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Islamic World News ( 8 Jan 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

15 Muslim IIT aspirants crack Olympiad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The students who have qualified for the test with their teachers at Rahmani 30. Prashant Nadkar

 

India

15 Muslim IIT aspirants crack Olympiad

Jaish-e-Mohammad mocks Indian defence agencies, says they could not tackle six jihadis

Arrested cleric with alleged al-Qaida links made derogatory speeches in the past

26/11 lesson unlearnt, learnt: Ramshackle outpost revamped in Mumbai

The Sunni-Shia split: Why conflict defines Saudi-Iran relations

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Arab World

IS fighter executes mother for asking him to leave group

US Ground Troops Deployed in Syria's Aleppo

U.S. launches task force to combat violent extremism

Iraq denies Turkish forces clashed with ISIS

Iraqi special forces target IS in Hawija

Clashes Intensifying Near Deir Ezzur Airbase

Lattakia: Syrian Army Wins Back Strategic Regions

Militants Suffer Heavy Casualties in Gov't Forces' Attacks North of Dara'a

Syrian Army Hits Militants' Centers Hard East of Quneitra

Syrian Army Advancing against Militants near Border with Jordan

Syria: Gov't Forces Inflict Major Losses on Militants North of Homs

Gov't Forces Drive Militants Back From More Heights North of Syria's Lattakia

Cairo suburb gun attack kills officer and soldier

Starving besieged Syrian towns to receive aid

Uprising anniversary protests would violate Shariah: Egypt minister

Iraq denies Turkey's claims of Daesh raid

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Mideast

Yemen being hit with banned US-made cluster bombs: HRW

Iran accuses Saudis of 'sectarian hate-mongering' at UN

Saudi Arabia Set to Try 4 Iranians on Terrorism, Spying Charges

Commander: Saudi Arabia's Collapse Imminent

Yemeni Forces Down Another Saudi Apache Helicopter

Syrian Army Launches New Massive Operations in Homs Province

Israeli soldiers shoot dead two Palestinians in West Bank

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince receives Saudi Deputy Crown Prince

Yemen rescinds expulsion of U.N. rights official

Leader warns of enemy attempts to harm Iran's Islamic Revolution

Turkey did not summon Iran ambassador: Iranian source

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South Asia

U.S. Army deploying 500 soldiers to Afghanistan

IS claims murder of Christian convert in Bangladesh

Ghani extends term of the appointed members of Afghan Senate

Afghan intelligence conducted over 2,000 raids in 2015: Andarabi

Afghan Air Force to receive another Mi-25 from India in 3 weeks

US drone kills Daesh, civilians in Afghanistan: Report

Terror in South Asia

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North America

‘ISIS sympathizer’ shoots Philadelphia police officer

Reforms to protect New York Muslims from discriminatory surveillance

U.S. reveals terror-related arrest, indictment in two states

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Pakistan

US drone strike kills 20 'IS militants' near Pak-Afghan border

Jamaat threatens march on Islamabad over CPEC

US drone strike kills 20 'IS militants' near Pak-Afghan border

Attack on police officials: 25 suspects arrested in Quetta

Top civil-military brass for extending all-out help to Delhi

Imran wants govt to mediate in Saudi-Iran conflict

Military courts convicted 40 terrorists so far

Now Saudi defence minister due tomorrow

Work starts to make capital schools role model

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Europe

'Paris attacks bomb factory' found in Brussels

Two arrested in US over ISIL links

Italy PM calls Putin to discuss energy, Syria

Far-right group intimidates refugees in Finland

'Paris attacks bomb factory' found in Brussels

Kuwaiti detainee repatriated from Gitmo

NY police settle lawsuits over spying on Muslims

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Southeast Asia

Analysts: Bumi, Muslim credentials in Pakatan pact needed to fight anti-Malay label

Islamic banking advances in Southeast Asia

Indonesia's Muslim women hail female-only motorbike taxis

Indira’s case is humanitarian issue, says Jihad for Justice

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Africa

Cholera kills 10 Somalis in world's largest refugee camp

ISIS claims Libyan police center bombing

Gaddafi warned Blair of extremists' rise

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/15-muslim-iit-aspirants-crack-olympiad/d/105932

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India

 

15 Muslim IIT aspirants crack Olympiad

By ZEESHAN SHAIKH

Mumbai        

Jan 9, 2016

IN an age where how you look creates perceptions about who you are, Farhat Shaikh with his straggly beard and skull cap looks unlike an IIT aspirant. The 17-year-old who hails from Udgir, a riot-prone area in Marathwada, has, however, managed to overcome the odds, including his humble background, to qualify for the prestigious Olympiad Science Test.

He is one of the 15 students from Anjuman-I-Islam Rahmani 30 to have qualified for the test, deemed as an important milestone in taking a shot at the IIT exams.

Rahmani 30 is the first non-government venture that came up in 2008 in Bihar to prepare poor Muslim students for Joint Entrance Exams of IIT. The institute, which provides free coaching, food and lodging for students has so far helped 56 Muslim candidates to join IITs.

“I had no idea what IIT was till I reached class 10. Very few people in Udgir have an idea about these institutes. The awareness is lower still when it comes to Muslims,” says Farhat. He applied for Anjuman-I-Islam Rahmani 30 after his family came across an advertisement seeking interested candidates.

Farhat and 26 others were chosen after a strenuous weeding process which saw thousands of bright Muslim students turn up to seek coaching.

