the implementation
of the UN sanctions against individuals and organisations, amid mounting
pressure from the global community to rein in the terror groups operating on
its soil and curb their financing.
govt issues order to seize assets of all banned outfits under UN sanctions
Pakistan on Monday promulgated a law to streamline the procedure for the
implementation of the UN sanctions against individuals and organisations, amid
mounting pressure from the global community to rein in the terror groups
operating on its soil and curb their financing.
Foreign Office said that the government issued the UN Security Council
(Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019 in accordance with the provisions of
Pakistan's United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Act, 1948.
objective of the UNSC (Freezing and Seizure) Order 2019 is to streamline the
procedure for implementation of Security Council Sanctions against designated
individuals and entities," it said in a statement.
the order, Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said it means that the
government has taken over the control of assets and properties of all banned
outfits operating in the country, Dawn reported.
now onwards), all kinds of assets and properties of all (banned) organisations
will be in the government's control," he said.
added that the government will now also seize the charity wings and ambulances
of such banned outfits.
crackdown on banned groups came amid tensions with India following a suicide
attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14 by Pakistan-based
Jaish-e-Muhammed terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.
handed over a dossier to Pakistan to take action against the JeM, as pressure
mounted on Islamabad to take action against individual and organisation listed
by the UN Security Council as terrorists.
Sunday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government has taken
action against the proscribed organisations including JeM in the past and any
future action against them will be taken in the light of the National Action
Plan (NAP) and Pakistan's commitments in connection with the Financial Action
Task Force (FATF).
a top government source said that the Pakistan government has decided to launch
a crackdown on terror outfits, including Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood
Azhar, in order to de-escalate tensions with India.
official had said the action against JeM is "expected any time soon".
new law is expected to help Pakistan government to fulfill its obligations
towards the UNSC by expediting seizure of properties of banned groups and
US last month asked Pakistan to "freeze without delay" the funds and
other financial assets of the UNSC-designated terrorist networks and their
is also under pressure from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing.
FATF in June last year placed Pakistan onto its watch list in a bid to push the
country to halt support for militant groups.
June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the
FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and to address its strategic
counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies by implementing a 10-point
action plan to accomplish these objectives.
successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by
the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its grey list or else move
into the black list by September 2019.
its statement, the Foreign Office said that it may be recalled that the Chapter
VII of the United Nations Charter authorises the (UNSC), acting under Article
41, to decide measures, not involving the use of armed force, to give effect to
its decisions for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Pakistan, such decisions of the Security Council are implemented through the UN
Security Council Act (UNSC), 1948, it said.
FO said over the years the sanctions regime of the United Nations Security
Council have evolved.
key measure of these sanctions regimes is 'assets freeze' under which States
are required to freeze/seize the assets of designated entities and individuals
as soon as they are designated by the relevant UNSC Sanctions Committee,"
UN Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019 has been formulated in
line with UNSC and the FATF standards, according to FO.
right ‘infiltrating children’s charities with anti-Islam agenda’
groups including Ukip are attempting to “infiltrate” child protection charities
to further an anti-Islam agenda, officials from the government’s
counter-extremism programme believe.
from Prevent said far-right figures were using voluntary groups to stir up
tension in towns with historical problems of child sexual exploitation.
Rochdale, a community group for child sexual abuse survivors, Shatter Boys,
said it had been approached repeatedly by senior Ukip figures including Lord
Pearson, who offered to introduce them to millionaire donors and fund an open-top
bus to raise the alarm about grooming gangs.
Wolstencroft, the founder of Shatter Boys, said: “What they’re doing basically
is grooming survivor groups and survivors of abuse. I think their fight is
who is an adviser to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, said Ukip
in particular had attempted to “jump on the child abuse bandwagon” to further
its own anti-Islam agenda.
offer of funding, made during a private lunch at the House of Lords, followed
months of courting by the Ukip families spokesman, Alan Craig, who last year
said Muslim grooming gangs had committed a “Holocaust of our children”.
who said paedophilia could be traced back “to Muhammad himself”, approached the
Rochdale-based group on social media before attending one of its street patrols
with a leading member of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA).
Ukip leader, Gerard Batten, spoke at a rally in Rochdale organised by the DFLA
last April. The DFLA has described the Greater Manchester town as being on its
“hit list” for anti-grooming demonstrations.
issue of child sexual exploitation by men of Pakistani heritage has become a
key focus of Ukip under the leadership of Batten, who triggered a wave of
senior resignations when he appointed the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson as
an adviser on grooming gangs.
Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service’s former lead on child sexual abuse, said
established charities were being “infiltrated by the far right who wish them to
pursue a different agenda”.
linked to the far right have also launched or promoted their own anti-grooming
campaign groups in the past year, the Guardian has learned.
of Robinson’s allies, Shazia Hobbs, launched an anti-grooming helpline at an
event hosted by Pearson in parliament in December, which was attended by the
For Britain leader, Anne Marie Waters.
was quoted after the event as saying: “If you touch this case, you immediately
become an Islamophobe. Islam lies at the heart of this problem and most of this
is a problem within Islam. We need to start talking about this openly.” Pearson
and Ukip have not responded to requests for comment.
group, the National Anti Grooming Alliance & Helpline (NAGAH), was jointly
set up by a member of the DFLA, John Clynch, last year after reports of a mass
grooming gang in Telford, Shropshire.
who prosecuted grooming gangs in Rochdale in 2012, described the NAGAH as “an
alleged far-right front” that had been “created by the extreme right to further
their own agenda”.
NAGAH has attracted moral and financial support from Daniel Thomas, a close
ally of Robinson, who is trying to raise £150,000 for the group with a charity
NAGAH’s co-founder Anthony Wood has described “Pakistani rape gangs” as
“probably the biggest crime in this country’s history”.
by the Guardian, Wood said Clynch no longer worked for the NAGAH and that he
had left the DFLA. Clynch has not returned a request for comment.
said: “We are not far right at all, we are a community group … We have helped
historic survivors, online cases, male survivors. It does not just focus on one
area and we have stated this since day one.”
who organises Robinson’s rallies, said there was “not a racist bone in the
bodies” of those involved in the NAGAH and accused the media of “attempting to
destroy a working class charity”.
Prevent workers said the issue of far-right groups infiltrating charities was
“increasingly a concern” that had been raised with intervention providers
Ahad, a Prevent officer in north-east England, said rightwing groups were using
the grooming gangs issue to “appeal to people’s emotions”.
is a tactic they are trying to pursue. They can build up the relationship and
trust and slowly but surely sink their claws in and then they’ve got them hook,
line and sinker,” he said. “They then start spewing their [far-right] narrative
before you know it. I know some charities have refused to have anything to do
with the far right but it will be done very covertly and subtly.”
number of people referred to Prevent over concerns about far-right activity
rose by more than a third in the year to March 2018, accounting for nearly one
in five of all cases.
Ahlam Ben Saga
– The German Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Pegida)
group has placed a satirical figurine of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at the
entrance of As-Sunnah Mosque in the Hague, the Netherlands.
Sunday, Pegida—notorious for targeting mosques in the Netherlands with Islamophobic
acts—hung a banner with an obscene message insulting the prophet next to a
mannequin dressed in traditional Arab male dress with a bearded face covered in
footage of the incident, which has circulated social media, shows three hooded
individuals pulling the banners and mannequin from a vehicle parked in front of
the mosque late at night.
Taheri, the head of the mosque, told Dutch news outlet Omroep West that
worshippers found the insulting messages when they arrived at the mosque to
perform the morning prayer and immediately called the police.
Taheri, “It is not an attack against the mosque alone, but an attack against
the whole Muslim world.” He added that he has reported similar attacks on the
mosque several times but they have continued.
Mosque and other mosques in the region have been targeted by Pegida on several
year during Ramadan, Pegida took advantage of Islam’s restriction on the
consumption of pork, regarded as “impure,” to provoke Muslims by roasting pigs
in front of Laleli Mosque in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, at the time of
breaking the fast.
the same time, Pegida had shared a series of posts on Facebook, encouraging its
followers to participate in pig barbeques in front of many mosques, including
Pegida followed in the steps of previous offensive drawings and caricatures
insulting Prophet Muhammad.
of the most notorious satirical caricatures of Muhammad (PBUH) were published
in Denmark in 2005, triggering outrage among Muslims across the world.
Sultan dismayed by insults against Prophet Muhammad, Islam
ALAM, March 4 — The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah today
expressed his disappointment over insults made against Prophet Muhammad by a
few non-Muslims lately.
Council of the Royal Court secretary Hanafisah Jais in a statement said that
the Sultan of Selangor expressed his disappointment after discussing the issues
with members of the council today.
Sultan Sharafuddin also reminded the people, especially the non-Muslims, to
stop insulting Prophet Muhammad and tarnishing the sanctity of Islam.
was because, His Highness said, the irresponsible act would not only jeopardise
the harmony and unity among the people, but could also cause racial and
religious tension that would lead to prolonged animosity between the different
races in the country.
of individuals throwing insults to Prophet Muhammad and tarnishing the sanctity
of Islam occur quite often and have come to the point of testing the Muslims’
patience. Islam, as the country’s official religion and enshrined in the
Federal Constitution should always be respected by every citizen in the
country,” he said.
to Hanafisah, despite the fact that insulting Prophet Muhammad and tarnishing
the sanctity of Islam were offences under the law and the legal action and
punishment had been imposed on those who committed them, the irresponsible act
still occurred, as if the legal punishment bore no effect on the group.
has shown that a country can end up in chaos if the people are hostile and show
disrespect towards the religion of other races.
the Ruler who is also the head of Islam in Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin
stressed that preserving the sanctity of Islam and safeguarding the honour of
Prophet Muhammad are among the main requirements of the Maqasid Syariah
(objective of Islamic principles) and it is also the responsibility of the
Muslims to safeguard it at all time,” she said.
she said, Sultan Sharafuddin’s reminder should be taken seriously by everyone,
especially the non-Muslims, to preserve the harmony and unity among the races
and religions in the country.
said it also applied to the Muslims and they should always be cautious before
issuing any statements or views related to other religions.
further said that the Selangor Council of the Royal Court members upheld the
decree of the Sultan of Selangor and also shared the disappointment expressed
by His Highness over the insults against Prophet Muhammad and Islam.
of the council also urged the authorities such as the Royal Malaysia Police and
the Attorney General’s Chambers to heed the Sultan of Selangor’s call by
implementing effective measures to address this problem.
investigation of those suspected of committing such offences should be
immediately carried out and prosecution to be taken against those responsible
if there is sufficient evidence,” she said. — Bernama
inmates sue over combined faith services in Arkansas prisons
— Muslim prisoners in Arkansas have sued the state’s prison system for
requiring them to attend a combined Friday prayer service with members of the
Nation of Islam and Nation of Gods and Earths.
Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights advocacy group,
filed the lawsuit Mar. 1 against the Arkansas Department of Correction on
behalf of Tucker Maximum Security Unit inmates Gregory Houston Holt, Rodney
Martin and Wayde Stewart.
the three groups, which overlap in their histories and theology, follow
distinct religious teachings, the Arkansas Department of Correction requires
followers of Islam, the Nation of Islam, and the Nation of Gods and Earths who
want to worship to attend a single prayer service.
freedom protects everyone’s ability to worship with those who share their
faith,” CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri said in a statement.
“Followers of Islam, Nation of Islam and the Nation of Gods and Earths should be
permitted to worship separately in a manner of their choice, just as Arkansas
currently offers such accommodations for Catholic, Baptist, Jewish and Buddhist
Nation of Islam, founded as an African-American Muslim movement by Wallace Fard
Muhammad in 1930, combines elements of traditional Islamic teachings with black
nationalist ideas and is now led by Louis Farrakhan. It’s estimated to have
about 100,000 U.S. adherents. The Nation of Gods and Earths, also known as the
Five-Percent Nation or the Five Percenters, split from the Nation of Islam in
1963 and has fewer than 50,000 followers.
inmates say that attending Friday prayer services with other Muslims is a
mandate of their faith. The Arkansas prison system policy requires that Muslims
attend the combined Friday prayer services or risk losing their designation as
Muslims — which could cause them to lose religious accommodations such as a
specialized Ramadan meal program.
claims that when Holt stopped going to the prison’s combined Friday services in
protest, his other Islamic accommodations were taken away.
suit, filed in federal court in Little Rock, claims that Arkansas has violated
the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act.
is unacceptable that Arkansas thinks it may define who is a Muslim based on
whether or not they attend Friday services, all while refusing to provide
spiritually valid Friday services,” said Carolyn Homer, CAIR’s national trial
attorney. “No one checks how often Christians in the facilities attend Sunday
services before letting them celebrate Christmas.”
also noted that Arkansas’ prisons currently recognize seven different Christian
denominations and offer separate prayer services for those who identify as
Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Pentecostal, and
Protestant and offers general Christian services.
