worker inside the new Cathedral 'The Nativity of Christ' ahead of Sunday's
Coptic Christmas Eve Mass in the New Administrative Capital, Egypt January 3,
Exclusion, And Not Religion, Feeding Western Terrorism: UK Study
Sisi Opens Mega-Mosque and Mideast’s Largest Cathedral in New Capital
Plans To Bring Islam on Socialist Lines in 5 Years
Alameen Ulema Ask Govt to Devise Mechanism for Issuing Fatwas
Arabia Deporting Scores of Rohingyas To Bangladesh
House Panel to Probe Saudi Links To Trump's Finances
Islamic Scholar Says Erdogan Opponents ‘Must Be Killed’
Kashmir, Claimed Al Qaeda Affiliate Ansar Ghazwat-Ul-Hind May Be Struggling To
In Jail, Teen Thug Becomes Hardened Terrorist
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by New Age Islam News Bureau
exclusion, and not religion, feeding Western terrorism: UK study
exclusion is the main reason behind the growth of terrorism-related motives in
people in many Western countries, a British study shows.
of the study by University College London (UCL) published on Sunday on the
website of the Guardian newspaper showed that a lack of social integration made
people more inclined toward terrorist activities.
findings cancel out wide-held beliefs in Western countries that home-grown
terrorism was a result of issues like religious conservatism, psychosis or
finally dispels such wrongheaded ideas,” said the study’s co-lead author,
Nafees Hamid of UCL, whose team of researchers used neuroimaging techniques to
map how the brains of would-be terrorists respond to being socially
first ever neuroimaging study on a radicalized population shows extreme
pro-group behavior seems to intensify after social exclusion,” Hamid said, as
he elaborated on the significance of social factors on the surge of home-grown
terrorism in the Western countries.
study, involving more than 500 men in the Spanish city of Barcelona who had
expressed sympathy with perpetrators of a 2017 deadly attack by Daesh terrorist
group in the city, found out that the individuals have their set of values,
whether religious or not, highly affected by social exclusion.
latest research has shown how values start to become sacred and indicates that
social exclusion makes non-sacred values behave like sacred values, which in
turn makes people recalcitrant and prone to violence,” Hamid said of the
scientific research, which ran brain scans on the research population after
they were marginalized during a ball toss game.
researchers called for the result of their study to be incorporated in Western
governments' strategies policy-making in preventing radicalization, arguing
that those governments should revise their approaches to the issue which are
mainly based on previous studies suggesting there is an established link between
religion and terrorism.
findings come around a year after Manchester mayor Andy Burnham commissioned a
report on causes of hate attacks and terrorism in the city. The report, which
followed May 23, 2017 attack in Manchester, also concluded that lack of social
integration was a major factor in radicalizing the youth in Britain.
study also comes following a suspected terror attack on New Year’s Eve in a
train station in Manchester where a man critically wounded three by his knife.
Sisi opens mega-mosque and Mideast’s largest cathedral in New Capital
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurated Egypt’s largest church and mosque in the New Administrative
Capital on Sunday, the eve of Coptic Christmas, in a symbolic message of
tolerance in the predominantly Muslim nation.
the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, were due hold a midnight
mass in the Cathedral of the Nativity, billed by the government as the Middle
East’s largest church, a few hours after the inauguration.
Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s nearly 100 million
have also increasingly been targeted in recent years by militants including
ISIS, which is waging an insurgency in the north of the remote Sinai Peninsula.
dignitaries and officials including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and
Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit flanked Sisi at the opening, state
a prominent local singer, sang for Muslim-Christian coexistence as a display of
fireworks lit the skies over the two houses of worship.
this day we see you have fulfilled this promise and here we are witnessing a
great opening on this grand occasion,” the head of the Coptic church Pope
Tawadros II said. He will preside over midnight mass later in the evening with
Sisi in attendance.
President Donald Trump also praised the opening of the church and the mosque.
to see our friends in Egypt opening the biggest Cathedral in the Middle East.
President Al-Sisi is moving his country to a more inclusive future,” Trump
tweeted on Sunday.
Cathedral of the Nativity, adorned with Coptic icons, can accommodate more than
8,000 worshippers while the al-Fattah al-Aleem Mosque can hold nearly double
the number. Both are located in the new administrative capital, a major
development located some 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo.
have been clearing debris from the perimeter of the cathedral in the last two
weeks in preparation for its grand opening, a Reuters witness said.
new Egyptian capital, announced in March 2015, is intended partly to reduce
crowding in Cairo but will also be home to government ministries and an
airport. The government is expecting to begin moving to the new premises later
plans to bring Islam on socialist lines in 5 years
has firmed up an outline to sinicise Islam by 2022 in an effort to redefine the
practice of the religion and align the beliefs of Muslims with the Communist
Party of China’s (CPC) policies and traditional Chinese culture.
five-year plan (2018-2022) was discussed and agreed upon by eight Islamic
associations and government officials at a conference held in Beijing on
of religion could be defined as an effort to mould religious beliefs and
doctrine to bring them in line CPC’s objectives and the culture of the majority
of the plan were not shared in a report on the conference in the nationalistic
tabloid, Global Times, which only said the outline will soon be released.
Xi Jinping in 2015 had spoken about sinicising the five major religions
practised in China: Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Daoism.
CPC’s focus has been on Islam in the remote Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
(XUAR) where, according to the United Nations, a million Uyghur Muslims could
be interred in re-reduction camps to pledge first loyalty to the Party.
Friday’s seminar, government-appointed Islamic officials and clerics agreed
that their religion needs to follow the CPC’s lead.
agreed that the outline is the basic policy for Islamic sinicisation covering
the next five years,” according to a statement published on the official
website of the Chinese Islamic Association.
Faming, head of the Chinese Islamic Association, said at the seminar that
“…relevant measures should be implemented including holding lectures and
providing training on socialist core values, laws and traditional culture as
well as guiding Muslims through vivid stories with a positive spirit”.
Zhanfu, the vice-dean of the Beijing-based China Islamic Institute, told the
Global Times on Sunday that sinicisation of Islam had “matured” since the
concept was brought forward in 2015 by President Xi Jinping.
of Islam is not about changing the beliefs of Islam, habits or ideology but to
make it compatible with a socialist society,” Gao said.
October, a CPC leader said in Xinjiang that the “…Party’s leadership over
religious work must be upheld,” and that “the infiltration of religious
extremism must be guarded against”.
Quan, a member of the CPC central committee secretariat, one of the top
decision-making bodies of the party, and head of the party’s powerful United
Front Work Department, expressed “…hope that people in religious circles can
inherit and carry forward the fine traditions to love the motherland and their
faith, lead religious believers to follow the right faith and abide the law and
contribute to the healthy development of Islam”.
Religious scholars, clerics and caretakers of various shrines in the country
have decried the practice of recklessly issuing Fatwas (religious decrees) by
some religious leaders and urged the government to devise a mechanism which
could streamline the practice.
observations were made at the ‘Seerat-i-Rehmatul Aalameen Conference’ held
here on Sunday under the aegis of the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC).
joint declaration issued at the conference underlined that people issuing
decrees against the state institutions, the armed forces and the chief of the
army staff were causing harm to the country. It termed such decrees a threat
not only to the country, but also to Islam.
Islamabad Declaration, the joint declaration said 2019 would be observed as
the year to eradicate terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence from the
said no political or religious party in the country should be allowed to do
politics on the issue of the Finality of Prophethood.
declaration pointed out that killings on the pretext of religious belief was
against the teachings of Islam. It said all religious groups and sects
denounced decrees for killings and the extremist belief of some sections of
said people of no sect of Islam could be declared infidel. No one — Muslim or
non-Muslim — can be declared as punishable by death. Only courts could deliver
a death sentence, it added.
to the declaration, people belonging to all religions and sects in the country
have equal constitutional rights and they can live in the country as per their
cultural and traditional norms.
at the conference said that leaders of all religious groups had condemned
decrees issued against security agencies and their leaderships, adding that
they termed such decrees against the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.
speakers urged the government to devise a mechanism for putting a check on the
practice of recklessly and immaturely issuing decrees, particularly those
decrees which are related to some serious issues, such as the Finality of
Arabia deporting scores of Rohingyas to Bangladesh
after India deported a Rohingya Muslim family of five lodged at an Assam prison
to Myanmar, Saudi Arabia on Sunday prepared to send scores of Rohingyas to
some of whom have already spent five to six years in Saudi detention, were
being are lined up for deportation at the Shumaisi detention centre in Jeddah
on Sunday, reported the Middle East Eye.
to video footage sent to Middle East Eye, a detainee, speaking in Rohingya,
could be heard saying, that he has been in Saudi Arabia for the past six years
and is now being sent to Bangladesh, where he, like other Rohingyas, will
become refugees. "I've been here for the last five to six years, now they
are sending me to Bangladesh. Please pray for me," he said.
of them were also put in handcuffs after they reportedly attempted to resist their
deportation to Bangladesh, according to the voice notes sent to the Middle East
voice note said: "They came to our cells in the middle of the night,
telling us to pack our bags, and get ready for Bangladesh. They put handcuffs
on me and now making us wait."
to Rohingya activist Nay San Lwin, if these Rohingya detainees are released in
Saudi Arabia, they can support their families held in refugee camps in
Bangladesh, instead of being deported to Bangladesh.
are not criminals to be held in handcuffs, and I am very sad to see them being
treated like criminals by the Saudi authorities... Now they will be sent to
refugee camps and will increase the number of refugees in Bangladesh,"
Lwin was quoted as saying.
Rohingya locked up in the Shumaisi detention centre reportedly went to Saudi
Arabia on Bangladeshi passports, obtained via fake documents. Some of them have
also reportedly entered the country on passports from Bhutan, India, Pakistan
January 3, India deported a family of five Rohingyas lodged at an Assam prison
to Myanmar. A day before that a Rohingya Muslim migrant from Myanmar's Rakhine
state who was kept at Ambala jail in Haryana, was sent back.
were reportedly handed over to Myanmarese authorities at the border check point
in Manipur's Moreh town.
was the second batch of Rohingya immigrants sent to Myanmar. A batch of seven
Myanmar nationals, believed to be Rohingya Muslims, were handed over to their
country in October last year through the Manipur border after the Supreme Court
refused to stop the first such deportation from India.
many as 10 others still await deportation at Tezpur jail in Assam.
Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar and entering India has become a bone of
contention between the Indian government and human rights activists. While the
government dubs them as a "security threat", law-enforcement agencies
in various states have been instructed to to arrest them upon identification.
December last year, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in the
Rajya Sabha about some of these illegal immigrants living in the country
illegally after fraudulently obtaining Indian identity documents such as
Aadhaar card, pan card and even passports.
2017, the Centre had informed Parliament that over 14,000 Rohingya people,
registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR stay in India.
to government sources, most Rohingya immigrants have been staying in Jammu and
Kashmir, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Tamil
Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka and Kerala.
House panel to probe Saudi links to Trump's finances
US House of Representatives panel plans to investigate ties between the
sprawling business conglomerate owned by President Donald Trump and Saudi
member of the House Intelligence Committee said it will aggressively
investigate the links, including "hundreds" of hotel rooms Saudi
lobbyists booked at the new Trump Hotel in Washington after the president's
I would like to know is, again — and you could see this through his tax
returns, you could see this through bank records — whether there is an ongoing
relationship financially with the Saudis,” said Eric Swalwell on the Yahoo News
spokesman for a public relations company working for Saudi Arabia told The Wall
Street Journal that the lobbyists were trying to stonewall a bill that allowed
Americans to sue foreign governments for responsibility in the September 11
campaigners would offer the rooms to US military veterans, whom they would send
to Capitol Hill to lobby against the bill, the Middle East Eye (MEE) news
portal reported, citing veterans and organizers.
PR firm working for Saudi Arabia spent "nearly $270,000 on lodging and
catering” at the hotel, the MEE added.
feeding Trump’s ego?
went on to say that Trump was absorbed with Saudi Arabia due to Riyadh’s
satisfying of the president’s sense of self-importance.
have a narcissistic personality, and they’re throwing him this massive welcome
ceremony, and I think we all can see, you know, why he would kind of gravitate
toward them,” the congressman said.
reception came during Trump’s first foreign visit, which he paid to Saudi
Arabia of all other countries in May 2017. It saw Saudi King Salman attending a
sword dance with the kingdom, and Washington signing a $110-billion arms deal
US has been the main Western patron of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. It also
lends logistical support to the war, which has killed tens of thousands and
raised the specter of outright famine over the already-impoverished country.
has refused to downgrade the support in defiance of an international outcry.
The murder in October last year of prominent US-based Saudi journalist Jamal
Khashoggi has also failed to affect the US relations with the kingdom, despite
allegations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.
blasted Trump’s failure to assert “American values” in holding Saudi Arabia
responsible for the killing.
Islamic scholar says Erdogan opponents ‘must be killed’
Netherlands announced it would open an investigation into statements made by an
Islamic Turkish academic, loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he
said, “opponents rebelling against Turkish authorities must be killed.”
Akgunduz, head of the Islamic University of Rotterdam in Netherlands, had also
stated that “enemies of Turkey (supporters of Fethullah Gulen) should be
sentenced to death, even if they were pious,” during a telephone interview with
Turkish news channel Akit TV, according to Turkish newspaper Zaman.
also cited a Quranic verse asserting that it is permissible to kill enemies of
added, “what Fethullah Gulen and his movement did on July 15 is an insurgency
in the state, therefore they are aggressors according to Islamic Sharia.”
Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven had threatened to withdraw the
accreditation of the university that Akgunduz heads. “These are frightening
remarks. We are going to have a special committee in order to make what he said
clear and to decide how we should comment, but we must wait for the results of
the committee’s findings first,” she said.
newspaper had also said that “Ahmet Akgunduz did not mention the arrests and
displacement of more than 60,000 people in Turkey, including women and
children, as well as the confiscation of people’s property and companies and
media organizations with the absence of legal evidence” under the guise of
“suspicion in participating in the failed coup” that Ankara accuses Gulen of
is not the first time that Akgunduz had stirred up controversy, as he had
recently insulted critics of Erdogan and had called Kurds “dogs”.
