Saudi Prince in Exile Launches Opposition Movement,
Calls For Constitutional Monarchy
Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi Urges Followers to Continue
Attacks, Storm Prisons in Purported New Recording Released by the Group’s
Al-Furqan Media Wing
Ayodhya Case: Muslim Parties' Lawyer, Arguing Before
SC Bench, Says Images of Lions, Birds, Flowers on Structure Do Not Make It
Had Dara Shikoh Ruled India in place of Aurangzeb,
Islam Would Have Flourished In the Country: RSS Joint Secratary
Pakistan Temple Attack: Muslim Locals Offer Support to
Taliban Attacks Kill 48, Close Shave for Afghan Prez
as Bomber Targets Rally
Saudi, Allies Must Pay the Price For Spilling Yemenis'
Ban On Malaysian Muslims and Non-Muslims Praying
Together Will 'Polarise' Nation
Governor-General David Hurley Defends Role of Islam,
Champions Importance of Faith in People’s Lives
US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Leaves For Emergency
Visit of Leading Islamic Country
A Coalition of Human Rights and Muslim Organizations
Ask Gates Foundation to Rescind Honor to Indian Prime Minister
Saudi Islam Minister Orders Preachers to Rail against
'Iran' Oil Attacks During Friday Sermons
Chaldean priest: Mosul focused on work and
reconstruction, not al-Baghdadi’s messages
Saudi Arabia 'secretly' sells Istanbul consulate where
Khashoggi was murdered
Isolated Among Extremists: Conditions Deteriorate for
Children of Islamic State
Iraqi troops destroy four Islamic State terrorist
hotbeds in Diyala
Abdul Mahdi to NATO Chief: Iraq Seeks Balanced Foreign
Arab Parliament Calls for Protecting Yemeni MPs from
Yemeni Source Warns of Expanding Attacks to UAE Oil
Senior MP: Saudi Allegations against Iraq Aimed at
Pressuring Hashd Al-Shaabi
Air strikes kill 10 pro-Iran fighters in east Syria:
Indo-Pak tension defused to great extent: Trump
Historians’ report on Babri mosque mere ‘opinion’: SC
Attack on Saudi facilities sets oil on fire in India
India rebuts Mahathir Mohamad's claim on Zakir Naik
Supreme Court seeks date for end of Ayodhya arguments
Kashmir may not be ‘major topic’ during Modi-Xi meet:
Chinese foreign ministry
Release detained leaders, stop creating space for
terrorists in J&K: Rahul to Centre
J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire along IB in Samba
I am not a foreigner, Farooq Abdullah is not a
terrorist: CPI(M) leader Tarigami on detention
Space Diplomacy Route to Indo-Pak Peace: Pak Astronaut
There have been human rights violations in
Balochistan: Pakistani journalist
Nawaz-Shahbaz long meeting fuels speculations
PTI govt incompetent, illegal, says Fazl
Parliaments across globe now discussing Kashmir: FM
PM Imran offers full support to Saudi Arabia after
attack on oil facilities
Taliban Kill At Least 26 in Blast Near Afghan
Airstrikes kill more than 20 Taliban and ISIS
militants in 4 provinces
Taliban supplies al Qaeda with explosives for attacks
in major Afghan cities
UN adopts Afghan resolution without China's 'Belt and
Bangladesh, growing tired of hosting Rohingya
refugees, puts new squeeze on the teeming camps
Netanyahu Refuses to Concede as Gantz Leads in
Israel’s General Election
Turkey says three million could return to safe zone in
Top Houthi rebel commander killed in southern Yemen
Netanyahu, rightist allies appear to fall short of
majority in Israel polls
Iran’s leader Khamenei says US policy of maximum
pressure will fail
Saudi Arabia joins US naval mission in Middle East
amid tensions with Iran
10 pro-Iranian militiamen killed in eastern Syria
Sarawak Gifts Non-Muslim Religious Institutions
PAS Leader Warns DAP Against Pursuing
Manila calls for collective efforts to combat terrorism
Thai PM defends police monitoring of Muslim students
Non-Muslims no problem with our alliance with PAS,
says Sabah Umno
China condemns attacks on Saudi oil facilities
Russia to discuss selling new anti-drone weapons to
Middle East partners
Britain, Germany agree on need for international
response to Saudi attacks
Britain continues to aid Saudi war effort in Yemen
Dutch court starts hearing in war crime case against
Return to JCPOA only way to de-escalate tensions in
Middle East: Merkel
2,800 Turks applied for Swiss asylum since coup bid
UK urges collective response to Saudi Aramco attacks
Prosecutors Disclose Taped Confession in 9/11 Case
Brad Pitt Calls International Space Station: ‘Did You
Spot Indian Moon Lander?’
10K anti-Muslim incidents in US since 2014: report
Pompeo condemns Taliban attacks in Afghanistan that
kill nearly 50 people
Donald Trump, shifting tone, plays down talk of war
US eyes UN action over Saudi Aramco blasts
Trump lacks power to use US military for S Arabia's
US lawmakers seek de-escalation in Kashmir row
Jordan Says 153,000 Syrians Returned Home Since Last October
Jordan King Says Israeli Annexation Would Be A
US airstrike in Somalia kills 2 al-Shabaab militants
Two insurgents killed in US strike on al-Shabaab in
Compiled by New
Age Islam News Bureau
Saudi prince in exile launches opposition movement, calls
for constitutional monarchy
Sep 17, 2019
A Saudi prince living in exile in Germany has launched
an opposition movement in a bid to change the ruling regime, establish a
constitutional monarchy and cease human rights abuses in the repressive
“Over the past three years, the Saudi monarch (King
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) has turned into a sacred cow, who commands
obedience,” Prince Khaled bin Farhan Al Saud, who escaped Saudi Arabia himself
over a decade ago, said in a video posted on YouTube on Monday evening as he
announced the formation of the opposition group, dubbed “the Freedom Movement
of the Sons of the Arabian Peninsula,” Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online news
“The regime of King Salman hastened to work on the
collapse of the kingdom when it...appointed Mohammed bin Salman as the crown
Prince,” the 41-year-old dissident Saudi prince added.
He highlighted that the Saudi monarch and his son have
seriously damaged the country’s prestige and reputation at international, Muslim
and Arab levels, arguing that they both have sought “to change the status quo
of the Two Holy Mosques for worse and to the benefit of others.”
Prince Khaled went on to say that Saudi Arabia, during
the reign of King Salman and his crown prince, has become a vassal state to
Zionist dwarfs, arguing that the Saudi ruler is “wasting state resources
uncontrollably, and in a provocative way.”
He then pointed
to the “increasing dictatorship of the Saudi political system,” stating that
the ruling Riyadh regime has “tortured dissidents by all the means that are
prohibited by the international law.”
“Bin Salman assaulted his cousins, put them behind
bars, discredited them and prevented members of the ruling family – the House
of Saud – from traveling. Mohammed bin Salman attacked leading businessmen in
the kingdom, prompting the flight of capital,” Prince Khaled said.
He added that the Saudi crown prince was behind the
increase of arms purchases by the kingdom over the past three years, equal to
more than 112% or about one third of the country’s general budget, noting that
“serious military failures in the era of Mohammed bin Salman are not
commensurate with the volume of military expenditures.”
Defeat in Yemen
Elsewhere in his remarks, Prince Khaled pointed to Saudi
Arabia’s military campaign against its impoverished southern neighbor, saying,
“The main reason for the defeat in Yemen is because the military doctrine of
the army does not accept the legitimacy of this war.”
He said the Saudi crown prince has “placed the kingdom
under a real and serious security threat by invading Yemen unjustly.”
The exiled Saudi prince concluded that his movement
will strive to “establish a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia, organize
elections to appoint a prime minister and a government, dislodge current
officials and fight against human rights violations and injustice in the
By Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim
September 17, 2019
BAGHDAD — The Islamic State released an audio recording
Monday that purportedly features its fugitive leader exhorting followers to
carry out attacks where they can, striking security forces and storming prisons
and camps where the militant group’s adherents now languish.
In the half-hour recording, released by the group’s
al-Furqan media wing, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi praised what he described as “daily
operations” across “different fronts” spanning the Middle East, Africa and
Asia. The provenance of the recording is not known, though its authenticity was
not immediately questioned.
Since losing control of its self-proclaimed caliphate,
which spanned parts of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State has slipped back to
its guerrilla roots: Sleeper cells lie low and strike when they can. Crude
bombs target security forces. Places of worship are singled out for
Baghdadi is one of the world’s most wanted men, having
eluded a global coalition of states for more than five years and inspiring
attacks around the globe. The United States is offering $25 million for
credible information about his whereabouts.
In the audio recording, Baghdadi urged supporters to
“teach” Muslims about the Islamic State’s struggle and not to forget the
followers who held out until the caliphate’s final weeks, before U.S.-backed
forces trucked them to detention facilities and displacement camps.
“As for the worst and most important matter — the
prisons, the prisons, oh soldiers of the caliphate,” Baghdadi said. “Your
brothers and sisters, do your utmost to free them and tear down the walls
Tens of thousands of foreigners traveled to Iraq and
Syria at the caliphate’s height, featuring prominently in the group’s
propaganda as international fighters rolled into its territory. Thousands of
the men are now in the custody of Iraqi authorities or U.S.-backed Kurdish
forces in Syria.
Tens of thousands more Syrian, Iraqi and third-country
nationals are also penned into Syria’s sprawling northeastern displacement camp
“Do not hesitate to pay ransom if you cannot free them
by force, and attack their butchers,” Baghdadi said.
That focus on captives was consistent with the Islamic
State’s long-standing attempts to cast itself as a protector of oppressed Sunni
Muslims, experts said.
“Releasing prisoners has always been a focus of ISIS
throughout its history, for two reasons,” said Hassan Hassan, an expert on the
group at the Washington-based Center for Global Policy. “One is that these are
loyal and die-hard fighters. Another is to emphasize how the group will care
about its members even when they’re captured, and that it won’t abandon them.”
In Iraq, prison conditions are deteriorating after
facilities were flooded by more than 17,000 men and women charged with
terrorism offenses, according to judicial records.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death.
Camps such as al-Hol in Syria have also become a
cauldron of anger and frustration. Aid workers and security officials say that
the camp’s most radical elements are policing the behavior of others there,
punishing women who break the group’s strict social code and attacking security
guards on patrol.
On Monday, the International Rescue Committee
described child mortality rates there as “staggering,” saying that at least 339
children had died there since December. Many are under 5 and had known no life
outside the Islamic State.
Speeches by Baghdadi have been rare for most of the
Islamic State’s five-year existence. A video released in April provided the
first visual proof in years that the group’s “caliph” was alive, after repeated
rumors that he had been wounded or killed by U.S. airstrikes.
Although the group no longer has the revenue or power
that came with a sweeping self-declared state, it now counts on dozens of
smaller franchises to continue its legacy. On Monday’s recording, Baghdadi
listed them: “From [Afghanistan] to Iraq to Yemen, to Somalia to western and
central Africa, eastern Asia, northern Africa,” he said. “Sacrifice your lives
if you have to.
Ayodhya case: Muslim parties' lawyer, arguing before
SC bench, says images of lions, birds, flowers on structure do not make it
Sep 17, 2019
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday posed certain
searching queries to the Muslim parties about the images of lions, birds and
flowers found on the now-demolished structure at the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri
masjid site, seeking to know whether such pictures are found in mosques.
The Muslim parties said there were no images of God
found in any mosque but just because "some flowers and some pictures"
have been found, it cannot be said that the site was 'unquranic' and against
the Islamic beliefs.
They told the five-judge Constitution bench, headed by
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, that a few pictures of lions, a bird on the
'Singhdwar' (gate) and some flowery images found on 'kasauti pillars' of the
structure do not help the Hindu side in establishing that there was a temple
instead of a mosque.
"This (the picture of two lions and one bird
taken in 1950) is on the 'singhdwar'. It has two lions and one 'garuda', the
bench said, adding that it wanted to see a "better picture".
"There cannot be images of flowers, animals in a
mosque. Mr Dhavan, can you make a small note and give us the images of
mosques," said the bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde, DY
Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, on the 25th day of hearing in the
Dhavan, who was arguing on eighth day on behalf of
Sunni Waqf Board and others including original litigant M Siddiq, told the
bench that the reliance on these pictures by Hindu parties "does not prove
anything". "Moreover, we were not called upon to answer this question
in the High Court and the point was that there was "no direct evidence of
any image of a god there", he said.
Nothing had come out of it (pictures of lions and a
bird) as some Muslim witnesses had said it was "emblem of Nawab",
while some Hindus said that they indicated towards the existence of temple. On
the lotus symbol, found on the kasauti pillars, the senior lawyer said that
they did not make the structure a temple or part of a temple and moreover, such
flowery images were also part of Islamic art the world over.
Dhavan questioned the submissions of Hindu parties on
14 'kasauti' pillars and various images found on them and said, "Some
(witnesses) said that these pillars were lying there, some said that they came
from Nepal and some said they came from nearby mining area and few others said
that they came from Sri Lanka.
"On kasauti pillars, there was no direct evidence
of any image of God or Goddess on them. This is what I have argued. They
(Hindus) will have to show some images of God on them...there was a suggestion
that as there were images of lotus, so it was a temple."
Referring to the High Court verdict, he said that
there was no such findings in the judgement and referred to Qutab Minar and
said that there are temple inscriptions on it. "The question is that
whether such images are there in any mosque," Justice Bobde asked.
"If a 'Sultan' or 'Nabab' or a King gave an "un-Islamic" or
"Unquranic" edict, the structure does not become
"un-Islamic", Dhavan said, adding that there were no images on the
west wall of structure and Muslims pray with their face towards west.
Justice Chandrachud said the presence of such images
on the site could be because of the "cultural assimilation" and the
religions, which came from outside, adopted some features of Indic faiths also.
Dhavan agreed with the observations and said the
purpose of showing these images by Hindus was to prove that this mosque was not
a mosque at all. Justice Bobde then asked, "Has any witness said that this
(pictures) was because of any cultural assimilation". Dhavan replied in
He assailed the HC verdict saying that it did not
consider a report of four famous historians, including Irfan Habib, on the
existence of Ram temple at Ayodhya on the site of Babri mosque.
The report had stated that the site where Babri Masjid
stood could not have been the birthplace of Lord Ram, he said, adding that it
was not considered because one of the historians, D N Jha, did not sign it.
"Who asked them to give the report," the bench asked, adding,
"at the highest", the report could be considered as an opinion.
Dhavan said that according to the report the belief
that temple was destroyed gained ground for the first time in 19th century.
This report was filed in response to the version given by the 'Vishwa Hindu
Parishad', the bench said, adding that "this is not the opinion of the
historians based on the archeological excavations and the report".
Moreover, it said the historians were not
cross-examined during the hearing.
At the outset, Dhavan referred to the u-turn made by
the Shia Wakf Board and referred to the earlier statement made by one Prince
Anjum Khadar in which he had said that the land belonged to 'Allah" and
there was a mosque in existence.
He said here Shias have said they have no objection if
the land is given to Hindus for constructing temple. He also referred to the
testimonies of Hindu witnesses including one TP Verma to buttress the case.
The advancing of arguments remained will resume on
The Allahabad High Court, in its judgment of 2010 on
four civil lawsuits, had partitioned the 2.77-acre disputed land equally among
Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. Fourteen appeals have been
filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict.
Sep 12, 2019
New Delhi: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) joint
general secretary Dr Krishna Gopal has said that if Dara Shikoh had ruled India
in place of Aurangzeb then Islam would have flourished in the country and
Hindus would have also understood Islam better.
Calling Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, an epitome of Indianness, the senior RSS functionary
said that he was a 'real Hindustani' who never compromised with Islam and
always tried to unite the society.
Gopal gave this statement while speaking at a
symposium on 'Dara Shikoh: A hero of the Indian syncretist traditions'.
He further urged the Muslim community to follow Dara
Shikoh's legacy rather complaining that there was an atmosphere of fear in the
"Dara was a prince, who translated Upnishads into
Persian. He discussed and debated it with intellectuals. He knew the God was
only one and there were different faiths to find him. Dara was never divisive.
He understood the assimilative power of society and tried to establish
compatibility while remaining a true Muslim," news agency ANI quoted Gopal
Gopal further said Shah Jahan knew about Shikoh’s
capability and prepared ground for his succession. However, his only mistake
was that he translated Upanishads to Persian, which was unacceptable to the
Gopal also said that Dara Shikoh was a man of the
Indian syncretist tradition who posed a direct threat to Aurangzeb who saw him
as a threat to Islam.