Federal Bureau of Prisons lists Islam and the Nation of Islam as separate faith
groups. CAIR’s lawsuit asks for Arkansas to do the same and to recognize the
Nation of Gods and Earths as a separate faith group.
lawsuit follows other recent high-profile cases of Muslim inmates being denied
religious accommodations, including a Supreme Court decision last month to
greenlight the execution of an Alabama man without allowing his imam to be
present in the death chamber with him.
lawsuit filed last month by the group Muslim Advocates on behalf of five
detained Somali refugees alleges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement
denied them halal meals, ability to perform daily prayers, access to prayer
rugs and other accommodations. And a Muslim man detained by Customs and Border
Protection claimed last month that the only food offered him was a pork
sandwich. Muslim dietary laws rule out pork.
known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad after his conversion to Islam, has sued
Arkansas’ prison system successfully before. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court
unanimously ruled that the prison’s no-beard policy was unconstitutional.
2008 report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Religious Freedom in
U.S. prisons found that from 2005 to 2007 Muslim inmates submitted the largest
number of religious discrimination complaints of any religious group and initiated
almost 30 percent of federal lawsuits under the Religious Land Use
Institutionalized Persons Act from 2001 to 2006.
lawmakers say Trump has taken 'no meaningful action' over China's treatment of
bipartisan group of US lawmakers said the Trump administration's response to
China's alleged abuses of the largest Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang
was inadequate and urged it to hold Beijing to account.
administration has taken no meaningful action in response to the situation in
(Xinjiang)," lawmakers wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo, four months after they originally called on him to take action on this
has reached out to the State Department for comment.
many as two million Uyghurs are estimated to have been imprisoned in huge
detention centers in China's far west, according to a US government report.
human rights crisis in Xinjiang has drawn increasingly harsh criticism from
across the world. At a UN hearing in November, more than a dozen countries
called on Beijing to end its "arbitrary detention" of Uyghurs.
former detainee told CNN she witnessed abuse and torture, and lost one of her
sons during her time in the camps.
has repeatedly denied it is detaining Uyghurs against their will, calling the
camps "vocational training centers" and suggesting they are providing
their letter Monday, the US lawmakers, led by House Committee on Foreign
Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, said that "over a million Uyghurs and other
Muslim ethnic minorities have been interned in 'political re-education camps'
without due process as part of a broader attempt to wipe out their separate
identity, language, and history."
responses to these abuses have been insufficient. Of particular concern are
reports of US companies that may be contributing to Beijing's persecution of
Uyghurs through their support or commercial ties to Hikvision and Dahua -- two
Chinese tech giants that have profited from the surge of security spending in
Xinjiang," the letter added.
also pointed to plans by Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-based company
that counts former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince among its investors, to build a
"training center" in Xinjiang.
examples demonstrate not just the need to increase public awareness of human
rights issues in (Xinjiang), but also impose consequences on PRC officials
responsible and those who enable their abuses," the letter said.
"Rhetoric without action will only embolden Beijing."
requested information on whether the US monitors the use of American technology
in facilitating the surveillance and detention of Muslim minorities in
Xinjiang, and details of "any US companies that are allegedly providing
technology transfers, sales, or security training for Chinese government
officials or closely associated entities that operate in the Xinjiang Uyghur
also called on the Trump administration to reveal its plans, either
unilaterally or with allies, for "holding Beijing accountable."
letter comes as Beijing is facing a growing global backlash over the situation
in Xinjiang, as reports of alleged abuses their stack up. Last month, Turkey --
which has a large Uyghur population -- said the detention camps were a
"great shame for humanity."
a strongly-worded statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said
hundreds of thousands of prisoners were subject to "torture and political
brainwashing" in China's camps, and called on the UN and the international
community "to take effective measures in order to bring to an end this
human tragedy in Xinjiang."
in Indonesia and Malaysia have also expressed alarm over the alleged abuses in
Xinjiang, and called for a full accounting of the "re-education camp"
Two terrorists were killed in an encounter between militants and security
forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, Army sources said Tuesday.
encounter broke out at Tral area on Monday. The security forces had cordoned
off the area and launched an operation to flush out the terrorists, a police
spokesperson had said. The security forces began a search operation in Mir
Mohalla on Monday evening.
the operation continued on Tuesday morning, the terrorists fired at the security
forces triggering the gunfight," the police added "A brief exchange
of fire took place between security forces and terrorists in Tral area,"
the spokesperson had said.
have suspended mobile internet services in the town.
With idols of several Hindu gods and goddesses — Lakshmi, Durga, Ganesha —
resting on a shelf near the cash counter, 27-year-old Ishfaq Ahmad Malik, a
salesman, is fastidious in entering sale records at a textile shop in
Baramulla’s crowded city market, nestled against the backdrop of the snow-clad
Ghosal Tank hills.
employer Hridyanath Ganjoo, a Kashmiri Pandit, is away for the Shivratri
celebrations in Jammu.
have been at his shop since 11 years. Each time Hindu festivals come, he leaves
for his other home in Jammu. He has been away for the last one month during
this season and will come back after Holi. They trust us and we look after
their business during this season,” says Malik.
family is among the 29 Kashmiri Pandits who stay in Baramulla and run their
shops with the help of Muslims – both Shias and Sunnis.
colony near Veerwan, where Pandits live, wears a deserted look as all Pandits
celebrate their biggest religious festival, Shivratri, in Jammu where the
majority of the Pandits moved to when terrorism erupted in the valley and
targeted them in 1990.
shopkeepers and local industry associations, however, reassure that the Pandits
who stayed back in Baramulla are safe. “We celebrate each other’s joys,
festivals and everything from birth to marriage,” says Mohammad Ashraf, 65,
president, Baramulla Traders Association.
Muslims felt very bad about migration in 1989. Look at that shop across mine.
This one’s owned by Sohan Lal Bindroo and Sons. He is a hakeem (local doctor).
He and his family have been running this business for 70 years. In 1989, they
left, but came back later. We want that Hindus should come back. We will
welcome them back,” he adds.
Ayurvedic store owned by Bindroo is indeed one of the most popular shops of
Baramulla. “Most of our customers are Muslims. In fact, I have even learnt the
art of medicine from my owner, Hakeem Saab. I am glad that he has put his trust
in me ever since I was 17 when I joined him,” says Wasim, 36, who works a
salesman at Bindroo’s shop.
Chennai-based Islamic Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought has welcomed
the safe return of Wing Commander Abhinandan.
a statement, the forum’s secretary general A. Faizur Rahman complimented Indian
diplomacy for securing the release of one of India’s bravest sons who won
universal acclaim by displaying unflinching courage and equanimity in the face
of extreme danger during and after his unfortunate capture by Pakistan. Rahman
also lauded External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the OIC saying: “Ms.
Swaraj has correctly quoted the Quran to point out that God created ‘nations
and tribes’ not to hate one another but to get mutually acquainted through
positive collaboration. Unfortunately, Pakistan seems to have forgotten this Quranic
teaching despite having Islam as its state religion.”
and social organizations of Agra have welcomed the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami in
Kashmir by the government as the organization was supporting
"anti-national" and "pro-Pakistan" elements.
a meeting of the Hindustani Biradari on this subject, Sr Vice-Chairman Vishal
Sharma vehemently opposed the statement made by former J&K Chief Minister
Mehbooba Mufti and said that Jamaat-e-Islami ban was in the country's interest
and Mehbooba Mufti's statement "reeked of sedition and pro-Pakistani
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had termed the ban on
Jamaat-e-Islami an act of "vengeance" by the Centre, saying it would
have "dangerous consequences".
Khan, a member of the Hindustani Biradari said that that Jamaat-e-Islami was responsible
for "radicalising the local population in Kashmir" and to call them
engaged in social and religious activities was "totally false". He
said that Islam dictates believers "to love the country they were born in,
and to be faithful to their motherland", but Jamaat-e-Islami was
said that the students studying in the schools operated by Jamaat-e-Islami
should be transferred to government schools as the government also provides
Islamic education, but it was combined with the teachings of national pride.
activist Amir Qureshi said that Mehbooba Mufti had been made the chief minister
of Jammu and Kashmir by the BJP and it is shameful that someone who has held a
constitutional post is "supporting anti-nationals".
said that if Mehbooba's father Mufti Mohammed Saeed had been alive, he
"would not have supported Pakistan". "Mufti Mohammed Saeed would
have shown Pakistan its place. Mehbooba should walk in her father's
footsteps," said Amir Qureshi.
Centre on February 28 banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five
years under anti-terror law on grounds that it was "in close touch"
with militant outfits and is expected to "escalate secessionist
movement" in the state.
notification, banning the group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,
was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after a high-level meeting on
security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
weeks after the Pulwama terror attack, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba
has warned that terrorists are being trained to carry out sea-borne attacks on
also have reports of terrorists being trained to carry out operations in
various modus operandi including through the medium of the sea,” Admiral Lanba
said in Delhi on Tuesday at the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, ANI reported.
26/11 terror attack was carried out by ten sea-borne terrorists of the
Lashkar-e-Taiba who hijacked an Indian fishing trawler to reach Mumbai and
Navy chief did not name Pakistan as he said, “India, however, faces a far more
serious version of this state-sponsored terrorism. We have all witnessed the
horrific scale of extremists attack on Indian state of J&K, just 3 weeks
ago. This violence was perpetuated by extremists, aided by a state which seeks
to destabilise India.”
Lanba said the Indo-Pacific region now faces a major terror threat.
Indo-Pacific region has witnessed multiple forms of terrorism in recent years
and few countries in this part of world have been spared by this cause. Global
nature which terrorism has acquired in recent times has further enhanced the
scope of this threat.”
between India and Pakistan have plunged following the Pulwama suicide bombing
which killed 40 CRPF troopers. India retaliated with an air strike on February
26 on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot in Pakistan. On February 27, Pakistan
responded by sending its warplanes that were engaged by Indian Air Force
Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 plane
had to bail out after his MiG 21 was brought down. He was captured by Pakistani
troops and spent almost 60 hours in captivity before being released Friday
fighter jets were scrambled front a frontline base in the Rajasthan sector on
Monday morning to engage an incoming threat from Pakistan, a senior official in
the security establishment said on condition of anonymity.
made Su-30Mki — a twin-engine air dominance fighter — scrambled from a base
along the international border at about 11.30 am after air-defense radars
picked up an incoming unmanned aerial vehicle or drone. Indian fighters engaged
it with “air-to-air missiles,” the official added. Besides the Su-30MKi, there
were other fighters in the package as well, this person said without elaborating.
and Pakistan have been on the edge following an attack against Indian troopers
by a terrorist of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14. On
February 26, Indian fighter jets struck a Jaish facility at Balakot in
Pakistan. Pakistan responded with a strike by its own fighters that was
repulsed on February 27.
attempted air-intrusion was over Anupgarh that is located along the
International Border a few kilometers east of Bahawalpur , the base of the
banned terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Indian Air Force, however, refused to comment on the drone intrusion.
incident comes after a Pakistani drone was shot down on February 26 in the
Gujarat sector. Earlier on Monday Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal B S
Dhanoa said “operations” against Pakistan were “ongoing”.
three services — Indian Army, Air Force, and Navy — are in a heightened state
of alert. All ground formations especially those along the Line-of-Control
(LoC) — the disputed de-facto border between India and Pakistan — and the
settled border — International Border — are in a state of alert.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday said BJP president Amit Shah took a stand
contradictory to that of the armed forces over the number of terrorists killed
in the pre-dawn air strikes on terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s training camps
in Pakistan. On Sunday, Shah said the air strikes killed more than 250
terrorists, while the armed forces have not put out any official figure.
armed forces are also saying this. Amit Shah is saying that the armed forces
are lying, 250 (terrorists) were killed. Amit Shah is calling the armed forces
a liar. The country will not tolerate this under any circumstances,” Kejriwal
tweeted in Hindi, referring to a news report which quotes Union minister SS
Ahluwalia as saying that the purpose of the strike was to send a message and
not to kill.
another tweet, the Delhi chief minister said the whole country stands with the
armed forces while the BJP stands against them.
armed forces cannot lie but the BJP is lying. The whole country stands with the
armed forces but BJP stands against them,” Kejriwal said.
an event in Ahmedabad, Shah had said: “After Pulwama attack, everyone was
thinking that we can’t do surgical strike so what will happen...But Narendra
Modi government, on the 13th day (after the attack), conducted air strikes and
killed more than 250 terrorists.”
a press conference this morning, IAF chief B S Dhanoa declined to comment on
the death toll in the Balakot strike, saying it was for the government to
provide details on the number of terrorists killed. “We don’t count human
casualties. We count what targets we have hit or not hit,” he said.
says it will induct French-made Rafale fighter jets into its air force later
this year, amid heightened military tensions with Pakistan, which saw the two
nuclear-armed neighbors target each other’s warplanes last week.
chief of Indian Air Force B.S. Dhanoa said on Monday that the first batch of
Rafael fighter jets will be delivered in September.