Kashmir, claimed Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind may be struggling to
December 22, six militants were killed in a gunfight with the security forces
in Arampora village of South Kashmir’s Tral. All belonged to Ansar
Ghazwat-ul-Hind, which started life in July 2017 and claims to be affiliated to
gunfight turned the focus back on the shadowy group formed by Zakir Rashid
Bhat, popularly known as Zakir Musa, after he rebelled against Hizbul
Mujahideen, the largest indigenous militant organisation in Kashmir. According
to police officials, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s strength has hovered around 10 to
12 militants since its inception. The December 22 killings are the biggest blow
to its ranks so far. The police estimate that the group is now reduced to just
four militants, including Musa. But they are not writing it off just yet. “When
Zakir Musa is still alive, how can we say the group has been wiped off?” asked
Munir Khan, additional director general of police.
with the Hizb
whose name is today often chanted at militant funerals and protests, is one of
Kashmir’s best-known militants since Burhan Wani, the Hizb commander killed by
the security forces in 2016. Before Wani’s killing, the two were believed to be
close associates. In May 2017, Musa caused a stir in the Valley with an audio
message in which he threatened to behead separatist leaders of the Hurriyat for
calling Kashmir’s war a political struggle instead of a religious one. He had
taken up arms, Musa said, not to create a secular state but to implement
sharia, or Islamic law, once Kashmir was free of India. “I will not fight for
Azadi for a secular state,” he declared. “I will fight for Azadi for Islam, for
the establishment of an Islamic state. Not only in Kashmir but in India and
afterwards, Musa broke away from the Hizb, which had called his statement
“unacceptable”. Nearly two months after the audio message went viral, the
Global Islamic Media Front, Al Qaeda’s official propaganda channel, released a
“statement of establishment”. It announced: “After the martyrdom of heroic
Mujahid Burhan Wani, the jihad in Kashmir has entered a stage of awakening, as
the Muslim Nation of Kashmir has committed to carry the flag of jihad to repel
the aggression of tyrant Indian invaders, and through jihad, and with the aid
of Allah only, we will liberate our homeland Kashmir.”
new group, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, was to be headed by Musa. It caused a flurry
of speculation in the Indian media. Was the separatist movement in Kashmir
moving away from its old political aspirations?
it exploded in 1989, the militancy in Kashmir had developed several ideological
strands, from the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which claimed to fight
for an independent secular state, to the pro-Pakistan Hizb and Lashkar-e-Taiba,
which spoke of an Islamic state spanning South Asia. With the establishment of
Musa’s group, intelligence agencies reportedly warned of a “parallel, resurgent
narrative of terrorism” that was gaining ground, propelled by Islamism rather than
the old demand for self-determination.
his split with the Hizb in 2017, Musa began to fashion himself differently.
Initially, the civil engineering student who had dropped out of his college in
Chandigarh to join the Hizb in 2013 appeared in several posters with Wani,
wearing military fatigues and and brandishing weapons. Now, pictures on social
media show him wearing a long cloak, holding a staff and wearing a pakol cap,
inviting comparisons with the slain Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. In recent
months, there have been rumours of Musa being spotted in various cities across
Punjab. What has upped his profile on the security radar is a series of arrests
of Kashmiri students in Punjab for their alleged links to Musa.
Kashmir, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s rhetoric does not seem to have translated into
practice. Like Wani before him, Musa is from Tral, a region of orchards
bordered by the Dachigam forests, giving way to mountains. Musa was born in the
sleepy village of Noorpora. Like Wani, Musa’s influence seems to have spread
largely through local networks.
six militants killed on December 22 belonged to Tral, four of them from the
village of Dadsara. Among the group’s four surviving militants, two are from
Tral. “Most of AGH’s cadre has come from Tral because it’s Zakir’s hometown,”
said Mohammad Zahid Malik, superintendent of police, Awantipora. “He has a good
hold in this area and earlier he remained a top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen
so he has his own contact and his own network intact from that outfit.”
to police records, the group’s activities have largely been restricted to a few
bank robberies in South Kashmir and a grenade blast in Tral. “Their pattern is
different,” Malik explained. “They were in the process of setting up bases
first. Once they were established, they were planning to go for big attacks.
But we have taken out a good number of them before that. I think their
capability is greatly reduced now.”
senior police official in South Kashmir said the group is still in its
“infancy” so far as its operational capacities go. “As compared to other
militant groups, AGH is not much organised,” he said. “Till now, it doesn’t
have a proper chain of command or supply of logistics. They don’t have weapons
or the means to get them like Hizbul Mujahideen or Lashkar-e-Taiba have.” This
dearth of weapons showed in the Arampora gunfight as well. The police and local
residents said that out of six militants, only three carried weapons, two AK-47
rifles and one pistol.
substantial is the group’s affiliation with Al Qaeda? “As far as their audios,
videos and utterances are concerned, they are like those of Al Qaeda and global
jihad,” Malik said. “But we haven’t been able to find any direct link between
of militants who have joined Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind give out the old reason for
youth taking up arms in the Valley: to fight the excesses of the security
forces. It is the same reason quoted by families of Hizb and local Lashkar
militants as well.
son could not tolerate the abuse and harassment meted out to Kashmiri women by
Indian forces,” said Jan Mohammad Akhoon, father of Sauliha Akhoon, one of the
militants killed on December 22. “Otherwise, he was like any other teenager
occupied by his studies.”
Akhoon, 21, was the deputy chief of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. He had joined the
Hizb in March 2015 and switched to the new group in 2017. It is easy to find
his house in Arampora village: photocopied images showing him wielding a gun,
in the company of other militants, and banners of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind hang
is fooling the world and its people by claiming that our young generation is
picking up arms due to the lack of jobs, infrastructure and development,” said
Jan Akhoon, a government employee. “They are fighting for dignity and freedom.”
Dadsara, the family of Umar Ramzan Mir, 18, blames the state police for pushing
their son towards militancy. In November, the Punjab police arrested two
Kashmiri students allegedly associated with Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, charging
them with involvement in a grenade blast at the Maqsudan police station in
Jalandhar two months earlier. The police also named two other Kashmiris, but
said they were absconding. They were Umar Ramzan Mir and his childhood friend,
his life, Umar never went outside Kashmir,” said his father Mohammad Ramzan
Mir. “How was it possible for a person like him to go to Punjab and carry out
attacks? When we went to our local police station in Awantipora, we were told
that they can’t do anything as the case has been taken over by the National
Investigation Agency. We feared our son will rot in some jail for his entire
life. We had no one to go to save our son.”
their names appeared in media reports, Umar Mir and Rouf Mir disappeared. Their
families thought they had gone into hiding to evade arrest. “Until we saw him
during the funeral of a local militant giving a gun salute, we had no idea that
he had joined militant ranks,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, Umar Mir’s uncle. “Shouldn’t
our police be held responsible for it? This is how you create militancy. First
you accuse them of crimes and then you wash your hands of them. What option did
Umar really have to save himself?”
Mir and Rouf Mir were both killed in the Arampora gunfight. “Their fates were
interlinked since childhood,” Mushtaq Ahmad said. “They left together, and
returned as martyrs on the same day.”
about an ideological divide between the militant groups operating in Tral and
it elicits stern looks. “The objective is the same: the end of Indian military
occupation,” retorted Jan Akhoon. “It’s not right for me to say why my son
choose a different group because I am not on the ground. But all of them are
fighting against injustice and to implement Islam in Kashmir. They are
Dadsara, the families of the four slain militants speak in the same vein. “Yes,
Umar was part of a different militant group, but it does not mean that those in
other groups were his enemies,” said his cousin Shahnawaz Ahmad. “As long as
the enemy is same, the ideological differences don’t matter.”
name Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind is rooted in a Hadith, or saying attributed to
Prophet Muhammad, in which he prophesied the Muslim conquest of the Indian
subcontinent before the end of time. This would be instrumental to the creation
of a vast caliphate similar to that which existed during Islam’s early period,
the prophecy goes. There are multiple interpretations of the Hadith as well as
questions about its authenticity. Still, according to some analysts, the
prophecy has long been a part of the rhetoric used to incite militant groups to
battle. But the Hizb began life in the early 1990s with the primary aim of
merging Kashmir with Pakistan rather than fighting a distant religious battle.
Tral, there are theories galore about why Musa fell out with the Hizb, not all
of them ideological. He was to succeed Wani as the Hizb commander but the
group’s leadership went to Yaseen Itoo, alias Mehmood Ghaznavi. Musa wanted to
end the alleged influence of the Jama’at-e-Islami, a socioreligious
organisation preaching political Islam, on militancy in Kashmir. Musa is a red
herring introduced by Indian security agencies, bent on portraying the Kashmir
conflict as part of the global jihad. Almost all agree on this: Musa is no
longer a fan of Pakistan.
could the divide between the Hizb and Musa’s group be closing? After the new
group came into being last year, the Hizb called it “an Indian intelligence operation”
to “divide the Kashmiri nation”. A year and a half later, the criticism has
grown muted, even turned to sympathy. After the gunfight on December 22, an old
audio message from the Hizb commander Riyaz Naikoo clarifying that his group
was not opposed to Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind went viral on social media.
is an acknowledgement that the sentiment represented by the AGH is somewhere
genuine,” said a PhD scholar from Pulwama who asked not to be identified.
“Also, it’s a fact that Zakir has kept a distance from hardcore extremist
groups like ISIS, which means he is aware of Kashmir’s realities.”
the same time that Musa’s outfit was formed, another group calling itself the
Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir and claiming to have ties with the Islamic
State in Syria emerged on social media. The police, however, say the group’s
presence in the Valley is marginal, confined to urban pockets, and there is
little to prove actual ties to the Islamic State.
political observers, Musa’s popularity with the Valley’s youth reflects
Kashmir’s changing realities. “This kind of thinking was latent even before
Burhan Wani,” said Altaf Hussain Nadvi, a columnist and religious scholar from
Anantnag. “Until now, martyrdom for a militant meant sacrificing his life for
Kashmir to become part of Pakistan because of its Muslim character. A
considerable chunk of the youth now challenges this assertion. They are asking
if Pakistan could not become an Islamic state 70 years after its creation, why
should they lay down their lives for it? What they are asking is whether a
jihad to free Kashmir and make it a part of Pakistan or an independent state
has religious validity or not.”
older players in the Kashmir conflict may be losing currency, Nadvi suggested,
including Pakistan. “If you observe carefully, even Hizbul Mujahideen’s
operational chief, Riyaz Naikoo, has been critical of Pakistan in his audio and
video messages lately,” he explained. “Even though he is not doing so openly,
anyone can gauge it. Similarly, there has been vocal criticism of the Hurriyat
and its strategy after the 2016 Burhan Wani uprising.”
October, a leaked audio message purportedly featuring Naikoo circulated on
social media. “Only Pakistan can represent us on the diplomatic front,” he is
heard saying. “But unfortunately, the politicians there have limited the
Kashmir issue to elections.”
contended that geopolitical factors, such as the United States withdrawing from
Afghanistan, would also affect the “tone” of Kashmir’s militancy. “Doesn’t
America know that after its exit Taliban will implement sharia law? The fact is
America has lost in Afghanistan,” he said. “The echoes of a world power’s
defeat at the hands of regular militants will not be confined to Afghanistan.”
in jail, teen thug becomes hardened terrorist
Mehdi Nemmouche stands accused of carrying out Europe’s first attack by a
fighter returning from the war in Syria.
his journey from a French foster home to a Brussels court began not in a Middle
Eastern desert but in a run-down industrial town.
week, he will go on trial for four anti-Semitic murders during a shooting spree
at Belgium’s Jewish Museum. Separately, he is also accused of acting as the
jailer of four French journalists taken hostage by terrorists in Aleppo in
2013. The trial will last several weeks, but the 33-year-old is already a case
study in the radicalization of some young Europeans. Belgium and France, in
particular, fear the defeat of groups like the Daesh in Syria will send more
angry young men homewards.
Nemmouche seems to have been on a radical path long before he set off, in early
2013, for the so-called “caliphate” on the Euphrates. The investigation into
the May 2014 massacre in the museum has pieced together elements of his
was born April 17, 1985, in the northern French town of Roubaix, to a family of
Algerian origin. He never knew his father and his mother was judged not
“capable” of raising him, investigators say. Aged only three months, he was
moved to a foster family in the northern industrial city of Lille, where he
would stay — off and on — until he was 16. But his upbringing was not stable.
He would make difficult trips to stay with his grandparents, and sometimes to
care homes or a Parisian orphanage.
foster parents, in documents seen by AFP, describe him as an “angry” youth,
“capable of the worst as well as the most kindly” acts.
committed his first known crime at 13, then at 16, he spent three weeks in a
juvenile prison for a hold-up with an air pistol after being convicted by a
criminal record grew ever longer in his late teens, with traffic offenses and
muggings, and his grandmother lost track of him after his second jail term.
2007, aged 22, he headed to Provence in southern France after gaining a
vocational qualification as an electrician, but soon fell back into trouble.
an enormous waste,” his former lawyer Soulifa Badaoui said after the museum
murders, lamenting the fact that the authorities had not helped Nemmouche
one knew what to do with an intelligent, lively young man who wanted to get
out, become an ordinary French citizen,” she told AFP.
December 2007 and December 2012, he spent five years in custody — and
investigators believe this is when his ideas hardened.
prison, he was known as an “extremist proselytiser” who tried to organize group
prayer and spoke of terrorism and the 1995 “genocide of Muslims in Bosnia.”
linked him to the “Roubaix gang” — French militants who returned from the
Bosnian war and carried out robberies to fund Al-Qaeda, some of whom he knew.
his grandmother saw him in Tourcoing in December 2012, he had a long beard and
was praying daily, something she had not seen before.
is known about his experiences in Syria, but three former French hostages have
identified him as their “strict and violent” overseer.
say he did not hide his admiration for Mohammed Merah, who murdered three
French soldiers, a Jewish teacher and three young children in 2012.
who was extradited to Belgium over the museum shooting after being arrested in
Marseille, will go on trial in France over the hostages at a later date.
under tight security at a prison in Leuze-en-Hainaut, his lawyers describe him
as a man of “steely will” who was bearing up well under incarceration.
he greets me with a warm, relaxed smile it’s as if we’re not in prison,”
defense counsel Francis Vuillemin told AFP. “The walls seem to slip off him.”
Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
aid for people of Yemen “must increasingly continue”, Turkish Red Crescent
(Kizilay) president said Sunday during a fundraising event organized by Turks
living in the U.K.
to Anadolu Agency at the Help Yemen Now event jointly organized by the Union of
International Democrats (UID) and eight non-governmental organizations, Kerem
Kinik said Yemen has had a deepening crisis since 2015.
is a serious political crisis [in Yemen] and a humanitarian crisis caused by
it," Kinik said.
said: "Aid can be shipped through various channels. Kizilay runs these
operations via its permanent delegation in Aden. Last year, we delivered nearly
13,000 tons of food to almost all regions in Yemen."
said delivering aid to Sana’a and its surrounding region became easier thanks
to a UN-brokered deal for access to the Hudaydah port and asserted that Kizilay
now helps almost 1,000 families every month.
said: "17-18 million people, including 400,000 children, are in need of
humanitarian aid and if they cannot receive this aid, they may die."
added: "There is a cholera epidemic as well as other diseases. We have
shipped 60 tons of cholera medicine and established two desert hospitals with
our Health Ministry. The aid needs to continue increasingly."
attending the event, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Foreign
Relations Deputy Chairman Burhan Kayaturk dubbed Yemen a “bleeding wound.”
underlined that the UN described the crisis in Yemen as “the greatest problem
caused by humans for other humans.”
said Turkey does its part with its agencies such as Kizilay, the Turkish
Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Disaster and Emergency
Management Authority (AFAD) and delivers aid to Yemen, adding that President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan always raises the Yemen issue during his visits abroad.
said Iran and the Gulf countries are deepening the crisis in Yemen by using
various groups, but “the correct way should be found between those two
need to create a medium where Yemen’s people could solve their own problems ,”
UID’s London branch chair Erdal Yetimova told Anadolu Agency that the aid and
funds collected by eight NGOs will be delivered to Yemen by the Turkish Red
Francis on Sunday urged EU leaders to show "concrete solidarity" with
49 refugees stranded on NGO ships off the coast of Malta who have been refused
permission to land.
both Italy and Malta, who have refused port access to the rescue ships, on
Sunday reiterated their positions.
migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two NGO ships have been onboard for
several days now, waiting to be able to disembark," Francis told thousands
of people gathered in Saint Peter's square in Rome.
address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some concrete
solidarity with respect to these people."