Rejecting the statement that Muslims in India are
living in an atmosphere of fear, the senior RSS functionary said that there are
around 50,000 Parsis, some 45 lakh Jains and some 80 lakh followers of Buddhism
who never said they are in fear then why do Muslims, who are around 16-17
crore, say they are living in an atmosphere of fear.
“They are in fear despite ruling the country for 600
years. Why don't you come out from this fear?” he said.
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who was also
present at the event hailed Dara Shikoh as an identity of nationalism adding
that he was a victim of the brutality of fanatics who were directly influenced
by Aurangzeb's thinking.
Shah Jahan had designated Dara with the title
Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba (Prince of High Rank) and wanted to anoint him as
his successor. However, in the war of succession which started after Shah
Jahan's illness, Dara was defeated by his younger brother Aurangzeb and was
executed in 1659 after being declared a threat to the public peace apart from
being called a “heretic”.
Pakistan temple attack: Muslim locals offer support to
Islamabad: A show of interfaith harmony was seen in
Ghotki on Tuesday when hundreds of locals, mostly Muslims, took to the streets
to express solidarity with the Hindu community.
The rally was organised after a mob vandalised a
temple and a school run by a Hindu principal, who was accused of committing
blasphemy and is in police custody.
The Muslim population of the town, mostly youths,
spent Sunday night inside the temple to thwart any further attacks on the Hindu
community taking refuge there.
They are still protecting the place of worship from
extremists, who in the name of blasphemy are bent on damaging Hindu property.
The rare show of solidarity has also prompted many
Pakistani celebrities and members of civil society to share pictures of the
Muslims serving and standing with the Hindus inside the temple and expressing
solidarity with them.
Abdullah Dayo, Secretary General of Pakistan Youth
Forum and a Sindhi peace activist, posted pictures of the rally on Twitter,
saying, “Ghotki will never let us down. Today, hundreds of citizens from
different walks of life marched in the streets to show their solidarity with
the Hindu community by holding white flags. They condemned the acts of harming
the holy places of Hindus and demanded their arrest.”
Noted human rights activist of Sindh, Kapil Dev, has
also termed the Muslim population’s show of solidarity with the Hindus a ray of
hope in the prevailing darkness. This is what Sindh is all about, peace, love
and respect for humanity, he said while talking to Gulf News here Tuesday
referring to Ghotki Muslims’ gesture of humanity and love for their Hindu
brothers and sisters.
“People of Ghokti are giving a hope to their Hindu
fellows of the town that they are with them in this time of bigotry and hate.
They are peace marchers standing with original inhabitants of Sindh. Kudos,” he
Posting two pictures side by side on his Twitter
account, Kapil said in a picture 100 of mobsters could be seen vandalising a
temple while in the other picture 100 of ‘peace activists’ could be seen
guarding the temple.
What happened in Ghotki?
Members of the Muslim community of Ghotki on Saturday
protested after a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against a principal
— who is from the Hindu community — of the Sindh Public School.
The complainant Abdul Aziz Rajput, father of a
student, had claimed that the principal had committed blasphemy. The FIR was
lodged under Article 295(c) — that pertains to “derogatory remarks in respect
of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)” — of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Residents of the area in fury over the alleged
blasphemy ran amok and using sticks, stones, batons and clubs vandalised a
Hindu temple and damaged sacred items and pictures there. They also vandalised
the school where the alleged incident took place.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ramesh Kumar
Vankwani, who is also the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, in a statement
assured the local community that the case has been handed over to Hyderabad
Deputy Inspector General Naeem Shaikh who will further investigate the matter.
Taliban attacks kill 48, close shave for Afghan prez
as bomber targets rally
Sep 18, 2019
KABUL: Taliban suicide bombers killed 48 people in two
separate attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the deadliest taking place near an
election rally by President Ashraf Ghani, though he was unhurt. The attacks
happened 11 days before Afghanistan's presidential election, which Taliban
commanders have vowed to violently disrupt, and follow collapsed peace talks
between the United States and the insurgent group.
Ghani, who is seeking a second five-year term in
voting on September 28, was due to address a rally in Charikar, the capital of
central Parwan province, when a suicide bomber attacked the gathering. The
blast killed 26 people and wounded 42, said Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the
interior ministry. “When the people were entering the police camp, an old man
riding a motorcycle arrived on the highway and detonated his explosives,
causing casualties,” said Parwan province’s police chief Mohammad Mahfooz
In the wake of the attack, bodies littered the dusty
ground as smoke rose from the site of the explosion, a giant blue billboard
bearing the face of Ghani’s running mate Amrullah Saleh looming over the scene.
With sirens wailing, rescuers rushed to lift the wounded into the backs of
pick-up trucks for evacuation. “Women and children are among them and most of
the victims seem to be the civilians,” said Abdul Qasim Sangin, head of
Parwan’s provincial hospital.
The president was nearby but unharmed, and later took
to Twitter to condemn the bombing at the rally.
“Taliban tried to break this unity by targeting
innocent civilians,” he wrote. “They shamelessly accepted responsibility at a
time when they’re cloaking acts of terror as efforts for peace. In a separate
incident, a man on foot blew himself up in the centre of Kabul, sending
ambulances and Afghan forces rushing to the blast site. “I was waiting at the
entrance of the recruitment centre,” said Mustafa Ghiasi, lying on a hospital
bed after being wounded in the explosion. “I was behind two men in line when
suddenly the blast struck.”
Twenty-two people were killed, and 38 were wounded,
said Rahimi, the interior ministry spokesman. Most of the dead were civilians,
including women and children, though six were security force members.
The Taliban said it carried out the two attacks, and a
statement issued by a spokesman for the insurgents said they were aimed at
security forces. “People were given warning,” the statement said. “Do not take
part in the puppet administration’s election rallies, because all such
gatherings are our military target,” said the statement. “If, despite the
warning, someone get hurt, they themselves are to blame.”
Addressing the Kabul attack, Afghanistan’s president
lashed out at the Taliban as the “coward enemy” for targeting civilians. “I
offer my heartfelt condolences to victims of today’s tragedies in Kabul and
Parwan and pray for speedy recovery of those who were wounded,” Ghani wrote on
his official Twitter account. “We stand united in this hour of grief.”
Pakistan, which denies accusations that it shelters
the Taliban, also condemned the attack. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to
the bereaved families,” it said in a statement. Security at rallies across the
country has been tight following threats by the Taliban to attack meetings and
polling stations. The group has vowed to intensify clashes with Afghan and
foreign forces to dissuade people from voting in the upcoming elections.
Saudi, allies must pay the price for spilling Yemenis'
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has censured
support for the Saudi-led coalition of aggressors in the wake of Yemeni retaliatory
drone attacks on Aramco oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia, stressing that
those who have no reservations at all about the bloodletting in the war-ravaged
country must bear the consequences of their actions.
“Peace in the region can be restored only through
dialogue and understanding, and away from the clatter of weapons. Yemeni people
hope to see security and peace prevail across the Arabian Peninsula. They will
never surrender to oppression and others’ domination,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam,
spokesman for the Houthi movement, said in a string of tweets on Tuesday.
He added, “Those condemning the September 14 operation
have indeed denounced themselves as they have exposed their blatant bias in
favor of the aggressor. In fact, their condemnation would embolden the criminal
regime to continue its criminal acts against our people.”
The senior Houthi official noted that “Saudi oil is
not more precious than Yemeni blood,” emphasizing that those who have no
respect whatsoever for the Yemeni people's lives must embrace all consequences
of their actions.
He pointed out that those who wish stability in
international crude oil markets, must compel the Saudi-led military alliance to
stop its aggression and blockade on Yemen.
“Yemeni people will spare no effort to relentlessly
confront aggression and siege by all legitimate means. The next defensive
operations will be harsher and more painful if aggression and siege continue,”
He underlined that members of the coalition of
aggression, Saudi Arabia in particular, must realize that their bet on the
United States for protection is a losing one, adding that Yemenis will not
remain silent in the face of injustice.
Yemeni army forces and allied fighters from Popular
Committees deployed as many as 10 drones to bomb Abqaiq and Khurais oil
facilities run by the Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco before dawn
The unprecedented attack knocked out more than half of
Saudi crude output, or 5% of global supply, prompting Saudi and US officials to
claim without any evidence that it probably originated from Iraq or Iran.
Two sources briefed on Aramco's operations told
Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal.
Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies
launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of
bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to
power and crushing Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data
Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the
war has claimed more than 91,000 lives
over the past four and a half years.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s
infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over
24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million
suffering from extreme levels of hunger.
Ban on Malaysian Muslims and non-Muslims praying
together will 'polarise' nation
16 Sep 2019
The Archbishop of Soth East Asia, Ng Moon Hing, has
criticised a new directive in Malaysia banning Muslims and non-Muslims from
He said the ban, issued last week by Malaysia's
Department of Islamic Development (Jakim), was "ridiculous and
confusing", and risked polarising the nation.
The directive prevents Muslim and non-Muslim prayers
from being said alongside each other at the same event, and orders that they
must instead be "replaced with an activity where a message of unity is
Responding to the order, the Archbishop said: "I
think the Malaysian government has contradicted themselves."
He said that on the one hand the Malaysian king and
Prime Minister had made public statements emphasising good interfaith and
cultural relations, while on the other issuing a ban on Muslims and non-Muslims
praying together that is "ridiculous and confusing".
The Archbishop warned that the directive risked
damaging social harmony.
"For the past century, Malaysians and during
pre-Malaysia days, there were no problems at all, even at government
functions," he said, according to ACNS.
"I believe this directive is going against the
very harmonious spirit of the nation and will polarise the nation further.
"I don't understand how praying together could
create discrimination and disrespect, instead the opposite, respect and
appreciation will result."
Malaysia ranks 42nd on the Open Doors World Watch List
of the top 50 countries where it is the most difficult to be a Christian.
Ethnic Malay are automatically identified as Muslim on
their ID cards, while under the country's constitution, Muslims are forbidden
from converting to other religions.
Last November, four Finnish tourists were arrested in
northern Langkawi island after police received complaints that they were
handing out Christian materials in public places.
They were freed soon after but deported and banned from
re-entering the country.
Persecution in Malaysia has remained in the spotlight
over the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh, who has been missing since
Earlier this year, Malaysia's human rights commission,
Suhakam, blamed religious authorities and the Special Branch of the Malaysian
police for the pastor's disappearance.
Governor-General David Hurley defends role of Islam,
champions importance of faith in people’s lives
SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
Governor-General David Hurley has defended the role of
Islam in Australian society and championed the importance of “faith in
people’s lives” amid a national debate on religious freedom protections.
The former defence force chief, sworn in as
Governor-General on July 1, told Islamic leaders at the Perth mosque that he
held “enormous respect for Islam” and its contribution to the nation.
Mr Hurley, a devout Christian, delivered the speech on
the weekend in front of an audience including Australian Federation of Islamic
Councils president Rateb Jneid, federal Labor MP Anne Aly and former Labor MP
In addition to speaking of his faith, he revealed
details of time spent as the “only white Christian male” in a Malaysian village
and how he was “no stranger to Islam”.
“I have a faith and I am a firm believer in faith in
people’s lives. And to be visiting a mosque that has represented your faith for
well over 100 years is very important for me,” Mr Hurley said.
The mosque visit came as federal Attorney-General
Christian Porter tries to win backing from faith-based groups in support of the
government’s draft religious discrimination bill.
Mr Porter, who has met religious leaders, equality
groups and legal experts in the past two weeks, has come under pressure from
faith-based institutions over concerns that the draft legislation was too
vague and could be tested by state jurisdictions.
Dr Jneid, who took part in private meetings with Mr
Hurley and other community leaders on the weekend, praised the
Governor-General’s comments “about the importance of faith in our society” and
his “respect for our religion”.
“The Governor-General has a rich personal connection
with Islam, and we look forward to building our relationship based on mutual
respect and a desire to improve our society,” he said.
Dr Jneid said the visit was “historic” and the
Islamic community was committed to strengthening “social harmony and build
bridges across our society”.
Mr Hurley, who toured the mosque, said he would return
to visit the local Islamic school, and spoke of his respect for Islam after
living in Malaysia for a year in 1989.
“I learnt a lot about Islam, its people, its tenets,
its way of life, in that 12 months. I even was invited to the prayer-calling
competition, not to judge, but to learn,” he said.
“And from that time on, I’ve had enormous respect for
Islam and its people.” Mr Hurley said it was important for all Australians to
“celebrate our history” and discuss the desires for the next generations in
creating a vision for “Australia’s future”.
The Morrison government is working towards having a
religious discrimination act — a key election pledge — in place by the end of
Since the May 18 election, Labor MPs — including those
representing large ethnic communities — have told The Australian that
religious freedom was a factor in the campaign and that they needed to ensure
adequate protections were put in place for people of faith.
In recent weeks, Labor senator Kristina Keneally has
brought Scott Morrison’s faith into the debate over border protection, urging
him to show Christian leadership in relation to the case of a Tamil
asylum-seeker family deemed by the courts not to be genuine refugees.
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher told The
Australian on Monday that the future of faith-based education was at risk
unless religious schools were provided protections in order to teach students
their spiritual ethos on marriage and family.
US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo leaves for emergency
visit of leading Islamic country
18 Sep, 2019
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed
for Saudi Arabia Tuesday to discuss possible retaliation after Washington said
it had proof that attacks on Saudi oil installations originated in Iran.
Vice President Mike Pence announced that Pompeo was on
his way to the kingdom to “discuss our response.”
“As the president said, we don´t want war with anybody
but the United States is prepared,” Pence said in a speech in Washington.
“We´re locked and loaded and we´re ready to defend our
interests and allies in the region, make no mistake about it,” he said, echoing
President Donald Trump´s words on Monday.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
told AFP that the Trump administration has concluded that last weekend´s attack
involved cruise missiles from Iran and that evidence would be presented at the
UN General Assembly next week.
The apparent hardening of the US position came as
Iran´s supreme leader ruled out negotiations with Washington “at any level.”
This appeared to nix remaining hopes for a dramatic
meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United
Nations next week.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One over
California, Trump said he too had cooled on what had always seemed to be a
“I never rule anything out, but I prefer not meeting
him,” Trump said. -APP/AFP
BY ZACK BUDRYK
A coalition of Muslim and human rights organizations
called on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to cancel its plans to award
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi its Global Goalkeeper Award, citing Modi’s
controversial revocation of the Kashmir region’s special status.
In a presidential order in August, Modi announced
plans to partition the region in half and revoke the constitutional article
giving Kashmir autonomy, which his critics call an illegal attempt to dilute
the Muslim majority’s political power in the region. The letter also cites
Modi’s associations with Hindu nationalists and the revocation of 1.9 million
Bengali-speaking Muslims’ citizenship in the state of Assam, as well as his
government’s backing of a citizenship bill that would create a pathway to
citizenship for Hindu, Buddhist and Christian migrants from neighboring
countries but not Muslims.
“Leaders of Modi’s political party, Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP), have been credibly accused of emboldening ‘communal violence’ and
failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to recent mobs of violent Hindu
nationalists lynching, murdering, and brutally beating minorities, especially
Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and members of lower castes within India’s
society,” the letter states.
“Since Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014,
there has been a 400% increase in hate crime violence against Muslims,
Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits,” it adds.
The letter’s signatories include the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, Sisters of
Mercy of the Holy Cross USA Province and the Yemeni American Merchants Association.
In a statement to The Hill, the foundation said
"We have received the letter and respect the views of those who have
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is receiving an
award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of
its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions
of people, especially women and children," the foundation added.
Saudi Islam minister orders preachers to rail against
'Iran' oil attacks during Friday sermons
17 September, 2019
The Saudi minister of Islamic affairs issued a
directive to all Saudi preachers on Tuesday, telling them to address the
attacks on oil processing plants in next week's Friday sermon.
According to Saudi Press Agency, Abdullatif bin
Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh's directive emphasised certain themes, such as the blessing
of security and stability, the need to rally around wise leadership and calling
on God to protect Saudi Arabia.
The directive was issued within the Ministry of Islamic
Affairs, Dawah and Guidance framework, the SPA report read, which aims to raise
"the awareness of society about the dangers facing our country at home and
Details of the Saturday strikes on Abqaiq - the
world's largest oil processing facility - and the Khurais oil field in eastern
Saudi Arabia remained unclear, but left crude oil output by the world's top
exporter slashed in half.