Delhi ordered 36 Rafale fighter planes from the Dassault Aviation of France
back in 2016.
acquisition of the jets, however, has been delayed so far due to the opposition
by the Congress, which accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi of benefiting his
“friends” and not the country by the purchase.
in return, accused the Congress on Tuesday of inflicting “deep damage to our
armed forces” by causing the delay.
prime minster, who seeks a second term, said at a rally last week that the
country would have been better placed to handle escalating tensions with
Pakistan if it had acquired the fighter jets earlier.
week, India conducted “preemptive” airstrikes inside Pakistan against what was
said to be a militant training camp belonging to the Pakistan-based
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group, which claimed responsibility for an
attack on an Indian security convoy in Pulwama, in Indian-administered Kashmir,
on February 14. That attack killed more than 40 Indian troops..
claimed the airstrikes killed some 300 militants. Pakistan, however, denied
that the Indian raids had left any casualties or material damage.
retaliated last Wednesday, saying it had shot down two Indian fighter jets that
violated its airspace. Two days later, however, it released an Indian pilot it
had captured as a “peace gesture.”
also said it had shot down a Pakistani fighter jet in the “aerial encounter.”
further said the Indian airstrike on the militant target could have had a
different outcome if the air force had more modern fighter jets.
country has “felt the shortage of Rafale jets,” said Modi, “India is asking in
one voice what could have happened if we had Rafale. First selfish policies and
then politics over the Rafale deal have harmed the nation.”
remarks sparked anger among opposition figures, who asked Modi to explain about
the delay in the delivery of the jets if they could have been so crucial in the
PM, have you no shame at all?” said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a Twitter
post. “You are solely responsible for the delay in the arrival of the Rafale
chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati also blamed Modi to for the
delay, saying, "Rafale fighter could have prove useful in fight against
Pakistan, claims PM Modi in his rallies.”
then not a single Rafale inducted into IAF fleet during his government. Better
explain people why this kind of lapse and neglect even by the BJP on the issue
of country's safety and security?" she said in a tweet.
has long been engaged in a conflict with Pakistan over the disputed region of
Jammu and Kashmir. The two have fought four wars since their partition in 1947,
three of them over Kashmir.
is widely accused of arming and training militants.
Pakistan trade fire at border in Kashmir
two days of relative calm on Line of Control (LoC) which divides Kashmir,
troops from both sides of the border have reportedly exchanged heavy shelling
and targeted each other’s positions on Monday, local sources reported.
to Indian defense officials, Pakistan initiated the “unprovoked ceasefire
violation” by firing mortar shells and small arms on forward posts and
forces again resorted to heavy mortar shelling along LoC on Indian positions
and civilian areas in Jammu district today, which was retaliated strongly and
effectively,” said an official.
Army retaliated strongly and effectively,” the spokesman said, adding there was
no report of any casualty on the Indian side.
Sunday, more residents from near the LoC arrived at a camp for internally
displaced people at Hattian Bala in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, according to
to open airspace on Tuesday
the meantime, Pakistan said it resumed flights at more airports on Monday, but
it postponed until Tuesday the reopening of its airspace nationwide.
closure of the airspace has left thousands of people stranded at the airports
since last week.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that a resolution passed by the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in its recent meeting at Abu Dhabi
has endorsed Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir and caused humiliation to India.
in the National Assembly on Monday, the minister lauded the role of the
opposition and the unity displayed in parliament and said Pakistan would oppose
if any move was made to give OIC’s permanent membership to India.
one who was invited [India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj] in the
session could not get the objective we achieved without attending the event,”
Qureshi said the OIC had endorsed Pakistan’s stance about India’s aggression
and cruelty in occupied Kashmir and now people of India were questioning what
Sushma Swaraj had attained in the OIC meeting.
said New Delhi had been trying for a long time to get the OIC membership with
the plea that a large number of Muslims were living in India, but the whole
Muslim Ummah staged a protest against brutalities committed to the helpless
Kashmiris who were fighting for their freedom for decades.
are also living in Israel and Myanmar, but the OIC’s permanent membership
cannot be given to them,” he added.
Mohammad Asif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) told the assembly
that it was because of Pakistan’s decision to boycott the OIC meeting and the
unity showed by the opposition and the government over the Indian attack in
Balakot on Feb 26 the OIC passed the resolution that endorsed Pakistan’s
OIC resolution has further strengthened our position,” he added.
the opposition demanded resignation of Minister for Water Resources Faisal
Vawda for allegedly committing ‘blasphemy’ of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be
Upon Him) by calling Prime Minister Imran Khan the ‘biggest’ personality on
of religious parties and the PML-N wanted to table a resolution against Mr
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari refused to sign
the resolution, saying “he could not declare any Muslim a non-Muslim”. Later,
Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri, who was presiding over the session, said if Mr
Vawda was in the capital he should come to the assembly and clarify his
position and if the minister was away he must turn up in the house on Tuesday.
suspended the session for 20 minutes for Maghrib prayers. The house will meet
again on Tuesday.
Two minor parties in the opposition ranks on Monday openly announced that they
were not part of the combined opposition in the Sindh Assembly, which boycotted
the day’s session after a minister declared that the government would not make
the leader of the opposition head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
boycotting the session, members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf,
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance gathered on the
stairs of the Old Sindh Assembly Building and staged a sit-in for a while. They
chanted slogans against the government and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s
was going smooth until the conclusion of the calling-attention notices’
segment, when Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi rose on a point of
order, expressing his disappointment over the fact that despite a lapse of more
than six months the house had failed to form the PAC and standing committees.
referred to a recent statement of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in which
he had said his government would not offer the PAC chief slot to the opposition
Naqvi said the opposition would have been even stronger and offering a greater
contribution to the democratic order had the PAC chief’s slot been given to the
to slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who had inked the Charter of
Democracy with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s leader Nawaz Sharif, he said that
she had not just agreed in the CoD to hand over PAC slot to opposition in the
National Assembly, but the same also applied to the federating units.
MQM-P, GDA boycott proceedings
claimed that the joint opposition in the Sindh Assembly had decided that they
would “for the time being” boycott the assembly’s session if the government did
not agree to allow the opposition to head the PAC.
Agha Siraj Durrani said it was not the proper manner to resolve an issue.
Besides, the opposition could not get whatever it wanted by making demands.
assembly’s rules say members on each of the house committees are to be elected
and those members would then vote to decide who will head a committee,” said
the chair was trying to settle the matter, PTI’s parliamentary party leader
Haleem Adil Shaikh rose without the chair’s consent and spoke angrily without a
microphone. Subsequently, members belonging to the PTI stood and started
thumping desks while the chair was in conversation.
Durrani asked the opposition parties to show, if any such rules existed in the
Rules of Procedure of the provincial legislature, that made it mandatory that
the PAC would be headed by the opposition.
at the opposition members who were shouting loudly, thumping desks and tearing
up copies of the day’s agenda, he said: “They shout and by this want to force
me to do what pleases them, but I cannot be forced by anyone.”
Government Minister Saeed Ghani said it was the PPP that pioneered a tradition
to get the opposition’s share in heading the committees since 2008.
party started to accommodate the opposition by allowing its members to head
committees in the house. We do it in accordance with the ratio and number of
the opposition members in the house. At present, we decided to offer them to
head 14 such committees. But their demands only grew when they asked us to give
chairmanship of eight of those committees of their choice, which too we did
then they said that their members should be more than the treasury members in
those committees, which is not possible, because these committees are formed
through elections; and since we have majority in the house, how can they
[opposition] get majority on the committees,” he said.
Ghani said the treasury benches were not bound to agree to what the opposition
wanted as it was not the right of the opposition. “We can agree on some
matters; and we cannot agree on others.”
the minister was speaking, Mr Naqvi led the opposition members towards the
speaker’s rostrum where they chanted slogans against the government and tore
copies of the order of the day.
Qasim and Sarwat Fatima of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Abdul
Rasheed of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), however, conveniently sat on
rest of the opposition members marched out of the house and gathered on the
stairs of the assembly building.
Durrani said he had “guided” the leader of the opposition about the issues
concerning the committees when the latter had come to him and got his meeting
with the chief minister, yet, “his words are like no-confidence against me”.
said because of the situation in the country, the PPP had accorded
unconditional support to the federal government and same should be applied
Ghani said again: “We will not give PAC to the opposition. First, they must
sign on the Charter of Democracy and accept it in full, then we’ll give the PAC
to them. They boycott the session, we’ll go to them to get them back to the
house, but we’ll not give them PAC; and we’ll give them the 14 committees but
not what they want.”
MMA distance themselves from combined opposition
Mohammad Qasim condemned the major opposition parties in the house for ignoring
the TLP and MMA in awarding chairmanship of committees.
said his party was on the opposition benches but was not part of the combined
sole member, Abdul Rasheed, called the boycotting members as the “incomplete
opposition” and condemned some opposition members for humiliating the smaller
groups in the house.
are not part of the puppet show that they [main opposition parties] have
created. We are the real opposition, which plays its constructive part and not
just fights for petty interests.”
have never been invited to attend meetings of the combined opposition,” he
KOTAL: The Pakistani border security forces targeted militant positions with
heavy artillery after a border post came under attack from across the Afghan
border late on Monday.
officials said at least three hideouts of the suspected militants were damaged
in the retaliatory fire from the border security guards.
said some militants were also killed in the retaliatory fire.
officials said suspected militants targeted a border post from Rainai area of
Afghanistan situated across the Kabul River near the Pakistani border town of
A group of around 96 Sikh pilgrims reached Pakistan via Wagah border to attend
their religious ceremonies.
per details, Sikh pilgrims hailing from Canada, US and England reached Lahore
from New Dehli on Monday.
pilgrims asserted that they are not frightened at all after coming to Pakistan
in the wake of recent Pak-India escalation. “We feel like we have come to our
second home,” pilgrims said after arriving in Lahore.
visiting their religious places in Lahore, the group of pilgrims will depart
for Nankana Sahib.
visit will be concluded after five days, after which the Sikh pilgrims will
leave for India via Wagha border.
the government of Pakistan has also accorded approval to Sikh pilgrims from
India for their visit to the country and approved the schedule of Baisakhi
festival 2019 due in April.
to Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Pakistan will issue visas to 3,000
Indian Yatris for pilgrimage for 10 days. Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued
special directives for the arrangements of Baisakhi Festival.
is worth mentioning that recently a US-based Sikh advocacy group denounced
India’s violations of Pakistani airspace and assured Pakistan of full support
against Indian aggression.
for religious affairs said on Monday that India had refused to grant visas to
Pakistani pilgrims intending to attend the Urs of Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin
Chishti at Dargah Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan.
a statement, Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said five hundred Pakistani devotees were to
leave for the neighbouring country on March 7, Radio Pakistan reported.
statement comes between rising tensions between the two nuclear-arch rivals
following the Pulwama attack, breach of Pakistani airspace by the Indian Air
Force (IAF) and Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) subsequent capturing of an Indian
said the ministry had informed the devotees via SMS after it received
information of the cancellation of visas from the Indian embassy. “The embassy
is yet to return their passports,” he added.
religious minister argued that the step was a manifestation of the extremist
face of India, which had become a hostage in the hands of radicals.
New Delhi’s warmongering, Islamabad on February 25 approved ten-day visit visas
for around 3,000 Sikh pilgrims who wished to take part in the Vaisakhi Mela.
experts concerned about Saudi ‘anti-terror’ laws
United Nations human rights experts have voiced alarm at Saudi Arabia’s
application of its so-called anti-terrorism laws to target activists.
experts raised the warning during a panel event titled "Saudi Arabia -
Time for Accountability,” held on the sidelines of a UN Human Rights Council
gathering in Geneva on Monday, Reuters reported.
said those being targeted with the laws -- which the kingdom has redefined,
notably expanding the remit of its security forces and judicial system --
included woman. The practice by the kingdom violated the international law
guaranteeing freedom of speech, they added.
kingdom has attracted international opprobrium for its intolerance of dissent.
It has nabbed, detained, and reportedly tortured hundreds of dissenters,
including civil rights activists, religious rights defenders, and dissident
year, it famously apprehended and incarcerated prominent female activists
campaigning in favor of the Saudi women’s right to drive.