European Commission also urged EU member states to admit them earlier this week
as concern grows over their plight, with some of the refugees stranded at sea
for more than two weeks.
is not the first time the Argentinian pope, himself descended from Italian
immigrants, has appealed to European leaders to open their borders.
there was no sign of Italy changing its policy.
Italy, no more people are arriving," far-right Interior Minister Matteo
Salvini told the Sunday paper Il Messaggero. "That's the line and it will
he rammed the message home on Twitter, saying "Italy's ports are and will
not quite as categorical, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat also set out his
reservations on Sunday.
is an issue that might set a precedent and we should be vigilant about
it," he told Malta's Radio One station.
is easy to play the Christmas Saint with everyone, but then come January,
February and the summer period we would be told to do the same."
Malta let in refugees from the two rescue ships, "the bullies would have
won", he added.
is why we are stressing that we do not want this case to set a precedent."
small island state of Malta, which has a population of just 450,000, sits in
the middle of the Mediterranean, not far from the Libyan coast.
between Italy and Malta have been strained since Salvini's decision to close
Italian ports to the refugees, accusing the rights groups who rescue them of
running a refugee "taxi service".
has called on Malta to assume its responsibilities and take in the rescue
boats, arguing that they are the closest.
said that Malta's own naval vessels had in recent days rescued 250 refugees,
with the government saying some of them were pulled to safety closer to Italian
Netherlands and Germany have already offered to take some of the refugees if
their EU partners do the same.
the European Union's long-running deadlock over sharing responsibility for
refugees has yet to be resolved.
signed to boost technical services at Two Holy Mosques
The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque on Sunday
signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Ministry of Communications and
Information Technology to upgrade technical and digital services at the
signing ceremony was attended by the president of the General Presidency for
the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdul Aziz
Al-Sudais, and the minister of communications and information technology,
Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha.
agreement aims to create a strong partnership with a view to developing the
digital infrastructure, creating an e-business environment and boosting
emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things
and augmented reality.
is the most important agreement signed by the presidency, and is a turning
point for visitors of the Two Holy Mosques, Al-Sudais said.
thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for supporting the
presidency so as to enable it to serve pilgrims to its fullest. Al-Sudais also
thanked Al-Swaha for supporting the agreement.
of the signing ceremony watched a documentary about the services provided by
the presidency for the last 56 years. Al-Swaha said his ministry seeks through
the agreement to activate and support technology and digital transformation to
infrastructure in the Two Holy Mosques is among the best globally,” he added.
“In the previous Hajj season, we launched the Smart Hajj campaign across a
number of apps, most notably the Soha app, which enables pilgrims to access the
services of a physician anywhere at the holy sites.”
agreement will establish an institutional framework, transfer knowledge and
innovation, and contribute to raising the efficiency of employees and the
system, he said.
sources were quoted by Russia's RT news channel as saying that dozens of US
troops stationed in Syria have relocated to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar
province in Western Iraq.
that the US forces who have left Syria are now stationed in Erbil in Iraqi
Kurdistan region are not all true. A major part of these forces have gone to
Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province and a number of others have been
deployed in the military bases in other Iraqi provinces," they added.
to the sources, the US forces are still stationed at the Iraqi-Syrian borders
and have not left Syria completely.
informed source said on Saturday that a large number of state-of-the-art
US-made weapons had been dispatched to Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Anbar
number of US military planes, carrying weapons and military equipment, arrived
at Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Baghdadi region in the town of Hit in Western
al-Ramadi. No reason has yet been cited for these flights to the airbase and
the details about the weapons which are said to be advanced," the source
was quoted as saying by Iraq's al-Wa'e news agency.
added that a few days ago, a large number of US military vehicles had also
arrived at Ein al-Assad, noting that the American forces take assistance from
the security companies for transferring military equipment to their positions
in Iraq and the military men are sent to different places on planes.
Syrian army troops engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists who had
attacked some regions in Eastern deserts in Eastern Deir Ezzur.
the Syrian army's missile and artillery units targeted ISIL's movements in
Eastern Badiyeh, inflicting major losses on the terrorists and repelling their
the Syrian army targeted the ISIL's movements with heavy artillery and missile
attacks in the surrounding areas of Jabal al-Gharab and to the Southeast of the
town of al-Sukhna in the outskirts of Aviraz region near Homs provincial border
with Deir Ezzur in Eastern Badiyeh of Homs province.
Syrian army troops also destroyed several military positions of the terrorists,
killing and wounding a large number of them.
a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian Army forwarded more troops and
military equipment to the Eastern deserts of Deir Ezzur on Wednesday, preparing
for a large-scale operation to hunt down the remaining pockets of the ISIL
army dispatched the 4th Division and a part of Presidential Guard Forces to the
Eastern desert of Syria from the small town of al-Dowayer up to the town of
al-Hari near border with Iraq in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.
army's growing military buildup in the Eastern desert of Deir Ezzur indicates
that the government forces are preparing for a major operation to purge the
entire region of the ISIL terrorists and put an end to any movement of the
terrorists between Syria's Deir Ezzur desert and Iraq's Anbar.
army's main objective is restoring sustainable security to the borders with
Monday, the army forwarded a large number of troops, including the 5th
Division, more tanks and armored vehicles to the small towns of al-Sukariyah
and Huweija al-Moshahedah near the town of Albu Kamal near the border with
the meantime, tens of army men, a number of Russian forces, several cannons and
heavy weapons arrived at Deir Ezzur military airport and were further sent to
regions near the small town of al-Dowayer.
head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission of opposition and revolution forces,
Nasr al-Hariri expressed hope that the countries which announced restoring
relations with the Syrian regime, will reconsider their decisions.
a press conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Hariri who represent the Syrian
opposition, said on Sunday that: “Iran aims to isolate Syria from its natural
president of the official Syrian opposition added: “We are in front of a
historic stage, either we leave the field to the Syrian regime or not.”
al-Hariri said: “We hope the Arab leaders won’t give up on the Syrian people,”
warning of the “entry of the Iranian militias to fill the vaccum of the
American dangerous pullout.”
Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday that the US
military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the
remnants of the ISIS group, and on Turkey assuring the safety of Kurdish
fighters allied with the United States.
who traveled to Israel to reassure the US ally of the Trump-ordered withdrawal,
said there is no timetable for the pullout of American forces in northeastern
Syria, but insisted it’s not an unlimited commitment.
are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,”
Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions
that we need to implement.”
conditions, he said, included the defeat of remnants of ISIS in Syria, and
protections for Kurdish militias who have fought alongside US troops against
the extremist group.
comments mark the first public confirmation that the drawdown has been slowed,
as Trump faced widespread criticism from allies and the resignation of Defense
Secretary Jim Mattis for a policy that was to have been conducted within weeks.
announced in mid-December that the US will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in
Syria. Trump’s move has raised fears over clearing the way for a Turkish
assault on Kurdish fighters in Syria who fought alongside American troops
against IS extremists. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection
Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency within its own
who is to travel on to Turkey on Monday, said the US is insisting that its
Kurdish allies in the fight against the ISIS group are protected from any
planned Turkish offensive. He is to deliver a warning to Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week.
don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully
coordinated with and agreed to by the United States,” Bolton said.
has stated that he would “not allow Turkey to kill the Kurds,” Bolton said.
“That’s what the president said, the ones that fought with us.”
said the US has asked its Kurdish allies to “stand fast now” and refrain from
seeking protection from Russia or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s
government. He said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford
would continue negotiations with his Turkish counterparts this week to seek
protection for America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.
added that Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, who has been serving since August as the
special representative for Syrian engagement and was named last week as the
American special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, would travel to Syria this
week in an effort to reassure the US’s Kurdish allies that they are not being
said US troops would remain at the critical are of al-Tanf, in southern Syria,
to counter growing Iranian activity in the region. He defended the legal basis
for the deployment, saying it’s justified by the president’s Constitutional
authority, adding “I’m a strong believer in Article II.”
on Sunday also toured the ancient tunnels beneath the Western Wall in
Jerusalem’s Old City. He watched a virtual reality tour of the historic site
and dined there with his Israeli equivalent, as well as US Ambassador to Israel
David Friedman and Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.
Saudi-backed groups are desperately calling on world nations to stop rebuilding
ties with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
to reporters in Riyadh on Sunday, Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the Syrian
opposition's so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said he was surprised
that some Arab leaders, who once backed anti-Assad forces, were now seeking
reconciliation with Damascus.
do not have the power to stop this reconciliation,” Nasr Hariri told reporters
in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, where he is based. “We still hope there is
a possibility for (these countries) to revisit their decisions.”
month, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – who has, over the past years, built
good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- became
the first Arab head of state to pay an official visit to Damascus and sit down
for talks with Assad.
later, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) re-opened its embassy in the Syrian
capital. Bahrain also followed suit, adding that the Syrian embassy in Manama
had been operating “without interruption.”
is also reported to be considering normalizing with Syria.
indicated last week that more Arab countries were going to re-open their
diplomatic missions in Damascus in the “coming days,” even though such
decisions need a green light from the Arab League first.
Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in 2011, as foreign-backed militants
declared war against Assad. The League now needs to reach a consensus before
do not think it would be a sound step to readmit Syria into the Arab League. We
think this is a decision that won’t be in the interest of the political
process,” Hariri said.
Arabia and some other US-allied Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf region were
the main regional backers of anti-Assad militant groups, providing them with
money and weapons as part of a program coordinated by Washington.
years into the deadly conflict, however, Assad has been able to score major
victories against Daesh and other terrorist groups, purging them from most
parts of the country with help from Iran, Russia and the Lebanese resistance
10 months after the outbreak of militancy in Syria, Assad had predicted in an
address to a group of Syrian youths that “the same Arab countries that are now
hatching plots against us return to Damascus to apologize.”
Syrian army has reportedly dispatched military equipment, including artillery,
armored vehicles and personnel carriers, to the outskirts of the western
provinces of Hama and Idlib.
informed military source, cited by Russia's Sputnik news agency, said the
military build-up is meant to boost readiness against any possible change on
the ground following the fresh bout of infighting among terrorists.
army bases and residential areas have come under stepped-up attacks by
terrorist groups, especially al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which
is currently engaged in fighting with Turkish-backed militants.
military source said the Syrian government cannot remain indifferent to the
assaults which breach a ceasefire brokered between Russia, Turkey and Iran in
so-called safe zones declared in Idlib have seen HTS terrorists attacking
Turkish-backed militants from the so-called National Front for Liberation (NFL)
in a bid to seize key roads in the province and gain ground in neighboring
so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has put the death toll from the
skirmishes in the upwards of 100, including civilians, but pan-Arab al-Mayadeen
television has cited a fatality count of more than 500.
clashes have raised concerns that the deal to set up de-escalation zones in the
region could unravel.
a joint declaration issued on Friday, local councils in Syria called for the
establishment of a humanitarian corridor as clashes spread to urban areas.
tensions come amid contradictory statements made by US officials about the
American military pullout from Syria.
President Donald Trump ordered a quick withdrawal of all 2,000 American forces
from Syria last month but then said troops would get out slowly “over a period
Saturday, a senior administration official said some US troops could remain in
southern Syria for an unspecified amount of time. Those who leave Syria would
be sent to Iraq, he added.
Syria reinforcing troops in Idlib, US national security adviser John Bolton
struck the familiar aggressive note, warning Damascus against the use of
official was traveling to Israel when he expressed that there was “absolutely
no change” in the US stance on the matter of chemical weapons, according to The
Wall Street Journal.
September as the Syrian army geared up to drive out terrorists from Idlib,
Washington claimed that Damascus planned to carry out a chemical attack which
the West has used as a pretext in the past to hit government positions.
campaign against Uighurs has new target: their top thinkers
|As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history
of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live
in far western China. He did so within the strict confines of censorship
imposed by the Chinese authorities, who are ever wary of ethnic separatism and
Islamic extremism among the predominantly Muslim peoples of the region.
was a line that Mamut navigated successfully for 26 years, eventually rising to
become editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-controlled magazine Xinjiang
Civilisation before retiring in 2011.
father is very smart; he knows what is the red line, and if you cross it you
are taken to jail," said his son, Bahram Sintash, who now lives in
Virginia. "You work very close to the red line to teach people the
culture. You have to be smart and careful with your words."
last year, the red line moved. Suddenly, Mamut and more than a hundred other
Uighur intellectuals who had successfully navigated the worlds of academia, art
and journalism became the latest targets of a sweeping crackdown in the region
of Xinjiang that has ensnared as many as 1 million Muslims in indoctrination
mass detention of some of China's most accomplished Uighurs has become an
alarming symbol of the Communist Party's most intense social-engineering drive
in decades, according to scholars, human rights advocates and exiled Uighurs.
the guardians of Uighur traditions, chroniclers of their history and creators
of their art, the intellectuals were building the Central Asian,
Turkic-speaking society's reservoir of collective memory within the narrow
limits of authoritarian rule. Their detention underscores the party's attempts
to decimate Uighur identity in order to remould the group into a people who are
largely secular, integrated into mainstream Chinese culture and compliant with
the Communist Party, observers say.
Chinese government has described the detentions as a job training program aimed
at providing employment opportunities for some of the country's poorest people.
But a list of more than 100 detained Uighur scholars compiled by exiles
includes many prominent poets and writers, university heads and professors of
everything from anthropology to Uighur history.
fact that highly educated intellectuals and academics and scientists and
software engineers are being held in these facilities is one of the best
counterarguments to authorities' claims that this is some kind of educational
program meant to benefit Uighurs," said Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based
researcher for Human Rights Watch.
removal of high-profile Uighur scholars familiar with the Chinese government,
and the country's education and legal systems, is aimed at erasing not only the
group's unique ethnic identity but also its ability to defend such traditions,
said a Uighur professor now living in Istanbul who asked not to be identified
because of possible risks to family in Xinjiang.
scholars trace the assault on intellectuals to the imprisonment of Ilham Tohti,
a Uighur economist, in 2014. Tohti, who was an outspoken critic of the
discrimination Uighurs face in China, was sentenced to life in prison after
being found guilty of separatism.
detentions came in 2017. Many of those targeted worked on preserving Uighur
Dawut, one of the most well-known of the disappeared Uighur academics, is an
anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional
songs and folklore. Dawut was detained in December 2017 and hasn't been heard
the crackdown, the Uighur intellectual elite offered a bridge between the body
of Uighur society, who number about 11 million and are largely poor farmers,
and the much wealthier Han Chinese, who dominate economic and political power.
The scholars also worked carefully to try to improve the lot of a group that
complained of widespread discrimination and draconian restrictions on religious
scholars offered a moderate path, where Uighurs could maintain religious and
cultural practices without turning to extreme and isolationist ideas, said Rune
Steenberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen.
is the really big tragedy about the clampdown," Steenberg said. "They
were actually bridge builders of integration of broader Uighur society into
modern Chinese society and economy."
young Uighurs have been inspired by the scholars' accomplishments, said Erkin
Sidick, a Uighur engineer who went to the United States for graduate school in
1988 and now works on telescopes for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Sidick
said hundreds would attend informal talks he gave on pursuing graduate degrees,
and many closely studied a book he published that compiled biographies of
people value education very much," he said.
Uighurs keep a grimmer list of Uighur intellectuals - those who have disappeared
in the current campaign.
Hamut, a Uighur poet who lives in Virginia, began working with other Uighur
exiles to collect the names of those detained over the past year based on news
reports and information from families and classmates. The list has now grown to
159 Uighurs and five others from other minority groups.
people are all the most prestigious in Xinjiang," Hamut said. "They
are models who all study diligently and raise themselves up. Their arrest is a
great injury, a great attack to all Uighurs."
