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100,000 Muslims Perform Eid Prayers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque

New Age Islam News Bureau

22 Aug 2018

ens of thousands of Muslims, mostly Palestinians, performed Eid al-Adha prayers Tuesday at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque amid a heavy Israeli security presence





 100,000 Muslims perform Eid prayers at J'lem's Al-Aqsa

 'Clinically dead': Hamas leader dismisses Trump's 'deal of the century'

 Israel and US will be targeted if Washington attacks — Iran cleric

 All militants involved in Kabul rocket attack likely eliminated by security forces

 Israel sentences Ahed Tamimi's brother to 14 months for stone-throwing

 Yemeni army continues to push Houthi militia back

 US tip-off helped Turkey target PKK leader in Sinjar

 Iran showcases new fighter jet, says it will boost military power

 Morocco pardons 11 imprisoned 'Hirak' protest supporters for Eid


Arab World


 2.4 million pilgrims in final Hajj rituals as world’s Muslims begin Eid celebrations

 Displaced Syrians in Idlib mark Eid despite hardships


South Asia


 Taliban’s military chief among 102 killed in Faryab airstrikes

 Afghan Commandos storm Taliban hideout in Faryab province

 Willing to play constructive role in easing India-Pakistan relations, says China

 Summer festival celebrates the best of Afghanistan’s culture

 Taliban rejects involvement in today’s rocket attack on Kabul city




 Accepting UAE cash offer for Kerala is a problem: Ex-Indian Diplomat

 Clashes erupt after Eid prayers in Kashmir Valley

 UP: Madrasa recognition cancelled for stopping students from singing national anthem on I-Day

 Farooq Abdullah heckled during Eid prayers for chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ at Vajpayee meet




 PM Khan reminds nation of the real meaning of sacrifice in Eid message

 PM Khan says India, Pakistan 'must dialogue', resolve differences

 Saudi crown prince expresses support for new govt in meeting with Gen Bajwa

 PML-N plans post-Eid moot over joint presidential candidate

 Karachi man sentenced to 10 years in jail for collecting funds for TTP




 Battle for bandwidth: in Libya's Sirte, radio is being used to heal the trauma of war

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




100,000 Muslims Perform Eid Prayers at J'lem's Al-Aqsa

World Bulletin / News Desk

Tens of thousands of Muslims, mostly Palestinians, performed Eid al-Adha prayers Tuesday at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque amid a heavy Israeli security presence in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, witnesses said.

Muslims around the world on Tuesday marked the first day of the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, during which animals are generally sacrificed, the meat from which is distributed to the poor.

Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, estimated the number of worshippers at 100,000, many of whom, he said, had come from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and from elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim world.

In a sermon delivered before Eid al-Adha prayers, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, grand mufti of Jerusalem, reiterated the Palestinians’ determination to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque “in the face of the [Israeli] occupation’s efforts to Judaize it”.

Following prayers, several activities for children were organized in the Al-Aqsa courtyards.



2.4 Million Pilgrims In Final Hajj Rituals As World’s Muslims Begin Eid Celebrations

 22 August 2018

MAKKAH: More than two million Muslims took part in the symbolic stoning of the devil on Tuesday, the last major ritual of the Hajj pilgrimage that heralded the start of Eid Al-Adha.

Clad in white robes signifying a state of purity, men and women from 165 countries converged on Jamrat to perform the ritual from a three-story bridge.

Large fans sprayed water over the crowd as temperatures climbed to 44C.

Pilgrim Moueeneddine Ahmed, 35, from Bangladesh, complained of the scorching heat but said he was “very excited” to take part in the ceremony.

He also praised the Saudi authorities for maintaining order despite the vast crowd. “There’s a lot of security. Very disciplined,” he said.

In keeping with customs he said he would then “shave his head” and trade the white seamless robe he wore for the Hajj for his “normal clothes.”



 #يحدث_الآن.. حجاج بيت الله الحرام يرمون #جمرة_العقبة.#العالم_في_قلب_المملكة #حج1439هـ #واس

Tens of thousands of security forces, including police and civil defense, have been deployed for Hajj, according to Saudi authorities.

Firas Al-Khashani, 33, a pilgrim from Jordan, was equally impressed. “The police assistance and the services were all extraordinary,” he said.

It is a beautiful feeling,” said Hazem Darweesh, 31, from Egypt. “The beauty of it is in the difficulty of performing it. It brings you closer to God.

Saudi authorities say 2.37 million pilgrims, most of them from abroad, have arrived this year for the five-day Hajj.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received well-wishers on Tuesday at the Royal Court in Mina Palace.

Our country’s greatest honor is to serve God’s guests,” the king said. “On Eid Al-Adha, I ask God to complete the pilgrims’ Hajj and to perpetuate goodness and peace for our nation and all other countries.”

As pilgrims returned to Makkah to complete the final Hajj rituals, Muslims throughout the world began celebrating Eid Al-Adha — the “feast of sacrifice” commemorating the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son on God’s command.

Palestinians visited the Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City after morning prayers.

The festival was also celebrated across Africa and Asia. Thousands prayed in a field in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in the Somali capital Mogadishu, and at Almaty central mosque in Kazakhstan.




Taliban’s military chief among 102 killed in Faryab airstrikes

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Aug 21 2018

At least one hundred and two militants including some leaders of the Taliban have been killed in the airstrikes conducted in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan, the Afghan Military said Monday.

According to a statement released by the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North, the militants were killed during three airstrikes conducted in the bordering regions between Garziwan and Bulcharagh districts.

The statement further added that the militants were targeted in the vicinity of Hamam Chashma area as they were travelling to Garziwan from Bulcharagh district.

The Shaheen Corps also added that the military commission chief of the Taliban for the North, identified as Mawlavi Matiullah, was among those killed.

The other senior Taliban leaders killed during the airstrikes have been identified as Mawlavi Abdul Baqi also famous as Omar, commander Shirzad, and Mawlavi Jabar also famous as Bilal, the statement added.

At least six Humvee armored personnel carriers, 64 motorcycles, and five mini buses were also destroyed in the airstrikes, according to Shaheen Corps.

The security situation in Faryab province has deteriorated sharply during the recent years amid growing insurgency activities by the anti-government armed militant groups.




Accepting UAE cash offer for Kerala is a problem: Ex-Indian Diplomat


The problem for India in such a situation is that it implies that we have a shortage of money in terms of looking after our people. That frankly is not the case,” Mr. Ahmad, former Indian diplomat who has served in the Gulf region, said.

While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offering 700 crore as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala is a “good gesture”, there is a “problem” in accepting such a huge cash donation, according to a former Indian diplomat who has served in the Gulf region.

The former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad said to the best of his knowledge, cash transfers have not been offered in the past on a bilateral basis.

In times of calamity and disaster, money donations have usually come from Indian community living overseas which embassies collect and send home as “RBI draft”, he said. “Relief supply makes sense, and donations from Indian community (overseas) makes sense. Individual countries, to the best of my knowledge, have not made such (cash) offers,” Mr. Ahmad told PTI.