Saudi counter-terrorism law and other regulations are "unacceptably wide
and unacceptably vague," Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN special rapporteur on
protecting human rights while countering terrorism, told the event.
includes people who are engaged in promoting or inciting sit-ins, protests,
meetings or group statements. Anyone who harms the unity or stability of the
kingdom by any means. These are notoriously slippery terms," she said.
laws are used to directly attack and limit the rights of prominent human rights
defenders, religious figures, writers, journalists, academics, civil activists,
and all of these groups have been targeted by this law," Ni Aolain said.
for me is the targeting of women human rights defenders," said Michel
Forst, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
concerned not just women involved in the right to drive movement, "but
also all kinds of women," "All arrests involved incommunicado
detention at undisclosed locations," he added.
al-Khawaja of the Beirut-based Persian Gulf Center for Human Rights independent
charity, meanwhile, verified reports of the Saudi authorities’ use of torture
against detained activists.
highlight some of the torture methods that are being used in Saudi Arabia -
electrocution, flogging, sometimes whipping, on the thighs for example, sexual
assault where some women human rights defenders have been stripped, have been
groped, have been photographed naked, some while handcuffed, and others while
blindfolded," she said.
New Zealand man detained in Syria after joining ISIS will not be stripped of
citizenship but could face criminal charges if he returns, Prime Minister
Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
Zealand is the latest of a number of countries, from Australia and Britain to
the United States, forced to grapple with legal and security challenges in
dealing with former members of a hardline group that had sworn to destroy the
Taylor, who travelled to Syria in 2014, told Australian broadcaster ABC from a
prison in the Kurdish-run north that he expected to face time in prison if he
returned to New Zealand.
joining the group was illegal and could have legal ramifications, Ardern said,
but added that her government would provide him with a travel document to
return, if possible.
have long had plans in place in the event that a New Zealand citizen supporting
ISIS in Syria were to return,” Ardern told reporters.
Taylor only holds New Zealand citizenship and the government has an obligation
not to make people stateless.”
said officials had identified that a small number of New Zealanders had joined
ISIS, but declined to give an exact number.
Zealand law allows revocation of citizenship only in limited situations, Ardern
said, adding that the government could not render stateless anyone who did not
have dual citizenship.
had told Taylor he would need to travel to a country where New Zealand has a
diplomatic presence, such as Turkey, to receive an emergency travel document to
return, said Ardern, adding that would be difficult as he is in detention.
an interview aired on Monday, Taylor told the ABC that he had worked as a guard
for the group for five years and had been detained in its prisons a number of
times, such as after he accidentally leaked location details in a tweet in
also appeared in an ISIS promotional video that year, calling for attacks on
ANZAC Day celebrations in Australia and New Zealand.
told ABC he had witnessed executions while with the group and was sorry.
don’t know if I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day it’s
really something I have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said.
parents withdraw kids from UK school over ‘homosexuality’ project
Muslim parents have withdrawn their primary-level children from a Birmingham
school en masse, protesting the school authorities’ forcible “promotion of
parents took their 600 primary pupils from Parkfield Community School after
their weekly protests failed to persuade the authorities to pull a program
featuring lessons about homosexuality, Daily Mail reported on Monday.
mass exodus has drained the school of 80 percent of its students.
parents said the school was “brainwashing” their kids about gay rights through
the “No Outsiders” program, the paper wrote.
Alum Community Rock Forum, which gathers members of the local community in
Birmingham’s Alum Rock suburb, protested that the school was “undermining
parental rights and aggressively promoting homosexuality.”
petitioning, and protests by parents have been repeated and arrogantly
ignored,” the forum said, adding, “Our children, our choice - work with parents
not against them.”
school was the first place in the country where the program was launched in
2014 to teach children about the Equality Act. The act also covers such areas
as age, disability, marriage, pregnancy or maternity, race, and religion or
Ahmed, whose four-year-old daughter attends the school, organized a petition
against the project.
said, “What they are teaching is not right, they are too young. There are nine
parts of the Act and they only seem to be focusing on one, homosexuality, and
that is wrong. They need to have an ethos which reflects the area.”
across the UK have, time and again, risen in protest against measures
infringing on their religious and ideological freedoms.
last year, the Muslim Council of Britain said it was campaigning along other
groups to persuade Prime Minister Theresa May, who lead the ruling Conservative
Party, as well as leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, to adopt
a working definition of Islamophobia.
attacks against Muslims have also been on rise since a series of terror attacks
by Daesh sympathizers across the UK in 2017. Islamic communities in the UK have
always condemned such acts of terror.
EU on Monday added seven ministers to a list of sanctions as part of
restrictive measures against Bashar al-Assad regime in Syrian and its supporters.
European Commission said the sanctions list now includes 277 people and 72
entities that are targeted by a travel ban and an asset freeze.
sanctions currently in place against the Assad regime include an oil embargo,
restrictions on certain investments, a freeze of the assets of the Syrian
central bank in the EU, and export restrictions on equipment and technology
that might be used for internal repression.
of people including high profile lawmakers, diplomats, religious leaders and
foreign representatives will hear a global Muslim leader’s message on curbing
the rising racial and religious intolerance in the world.
event, hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, is to be held at the largest
Mosque in Britain, Baitul Futuh, London, on Saturday 9th March 2019, where more
than 800 guests will attend the unique event from over 20 countries.
in the UK is at record highs and one in three Britons are reported to feel
Islam is incompatible with British way of life, according to a survey by Hope
keynote speaker and worldwide head and Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim
Community, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, will explain how authentic
Islamic teachings can help defeat the scourge of religious intolerance,
terrorism and extremism.
a potentially disastrous Brexit also looming and xenophobic tensions flaring,
the Caliph, who has previously spoken at the House of Commons, Capitol Hill,
the EU Parliament and other international forums, will speak on the critical
need for peace by reference to Islam’s position on current issues.
speakers, which will include politicians and faith leaders, are expected to
outline steps to mitigate and prevent the rise of extremism, racism, and
inequality in the world.
‘peace prize’ of a certificate and £10,000 will also be presented by the Caliph
to Dr Fred Mednick, the founder of ‘Teachers Without Borders’ for efforts to
advance education in the world.
the fear that exists in the West regarding Islam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad
recently said: “Many local people are afraid that their societies are changing
beyond comprehension and they feel that their nation’s resources are being
disproportionately utilised in favour of immigrants. Whilst the term
‘immigrant’ is used, the real issue for most people is ‘Islam’ and the fact
that the vast majority of immigrants to Europe are Muslims fleeing from
war-torn countries in the Middle East.”
the fears surrounding Islam, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said: “Islam condemns
in the strongest possible terms any attempts to violate freedom of belief and
freedom of conscience. Under no circumstances does Islam permit coercion or
force in the matter of religion. Rather, Islam teaches that religion is a
matter of the heart. Thus, I firmly believe that the widespread and common
perceptions of Islam amongst non-Muslims, are actually misconceptions.”
government has become the latest in Europe to exploit a provision in a 1961 UN
convention to strip its ISIS suspects of their citizenship where rights to a
second nationality are established.
countries are increasingly toughening administrative measures to prevent the
return of an estimated 800 ISIS-affiliated nationals currently detained in
Syria, amid concerns that these legal initiatives may be making and bending
a dispute between conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and SPD Justice
Minister Katarina Barley, a compromise measure allows for German citizenship to
be revoked if the individual is an adult who is in possess of a second
citizenship and has taken up arms with the Islamic State but only after the new
rules go into effect.
measure expands the current legislation to include affiliation to terrorist
groups abroad as grounds for the withdrawal of citizenship, but cannot be
retroactively applied to those German nationals who fled to Syria and Iraq. It
is estimated that around one third of the 1,000 German fighters who travelled
to the Middle East since 2013 may now be holed up in ISIS last stronghold in
Baghouz or held in refugee camps in northern Syria.
a statement on Sunday, the German interior ministry said it would only take
back fighters if the suspects have consular access. As the German government
cannot guarantee legal and consular services for jailed German citizens in the
Middle East, it is unlikely this concession will lead to any repatriations.
now, German law did not allow for the deprivation of citizenship of German
“foreign fighters”. But recent discussions on the fate of ISIS fighters and
their families have prompted states to strengthen their legal armour.
stripped Shamima Begum, a 19-year-old mother who left the country at the age of
15, of her citizenship. The decision was pushed forward on the grounds that she
would be entitled to claim citizenship in Bangladesh, where her parents are
originally from, but the South Asian state had said it would reject her
Begum’s family has appealed the decision on the basis it violates under the
1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
legal basis upon which citizenship can be withdrawn varies significantly across
Europe. While in Belgium, Denmark, and France criminal conviction is an
essential prerequisite, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom do not impose
the Belgian, Danish, and French authorities would first have to conduct a
criminal investigation and successfully prosecute the suspect in absentia if
they wish to prevent them from returning. Practically, however, their
evacuation from Syria would necessarily require the respective government’s
far, governments’ willingness to cooperate has been confined to the children of
ISIS fighters. Belgium is currently establishing a legal basis that would enable
it to bring back children below 10 years of age but not their mothers.
Thursday last week, a Belgian court overturned an initial ruling that has made
the repatriation of six children from Syria conditional to the repatriation of
their two ISIS-affiliated Belgian mothers.
justice ministry has since vowed to bring back all children under 10 years old,
and deal with older children on a case-by-case basis, while leaving the mothers
Belgian government will continue to work … to bring children under the age of
10 back to Belgium. Children must not be punished for the deeds of their
parents,” Justice minister Koen Geens said.
Van Keirsbilck, director of the Belgian NGO Défense des Enfants, told The
National that civil society and the Children's Ombudsman are firmly opposed to
State has to do everything possible to ensure the repatriation of all Belgian
children and their families that are in conflict zones,” he said, citing a
decision to “discriminate on the base of age” is also disputed.
a few hundred EU nationals may still be scattered across Syria, the vast
majority of Europe's returnees has already found a way back. One first wave
took place between 2013 and 2014 – prior to the June 2014 declaration of a
'caliphate' by ISIS militants – while a second one kicked off in early 2015.
authorities estimated 125 Belgian citizens returned between 2013 and 2015, out
of the 498 it had identified. Approximately 300 of Germany's estimated 960
foreign fighters were thought to have returned by January 2018.
Four more individuals probed over anti-Islam posting on social media
LUMPUR, March 5 — The police today said it has taken further action against
four more individuals who have been accused of insulting Islam as well as
Prophet Muhammad via social media.
of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the first arrest involved postings by
a 29-year-old identified as Mohd Sharulnizam Stanley Sigan who went by the name
of ‘Bakakuk’ on Facebook after 15 police reports were lodged against him.
suspect was arrested in Labuan on March 3 and has been remanded for four days
until March 7,” he said in a statement today.
Fuzi said another suspect, 22-year-old Alister Cogia was also subsequently
detained in Bau, Sarawak on March 4 after comments insulting Prophet Muhammad
and Islam were made under the suspect’s account, ‘Ayea Yea’.
of March 5, 10 police reports have been lodged against Alister and the suspect
will be remanded until March 7,” he said.
said police would be applying for a remand today for another suspect named Mohd
Yazid Abdullah that went by the name ‘Yazid Kong’ on Facebook after the
52-year-old was picked up by police in Petaling Jaya, Selangor yesterday.
police are currently tracking down another suspect identified as 43-year-old
Alvin Chow Mun Fai who was currently believed to be in Kuala Lumpur after the
suspect made inconsiderate comments against Prophet Muhammad through his
four cases are being probed under the Penal Code and the Communications and
Multimedia Act 1998.
top cop said the authorities would not hesitate to take stern action against
those who refused to oblige by misusing social media or communication networks
to upload provocative remarks.
police would like to urge the public to be wary of making false and malicious
statements online as such acts may jeopardise public order and affect the
country’s national unity,” he said.
LUMPUR, March 4 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has
clarified his statement on the Semenyih by-election result, insisting that
Barisan Nasional (BN) still requires the support of the non-Malay and
explained that he was only speaking in the context of the by-election when he
said the Malay-Muslim community had sent a strong message to the Pakatan
Harapan (PH) administration over its disappointment on how the nation was being
BN not obtaining the support of the Chinese and only 40 per cent votes from the
Indian community, the Malay-Muslim community has sent a clear signal to PH
voicing their disappointment by voting the BN candidate.
momentum will continue if they remain united with a goal and clear mission to
defend their race and religion. At the same time I’ve sternly said that we must
be serious in returning the support of the Chinese and Indian voters to BN
because each vote is important,” said Mohamed Khaled in a statement.
stressed that he had never said BN does not need the support of ethnic Chinese
and Indian voters in any election and that the coalition requires the support
of everyone to create a successful Malaysia.
the Umno vice-president said the result of the election, which saw an increase
of Malay voter support for BN to 59 per cent yesterday from 35.33 per cent in the
14th general election, clearly shows who the Malays are backing now.
the first statement yesterday, Mohamed Khaled also observed that BN does not
need the support of the non-Malays in order to secure victory there as long as
it has the backing from the Malay community and added that the community has
shown how disappointed it was with PH.
bore witness to the rise of Malay political influence which is increasingly
being marginalised in PH’s strategy. The Malays have sent a clear message that
without the support of the Indians and Chinese, the Malays can achieve victory
as long as they are united.
is important that all parties do not take Malay Islamic politics for granted.