Chinese authorities have accused Uighurs in official positions of being
"two-faced", or mouthing the official line in public but resisting
the crackdown in private. Such labels have surrounded the removal of several
top administrators at universities in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang government propaganda department and the news office for the State
Council, China's cabinet, did not respond to faxed requests for comment. But
officials in Xinjiang have clearly stated their resolve to pursue people they
see as hindering efforts to rewire Uighurs and steer them from what authorities
have called religious extremism.
their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their
origins," wrote Maisumujiang Maimuer, a religious affairs official, in a
commentary in the state news media. "Completely shovel up the roots of
'two-faced people', dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until
-- Religious intolerance is on the rise in Indonesia as conservative Muslims
regain political clout ahead of general elections scheduled for April, a sign
that the country is re-examining its Islamic foundations.
online retailer Shopee's huge marketing campaign to break into the Indonesian
market is backfiring, as its television commercial featuring the popular South
Korean girl group Blackpink was slapped with a ban from a local watchdog due to
Indonesia Broadcasting Commission said on Dec. 11 it issued "strong
warnings" to 11 local TV stations to stop airing the commercial, in which
four members of Blackpink don miniskirts and short dresses. The ad was supposed
to coincide with National Online Shopping Day on Dec. 12.
commercial features several scantily clad women singing and dancing," the
commission said in a statement. "The Shopee commercial potentially
breaches decency norms that the general Indonesian public adhere to."
commission had acted swiftly in response to an online petition filed against
the ad, which was signed by more than 120,000 people just a week after it was
posted in early December. Shopee has bowed to the pressure and replaced the ad.
controversy is the latest instance of conservatives' growing influence in
Indonesia, a secular nation home to the world's largest Muslim population.
Largely oppressed during three decades of the authoritarian New Order regime,
Indonesia's small conservative communities have been able to express themselves
more freely following the regime's collapse in 1998. But while their teachings
had been largely confined to mosques and small community gatherings, in recent
years they have spread via social media to the relatively moderate Muslim
majority, allowing outspoken conservatives to often dominate public discourse.
nearly succeeded in forcing the Constitutional Court and the House of
Representatives to prohibit gay and extramarital sex. They have also started an
anti-vaccine movement based of claims that certain medicines contain pork-based
ingredients, causing problems for the health ministry's vaccination programs.
Their influence is now such that many public institutions are drawing up
policies to more actively promote Islam, the latest being the Jakarta
prosecutors' office's controversial launch of a smartphone app -- dubbed the
"heresy app" -- allowing people to report deviant religious
radical extremists such as Islamic State, Indonesian's conservative Muslims
have long denounced terrorism. But their sermons have become increasingly
strident, laced with fearmongering and disinformation to portray Indonesia as
being under siege by anti-Islam conspiracies. This growing intolerance is
fueling sectarian tensions in the world's third-largest democracy.
used to be a fan of this preacher," a civil servant in Jakarta said,
referring to a Muslim cleric in his neighborhood. "But he now often
delivers inflammatory sermons, saying that the Shiite blood is halal. It's very
uncomfortable." Shiites, a major branch of Islam, are a minority in
predominantly Sunni Indonesia. Like other minorities, they have been the
subject of verbal attacks.
conservative movement is far from homogeneous, noted Bastiaan Scherpen, a
Netherlands-based expert on politics and Islam in Indonesia. Groups range from
the vigilante-like Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, and the radical Hizbut
Tahrir Indonesia, which was banned last year due to its stated goal of
establishing an Islamic caliphate, to the more moderate Prosperous Justice
Party, which has members in parliament.
groups disagree over many matters. But during the hotly contested and publicly
divisive 2014 presidential election, they began to coalesce around the
opposition camp led by former Army general Prabowo Subianto, who lost to
President Joko Widodo in 2014 and is set to face off against him again in April.
alliance emerged when the groups jointly organized huge rallies in late 2016
against then-Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja "Ahok" Purnama, a
Chinese Christian ally of Widodo. The groups accused the popular governor of
blasphemy, leading to his downfall and later incarceration. The
opposition-backed candidate, former education minister Anies Baswedan, went on
to win the governor's race.
campaigns spread via social media and in speeches warned of an invasion of
Chinese workers and the revival of the disbanded Indonesia Communist Party,
while the Widodo administration was accused of intimidating the country's
ulemas, or Islamic scholars, in a bid to undermine the president's Muslim
alliance held a large gathering, tagged as "reunion," at the National
Monument in Jakarta on Dec. 2. Although held under the pretext of Islamic
solidarity, the event was attended by opposition leaders, including Subianto.
Although he did not deliver a political speech there, claiming the event was not
election campaigning, which is not allowed until March, organizers played a
speech record by a self-exiled FPI leader in Saudi Arabia, who repeatedly
asserted that "It is forbidden to vote for presidential and legislative
candidates backed by parties who support religious blasphemers."
from Ahok, the statement is also likely in reference to Grace Natalie, the
Chinese Christian leader of the newly founded Indonesian Solidarity Party.
Natalie, who has expressed her support for Widodo, was reported to police last
month over a blasphemy allegation after she declared opposition to Sharia- and
don't know what kind of arrangements are being made behind closed doors, but
the challengers clearly know how to use conservative Islamic sentiment to their
advantage," Scherpen told the Nikkei Asian Review.
does not believe, though, that Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, a
businessman and former deputy governor of Jakarta, are genuinely inclined to
Islamic conservatism. They are largely seen as seculars by people who have long
pointed out how Baswedan-Uno used the same religious arguments to defeat Ahok
in the 2017 Jakarta election. "This initially caused shock waves, but
since then there has been more continuity than change in the way the city is
added that a victory for Subianto in April will likely be presented and
perceived by many as a victory for conservative Islam. "But while a
different tone would be set in the presidential palace, I wouldn't expect
significant change in policies related to religion or rights."
choice of senior cleric Ma'ruf Amin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council
which issued a religious edict against Ahok, has largely helped the president
fend off attempts to remove him from office the same way Ahok was chased out,
observers have noted. But his choice of the cleric will hardly change the
thinking of conservative-leaning Muslim voters, who have already been barraged
with allegations of the president's anti-Islamic views.
7 — We read about the campaign by Isma to gather one million signatures in
support of its claim of “Malaysia Negara Islam” or Malaysia an Islamic state.
But the main question that begs an answer is whether does it really matter
whether this country is an Islamic state or not? Does the name matter as much
as the content?
to Isma, an Islamic state denotes a State which is governed by the Shariah.
Whether Malaysia is termed as an Islamic state, a secular state, or a hybrid
state; the most important issue to be resolved is how does the state govern its
it is true that Malaysia’s constitution does not define the country as secular
nor does it call it Islamic, many have argued that the construction laid down
by our founding fathers of the nation was to create a pluralistic and equal
is true as Isma insisted that Article 3(1) of the Constitution clearly spells
out about the position of Islam. But this Article was taken to mean that as far
as official ceremonial matters are concerned, Islamic forms and rituals are to
this does not take away the fact that a secular pluralistic system of
governance, one that valued fundamental liberties and equality, was the main
aim of the Constitution.
see this on page 73 of the Reid Commission Report of the Federation of Malaya
that says “The observance of this principle...shall not imply that the State is
not a secular state”.
in a landmark case of Che Omar bin Che Soh v Public Prosecutor [MLJ 1988], the
former Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas said that the word Islam in Article 3(1)
should be given a restrictive meaning based on Article 3(4), which states that
nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of the constitution.
Supreme Court then held that laws in Malaysia do not have to conform to the
Islamic principles, and thereby confirmed the position that Malaysia is not an
having said all these, the main intent of this writing is not to provide
legalistic arguments that Malaysia is a secular state, but to show that such a
debate is futile for the growth and progress of the country.
Isma is truly concerned that Muslims especially that constitute the majority in
this country should be truly observant Muslims, then we say that both Islam and
true religiosity thrive better in a secular state that breaks down the monopoly
of religious truth.
in a secular state can a Muslim live a life based on his own freewill and true
conviction for the sake of God, not because they are scared of the state
apparatus and imposition.
us, genuine piety only arises through personal choice. And that choice only
becomes possible when there is freedom. And this is the freedom that is
celebrated by many of those living in secular states.
idea of freedom, or to use a phrase coined by Mustafa Akyol is his book that
was banned by the previous regime, “Islam without Extremes” as “freedom to sin”
which is basically a necessary medium for Muslims to be sincerely pious.
erudite Muhammad Asad has made it very clear when making his commentary in his
magnum opus The Message of the Qur’an regarding verse 25 of Surah al-A’raf or
the Faculty of Discernment where he commented on the story about Adam and Eve
temptation when he said in a concluding remark after an exhaustive exegesis:
“by forbidding him (Adam) to “approach the tree”, God made it possible for man
to act wrongly, and therefore, to act rightly as well. And so, man became
endowed with that moral free will, which will distinguish him from all other
is equally important is how Islamic can an Islamic state be? Apart from
creating a truly pious and God-fearing community of Muslims, the true indicator
that an Islamic state is a state worth emulating in the modern world, is
whether it has all the values that are consistent with Islam.
Islam is rahmatan lil ālamin or blessings to the entire universe, then an
Islamic state should be able to be a state that has all the values that we
cherish in the modern world politically and economically.
sad to say, none of the Islamic countries in this world has shown to be in the
top ten of countries that prosper according to Islamic principles.
a 2010 research paper published by two Professors at the George Washington
University, Scheherazade Rehman and Hossein Askari entitled How Islamic Are
Islamic Countries? which looked at the Islamicity Index, the countries that
occupy the top five were New Zealand, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, and
when the Economic Islamicity Index was calculated based on the degree of their
policies, achievements, and whether the realities were in accordance with a set
of Islamic economic principles namely, achievement of economic justice and
achievement of sustained economic growth, broad-based prosperity and
job-creation, and adoption of Islamic economic and financial practices; we also
noticed that Islamic countries fell way behind the Western and Scandinavian
researchers concluded that Islamic countries are not Islamic in their practice
as one might expect; instead it appears that Western countries tend to place
higher on the Islamicity Index such as respect for human rights, social and
economic justice, hard work, equal opportunity for all to develop, absence of
corruption, absence of waste and hoarding, ethical business practices,
well-functioning markets, and a legitimate political authority. All these
factors resulted is flourishing economies that we witnessed in modern secular
Muslim countries lag behind in all these spheres. So what is there to argue on
semantics on whether this country is an Islamic state or a secular state? What
we feel would be more important are the Islamic values that could result in
prosperity and show an example to all the other communities in this world that
Islam is truly a blessing for the entire universe.
should be like the Islamic state during the reign of the Muktazila or the
rationalists centuries ago when Islam was at the forefront of science and
medicine, mathematics and physics, astronomy and philosophy. When Islam carried
the torch of knowledge that paved the way for European’s enlightenment and
was when then where an Islamic state, or more aptly, an Islamic empire, that
ruled the world with the idea of scientific progress and innovation. It was the
time when we realised that one of the reasons for the Islamic world to flourish
was not only about their attitude towards knowledge but also an early emphasis
on freedom of speech and expression, which is very rare in any Muslim countries
was reported that al-Hashimi, a cousin of Caliph al-Ma’mun, a Muktazila, once
said to his religious opponent:
forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your
mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please, appoint
some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the
truth and be free from the slyness of passion and that arbitrator shall be
Reason, whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments.”
was a rare occurrence in history. But what do we envisage now when we heard of
an Islamic state? The image is that of a poor, destitute, and disorganised
state that is ruled by long-bearded turbaned men with fierce-looking faces that
are more concerned and obsessed about punishing people rather than anything
else. An Islamic state brings all the negative connotation and the burden will
be borne by none other but the religion of Islam itself.
king has abdicated, royal officials have said, ending weeks of speculation
about his future.
announcement on Sunday follows a leave of absence by the head of state and
rumours he had married a former Russian beauty queen.
Muhammad V’s decision marks the first time a king has abdicated in the
Muslim-majority country since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in
National Palace informs that his majesty has resigned as the 15th king
effective January 6,” a statement from the palace said on Sunday.
palace did not give any reason for the 49-year-old royal’s move.
had been a question mark over the reign of the king, who ascended to the throne
in December 2016, since he took a leave of absence for medical treatment in
then circulated online that the king had married a former Miss Moscow in
Russia, although royal officials in Malaysia have so far not commented on the
is a constitutional monarchy, with a unique arrangement where the throne
changes hands every five years between the rulers of the nine Malaysian states
headed by centuries-old Islamic royalty.
Indonesia and four other nations officially took up their seats as nonpermanent
members of the United Nations Security Council, one of the six principal organs
of the intergovernmental organization that has the power to impose sanctions on
countries and authorize the use of military force in conflict zones.
Germany, Belgium, South Africa and the Dominican Republic will take part in
formulating policies to maintain international peace and security as mandated
in the UN Charter. Their memberships are effective from Jan. 1, 2019 until Dec.
huge support we received shows the international community's trust in
Indonesia's track record in diplomacy and our free and active foreign policy,
which has been crucial in maintaining world peace," the country's
permanent representative to the United Nations, Dian Triansyah Djani, said in a
statement on Thursday.
Security Council has 15 members, with five of them – the United States, Russia,
China, Britain and France – permanent. The council also makes decisions on the
admission of new members to the United Nations.
UN General Assembly in New York elects the 10 nonpermanent members of the
Security Council. The last election took place in June last year, which saw
Indonesia and the four other nations replace Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan,
Sweden and the Netherlands at the end of their respective two-year terms.
secured 144 votes, which Dian said was a reflection of the international
community's solid trust in the country. Indonesia plans to focus on improving
the efficiency of UN peacekeeping operations during its term.
country has prioritized several issues, including developing a comprehensive
global approach to tackling terrorism, radicalism and extremism, as well as
a Muslim-majority country, Indonesia is expected to use its Security Council
seat to prioritize resolutions of various issues affecting Muslims around the
world, including the Rohingya humanitarian crisis and the Qatar diplomatic
TEK SINGH-International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) President Prof Dr
Ahmad Yousuf Al-Draiweesh on Sunday emphasised that Islam is totally against
extremism and violence in all its forms and abhors all such social evils to
create peace in society.
Prof Dr Ahmad Yousuf Al-Draiweesh, also Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, was addressing
Paigham-e-Pakistan conference here on Sunday. The conference was organised by
the Toba District Administration.
IIUI president, the author of 73 books on peace, interfaith harmony,
highlighted the concepts and practices of fraternity, affection and brotherhood
by quoting examples from the holy Quran and Sunnah.
emphasized the exemplary protection conferred on the minorities in a Muslim
state of Madina during the enlightened period of Holy Prophet (SAWW) and later
said that Islam binds its followers to struggle for prosperity of the humanity
and ensure protection of each's other life, honour and property.
his welcome speech delivered in Arabic, Toba Deputy Commissioner Ahmad Khawar
Shahzad said that it is a great honour for his district that an International
Islamic scholar has come here on the special invitation to speak on Islam's
message of peace and brotherhood. The DC termed Prof Dr Al-Draiweesh as a great
ambassador of goodwill between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
General Islamic Research Institute of International Islamic University, Prof Dr
Muhammad Ziaul Haq said Toba is the first district in which a number of
programmes under auspices of Paigham-e-Pakistan have been arranged so far.
euologised the dedicated endeavours of the DC for launching different
programmes to curb terrorism, extremism and violence from society.