The US readied its response Monday to the
"unprecedented" attack on Saudi oil facilities as President Donald
Trump said Iran was likely to blame, fanning new fears of conflict in the Gulf
Trump said he was ready to help key ally Saudi Arabia
after the weekend drone attacks but would await a "definitive"
determination on who was responsible.
The Iran-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed
responsibility for the attack, which likely involved, according to reports,
both drones and cruise missiles that struck their targets with surprising
In Riyadh, officials said the attack involved
"Iranian weapons", but likewise fell short of directly accusing their
"The kingdom condemns this egregious crime, which
threatens international peace and security, and affirms that the primary target
of this attack are global energy supplies, as this attack is in line with the
previous attacks against Saudi Aramco pumping stations using Iranian
weapons," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.
At a press conference in Ankara, Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani said the attacks were an act of self-defence by the Houthis due
to the Saudi-led coalition's air campaign in Yemen, which erupted in 2015.
Mosul (AsiaNews) – The new message by
"caliph" Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi, posted yesterday online by the
Islamic State (IS) has not yet had "a vast echo" in the territories
the group once controlled, this according to Fr Paul Thabit Mekko.
The Chaldean priest in Karamles, Nineveh Plain
(northern Iraq), spoke to AsiaNews about the 30-minute audio in which the
Jihadi leader calls on his most loyal supporters to “to redouble efforts:
preaching, media, military, security."
For now, this has not yet caused any alarm among the
people of Mosul and the Plain, still engaged in the slow and painstaking work
After months of silence, al-Baghdadi’s last message
was in late April, the self-styled caliph urges his loyalists to fight on
despite the group’s latest military defeats.
Titled "Do deeds!" the audio is a real call
to arms, urging fighters not to give up, to help those who are in prison and
their families in shelters for displaced persons (IDP).
After a rapid rise in the second half of 2014 and in
2105 in Syria and Iraq, seizing half of their territories, IS ruled by
committing serious crimes against humanity, and progressively lost ground.
At present, it controls a small area on the border
between the two countries; however, their ideology remains alive and military
defeat has not eliminated the threat the group represents.
Al-Baghdadi is wanted man with US$ 25 million bounty.
On several occasions he was given for dead or wounded.
"Do your utmost to rescue your brothers and
sisters and break down the walls that imprison them," says al-Baghdadi in
an audio tape on the Search International Terrorist Entities (SITE)
Intelligence Group. Experts deem the audio credible.
"How can a Muslim continue to live while Muslim
women languish in dispersion camps and in a humiliating imprisonment” in Iraq,
Syria and “the four corners of the world”.
"Baghdadi’s speech is heavy on religious content
and comments on the second 'Battle of Attrition',” said Rita Katz, referring to
152 attacks IS claimed in 10 provinces between 2 and 11 August, indicating that
it was recorded recently.
However, for Fr Paul, the message did not find a wide
echo in the media and among Iraqis at least so far.
"This morning I was at the Mosul general market
and the situation was very normal. The city still bears the marks of
destruction, especially in the western part, but people want to rebuild and
resume activities," said the clergyman.
“Life here,” he went on to say, "is normal even
if there are attacks from time to time and the presence of sleeper cells or
lone wolves cannot be excluded".
IS as an "organised movement". For now, it
seems a past thing even though "sometimes these groups seek to make their
Even in the Nineveh Plain, where tensions are high
because of the presence of Shia armed groups, "there is hope of returning
to normal" and that security will be entrusted "to Iraq’s official
Full report at:
The Saudi consulate building in Turkey’s largest city
of Istanbul, where prominent dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally
murdered by a hit team last October, has reportedly been sold recently and the
mission will soon be moving to a new location.
Turkey’s pro-administration English-language daily
Daily Sabah, citing a report published by Turkish-language Habertürk television
news network, reported on Tuesday that the four-story building, which is
located in the upscale neighborhood of Levent, was hastily sold to an
undeclared buyer 45 days ago for nearly one-third of the market price so that
the consulate could exit as soon as possible.
#SONDAKİKA Suudi Konsolosluğu cinayet mahallinden
Suudi Arabistan Dışişleri Bakanlığı'nın, gazeteci
Cemal Kaşıkçı'nın öldürüldüğü İstanbul Başkonsolosluğu binasını satarak
konsolosluğu başka bir binaya taşıma kararı aldığı öğrenildi
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5:50 PM - Sep 17, 2019
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The report added that the consulate will accordingly
be moving to a location near the US consulate building in Istinye neighborhood
in Sariyer district.
A Turkish foreign ministry official, speaking on
condition of anonymity, told London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye
that they didn't have any information confirming the sale.
The Saudi Arabian government would have needed to seek
permission from the foreign ministry for the sale and the reason would be
security, Habertürk's report said.
“The Saudi security team who visited Turkey
immediately after the Khashoggi murder had prepared a technical report that
said they couldn’t discover all the bugs in the consulate and therefore a new
building was needed,” the report said.
“The Saudis are also trying to sell the consul
general’s official residence, which is located very close to the consulate. But
they couldn’t find any buyer yet,” it added.
According to Turkish legal experts, the consulate
building is still considered a crime scene and the Istanbul Chief Public
Prosecutor's Office might seal off the building until their investigation is
The report comes just two weeks ahead of the first
anniversary of Khashoggi's killing, which is widely believed to have been
ordered by the Saudi crown prince and de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court
who later became a critic of bin Salman, was killed and his body was
dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in
Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
The Washington Post, for which Khashoggi was a
columnist, reported in November last year that the CIA had concluded that the
Saudi crown prince personally ordered the killing. Riyadh strongly denies the
By Heather Murdock
September 16, 2019
AL-HOL CAMP, SYRIA - Small children usually flock to
photographers as they snap pictures in refugee camps. They make silly faces, flash victory signs
and jostle to be in the front of the shot.
But nothing is usual about the children of Islamic
State militants in Syria. At the Ain
Issa camp, some children of foreign IS fighters shun the camera while others
flash their middle fingers or pretend-shoot the cameraman as if their hands
They are among the more than 50,000 children of
militants now stuck in camps after the last IS stronghold in Syria fell in
March. Most are with their mothers, the
wives and other female relatives of the fighters of the so-called “Caliphate.”
Their fathers are almost all dead or in jail.
The international media have called these camps
“incubators” for an IS resurgence. But
aid organizations say that despite their exposure to violence and extremism,
children in these camps can be rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the
outside world. However, action must be
taken soon to be effective, they add, as the trauma deepens day by day.
The children are mostly under 12-years-old, according
to UNICEF, and were born in IS-controlled areas or brought in by parents. Some were coerced or forced into supporting
the group. Little boys were told they
will grow up to be militants, and little girls wear veils for modesty, even
when they are under 10 years old.
“All are victims of deeply tragic circumstances and
egregious violations of their rights,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta
Fore in a statement. “They must be
treated and cared for as children.”
The camps in Syria that house families of IS fighters
look like other refugee camps in the region.
Tents stand in rows on isolated patches of land in the desert. They are surrounded by fences and guarded by
local security forces.
But unlike many camps that have housed millions of
other displaced Syrian people, these camps are locked. The residents are
considered a threat, and they are not allowed to leave for their own safety and
for the safety of the surrounding communities, according intelligence officers
stationed at the camps.
Inside one camp last month, four security guards were
attacked, six tents were burnt to the ground and two female residents were killed,
presumably for violating “rules” enforced by women in the camps who have set up
their own IS-styled morality police.
These groups, known as “Hisbah” force women to wear
full face veils and forbid consorting with “infidels” such as local security
The children have few or no memories outside of war
zones populated with extremists.
As dust storm turns the air brown in the Ain Issa
camp, children and adults cover their faces and duck behind tents or water
tanks. When the storm passes, the children
resume playing with the cameraman.
They don’t make “bang, bang” sounds as they pretend to
shoot him. They hiss lightly like the
sound of a bullet as it sails by your ear and imitate the mechanical cracking
of automatic weapons. These are sounds of
The psychological damage from growing up around
extreme violence can be devastating, according to doctors, but at the camps,
providing mental health care—or even an education—for children is a distant
“First we need to make them safe,” says a security
guard as he drives through the al-Hol camp, a sprawling sea of tents housing
more than 70,000 people including the families of some of IS’s most devoted
fighters. “Then we can start educating the
Supplying safety is especially difficult as winter
approaches, he says. Al-Hol camp is
desperately short of medical supplies and hundreds of children have died here,
or on their way here, this year. Food
and clean water are scarce, and and the funding available is not nearly enough.
“Of course it's harder to get funding for these
camps,” the man explains. “Every one knows they are the families of IS.”
Finding a permanent solution for the families has
become an urgent security issue, according to Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for
the Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces securing
“We are tightening security,” he tells us in an
interview in Kobane. “But this is a political problem for 50 countries, not
The majority of the families are Syrian or Iraqi and
authorities say they are trying to negotiate with their local communities to
return them to their homes. But since
the final battles with IS, the camps’ populations have not reduced
Thousands of the families are from outside the region
and local authorities have repeatedly called on the international community to
take back their citizens. Inside the
camps, many women say they are eager to go back to their countries, even if it
means going to jail.
“The military here told me I can go to Germany,” says
Elina Frizler, a German national living in Ain Issa camp with her two children,
both born in IS-controlled Syria. “But
how can I go if Germany won’t take us?
How can we live here?”
Some countries have repatriated some of their
nationals, particularly orphans.
Repatriating all the children, however, would require
also repatriating their mothers, according to Syrian authorities. Some of the women are still vocal IS
devotees, but others have renounced the group or claim to have been tricked
into joining in the first place.
“It is not like we [could] speak out against [IS] or
else we would be killed,” says one woman with a deep red veil over her
face. She is British, but her
citizenship has been revoked, she says.
She is also of Sudanese origin, she adds, and hopes to be sent out of
the camp and to Sudan.
But many countries are reluctant to take back adults —
fighters or mothers that are here considered non-combatants — citing security
concerns and the difficulty of prosecuting alleged crimes that took place in
foreign lands then occupied by IS.
Kurdish authorities say they lack the capacity to hold trials and care
for all the foreign fighters and their families.
The woman in the red veil says, on one hand, joining
IS was a mistake. She was lead to
believe she was moving to a truly Muslim land operating under Islamic Law. What she found in Syria could be more
accurately described as a militant group, she says.
by Mohammed Ebraheem
Sep 16, 2019
Diyala (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi security forces have destroyed
four terrorist hotbeds of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of
Diyala, a police spokesman said.
“A security operation was launched in Mandali town, 90
km east of Baqubah, where troops of the Iraqi army and police destroyed four
Islamic State terrorist hotbeds and seized a large cache of ammunition and four
locally-made explosive charges,” the Iraqi Baghdad Today news website quoted
Diyala police spokesman Col. Ghaleb al-Attia as saying in a press statement
The operation was conducted by a joint force of Diyala
emergency and SWAT directorates, the spokesman added.
Also, troops of the Iraqi army and Diyala intelligence
took part in the operation.
In January 2015, Iraqi forces announced liberation of
Diyala province from Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an
“Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told NATO chief
Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday that Baghdad seeks a balanced foreign policy which
serves stability in the region.
The Prime Minister also said that Iraq cannot possibly
cause harm to any of its neighbors.
A statement issued by his office, said Abdul Mahdi
made the remarks during a meeting in Baghdad with Stoltenberg, who is on a
two-day visit to Iraq.
Abdul Mahdi was apparently referring to an attack on
Saudi Aramco oil facilities that Washington has blamed on Tehran.
US officials earlier suggested the attack may have
originated in Iran or Iraq, a claim denied by the Iraqi government.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said
Washington has information that supports the Iraqi government's denial.
Arab Parliament Speaker, Dr. Mishaal al-Salami, has
rejected the farcical trials and the unconstitutional and illegal measures
adopted by the Houthi terrorist militias against the Yemeni parliament speaker
and MPs, who have rejected the coup.
Salami condemned the Iranian-backed militias for
withholding and seizing the money and property of the speaker and 34 MPs, who
had taken part in the parliamentary session held in Seiyun city in April.
“What the militias have done is a flagrant violation
of laws, charters, international norms, UN resolutions and international
treaties and a clear violation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s system,”
Salami stressed in a press statement.
He urged the United Nations, represented by its
Secretary-General and special envoy to Yemen, to take immediate and urgent
action and force the Houthis to stop these illegal measures against elected
members, who have parliamentary immunity.
Salami also stressed the need to take necessary
measures to provide legal protection to the speaker and members of parliament.
Authorities subject to the Houthis in Sanaa have
proceeded in prosecuting 35 deputies after charging them with treason and
collaborating with foreign countries. They have issued orders to seize their
The militias had forced its deputies in Sanaa to lift
immunity off 35 deputies loyal to the legitimate government following the
Seiyun parliament meeting that assigned a new presidential body. Leading
General People's Congress member MP Sultan al-Burkani was elected speaker.
Since taking over Sanaa, the militias have sought to
terrorize their opponents through various means possible, including looting
their money and homes and holding unlawful trials to convict them.
The majority of Yemeni deputies have been able to leave
Sanaa in recent years and join the legitimate government.
The military official who called for anonymity told
the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel on Tuesday that targeting the
Saudi oil wells in the depth of the kingdom's territories had also a strong
message to the UAE.
"Their oil companies and glass-made cities are
among our future targets," he said, warning the UAE government.
The official called on Abu Dhabi to officially leave
Yemen and stop crimes against the Yemeni people, adding that the UAE's
superficial withdrawal from certain fronts in Yemen would not prevent attacks
against the Persian Gulf Arab country's oil firms.
Yemen’s Ansarullah movement announced on Saturday that
its drones had successfully attacked two oil plants in the heart of Saudi
Arabia’s oil industry, stressing that the attacks were a firm response to
Riyadh’s relentless bombardment of Yemen.
Abqaiq, 60 km (37 miles) Southwest of Dhahran in Saudi
Arabia’s Eastern Province, contains the world’s largest oil processing plant.
Khurais, 190 km further Southwest, contains the country’s second largest
Saudi stocks fell sharply on Sunday, after attacks on
two plants at the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry on Saturday knocked out
more than half of the crude output.
Spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces Brigadier General
Yahya Saree said on Monday that his country was ready for another attack on
Saudi facilities, urging foreign companies and workers to immediately leave
their working sites in the kingdom for their safety.
Speaking to Arabic-language al-Masireh news channel,
Brigadier General Saree said the Yemeni forces used ordinary and jet engines in
their drones which hit Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais during
Operation Equation Deterrence II.
He then warned that another attack may be soon
launched on Saudi facilities, and urged foreign companies and operators working
at energy, power and other facilities to immediately leave the sites to avoid
being hurt in the attacks.
The Yemeni commander then addressed Saudi officials,
and underlined that the Yemeni Army is capable of hitting any target in Saudi
Arabia at any time it wishes.
"The drones which targeted the depth of Saudi
Arabia flew from the Yemeni territories and the Saudi government's allegations
that Iraq's soil has been used for these attacks are not true," Karim
al-Mahmadawi told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website on Tuesday.
He dismissed any involvement of the Iraqi government
in the Yemenis' offensives against Saudi Arabia, and stressed that Baghdad
seeks to resolve the Yemen crisis through political means.
"Saudi Arabia is attempting to introduce Hashd
al-Shaabi as an armed group affiliated to Iran and use it as a pretext to
target Hashd al-Shaabi's positions inside Iraq in collaboration with
Washington," al-Mahmadawi said.
17 September 2019
Overnight air strikes killed 10 pro-Iranian Iraqi
militiamen in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Tuesday, without specifying who
carried them out.
The strikes targeted “three positions of the (Iranian)
Revolutionary Guards and allied (Iraqi) militias” in Albu Kamal, in the
Euphrates Valley just across the border from Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights said.
This strike is the second of its kind to target
Iranian and pro-Iran militias in Albu Kamal this month.
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said that he
will soon meet the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, even as he insisted
that a “lot of progress” has been made in reducing tension between the
While Trump along with PM Narendra Modi will address
over 50,000 Indian-Americans at the “Howdy Modi!” mega event in Houston on
September 22, the American president did not say when or where will he be
meeting Pakistan premier Imran Khan. “I’ll see PM Modi and I will — we’ll — be
meeting with (prime ministers of) India and Pakistan,” Trump told reporters in
response to a question at the White House on Monday.