LUMPUR - Two of the three founding member parties of Malaysia's former ruling
coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) said they are looking at forming a new alliance
and are "moving on" from Umno.
of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress
(MIC) said after a meeting on Monday (March 4) that they were left with no
choice but to move on after recent "racial" remarks by an Umno
leader, The Star newspaper reported.
president Wee Ka Siong and MIC president S. A. Vigneswaran said in a joint
statement that the MCA, on Dec 2 at its annual general assembly, had resolved
to push for the dissolution of BN and forge a new alliance.
urged the Barisan supreme council to hold a meeting immediately to decide on
the fate of the coalition," said the two leaders.
United Malays National Organisation (Umno), MCA and MIC formed Parti Perikatan
or Alliance Party in 1957.
1973, this morphed into BN, which had 13 member parties at its height.
and later BN, ruled Malaysia from independence, for 61 years, until last May
when it was toppled from power by the Pakatan Harapan alliance.
today is left with only the three original founding members after 10 other
component parties defected.
alliance is wracked with tensions over its direction.
leaders are keen to work closely with fellow Malay Muslim opposition Parti
Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
PAS' vision to turn Malaysia into a strict Islamic state have alienated the MCA
and MIC, which protect the rights of ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities,
victory of the loose Umno-PAS alliance in two recent by-elections - in Cameron
Highlands, Pahang, and Semenyih, Selangor - have made the bond between these
leaders of the MCA and MIC said recent "racial" comments by senior
Umno leader Nazri Aziz, who is also secretary-general of BN, have further
damaged ties within BN.
the Semenyih by-election campaign, Datuk Seri Nazri said non-Malays should not
question Malay privileges, as the non-Malays also enjoyed special privileges
such as vernacular schools.
Nazri also questioned the appointments of non-Malays as the PH government's
Attorney-General, Chief Justice and Finance Minister, adding that Malay rights
should be defended at all costs, local media reported.
Nazri, asked about the MCA and MIC announcement on Monday, told The Star: “They
are free to find new alliances and move on with the other parties that have
left Barisan after the 14th General Election. “I do not think it is a loss.”
has 38 MPs in the federal Parliament, according to the institution's website.
The MCA and MIC each has one seat.
there is a twist in the BN infighting - instead of leaving BN, the MCA and MIC
are plotting to sack Umno from the coalition.
Fancy wearing sarong going to the office this year?
Joko "Jokowi" Widodo thinks you should and now he wants Indonesians
to wear the traditional unisex tubular skirt at least once a month.
2010 the Indonesian government has already required staff in government offices
to wear some form of batik, helping to make the ornately printed cloth cool
said the sarong is a significant element of Indonesian culture and that wearing
it will be a sign of appreciation for sarong craftsmen. He hopes soon
Indonesians will wear sarong on a specific date every month.
[sarong] is a cultural heritage that no other country has. Let's wear sarong on
a specific date every month," Jokowi said at the 2019 Indonesian Sarong
Festival on Sunday.
festival was held at the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex in Senayan, South
Jakarta. The president was accompanied by his wife Iriana and a number of
ministers from his cabinet. He was wearing a sarong from the Donggala region of
Central Sulawesi along with his signature white long-sleeve shirt.
all Indonesian ethnic groups have their own version of the sarong, decorated in
colorful geometric or animal and plant patterns.
since the introduction of fast fashion, Indonesians rarely wear sarong as
sarong is reserved for traditional ceremonies or special occasions like
wedding, while cheap sarongs are often worn as pajamas.
sarong is also the traditional attire of santri, students at Islamic boarding
schools or pesantren.
Amin, a kyai (senior santri) and Jokowi's running mate in April's presidential
election, is rarely seen without his sarong.
controversial Muslim cleric is famous for matching up his sarong with a blazer,
a scarf and a peci, the traditional black velvet cap commonly worn by Muslim
a visit to a pesantren in Bandung earlier this year, Ma’ruf promised to
continue wearing the sarong if he becomes vice president.
up to the presidential election, both Jokowi and Ma’ruf and their rivals
Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno have been trying to woo Muslim voters,
especially the santri, who make up a significant percentage of Muslim youths.
administration has already implemented an entrepreneurial training program for
santri in 16 pesantrens throughout Indonesia.
wanting to be outdone, Sandiaga last year stated that if he and Prabowo win the
election, they will develop a program to support the creation of more
santripreneurs, or santri enterpreneurs.
directs US to end preferential trade status for India, Turkey
States President Donald Trump has decided to scrap preferential treatment
programs for India and Turkey.
US “intends to terminate India’s and Turkey’s designations as beneficiary
developing countries under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program
because they no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria,” the US
Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) said in statement on Monday.
GSP program allows “certain products” to enter the US without facing any
tariffs, given that countries meet eligibility criteria such as “providing the
US with equitable and reasonable market access.”
in 1974 and having covered 120 countries, the GSP is the largest and oldest US
trade preference program.
Monday statement claimed India had failed to provide guarantees that it would
allow the amount of market access required for by the program. The USTR also
claimed that the country had "implemented a wide array of trade barriers
that create serious negative effects on US commerce.”
is known to be the world’s main GSP program beneficiary. Ending the program for
the country may be the strongest punitive action taken against Delhi during Trump's
Turkey, the statement claimed that the country had “graduated” from the
program, describing that Ankara had become “sufficiently economically
developed” and that it no longer qualified for the treatment.
in August, the USTR said that it was reviewing Turkey’s eligibility for the
program due to the country's imposed retaliatory tariffs on US goods in
response to American steel and aluminum tariffs.
new policy will be enacted by a presidential proclamation and will take effect
after at least 60 days following the notification of the US Congress and the
Turkish and Indian governments.
The controversial closure of the US diplomatic mission which has served
Jerusalem for more than 175 years was on Monday branded a “political assault”
on the Palestinian people.
Ambassador to Israel David Friedman officially shuttered the consulate by
thanking its Consul General Karen Sasahara for her “service and
professionalism” and wishing her well representing America in her next posting.
decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and
effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations,” a US State
Department spokesman said in a statement.
three-story Jerusalem mansion, with its arched windows and
bougainvillea-covered walls, was where the unofficial US envoy to the
Palestinians lived and hosted Palestinian guests for Fourth of July parties.
estate will now become the domain of the US ambassador to Israel, a move which
has been criticized in many quarters.
Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Commission to Support
Jerusalem and the Holy Sites, told Arab News that the lowering of American
diplomatic representation to Palestine was a continuation of discriminatory US
attempts to merge the US consulate with the embassy is a contradiction of
international law and specifically UN Security Council resolution 478 (one of
several UN resolutions condemning Israel’s attempted annexation of East
Jerusalem) of 1980,” said Issa.
said the real purpose behind the US decision was to obliterate the idea of a
Palestinian state alongside Israel.
a statement issued on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO),
executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that the merging of the consulate
with the embassy “is not an administrative decision. It is an act of political
assault on Palestinian rights and identity, and a negation of the consulate’s
historic status and function, dating back nearly 200 years.”
to National Public Radio former US diplomat Ed Abington, who served in Jerusalem,
noted that historically the position of Washington had been that the embassy in
Tel Aviv and the consulate in Jerusalem “should not be merged.”
said that “the effect on our ability to deal with the Palestinians is being
Israeli lawyer Daniel Seidemann told Arab News that the closure of the
consulate was no mere merger.
consulate will not merge, but it will be subsumed into the embassy to Israel,”
Seidemann said. “This is no mere technicality, it precisely reflects current US
policies: All things Palestinian are subservient to Israeli interests.”
US decision has been met with a storm of opposition from a wide spectrum of
US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns called it “a mistake,” and said that
all US presidents prior to Donald Trump had “understood its importance as our
bridge to the Palestinian people. I was proud to serve there in the 1980s.”
Ross, chief US negotiator with both Republican and Democratic administrations,
criticized the move as “unfortunate” noting that the Palestinian public would
read it “as a sign of indifference to them.”
said that the US administration needed to take steps “to reach out to
Palestinians if it is to have any hope for its plan.”
Amr, a US researcher who worked in the Jerusalem consulate, said in a personal
tweet that he was pained by the decision. “My heart is heavy. America should be
playing the taps. A place I was honored to work out of during many trips in
support of Secretary John Kerry (former US Secretary of State).”
and security expert Ilan Goldenberg prepared a study for the Washington-based
research group Brookings Institution which concluded that “merging units sounds
efficient. But this merger does major harm to the US ability to act as a
mediator in the conflict and serves as a severe blow to the prospects of
Israeli-Palestinian peace through a two-state solution.”
Walles, a former consul general in Jerusalem, called the closure “a sad end to
an important US diplomatic mission.”
journalist Noa Landau tweeted that shutting the US consulate would have a
negative effect on reporting about Jewish settlements.
about construction in new settlements will now be overseen by Ambassador Friedman,
a longtime supporter of the settlement enterprise.”
President John Tyler was the first consul general in Jerusalem in 1844.
first physical presence of a US mission there was inside Jaffa Gate in the old
city of Jerusalem, a building that is now being used for Christian Swedes.
mission then moved to Prophet Street outside the old city, and in 1912 it was
moved to its current location on 18 Agron Street in a building that was
established in 1868 by the German Lutheran missionary Ferdinand Vester, whose
family would later build what became the American Colony.
Leading House Democrats will offer a resolution Wednesday condemning
anti-Semitism in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest remarks on Israel, a
senior Democratic aide said.
declaration, written by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, comes after
Omar’s new remarks suggesting American supporters of Israel are pushing people
to have “allegiance to a foreign country.” It’s at least the third time the
Minnesota Democrat’s words have put her colleagues in a more delicate spot than
usual on the US-Israel relationship, and the second time in two months that
she’s drawn a stern backlash from party leaders.
draft of the resolution does not rebuke Omar, a Somali-American and one of two
Muslim women in Congress. But it sets out the history of anti-Semitism and
bigotry in America, including anti-Jewish tropes about divided loyalties. The
document also rejects bigotry directed against Muslims after the Sept. 11,
says the House “rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance
that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United
document is the written embodiment of the bind in which Omar has repeatedly put
Democrats who have celebrated her election as part of the history-making class
that helped flip control of the House in the November elections. The March
edition of Rolling Stone magazine is covered by a photo of Pelosi and the next
generation of House women, including Omar.
didn’t start the internal Democratic chafing over Israel, and she’s not
unfamiliar with bigotry. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are looking
into a report of a threatening graffiti message directed at her. She also was
the target of an anti-Muslim poster that appeared last week at the West
Virginia Capitol in Charleston, with her picture over an image of the World
Trade Center’s burning towers.
says she’s questioning the US relationship with Israel and the influence game
senior Democrats were unmistakably wary of dealing with Omar’s habit of
inflaming a divide in the party over US-Israel relations. Some demanded a
retraction and apology from Omar, with one House chairman saying she invoked a
“vile, anti-Semitic slur” and another congressional veteran tweeting that Omar
“continues to mischaracterize support for Israel.”
should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country
in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee,” Omar tweeted
month, Omar ignited a bipartisan uproar in Washington and Minnesota when she
suggested on Twitter that members of Congress are paid by the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee to support Israel. AIPAC is a nonprofit organization
that works to influence US policy.
Jewish leaders denounced her remarks as reviving old stereotypes about Jews,
money and power. She soon apologized and said, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am
grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful
history of anti-Semitic tropes.”
progressive Jews rushed to her defense, however, saying it’s not inherently
anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli government policies or AIPAC. Omar’s
spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, said she is not criticizing American Jews or their
faith, only offering a “fair critique” of Israel’s powerful lobby.
episode came after Omar apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said, “Israel
has hypnotized the world.”
have suggested that Omar be stripped of her seat on the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, a move Pelosi and Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. have so far resisted.
But Engel’s statement on Friday mentioned his panel and conduct becoming a
member of the House.
unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow
American citizens because of their political views, including support for the
US-Israel relationship,” Engel said in a statement that also suggested she
the previous two incidents, Omar did not apologize this time.
United States downgraded its mission to the Palestinian people and merged it
with its Israeli embassy on Monday.
US State Department statement says the move will improve the efficiency of
American diplomatic operations, but Palestinian officials say it will harm
Washington's relationships in the region.
the missions and teams of US Consulate General in Jerusalem and the US Embassy
in Jerusalem – which moved from Tel Aviv last year, leading to international
criticism and protests across Palestine – will be merged, leaving US Ambassador
to Israel David Friedman in charge of missions to both countries.
United States diplomatic office for Palestine will now be the US Embassy
Palestinian Affairs Unit, not a consulate as it was.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move first announced in October will
not constitute a change in policy and is intended to improve "efficiency
Administration remains fully committed to efforts to achieve a lasting and
comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the
Palestinians," the State Department statement said, adding that the move
does not represent a change in United States policy on Middle East peace.
move comes amid a trend of defunding, delegitimising and disengaging with
Palestinians by the Trump administration.