Coordinator for Punjab for Maimaran-e-Pakistan programme Mian Allah Bakhsh
Tariq, MNA Riaz Fatyana, politicians, members of divisional and district Peace
Committees, civil society members, parliamentarians, lawyers, business
community members, journalists and educationists also attended the conference
in great number.
Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood said on Sunday that the
Pakistan Army does not support any terrorist group or faction, adding that they
have always desired sustainable peace and stability in the region.
the media persons in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),
he said, “Security forces will be withdrawn from erstwhile Fata within two
years but a limited number of troops will be stationed there to maintain peace
and border vigilance.”
withdrawal is conditional as it largely depends on peace and stability on the
western border,” he added.
Gen Mehmood said no more military operations would be carried out in the seven
tribal districts as it was time for development and economic revival.
Pakistan Army has formed citizen action committees to address people’s concerns
and issues,” he added. “The tribal people have rendered matchless scarifies for
stability, peace and ideology and now it’s the security forces’ priority to
provide every facility, including health and education, to them at their
said Khasadar and Levies forces would be transformed into police force and
given modern training and weapons.
and reconstruction are the main sectors we are working on and health
facilities, which were rare in the past, will soon be available in remote
villages in the tribal region,” said the corps commander.
the fencing issue, Lt Gen Mehmood said, “The only motive behind it is to stop
cross border movements and to address the grievances of Kabul, which claims
that militants come from across the border. To stop that, we have started
fencing and the national exchequer is bearing the cost.
have also started military operations in erstwhile Fata to dismantle terrorist
safe havens on our side of the border. We did it at the cost of officers,
jawans and civilians as we are committed to peace in the region.”
Pakistan on Sunday said the UAE has "almost finalised" investment
plan for the setting up of an oil refinery in the country as the Crown Prince
of Abu Dhabi met Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed economic assistance to
the cash-strapped country to bolster its foreign exchange reserves.
Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, who was on a day-long
visit to the country after nearly 12 years, was received by Khan upon his
arrival at Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi and the Prime Minister personally
drove him to his residency for a welcome ceremony.
was given a guard of honour and a fly-past during the red carpet welcome.
Prince and the Prime Minister held a one-on-one meeting, followed by
delegation-level talks between the top officials of the two sides as Pakistan
seeks economic assistance to bolster its foreign exchange reserves and the
government's fiscal policies.
delegations discussed bilateral relations and matters of mutual, regional and
reeling under severe financial crisis, reached out to some "friendly
countries" for economic assistance including Saudi Arabia, China and the
UAE since Prime Minister Khan assumed office in August.
minister Fawad Chaudhry said the UAE has already promised to provide $3 billion
assistance and the Crown Prince also discussed investment to set up an oil
two side have almost finalised investment for setting up of a refinery,” he
said the two countries enjoyed traditional friendship and the Crown Prince said
that he considered Pakistan as his “second home”.
Office said this was the third interaction between the leadership of Pakistan
and the UAE in less than three months, which is a "testimony to the
special nature of our brotherly relations with this important GCC
UAE is Pakistan's largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source
of investments. It is home to more than 1.6 million expatriate community which
contributes around $4.5 billion annually to the GDP,” the foreign office said.
said Pakistan and the UAE are working closely to transform the existing special
relations into a “long-term strategic economic partnership”, as agreed between
the two leaders during Prime Minister Khan's visit to the Emirates in November.
said that apart from a "generous $3 billion support to help Pakistan
overcome its balance of payment crisis, provision oil on deferred payment was
also under discussion."
visited the UAE twice since August to seek economic assistance to ward off the
country's foreign exchange crisis.
and the UAE last week finalised the terms and conditions of a $6.2 billion
support package for Islamabad to help address the balance of payments crisis.
all weather ally China has also pledged to provide a generous aid to Islamabad
to overcome its financial woes.
has not yet revealed the quantum of its financial support.
is negotiating a $8 billion bailout package from the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) to overcome a severe balanceof-payments crisis that threatens to
cripple the country's economy.
apprehends the IMF will come with stringent conditions of austerity besides
scrutiny of $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects whose terms
till now remained confidential.
Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed
that Prime Minister Imran Khan is the real owner of his sister Aleema Khan's
the media on Sunday, Aurangzeb inquired why Aleema's assets and money
laundering allegations levelled against her were not being investigated.
the PML-N leader took a dig at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and
said the bureau should rename itself to 'Noon Accountability Bureau,' according
to Dunya News.
December 25, the Prime Minister had taken a potshot at the Pakistan People's
Party (PPP) and PML-N, saying that the Joint Investigation Teams' (JIT) reports
on Panama Papers and fake accounts cases were "case studies in how states
Provincial Home Minister Mir Zia Langove has said blasts in Pishin and Panjgur
indicate that hostile intelligence agencies operating from Afghanistan are
behind acts of terrorism taking place in different parts of Balochistan, but
pledged that members of security forces would foil such acts.
spy agencies are busy in making plots against Pakistan and they have been
funding and arming terrorists targeting members of our security forces and
innocent people of Balochistan,” Mr Langove said while talking to journalists
in Civil Hospital’s Trauma Centre where he met victims of the Pishin blast.
US and Nato forces have now been defeated in Afghanistan and, therefore, the
United Nations should now set up a task force for ensuring peace in
Afghanistan,” he said.
double blasts in Pishin and Panjgur, Mr Langove said that despite terrorists’
attacks morale of members of security forces of Pakistan was high and such
incidents could not deter the government and security forces’ resolve to
continue the war against terrorism.
single network is behind all incidents of terrorism taking place in different
parts of Balochistan and that network is using names of different armed groups
and it is operating from Afghanistan,” the minister said.
blasts in Balochistan on Sunday left 12 people injured, including three Levies
personnel and a member of the Frontier Corps.
northern Balochistan's Pishin district, Naib Tehsildar Abdul Malik Tareen was
the target of the first attack, police official Tahir Mehmood told DawnNewsTV.
An improvised explosive device planted in a motorcycle parked outside Tareen's
office detonated as he was entering the building.
said Tareen and two other Levies personnel were injured, along with seven
wounded were rushed to Civil Hospital Pishin, while Tareen and gunman
Salahuddin were shifted to District Headquarters Hospital Quetta for medical
said the naib tehsildar's condition is critical, but all others injured are out
a separate incident, two people including a Frontier Corps soldier and a civilian
were injured in a remote-controlled blast in Panjgur district. The wounded were
rushed to a hospital for medical treatment.
security official who declined to be named said the miscreants targeted an FC
vehicle with the roadside remote-controlled bomb in Panjgur bazaar. The blast
also damaged the vehicle.
least sixteen militants of the Taliban group were killed and an operations
center of the group was destroyed in an airstrike conducted in southern Helmand
province of Afghanistan.
to the informed military sources, a coalition airstrike today killed 16 Taliban
fighters and destroyed an operations center.
at least 29 Taliban militants were killed during the airstrike of the coalition
forces in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
to the military sources, the airstrikes were carried out earlier this week in
Shahwali Kot district of the province.
sources further added that a commander of Taliban was also among those killed.
Afghan forces also conducted a force protection patrol operation in Shahwali
Kot district of Kandahar which resulted in the killing of 5 Taliban fighters
killed, the sources said, adding that coalition forces conducted an airstrike
killing 2 Taliban fighters and destroying one vehicle in Pashtun Kot district
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the recent operations and airstrikes so far.
least 30 Afghans were killed on Sunday when the tunnel they were digging in to
mine gold in northern Afghanistan collapsed, officials said.
said the victims were villagers who were mining for gold illegally, rather than
in a government project.
villagers during winters try to compensate their earnings by pursuing illegal
mining. They dig tunnels to enter the mines,” Nek Mohammad Nazari, a spokesman
for the provincial governor, said.
said the tunnel had caved in. A police spokesman for Badakhshan province,
Sanaullah Rohani, earlier said the cause of the accident, which occurred in
heavy snowfall, was a landslide.
said seven people were injured alongside the at least 30 killed, while they
were working inside the mine in Kohistan district.
said about 50 illegal miners were present in the mine when the incident
occurred and two rescue teams were deployed to help the injured. Landslides are
frequent in the northern mountainous provinces of Afghanistan.
twins, whose hearts stopped beating in their mother's belly, have been brought
back to life with efforts of Turkish doctors, according to Turkey's Disaster
and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) on Sunday.
said in a written statement that a 32-week pregnant woman, who had seizures due
to high blood pressure, was brought to the Sahra Hospital in Bangladesh, which
was opened by AFAD and Turkish Health Ministry.
patient was immediately taken to the cesarean section after doctors failed to
hear the babies' heartbeat and they were brought back to life thanks to the
Turkish medics efforts.
mother named the boy Amaorara, and the girl Ameorara.
and babies were discharged from the hospital after they recovered, AFAD said.
continues to stand with Rohingya Muslims -- who fled persecution in Myanmar and
are clinging to life in Bangladesh -- since the beginning of the humanitarian
crisis in the region.
which coordinates Turkish aid in the region, set up shelters and dug water
wells for the Rohingya.
than 180,000 patients have been treated and 1,215 patients underwent operations
at the Sahra Hospital over the last year.
hospital has also delivered 106 babies.
Rohingya, described by the U.N. as the world's most persecuted people, have
faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence
airstrikes kill Qaeda plotter of 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen: Pentagon
American airstrikes in Yemen killed a top al-Qaeda leader responsible for the
deadly USS Cole bombing in 2000 in which 17 US sailors had lost their lives,
the Pentagon said.
American sailors were killed and at least 40 others injured in the terrorist
attack on the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole on October 12, 2000,
while it was being refuelled in Yemen's Aden harbour.
al-Badawi, a "legacy al-Qaeda operative in Yemen" involved in the USS
Cole bombing, was wanted by the US for his role in the attack.
of the US Central Command Capt Bill Urban said: "Jamal alBadawi was killed
in a precision strike in Marib governate on January 1".
forces confirmed the results of the strike following a deliberate assessment
process," Urban said.
President Donald Trump praised the US military for "delivering justice for
the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole".
have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against
al-Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic
Terrorism!" the president said.
was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003, charged with 50 counts of various
terrorism offenses, including murder of US nationals and murder of US military
was also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a US Navy
vessel in January 2000.
US-backed force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces announced that it
captured five ISIS members in the extremist group last stronghold in Deir Ezzor
province, east of the Euphrates river, bordering Iraq.
the five two from the United States and others from Ireland and Pakistan,
according to SDF.
a press release on Sunday, SDF confirmed capturing the five ISIS members,
saying that “They were preparing to launch attacks against the fleeing
civilians from that areas” pointing out that the capture happened on December
to field sources, the SDF only announced the news after it finished
interrogation with the five elements.
five are American Warren Christopher Clark (34 year) from Huston, who goes by
the name “American Abu Mohammad” and American from Arab origin Zaid Abed
al-Hamed known by “American Abu Zaid”.
addition to the two Americans, there are an Irish citizen called Alexandr
Ruzmanovich Bekmirzaev from Dublin, in addition to two Pakistanis Fadel
al-Rahman Jad from Lahore and Abed al-Azem Rajbout.
Syrian Democratic Forces have arrested around 1,000 foreign fighters of ISIS
during its control of vast areas in Syria.
those captured, militants who were part of a notorious kidnapping cell dubbed
“The Beatles” known for torturing hostages and executing foreign journalists in
Syria and Iraq, in addition to another fighter from al-Qaeda, known to have met
with the terrorist group’s leader Osama bin Laden, before he was killed.
of the foreign governments refuse to repatriate their citizens who were
fighting with ISIS, while Kurdish officials say “they cannot detain them (ISIS
fighters) forever, calling the international community to “find a solution.”
contrast to what is happening in Iraq, where the Iraqi judicial authorities
sentenced more than 300 members of the extremist group, including 100
foreigners to life imprisonment or death, the Kurdish authorities and their
local allies in Syria refuse to prosecute captured ISIS fighters while they
only prosecute the extremist group local members without carrying out the death
angers Palestinians with visit to Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds
National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to the Old City of the
Israeli-occupied Jerusalem al-Quds has been met with angry responses from
an avid supporter of the Tel Aviv regime’s brutal crackdown against the people
of Palestine, visited the Western Wall and its adjacent tunnels on Sunday
before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO),
condemned the visit, saying in a tweet that it undermined international law and
behavior will not change the fact that East Jerusalem (al-Quds) is occupied
territory and the capital of the state of Palestine,” he said.
Old City is located in the East Jerusalem al-Quds, which Palestinians regard as
the capital of their future state.
him on the tour of the city were his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat,
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and US Ambassador to Israel David
the international community does not recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli
territory, foreign dignitaries usually avoid having Israeli officials as
company when they visit the Western Wall, which is considered as one of the
most sacred Jewish sites.
said the issue with Israel’s sovereignty claims over the occupied city was
merely political and had nothing to do with religion.
President Donald Trump became the first sitting American head of state to visit
the Western Wall In May 2017. Later on, he recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as
Israel’s capital and proceeded to move the US diplomatic mission to the ancient
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman has denounced as “irrational” US
claims that Turkey was attacking Kurds in Syria’s northeastern parts.
Kalin said Sunday that Ankara’s military campaign in the neighboring Arab
country, besides Daesh, has only targeted members of the Kurdish People's
Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK, which regularly clashes with
Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey.
argued that the YPG and the PKK did not represent Syrian Kurds, which he called
argue that a terrorist organization represents Kurds is, above all,
disrespectful to our Kurdish brothers," Kalın said, adding, "One of
the goals of Turkey's struggle against the PKK and its Syrian offshoots is to
save the Kurds from the tyranny and oppression of this terror group."
YPG is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which maintains
close military cooperation with the US.
President Donald Trump's decision last month to leave Syria has exposed the
Kurdish group to possible Turkish attacks.
remarks came after John Bolton, the US National Security Advisor, said earlier
on Sunday that American forces were going to stay in northeastern Syria until
Turkey pledges not to go after US-allied Kurdish groups.
don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully
coordinated with and agreed to by the United States, at a minimum,” he told
reporters in Israel.
he said, was to make sure that Turkey meets Trump’s key condition to follow up
on his withdrawal plan.
Trump had originally promised to pull out all American troops within a month,
Bolton refused to provide a clear timetable and said the evacuation would go
ahead as planned once all “conditions” were met.
is a cause-and-effect mission," Bolton said, adding, "Timetables or
the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the
conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see. And
once that’s done, then you talk about a timetable."
White House’s top national security official is expected to travel to Turkey on
Monday, where he is supposed to discuss Ankara’s plans to fight Daesh.
has suggested that Turkey could take on America’s military responsibilities in
must agree to protect Washington’s Kurdish partners in Syria before the US
withdraws troops from the country, White House National Security Adviser John
Bolton said yesterday, as battles with ISIS raged on the eastern banks of the
Bolton, who is scheduled to travel to Turkey on Monday, said that a US pull-out
is also conditional on the defeat of ISIS, in comments that confirm that an
exit announced by President Donald Trump last month has been slowed.
don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully
co-ordinated with and agreed to by the United States ... so that they meet the
president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with
us are not endangered,” Mr Bolton said in Israel, before a meeting this week in
Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfilment of the
conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see. And
once that’s done, then you talk about a timetable."
comments drew the ire of Mr Erdogan's spokesman who said on Sunday it was
irrational to claim Turkey targets Kurds.