What some countries have done in the past was to provide relief supplies, he said, recalling that Saudi Arabia had sent three plane-loads of such materials after the Bhuj earthquake in 2001. “To the best of my knowledge, I don’t recall individual countries making such major offers of money. The problem for India in such a situation is that it implies that we have a shortage of money in terms of looking after our people. That frankly is not the case,” Mr. Ahmad said.

Donor countries should actually check with the country facing the calamity as to what relief supply is needed on the ground. “I don’t think they (the UAE) consulted the Indian government in advance. So, there is a problem with regard to accepting such a large donation from another country,” he said.

But he stressed that the UAE’s offer is a very good, generous and spontaneous gesture. “It (the UAE offer) reflects their deep affection for the people of Kerala, and for the State, particularly as you know Kerala has such an ancient connection with the Arabian peninsula and over the last 40 years, the people of Kerala have contributed significantly to the development of that region,” he said.

On why the UAE chose to make a cash offer and not relief supplies, he said the authorities there saw newspaper reports and television footage on the large number of casualties and devastation and “spontaneously thought that we should do something”.

Don’t forget that 40 per cent of the Indian community in the Gulf is from Kerala. Out of eight million people (Indians in the Gulf), 3.5 million people are from Kerala”, Mr. Ahmad pointed out.



PM Khan reminds nation of the real meaning of sacrifice in Eid message

August 22, 2018

Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the nation on the celebration of Eidul Azha and urged his countrymen to remember the sacrifices made for the protection, reconstruction and development of Pakistan, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the prime minister also urged people “not to forget those who are deprived in this hour of happiness”.

Prime Minister Khan reminded the nation that sacrifice “is a universal devotion without which no nation can progress”.

In his Eidul Azha message, President Mamnoon Hussain said today’s sacrifice commemorates the obedience and unparalleled examples set by the great prophets of Islam.

He said this Eid should remind Pakistanis to sacrifice their egos, which is the key factor behind numerous problems.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also conveyed Eid wishes to the nation through the Inter-Services Public Relations, saying: “May Allah Almighty bless our motherland [with] peace and prosperity.”

Muslims across the world celebrate the annual festival of Eidul Azha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, which marks the end of the Haj pilgrimage to Makkah, and commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's readiness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to God.

The tradition of Eidul Azha enjoins all Muslims who can afford a sacrifice to do so. To this end, Muslims across the country purchase livestock such as cows, goats, sheep and camels to sacrifice.






'Clinically dead': Hamas leader dismisses Trump's 'deal of the century'

 21 August 2018

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has dismissed as "clinically dead" US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century" plan to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Speaking at a rally after Eid al-Adha prayers in Gaza City on Tuesday, Haniyeh told supporters that they were "on the way to ending the blockade on Gaza".

"This is the result of your steadfastness and your struggle, and any humanitarian aid to Gaza will not be made at a diplomatic price," he said.

European and Middle East powers have awaited a much-discussed peace plan from Trump's administration for months.

UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialise - however, leaked details of the plan, which would involve Palestinians relinquishing claims over Jerusalem among other concessions, have angered Palestinians.

Gaza has been under blockade from both Israel and Egypt since 2007. But indirect negotiations between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel brokered by Egyptian and UN officials in recent weeks have reportedly included discussions to ease the blockade, although the elements of the deal remain unconfirmed.

In his speech, Haniyeh did not directly address the possibility of a truce, mooted in Israeli and Palestinian media for weeks.

"Thanks to these marches and resistance, we are just around the corner from closing the page on this unjust blockade," he said, referring to months of protests along the Gaza-Israel border as part of the Great March of Return, which have been the target of a deadly reaction from the Israeli army.

Haniyeh seemingly alluded to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's concerns over a truce between Hamas and Israel that does not include his Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas's Fatah party and Hamas have been deeply divided for more than a decade, since Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections and effectively took control of the Gaza Strip.

Reports of talks conducted between Israel and Hamas without the involvement of the PA have led many officials from the authority to fear that the negotiations would effectively formalise the split between Gaza and the West Bank - and doom any efforts towards Palestinian unity.

Haniyeh said any agreement would come "with a national consensus and an Arab safety net in order to establish the necessary safeguards to implement what is agreed upon".

"We are on our way to ending this unjust blockade of Gaza," he said.

Two Palestinians were shot dead during border protests on Friday, bringing to 170 the number killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since demonstrations began on 30 March.

One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper from Gaza during the same time period.

On Tuesday, the Israeli army announced that it was opening a probe into the deaths of two Palestinian demonstrators -  Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi, 19, killed on the first day of protests, and 15-year-old Othman Heles, killed on 13 July.

The announcement came weeks after Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed that an internal army investigation was set to find no evidence of wrongdoing in the deaths of more than 150 demonstrators.

Israel accuses Hamas of being behind the protests - a claim the organisers of the march have denied - and encouraging Gazans to attempt to breach the heavily guarded fence separating the Palestinian enclave from Israel.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egyptian officials have been seeking to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, which have fought three wars since 2008.

News outlets have speculated it could involve an easing of Israel's crippling blockade of Gaza - including a possible sea passage between Gaza and Cyprus - in exchange for calm on the border and the return of the bodies of two soldiers killed in 2014.

Israel is also seeking the return of two Israeli citizens believed held by Hamas.




Israel and US will be targeted if Washington attacks — Iran cleric


August 22, 2018

Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks. So, this is not negotiation, but dictatorship’

The price of a war with Iran is very high for America’

LONDON: A senior Iranian cleric warned Washington on Wednesday that if it attacked Iran, the United States and allied Israel would be targeted, as a war of words escalated after the reimposition of the US sanctions on Iran.

Ahmad Khatami also told worshippers attending Eid prayers in Tehran that President Donald Trump’s offer of talks with Iranian leaders was unacceptable, as the US leader wanted Tehran to concede on its missile program and regional influence.

Americans say you should accept what we say in the talks. So, this is not negotiation, but dictatorship. The Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation would stand up against dictatorship,” Khatami was quoted as saying by Mizan news agency.

The price of a war with Iran is very high for America. They know if they harm this country and this state in the slightest way, the United States and its main ally in the region, the Zionist regime (of Israel) would be targeted,” Khatami said.

Khatami did not elaborate which forces would carry out such attacks, but Iran has said it could target Israeli cities with its missiles if it is threatened. Iran also has proxies in the region, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic’s military prowess was what deterred Washington from attacking it, and vowed to boost Iran’s military might.

The Trump administration slapped sanctions back on Iran this month after withdrawing from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it was too soft on Tehran and would not stop it developing a nuclear bomb.

Washington imposed new sanctions in August, targeting Iran’s car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and purchases of US dollars. Trump has said the United States will issue another round of tougher sanctions in November that will target Iran’s oil sales and banking sector.