Trump administration is intent on leaving no room for doubt about its hostility
towards the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights as well as its
abject disregard for international law and its obligations under the law,"
senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
President Donald Trump, the United States has cut more than $500 million in
Palestinian aid, moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, closed the
Palestinian mission in Washington and now downgraded their Palestinian mission.
tries to safeguard Afghan peace push from India-Pakistan escalation
The United States is trying to prevent simmering tensions between India and
Pakistan from impacting a third country: Afghanistan, where a fragile peace
push is underway to try to end more than 17 years of war with Taliban
President Donald Trump’s administration has been publicly focused on lowering
tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals since Feb 14 suicide car bombing in
US officials say as the United States spoke with senior Pakistani officials,
emphasizing the need to lower the risk of conflict with India, Islamabad
privately offered warnings on Afghanistan. Pakistani officials said their
ability to support Afghan peace talks could be in jeopardy in the event of a
full-blown crisis, US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They’ll stop being a facilitator, they will stop the pressure they are
applying on the Taliban,” one U.S. official said, recounting Pakistani warnings
conveyed to Washington.
has publicly denied any role in the suicide bombing. But the Jaish-e-Mohammad
(JeM) militant group claimed responsibility for it, and India has long accused
Islamabad of supporting them.
United States has likewise accused Pakistan of ties to Taliban militants who
are fighting in neighboring Afghanistan against American and US-backed Afghan
government forces. However, the US officials have recently seen a positive
shift in Pakistan’s behaviour.
long at odds with the United States over the war in Afghanistan, has played a
behind-the-scenes role in supporting US peace talks with the Afghan Taliban,
including by facilitating travel to negotiations.
and former US officials caution that Islamabad could again choose to act as a
spoiler. “I don’t believe that Pakistan has the capability to straight out make
peace happen in Afghanistan, but they definitely have the capability to make
peace not (happen),” said Laurel Miller, a former senior State Department
the past several days, India and Pakistan have appeared to dial down
hostilities that brought the arch enemies to the brink of another war. But it’s
unclear whether the calm will hold.
Pakistani official in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity,
cautioned that unless the tensions are reduced, there is a ‘very strong
likelihood’ that Pakistani troops will be moved from the border with Afghanistan
to reinforce positions near India.
UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said Islamabad’s focus could completely shift to
its eastern border with India. “If the crisis with India continues, Pakistan
will be obliged to keep our entire focus on our Eastern border. That may affect
our efforts on our Western front,” Lodhi said.
Pakistani official in Washington said Pakistan had not been focused on
Afghanistan since tensions with India increased last month, and it would have
implications for peace talks.
current and former US officials say Islamabad may be over-stating the risks of
fallout on Afghan peace talks, which resumed over the weekend in Doha. Speaking
on condition of anonymity, they noted that Islamabad has its own self-interests
in mind as it seeks to influence the peace process in neighbouring Afghanistan.
other US officials acknowledge a major crisis involving India would be
all-consuming for Islamabad, and say it’s another reason why lowering tensions
is so important.
Afghanistan, which fears its country is being used as a proxy for tension
between India and Pakistan, the foreign ministry summoned Pakistan’s envoy to
Kabul after he made similar warnings.
diplomats say that if the United States pushes Pakistan too hard on combating
militants, Islamabad could diminish its support for the peace process.
Feldman, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said
many of the Pakistani officials who dealt with India were also responsible for
Afghanistan, and that tensions could impact peace talks. He said a lack of US
focus on South Asia was problematic. “We need much more focus and strategic
thinking from the Trump Administration on this region, and an effective way of
implementing that strategy,” he said.
least nine Taliban militants were killed during the airstrikes which were
conducted in Helmand, Uruzgan, and Jazjan provinces.
informed military sources announced Monday that a strike in Nahr-e Saraj
district of Helmand killed two Taliban fighters and destroyed one weapons
sources further added that a similar strike was carried out in Tarin Kot, the
provincial capital of Uruzgan province leaving one Taliban fighter dead.
security forces carried out a similar strike in Faizabad district of Jawzjan
province killing 6 Taliban fighters, the source said.
a major diplomatic breakthrough, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
unanimously adopted a resolution to move the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) for establishing the legal rights of Rohingya Muslims, the Bangladesh
Foreign Ministry said Monday.
resolution to pursue a legal recourse through the ICJ came after a long series
of negotiations to seek accountability for crimes committed against humanity
and gross violation of human rights in the case of the Rohingya in
Myanmar," the minister said in a statement.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced
heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in
to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and
children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces
launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
resolution was adopted in the final session of the OIC Council of Foreign
Ministers in Abu Dhabi which concluded on Sunday.
Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s
state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development
than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others
were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya:
The Untold Experience."
18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and
over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it
UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and
young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state
Ministry of Interior has announced that two Taliban mine planters were killed
an explosion in western Herat province of Afghanistan on Sunday.
to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior, the two mine planters were
killed in Guzara district.
morning, two mine planters were killed by own bomb blast while they were
planting a roadside bomb in Khowaja Shahab village, Guzara district, western
Herat province,” the statement added.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the incident so far.
member of the notorious Haqqani Network has surrendered to the Afghan National
Defense and Security Forces in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan, the
Afghan Military said Monday.
to 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North, the Haqqani Network
member surrendered to Afghan forces in Imam Sahib district.
209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the Haqqani Network mmeber, Mullah
Mansoor renounced violence and surrendered to Afghan forces in Imam Sahib
district of Kunduz.
statement further added that Mullah Mansoor also handed overe three Ak-47
assault rifles to armed forces.
Syrian forces fighting Islamic State militants said they freed more than 12
Yazidi children from IS last week. The children were released when the Syrian
Democratic Forces evacuated civilians from the town of Baghuz. The children had
been held by the militant group for years.
Bali is a spokesman for the Kurdish-led alliance. He wrote in a social media
tweet, "Among many children saved from [IS] territory today, a group of
Yazidi children also arrived to safe areas."
are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority who live mostly in northern Iraq.
They are viewed as infidels by IS extremists.
August 2014, IS militants attacked Sinjar in northern Iraq, then home to the
largest Yazidi community in the world. At least 5,000 Yazidis were killed
during the attack, mostly men and boys. IS militants then kidnapped thousands
of Yazidi children and women and made them work as child soldiers or sex
12 children recently freed in Baghuz are now in a special home near Hasaka, a
Kurdish-held area in northeast Syria.
was held for more than four years," said Mazin Salim, 14, a former
with many other Yazidi children, I was then taken to a location in Syria. I
believe it was Aleppo. After staying there for a few months, they (moved) us to
Raqqa," he added.
State made Raqqa its capital. The city was taken from IS by the SDF with
support from the U.S.-led coalition in October 2017.
Yazidi teenager said that while he was held, IS brainwashed him with its
the beginning, they would beat me every day because I didn't know Arabic and
didn't know anything about Islam," Salim explained. "But slowly, they
taught me how to read… from the Quran."
it controlled parts of Syria and Iraq, IS forced brainwashed and abused
children to carry out suicide attacks, kill civilians and perform other cruel
checked up on all of these children," said Shahin Hossein, a Kurdish
doctor. He has been providing medical care to the Yazidi children since their
arrival. "All of them have … psychological problems."
also said some of the children have been suffering from physical illnesses for
a long time without receiving any treatment.
the battle to capture Baghuz began, SDF fighters have been better able to find
Yazidi children and women.
all civilians are leaving Baghuz, it is easier to identify Yazidis as they come
out of the town," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told VOA.
children and women are taken to a location that is separate from refugee camps
for the other civilians fleeing IS.
job is to receive them, give them medical treatment and then…. return to
Sinjar," said Mahmoud Resho. He is part of Yazidi House Council, a local
organization that supports Yazidi refugees and captives.
far, we have a total of 25 children and a woman who are waiting to go to their
families in Sinjar," Resho told VOA.
said the Iraqi government has recently closed its border with Syria.
"That's why these people have been waiting for a while," he added.
Yazidi children rescued from IS in Syria have other problems as well. Many do
not know where their families are now, Resho said.
kids have been kidnapped for almost five years. Some of their families are
either killed or have migrated to Europe," he said.
Salim says he does not know what he will find when he returns to Sinjar. “I
miss my family so much,” he said. But he does not know whether they are alive
UAE has recently transferred an ISIL commander namely Abu Bakr al-Zokhri (with
Sudanese nationality), nom de guerre Khaibar al-Sumali, from Iraq to Aden in
Yemen to recruit and strengthen the ISIL in Yemen," Ali Abdullah
al-Bujairi said in an interview with Qatar's Arabic-language al-Sharq newspaper
added that the UAE is now organizing the ISIL in Southern Yemen and supporting
al-Qaeda in the country under the pretext of fighting against them.
investigation by the Associated Press last August found a military coalition
battling Ansarullah forces' secured secret deals with al-Qaeda in Yemen and
recruited hundreds of the group's fighters.
added that the coalition had been paying some al-Qaeda commanders to leave key
cities and towns while letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads
of looted cash.
more than two years, a Saudi-led alliance - backed by US logistical and weapons
support - claimed it crushed al-Qaeda's ability to carry out attacks from
Israeli Army units hit West of the town of Hadar in Northern part of Quneitra
province on Sunday night," SANA news agency reported.
the Arabic-language service of Sputnik news agency reported that the Israeli
Army has fired several rockets at the Northern farms of Quneitra City East of
buffer line between Israel and Syria from its positions in the Occupied Golan.
source pointed to Israel's missile attacks on the former headquarters of the
UNDOF West of Bravo line which detaches the freed section of the Golan from the
section that is still under Israel's occupation, and said three Israeli
missiles have hit the farms West of the town of Hadar in buffer line, but
caused no damage.
the Israeli fighter jets have been conducting numerous flights on Asba al-Jalil
region in Syria-Lebanon-Golan Heights.
new aggression against Syria came as Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant
Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front), Haras ul-Din and Turkistani party
terrorists have attacked the Syrian Army's positions in de-militarized zone
stretching from Northern Hama to Northwestern Lattakia.
a relevant development in late January, Damascus threatened to exercise its
legitimate right for self-defense against Israeli aggression and target Tel
Aviv airport in a mirror response, unless the Security Council puts an end to
IDF intrusions into Syrian airspace.
fed up with years of Israeli impunity in the Syrian skies and regular strikes
carried out in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, Syria has
threatened to retaliate in explicit terms, RT reported.
time now for the UN Security Council to stop the Israeli repeated aggressions
on the Syrian Arab Republic territories?” Syria’s permanent representative to
the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari wondered.
Army Preparing for Cleansing ISIL from Badiyeh of Homs, Terrorists Prevent
Civilians' Evacuation from Al-Rukban
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Monday that the Syrian army is
preparing for purging operations against the ISIL in Badiyeh of al-Sukhneh in
Eastern Homs between the two regions of Hamimeh and Station 3 as well as the
Southeastern parts of Badiyeh al-Sukhneh.
added that the Syrian army's air unit has pounded the ISIL's mobile targets
near Waze'e dam and the border between Homs and Deir Ezzur in Eastern Badiyeh
of Homs, leaving heavy damage on the militants.
newspaper quoted special sources as saying that the terrorists stationed in
al-Tanf region at the border with Iraq have prevented evacuation of civilians
from al-Rukban camp, upon the American forces' order, blocking any efforts by
the Syrian government to return them to their homes or sending humanitarian aid
to the region.
head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Reconciliation of Opposing
Sides in Syria, Col. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin, said earlier that Washington has
refused to provide security guarantees for humanitarian convoy movements within
the 55-kilometer (34-mile) zone around the US military base in Syria's al-Tanf.
noted that on Friday, Russia and Syria sent humanitarian bus convoys to the
Rukban camp, located within the US-controlled territory in al-Tanf, to evacuate
stressed that the Syrian government guaranteed security for the
internally-displaced persons living in Rukban.
US Army and Israel are monitoring the communications and targets of all Iraqi
army planes," Iraqi military expert Safa al-A'asam told the
Arabic-language al-Maloumeh news website.
said that all the US military bases in Iraq have installed spying sensors
inside the Iraqi fighter jets, adding that they provide Israel with precise
intel of military movements in Iraq on a rotational basis.
relevant remarks in early February, Iraqi security expert Kazim al-Haaj
disclosed that the US Army was training the ISIL terrorists in Al-Anbar
US Army troops are preparing and training the ISIL militants in al-Qadaf and
Wadi al-Houran regions of Al-Anbar province with the aim of carrying out
terrorist attacks and restarting insecurity in Iraq," al-Ma'aloumeh quoted
al-Haaj as saying.
noted that according to the intel obtained from Iraqi security forces in
Al-Anbar province, the US had transferred the ISIL terrorists on Apache and
Chinook helicopters to Iraq.