Kalin said Ankara’s targets are ISIS and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) –
a Syrian Kurdish group – as well as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an
outlawed militant group that has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish
state since 1984.
announcement by Mr Trump of a US withdrawal speeded up the resignation of
senior White House officials, including defence secretary Jim Mattis and
Washington’s envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk.
also sparked criticism from allies who accused Washington of abandoning its
Syrian partners and exposing them to attacks by Turkey.
Bolton said the US has asked its Kurdish allies to “stand fast” and refrain
from seeking protection from Russia or Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s
think they know who their friends are,” he said, referring to Syria’s Kurdish
Kurdish groups are in talks with Russia to secure a deal with the Syrian
government in Damascus. A Kurdish delegation visited Moscow to discuss a road
map after a US withdrawal.
aim to secure a Russian-mediated political deal with Damascus regardless of US
plans to withdraw from the region, Badran Jia Kurd, a senior Kurdish official
told Reuters this week.
final decision is [to reach an] agreement with Damascus, we will work in this
direction regardless of the cost, even if the Americans object,” Mr Jia Kurd
said in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli.
Bolton said Jim Jeffrey, who was named last week as the American special envoy
for the anti-ISIS coalition, will go to Syria this week to reassure
Washington’s Kurdish allies they are not being abandoned
yesterday continued between ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces
around the village of Al Shaafa – one of the last major areas held by the
missile fired by ISIS on the outskirts of the village of Al Shaafa on Saturday
wounded two British soldiers in the US-led coalition and killed one Kurdish
fighter, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
two British soldiers were transported by helicopter to receive medical care,
the observatory said. When contacted by The National, the UK Ministry of
Defence said it could not comment as the troops are members of the country's
second missile attack on Sunday targeted an SDF position on the flanks of Al
Shaafa and killed scores of Kurdish fighters, the activist-run DeirEzzor24
SDF was not available for comment.
fighting in and around Al Shaafa since Saturday comes after the SDF and
coalition forces made advances in the area in recent days.
Abu Layla of DeirEzzor24 told The National that most of the village was under
SDF control. ISIS defences in the area are "collapsing," he said.
warned, however, that ISIS sleeper cells in Deir Ezzor still posed a threat.
east of the Euphrates have killed more than 1,000 ISIS militants and nearly 600
fighters affiliated with the SDF since the fighting began in September,
according to the Observatory.
Doctor Of Malaysia Who Saw Similarities, Not Differences
It was about four years ago, during the major flood that devastated the east
coast of Malaysia, that Dr Zazali Mohd Yatim, 57, decided to become a member
and volunteer for the Tzu Chi Foundation.
family medicine specialist would later discover that he is only one of less
than one percent of Malay-Muslims in the Malaysian chapter of the humanitarian,
recalled how he was about to clean up a surau in Temerloh, Pahang, following
the floods when he came across what he described as “Chinese-looking
volunteers” wearing Tzu Chi T-shirts, thinking they were Japanese volunteers.
researched the group and found that Tzu Chi is a Taiwanese international human
aid organisation with more than 10 million members across the globe, including
really impressed me that this non-Muslim NGO was helping to clean a surau, and
had advanced equipment,” he told Malaysian reporters who were visiting Syrian
refugees here recently.
did my homework and found they have a clinic in Batu Caves for Rohingya
refugees, so I visited them.
then started visiting and helping out at the clinic every month, and would
later become more involved in the organisation.”
said he was often asked about his decision to join Tzu Chi when there were
other Muslim NGOs in the country, and his answer was: “Why not?”
explained that what was being practised in Tzu Chi was in fact similar to what
is being taught in many other religions – to show compassion, be disciplined
and have respect for others.
bank on the similarities Tzu Chi has with Islam, rather than the differences.
The problem with our people is even if we have 99 similarities, we would look
for that one difference, and fight on that.”
it has not been easy for Zazali, who said that being the minority, he has to
project himself as a good, true Muslim to his other non-Muslim friends in Tzu
there is another Muslim member who skipped his prayers and don’t abide by
Islamic teachings, I have to defend him and explain why,” he said.
also explained how Tzu Chi volunteers would have to use their own money for any
humanitarian missions, including for flight tickets and accommodation, and that
the main funding would often come from small collections, even from the poor.
aim is to teach the rich to help the poor and the poor to help themselves, and
that giving is not the privilege of the rich, but of the sincere,” he said.
is currently undergoing a two-year training programme to become a Tzu Chi
Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of 100 soldiers over suspected links
to the network of the US-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating a failed
coup in 2016, state-owned media said on Monday.
detentions were the result of investigations into pay phone communications
between alleged members of cleric Fethullah Gulen’s network, Anadolu said. It
said the detentions were in progress.
have conducted a steady stream of raids against Gulen’s alleged supporters
since the July 2016 coup attempt, in which 250 people were killed. Gulen denies
than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants,
military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as
part of the post-coup purges. Widespread operations are still routine.
groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concerns over the scale of the
crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive putsch as a
pretext to quash dissent.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent days taken aim at what
seems to be his main opponent ahead of upcoming elections: corruption
investigations that may lead to his indictment.
a widely criticized social media video at the weekend and elsewhere, Netanyahu
has spoken out against the possibility that the attorney general will announce
his decision on whether to indict him before April 9 elections.
show the premier is likely to win despite the investigations hanging over him,
but a move to indict him pending a hearing could shake up the campaign.
that in mind, he has publicly urged the attorney general to postpone his
announcement, leading to criticism that his comments are out of bounds.
his video on Saturday, former supreme court justice Eliyahu Matza compared
Netanyahu’s rhetoric to that of a crime boss.
the video, Netanyahu stands before a map of the Middle East, smiling as if
recounting a joke, and refers to amputation as punishment in certain countries.
says that a man who has his arm cut off following a conviction for stealing
cannot get it back after winning on appeal — hinting that polls influenced by a
hearing in the graft cases against him could similary not be undone.
don’t start a hearing before the elections if you can’t conclude it before the
elections,” he says.
pre-indictment hearing is a key step in Israel’s judicial process.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announces his intention to indict him,
Netanyahu gets a final chance to defend himself in a hearing before the charges
prime minister, facing possible indictment in three separate probes, says he
has no intention of resigning if called in for such a hearing before the vote.
pushed for polls in April — seven months before they are due — because he would
like to combat potential charges with a fresh electoral mandate, according to
strategy would allow Netanyahu, who denies all allegations against him, to
argue that the investigations are the result of a political plot by his enemies
to force him from office against voters’ will.
that reason, Netanyahu’s argument that the attorney general must wait until
after April 9 does not hold water, said Reuven Hazan of Hebrew University’s
political science department.
a completely ludicrous argument because Netanyahu called the early elections in
order to try to avoid a decision in the midst of an election campaign,” he
if Netanyahu is allowed to throw Israel into an election campaign in order to
try to circumvent the attorney general, then the attorney general adhering to
the legal rules of the game is not something that Netanyahu can throw back at
pressure on the attorney general is immense.
has remained largely silent, saying only that his office is working to conclude
the investigations as quickly as possible.
was recently sprayed in northern Israel calling Mandelblit a “collaborator,”
and his father’s grave was also vandalized, though it was unclear if the
incidents were connected, according to Israeli media.
political allies have ramped up arguments in support of him, while opposition
figures — and at least one minister in his current government — insist he must
step down if indicted.
prime minister is not legally required to resign if charged — only after
convicted with appeals exhausted.
would put Netanyahu on track to surpass founding father David Ben-Gurion as
Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
Lapid, head of centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, distributed his own video
prime minister of Israel thinks we’re in Saudi Arabia,” Lapid said, arguing he
should not run if indicted.
Netanyahu may win no matter what the attorney general decides, future coalition
partners will face the choice of whether to stick with him as the case takes
supporters may also have to reconsider if “overwhelming evidence” against the
premier makes it difficult for him to remain in office, Hazan said.
will begin to realize that once there is an indictment and the legal process
begins, if there is overwhelming evidence, then this will be the last time that
he is elected,” he said.
Iranian regime sinks deeper into isolation
Iran’s announcement of missiles tests under the pretext of “launching
satellites” into space, the regime in Tehran is facing a new wave of political
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement in response: “The Iranian
Regime’s Ministry of Defense has publicly announced plans to launch three Space
Launch Vehicles (SLV) in the coming months. Such actions would once again
demonstrate Iran’s defiance of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231,
which calls upon the Iranian regime not to undertake any activity related to
ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons… The United States
will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place
international stability and security at risk. We advise the regime to
reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to
ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a tweet claiming, “Iran's
launch of space vehicles— & missile tests—are NOT in violation of Res
months after the US launched new sanctions against the Iranian regime,
Washington apparently intends to increase its political and economic pressures
to compel Tehran into at least ending its adventurous policies.
remarks are nothing new, as the regime claims their missiles are for defensive
purposes and do not bear the capability of delivering a nuclear payload.
However, both the US and Europe are showing grave sensitivity in this regard
and making contrast comments.
missile ranges are key and upgrading these vehicles into delivering a nuclear
warhead are an easy step. This subject becomes especially important when placed
alongside threats made by senior Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officials saying
Iranian missiles now reach Europe.
is common knowledge that the Iranian regime is facing a conglomerate of crises
as we speak. One particular issue, being Iran’s restive society and continuing
protests, is of the utmost importance for the ruling regime, having severe
impacts on their entire apparatus, especially more members of their ranks and
files throwing in the towel.
clerics are now in dire need of what they describe as “hope therapy.” One such
measure is through ballistic missiles and satellite launching vehicles to
elevate diminishing spirits.
regards to Iran’s nuclear program, the regime continues to claim this initiative
is for peaceful purposes and/or medical isotopes, knowing a complete shutdown
of their “civilian” nuclear program would be humiliating in the face of the
Iran and abroad, it would be considered as the regime beginning to succumb to
the 12-demands raised by Pompeo.
adventurous measures, however, create certain issues in already tense relations
between the Iranian regime and Europe.
Tehran desperately continues effort to create a rift between the US and Europe,
the Green Continent cannot overlook Tehran’s meddling in the Middle East,
support for terrorism, ballistic missile tests and human rights violations, to
some extent. Making things even more complicated is the position long adopted
by Tehran, saying a step back on any of these issues will be the beginning of
the end on all far more important subjects.
such sign is the impasse Iran’s regime faces in regards to Europe’s “special
purpose vehicle” initiative aimed at providing a mechanism to bypass US
subject has become so provocative for the European Union – especially
considering Washington’s start opposition – that members of Iran’s Majlis
(parliament) are heard claiming Tehran is not counting on the SPV!.
the matter becoming utterly embarrassing, Zarif has made similar remarks saying
there was no economic objective in signing into the 2015 nuclear deal. It
appears Zarif has forgotten how the Iranian regime went on a trade-signing
rampage following the nuclear signing, including with companies such as AirBus,
Boeing, Total and so forth.
Mohammadi, described as an “expert in nuclear and international policy issues,”
provided an interesting response after Zarif’s remarks raised quite a few
eyebrows across the board.
we assume that Mr. Zarif was honest in his remarks, and these words were not
the result of pressures from public opinion after the nuclear deal failed to
provide economic fruit… this question comes to mind that if there were no
economic/sanctions-lifting objectives involved in the nuclear deal, then what
objective was the nuclear deal seeking?... Why did we even negotiate in the
is an undeniable fact that Iran’s regime is facing growing isolation, as the
international community is coming to understand the clerics’ mortal weakness in
the face of mushrooming protests.
no solutions, the Iranian regime is kicking the can down the road. 2019, with
protests showing no signs of cooling and Washington determined to increase
economic and diplomatic pressures, is promising to be a devastating period for
Palestinian Authority said on Sunday it had ordered its employees to pull out
from the Gaza-Egypt border crossing, effectively closing the main exit point
from the impoverished Gaza Strip.
dispute over the border stems from a rift between the PA, based in the occupied
West Bank and headed by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and
the Islamist militant group Hamas, which took control of Gaza more than a
decade ago in a civil war.
the Rafah crossing, which according to human rights groups is the sole exit
point from Gaza for an estimated 95 percent of its 2 million population, will
require Egypt to agree on a new operator.
is unclear whether it will allow Hamas to run the passage. Cairo has not so far
commented on the situation.
employees were deployed to Gaza’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt in
2017 under Egyptian mediation in what was seen as the first concrete step
towards ending the dispute.
PA said Sunday’s decision to pull out from the crossing was a response to Hamas
undermining its operations and detaining some of its workers.
Hamas’s insistence on bolstering division ... and the questioning, detention
and suppression of our employees, we have become convinced it is useless to
maintain our presence there,” it said.
decision takes effect on Monday, though the crossing was already scheduled to
be closed until Tuesday due to a holiday.
spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters the closure of the border amounted to
“additional sanctions by Abbas against the people of Gaza”.
is a blow to... Egypt, which had overseen the handover of the crossings as part
of the implementation of the reconciliation deal that Abbas has destroyed,” he
is rampant in Gaza due to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and three armed
confrontations with Israel since 2008, as well as the internal rivalry. Israel
says its restrictions are to stop weapons entering the territory.
two Palestinian groups have tried and failed numerous times to end their
Houthi militiamen on Saturday launched an attack on the UN’s World Food Program
warehouses in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, the militia’s leadership was
negotiating with UN envoy Martin Griffiths.
who brokered the breakthrough last month in Sweden, returned to Yemen Saturday
with a plan to expedite measures agreed between the government and the
Iran-backed Houthi militia.
among them is the redeployment of rival forces from Hodeida, the Red Sea port
city crucial for aid and food imports.
Ali al-Houthi, head of the rebel Higher Revolutionary Committee, told Agence
France-Presse that talks on Yemen’s war-torn country’s economy “could take
place in Amman... which I discussed with the UN envoy.”
also held talks Sunday with Houthi chief Abdelmalik al-Huthi, spokesman
Mohammed Abdelsalam said in a statement carried by the militia’s media
platforms. He said that the two addressed “preparations for the upcoming round
during these talks between the UN envoy and militia leaders, residents in
eastern Hodeidah confirmed that a huge fire broke out in the food aid
warehouses as a result of Houthi artillery shelling.
five civilians, including two children, were injured and three houses were
destroyed on Saturday following a Houthi artillery bombardment on a village in
the district of Hays in Hodeidah.
has criticized the European Union for failing to set up a payment mechanism
meant to circumvent US sanctions, warning that the bloc should account for the
"consequences" of the delay.
Islamic Republic of Iran holds Europe definitely responsible for failing to
implement the financial mechanism called the SPV," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Bahram Qassemi said late Saturday.
SPV or the special purpose vehicle is a virtual clearing house which the
Europeans have been working on for months to process Iran-related transactions
independent of the US but the mechanism has yet to see the light of the day.
far, the Europeans have failed twice to fulfill their promises to get the
system up and running in order to persuade Iran to remain in a landmark 2015
nuclear deal known as the JCPOA after the US abandoned it.
EU first pledged to make it operational before the US sanctions went into
effect in August 2018. Last month, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
said she expected the instrument to be established before the end of the year
but that date also passed without any explanation.
said on Wednesday that efforts to implement the special purpose vehicle for
trade with Iran will continue into 2019 but Qassemi warned that Iran's patience
was running thin.