Trump’s national security adviser told Reuters on Wednesday that the US president wanted maximum pressure on Iran.

There should not be any doubt that the United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any contingency that Iran creates,” John Bolton said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected Trump’s offer of unconditional talks on a new nuclear deal, prompting Trump to tell Reuters in an interview on Monday: “If they want to meet, that’s fine, and if they don’t want to meet, I couldn’t care less.”




Israel sentences Ahed Tamimi's brother to 14 months for stone-throwing

21 August 2018

Waed Tamimi's family believes his sentencing less than a month after his sister's release is an act of 'revenge'

Tamimi, 22, was detained by Israeli forces in May while his sister and mother were already in prison (Photo courtesy of the family)

Waed Tamimi, the brother of recently released Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, was sentenced to more than a year in prison for stone-throwing, the Israeli army announced on Tuesday.

Ahed Tamimi attracted global attention when a video was shared of her slapping an Israeli soldier in December, just hours after learning that Israeli forces had shot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed in the head.

The 17-year-old and her mother Nariman - who had filmed and then shared the scene on social media - were both arrested shortly afterwards and sentenced to eight months in prison, sparking protests.

Waed Tamimi, 22, was detained by Israeli forces in May over “suspected involvement in popular terror acts”, the Israeli army told Middle East Eye at the time.

On Monday, an Israeli military court found Tamimi guilty of participating in a “violent riot” - the term usually used by Israeli forces to describe Palestinian demonstrations - in which an Israeli police officer was wounded by stones thrown at his vehicle.

According to a court document seen by AFP, he was given a 14-month sentence after reaching a plea bargain.

The whole case against my son is an admonitory one,” his father, Bassem Tamimi, told MEE on Tuesday. “I consider this to be revenge against the whole family.”

He added that he felt the sentence was disproportionate to the charges.

Many kids in similar cases went home without charges being filed against them. If it was someone from another family I believe he would have received less time,” he said.

Until Ahed and Nariman Tamimi were released from prison less than a month ago on 29 July, half of the Tamimi family were detained by Israel, with only Bassem Tamimi and his two youngest sons, Mohammed, 14, and Salem, 12, left in the family home in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

This sentence was a surprise for us. This stole our moment of joy with Ahed’s release,” Bassem Tamimi added, noting that the sentencing came right during the holiday of Eid al-Adha.

We don't expect justice from this system.”

Since her detention, Ahed Tamimi has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance, a role her and her family have taken up, while repeatedly highlighting that hundreds of Palestinian minors are detained by Israel without receiving the same level of international attention.

Nabi Saleh, the Tamimis’ hometown, has long been known for its demonstrations against the Israeli occupation.

In June, Israeli forces shot and killed 21-year-old Ezz al-Din Abd al-Hafeezh Tamimi, a cousin, during a raid in the village.



Yemeni army continues to push Houthi militia back


August 22, 2018

JEDDAH: Yemeni troops have attacked members of the Houthi militia in the Malajem front in Al-Baydha in central Yemen, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

According to a Yemeni military source fierce battles took place at al-Baydha junction – at least 14 Houthi fighters were killed.

The spokesman added that the Yemeni army and Arab coalition continue in the push to liberate the Al-Malajem region, and have already advanced 60 kilometers.

Meanwhile the Yemeni National Army’s Orouba Brigade has also stormed the Maran region, the Houthi stronghold in Saada, in an attack from all sides.

The Houthis had suffered heavy casualties, as they were pushed back.

The brigade liberated Wadi Khalb, Umm Naiyrah, Ghareb Umm Saruf, Jabal Tayban, Aqba al-Zahir and Aqaba al-Kharban at Maran.




US tip-off helped Turkey target PKK leader in Sinjar

Ece Goksedef

 21 August 2018

ANKARA - While US President Donald Trump was threatening Turkey with further sanctions last week, the American military shared intelligence that helped Ankara target a high-ranking Kurdish militant leader, a Turkish diplomat told Middle East Eye.

The strike is evidence of the NATO allies' continuing close military collaboration, which spans from Iraq to Syria, despite a row played out in tariffs and tweets that threatens the foundations of the Turkish economy.

Ismail Ozden was killed on 15 August after the Turkish air force conducted two bombing operations against the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which both Turkey and the US have designated as a terrorist group.

After the Americans shared information with Turkey, bombs were dropped on Ozden's car in Iraq's northern Sinjar area, near the border with Syria.

The Pentagon has not denied the diplomat's account.

"We support Turkey's counter-PKK efforts in a variety of ways. We recognise the very real threat that the PKK poses to Turkey's security," Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson, told MEE late on Monday.

From Manbij in Syria to Sinjar in Iraq, to a new Turkish-Iraqi border crossing in the works, four Turkish diplomats told MEE that military cooperation between the two countries is progressing regardless of the public sparring over imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The Pentagon is the one that usually cares about Turkey's concerns, and we will keep our cooperation with them on the ground," said one of the diplomats.

The Pentagon on Monday also stressed that, despite the tensions, the relationship between Washington and the Turkish military remains strong.

"There has been no interruption in our relationship with Turkey at all," Colonel Rob Manning told reporters.

'The gear is in'

One project that will move forward according to both Turkish and American sources is joint patrols of the northern Syrian town of Manbij, which lies 25km south of the Syria-Turkey border.

Manbij has been a source of tension between two countries since 2016, when the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), took control of the city with the support of the US army.

Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil. Washington sees the YPG as a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

During Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's visit to Washington in early June, the two countries reached an agreement: the YPG would withdraw from Manbij, and US and Turkish forces would hold simultaneous and then joint patrols to maintain security and stability in the town.

Last Thursday, US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis said: “The gear is in. The officers are in and it will start shortly."

David Satterfield, the State Department’s acting Middle East chief and possibly the next US ambassador to Ankara, said on Friday that the row between Turkey and the US had not affected the Manbij agreement.

"The proceeding upon the Manbij roadmap by all parties involved has been smooth and extremely encouraging. There has been no consequence or impact that we can discern of the other bilateral issues in play here," he said.

One of the Turkish diplomats MEE spoke to echoed Mattis and Satterfield: the deal may have been moving slowly, but even if it’s taking more time than expected, joint patrols will start soon, he said.

During a visit to Washington earlier this month, the Turkish delegation used Manbij as an example of cooperation in an attempt to try to solve the diplomatic crisis over Brunson, said the diplomat, who works closely with his US counterparts to resolve the disagreement.

Even if it’s going slow, Manbij is an example of how we can work a deal together," he said. "That’s why we brought it to table when we were in Washington and asked them why they wouldn’t accept another deal to work together on Brunson.”

The visit to Washington ended without any solutions, with the US rebuffing two Turkish deals in exchange for Brunson's release. Regardless, joint Manbij patrols are expected in the coming days.