Union countries on Monday added Syria’s interior minister and six other new
ministers to a sanctions blacklist for their role in President Bashar
al-Assad’s “violent repression” of civilians.
European Council grouping the 28 member countries said the ministers who were
appointed to Assad’s government in November have been barred from travelling to
Europe and will see their assets frozen.
Council today added seven ministers of the government of Syria to the list of
persons and entities subject to restrictive measures against the Syrian regime
and its supporters,” the Council said in a statement.
the additions, there are now 277 people under EU sanctions for their role in
the “violent repression” of civilians in Syria and for their links to the Assad
EU said the seven new people on the list are Major General Mohammad Khaled
al-Rahmoun, the interior minister, and Mohammad Rami Radwan Martini, the
five others are education minister Imad Muwaffaq al-Azab, higher education
minister Bassam Bashir Ibrahim, public works and housing minister Suhail
Mohammad Abdullatif, communications and technology minister Iyad Mohammad
al-Khatib, and industry minister Mohammad Maen Zein-al-Abidin Jazba.
EU has also frozen the assets of some 72 entities.
sanctions have been in force since December 1, 2011, and are subjected to
annual review, with the next one due on June 1.
bloc sanctions include an embargo on Syrian oil, investment restrictions, and a
freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the European Union.
also cover export restrictions on equipment and technology that Damascus could
use to repress its people as well as those it could use to monitor or intercept
Internet or telephone calls.
of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh
Mansur Hadi have lost their lives when Yemeni army soldiers and fighters from
allied Popular Committees launched a series of separate bomb attacks against
their positions in the kingdom’s border regions.
media bureau of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, citing an unnamed Yemeni
military source, reported on Monday that Yemeni troops and their allies
detonated a number of explosive devices in the Jabal al-Qais mountainous area
of Jizan, killing 24 Saudi mercenaries in the process.
in Najran region, located 844 kilometers south of the Saudi capital Riyadh,
dozens of Saudi-paid militiamen were killed by Yemeni forces’ attack on their
soldiers and their soldiers infiltrated militia-controlled areas on the
outskirts of al-Sadis military base, setting off several bombs that killed
dozens of Saudi mercenaries as a result.
a number of Saudi mercenaries were killed or injured when Yemeni forces
launched a barrage of artillery rounds at their gatherings in Asir region in
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign
against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former
Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah.
to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED),
a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far
claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure,
destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN 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.
government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, have
carried out a major mop-up operation against foreign-backed Takfiri militants
in the country’s west-central province of Hama to avenge troop casualties
during a recent ambush by the extremists.
official news agency SANA reported on Monday that Syrian soldiers and their
allies pounded the positions of Kata'ib al-Ezza (Brigades of Glory) terrorists
in al-Lataminah town, located 39 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital
city of Hama, killing a large number of the Takfiris.
the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 20
Syrian soldiers had been killed on Sunday morning, when foreign-sponsored
militants attacked their positions in Hama.
Britain-based group added that the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Tawhid terror group
was behind the attack.
in the day, an unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Expatriates strongly condemned the terror attack, saying it came “as a new
episode in a series of the terrorist groups’ violations of the de-escalation zone
a deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort
city of Sochi on September 17, 2018, all militants in a demilitarized zone that
surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama
were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 last year, and Takfiri
groups had to withdraw by October 15.
new attack is regarded as a flagrant violation of the demilitarized zone by
“will not stand idly by while such crimes continue to take place, as it will
not allow the terrorists and those behind them to persist in their attacks
against innocent citizens and the forces of the Syrian Arab Army,” the Syrian
official also reaffirmed the preparedness of the Syrian army in confronting
such crimes, stressing Damascus’s right “to defend its sovereignty and the
territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and the safety of its
citizens all over Syrian territory.”
army foils militant attack in Latakia
Syrian army soldiers have thwarted a militant attack in the country’s western
coastal province of Latakia.
reported that the extremists sought to attack military positions in the
northern countryside of the province, which prompted the Syrian army to
Syrian soldiers were wounded and many terrorists killed during the hour-long
from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt at a meeting of
Arab states have reportedly opposed bids condemning the normalization of
relations with the Israeli regime.
RT Arabic television news network reported on Monday that Abdullah ibn Muhammad
Al ash-Sheikh, the speaker of Saudi Arabia's Consultative Assembly, together
with his Emirati and Egyptian counterparts opposed a paragraph in the final
communiqué of the 29th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in the
Jordanian capital city of Amman, which demands an end to efforts aimed at normalizing
ties with Israel and condemns all forms of rapprochement with the occupying
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Speaker of the People's Council of Syria
Hammouda Youssef Sabbagh and the Palestinian representative, in return,
supported the decision to reject any sort of ties normalization with Israel,
and stressed the need to keep the piece in the statement.
paragraph states that “one of the most important steps to support Palestinian
brethren requires the cessation of all forms of rapprochement and normalization
with the Israeli occupiers. Therefore, we call for resilience and steadfastness
by blocking all the doors of normalization with Israel.”
paragraph remained intact in the final communiqué of the conference, rejecting
any normalization of ties with the Israeli regime.
peoples categorically reject the rapprochement and normalization with Israel,
and … Arab parliaments will submit to the will of Arab peoples,” Speaker of
Jordan's House of Representatives Atef Tarawneh stated.
comes amid reports that Israel and several Arab states have had secret contacts
for years, and the two sides have stepped up their attempts to bring their
clandestine relations out in the open.
February 17, a report published by Israeli Channel 13 television network said
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had held a “secret meeting” with
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita last September.
website Le Desk also reported in January that Israel’s national security
adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, was working to arrange a meeting between Netanyahu
and King Mohammed VI of Morocco in the North African state.
the Warsaw conference – a US-sponsored gathering that was held in the Polish
capital on February 13-14 -- brought together Netanyahu and representatives
from a number of Arab states, including Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabic, the UAE,
Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.
so-called Middle East security forum was not, however, warmly received by
Washington’s European allies, which had either boycotted or sent low-ranking
officials to the conference.
the Israeli regime also recently re-launched a “virtual embassy” in a bid to
“promote dialogue” with the Persian Gulf Arab states.
the most high-profile visit by an Israeli official to Persian Gulf kingdoms,
Netanyahu in late November last year visited Oman, where he met Sultan Qaboos
at the Bait al-Barakah Royal Palace in the coastal city of Seeb near the
English-language daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported that the two sides
discussed ways to advance the so-called Middle East peace process as well as a
number of issues of mutual interest with regard to the region’s stability.
BEIRUT: Around 150 Daesh fighters have surrendered to
US-backed forces in Baghouz, the group's last enclave in eastern Syria, the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitoring group said on Monday.
Daesh fighters were among 400 people to leave the area on Monday after the
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces staged an assault in recent days, the
Syrian fighters said they were forced to slow their advance because the
extremists were using civilians as human shields.
despite this hindrance, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces
Mustafa Bali tweeted that the battle to retake Baghouz, the last territory in
Syria held by Daesh, was "going to be over soon."
SDF spokeswoman said the offensive had slowed down but pressure is being kept
up away from the corridor to prevent fighters from infiltrating or sabotaging
the area. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to
speak to the press.
US-backed forces resumed their offensive on Baghouz last Friday, after a
two-week pause to allow for the evacuation of civilians.
the sliver of land would be a milestone in the devastating four-year campaign
to end Daesh's self-proclaimed "caliphate" that once straddled a vast
territory across both Syria and Iraq.
slowing down the offensive" due to a small number of civilians held as
human shields, Bali said. The previous night, an SDF statement said the
Kurdish-led forces would continue their military campaign "to take control
of the last ISIS-held pocket in Baghouz and to liberate the remaining civilians
who are being used as human shields," using an alternative acronym for the
Baseh Hammo was 38 when she was enslaved by militants of Daesh. Raped and
abused, she was sold 17 times among members of the so-called “caliphate,” and
moved from city to city across a vast stretch of territory Daesh once
controlled in northern Iraq and Syria.
ordeal came to an end in January in the Syrian village of Baghouz, when an
Daesh member took pity on her as the final battle loomed with US-led Syrian
put her on a truck with his own family and allowed them to leave the village.
was picked up by Syrian Kurdish forces and reunited with her two daughters in
Iraq a few days later.
many Yazidis are still missing, five years after Daesh militants stormed Yazidi
towns and villages in Iraq’s Sinjar region and abducted women and children.
Women were forced into sexual slavery, and boys were taken to be indoctrinated
in extremist ideology.
surged last month during a two-week pause in the US-led coalition’s assault on
Baghouz that some of the estimated 3,000 Yazidis still unaccounted for would
few turned up among the thousands who streamed out of the tiny village.
Karo, who heads the Yazidi Rescue Bureau in Iraq’s regional Kurdish government,
said only 47 Yazidis were rescued.
as US-backed forces resume their final assault on Baghouz, Hammo and Farha
Farman, another rescued Yazidi woman, said they fear many may never return home
and that the offensive endangers Yazidis who are still in the village.
two said some are refusing to leave their children behind with their Daesh
fathers while others are staying out of conviction, having adopted the
extremist ideology. Many are simply too terrified to flee.
said her days as a slave were consumed with loneliness and violence.
was sold 17 times. One of her owners, a Swede, would lock her in the home for
days without food while he went to fight. Another man, an Albanian, stomped on
her hands in his military boots, after she scolded him for buying a
nine-year-old slave girl.
the Syrian town of Raqqa, once the seat of the caliphate, her nephews, 12 and
13 years old, carried guns and served as guards to a German Daesh fighter. When
she invited them to eat with her, they refused, saying she was an infidel. She
snapped back at them, “You’re one of us. You’re infidels, too.”
final months in captivity were especially trying as hunger gripped what was
left of the caliphate. Bread grew scarce, and she began making dough for
herself out of chicken feed. By the time she was brought to Baghouz, she was
eating grass and leaves.
cannot even look at anything the color green anymore,” said a frail Hammo, her
face gaunt, and her hands scarred from the abuse.
had heard there were still 1,000 Yazidis inside Baghouz, including 130 boys
training to become terrorists.
21, who arrived in Iraq in early February, feared for her sister and nine young
male relatives still missing after being abducted five years ago.
Farman and Hammo, now staying in bleak camps for the displaced in Iraq, said international
airstrikes had killed some Yazidis living as slaves in the caliphate.
said she had urged a Yazidi woman married to an Uzbek Daesh fighter to leave
Baghouz with her, but the woman, who has had two children with the man,
said she’d blow herself up first,” said Hammo.
Yazidi woman in Bahgouz was forced to give up two of her boys to be trained as
said she could not leave without them,” Hammo said.
2014, when Daesh was at the height of its power and its self-styled caliphate
spanned a third of both Syria and Iraq, Daesh militants stormed Yazidi
communities in Iraq’s Sinjar region.
extremists, who consider the Kurdish-speaking religious minority to be
heretics, enslaved, raped and killed thousands of Yazidis. Close to 200,000
members of the minority fled their homes.
was 17 when she was abducted by Daesh from Sinjar. She was sold to a Syrian man
who went on to carry out a suicide operation for Daesh. His family then sold
her to a man who beat her savagely for trying to escape — twice.
first time she tried to flee, she slipped out with a group of other Yazidi
women to the countryside.
we couldn’t get anywhere, so we gave ourselves up,” she said, speaking to the
AP in a tent she is staying in with her aunt. She said she is haunted by
nightmares that keep her from sleeping.
jailed her for a week after her first escape attempt, then turned her over to
her captor who beat her savagely with cables and hoses.
second time she tried to escape, her parents sent a paid smuggler to bring her
to safety, but he was caught and gave up her name under Daesh interrogation.
The man again punished Farman.
the while, the militants were losing territory against advancing Syrian regime
and Syrian Kurdish forces, and she moved from city to city with her abuser
along the Euphrates River, until they were finally trapped in Baghouz.
got to see half of Syria,” she said, ironically.
the man asked if she would flee with him to Turkey.
refused, so he sold her to a smuggler for $10,000, money arranged by the Yazidi
community in exile, to help her leave on her own.
made it out, but the man did not.
welcomes Vatican move to open Pius XII archives
welcomed the Vatican’s announcement Monday that it will open the archives of
Pius XII next year, a move that could shed light on the church during World War
are pleased by the decision and hope it will enable free access to all relevant
archives,” foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Twitter.
Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial and research center, commended the
Vatican’s decision, saying it expected researchers to “be granted full access
to all documents stored in the archives”.
the archives “will enable objective and open research as well as comprehensive
discourse on issues related to the conduct of the Vatican in particular, and
the Catholic Church in general, during the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem said in a
Francis said on Monday that “the Church is not afraid of history” as he
announced the archives of Pius XII would be opened in March 2020.
have long sought to examine the archives over why Pius XII did not intervene
more against the Holocaust perpetrated by the German Nazis, an attitude
denounced as a form of passive complicity.
say six million Jews died in the Holocaust.
foreign ministry insisted Monday that Tehran’s ties with Moscow are “strong”
and shrugged off reported Israeli-Russian coordination on a withdrawal of
foreign forces from Syria.
ties with Moscow are strong and we are always in touch and consult with each
other,” ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters in Tehran.
a visit last week to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed the Jewish state would “not
allow the military entrenchment of Iran in Syria”.
Putin and I also agreed on a common goal: the withdrawal of foreign forces that
arrived in Syria after the outbreak of the civil war. We agreed to establish a
joint team to advance this goal, together with other elements,” Netanyahu said.
which like Iran has sided with the government in the Syrian conflict, has not
officially reacted to his statement.
for Ghasemi, it was just another example of Israeli “psychological” warfare.
officials “have a habit they cannot quit, and that is lying. (They are)
creating a psychological atmosphere to affect Iran’s relations with its
neighbors and Russia,” he said.
of pro-Iranian forces have been deployed to Syria over the course of the war
which broke out in 2011, officially to confront “terrorism”.
include members of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s ideological army.
Tehran denies sending regular troops to fight in Syria, saying the Guards are
serving as “military advisors” and that the brigades sent are made up of
“volunteers” from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
long as the government of Syria wants us there, we will be there,” Ghasemi
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advised the government last July not to
rely on European efforts to protect Tehran against US sanctions, months after
Washington withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed penalties.
release of Khamenei’s speech nine months after his meeting with the cabinet,
showed while President Hassan Rouhani was trying to save the nuclear deal with
European powers, who remained committed despite the US exit in May 2018,
Khamenei was not optimistic about the efforts.
Europeans would naturally say they are protecting Iranian interests with their
package “but (the Iranian government) should not make this a main issue,” Khamenei
was quoted as saying by his official website on Monday.
comments were published a week after Rouhani rejected the resignation of
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a US-educated veteran diplomat who
championed the nuclear deal.
skepticism from Khamenei casts doubt on efficiency of Zarif’s past and present
efforts to keep the agreement alive.
and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal in 2015 after more than a
decade of negotiations. Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States,
European Union and United Nations were lifted in return for Iran agreeing
long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West suspected was aimed at
creating a nuclear bomb.
said that the deal did not resolve “any economic problems” of Iran, and
predicted that the mechanism proposed by Europeans to shield business with Iran
against the US sanctions would also not be a solution to economic hardship.
Europeans) are bad. They are really bad. I have a lot to say about the Europeans;
not because of their current policies, but their mischievous nature in the last
Germany and Britain opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran in
January, although diplomats say it is unlikely to allow for the big transactions
that Tehran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat.
has threatened to pull out of the deal unless the European powers enable it to
receive economic benefits. The Europeans have promised to help companies do
business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal.
says that, although Iran has met the terms, the accord was too generous,
failing to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile program or curb its regional
US consulate in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the
new US Embassy to Israel on Monday, the State Department said, a planned merger
that has angered Palestinian leadership.
symbolic shift hands authority over US diplomatic channels with the West Bank
and Gaza to ambassador David Friedman, a longtime supporter and fundraiser for
the West Bank settler movement and fierce critic of the Palestinian leadership.
decision to create a single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem was announced last
October by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and had been widely expected for
early March. The State Department announcement on Sunday gave the official date
for the move.
planned merger has raised Palestinians' fears that the Trump administration is
downgrading the handling of their concerns in the disputed city of Jerusalem,
home to sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
President Donald Trump outraged the Arab world and stoked international
criticism by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and
moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv last May.
leaders suspended diplomatic contacts with the US administration after the
embassy move and have since boycotted US efforts to craft a long-awaited
Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, accusing Washington of pro-Israel bias.
US Consulate General in Jerusalem is the top mission for Palestinians, who with
broad international backing seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they
want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Department spokesman Robert Palladino said the decision was driven by
operational efficiency and there would be "complete continuity of US
diplomatic activity and consular services."
does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza
Strip," he said in a statement. "The specific boundaries of Israeli
sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the
Pompeo announced the merger plan last autumn, senior Palestinian leader Saeb
Erekat denounced the decision to eliminate the consulate as the latest evidence
the Trump administration was working with Israel to impose a "Greater
Israel" rather than a two-state solution.
status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel and the
helicopters have struck posts of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas in
the besieged Gaza Strip.
Tel Aviv regime's military said in a statement on Monday that two Hamas posts
were targeted in response to the latest launch of a "balloon-borne
device" from Gaza.
cluster of balloons carrying an explosive device was launched from the southern
Gaza Strip" towards Israel, the statement said.
Palestinian official, however, said three military observation posts were hit.
before the helicopter assault, Israeli warplanes launched a fresh airstrike
against one of the positions of Hamas in the east of Beit Hanoun, a city in the
northeast of Gaza.
says Israel must be held fully accountable for the crimes it has committed in
the besieged enclave.
Pentagon has for the first time deployed its most advanced missile system in
Israel, hailing the move as Washington’s “continued commitment” to the security
of the regime in Tel Aviv.
US European Command (EUCOM) said in a statement on Monday that the deployment
of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system was ordered by acting
Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in March last year and was intended “as a
demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional
statement added that US military forces would be stationed in a number of
locations during THAAD’s deployment to “practice operational procedures for
augmenting Israel’s existing” systems.
is the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world,
and this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that US forces are agile,
and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any
time,” EUCOM said.
is a ground-based missile defense system designed to shoot down short-, medium-
and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of THAAD and said the
deployment was “further evidence” of the United States' commitment to Tel Aviv.
“The American THAAD system is considered among the most advanced systems in the
world, and together with our defense systems, we are stronger in dealing with
threats, close or distant, emanating from all areas of the Middle East.”
deployment comes a week after Israeli and US militaries wrapped up a week-long
drill in Israel, simulating the deployment of American troops to aid in missile
US has already supplied the advanced missile system to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and
the United Arab Emirates.
November, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy 44 THAAD launchers, missiles and related
equipment from the United States in a deal valued at $15 billion.
administration of US President Donald Trump has been seeking to loosen
restrictions on American arms sales to boost the country's weapons industry.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has slammed Washington’s move to merge
the US consulate with its embassy in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, denouncing
the decision as "the last nail in the coffin of the US administration”
with regard to its role in sponsoring the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace
Erekat, secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee, made the remarks on
Sunday after the United States merged the activities of the consulate into the
embassy building in al-Quds, claiming that the move was to increase the
“efficiency and effectiveness” of diplomatic operations.
controversial decision means that the consulate will no longer serve as an
independent diplomatic mission and the Palestinians will be forced to work with
an entity that is subordinate to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
US decision "has nothing to do with efficiency, but a lot with the desire
to please the ideologized American team, which is primed to dismantle the
foundations of the international system and the US foreign policy in order to
reward Israel for its violations and crimes," Erekat said in a statement.
ahead with the merger, he added, would be "the last nail in the coffin of
the US administration role in peacemaking."
diplomatic merger, assault on Palestinians' rights
a related development, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee,
also slammed the merger as “an act of political assault on Palestinian rights,”
and in violation of UN principles.
Trump administration is intent on leaving no room for doubt about its hostility
towards the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights as well as its
abject disregard for international law and its obligations under the law,”
Ashrawi said, referring to President Donald Trump of the United States.
merger is “not an administrative decision. It is an act of political assault on
Palestinian rights and identity and a negation of the consulate's historic
status and function, dating back nearly two hundred years,” she said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the initial announcement about the merger
in October 2018, some five months after President Trump moved the embassy from
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
relocation triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories,
Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim
of Yemen’s national army killed 70 Houthi militants and injured several others
during clashes in Saada province, national military website “September Net”
reported on Monday.
the dead was a Houthi leader who was killed in the clashes, Brigadier Saleh
Al-Majeedi told “September Net.”
troops liberated several areas, including villages from Houthi militants in
Razih district in Saada.
American tourists and a Kenyan pilot were killed when their helicopter crashed
on an island in a lake in northwest Kenya, police said Monday.
accident occurred in the Central Island National Park in Lake Turkana at around
8pm (1700 GMT) on Sunday, police said in a statement.
five on board the chopper were killed.
personnel dispatched to the scene confirmed that among the five were four
Americans and the Kenyan pilot,” the statement added.
cause of the crash was not immediately known, and the identities of the victims
would be released once their next of kin have been informed, the statement
as the Jade Sea, Lake Turkana, which is popular with tourists, is the most
saline lake in East Africa and the largest desert lake in the world.
is also a candidate site for the birthplace of mankind.
islands are breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and several
snake species while the lake itself is important to migratory birds.
year, UNESCO placed it on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites, in part
because it is threatened by Ethiopia's construction of a hydroelectric dam on
the Omo River, which replenishes the lake seasonally.
allows airlines to resume flights in Syrian air space after a seven-year
suspension as the Damascus government edges closer to ridding the entire
country of foreign-backed terrorists.
a statement carried by Jordan News Agency (Petra) on Monday, Jordan Civil
Aviation Regulatory Commission announced that the permission was issued
following a series of safety assessments.
airline companies wishing to operate via the Syrian airspace are required to
submit an assessment of air safety risks in addition to using a specific route
and cruising at a set altitude, read the statement.
regulatory commission further noted that it was still evaluating the conditions
of Syrian airports, especially the Damascus International Airport.
Jordanian, the flag carrier airline of the kingdom, confirmed that it was aware
of the commission’s permission, adding, however, that the airline would assess
the situation before taking any decision in this regard.
in 2012, Royal Jordanian halted flights over Syria and re-routed them.
had recalled its ambassador from Damascus a year earlier, when foreign-backed
militancy broke out in Syria.
also began providing support to some of the militant groups fighting to topple
the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
relations were completely suspended in 2014 after Jordan expelled Damascus’
recent months, however, Jordan – among other Arab countries – has been moving
to mend its ties with Damascus as the Syrian government, backed by Iran and
Russia, has managed to defeat the militant outfits on the battlefield and wrest
back control of almost all areas of the Arab country.
October 2018, Jordan reopened a key border crossing with Syria that had been
shut for three years. The route once carried billions of dollars of trade each
delegation of Jordanian lawmakers also traveled to Damascus and met with
President Assad for talks on ways to improve relations.
then raised its diplomatic representation in Damascus to the level of chargé
d'affaires in January.
fierce gunbattle that began after Islamist militants bombed a hotel in the
heart of Somalia’s capital Thursday night was raging as dusk neared Friday, and
the number of confirmed deaths rose to 29. Somali special forces were engaging
al-Shabaab terrorists holed up in a building adjacent to the bombed Hotel Maka
Al-Mukarama in central Mogadishu. A second bomb had later exploded about a
kilometre from the hotel, the death toll from the bombings was expected to
are the al-Shabaab, and what do they want?
which translates as ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, started as the extremist youth wing
of the now-defunct Islamic Courts Union, a grouping of sharia courts that
seized control of a large portion of Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu,
for some months in 2006. When the ICU retreated in the face of a pushback by
Somali and Ethiopian troops, the hardline Islamists banded together in groups
such as al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam to keep fighting. Over the years, foreign
jihadists, including those from Western countries, have travelled to East
Africa to join the al-Shabaab. The group, which was estimated at the end of
2017 to have 7,000-9,000 fighters, has been banned by the United States and
has imposed a strict Wahhabi version of Islam in the areas under its control,
and its fighters have stoned to death women accused of adultery, and punished
alleged thieves by cut off their limbs. In a video message released in February
2012, al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane had “pledged obedience” to Ayman
al-Zawahiri, the emir of al-Qaeda. The group is believed to have also
established links with Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb, which is active in the Sahara. Al-Shabaab had considered offering allegiance
to the Islamic State at the height of the terrorist group’s power in 2014-15,
but only a small splinter group ultimately took the plunge. Al-Shabaab is
currently led by Ahmed Umar alias Abu Ubaidah, on whom the US has put a bounty
of $6 million.
has blamed al-Shabaab for the massive truck bombing that killed at least 500 in
Mogadishu in October 2017. The group claimed responsibility for the attack on a
Kenyan military base in January 2016, in which close to 200 soldiers are
thought to have been killed. In 2015, al-Shabaab terrorists stormed a
university campus in Kenya and targeted Christians, killing nearly 150. In
2013, it killed almost 70 people in a Nairobi shopping mall, and about the same
number in an attack in the Ugandan capital Kampala in 2010.
attack on the Mogadishu hotel on Thursday was in line with the al-Shabaab
tactic of assaulting high-profile targets in East African countries. Days
earlier, US forces in Somalia had intensified airstrikes against al-Shabaab,
which is trying to take back control of the capital from a Western-backed
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