Without mentioning Kashmir or the tensed ties between
the two South Asian neighbors after India revoked the special status of
J&K, Trump said, “I think a lot of progress has been made there. A lot of
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to
give credence to a report cited by the Sunni Waqf Board by four historians, who
in 1991 had opined that the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site in
Ayodhya was neither believed to be Lord Ram’s birthplace before 1850 nor was
there any proof of a temple being destroyed to construct the mosque in 1528.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A
Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer peppered senior
advocate Rajeev Dhavan with questions on the evidential value of the
historians’ report and said, “At the highest, this report can be taken as an
The bench added, “The report appears to be a counter
blast to VHP campaigns and claims in 1991. Neither the views of VHP nor that of
these four historians can be treated as evidence. We have to decide this case
on the basis of evidence on record. The Allahabad HC had refused to rely on
this report as evidence.”
The report, in the shape of a letter, was written on
May 13, 1991, bearing the names of R S Sharma, retired professor of Delhi
University and first chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research; M Athar
Ali, retired professor of history of Aligarh Muslim University and former
president of Indian History Congress; D N Jha, former professor of history of
DU; and Suraj Bhan, professor of archaeology in Kurukshetra University. Jha did
not sign the report and only Bhan was examined as an expert witness for Sunni Waqf
Board before the HC.
Referring to the study titled ‘Babri Mosque or Ram’s
Birthplace? Historians Report to the Indian Nation’, the bench asked whether it
was commissioned by the government or it was given voluntarily by the
historians. In the cross-examination before the HC, Bhan admitted that only he
and Sharma had gone to Ayodhya prior to the study. He admitted having no
knowledge of Puranas and said, “We were given only six weeks time for the
entire study. Pressure was being repeatedly exerted; so, we submitted our
report without going through the record of the excavation work by B B Lal.”
NEW DELHI: Pump prices recorded their sharpest rise
since July 5 on Tuesday as tremors from Saturday’s drone attack at the heart of
Saudi Arabia’s oil industry and the resultant explosion in crude prices hit India,
even though domestic refiners continue to get Saudi crude.
As oil, financial and stock markets remained jittery,
fuel retailers raised the price of petrol by 14 paise to Rs 72.17 a litre and
diesel by 15 paise to Rs 65.58 in the Delhi market, the national benchmark. The
quantum of increase was higher in states due to the incremental increase in
The upward trend in oil prices globally has raised the
threat of pump prices of petrol and diesel rising in India too, particularly
since it comes on the back of a weakening rupee. If the government wants to, it
can to a considerable extent reduce the impact on the consumer. It can cut
taxes on petroleum products, which account for close to 40% of the retail price
of diesel and about 50% of the petrol selling price. Considering that taxes
were raised to shore up revenues when global oil prices were low, this would be
This is the single-largest hike since the full Budget
presented on July 5, which raised taxes to push up fuel prices by about Rs 2.5
a litre, as a result of the single-highest spike in global oil prices on
Monday. The global marker, Brent, had shot up nearly 20% and the US marker,
WTI, some 16%. The prices later closed 15% up from their previous close.
Oil minister Dhramendra Pradhan tried to calm nerves
over supply disruptions, saying that Indian refiners were lifting shipments
from Saudi Arabia, loading cargo both on Monday and Tuesday, but volatility was
definitely a concern. “Certainly, when there is a spike in prices, it creates
anxiety,” he told reporters here. “The events since Saturday are a matter of
concern... We’ve lifted more than half of the contracted quantity for
September. We lifted oil (from Saudi Arabia) yesterday (September 16) and even
today (September 17),” he said on the sidelines of an event to award a contract
for building a coal gassification unit for Talcher Fertiliser Ltd.
On Tuesday, global crude prices slid 5% on
anticipation of early restoration of lost supplies, but the market remained
wary as reports suggested that Saudi Aramco has warned four large consumers,
including PetroChina, of shipment delays. Goldman Sachs has said oil prices
could hit $75 if the Saudi outage drags for more than six weeks.
NEW DELHI: Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has denied
that PM Narendra Modi had asked him, during their recent Vladivostok meeting,
for extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. This invited a
quick rebuttal from foreign minister S Jaishankar and other Indian officials
who said India had indeed raised the issue of Naik’s extradition during the
Jaishankar also said India will continue to work for
“Not many countries want him (Naik). India has not
insisted. When I met PM Narendra Modi, he did not ask me that he wants this man
back. This man could be troublesome for India,” Mahathir was quoted as saying
in an interview to a Malaysian radio station.
In a press conference, Jaishankar said Naik’s
extradition issue had indeed come up during Modi’s meeting with Mahathir in
Vladivostok. He said India had placed a request with Malaysia for Naik’s
extradition in January.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Hindu
and Muslim parties to submit an estimate of time they would take to conclude
their arguments in the Ayodhya land dispute case so as to allow the court to
estimate how much time it will have to write the judgment.
The court’s remarks during the hearing on the
70-year-old claims on the ownership of the 2.77 acre disputed Ram
Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land reinforce the impression that the SC is keen to
deliver a ruling before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi demits office on
On the 25th day of arguments, senior advocate Rajeev
Dhavan, appearing for the Muslim parties, sought a day off on Friday.
To this, a five-judge constitution bench, which is
headed by CJI Gogoi, said, “All parties must indicate when they will conclude
their arguments. Depending on that we can decide the off days for argument.”
SC may deliver verdict on or before November 17
When the parties indicate the tentative schedule for
completion of their submissions and arguments, we (judges) will know how much
time we have in hand to write the judgment. Talk to your (the leading
advocates) associates and give us a rough estimate,” the bench said. The
inquiry by the bench is significant because the SC may deliver its verdict on
or before November 17 when the CJI retires.
by Sowmiya Ashok
September 18, 2019
Kashmir may not be a “major topic” during the informal
talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping
likely to be held next month in India, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson
Hua Chunying said Tuesday. Instead, border issues between India and China and
issues that encompass more “strategic thinking” may be part of the talks, she
said. Last week, a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh was
diffused after senior Army officers on both sides held discussions on the same
In response to a question from The Indian Express on
whether Kashmir is likely to be discussed, Hua said: “I am not sure. For this
kind of informal summit, I think it is better to leave the leaders much time to
discuss whatever they would like to discuss. Those issues of strategic thinking
of broad sense of the picture. I think for those things like Kashmir, I don’t
think it will be a major topic occupying the talks, that is my understanding.
But for the leaders, they will be free to talk about whatever they like, that
is my understanding.”
Though reports have said that the second informal
summit between Modi and Xi is likely to take place between October 10-12 near
Chennai, Hua said during an interaction with journalists at the Chinese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs here that she was not in a position to confirm
Hua was responding to questions about the tensions
between India and Pakistan which spiked after New Delhi on August 5 scrapped
the special status accorded to Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union
Territories. India has strictly maintained that the Kashmir issue was its
Hua said that China’s “official position” was to maintain
that Kashmir was an issue between India and Pakistan and “we don’t want to see
“I hope since both India and Pakistan are good
neighbours of China, they could be in peaceful terms with each other and mostly
India and Pakistan can try their best, make their best efforts to resolve
issues peacefully through negotiations. We don’t want to see any war. As you
mentioned, the US relations with Iran, we hope the Indian relations with
Pakistan could be much better than the US and Iran. Because they are neighbours,
there is no reason why they cannot get along with each other very well. We hope
the issue can be resolved in a peaceful way and not through war,” she said.
Regarding border issues between India and China, Hua
said: “I understand we have established quite a good mechanism, and the two
sides have very fruitful and smooth channels for communication. One thing is
China has always kept our word and we never wanted to do anything that could
harm the mutual trust between China and India and we hope to see the same
goodwill from the Indian side.”
September 17, 2019
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Tuesday lashed out at the
Centre saying it should stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu and
Kashmir’s political space and release of all the “nationalist” leaders like
Farooq Abdullah at the earliest.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said, “The Government should
stop creating space for terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir and release all
nationalist leaders ASAP.”
Accusing Centre of trying to create a political vacuum
by removing leaders like Farooq Abdullah from Jammu and Kashmir’s political
space, he said, “It’s obvious that the Government is trying to remove
nationalist leaders like Farooq Abdullah Ji to create a political vacuum in
Jammu & Kashmir that will be filled by terrorists.”
It’s obvious that the Government is trying to remove
nationalist 🇮🇳 leaders like Farooq Abdullah Ji to create a political vacuum in Jammu
& Kashmir that will be filled by terrorists.
Kashmir can then permanently be used as a political
instrument to polarise the rest of India.
The Government should stop creating space for
terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir and release all nationalist leaders ASAP.
6:51 PM - Sep 17, 2019
3,506 people are talking about this
He alleged that by doing this Kashmir will be
permanently used as a “political instrument” to polarise the rest of the
The J&K administration on Monday slapped Public
Safety Act (PSA) on detained former Chief Minister and National Conference
leader Farooq Abdullah, describing him as a “threat to public order” as the
lockdown in the Valley entered its 40th day. Under this law, Abdullah may
remain under detention up to a year, if not more, at his Srinagar home which
has now been designated a subsidiary jail.
Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also the Leader of
Opposition in Rajya Sabha, condemned the move saying it is the country’s
“misfortune” that leaders who fought for its unity and integrity have been put
“I strongly condemn it. It is most unfortunate that a
(former) chief minister of one of the oldest political parties in Kashmir (has
been detained). Each chief minister, and each political party be it Congress,
NC and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir have tried their best to fight militancy. If
there is no militancy today, it is because of these political parties and not
the BJP,” he told reporters.
Senior NC leader Mohammad Akbar Lone said that the
party would take a legal course to challenge Farooq Abdullah’s detention under
PSA. “They have no justification to do that, but if they have booked him under
the PSA, then what can we do? We can only approach the courts. We will take
constitutional and legal recourse,” Lone said in Srinagar.
Pakistan Rangers on Tuesday resorted to unprovoked
small arms fire along the International Border in Samba district of Jammu and
The BSF retaliated and the cross border fire stopped
after some time. However, there was no damage or casualty on the Indian side,
The sudden ceasefire violation by Pakistani Rangers
came after a long time along the IB in the area as the border with Pakistan in
the plains of Jammu had been peaceful for quite some time.
Expressing concern at the government’s decision to
invoke the Public Safety Act (PSA) against former J&K chief minister Farooq
Abdullah, CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, who is in Delhi for treatment,
on Tuesday said the NC chief is not a terrorist and condemned the move.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Tarigami,
who was put under house arrest for a month when the Centre scrapped special
status to Jammu and Kashmir, said, “I am not a foreigner nor Farooq Abdullah
and other leaders are terrorists. The situation in Kashmir is bad not because
of the people of Kashmir but because of all of us politicians and politics.”
Tarigami is the first leader to conduct a press
conference after facing detention in Kashmir.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Mohammad
Yousuf Tarigami would approach the Supreme court on behalf of the party
challenging the dilution of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.
Tarigami further said the unity of the people of Jammu
and Kashmir had been disrupted due to the decision of the government. “I feel
shocked by the situation of Kashmir and how one decision has changed what the
leaders of Jammu and Kashmir had negotiated with the founders of the
“The bond that was created by the hard work of the
leaders and the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been assaulted today. The people
of Kashmir want nothing but a chance to march together with the people, a
chance to debate and discuss,” Tarigami further said.
On September 5, the Supreme Court ordered authorities
to shift the ailing CPI(M) leader from Srinagar to AIIMS in New Delhi. The SC
ruling came on a habeas corpus petition filed by Yechury, who was allowed to
travel to Srinagar to visit the ailing leader last month. Yechury had filed a
report, as directed by the Court, on his visit to the state.
Space diplomacy route to Indo-Pak peace: Pak astronaut
DUBAI: Pakistan's first female astronaut Namira Salim,
who made headlines last week for congratulating India on the Chandrayaan-2
mission, has said the South Asia region could benefit from innovative space
"It is from space that we can rise above politics
and from where all borders and boundaries dissolve," she said.
“In our new age of space exploration, my message to
the leaders of India and Pakistan is to make space for peace and trust between
the two countries to find peaceful solutions for pressing issues in the
region,” she said, amid fresh Indo-Pak tension after New Delhi scrapped Jammu
and Kashmir's special status.
Namira, who is the founder and executive chairperson
of Space Trust, a non-profit initiative, said as a thought leader in the global
space industry and as a future astronaut with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin
Galactic, she supports commercialisation of space which opens space to all
sectors, and accordingly, she believes space is now open to world leaders and
“I engage statesmen to utilise space diplomacy as a
sustainable tool for peacemaking on Earth via Space Trust," she said on
her non-profit initiative, which was established in 2015 on the founding
principle of "making space the new frontier for peace on Earth."
To date, Space Trust has engaged nine governments and
five former and sitting heads of state on the sidelines of the United Nations
General Assembly High-Level Week in New York, who have endorsed the idea of
utilizing space for peace? on Earth, she said.
Space Trust's maiden mission to Space next year, the
CubeSat Mission – called 0G Peace Mission 2020 – will be a capacity-building
mission between a US university and one in a developing country.
"The mission, which will play peace messages in
orbit in the voices of world leaders, eminent personalities, peacemakers, civil
society and youth to inspire peace beyond borders, is envisioned in cooperation
with the UN to build bridges and to inspire Space for Peace and Trust on Earth
worldwide and particularly in the South Asian region," she said.
Pakistani senior journalist Mona Alam said that there
have been human rights violation under dictatorial regimes in the Pakistan
province of Balochistan.
However, Mona Alam in an exclusive interview to India
Today said that "Pakistan in its constitution gives full safety to minorities".
"It will be totally wrong to say that our
government has turned a blind eye to the human rights of minorities in
Pakistan. Around 50 people have been booked for in different human rights
violations cases. Pakistan in its constitution gives full safety to minorities.
"Balochistan situation is a little more complex.
There indeed have been some human rights violation. I agree that there have
been some serious human rights violations in Balochistan during some
dictatorial regimes," Mona Alam said.
I agree that there has been some serious human rights
violations in Balochistan during some dictatorial regimes, says @MonaAlamm,
Watch #IndiaFirst live: http://bit.ly/IT_LiveTV
8:48 PM - Sep 17, 2019
20 people are talking about this
In Balochistan and Sindh provinces of Pakistan, Right
activists have sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's help in raising Pakistan's
human rights violations at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Several activists exposed Pakistan Army's atrocities
seeking India's counsel in raising their voices globally. Balochistan activists
protested against Pakistan Army's atrocities. "Murdabad, murdabad,
Pakistan murdabad," protestors in Geneva, Swtizerland chanted the slogan
in front of UN.
In the province of Balochistan, the clamour against
the Pakistan atrocities is rising as people are up in arms.
Head of Human Rights Council of Balochistan in Geneva,
Switzerland said, "International human rights bodies and the United
Nations should visit Balochistan and investigate the situation. They should
stop Pakistan armed forces from committing such war crimes against
Baloch activist Qambar Malik said, "The Islamic
radicalisation in Balochistan is being used by the Pakistani authorities."
LAHORE: An unscheduled long meeting took place between
Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif-led delegation of Pakistan Muslim League-N
(PML-N) at the Kot Lakhpat Jail Monday.
Top PML-N leaders say the party president briefed
Nawaz Sharif about Sunday’s consultations with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl
(JUI-F) chief about launching a protest movement against the PTI government.
The party leadership had been given green signal by Nawaz Sharif for fully
supporting the lockdown, announced by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, against the PTI
government. Nawaz Sharif directed Shahbaz Sharif to fully support and
participate in the opposition’s protest, being dubbed as ‘Azadi March’ against
the government, the party leaders added. A task has been given to Ahsan Iqbal
to also persuade Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to join the opposition show,
said the party leaders.
Nawaz Sharif also discussed several issues with the
party president. Besides Ahsan Iqbal, Khwaja Asif, Azam Nazir Tarar, Amjad
Pervaiz and Khwaja Haris also attended the meeting.
As the Sharif family members and the PML-N leaders
usually meet Nawaz Sharif on Thursdays only, Monday’s unscheduled meeting
between the top party leaders and the PML-N supremo set the rumour mill
churning out speculations. According to sources, the meeting was allowed at the
eleventh hour by the Ministry of Interior, which continued for several hours.
Mian Nawaz Sharif’s legal team was also part of the PML-N delegation, and later
on remained there for over an hour. Nawaz met his party leaders for over three
However, senior party leaders dispelled the impression
of any settlement with the ruling party regarding release of Nawaz Sharif. It
is still interesting to note that PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal did not
directly comment on the rumours about a possible deal, while sharing his views
at the social media site.