Europeans, as the main culprit, should consider the consequences of their
decision, because Iran has so far honored all its JCPOA commitments, but
ultimately there is a limit to Iran's patience. Hence, it is about time the EU
made a strategic decision and chose its path," he said.
cited "the domination of the dollar and the interconnectedness of the
European and American economies" as the reasons behind the delay, state
news agency IRNA reported.
European Union and even the three European parties to the deal with Iran are
captive and hostage to the American economy, so they need to decide for their
independence," he said.
is already angry with the EU over its failure to stop European companies from
leaving the Islamic Republic.
countries should pay for their independence from the United States, because
doing so cannot be without costs, especially for the implementation of
important historical tasks such as the SPV, which could be a major milestone
for European solidarity on the global stage; so the European countries need to
make a decision at this point and juncture," Qassemi said.
said while the Europeans started with goodwill and showed a "positive
political will" to set up a financial mechanism, "over time and
during negotiations over the past months, they are reinforcing the impression
that the European states face a series of serious disabilities in implementing
also touched on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent controversial claim
that sanctions were aimed at giving the Iranian people a chance to have better
US imposition of sanctions against the Iranian nation with the logic of
improving their lives is hurting the sentiments of Iranians and is totally
Pompeo should watch the mood in which he speaks. Is it possible to sanction the
Iranian people and, like they [US authorities] say, exert more pressure on them
in order to bring more relief to them?" Qassemi said.
authorities, the spokesman said, "are constantly fraught with
contradiction in speech, due to lack of attention, awareness, as well as their
hostile policies towards Iran, and will ultimately make a laughing stock of
themselves in the international community."
further dismissed as "baseless" Pompeo's claims that Iran's launch of
space rockets and missiles was a breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231
which was issued to endorse the JCPOA.
Iranian official urged the top US diplomat to seek expert advice on the
resolution, reiterating that "our missile policies are completely
defensive and deterrent, do not violate Resolution 2231 and are not against any
is not a nation to buckle under these kinds of pressures and bow to the
bullying and excessive demands of the American government. US authorities are
advised to review the history and experience of past sanctions to somehow come
to their senses."
The Israeli military has struck Hamas sites in Gaza in response to rocket fire
military says it targeted a militant camp in the northern Gaza Strip early
Monday. It followed an overnight rocket attack toward the city of Ashkelon. The
rocket was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. There were no
reported injuries on either side.
exchange marked a brief flare up two months after a massive wave of rocket
attacks led to fierce Israeli retaliation and nearly brought the region toward
another war. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars over the past decade.
Outfits Of Kerala Plan Stir Against Denial Of Quota
organisations in the State are planning to rope in outfits representing other
backward classes (OBCs) to take forward an agitation against the “denial of
reservation benefits” in the recruitment of officials to the proposed Kerala
Administrative Service (KAS).
Kutty Ahmed Kutty, former Minister and convener, Minorities and Backward
Classes Forum, told The Hindu on Sunday that discussions would be held soon
with functionaries of the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) and the Sree
Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam.
said the forum had the support of the Samvarana Samudaya Munnani led by V.
Dinakaran, who represented the Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha, and Vishnupuram
Chandrasekharan, chairman of the Vaikuntaswami Dharma Pracharanasabha, which
represented the Nadar community.
of over 60 most backward Hindu communities have offered support to us. They
will hold a meeting soon, after which we will have joint deliberations,” Mr.
Mr. Kutty said.
government proposed to give reservation to the minorities and backward classes
only in Category 1 of the KAS, which will be through direct recruitment. Under
Category 2, officials will be appointed from regular employees or approved
probationers in government departments. Under Category 3, those holding first
gazetted post or above can be transferred or promoted. In both these cases,
reservation rules are not applicable.
Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that this was based on the advice of the
Advocate General. He had also suggested a Constitutional amendment to help the
poorest among forward castes eligible for reservation without diluting the
quota for Dalits and backward classes.
decision to launch the agitation was taken at a meeting of the Muslim
Coordination Committee, a body representing various Muslim organisations, in
Kozhikode on Saturday. Participants, including IUML State president Panakkad
Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, pointed out that the alleged flouting of
reservation benefits was an injustice meted out to the backward classes. It
should be corrected.
pointed out that the minuscule representation enjoyed by backward classes in
government jobs was due to reservation. Government-appointed panels such as the
one headed by retired judge K.K. Narendran had pointed out that even the
mandatory level of reservation had not been ensured in government jobs, they
committee is planning to hold a meeting of organisations representing backward
and minority communities in Kozhikode to chalk out the future course of action.
Representatives of the IUML, Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, Kerala Nadvathul
Mujahideen, Jamaat-e-Islami, Wisdom Global Islamic Mission, Muslim Education
Society, Muslim Service Society, among others, were present at the meeting.
DELHI: Failure to curb infiltration from across the Line of Control and putting
a check on local recruitment of youths in terror groups remain a constant
source of worry for security agencies in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir,
officials said Sunday.
the trends of 2018, it has been seen that infiltration figures continue to
remain unchanged as around 140 terrorists successfully sneaked into the Kashmir
Valley, majority of whom are believed to be of Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group,
around 110 terrorists were killed during infiltration, the successful number of
cross overs continue to worry the security agencies. During recent meetings
with Army and BSF officials, it has been brought to their notice that the
counter infiltration grid needs to be further strengthened as militants may try
and sneak in during the peak winters as well.
is not only the Line of Control, which stretches from Poonch in Jammu to
Kupwara in Kashmir, but also international border, which has been exploited by
the terror groups," said a senior security official on condition of
Army and the BSF have been maintaining that they have been able to
substantially curb infiltration, but their assertions were negated by the
arrest of some of the terrorists during 2018 who spoke about bringing in cadres
successfully, the official said.
to the officials in the know of the security situation in the state, around 130
foreign terrorists were still active in the Kashmir Valley who were mainly
tasked to impart training to local youths, who were lured into the terrorist
ranks and files.
infiltration, inability to check flow of local youths to the militancy fold
continues to worry security agencies. Local recruitment crossed the 100 mark
from four districts of South Kashmir.
careful analysis of South Kashmir shows that 104 local militants from this area
have been killed during the last year, showing that the area is dominated with
more numbers of local militants.
year gone by saw the maximum number of local terrorists killed in the region
which has accounted for over 250 militant killings in last five years.
a highly politically sensitive area of the Valley, South Kashmir has virtually
turned into a virtual breeding ground for militants with many youths joining
their rank and file or becoming their sympathisers.
areas has seen a better intelligence network of terrorists, assistance of
people to local terrorists, heavy turnouts at the funerals of militants and
stone-pelting on security forces even during encounters.
four districts – Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian– South Kashmir has been
on the boil ever since the killing of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen's poster
boy Burhan Wani in July 2016.
cancellation of a talk by well-known Ahmadiyya writer and poet Basharat Ahmed
following a public protest in Pune on Friday was the first disappointing
incident of its kind in the 29 years of the Akhil Bharatiya Muslim Marathi
Sahitya Samelan, organisers of the event said here on Saturday.
were raised outside the assembly hall of Azam Campus in Pune, Camp after the
Friday prayers, demanding that poet Basharat Ahmed from Latur should not be
allowed to speak at the event. Some of the protestors alleged that his views
were heretical and critical of the Muslim faith.
sizeable crowd had gathered immediately after the Friday prayers even as the
Cantonment police were on standby since early in the morning. Ahmed was slated
to speak during one of the three days of the Sahitya Sammelan.
movement of writing in Marathi language began 30 years ago and Basharat Ahmed
is one of the past presidents of this Sammelan, where authors, poets,
novelists, playwrights, all meet to express their views in Marathi. We never
thought of him as an outsider,” said Sheikh Iqbal Minne, president of the Akhil
Bhartiya Muslim Marathi Sahitya Sammelan.
We are all here in Pune to speak about literature. Basharat Ahmed is a
well-known author and he too is aware that this is not a religious programme
nor there is any discussion based on religion. This is the first time that some
of the protestors tried to stop such a literary meet. But we have managed to
convince them that this is only a literary meet,” Minne said.
Shaikh, an author from Panvel said that while there are many sects in the
Muslim community, all have always worked together for the literary meet and
never has anyone asked which sect one belongs to. But ever since the Sammelan
became popular, it was drawing attention on a larger scale.
Ahmed comes from the Qadayani or Ahmadiyya sect and his thought process is
different and many people within the community don’t like it. All these years
he has never said anything regarding his sect and this is the first time that
people in Pune feel that he might say something and create a dispute,” Shaikh
three days 12th Akhil Bhartiya Muslim Marathi Sahitya Sammelan which began at
Azam Campus on Saturday, had a slow start on the second day with many of the
speakers missing from the list of invitees, after the protests against Basharat
Ahmed’s talk, which was slated to be the biggest draw of the literary meet.
was the chief guest and the main speaker on the topic of religious polarisation
and the movement of equality.
to members of the organising committee, Ahmed opted out of the event, even
though he had arrived in Pune after he was informed about the protest.
Ahmed, from Jalgaon, said the protestors and the author were right in their own
ways as they were expressing their views freely. “I think from the protesters
point of view, they would be worried about Basharat’s views being misinterpreted
even though he is a literary figure,” he said.
event was being hosted by Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education (MCE) Society’s
Azam Campus led by educationist PA Inamdar, in association with Muslim Marathi
Sahitya Sanskrutik Mandal.
role is simply to promote Marathi language and this is not a religious meet. It
is a coincidence that the government of Maharashtra is also holding the 15 day
Marathi language promotion at the same time,” Inamdar said.
should have taken a firm stand’
Ahmed is an author who belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim jamaat was looking
forward to participate in the 12th Akhil Bhartiya Muslim Marathi Sahitya
Sammelan which began here on Friday had to return home to Osmanabad. “I got a
request from the Pune police not to come to the venue, Azam Campus, for the
fear of a riots. I also have it in writing from the organising committee that
it would be best if I stayed away,” he said.
is not the first time that Ahmed has faced this kind of threat. “It was in the
2004 Sammelan which was held in Kolhapur where the same group of people
belonging to Jamate Islamic Hind Sanghatana had threatened me against
presenting my thoughts. However, the organisers of the Sammelan were firm in
their views and had said that if I was not allowed the Sammelan wouldn’t be
held. But this time, the organisers did not show support and gave in to the
demands of these protestors who under the name of Jamate Islamic Hind are
poisoning the minds of the people,” he said.
to Basharat, the committee members were locked inside the guest house the night
before the Sammelan on campus by these protestors demanded the list of people
attending the festival.
it will be difficult to hold such Sammelans in the future. This time they
objected to me being part of it, next time it will be somebody else. Our
organisation should have taken a firm stand, but they gave in to their demands.
Soon they will take over the organisation if they continue like this,” said
Ahmed, a founder member of this Muslim Marathi movement and also the national
vice-president of the literary meet.
will continue to write and express my views through my writings and my poetry.
Besides this Sammelan there are other platforms for me; although thisSsammelan
means much more to me,” he said.
militant commander on Sunday dismissed ex-Jammu and Kashmir chief minister
Mehbooba Mufti’s visits to families of militants as a pre-election “drama”.
“…Mufti goes to homes of militants and expresses sympathies with them and
claims that police are getting directions from somewhere to harass their
families. When she was in power… family members of militants were harassed. Who
was giving directions to police then?’’ Hizbul Mujahideen’s operational
commander, Riyaz Naikoo, purportedly said in an audio clip. Naikoo said
militants and civilians were also killed when Mufti was in power. He added
Mufti’s statements then were aimed at appeasing her erstwhile alliance partner,
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Delhi. “Now elections are near… that is
the reason why she is expressing sympathies with the people,’’ he said,
referring to the assembly elections that have to be held within six months
after the imposition of the president’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir in November.
“Whenever she visits them, she should be humiliated and asked to go back. She
has sympathies with India and not with us.”
who lost power in June after the BJP pulled out of her coalition government, on
Thursday visited a slain militant’s family in South Kashmir’s Shopian and asked
security forces not to harass relatives of militants. She urged authorities to
release the militant’s brother, who has been under police detention since last
who regularly visited the kin of people killed in violence in Kashmir after she
left the Congress and formed her party in the late 1990s, claimed to have
directed security forces against harassing families of militants while fighting
militancy when she was in power. She had earlier on December 30 met a
militant’s sister after her alleged detention and custodial torture.
losing two of her sons in insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan, Jaswant
Kaur had to flee the country 10 years ago with her family, but little did she
know that her struggle for a life of dignity would begin in her “natural
her grand children and daughters-in law are among the thousands of Hindus and
Sikhs who escaped persecution in Afghanistan to find safety in India, but are
now left running pillar to post for citizenship.
process to get citizenship is long with a wait of about 12 years or more. Rife
with red-tapism and complicated procedures, one has to run office to office to
challenge is bigger for Kaur, in her early sixties, as her family is an
all-women household. Her third son was killed in a suicide bomb attack in
Jalalabad in which prominent members of the Hindu-Sikh community in Afghanistan
also died in July last year.
this to the situation in Europe and western countries where Afghan refugees get
residency in five years,” Manohar Singh, Delhi President of Khalsa Diwan
lives in India on a visa which is to be renewed after a couple of years.
Recently, the government introduced a long-term visa but made the procedure
even more complicated.
procedure now requires refugees to get guarantee of two Indian citizens who
will be responsible if an applicant is caught in a crime or violation of
regulations, Singh said.
for Kaur all may not be lost. She may have a glimmer of hope with the
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that seeks to ease the citizenship process for
people from minority communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who
are coming to India in the wake of discrimination faced by them.
the Jalababad attack, the wife of Jaswant Kaur’s third son, Thirpal Kaur also
joined her mother-in-law in West Delhi with her four children four months back.
A Joint Parliamentary Committee will submit its report Monday in which it is
likely to recommend introduction of the bill.
bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to
people belonging to minority communities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains,
Parsis and Christians -- in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six
years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don’t possess any
proper document. The Congress, TMC, CPI(M) and a few other parties are
steadfastly opposing the bill claiming citizenship cannot be given on basis of
the report is submitted in Lok Sabha on January 7, it is to be seen whether the
bill could get through during the Winter Session of Parliament, which comes to
an end on January 8, sources said.
members from opposition parties are asserting that citizenship is a constitutional
provision and cannot be based on religion, as India is secular.
opposition MP said if the bill in its present form comes into effect, then it
will nullify the Assam Accord under which anyone entering the state illegally
after March 1971 should be declared a foreigner and deported.
large section of people and organisations in the Northeast have opposed the
bill, saying it will nullify provisions of the 1985 Assam Accord, which fixed
March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal immigrants
irrespective of religion. Even Meghalaya and Mizoram governments have strongly
opposed the bill and adopted resolutions against it. “We don’t want any
compensation, monetary relief, house, jobs. We want a dignified life so that we
can earn livelihood, go abroad for business, get good education. This is not
possible without having Indian passport,” Singh said.
Diwan Society is an effort by Sikhs and Hindus who have come to India from
Afghanistan to make this country their home. Singh came to India in 1979 after
Afghan president Mohammed Daoud assassination. It was the first major exodus of
Sikhs. The second wave of Hindus and Sikhs left Afghanistan in 1992 after
withdrawal of the USSR and arrival of Mujahideens.