Limits to cooperation

Manbij is not the only area over which the Turkish army and the Pentagon cooperate. There are also the Qandil Mountains and Sinjar in northern Iraq.

Following America's assistance with the Sinjar operation last week, Turkey now expects the US to share more intelligence about the Qandil Mountains in northeast Iraq, where the PKK has been based since the 90s.

During a February meeting between Mattis and his Turkish counterpart, Nurettin Canikli, in Brussels, the US promised to share intelligence with Turkey to support its fight against the PKK in Iraq.

But all four of the Turkish diplomats which MEE spoke to stressed that Ankara is aware of the limits of the Pentagon’s cooperation.

Turkish and Iraqi governments are working on a new crossing in Ovakoy

In Sinjar, American support for Turkey's fight against the YBS will be limited, since the US uses the area itself to transport weapons, ammunition and other equipment to the YPG in Syria.

The diplomats said the Pentagon has cooperated with Turkey on its hunt for some high-level PKK leaders, but has been reticent to do more.

The US has significant influence over the YBS and, if the group was cleared from the area by Turkish operations, the Americans wouldn't have armed groups to protect their convoys, which carry equipment into Syria.

Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias also operate around Sinjar, and the US would prefer the YBS maintain control of the area, rather than any group supported by Iran.

One of the diplomats, whose area of expertise is Iraq, told reporters last week that Turkey is working on a bigger plan to clear the YBS from Sinjar.

We know there are mostly Yazidis in the YBS and, after IS left the area, these Yazidis think they desperately need this YBS group to protect them," he said.

"We are trying to find the differences between the Yazidis and the YBS and will work on them to end the Yazidis’ need for the group."

New crossing on Turkey-Iraq border

The real reason behind Turkey’s efforts to clear the area of the YBS is the plan for a new border crossing in Ovakoy, a village on the border of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The only current crossing, located in Habur to the east of Ovakoy, is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government, and there are no crossings between Turkey and Iraq controlled by the government in Baghdad.

But the new crossing will directly link Turkey to Iraq and will include a highway that runs from Baghdad to the border, bypassing Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

Turkey and Iraq are currently discussing the opening of the crossing. Turkey is ready to take responsibility for the construction work in Iraq, including building parts of the highway and repairing existing sections damaged by IS, one of the diplomats said.

There are many armed groups to the south of our planned border gate. This creates an environment of anarchy, and that’s the perfect place for terrorists to have freedom to move," the diplomat said.

"The US uses this freedom to cross the border and help the YPG in Syria, but we need to clear the terror groups to secure the road from Baghdad to the new border gate."

Turkey has not started to hold talks with the US about the new crossing, but the government knows that Washington is not against the project in principle because it will likely increase trade between Turkey and Iraq - and decrease Iraqi dependency on Iran.

Iraq currently has 10 border crossings with Iran and most foreign trade conducted over land is done with its neighbour to the east.

One of the diplomats said Turkey is aware that Iran is not happy about the new project because it is afraid of losing influence in Iraq.

Iran and Iraq have more than 10 border crossings but we have only one, and it’s not even controlled by the central government in Baghdad," he said.

"We want to increase our volume of trade with Iraq. That will also lead to transportation of Kirkuk oil to Turkey’s Ceyhan port.

"If we succeed, Iraq won’t depend on Iran to export its oil, and that’s why the US supports the project.”

However, promises of support from the US for the crossing won't be enough for Turkey. Ankara, the diplomat said, will be looking for the US to cut off its support for the YBS.




Iran showcases new fighter jet, says it will boost military power

21 August 2018

Iran said on Tuesday it would boost its military might as it showcased a new domestically manufactured fighter jet amid increased tensions with the United States and regional rivals over conflicts in the Middle East.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic's military prowess was what deterred Washington from attacking it, adding that under President Donald Trump, Washington was becoming isolated even from its own allies.

"We should make ourselves ready to fight against the military powers who want to take over our territory and our resources," Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television ahead of Wednesday's National Defence Industry Day.

"Why does the United States not attack us? Because of our power, because it knows the consequences," Rouhani added.

Last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said the United States would avoid any military confrontation with Tehran because of Iranian military might.

Khamenei has rejected Trump's offer of unconditional talks on a new nuclear deal, prompting Trump to tell Reuters in an interview on Monday: "If they want to meet, that's fine, and if they don't want to meet, I couldn't care less."

Relations between Washington and Tehran worsened after Trump in May took the United States out of an international deal that significantly curbed Tehran's nuclear programme in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

Rouhani made a comparison between the sanctions on Iran and the US trade war with China and its new tariffs on some imports from Turkey and European countries.

"It's not only us who do not trust America. Today even Europe and China do not trust them; even American allies like Canada have lost their trust," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rouhani attended a ceremony, broadcast by state TV, that included the fly-past of a new fighter jet called Kowsar, which Iran says is "100 percent indigenously made" and able to carry various weapons and is designed to be used for short aerial support missions.

However, some military experts believe the fighter jet is a carbon copy of an F-5 first produced in the US in the 60s.

"The airframe appears to be an externally unaltered, two-seat F-5 Tiger. While it may be domestically manufactured, it’s an entirely foreign airframe," said Justin Bronk, a research fellow specialising in combat airpower and technology in the military sciences team at the Royal United Services Institute.

Iran’s air force has been limited to a few dozen strike aircraft, including Russian or ageing US models acquired before the 1979 Iranian revolution.




Morocco pardons 11 imprisoned 'Hirak' protest supporters for Eid

 21 August 2018

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has pardoned 11 supporters of the Hirak protest movement on the occasion of Islam's Eid al-Adha religious feast, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

The 11 names appeared on a list of 889 people granted royal pardons published on Tuesday by the justice ministry, lawyer Mohamed Aghnaj told AFP.

The supporters were serving three-year jail terms in the western city of Casablanca for their part in the al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or Popular Movement, whose protests rocked the country's northern Rif region from late 2016 to mid-2017.

Last month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Morocco's capital, Rabat, to protest against the jailing of leaders of a popular movement in the predominantly Berber region of Rif.

Carrying pictures of the detained activists and waving Berber blue, green, yellow and red flags, demonstrators chanted "Freedom, dignity and social justice", "Long live the Rif", and "The people want immediate release of Rif detainees".

A court in Casablanca in June sentenced 39 people to terms of one to 20 years in jail in connection with Hirak's protests.

The Hirak demonstrations, along with protests in the mining town of Jerada in early 2018, marked the biggest unrest in Morocco since Arab Spring protests in 2011 prompted the king to devolve some of his powers to an elected parliament.

After the Rif protests, the king dismissed three ministers and various other officials over a lack of progress in a development plan for the Rif.




Arab World


Displaced Syrians in Idlib mark Eid despite hardships

World Bulletin / News Desk: 21 August 2018

Civilians in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, where refugees have sought shelter during the country’s protracted conflict, welcomed the arrival of the Eid al-Adha holiday on Tuesday despite their difficult circumstances.