However, he hastened to add that legal team of Nawaz
Sharif also joined the visiting delegation for reviewing various aspects of an
appeal in Islamabad High Court, which is due to be heard on Sept 18. He was
responding to a post in which astonishment was expressed over the fact that how
the government permitted such a large gathering of the party leaders at the
jail when even the family doctor was not permitted to meet the ailing former
premier. The fact that the opposition parties are also preparing to launch a
full-fledged protest campaign against the government in about a month’s time is
also contrary to the permission granted for the meeting.
In another post, Ahsan categorically said that his
party would not compromise (on principles) and pardon the incumbent government.
He said Imran Khan would have to be answerable for, what he called, negatively
impacting the whole economy.
Sources said Shahbaz apparently was not fully
convinced to go ahead with the demonstration plans to oust the government in
near future. He reportedly asked his elder brother to reconsider launching of a
campaign against the ruling party, saying this would be a decisive action by
However, Nawaz Sharif insisted that full-scale drive
must be launched against the regime, added the sources. According to the party
leaders, the PML-N president floated the idea of rescheduling the sit-in,
keeping in view prevalent situation of the country.
ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief
Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)
government is incompetent and illegal.
Addressing a Workers’ Convention, Rehman said that no
one can teach us democratic values as “we are the ones who introduced them and
worked for them”.
“This government is incompetent and can’t execute even
simplest of tasks and we all know how it was brought in illegally by hijacking
the elections,” he said.
He also said that freedom of speech is basic right of
everyone and no one should be stripped of it.
“We don’t have to fear anyone. We are on the right
path and must keep on moving. If we want to see Pakistan on track of prosperity
then we have to work for it by putting aside all personal reservations,” he
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) decided to
support Jamiat-Ulema-Islam (JUI-F) in principle in its Azadi March as the
latter plans to lock down Islamabad in a bid to topple Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
LAHORE: The Kashmir issue now stands verifiably
internationalised because of Pakistan’s spirited diplomacy for the cause and
the snowball effect, which started with rescinding of Article 370 by the Indian
government, said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday.
Addressing a multiparty Kashmir conference, he said
the Kashmir cause was now gathering pace by the day, adding that Indian
failure to defend its position is also evident. No country around the globe
believes in Indian mantra of “integral part and internal issue” any more, he
“The world parliaments are now discussing the Kashmir
issue. The European Union is debating it today [Tuesday]. The Iranian Majlis
has already done it and so is Turkish parliament. Some 27 Congressmen have
written to the US government to take note of the Kashmir situation. Around 50
members of the [British] House of Commons have taken it up. What additional
proof India now wants to realise that their point of view stands defeated
around the world,” Mr Qureshi wondered.
“The United Nations, despite Indian resistance, took
up the matter after 54 years of neglect. Although some of the OIC members decorated
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Islamic body, as an organisation,
stood by the Kashmiris and supported their cause. All human rights bodies in
the world have come up with one report after another, highlighting abuses in
the valley and told the Indians to correct their behaviour. All these factors
lead to one conclusion: the Kashmir issue is now resounding all over the
globe,’’ he said.
Underlining the role of Pakistani and Kashmiri
diaspora, he said when the government decided to mobilise the non-resident
Pakistanis and Kashmiris, it turned out to be a tremendous success because of
their determined participation.
Thanking Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, who
was sharing the stage with him at the conference, for his role in the mobilisation,
he said: “London, Brussels, Paris, Washington and New York have witnessed
unprecedented demonstrations in favour of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. For
the first time Aug 14 was celebrated as Kashmir day and Aug 15 as black day
around the world.”
Not only the world bodies but the Indian Supreme Court
has also ordered restoration of normal life in held Kashmir. “The SC told the
government to lift curfew, return communication network to Kashmiris and ensure
normality in the valley. It also allowed Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the
opposition Congress party, who was earlier arrested and returned when he tried
to visit valley, to go there,’’ Mr Qureshi said.
The conference adopted an 11-point resolution at the
end, which condemned the Indian step of rescinding Article 370 and pledged to
stand by the Kashmiris in their struggle.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan telephoned Saudi
Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and
discussed bilateral and regional matters with special focus on drone attacks on
Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities last week.
During the telephone conversation, the premier offered
Pakistan’s full support and capabilities to the kingdom following the attack.
Prices of petroleum products are likely to go up by up
to Rs12 in coming days owing to an increase in the international market
following an attack on Saudi Arabia’s energy giant Aramco last week, slashing
the Arab kingdom’s oil production by half.
The attack that shut five per cent of global crude
output has triggered the biggest surge in oil prices since 1991.
Europe’s benchmark Brent crude surged by 20 per cent
and US counterpart WTI by 15 per cent as commodities trading got underway and
after President Donald Trump warned that the US was “locked and loaded” to
respond to the attacks that Washington blamed on Iran.
Tehran rejected the claim but Iran-backed Houthi
rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition was bogged down in a five-year
war, claimed Saturday’s strikes on two plants owned by Aramco.
Meanwhile, the United States reiterated it was
studying all available options in how it would confront an attack on Saudi
Arabia’s oil facilities.
Taliban kill at least 26 in blast near Afghan
KABUL: A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 26
people and wounded dozens near a campaign rally for Afghan President Ashraf
Ghani on Tuesday, with the insurgents warning of more violence ahead of
About an hour after the attack, another blast also
claimed by the Taliban rocked central Kabul near the US embassy.
It was not immediately clear if the second blast
claimed any lives, but an AFP journalist at nearby Wazir Akbar Khan hospital
saw around a dozen wounded victims, and a witness told AFP he had seen bodies
in the street.
The explosions came after US President Donald Trump
abruptly ended talks with the Taliban on September 10 over a deal that would
have allowed the US to begin withdrawing troops from its longest war.
In a statement sent to media claiming responsibility
for both blasts, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack near
Ghani's rally was deliberately aimed at disrupting the September 28 elections.
"We already warned people not to attend election
rallies, if they suffer any losses that is their own responsibility," the
The bomber near Ghani's rally -- in Parwan province,
about an hour's drive north of Kabul -- had been on a motorbike and had
detonated his device at a checkpoint leading to the event, according to
interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.
An AFP image from the scene showed the remains of a
burnt motorcycle, with a body on top covered by a blanket, next to a badly
damaged police car.
Women and children were among the causalities, Parwan
hospital director Abdul Qasim Sangin told AFP, adding 42 people were injured as
well as the 26 dead.
The president, who was speaking to his supporters at
the time of the blast, was unhurt but later condemned the attack, saying the
incident proved the Taliban had no real interest in reconciliation.
"As the Taliban continue their crimes, they once
again prove that they are not interested in peace and stability in
Afghanistan," said Ghani in a statement.
The UN offices in Afghanistan also slammed the
Taliban, accusing the insurgents of showing "despicable disregard for
civilian life & fundamental human right to participate in democratic
Sixty kilometres (40 miles) away in Kabul, a
shopkeeper, Rahimullah, said he had been sitting inside his shop when the
second blast came.
"The wave broke all the windows," he said.
"I rushed outside and saw several bodies just
across the street. This is the second time in less than a month that a blast
has broken our windows. I just fixed them a week ago." The elections will
see Ghani face off against his own Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, and more
than a dozen other candidates, including former warlords, ex-spies, and onetime
members of the country's former communist regime.
For weeks, the election had been sidelined by the
US-Taliban talks, with many Afghans and observers expecting the vote to be
cancelled if a deal was agreed. Even candidates did little in the way of
But with the deal off, Ghani and his rivals have begun
Ghani is seeking a clear mandate they can use to
negotiate with the insurgents on a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Trump's declaration that the US-Taliban talks were
"dead" spurred the insurgents to declare last week that the only
other option was more fighting.
"We had two ways to end occupation in
Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and
negotiations," Mujahid told AFP last week.
"If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the
first way and they will soon regret it." Observers had warned the Taliban,
who hope to weaken the future president, will do anything they can to upend the
On the first day of campaigning in July, suicide
attackers and gunmen targeted the Kabul office of Ghani's running mate,
Amrullah Saleh. At least 20 people died in those attacks.
Turnout in the elections is set to be low, with
experts citing fear of violence and a loss of hope among voters following
widespread fraud allegations during the 2014 election.
17 Sep 2019
The security forces conducted airstrikes in four
provinces in the past 24 hours, killing more than 20 Taliban and ISIS
The military officials said Tuesday that the security
forces conducted airstrikes in Qarah Bagh and Ghazni districts of Ghazni
province which killed 4 Taliban militants.
The officials further added that the airstrikes also
destroyed two car bombs.
Furthermore, an airstrike killed 7 Taliban militants
in Chak-e Wardak district of Wardak province.
The officials also added that airstrikes in Warduj
district of Badakhshan province killed 9 Taliban militants.
BY BILL ROGGIO
The Taliban continues to work closely with al Qaeda’s
branch in South Asia. Afghan Commandos and a unit from the National Directorate
of Security raided a Taliban warehouse that was used to store explosives that
would be used by Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to conduct attacks
in the Afghan capital and other “major cities.”
The news comes only one week after U.S. Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo said that al Qaeda is “a shadow of its former self in
Afghanistan” and the Taliban “would break from al Qaeda publicly and
permanently” to sign a so-called peace deal, which was canceled by President
“Commandos and NDS special Unit 703 with support from
the Air Force” attacked a Taliban “stronghold and warehouse of explosive materials”
in Ghazni’s Muqur district, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported on Sept. 14.
Muqur is a contested district, and Ghazni is a known haven for al Qaeda. Afghan
forces attacked two bases, killed 26 “terrorists,” and destroyed 120 barrels of
explosives and “2000 kilograms of primary explosive substances.”
The explosive materials “were transported to Ghazni
from the neighboring country.” Although not named, that country is certainly
Pakistan, which borders Ghazni province. The Taliban is supported by Pakistan’s
military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, and maintains an
extensive support network there.
Ministry of Defense, Afghanistan
• Sep 14, 2019
Replying to @MoDAfghanistan
(4/6) During the operations, 2 of the terrorists’
bases were demolished along with 120 barrels full of explosive materials,
around 2000 kilograms of primary explosive substances, 26 motorbikes and one
(5/6) The materials were transported to Ghazni from
the neighboring country. Skilled explosive experts of the terrorist group of
‘Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’ were to use the materials to prepare
explosives for attacks in the Capital and major cities across Afghanistan.
1:20 PM - Sep 14, 2019
See Ministry of Defense, Afghanistan's other Tweets
The MoD also noted that “skilled explosive experts”
from AQIS “were to use the materials to prepare explosives for attacks in the
Capital and major cities across Afghanistan.”
The raid against the explosives warehouse in Ghazni
highlights the enduring relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda
operatives have provided key support for the Taliban, including explosives
experts, military trainers and advisors, and they even fight alongside the
Taliban on the front lines.
In exchange, the Taliban shelters and supports al
Qaeda leaders and operative in areas they control or contest. General Austin
Miller, the commander of Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces –
Afghanistan, confirmed earlier this year that al Qaeda is operating “across the
country” and not confirmed to one region. In late 2018, a Taliban commander
confirmed that “thousands” of foreign fighters are currently embedded in the
group in Afghanistan. In a report released by the United Nations in March 2019,
the UN described al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban as “long-standing”
and “strong,” finding that the international terrorist organization “continues
to see Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership.”
However, this is not merely a transactional
relationship. Al Qaeda’s leaders (first Osama bin Laden, then Ayman al
Zawahiri) have sworn allegiance to the Taliban’s emirs, and view the Taliban’s
supremo as the Amir al-Mu’minin or Leader of the Faithful. In turn, the Taliban
has advertised its enduring relationship with al Qaeda and has feted some of
its key leaders.
Al Qaeda in Ghazni
Ghazni has long been a strategic province for al
Qaeda. In one of the letters seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s
compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the al Qaeda chief told his general manager,
Atiyah Abd al Rahman, that Ghazni was one of four Afghan provinces where
leaders and operatives could relocate to avoid the U.S. drone campaign in Paksitan’s
tribal areas. [See LWJ report, Bin Laden advised relocation of some leaders to
Afghanistan due to drone strikes in Waziristan.]
The United Nations, in 2018, identified Ghazni as one
of four provinces where al Qaeda operates.
FDD’s Long War Journal can trace al Qaeda operations
in Ghazni back to 2008. Aafia Siddiqui, who is better known as “Lady al Qaeda,”
was among several leaders who operates captured and killed during raids that
year. There have been multiple operations targeting al Qaeda in Ghazni since
then. In Feb. 2017, Afghan troops killed Qari Saifullah Akhtar, a senior al
Qaeda leader who also doubled as the emir for Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami
(HUJI), a Pakistan-based terror group. Later that year, in Dec. 2017, the US
killed Omar Khetab (a.k.a. Omar Mansour), the “second senior leader” in AQIS,
al Qaeda’s regional branch. In March of this year, the Afghan military killed
31 AQIS fighters in the district of Giro.
The Afghan government said that al Qaeda played an
important role in the Taliban’s Aug. 2018 assault on Ghazni City, the
provincial capital. At the time, the Afghan Minister of Defense said that
Pakistani, Chechen and Arab foreign fighters were fighting alongside the
Taliban and some were killed.
Ghazni is merely one of 13 of Afghanistan’s 34
provinces where FDD’s Long War Journal has detected an overt al Qaeda presence.
However, based on past history, al Qaeda is likely to operate in a dozen more
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council has
unanimously adopted a compromise resolution extending the UN political mission
It dropped a Chinese demand to include a reference to
China's $ 1 trillion "belt and road" initiative but stressed the need
for regional connectivity.
China and Russia had clashed with the US and other
Security Council members Monday over China's insistence on including its
flagship global program in the resolution. After negotiations dragged into
Monday night, a compromise was hammered out and adopted on Tuesday morning.
US Ambassador Kelly Craft said the resolution would
have been stronger if not for the insistence of a member state — a clear
reference to China — to highlight "national political priorities."
By Jennifer Chowdhury
September 11, 2019
KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh — Bangladesh took in 750,000
Rohingya expelled from Myanmar in a military-led crackdown. Two years on,
facing simmering conflict between natives and the recent arrivals, and after
failed attempts to persuade some refugees to return, the host country is
running out of patience for the Rohingya.
Authorities have blamed Rohingya militants for the
killing of a ruling-party politician last month and accused refugees of
smuggling drugs from Myanmar — a trade that activists say entices some for want
of opportunities in refugee camps. Several Rohingya are reported to have been
killed in recent shootouts with police.
Limits on Internet and cellphone service imposed this
month, along with curbs on aid agencies, offer some of the clearest signs that
Bangladesh is growing tired of the camps in its impoverished southeast and is
looking for ways to nudge the Rohingya back to Myanmar without resorting to
force. The mostly Muslim refugees have resisted two attempts to repatriate a
handful of them to Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority nation that denies them many
rights and whose army violently ejected them in 2017.
“The government’s actions are an easy solution to a
bigger problem,” said Imtiaz Ahmed, director of the Center for Genocide Studies
at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh, in relation to the communication
restrictions and challenges of security and repatriation.
A year after the assault on the Rohingya, Myanmar’s
generals are unapologetic
On Monday, Bangladesh’s telecom regulator ordered
network operators to halt all cellphone service in an area covering the
Rohingya camps near Cox’s Bazar, near the Myanmar border. The move followed a
limited shutdown on cellphone service, between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m., imposed on
It mirrored Myanmar’s decision in June to block mobile
Internet services in its western regions that were formerly home to many
The regulator’s deputy director, Nahidul Hasan, cited
state security and law and order as justification for the clampdown. Bangladesh
had previously banned sales of SIM cards in the camps, but they were widely
available and locals often sold them to refugees. The government says official
identification, which Rohingya lack, is needed to buy a SIM card.
On a recent day here at the tail end of monsoon
season, refugees congregating inside their homes and under storefront awnings voiced
fears about the growing pressure.
“Don’t take your phone with you when you go outside,”
Nasima Akhter, a refugee living in Kutupalong, the largest camp for displaced
people, told her neighbor, Hamida Khatun. “The police are taking away our
“If I don’t have a phone, how can I reach out to
anyone in case of an emergency?” Khatun asked. “How will you talk to us if you
need to know what’s going on in the camps?”
Aid groups say Bangladesh has overreacted to the
tensions and warn that the restrictions jeopardize safety in refugee camps.
“There is no proper communication system between the
34 camps. How can you restrict Internet and confiscate mobile phones?” said
Abu Murshed Chowdhury, co-chairman of Cox’s Bazar CSO-NGO forum, a network of
nonprofit and human rights groups.
The ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Rohingya
Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, said
in a statement that Bangladesh faced a challenge in dealing with the refugee
crisis but had “made matters worse by imposing restrictions on refugee
communications and freedom of movement.”