Afghanistan Constitution allows freedom of religion but Hindus and Sikhs face
public discrimination, intimidation, harassment and violence for following
their religious practices even in the matters like last rites,” an official
said requesting anonymity.
a vibrant population of 2.20 lakh in Afghanistan, the number of Hindus and
Sikhs have now come down to 5,000 now, according to estimates of India security
25,000 Sikhs and Hindus managed to escape the violence during 1992 civil war
with the help of the then Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao and Finance Minister
Manmohan Singh but only estimated 35 per cent have been able to get
citizenship,” Singh told PTI in an interview. In the absence of citizenship,
these people are in an open jail. Despite being well qualified, they are not
able to find jobs because of Afghan passports, he said.
in the US and several European countries where children born get local
passports, Afghan refugees have to get Afghan passports for their children even
if they are born in India, Singh said.
have stopped minority communities from trading and employment unless they
convert to Islam. Looting is rampant and women can move only in burkas, he
did Tripoli issue arrest warrants for Libya’s top post-2011 actors?
Libyan Public Prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant of the Chairman of the
Wattan Party Abdelhakim Belhaj and the former commander of the Petroleum
Facilities Guard Ibrahim Jadran, according to Libyan Express.
warrants included four other Libyan personalities and 31 Chadian names from the
Rebel Groups in Chad.
papers issues by the investigation office of the Public Prosecutor in Tripoli
headed by Siddiq Al-Sour were sent to the Intelligence Chief and General
Investigation Bureau’s Chairman.
warrants say Belhaj and Jadran as well as the rest were involved in attacks,
crimes and leading armed groups in Libya, including attacks on oil terminals,
Timnahint air base in southern Libya and other crimes in south of the country.
Cousins, the editor-in-chief of the Libya Herald, said in a piece that the move
is a political bombshell, by issuing arrest warrants for one of Libya’s top
post-2011 actors and other key figures in the Libya crisis.
added that a total of 31 Chadian and Sudanese militants in Libya were also
charged. All are accused of involvement in attacks on oil terminals and on the
airbase at Tamanhent, near Sabha in southern Libya.
Belhaj, the most prominent figure named on the warrants, leads Libya’s
pro-Islamist Watan Party. A former fighter in Afghanistan against the Soviets
and later the leader of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was allied to
al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, he became head of Tripoli Military
Council after the 2011 revolution.
then he has branched out into business, allegedly with the help of Qatar,
although he is still seen as primarily a controversial political figure. He has
been said to be involved with Tunisia’s terrorist Ansar al-Sharia organisation,
an accusation he denied.
June 2017, Belhaj was included on a list of suspected terrorists linked to
Qatar issued by Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and
subsequently endorsed by the House of Representatives, Libya’s parliament in
is not known what the consequences of the arrest warrant will be but Belhaj,
who is in Turkey, has supporters in Tripoli and there are fears there may be
violence as a result. He was quoted by the pro-Islamist Nabaa TV saying that it
was unlikely the arrest warrants will be implemented in Tripoli.
Cousins believes that the warrant could be related to the January 1’s operation
when Libyan National Army (LNA) forces freed 22 hostages who had been seized
weeks earlier by suspected Islamic State (ISIS) gunmen.
were discovered after an attack December 27 on a military camp at Traghen,
125km from Sabha.
said that following the assault, in which one soldier was killed, several
others injured and 24 army vehicles reportedly stolen, LNA units tracked the
attackers, said to be Chadian irregulars.
stressed that Chadian and Sudanese fighters have been active in southern Libya
in recent years, hiring themselves out to the highest bidder or sometimes
kidnapping local Libyans for ransom. The majority are Chadian, some being
members of the Chadian opposition movement the Military Command Council for the
Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR). Others are freelance bandits, with no
said that following the Traghen attack, LNA forces went to Ghudwa, believed to
be the base for the bandits. The attackers were not there but hostages were
found in two containers. The hostages were said to have been taken October 28
by ISIS during a particularly brutal attack on the southern village of Fugha
and others captured during an attack November 23 on the police station in
southern town of Tazerbo.
are now questioning whether ISIS was involved in the attacks or whether there
are links between the Chadians and ISIS. So far there are no answers, although,
in a potentially significant twist, the Attorney General’s Office announced
that a leading CCMSR member had been arrested in Tripoli, according to the
piece published by Arab Weekly.
supporters of President Omar al-Bashir planning a counter-rally next week,
police in Sudan have once again fired tear gas canisters at protesters to break
up their crowds, more than two weeks after anti-government protests began in
the African country.
of protesting men and women convened in areas of downtown in the capital
Khartoum on Sunday but dozens of riot police officers began attacking the
protesters with tear gas when a group of organizing anti-government rallies
called for a march on the presidential palace, witnesses said.
are not even allowing 10 people to gather,” a witness said.
Sunday, anti-government rallies were also held in the city of Madani, located
southeast of the capital, with protesters chanting for “peace, justice,
freedom.” A separate demonstration was staged in the northern town of Atbara,
from where the current wave of unrest first erupted.
has been rocked by near-daily demonstrations since December 19, in the wake of
a move by the government to triple the price of a loaf of bread, which angered
people and triggered the rallies.
the initial days of the protests, several buildings and offices of Bashir's
ruling National Congress Party were set alight by protesters. Riot police have
so far managed to disperse the rallies, and security agents have arrested
several opposition leaders and activists in a crackdown on suspected
public display of anger soon escalated into calls for Bashir, who took power in
1989, to resign.
to figures provided by authorities, at least 19 people, including two security
personnel, have so far been killed in violent clashes. However, rights group
Amnesty International says it has “credible reports” that at least 37 people
have lost their lives since the onset of the rallies.
posted on social media networks, purportedly of Sunday’s rallies, showed
protesters fleeing down the streets and alleyways in the downtown area trying
not to inhale the noxious gas.
Saturday, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group of doctors, teachers
and engineers, had called for the march after organizing similar protests in
will march on the palace on Sunday calling for President Bashir to step down,”
the association said in a statement.
Sudan's Labor Minister Bahar Idris announced at a press conference that a
pro-government rally would be staged Wednesday at the capital’s Green Yard, a
large open ground in Khartoum, adding that the rally would express “the choice
of the Sudanese people and address the present crisis.”
Wednesday demonstration would be the first pro-Bashir rally since protests
began last month.
on Sunday, Sudanese security authorities detained at least eight faculty
members from Khartoum University, after they participated in anti-government
was the first time the faculty of Sudan’s oldest and most prestigious
educational institution has joined the protests since last month.
to witnesses, security forces barred professors and lecturers from joining the
rallies outside the university.
held some 100 professors in the faculty club house for nearly three hours after
arresting eight of their colleagues, witnesses added.
authorities have launched a clampdown on opposition leaders, activists and
reporters to prevent the spread of rallies. Authorities have declared curfews
and states of emergency in several states. Residents say police have used live
ammunition in some cases to disperse the protesters.
African country has been struggling with a growing economic crisis over the
past year led by a serious shortage of foreign currency. The cost of some
commodities, including medicines, has more than doubled and a soaring inflation
has hit 70 percent.
is colonised by Christian and Islamic imperialists
I listened to another person on radio, I thought Ustaz AbdulSalam Olayiwola
Imam lost his voice. I did not know that it was the harmattan wind that was at
work. What should I do to Imam Dr Abubakar Ali-Agan and Imam Dr AbdulHamid
Olohunoyin, talking rubbish and nonsense in their Madrasat Muhammad of Friday,
December 21, 2019, openly saying that Kwara state belongs to only Muslims, and
that the state House of Assembly is dominated by persons who would not approve
anything, including Customary Court of Appeal, not supported by Ilorin Muslims?
They went as far as adding that agents of African Traditional Religion (ATR)
should not be free to go around praying for people in Ọjà Ọba (King’s Market), Ilorin, and that we
adherents of ATR are Shango’s children, as if God is not the Father of all and
I will give them dirty slaps. Their utterances indicate how Muslim and
Christian conspiracies are destabilizing Nigeria. The late President Umaru Musa
Yar’Adua abused his presidential powers to attack the Boko Haram Muslim
community of men, women, and children that did not attack anybody until
attacked. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan took undue advantage of Yar’Adua’s
death and abused his own position as the Acting President to truncate
rotational presidency against the northwest, pulling on nepotism, Biafra, and
Christian Association of Nigeria, thereby compounding the Boko Haram crisis.
current President, General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), at his inauguration as
Nigeria’s President on May 29, 2015, paid homage to Shehu Usumanu Danfodio, the
foremost Fulani jihadist warrior, and went into an all out war against Boko
Haram where Jonathan left off. Count the costs in human lives and economic
resources, 2009 till date. The question then arises whether genuine democracy
and social equity can thrive where Islamic and Christian imperialisms are
dominant. Ali-Agan and Olohunoyin are not among the poorest of the poor. Their
goal is Islamic propagation and not human solidarity and social justice.
is your own priority in life: Christian imperialism; religious bigotry, or
human rights and social equity? Yes, I know why GMB is reluctant on the N30,
000 minimum wage. He himself has confessed secretly to the Governors that the
economy is in shambles. Yet he is unrepentant on the unjustifiable war against
Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen terrorists are still on rampage, together
with the armed bandits, coupled with skyrocketing debts. Hence, as the former
President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, said, only fools would vote for GMB in
Trump's presidency has coincided with a sharp rise in US-led airstrikes in
Somalia and the trend is set to continue in 2019.
a speech in December outlining the US' Africa policy, President Trump's
National Security Adviser John Bolton said "terrorists operating in Africa
have... repeatedly targeted US citizens and interests".
gave the impression that there would be no let up in the struggle against
militant Islamist groups, such as the Somalia-based al-Shabab, which is
affiliated to al-Qaeda.
March 2017, the Pentagon received White House approval to expand its fight
against the militants in the Horn of Africa nation.
now no longer require high-level vetting to approve strikes on al-Shabab in
"areas of active hostilities" in Somalia.
allows [us] to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion," said General
Thomas Walhauser of US Africa Command (Africom).
move has seen increased attacks by aircraft, as well as the first public
deployment of US boots on the ground since 1993 to "advise and
assist" Somali government troops.
has now carried out at least 46 confirmed airstrikes in Somalia in 2018,
following the previous record of 38 in 2017, according to the Bureau of
Investigative Journalism (BIJ).
single strikes have focused on large groups of militants. For example, about 60
were killed on 12 October around Harardere in the central Mudug region, in what
was the largest airstrike of its kind in nearly a year.
strikes focused on individuals, such as the lone militant targeted and killed
six days earlier in Kunyo Barrow in southern Somalia.
to previous years, 2017 and 2018 marked a significant increase in US action
fact, a BIJ tally reveals that at least 538 people have been killed in these
airstrikes since the beginning of 2017 - far more than the previous 10 years
combined - although not every strike was recorded to have killed someone.
says the "airstrikes reduce al-Shabab's ability to plot future attacks,
disrupt its leadership networks, and degrade its freedom of manoeuvre within
the region". This shows that every trace of the group is considered a
noted by the Long War Journal, the strikes are part of a wider pattern that has
ranged from targeting top commanders to the rank and file who make up the
group's visible presence on the ground.
adopt new tactics'
apart from one senior al-Shabab commander, Ali Mohamed Hussein, killed in a
joint US-Somalia military raid in the southern Lower Shabelle region in August
2017, few have been significant enough to be named by the US since Mr Trump
approved the expansion of military operations in Somalia.
militants, like other jihadist groups, are well aware of the threat from the
to a senior regional security official, the fighters now avoid congregating in
large groups. They move in units of three or four and only converge to carry
out attacks, including on bases of African Union troops and Somali government
the increased strikes, al-Shabab's core capabilities remain solid.
group has not lost control of territory in central and southern parts of
Somalia, where it is trying to set up its own administration, including raising
taxes from the local population.
are vast areas - far larger than the urban centres that the federal government
controls in the same regions.
Roggio and Alexandra Gutowski of the Long War Journal conclude that this
reflects al-Shabab's primary goal, adopted from al-Qaeda, which is "to
overthrow local governments and create emirates which will eventually coalesce
into an Islamic caliphate". US 'adheres' to laws of conflict
jihadist group has displayed its confidence through attacks such as the ambush
last June on a combined force of Somali, Kenyan and American troops in Jamame
town in southern Somalia, in which a US special forces soldier was killed.
the insistence of the Somali government and Amisom that the group has been
eliminated from the capital, Mogadishu, one of its leaders, Ali Dhere, was
recently photographed hosting a charity event near the city.
still mounts occasional forays into neighbouring Kenya's border regions
carrying out ambushes and explosive attacks on security forces, and it often
publishes videos documenting these incidents as part of its media operation.
group sometimes responds to Ethiopian, Kenyan and US airstrikes by claiming
that the casualties were innocent civilians, but from the US action over the
past two years, there are no independent records of civilians killed.
at least 32 have been injured in areas held by the militants, according to BIJ
a statement to the BBC, Africom spokeswoman Becky Farmer noted that the US
military command for Africa "has not discovered or assessed any civilian
casualties resulting from our operations over the last two years".
added: "In fact, [we go] to extraordinary lengths to reduce the likelihood
of civilian casualties, exercising restraint as a matter of policy that
regularly exceeds the restrictions of the law of armed conflict."
are still vivid memories of America's disastrous exit during its last major
military action in Somalia in 1994.
the time, two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu.
the ensuing battle, hundreds of Somalis were estimated to have died. Some 18
Americans and two UN soldiers were killed.
the Pentagon would consider the option of airstrikes today to be far less risky
to US troops and possibly more effective in taking out targets.
a result, the campaign is unlikely to be affected by the recent announcement of
an impending reduction of US troops in Africa.
far, the increased airstrikes have not given the US, the Somali government and
AU troops the upper hand. Al-Shabab will be content to retain its vast
security forces on Sunday arrested two journalists over their coverage of the
jihadist group Boko Haram, sources at the newspaper told AFP.
combined team of secret police, soldiers and civil defence paramilitary stormed
the office of the Daily Trust in the northern city of Maiduguri and whisked
away its northeast regional editor Uthman Abubakar and reporter Ibrahim Sawab.
team seized the journalists' laptops and mobile phones, the sources at the
newspaper's headquarters in the capital Abuja said.
raid was in response to our cover story today on the military preparation to
retake the town of Baga which was captured by Boko Haram last week," one
source at the paper said.
came looking for our reporter Hamza Idris, who anchored the story, but arrested
the two reporters when they didn't find him," another source said.
police have sealed the office, according to the sources and Maiduguri
than two dozen armed soldiers also raided the Daily Trust head office in Abuja
on Sunday evening, sources at the newspaper added.
soldiers raided our head office this evening.
is a continuation of the crackdown that started in our Maiduguri office earlier
stormed into the newsroom on the third floor and seized computers and laptops
before ordering everyone to vacate the building.
have sealed the building. This means we will not be on the newstands tomorrow
for the first time in 20 years," a source at the paper said.
to the same sources, similar operations took place at the Lagos Daily Trust
office at the same time.
Daily Trust reported on December 31 that Boko Haram militants captured six
localities in northern Borno state including Baga, disputing military claims
that the jihadists were not in control of any territory in the region.
followed a series of Boko Haram raids on military bases in the area.
the report the military issued a statement threatening to take action against
"unscrupulous elements" and "inaccurate news reports by some
sections of the media".
carried out a similar raid on the same office in 2013 in a failed attempt to
arrest Idris over another report the military deemed critical.
November the Nigerian military threatened legal action for "fake
news" after media reports stated much higher military casualties than the
official toll from a Boko Haram raid on a military base in Metele village.
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