Held by anti-regime opposition factions, Idlib is currently home to some four million Syrians who fled their homes earlier amid attacks by the Assad regime.

Mohammed Kaddor, chairman of Idlib’s Ahli refugee camp, told Anadolu Agency that only a limited number of camp residents were able to take part in Eid festivities.

Some have enough money to buy new goods, but most rely on second-hand shops,” he said. “Meanwhile, those without family or money don't leave the camp.”

Orphans and the families of martyrs can’t buy the kinds of food associated with Eid, nor can they buy new clothes,” he added.

Noting that the Assad regime had recently deployed troops to opposition-held Idlib, Kaddor said that camp residents feared a possible regime attack on the area.

Um Mahmoud, a Turkmen mother who lost her husband earlier to a regime airstrike, said that she -- along with her seven children -- was depending on charitable organizations for her Eid requirements.

If it wasn't for these charitable organizations, we wouldn’t have anything to eat now,” she said gratefully.

I don't have an income or anyone to bring money home,” she added.

Um Mahmoud went on to lament the fact that she could not afford any of the items her children wanted.

In line with tradition, all my children want new clothes to wear for the Eid,” she said.

Omar Abu Nahla, a resident of Idlib’s Kafr Lusin refugee camp, for his part, said that Idlib had recently seen a fresh influx of refugees from central and southern parts of the country.

My children want new clothes and shoes, but I can't afford this,” he said.

They don’t understand our difficult circumstances; they just want to be happy,” he added.

Another camp resident, Samar Sallum, said that he had bought used clothes for his children at a local flea market.

Sallum, too, pointed out that camp populations had recently increased due to a fresh refugee influx from Syria’s Homs and Daraa provinces.

It’s always nice to celebrate Eid, but we still need help more than ever,” Sallum told Anadolu Agency.



South Asia


All Militants Involved In Kabul Rocket Attack Likely Eliminated By Security Forces

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Aug 21 2018

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) officials are saying that all militants involved in the rocket attack on Kabul city have likely been killed.

MoI spokesman Najib Danish said the attack was likely carried out by three militants using two vehicles loaded with several rockets.

Danish further added that two security personnel have been slightly wounded during the clashes with the militants.

He said the rockets fired by the militants have landed in the 1st, 2nd, 10th, and 16th police districts of the city.

In the meantime, the residents of the 1st police district of the city and eyewitnesses are saying that sporadic gunshots are still heard from the area close to Eidgah mosque.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack.

The rocket attack was launched at around 9am today as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was delivering a speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.




Afghan Commandos storm Taliban hideout in Faryab province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed Aug 22 2018

The Afghan Commandos have stormed a hideout of the Taliban group which was used as a headquarter by the Taliban militants in northern Faryab province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said the Afghan Commandos on Tuesday night stormed the Taliban hideout in the vicinity of Khwajah Sabz Posh district.

The source further added that ten militants were killed during the operation and some weapons, munitions, and military equipment were confiscated.

The security situation in Faryab province has deteriorated sharply during the recent years amid growing insurgency activities by the anti-government armed militant groups.

This comes as at least one hundred and two militants including some leaders of the Taliban have been killed in the airstrikes conducted in this province on Sunday.

According to a statement released by the 209th Shaheen Corps, the militants were killed during three airstrikes conducted in the bordering regions between Garziwan and Bulcharagh districts.

The Shaheen Corps also added that the military commission chief of the Taliban for the North, identified as Mawlavi Matiullah, was among those killed.

The other senior Taliban leaders killed during the airstrikes have been identified as Mawlavi Abdul Baqi also famous as Omar, commander Shirzad, and Mawlavi Jabar also famous as Bilal, the statement added.




Willing to play constructive role in easing India-Pakistan relations, says China

 Aug 22, 2018

Press Trust of India

China on Wednesday said it was willing to play a “constructive role” in easing relations between India and Pakistan as it welcomed the “positive” remarks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on improving bilateral ties.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the improvement and development of relations between India and Pakistan are quite important to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

We have noted relevant reports and we welcome the positive remarks made by the Indian and Pakistani leaders on improving bilateral relations,” Lu said while replying to a question on the statements made by the two leaders soon after Khan assumed office on August 18.

Both Pakistan and India are important countries in South Asia. As a common neighbour to Pakistan and India, China firmly supports the two sides to enhance dialogue increase mutual trust, properly handle and solve their differences,” Lu said.

China hopes the two countries can jointly stay committed to regional peace and development, he said.

China is willing to play a constructive role in this aspect,” he added.

Asked what he meant by China playing a constructive role, Lu said, “I said we are glad to see the positive remarks made by the India and Pakistan on improving their bilateral relations and all their efforts that are conducive to the improvement of the relations and the peace and stability in the region. We welcome that. We will play a constructive role in that aspect.”

Pressed further whether he meant that China wants to mediate between India and Pakistan, the spokesman said, “I cannot give you a prejudgement or in what aspect and what area we will do. I cannot give you such prejudgement.

On August 20, Prime Minister Modi had sent a letter to Khan, conveying that New Delhi was looking for constructive and meaningful engagement with Islamabad.

Khan in a tweet yesterday expressed Pakistan’s willingness to re-start the stalled India-Pakistan peace process and said the two countries must engage in dialogue to resolve their differences, including on the Kashmir issue, and start trade.

In June, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, was quoted in the media as saying that Sino-Indian ties cannot take the strain of “another” Doklam standoff. According to the reports, he had mooted a “trilateral” China-India-Pakistan dialogue on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conference to resolve regional issues and maintain peace.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar at that time had said that India has not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government.

India has been maintaining that it is ready to talk to Pakistan only bilaterally without the intervention of any other nation, including China.




Summer festival celebrates the best of Afghanistan’s culture

By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed Aug 22 2018

The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) held a summer festival on Sunday 20th August celebrating the vibrancy of Afghan culture.

The event in Lampton Park, Hounslow, showcased a range of performances from singers originally from Afghanistan, who have settled in countries across Europe including the Kabul Boys, Rashed Kouhestani and Ajmal Zahin.

Festival-goers enjoyed a unique cultural experience participating in activities such as henna, face painting and art and martial art workshops, as well as tasting cuisine from Afghanistan other parts of Asia.

A celebration of diversity and multiculturalism, the event was attended by members of the Afghan community, as well as people from both the wider local community and further afield. This year the event was particularly popular with women and families and provided a chance for all to promote community pride and cohesion. The day was an opportunity to bring together different ethnic and cultural groups, celebrating the value and talent that refugees bring to London.

Director of ACAA, Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi said: “This is a really important festival to not only celebrate the multiculturalism that exists in Britain, but to also give those of us from Afghanistan and Central Asia, who have made their homes in the UK, the opportunity to connect and share our experiences about building a future in this country.”