Activists say Bangladesh officials are penalizing the
Rohingya after some refugees held a rally Aug. 25 to commemorate the two-year
anniversary of their expulsion and to call on Myanmar to grant them a proper
path to repatriation through citizenship. Since 1982, Rohingya have been unable
to legally marry, gain access to education and many jobs, or move freely within
Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“The protest was not meant to cause Bangladesh harm in
any way,” Khatun said. “We are grateful to this country for giving us space,
but we want to know about our future.”
Camp officials faced swift backlash from local
politicians and government officials for permitting the demonstration. The head
of the Office of Refugee Relief and Repatriation and the official in charge of
the camp where the rally occurred were transferred out of their roles.
Bangladesh also banned two aid groups, including the
U.S.-based Adventist Development and Relief Agency, from operating in the
camps. Mohammad Ashraful Afsar, an official in Cox’s Bazar district, told the
Dhaka Tribune that the organization had encouraged Rohingya to resist attempts
to repatriate them and that it had financed the protest, including by giving
Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters reporters freed from
prison in Myanmar
The U.S. organization denies this. “For visibility,
donors gave T-shirts to refugees in some of the camps. It wasn’t meant for the
rally, it was meant for ongoing activities,” said Iqbal Hassan, a field
monitoring officer. “We have had no role in repatriation efforts or even a role
in counseling Rohingya for or against repatriation.”
Hassan said his organization employed almost 5,000
Rohingya laborers who helped to build pathways and bridges and repair monsoon
damage. “They will lose their livelihood now,” he said.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
expressed concerns about the role of nongovernmental organizations, suggesting
they were fomenting opposition to efforts to return refugees to Myanmar.
“Actually, these agencies never want them to go back,” Hasina said at a news
conference in June. She also questioned Myanmar’s commitment to providing a
safe space that would allow the Rohingya to go home. Myanmar says it is doing
all it can but has not agreed to grant Rohingya full citizenship rights.
Netanyahu refuses to concede as Gantz leads in
Israel’s general election
Exit polls released by Israeli television channels
show that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to secure a
ruling majority in the general election.
Three separate exit surveys released on Tuesday showed
that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud is projected to garner between 31 and 32
parliament seats each out of 120, while his main challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist
Blue and White alliance is leading with 32 Knesset seats.
In all three polls, the Joint List of Arab parties is
projected to have the third most seats, while far-right Yamina party, led by
Ayelet Shaked, is projected to win 6-7 seats.
Former minister of military affairs Avigdor
Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party is expected to receive between eight and nine
seats, according to the polls.
With neither Netanyahu nor Gantz appear to have gained
a 61-seat majority, the two are likely to head to deliberations with President
Reuven Rivlin, who will determine which of them gets the mandate to try and
form a governing coalition.
Speaking to a half-empty hall at the Likud campaign
headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu vowed to form a “strong and Zionist”
administration, warning his supporters of a “dangerous and anti-Zionist”
The Israeli prime minister added he already began
negotiations with Likud’s potential coalition partners on the right wing. “They
all committed to pursue our goals together. This election has been one of the
toughest we’d known,” he said.
Gantz said Tuesday overnight he would work to
establish a unity administration.
“We stuck to our mission and to our path,” Gantz said
at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, hours after exit polls show his party
has secured a lead over Likud.
Gantz went on to say that exit polls show Netanyahu
failed in his reelection bid. “This is the start of the journey to mend the
Israeli society,” he commented.
Lieberman, for his part, called for a unity administration
with his party, Likud and Blue and White as he addressed supporters, saying
Israel was facing an "emergency".
“There is only one option for us,” he said, adding the
administration should exclude the country's ultra-Orthodox religious parties,
which he accuses of having undue influence on politics
Hamas condemns Israel’s general election
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamic resistance
movement, Hamas, has strongly slammed Israel’s snap polls, stating that the
election guarantees further expropriation of occupied Palestinian lands.
The movement said those contesting in the vote have
been encouraging the Israeli regime to intensify its attacks on the besieged
Gaza Strip, and violate the rights of Palestinians.
It also described Israeli voters as alien settlers,
who have stolen Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian resistance movement finally denounced
Israel as a usurper entity which owes its existence to the illegal occupation
of Palestinian territories.
16 September 2019
Turkey's president has said that up to three million
Syrian refugees could return to their country to live in a "safe
zone" in the north.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the zone - which is already
being set up in co-operation with the US - needed to be extended for the goal
to be met.
US-backed Kurdish fighters earlier moved back from a
strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border.
Turkey regards the Kurdish forces as terrorists.
Mr Erdogan's comments came after talks in Ankara with
the presidents of Russia and Iran, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani.
The Kurds have yet to respond to Mr Erdogan's plan,
but they are almost certain to bitterly oppose it, the BBC's Alan Johnston
Earlier this month, Turkey warned it might reopen the
route for Syrian refugees to enter Europe if it did not get more international
support for the "safe zone" in northern Syria.
Turkey is hosting more than 3.6 million Syrians who
have fled the civil war that began in 2011.
Tens of thousands of civilians have already fled north
from Idlib, a province held by rebel and jihadist forces, to the Turkish
Under a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey imposed
stronger controls to curb the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe.
The deal involved an EU pledge to provide €6bn
(£5.4bn; $6.6bn) in aid to Turkey to house Syrian refugees.
A high-ranking Houthi commander and several other
rebel fighters were killed in Yemen’s southern Dhalea province during two days
Capt Majed Al Shouaibi, a spokesman for the
pro-government forces, said the rebel commander was killed on Saturday.
“Maj Gen Adel Mokbel Abu Esba, commander of the 135th
brigade of the Houthi militia, was killed in clashes with our forces in Al
Reibi on the Hajer front with a number of his fighters,” Capt Al Shouaibi told
The rebels reported the commander’s death on
affiliated news websites and broadcast his funeral on their Al Masirah TV
A coalition of militias known as the Southern Joint
Forces repelled a Houthi attempt to seize Dhalea earlier this year and have
pushed the rebels back to the northern edges of the province.
Fighting has flared up in northern Dhalea over the
past week, Capt Al Shouaibi said.
Another six Houthi fighters were killed and 10 injured
during fierce clashes on the Hajer front on Sunday night, a source in the
Southern Joint Forces told The National.
“Houthi fighters launched an attack trying to advance
towards sites controlled by our forces but our fighters repelled them and
launched a counterattack, killing six of the Houthi fighters in the clashes in
Habeel Al Madmag between the villages of Batar and Al Mashareeh,” the source
“The Houthis attacked from two directions – towards
Wadi Al Mashareeh from the east and towards Wadi Al Gamri from the west – under
the cover of heavy fire from 23-4 Shilka and other light and medium weapons,”
the source said.
The Shilka is an armoured, self-propelled
Separately, the Houthis launched attacks on civilian
areas of Hodeidah to the west, according to a source in the pro-government Al
Amalikah forces fighting the rebels in the Red Sea coastal province.
Four civilians were injured and at least five homes
damaged when the rebels fired mortar shells at residential areas in Duraihimi
district in eastern Hodeidah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fell short
of securing a parliamentary majority with his natural religious and nationalist
allies in yesterday's national elections, partial results indicated on
Wednesday, setting the stage for a period of coalition negotiations that could
threaten his political future and even clear the way for him to be tried on
Initial partial results showed challenger Benny
Gantz's centrist Blue and White party tied with Netanyahu's Likud.
While the results do not guarantee that Gantz will be
the next prime minister, they signalled that Netanyahu, who has led the country
for over 10 years, could have trouble holding on to the job.
Addressing his supporters early on Wednesday,
Netanyahu refused to concede defeat and vowed to work to form a new government
that excludes Arab parties. His campaign focused heavily on attacking and
questioning the loyalty of the country's Arab minority a strategy that drew
accusations of racism and incitement from Arab leaders.
“In the coming days we will convene negotiations to
assemble a strong Zionist government and to prevent a dangerous anti-Zionist
government,” he said. He claimed that Arab parties “negate the existence of
Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” and “glorify bloodthirsty
The partial results released on Wednesday by the
Central Election Commission were based on 35 per cent of the vote counted. The
three Israeli TV channels reported the same outcome, based on more than 90pc of
the vote counted, but did not explain the discrepancy with the commission's
Final results are expected on Wednesday and could
still swing in Netanyahu's favour.
According to the partial results, the parties of Gantz
and Netanyahu received 32 seats each in the 120-member parliament. Likud with
its natural allies of religious and ultra-nationalist parties mustered 56 seats
or five short of the needed majority.
This means both Likud and Blue and White will have
difficulty setting up a governing coalition without the support of Avigdor
Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party. That put Lieberman, a former protege of
Netanyahu's who has become one of the prime minister's fiercest rivals, in the
position of kingmaker.
Arab parties, which have never before sat in an Israeli
government, also finished strong, and exit polls predicted they would form the
third-largest party in parliament.
Addressing his supporters late on Tuesday, a jubilant
Lieberman said he saw only "one option": a broad, secular coalition
with both Blue and White and Likud.
“We've always said that a unity government is only
possible in emergency situations. And I tell you and I tell every citizen today
watching us on television: the situation, both security-wise and economically,
are emergency situations,” he said. “The country, therefore, requires a broad
Early on Wednesday, Gantz told a cheering rally of
supporters that while it was too soon to declare victory, he had begun speaking
to potential partners and hoped to form a unity government.
“Starting tonight we will work to form a broad unity
government that will express the will of the people,” he said.
Attention will now focus on Israel's president, Reuven
Rivlin, who is to choose the candidate he believes has the best chance of
forming a stable coalition. Rivlin is to consult with all parties in the coming
days before making his decision.
After that, the prime minister designate would have up
to six weeks to form a coalition. If that fails, Rivlin could give another
candidate for prime minister 28 days to form a coalition. And if that doesn't
work, new elections would be triggered yet again. Rivlin has said he will do
everything possible to avoid such a scenario.
Lieberman called for an immediate start to
negotiations and predicted it could be wrapped up quickly. But such a deal
promises to be complicated.
Gantz, a former military chief who has presented
himself as a unifying figure in a divided nation, has ruled out a partnership
with Likud if Netanyahu remains at the helm at a time when he is expected to be
indicted on criminal charges.
But in his speech today, he made no such conditions.
“I intend to speak with everyone,” he said, without mentioning Netanyahu.
Lieberman, who leads a nationalist but secular party,
is unlikely to sit with Arab parties on the left or ultra-Orthodox religious
parties on the right.
That could limit both Gantz's and Netanyahu's ability
to manoeuvre and could potentially put pressure on the longtime leader, who has
ruled for over a decade, to step aside.
Likud members said they remained behind their leader.
“We have the basic principle of standing by the party
leader who was elected in the party primary, which is why we won't take action
against Netanyahu,” said lawmaker Micky Zohar, a Netanyahu loyalist.
Netanyahu had sought an outright majority with his
allies in hopes of passing legislation to give him immunity from the expected
Israel's attorney general has recommended charging
Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three scandals, pending a
hearing scheduled next month. A formal indictment would increase the pressure
on Netanyahu to step aside if he does not have immunity.
Netanyahu tried to portray himself as a seasoned
statesman uniquely qualified to lead the country through challenging times
during an alarmist campaign marked by mudslinging and slogans that were
condemned as racist. Gantz tried to paint Netanyahu as divisive and
scandal-plagued, offering himself as a calming influence and honest
Netanyahu's campaign promoted images of him jetting
off to world capitals and boasting of warm relations with powerful leaders,
most notably United States President Donald Trump.
At the same time, he issued repeated doomsday warnings
that his opponents were scheming with politicians from the country's Arab
minority to “steal” the election.
He tried, and failed, to pass legislation that would
allow cameras in polling stations, a step he said was needed to crack down on
alleged fraud in Arab towns. Facebook suspended his account for 24 hours last
week after it published a post saying that “Arabs want to annihilate all of us.
Netanyahu also sought to appeal to his hard-line base with a number of election
promises, including plans to annex all of Israel's settlements in the West Bank.
His proposal, which could extinguish any remaining
hopes for a Palestinian state, were condemned by much of the world, including
important Arab countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. But the US remained
muted, suggesting he had coordinated with Washington ahead of time.
Netanyahu's frenetic warnings about Arabs appeared to
backfire, turning off some Jewish voters and driving heavy turnout in the Arab
Ayman Odeh, leader of the main Arab faction in
parliament, said Netanyahu's repeated attacks had boosted turnout and hurt
Netanyahu in the end.
“There's a heavy price to pay for incitement,” he told
Channel 13 TV.
The election was Israel's second of the year.
In April's vote, Netanyahu appeared to have the upper
hand, with his traditional allies of nationalist and ultra-religious Jewish
parties controlling a parliamentary majority. But Lieberman, his mercurial
ally-turned-rival, refused to join the new coalition, citing excessive
influence it granted the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties. Without a parliamentary
majority, Netanyahu dissolved parliament and called a new election.
Lieberman's gamble paid off on Tuesday, and partial
results indicated his party had nearly doubled in strength, with nine seats.
Iran will never hold talks with the United States and
Washington’s policy of maximum pressure on Tehran will fail, the country’s
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, state TV reported,
adding that Iranian officials will “never” hold talks with the US.
“Iranian officials will never talk to America ... this
is part of their (US) policy to put pressure on Iran ... their policy of
maximum pressure will fail,” state TV quoted Khamenei.
Saudi Arabia joins a US-led naval mission purportedly
aimed at protecting shipping lanes in Middle Eastern waterways as Washington
and Riyadh engage in another blame game against Iran following massive Yemeni
drone attacks on key Saudi oil facilities.
Quoting an official source in the Defense Ministry,
the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday that Riyadh had
decided to be a member of the so-called International Maritime Security
Construct, which operates in the Strait of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandab, the Sea of
Oman and the Persian Gulf.
It also claimed that the US-led coalition is meant to
“protect merchant ships through providing safe navigation” and safeguard the
interests of the alliance’s member countries.
Saudi Arabia joins International Maritime Security
9:44 AM - Sep 18, 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s accession to the mission, it further
claimed, was “in support of regional and international efforts to deter and
counter threats to maritime navigation and global trade in order to ensure
global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global
The United States began trying to persuade its allies
into the maritime coalition after it blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on
oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible
evidence to back up the allegation, which Iran has categorically rejected.
The US’s allies have turned a cold shoulder to such an
alliance, which they believe could lead to tensions with Iran. Only the UK,
Australia and Bahrain have so far joined the coalition.
The Saudi decision came a few days after Yemeni armed
forces conducted a large-scale drone operation on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil
facilities in response to Riyadh’s years-long military aggression, causing a
partial halt in crude and gas production from the world’s top oil exporter.
The United States quickly moved to blame Iran for the
strikes, though it did not offer any evidence to back up the claim, which both
Iran and Yemen have rejected as baseless.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who is slated to
hold talks with Saudi officials later today — became the first White House
official to comment on the Yemeni raids, claiming Tehran had “launched an
unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”
The State Department said Pompeo will discuss “the
recent attack on the kingdom's oil facilities and coordinate efforts to counter
Iranian aggression in the region” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Echoing Washington’s position, Saudi officials have
claimed Iranian weapons were used in the attacks, and that the strikes did not
originate in Yemen, but declined to provide any detailed evidence.
BEIRUT: Overnight airstrikes killed 10 pro-Iranian
Iraqi militiamen in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Tuesday, without
specifying who carried them out.
“Ten Iraqis from pro-Iranian militias were killed,”
the Britain-based monitor said.
The strikes came as tensions mounted between archfoes
Iran and the US after Washington blamed Tehran for weekend attacks on Saudi oil
They were the second to hit pro-Iranian forces in
eastern Syria in little more than a week.
On Sept. 9, airstrikes killed 18 fighters, including
Iranians, according to the Observatory.
In June last year, strikes near the Iraqi border
killed 55 fighters, most of them Syrian or Iraqi. A US official speaking on
condition of anonymity said Israel was responsible.
Much of the east of Syria was held by Daesh militants
before their defeat in March.
It is now divided by the Euphrates Valley into a zone
held by forces loyal to the Syrian regime and its ally Iran and another held by
the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and their allies in a US-led
coalition, which has in the past carried out air raids on pro-regime forces.
Meanwhile, the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran
agreed on Monday to ease tensions in northwest Syria’s Idlib region, but
disagreements between the countries appeared to linger, especially over the
threat from Daesh.
The summit of the three countries aimed to find a
lasting truce in Syria. Recent attacks by the regime forces risk deepening
regional turmoil and pushing a new wave of migrants toward Turkey.
Sarawak gifts non-Muslim religious institutions
18 September 2019
BY SULOK TAWIE
KUCHING, Sept 18 — Sarawak churches and other
non-Islamic institutions received RM16.4 million in cash aid today.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah
Embas assured the cash-strapped institutions that the state will not neglect
those in need, especially for those in rural locations looking to finance
repairs to their houses of worship and other religious activities.
“The allocation is our good gesture to them
financially,” Uggah said at the handing over of 98 cheques to 27 Sarawak
assemblymen acting on behalf of the churches and other non-Islamic religious
He said the money was part of the RM30 million budgeted
for Sarawak’s Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).
Uggah, who is also the minister in-charge of Unifor,
said the state unit received 109 applications from churches, temples and other
houses of worship for funds.
He said apart from the RM30 million fund, the chief
minister had also approved a sum of RM27.3 million for the construction of 12
houses of worship this year.
He added Unifor officials will go to the ground to
personally inspect the development of these houses of worship to ensure that
they are complete according to schedule and within the cost allocated.
Uggah also asked the Gabungan Parti Sarawak state
lawmakers to help the religious institutions meeting their religious needs,
like raising funds for their activities or build houses of worship.
PAS leader warns DAP against pursuing
A senior PAS leader today warned the DAP and other Harapan
components against using bogeyman tactics to label its union with Umno as a
racist, extreme and radical "klepto-theocracy".
In insisting that PAS-Umno cooperation will not
sideline other races and religions, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man
(above) in a statement also warned DAP against pursuing its alleged
"The struggle of PAS and Umno is to unite the
ummah in an inclusive manner by prioritising Malays and Muslims but without
prejudice to other races.
"This is in line with the teachings of Islam, the
Federal Constitution, historical context as well as current demands," said
"How about the DAP? Is a Christianisation agenda
in Malaysian politics considered a reasonable action?" asked Tuan Ibrahim,
who cited an alleged speech by Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim at a
forum last Saturday.
On Monday, political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff was
quoted by PAS news organ Harakahdaily as questioning Sim's speech during a “New
Malaysia Narrative” forum held at Mega Chinese Methodist Church in Kota
"I reserve my comment on this matter at the
moment," Sim (photo) told Malaysiakini when contacted.
Tuan Ibrahim further urged authorities to investigate
the forum organisers and its contents to avoid confusion among the public.
'Even sworn enemies can reconcile'
Meanwhile, former PAS vice-president Nakhaie Ahmad
pointed out how even parties once at war with each other could reconcile their
differences, let alone PAS and Umno.
Nakhaie, who left PAS to join Umno in 1989, said the
political cooperation was borne out of rejection from Malay-Muslims who are
unhappy with changes brought about by Harapan.
"These two parties representing the Malays are
willing to set aside their chronic differences when a majority of Malays are in
an uncomfortable position and felt threatened," he told Malaysiakini.
Umno Veteran secretary-general Mustapha Yaakob said
the party has moved on from its bitter rivalry with PAS, and Harapan leaders,
including Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, should refrain from meddling in
"It is up to PAS whether they want to retract
their Umno kafir (infidel) allegation in the past.
Manila calls for collective efforts to combat
MANILA: The Philippines on Tuesday called for
collective international efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of strikes on
Saudi oil facilities.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Vice
President of the Philippines Maria Leonor Robredo said that the attacks were a
“wake-up call” to the world and threatened not only her country’s economy but
also Filipinos working in the Kingdom.
“I know for a fact that Saudi Arabia has been at the
forefront of combating terrorist activities. Now that we have heard of the
recent attacks last week in the Middle East, it is another wake-up call for all
of us that the threat is still there,” she added.
Speaking at her office in Manila, Robredo said that
such strikes would have a negative impact on the Philippines. “The attacks are
not just expected to affect our economy, but also the future of Filipino
workers who reside there (Saudi Arabia).”
On Tuesday, Reuters reported a drop in oil prices. Oil
ended nearly 15 percent higher on Monday, with Brent logging its biggest jump
in more than 30 years amid record trading volumes.
“My stance is that attacks will continue if we will
not step up as a community of nations in really working together, doing
collective efforts to combat terrorism,” said Robredo.
Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
also expressed concerns about the possible impact of the terror strikes,
particularly on oil prices and supplies to his country.
“This is serious. It will — not could — affect us
deeply; to put it bluntly, an oil shortage or steep rise in oil price will rock
the Philippine boat and tip it over,” Locsin said on Twitter.
Following Saturday’s coordinated drone hits on key
Saudi oil sites at Khurais and Abqaiq in the Eastern Province, the Philippine
government convened an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss the
Present during the meeting held at the Department of
Energy (DoE) headquarters in the city of Taguig were officials of the Electric
Power Industry Management Bureau, Industry Management Bureau, the National
Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Power Corporation (NPC), the
Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), and the PNOC-Exploration Committee.
“We are seeking to ensure that the energy family will
be sufficiently prepared to face the potential impact of this unfortunate
incident, if any, on the country,” Secretary of Energy Alfonso Cusi said in a
Thailand's prime minister defended police for
requesting information about minority Muslim students from universities around
the country after the move was called discriminatory and illegal.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday the
police request, which follows a series of bomb blasts in the capital Bangkok in
August blamed on Muslim suspects, was needed to build a national security
An official letter from police, shared online by
former rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit, asked a university to supply
information about the numbers, place of origin, sect affiliation and other
details about Muslim-organised student groups. The name of the university was
"This is an interference to personal rights and a
discrimination based on religion," Angkhana said, adding freedom of
religion and the right to privacy were guaranteed by the Thai constitution.
About 90 percent of Thais are Buddhist, though Muslims
are a majority in three southern provinces bordering Malaysia.
Prayuth said the move was necessary.
"The police already pointed out this is for the
creation of a database on intelligence," Prayuth said. "No rights
have been breached. We cannot manage anything if we don't have data."
Muslim students said the police request was
"We want the police to reconsider this, the
university should be a space where students can express their views freely and
their rights are protected," said Ashraf Awae, president of the Muslim Students
Federation of Thailand.
A police source said the request for information on
Muslims was linked to the attacks on August 2 that wounded four people when six
small bombs and six incendiary devices went off in Bangkok, which was hosting a
major international meeting.
Three people were arrested and 11 other suspects
remain at large. All are Muslim Malays from southern Thailand.
"We are worried about those ill-intended people
who are infiltrating university students," said a police source who didn't
want to be named because he wasn't authorised to speak to the media.
Similar letters were sent to many Thai education
institutions as part of a routine update of an existing intelligence database,
police said in a statement.
Some universities with a large population of Muslim
students were disturbed by the letter.
Wuthisak Lapcharoensap, president of Ramkhamhaeng
University in Bangkok, said police should reconsider their request.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno is confident that the
party’s recently formalised alliance with PAS will be beneficial to the state,
and says the cooperation with the Islamist party should not be seen through the
lens of religion.
Sabah Umno information chief Raime Unggi said the
alliance is a vehicle to unite people of all races and religions in the
He is also confident the partnership with PAS will not
be viewed negatively by non-Muslims in Sabah.
“I admit there are some quarters that are unhappy
about this alliance. They say it will break the good relationship between
Muslims and non-Muslims.
“But from the feedback I gathered, especially from
Sabah Umno members, even the non-Muslim members are happy with the alliance,”
Raime told reporters today.
Raime singled out DAP as the “only people who are
unhappy” over the alliance.
He accused the Pakatan Harapan government of going
back on its election promises, saying Malaysians are feeling worse off compared
to when Barisan Nasional was in power.
“The reality is, the policies taken by both the
federal and state governments have failed to help the people.
“I have met many people who complained to me about how
bad their economic situation is and how business owners have been forced to
close shop,” he added.
China on Tuesday condemned an attack on Saudi Arabia’s
oil facilities, in a toughening of its language from the previous day, but
again without saying who it believed was behind it.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday it looked
like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants operated by Saudi Aramco on Saturday
but stressed he did not want to go to war, as the attacks sent oil prices
soaring and raised fears of a new Middle
Iran has rejected the US accusations it was behind the
strikes that damaged the world’s biggest crude-processing plant and triggered
the largest jump in crude prices in decades.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Hua Chunying offered different wording from Monday, when she said
it was irresponsible to blame anyone for the attack without conclusive facts.
“China condemns this attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil
facilities and opposes any attacks on civilians or civilian facilities,” she
told a daily news briefing.
However, Hua also reiterated her Monday call for the
“relevant parties to avoid taking actions that bring about an escalation in
She did not elaborate.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Beijing in 2017,
and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to China this year.
Russia will hold talks with its Middle East partners
on selling them new anti-drone weapons systems, Interfax news agency cited
Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport saying on Tuesday.
The arms exporter would discuss sales of the new
anti-drone weapons during the Dubai Airshow in late November, Rosoboronexport
director Alexander Mikheev said.
The comments follow a drone attack on Saudi Arabian
oil facilities on Saturday which knocked out more than 5 percent of global oil
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday they needed to work with
international partners to form a collective response to Saturday’s attacks on
Saudi oil plants, his spokesman said.
The two leaders also agreed there was a need to
de-escalate tensions in the region and were committed to a common approach on
Iran, which has been blamed by US President Donald Trump for the attack on
Saudi oil facilities.
As the brutal war in Yemen grinds on, the British government
has just admitted that it has breached an arms sales ban to Saudi Arabia.
The International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, was
forced to apologise to court for two breaches of a pledge not to license
military-related exports to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the War on
In late June the court of appeal ruled arms sales to
Saudi Arabia unlawful and accused ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that
killed civilians in Yemen broke humanitarian law.
The legal challenge was brought by the advocacy group,
Campaign Against Arms Trade, which successfully argued that arms sales to Saudi
Arabia might be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian
Truss has now admitted that the granting of licenses
for £435,000 of radio spares and a £200 air cooler for the Royal Saudi Land
Forces were in breach of the court ruling.
The admission comes in a letter to the Commons
Committees on Arms Export Controls, where Truss discloses that 260 items of
radio spares for the Saudi military had been issued in July, more than two
weeks after the court ruling.
In the letter Truss states: “I have apologised
unreservedly for the error in granting these two licenses”.
Truss’ admission underlines the reluctance of the
British government to discontinue arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a key British
ally in the Middle East.
British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been a major
contributory factor to the conflict in Yemen, where more than 10,000 civilians
have been killed by Saudi-led coalition bombings, which began in March
A former Ministry of Defence senior civil servant and
defence attaché to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, John Deverell, told the Guardian on
June 18 that “Saudi bosses absolutely depend on BAE Systems”.
Referring to the Yemen conflict, Deverell added: “They
[Saudis] couldn’t do it without us”.
A Dutch court has held a hearing on a war crime case
against a former Israeli general challenging incumbent Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu in ongoing general elections.
The Hague District Court weighed on Tuesday whether it
should hear a lawsuit brought by a Palestinian man seeking compensation from
Benny Gantz for his role in the killing of six of his relatives during the
Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014.
On July 20, 2014, Ismail Ziada lost his mother, three
brothers, a sister-in-law, and a 12-year-old nephew when their family home was
bombed by the Israeli air force.
A visitor was also killed in the Israeli bombardment.
“I was shot at a very close range with a rubber coated
metal bullet in the head. I witnessed another boy being shot in the head next
to me, dying on the spot,” said Ziada about his encounters with the Israeli
Ziada, who now lives in the Netherlands, filed a civil
lawsuit in 2018 seeking damages from Gantz, who was the chief of staff of
Israel’s military at the time of the bombing, and the then-air force commander
Ziada says the attack violated international
humanitarian law because it deliberately targeted civilians.
The Tuesday session addressed a motion filed by Gantz
and Eshel’s lawyers asking the court to dismiss the case. They argued the
ex-commanders were immune because the Dutch court had no jurisdiction over the
Ahead of the hearing, Ziada’s lawyer, Liesbeth
Zegveld, said Palestinians from Gaza could not receive fair treatment in
Dutch courts can exercise universal jurisdiction over
war crimes, provided the accuser cannot get a fair trial elsewhere.
Israel launched several wars on the Palestinian
coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military
aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians.
Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a return to a
2015 nuclear deal Iran clinched with six world states is the only way to defuse
tensions in the Middle East.
The Europeans “believe that the deal to stop Iran from
acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back
to,” Merkel said during a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in
Berlin on Tuesday.
She pointed to increasing tensions in the region in
recent days and said her country prefers a “diplomatic process” to calm the
“Germany will always be in favor of de-escalation and
long-term solutions [which] are only possible through a political process,”
Merkel pointed out.
Tensions have been running high between Iran and the
United States since last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally
withdrew the US from the multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever”
sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In response to the US move, Tehran has so far rowed
back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and
36 of the JCPOA but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as
soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US
Last week, Merkel said Europe has made its choice
regarding the historic Iran deal — which Washington has been attempting to
sabotage — and will honor the agreement.
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali
Akbar Salehi said on Monday that the international community must unanimously
condemn the United States’ destructive behavior and economic terrorism against
In May, the leaders of Russia, France and Germany
underscored the need to preserve the JCPOA, stressing their commitment to
boosting trade ties with the Islamic Republic despite the United States’
unilateral withdrawal from the accord.
Around 2,800 Turkish citizens have applied for asylum
in Switzerland since August 2016, after the bloody coup attempt of Fetullah
Terrorist Organization (FETO) in Turkey, according to local media.
NZZ am Sonntag reported that there was a 130% increase
in applications compared to the previous three years, basing its story on State
Secretariat for Migration (SEM) sources.
Secretariat spokesperson Lukas Rieder was also quoted
by the newspaper saying that "the increase in Turkish asylum seekers is a
result of internal developments in Turkey," hinting at the defeated coup
attempt and an attempt by FETO terror group members to get asylum.
Turkey has complained that European countries have
failed to recognize FETO as a terror group and do not comply with its
The acceptance rate of Turkish citizens’ asylum
applications was 62%, reportedly higher than overall rate of other countries'
It was also reported that Turkey was the number two
country for citizens applying to Switzerland for asylum as of last July.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen
orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred
and nearly 2,200 injured.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday told
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that there should be a collective
response to the attack on the kingdom's oil sites.
“He expressed the UK’s condemnation of the attacks and
said the UK stands by Saudi Arabia and is committed to the country’s
security," Mr Johnson's spokeswoman said.
“The two leaders noted the need to establish the facts
of what happened and the prime minister reiterated the importance of a
"He encouraged the Crown Prince to continue
working with international partners.”
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke to his Saudi
equivalent on Monday about the drone attacks, as well as ministers in Germany,
France and the US.
By Carol Rosenberg
Sept. 17, 2019
This article was produced in partnership with the
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — One of the accused conspirators
in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was secretly recorded at Guantánamo admitting he
funneled most of the funds that financed the hijackers who killed nearly 3,000
people 18 years ago, according to transcripts presented by prosecutors in a
pretrial hearing on Tuesday.
The transcripts also portrayed the defendant, Ammar
al-Baluchi, reading aloud a draft confession in a prison recreation yard on
Nov. 25, 2008, describing it to another detainee as a statement he was working
on with another man accused of conspiring in the attacks, Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
“If you consider my work and jihad against you on the
11th of September,” Mr. al-Baluchi is quoted as reading to the other prisoner,
“to be terrorism or a crime, then I, with much pride, honor and dignity,
announce it to all people that I am a terrorist and a first-class criminal.”
Mr. al-Baluchi then interjected, according to the
transcript, that “Ubaydah,” Mr. bin al-Shibh’s nickname, “wrote this for me. I
don’t know where he got this ‘first class.’”
Mr. al-Baluchi is a nephew of the accused plot
mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. They are among five men, including Mr. bin
al-Shibh, who are scheduled to go to trial by military commission on Jan. 11,
2021, in the death penalty case.
The contents of the secret recordings emerged in a
pretrial hearing ordered by the judge, Col. W. Shane Cohen, who is deciding
whether to let prosecutors admit a F.B.I. account of Mr. al-Baluchi’s
confessions at Guantánamo in January 2007, known as his “clean team statement.”
His lawyer, James G. Connell III, has argued that Mr.
al-Baluchi did not know in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks, and so did not
know how the money he transferred would be used. He has asked the judge to
exclude his Guantánamo statements as tainted by Mr. al-Baluchi’s years of
incommunicado detention and torture in the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation
Mr. Connell has said Mr. al-Baluchi was so abused
between his capture in Pakistan in April 2003 and transfer to Guantánamo in
September 2006 that he told F.B.I. agents involuntary, programmed responses
drilled into him by his C.I.A. interrogators.