I know that many in our community have a strong affinity with both Britain and Afghanistan, and enjoy and are a part of both cultures. Our thoughts are with those in Afghanistan living through uncertain times, and that is why it is so important for those of us living in Britain to come together and lead the way in upholding the spirit of our culture, in the hope of helping to foster Afghanistan’s progress.”

Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) was established since 2001, and works to support Afghan and other refugees to help them integrate into British society and build better future for themselves in the UK. ACAA provide a number of services, including language classes, cultural events, mentoring schemes, and family and employment workshops.




Taliban rejects involvement in today’s rocket attack on Kabul city

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Aug 21 2018

The Taliban militants have rejected the involvement of the group in today’s coordinated rocket attack on Kabul city.

The Taliban spokesman Zabilullah Mujahid in a statement said the fighters of the group have no links with today’s attacks in Kabul city.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) officials are saying that all militants involved in the rocket attack on Kabul city have likely been killed.

MoI spokesman Najib Danish had earlier said the attack was likely carried out by three militants using two vehicles loaded with several rockets.

Danish further added that two security personnel have been slightly wounded during the clashes with the militants.

He said the rockets fired by the militants have landed in the 1st, 2nd, 10th, and 16th police districts of the city.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack.

The militants managed to reach close to the center of the town close to Presidential Palace despite strict security measures were in place on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.

In the meantime, Danish says an investigation is underway in this regard to ascertain how the militants managed to infiltrate the secure area of the city.






Clashes erupt after Eid prayers in Kashmir Valley



Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah heckled at the Hazratbal shrine

Clashes erupted between stone pelting youths and the security forces in some parts of the Kashmir Valley immediately after the Eid prayers ended on Wednesday, police said.

The security forces used tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters in Srinagar’s Eidgah area.

Similar protests occurred in Anantnag, Sopore and Kupwara towns.

The police said a youth sustained a pellet injury in his right eye and was being treated at a hospital in Anantnag town.

Farooq Abdullah heckled

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah was heckled during Eid prayers at a shrine here on Wednesday.

Even before the imam leading the congregational prayers could begin the Eid sermon at the Hazratbal shrine, Abdullah was heckled amid sloganeering.

Dozens of youth also hurled shoes and disrupted the congregation forcing the former leader to leave the prayer ground.




UP: Madrasa recognition cancelled for stopping students from singing national anthem on I-Day

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 22, 2018

The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday cancelled the recognition of a Madrasa for allegedly opposing the singing of national anthem during Independence Day celebrations in Kolhui area of Maharajganj, PTI reported. The alleged incident had come to light after a video of the ceremony went viral on social media.

The madrasa, Arabia Ahle Sunnat Girls College, is registered with the UP Madrasa board and has been running since 2007. The recognition of the Madrasa was cancelled on the directions of the state education board, PTI quoted officials as saying.

District Minority Officer Prabhat Kumar, who conducted an inquiry on the order of District Magistrate Amar Nath Upadhyay, had recommended the madrasa’s recognition be cancelled. Madrasa board Registrar S N Pandey sent a letter to Upadhyay, asking him to submit an inquiry report. The letter stated the incident is of a “serious” nature, and that the board had issued clear directions on Monday to all madrasas, instructing them to celebrate Independence Day.

Earlier, a case of sedition was filed against the madrasa principal and two others and they were taken into the police custody. The main accused, Zunaid Ansari, is a resident of Badgo village, where the incident took place. The other accused are madrasa principal Fazlur-Rahman and teacher Nizam.

The viral video purportedly shows Ansari stopping children from reciting the national anthem. A teacher, Sunil Kumar Tripathi, is seen objecting to Ansari, who was heard saying, “We do not do that here”. The principal and Nizam were seen at the spot but did not speak on the matter.




Farooq Abdullah heckled during Eid prayers for chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ at Vajpayee meet

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 22, 2018

The people were reportedly angry with Abdullah for chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Jai Hind” when he was paying tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the all-party prayer meeting on Monday. Even before the imam leading the congregational prayers could begin the sermon at the Hazratbal shrine, Abdullah was heckled as people shouted slogans of “Farooq Abdullah go back” and “Hum kya chahte, azaadi” at the mosque.

When a section of youths tried to approach Abdullah, who was sitting on a chair in the front row because of his ill-health, some people joined hands to make a human chain to prevent them from doing so.

Playing down the incident, Abdullah said the slogans were raised by his “own people” who were misguided. “Some people were agitated but that does not mean I will escape. I have a task of keeping everyone united,” PTI quoted Abdullah as saying. Abdullah wondered why the issue was being blown out of proportion by a section of the media. “A politician, at times, has to face people’s anger. I only hope these misguided youths are counselled properly,” he said.

Later in the day, Abdullah said he was not a person to be cowed down. “Agar yeh samajhte hai ki ise azadi aayegi toh mein inko kehna chahta hun ki pehle begaari,beemari aur bhookmari se azadi pao (If the people want freedom, they should first get freedom from bonded labour, illness and shortage of food),” ANI quoted Abdullah as saying.

The Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar said the time was right to have a peaceful dialogue between India and Pakistan. “There is a need to get rid of hatred. This country belongs to Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians and all those who live here,” Abdullah said.





PM Khan says India, Pakistan 'must dialogue', resolve differences August 21, 2018

Prime Minister Imran Khan's official Twitter account tweeted twice on Tuesday afternoon to once again invite India to dialogue and pursue peace, terming it the "best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent".

The tweets, which included a note of gratitude to longtime friend Navjot Singh Sidhu for attending PM Khan's inauguration on a special invitation, reiterated the new prime minister's belief that "without peace our people cannot progress."

Addressing sections of the Indian media, politicians and civil society who have been criticising Sidhu for visiting Pakistan, PM Khan said: "Those in India who targeted him [Sidhu] are doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent."

"He was an ambassador of peace and was given amazing love and affection by people of Pakistan," the prime minister wrote.

"To move forward, Pakistan and India must dialogue and resolve their conflicts, including Kashmir," the premier was quoted as saying.

"The best way to alleviate poverty and uplift the people of the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue and start trading."

The incumbent regime had also extended an olive branch to India a day earlier, when newly-appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had made clear that he would pursue dialogue with the neighbouring rival as a way forward.

"Us coming to the table and talking peace is our only option. We need to stop the adventurism and come together. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage," Qureshi had said. "We cannot turn our cheek. Yes we have outstanding issues. Kashmir is a reality; it is an issue that both our nations acknowledge."

"We need a continued and uninterrupted dialogue. This is our only way forward," he had stressed.

"We may have a different approach and line of thinking, but I want to see a change in how we behave," he had added. "India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them."

The new foreign minister had also dismissed fears that attempts to mend fences with India will be met with resistance from the so-called 'establishment'.

"There are pre-conceived notions about where the foreign policy of Pakistan was formulated," he said yesterday.

"Let me be clear: the foreign policy will be made here at the Foreign Office of Pakistan."