To rebut Mr. Connell’s assertions, James M.
Fitzgerald, a special agent with the F.B.I., testified Monday that after he and
Mr. al-Baluchi discussed the difference between the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., Mr.
al-Baluchi voluntarily took part in an interrogation that lasted 30 hours
across four days.
The agent described Mr. al-Baluchi as clearheaded,
cooperative and rational as the two men examined dozens of documents related to
a series of transfers of $119,500 to the hijackers in the United States. Mr.
Fitzgerald said Mr. al-Baluchi agreed that he had sent the money.
The interrogation was so collaborative, Mr. Fitzgerald
testified, that the F.B.I. brought Mr. al-Baluchi burgers, fries and an apple
pie from the base McDonald’s to the interrogation site, Camp Echo II, which
until 2004 was a C.I.A. black site.
On Tuesday, Mr. Fitzgerald read selections of conversations
between the prisoners from English-language transcripts. The point was to show
that Mr. al-Baluchi, when chatting with fellow inmates between 2007 and 2010,
corroborated admissions he made to the agents.
Declassified court filings have long suggested that
the United States systematically recorded conversations among former C.I.A.
prisoners at the base’s most clandestine prison building, Camp 7, starting in
Tuesday’s disclosures marked the first time that the
contents of some of those conversations were disclosed publicly.
On Monday, Mr. Fitzgerald quoted Mr. al-Baluchi as
admitting to sending a series of money transfers from Dubai, where he was
working in an electronics business, to two of the hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi
and Mohamed Atta, in California, Florida and New York.
In a prison recreation yard in 2009, according to the
transcript shown in court, Mr. al-Baluchi had an exchange with a fellow former
C.I.A. black site prisoner, Abu Faraj al Libi.
“According to what Abd al-Hadi said, there is no
evidence against you,” Mr. Libi said, according to the transcript.
Mr. al-Baluchi replied: “Three-quarters of the money
for the operation was sent through me, for example. You understand?”
The way that prison worked at the time, the former
C.I.A. prisoners who had spent years unable to speak with or see other
prisoners were given recreation time in pairs. They were confined to separate
enclosures, meaning the prisoners could shout back and forth but not see one
Mr. Connell, Mr. al-Baluchi’s capital defense lawyer,
said after court Tuesday that those statements — he would not confirm the
existence of recordings — were also the fruits of torture and were, moreover,
protected by an attorney privilege because during that period Mr. al-Baluchi
was acting as his own lawyer.
In the apparent draft confession referred to in the
transcript, Mr. al-Baluchi said in 2008 that he intended to go to the United
States the week before the Sept. 11 attacks but could not get a visa. That
comment appeared to corroborate a presentation Mr. Fitzgerald had made in court
a day earlier, showing a visa application Mr. al-Baluchi submitted to visit the
United States for one week, starting Sept. 4, 2001.
Instead, he left the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 10,
2001, then joined Mr. Mohammed and Mr. bin al-Shibh, in Karachi, Pakistan,
where they watched the attacks unfold on television.
NEW DELHI: Hollywood actor Brad Pitt had a question
for Nasa astronaut Nick Hague, currently posted at the International Space
Station (ISS) on Monday. Pitt wanted to know if Hague had seen India’s
Chandrayaan II lander Vikram land on the moon.
Pitt, who plays an astronaut in his upcoming space
drama “Ad Astra”, sat down for a conversation with Hague, an American astronaut
who went to space in March 2019 on 59th expedition to the ISS. Hague, a colonel
in the US Air Force, is part of a team stationed at ISS in the low Earth orbit.
In a conversation that lasted 20 minutes, Pitt asked
Hague a range of questions: from what it was like to live in space, to who
controls the jam box. The conversation was broadcast live on Nasa TV. The space
agency also shared a link of the conversation from its official Twitter handle.
The dialogue was also meant to generate more awareness around space exploration
During the conversation, Pitt asked, “I got to go to
JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) last week and it was on the day when India was
landing on the moon and the United States were assisting them in that effort.
Could you see that from where you are?” “No, unfortunately, I along with the
rest of the crew had to follow along with the news reports,” Hague replied.
On September 7, Isro lost communication with Vikram
lander minutes before touchdown. It has been trying to reestablish contact
In its tweet at 9pm on Monday, Nasa tweeted: “LIVE
NOW: There’s an incoming call … from space! @AstroHague is talking to #AdAstra
actor Brad Pitt about what it’s like to live and work aboard the
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has
recorded a total of 10,015 "anti-Muslim bias incidents" since 2014.
In the report released Monday, the U.S.’s largest
Muslim civil rights and advocacy body said the trend shows a steady increase in
the number of the incidents but saw an initial hike after Donald Trump entered
election races in 2015.
"Not only did the number of bias incidents
increase, the violent nature of the incidents also jumped," read the
report, The Bias Brief. "From 2014 through June of 2019, CAIR chapters
across the country recorded a total of 1,164 anti-Muslim hate crimes, including
physical assault and property damage."
CAIR chapters reported 2,783 incidents that involved
federal government agencies.
In 2016, anti-Muslim incidents numbered 2,213, an
increase of 65%
from 2014 levels, or 1,341 incidents.
The highest spike in bias incidents occurred in 2017
"This can be attributed to the Muslim Ban
Executive Order, which was signed within the first 10 days of the Trump
presidency," it said.
In the first half of this year, CAIR recorded 759
anti-Muslim bias incidents.
The report identifies the most frequent type of abuse
as harassment, after employment discrimination, bullying, intimidating, among
"The overall trend in federal agency-instigated
incidents demonstrates that the FBI is the most common type of federal
government agency for which American Muslims report acts of bias, accounting
for almost half of the total number of cases: 1,177 total bias incidents,"
said the report.
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has
condemned the terrorist attacks carried out by the Taliban suicide bombers in
Afghanistan in which at least 48 people were killed.
In Parwan province, to the north of Kabul, a Taliban
suicide bomber on Tuesday targeted an election campaign rally where Afghanistan
President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42.
Ghani was not hurt in the attack which happened at a
checkpoint near the rally venue, a spokesperson for the governor of Parwan
In a separate incident hours later, a suicide bomb
attack near the US embassy in central Kabul killed 22 people.
"Through these attacks, the Taliban demonstrate
blatant disregard for the people and institutions of Afghanistan," Pompeo
said in a statement after the Taliban claimed responsibility for both the
He said for Afghans to truly reconcile, the Taliban
must begin to demonstrate a genuine commitment to peace rather than continue
the violence and destruction that causes inordinate harm to the Afghan people
and the future of their country.
"And for days, Afghanistan has endured blackouts
and other challenges as a result of Taliban attacks against power transmission
lines which carried electricity to hospitals, schools, and homes in many areas
of the country," Pompeo said on Tuesday.
The attacks came after US President Donald Trump
stunned the world on Saturday when he announced the cancellation of a secret
meeting with the Taliban and Afghan President Ghani at Camp David near
Trump's announcement came after the Taliban claimed
responsibility of an attack in Kabul last week, in which an American soldier
was among the dead.
"They (the Taliban) thought that (they) had to
kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating
position.... You can't do that with me," Trump said while responding to a
question about his decision to cancel the talks.
Trump said the decision to invite the Taliban to Camp
David was his, and so was the call to cancel it.
DUBAI/ WASHINGTON: Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday
ruled out talks with Washington after President Donald Trump blamed Tehran for
a crippling attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
“Sometimes they say negotiations without any
precondition and sometimes with 12 conditions,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei said in comments published by the ISNA news agency. “Such statements
either come from their disheveled policies or are a ploy to confuse the other
Meanwhile, Saudi King Salman called on governments
around the world to confront the threats to oil supplies and global economic
stability posed by the weekend attack. European allies said the crisis should
be addressed collectively.
Trump said on Monday that it looked like Iran was
behind the strike at the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which cut 5% of
global production, but stresed he did not want to go to war. Iran denied it was
to blame. “Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American
officials... this is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran,” Iranian
state TV quoted Khamenei as saying. He said talks could only take place if the
US returned to a nuclear accord between Iran and the West that Trump abandoned
US-Iran relations deteriorated after Trump quit the
accord and reimposed sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear programmes. He wants Iran
to stop supporting regional proxies, including Yemen’s Houthi group, which has
claimed responsibility for the attack. A day after warning that the US was
“locked and loaded” to respond to the incident, Trump said on Monday there was
“no rush” to do so and that Washington was coordinating with Gulf Arab and
European states. “I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find
definitively who did this.”
Britain and Germany agreed they needed to work with
partners to form a collective response and de-escalate tensions as efforts
continued to establish what happened, PM Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.
The United States hopes that the UN Security Council
takes up the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations for which Washington
blames Iran, a senior US official said Tuesday.
The official said that Saudi Arabia, as the target of
the weekend blasts, needed to take the lead in seeking action by the Security
Council but that the United States first needed to prepare information for
“We do see a role for the UN Security Council to
play,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“Saudi Arabia has been attacked, which has global
consequences. The UN Security Council was created to address threats to
international peace and security, and this attack meets that criteria,” he
He did not specify what action he would seek at the
Security Council, where Russia and China wield veto power and have been
critical of President Donald Trump’s unilateral sanctions against Iran.
Congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential
candidate Tulsi Gabbard has lashed out at President Donald Trump for his
response to the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil refineries, saying Trump
lacks constitutional power to use the US military to serve Saudi interests.
“The Constitution does not give the president the
power to unilaterally use our military for Saudi Arabia’s interests to go to
war nor does it give him the power to do so without the express consent of
Congress,” the 38-year-old member of the House of Representatives from Hawaii
told The Hill on Tuesday.
“If I were president now, I would make very clear that
we will not use our military to further the interests of Saudi Arabia or any other
country,” she added.
Gabbard, who served in combat zones in Iraq as a
member of the Hawaii National Guard between 2004 and 2005, went on to emphasize
that there needs to be concrete evidence before the US takes any military
action against Iran or any other country.
Gabbard accused the US president a day earlier of
trying to “pimp out” the American military over the recent attack on Saudi oil
‘We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of S Arabia’
Also on Tuesday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley called
on the Trump administration to exercise restraint following the attack and said
the US should be mindful of protecting its own interests.
“We shouldn’t attack anybody on behalf of Saudi Arabia
for Saudi Arabia’s national interests,” Hawley said during an appearance on
Hawley argued that Washington should instead look to
“preserve the security of the American people and the prosperity of our middle
Saudi Aramco oil facilities came under a drone attack
over the weekend and the strike knocked out more than half the kingdom’s
Yemen's Houthi fighters have claimed responsibility
for the attack, but the United States has rejected their claim with Trump
saying that Iran appears to be responsible for the strike.
Following a briefing from his military and
intelligence advisers at the White House on Monday, Trump was asked whether
Iran was behind the attack, Trump said, "It's certainly looking that way
at this moment and we'll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we'll
let you know but it does look that way."
A day earlier, Trump said the United States was
“locked and loaded” for a possible response to the attacks on Saudi Arabia's
Trump said that Washington has a "reason to
believe that we know" who is responsible for the attacks carried out
against the kingdom’s key oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais on Saturday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the blame for
the operation on Iran, claiming, “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi
Arabia” and that “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
Tehran, however, dismissed the allegation, saying
Washington seems to be shifting from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to
one of “maximum lying” and “deceit” against the Islamic Republic.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in
a tweet that “US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that
weapon superiority will lead to military victory.”
Yemen said it used 10 drones for Saturday’s operation,
which was one of their largest retaliatory attacks ever inside the kingdom.
Seven lawmakers urged Washington's top diplomats in
India and Pakistan on Tuesday to use the U.S.'s diplomatic leverage to
de-escalate the ongoing crisis in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian government has instituted a communications
blackout and imposed a curfew in the region since August when it stripped Jammu
and Kashmir of its special administrative status guaranteed by the Indian
constitution. Scores of people have been detained since the clampdown began
"This presents tremendous danger to global peace
and a clear national security risk for the United States. Pakistan and India
are both valued allies, crucial to our interests in the region, including the
Afghanistan peace process,” congressmembers Donald Beyer, Raul Grijalva, Alan
Lowenthal, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu, James McGovern and Ilhan Omar wrote.
"It is of the utmost importance that we leverage
our relationships with their governments to deescalate the situation,"
The lawmakers also encouraged U.S. Ambassador to India
Kenneth Juster, and Chargé d’ Affaires of United States Embassy in Pakistan
Paul W. Jones "to do everything in your power" to get Indian
authorities to release detainees taken on arbitrary pretexts, end the communications
blackout, allow press access, and "emphasize the centrality of Kashmiri
voices in determining the future of Jammu and Kashmir."
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir
enjoyed special status under the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to enact
its own laws.
The provisions also protected the region's citizenship
law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
After New Delhi's move of scrapping Jammu and
Kashmir’s special status, it has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug.
Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch
and Amnesty International, have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions
and release political detainees.
Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime
restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.
Jordan says 153,000 Syrians returned home since last
Around 153,000 Syrians have returned to their country
from Jordan since the reopening of a key border post last October, the interior
ministry said Tuesday.
Of the 153,000 who returned via the Jaber post, around
33,000 had refugee status with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, it said.
The ministry reiterated its commitment to “voluntary
returns of Syrian refugees” and to easing “necessary steps for their departure
from the kingdom.”
More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with
the UNHCR in Jordan, which shares a 370-kilometre (230-mile) border with Syria.
Amman says it has welcomed as many as 1.3 million
Syrian refugees since the start of the neighboring Arab country’s conflict in
The Jaber border post, called Nassib on the Syrian
side, is the main passage between the two countries and used to serve as a hub
for regional trade.
In July 2018, it was retaken from rebels in a
Russian-backed offensive by Syrian government forces.
Jordan king says Israeli annexation would be a
Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday that if Israel
went ahead with the idea of annexing all the settlements in the West Bank it
would be a “disaster” for attempts to find any two-state solution with the
Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela
Merkel, Abdullah said he was “extremely concerned” about Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex all the West Bank settlements.
He said it will “directly impact” the relationship
between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Egypt, and that “these types of
statements are ... a disaster to any attempt to move forward to the two-state
Merkel agreed, calling Netanyahu’s vow “unhelpful.”
The German government backs an internationally negotiated peace solution in the
sense of a two state solution ... annexations are always detrimental to peace
solutions. They do not help and therefore we do not agree, said Merkel
Abdullah said “we’re looking on this with tremendous
Netanyahu’s career was on the line on Tuesday as
Israel held its second national election this year, with voters deciding
whether to give him another term in office despite a likely indictment on
The longest serving leader in Israeli history was
seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and fifth overall.
But he faced a stiff challenge from retired military
chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with
The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) said
Wednesday that it had conducted an airstrike against the al-Qaeda affiliated
al-Shabaab group in southern Somalia, killing two militants.
The airstrike took place north of the port city of
Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba, and they were targeted after the group
attacked a Somali patrol, according to AFRICOM.
“In coordination with the Federal Government of
Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike on Al-Shabaab insurgents
after they attacked a Somali patrol northwest of Kismayo, Lower Juba Province,
Somalia on Sept. 17. At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed two (2)
terrorists,” AFRICOM said in a statement posted on Twitter.
No civilians were injured or killed as a result of
this airstrike, the statement added.
Separately, on Tuesday, Somali National Army Commander
Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rage said that the army had killed the al-Shabaab “governor”
of the central region of Hiran alongside another senior militant.
BY JOHN BOWDEN
U.S. Africa Command announced Tuesday that two
suspected al-Shabaab militants were killed by a U.S. airstrike in the country's
Lower Juba province after attacking a Somali government patrol.
The press release Tuesday from the Defense Department
reported that no civilian casualties were thought to have occurred.
"In coordination with the Federal Government of
Somalia, U.S Africa Command conducted an airstrike on Al-Shabaab insurgents
after they attacked a Somali patrol northwest of Kismayo, Lower Juba Province,
Somalia on Sept. 17," the statement read.
The U.S. for years has been engaged in airstrikes and
other missions to support the Somali government against al-Shabaab insurgents
aligned with ISIS, and Tuesday's strike indicated that insurgent forces
maintain the capacity to strike at Somali targets near the border with Kenya.
An airstrike conducted by the U.S. north of Somalia's
capital of Mogadishu in March killed dozens of insurgents. At the time, Africa
Command's deputy director of intelligence said such operations were crucial to
“maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its planning cycle and degrade its
ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks against the Somali people.”
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