"I will engage with all the institutions for the betterment of the country," he said, adding: "It is the policy across the world. Feedback is sought from national security institutions."




Saudi crown prince expresses support for new govt in meeting with Gen Bajwa August 22, 2018

Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Tuesday evening met Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and conveyed his wishes and support for the newly elected Pakistani government, the military's media wing said.

According to a tweet by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday, the crown prince had invited the army chief for a meeting, followed by dinner, in Mina.

Both discussed wide-ranging issues of mutual interest including regional security," the tweet said.

Prince Salman expressed "strong optimism" about Pakistan's ability to defeat the challenges at hand, a second tweet said, without elaborating.

"[The] Crown prince also expressed his best wishes & support to the newly elected government."

According to the ISPR chief, Prince Salman also congratulated Gen Bajwa on performing Haj while the army chief thanked the former for his wishes and support for Pakistan.

The meeting comes days after Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the crown prince congratulated Prime Minister Imran Khan on his party’s victory in last month’s general elections.

The Saudi king had conveyed to Khan best wishes from the kingdom and its people for the progress and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.

Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki was the first diplomat to have met Khan even when the poll results were still pouring in.

During his meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost, the PTI chief had offered mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resolve differences between the two countries.

Welcoming the offer, the Iranian envoy had termed the situation in the region sensitive and said: “Iran will welcome any proposal from Pakistan aimed at bringing peace to the region.”




PML-N plans post-Eid moot over joint presidential candidate

Amjad MahmoodUpdated August 22, 2018

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will convene a multi-party conference (MPC) shortly after Eidul Azha to develop consensus among opposition parties to jointly field a candidate in the election of president.

To deliberate upon opposition parties’ desires to come up with a unanimous presidential candidate, a multi-party conference will be held after Eid,” PML-N senior leader Ahsan Iqbal told media personnel after a meeting with a delegation of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that visited the PML-N secretariat in Model Town here on Tuesday.

The PPP team comprising former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani and former opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah visited the PML-N leadership to seek support for Aitzaz Ahsan, whom the PPP has nominated for the presidential election to be held on Sept 4.

The ruling coalition led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has named MNA from Karachi Dr Arif Alvi as its candidate. Dr Alvi visited the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters in Karachi earlier in the day to seek its support for him.

The PML-N has expressed reservations over the nomination of Mr Ahsan, who had spoken against former prime minister and supreme leader of PML-N Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kulsoom’s ailment, while PPP decision of not voting for Shahbaz Sharif in the race for prime minister’s office held the previous week also didn’t go down well with the former.

Mr Iqbal, who was accompanied by former speaker of National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Rana Tanveer Hussain, quoted PPP general secretary Farhatullah Babar as saying that Mr Ahsan’s name was not final.

A final decision on the candidate would be taken at the post-Eid MPC in Islamabad or Murree, the PML-N leader said, stopping short of giving the day for the opposition parties’ proposed meeting.

Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, however, told Dawn that the meeting would be held on Aug 24 (Friday) in Islamabad keeping in view the short time available for going to presidential polls.

Mr Iqbal feared that if the opposition remained divided on launching a joint candidate, it would give a free hand to the ruling PTI to install its nominee as president.

A source said that the PML-N would take its decision on the elections, whether it would introduce its own candidate or extend support to any other party’s nominee, after a meeting of Shahbaz Sharif with Nawaz Sharif in Adiala jail due on Friday as the prisons department has refused to allow the meeting on Thursday because of the Eid holidays.

However, the PPP had been told in clear terms that Mr Ahsan would not be supported in any case.




Karachi man sentenced to 10 years in jail for collecting funds for TTP

Naeem Sahoutara Updated August 22, 2018

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court has sentenced a convict to 10 years in jail for collecting funds for Taliban militants and their wings fighting security agencies in Mohmand Agency.

Ismail Khan was charged with collecting funds for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan faction.

The ATC-X judge, who conducted trial in judicial complex inside the Central Jail Karachi, pronounced his verdict after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

The judge observed that the prosecution proved its charges against the detained accused beyond a shadow of a doubt and convicted him under Section 11-F(6) and 11-W(2) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The judge awarded him a sentence of five-years rigorous imprisonment in each section with a fine of Rs100,000. On default, Khan was ordered to undergo additional six-month rigorous imprisonment. Both sentences will run concurrently.

The Counter-Terrorism Department officials, on a tip-off about presence of a man belonging to proscribed outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, arrested Hazrat Khan at the Numaish Chowrangi on January 31.

During his search, the officials recovered two receipt books printed with ‘Chanda Barae Mujahideen Lawahiqeen Aal Saafi Mohmand Welfare Association, Karachi, Sindh’, from him.

According to the prosecution, the detained man disclosed during interrogation that he had been collecting alms with the connivance of his accomplice Aurangzeb Mohmand and collected Rs8,600 each from 18 persons.

He further disclosed that his other accomplice had left for Mohmand Agency along with the collected alms for providing aid to the TTP’s Qari Shakeel Group. He was booked under the Section 11-F(6) and 11-W(2) read with the Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Section 11-F relates to membership, support and meetings related to a proscribed organisation and sub-section (6) provides that “a person guilty of an offence under sub-sections (3),(4), and (5) shall be liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment, not less than one year and not more than five years and a fine”.

Section 11-W pertains to printing, publishing or disseminating any material to incite hatred or giving projection to any person convicted for a terrorist act or any proscribed organisation or an organisation placed under observation or anyone concerned in terrorism.

Sub-section 2 provides that “any person guilty of an offence under sub-section (1) shall be punishable on conviction with imprisonment which may extend to five years and with fine.”

During the trial, defence counsel Shahzad Abdullah argued that the accused was arrested by the law enforcement agency on December 12, 2017, but he was sent to the higher authorities after a delay of 10 days. He added that the father of his client had moved an application to the high-ups regarding alleged detention of his son.

The court found nothing on record to suggest the fate of such application and as to whether any inquiry was held or any adverse action was taken in this regard at any forum concerned.

The prosecution argued that the police record showed that the detained accused remained involved in other cases and was a hardened and desperate person/criminal.

Extortionists sentenced

The same court meanwhile also awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment to two extortionists and imposed a fine of Rs100,000 each as it found them guilty of the charges.

Farid Ahmed, alias Nomi and Mohammad Shahab have been charged with demanding Rs500,000 protection money from complainant Usman Ghani and threatening to kill him over non-payment of the protection money.

Farid Ahmed was also convicted and sentenced to six-year rigorous imprisonment and ordered to pay Rs100,000 fine. On default, he would undergo serve rigorous imprisonment for six months.

Two separate cases were registered under Section 384 (punishment for extortion), 385 (putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Section 23(I)-A of the Sindh Arms Act, 2013 at the Risala police station.

According to the prosecution, Usman Ghani lodged a complaint at the Risala police station, stating that he received an anonymous call on Dec 15, 2017 and the caller demanded Rs500,000 protection money and threatened to kill him over non-payment of the money within two days.

It further alleged that the calls data record (CDR) of the mobile phones of the accused corroborated the allegations that they contacted the complainant to demand protection money as well as they also were connected with each other using the same cellular phones and SIM cards.






Battle for bandwidth: in Libya's Sirte, radio is being used to heal the trauma of war

20 August 2018

SIRTE, Libya - Bending over the mixing desk in a sparsely furnished studio lined with empty shelves, radio DJ and engineer Abdulsalam bin Sharada fiddles with a few buttons.

The 80s song Live Is Life by the Austrian band Opus fills the room at an ear-splitting volume, and broad grins spread proudly across the faces of volunteers - young and old - working at Sirte’s new radio stations, as feet start tapping along.

'We are always trying to gently and gradually change people’s behaviour away from IS thinking and the culture of war and fighting'

The 34-year-old song is popular across Libya, but its upbeat melody and life-affirming lyrics have special resonance for the people of Sirte, who suffered under the Islamic State (IS) group’s brutal rule and endured a six-month battle to liberate the town, leaving extensive destruction.

For a year and a half, after IS seized control of Sirte in early 2015, residents and passing motorists could only listen to the group’s al-Bayan radio station, which took over all airwaves within a 30km radius of the city.

Featuring sermons urging listeners to take up arms against local and Western governments and wage jihad in foreign countries, while listing IS victories across the so-called caliphate, the only “music” the station played was nasheed - religious chanting without instruments.

Al-Bayan radio, along with compulsory sermons and Islamic instruction in local mosques and schools, was how IS enforced its rule and strict interpretations of Islam on the people of Sirte.

Strict Islamic codes of conduct and dress were also imposed, especially on young people, and simple pleasures such as music, smoking, internet usage and telephone communications were banned.

Sirte was liberated in December 2016, but local teachers and culture authority officials say the greater battle is now under way - to deradicalise the minds of the town’s young people, some of whom have been brainwashed with dangerous ideologies, and ease the trauma of war.

Amwaj Youth Radio and Sirte Culture Radio, the new radio stations housed in the town’s new general authority for culture building beside a flattened seafront district, not only symbolise Sirte’s re-found freedom but, they say, is a valuable tool in helping deradicalise Sirte’s youth.

We are dedicated to our goal of changing the mentality of our young people and this is one of the main purposes of the radio stations, where we are transmitting entertaining programmes encouraging peace, prosperity and optimism, as well as music,” Alla Fakroum, head of cultural administration for Sirte, told Middle East Eye.

Our priority is helping our children psychologically, and we think very carefully about everything we transmit because people are very sensitive after the war, so we are always trying to gently and gradually change people’s behaviour away from IS thinking and the culture of war and fighting.”

The presence of IS sleeper cells south of Sirte indicates the terror group could try to infiltrate the town again, he said, adding that without significant deradicalisation efforts Sirte’s youth remained vulnerable to extremist ideologies.

Brainwashing classes

Sirte’s children and young people have been left traumatised by war and IS rule, which teachers say is evident in their daily behaviour. 

Everyone who remained inside Sirte under IS was forced to attend brainwashing classes and IS took over schools and gave classes on how to fight and how to kill,” secondary school teacher Aimen Ducali told MEE.

'It's become normal for students to carry weapons, so when they fight they sometimes shoot each other with pistols'

Young men in and beyond Sirte were being brainwashed even before IS took control, with widespread distribution of violent and bloody IS recruitment videos on CDs and USB sticks.

In secondary schools here, it’s become normal for students to carry weapons, so when they fight they sometimes shoot each other with pistols, and even the younger children all have toy weapons and play with these as if they are re-enacting scenes from the war,” Ducali said.

The troubles here - the wars and IS - have taught children to be very aggressive and violent, and created a very bad mentality, so we have to try and alter their mindset.”

But with chronic overcrowding teachers say they struggle to offer meaningful help, especially to troubled individuals.

With many schools left destroyed by war, class sizes have doubled, with up to 50 pupils now in each class.

Most functioning schools have no equipment or computers, so tuition is limited and children cannot sit the practical components of annual exams.

Bullying and violence have become commonplace, and in art lessons even young children often depict weapons, soldiers, dead bodies and figures lying in pools of blood in their drawings.

Limited support

Some help is being provided by international NGOs such as the UN's children’s agency, UNICEF.

Through a local partner UNICEF has been providing educational support for children who have been affected by the conflict, running catch-up classes, training teachers and delivering mine-risk education,” said UNICEF regional head of communications Juliette Touma.

She said UNICEF was working with the local municipality in Sirte to renovate damaged schools and install prefabricated classrooms to overcome overcrowding.

'We had meetings with the Libyan government, the military, and representatives from the UN and the international community, and they promised a lot but, until now, we have seen nothing'

According to Touma, the agency has installed 30 prefabricated classrooms and rehabilitated water and sanitation facilities in 13 schools in Sirte, benefiting more than 6,000 pupils.

But with Libya still fiercely divided along political and tribal alliances, help is not always well received.

After prefabricated classrooms were delivered to an area on the outskirts of Sirte which remains a bastion of pro-Gaddafi sentiment, and where some IS sleeper cells are also believed to be located, unknown gunmen opened fire on the empty classrooms, a local NGO representative working on the project told MEE.

Sirte's teachers and culture authority officials complain that help received from either Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), or international NGOs, has been very limited and often inadequate.

At the beginning of the battle, we had meetings with the Libyan government, the military, and representatives from the UN and the international community, and they promised a lot but, until now, we have seen nothing, no help at all,” said Fakroum.

They promised to rebuild the city as soon as the war finished but, nearly two years later, three whole districts are still completely destroyed and 3,000 families remain unaccounted for.”

Although the GNA’s education and culture ministries funded the refurbishment of the new general authority for culture’s building, establishing the radio stations has been largely supported by funds from the Misrata-based military operation that liberated Sirte - Bunyan al-Marsous.

Young people are encouraged to spend time at the new culture centre and have the opportunity to train in basic radio broadcasting techniques, but local people insist that much more comprehensive help and support are still needed to ensure the well-being of Sirte’s children and young people.

We urgently need places of entertainment to deradicalise our children and help normalise their minds, but we are struggling because we have received no support or financial aid for such projects,” said teacher Ducali.

Along with the new radio stations, the general authority for culture hopes to open cinemas and theatres to provide young people with places where they can enjoy ordinary entertainments in a safe environment.

Such projects would be largely started from scratch because most cinemas and theatres across the country were closed during the eccentric rule of Gaddafi, who harboured a grave mistrust of Western influences.

So far, the two radio stations are the only projects they have been able to get off the ground, but officials remain determined to help alter the mindset and improve the futures of Sirte’s youth in any way they can, especially through the radio stations.

Fakroum said their latest project is preparing a series of English-language learning programmes, to help boost the town’s struggling education systems.





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