For a community, which makes up 14.88% of the country’s population, Muslim representation in IITs is a measly 1.3%.

A plan to bridge this gap was formulated by Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani, a Bihar-based politician and General Secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The initiative began in Bihar under the mentorship of former Bihar DGP Abhyananad, who conceptualized Super 30 to teach poor students to crack the entrance exam.

Maulana Rahmani sold his personal property to start this programme which he claimed was an attempt to take Muslims from “ITIs to IITs”. A branch was later opened in Hyderabad and another in Mumbai last year.

Interestingly 16 of the 27 students from the first batch in Maharashtra have also cleared the Olympiad Test. These tests are organised every year to motivate students to strive for better and deeper understanding of scientific facts and data and to enhance their reasoning, analytical and problem solving skills.

The students spend 14 hours of rigourous studies in a residential campus at Anjuman-I-Islam near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Nearly 80 per cent of them hail from families whose monthly income is less than Rs 9000.

Interestingly the students are taught by two IITians, one a Muslim with a full beard and another a clean shaven Hindu.

Many of the students claim they want to join IIT because of the prestige associated with it.

“It is such a prestigious institute. Being part of it gives you so much respect. Apart from the money that you will make being an IITian it will also give me the opportunity to do something good for society and my country,” Adbul Wadood, a student who hails from Vasai said.

Fahad Rahmani, a former technical solutions consultant who gave up his job to manage Rahmani 30 claims that the aim of the entire project was to create opportunities for young Muslims.

“Never in my wildest dreams have I believed that getting 30 of these kids into IIT would make a huge change. What we want to do is send this message that there is capability as well as intent in the community. All that is lacking is opportunity which we are working to create,” Fahad Rahmani, General Secretary of Rahmani 30, said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/15-muslim-iit-aspirants-crack-olympiad/

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Arrested cleric with alleged al-Qaida links made derogatory speeches in the past

Arun Dev

Jan 8, 2016

BENGALURU: On January 6, when 55-year-old Maulana Anzar Shah Qasmi was arrested by Delhi ATS in Bengaluru, his followers had filed a missing complaint with the Tilak Nagar police. Local cops, who were not even aware of the arrest of a man alleged to be a sleeper cell of al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), had taken the complaint.

He was nabbed after Zafar Massod and Abdul Rehman, AQIS operatives arrested earlier, revealed they had been in touch with Shah through VoIP. Not just them but Mohammed Asif, the recruitment and training head of AQIS, had met Shah during a religious congregation in Bengaluru, other sources said.

Asif had asked Anzar to lie low and act as a sleeper cell for AQIS. He was asked to get active and provide logistics after being contacted by AQIS operatives. Police have details of the financial transaction between AQIS members and Anzar, the source added.

Qasmi's followers believe the charges to be false. But Bengaluru police and members of the masjid, where he preaches, want the case probed. This is because of past instances where Qasmi is alleged to have made hate speeches. Every week Qasmi would stay for three days at a follower's house in Tilak Nagar in South Bengaluru to go to mosques nearby for preaching. He would spend the rest of the week with his family in his Hegde Nagar home.

On January 6, he left home at night and did not return. While some allege he was called by the local police to the station, others who didn't know of such a development filed the missing complaint. "That evening, he told us that he will step out for a while and asked us to keep dinner ready. He never returned. We filed a missing complaint at Kumaraswamy Layout PS," said Tousif Ahmed, one of Shah's followers.

According to Nayaz Pasha, committee president of Makkah masjid, where Qasmi used to work, he was fired four years ago over derogatory comments against women. "But the fraternity asked me to reinstate him as he has a family," he said.

There was a recent complaint against Qasmi at another mosque over derogatory comments, he added. "We warned and almost asked him to discontinue. However, at no point did we hear him speak anything against the country," Pasaha said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Arrested-cleric-with-alleged-al-Qaida-links-made-derogatory-speeches-in-the-past/articleshow/50503195.cms

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Jaish-e-Mohammad mocks Indian defence agencies, says they could not tackle six jihadis

Rohan Dua

Jan 9, 2016

PATHANKOT: Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad, headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, has uploaded an audio clip on a website making startling disclosures about how terrorists attacked the Pathankot airbase on January 2. The clip has been uploaded on the website www.alqalamionline.com.

The 13-minute address has also been transcribed in a local Urdu magazine in Azhar's hometown Bahawalpur. At several places the clip talks about how the men "fired at Indian tanks, military cars and helicopters."

The speaker warns the Pakistan government not to accept Indian evidence. "Pakistan ke ilaam India ke ilzaam ke saamne kyon jhukte hein? Kyon sharmate hein? (Why do Pakistan's leaders bow before India's allegations? Why do they shame us?)," he asks.

He ridicules how Indian defence agencies could not tackle the six "mujaheedin". He also demeans the martyrdom of Lt Col Niranjan Kumar and ace shooter Fateh Singh and talks about the confusion over the number of attackers. "Buri tarah mare gaye. First, they said there were six mujahideen, then they said five, then four. Such a big country is in tears. They are pointing an accusing finger like cowards."

He adds that the attack at Pathankot airbase was a fidayeen operation. "Four mujahideen attacked India's Pathankot airbase. It was the night after Friday at around 3 am, a time when the sly is closest to earth they entered into the Indian airbase. Kya kafiyat hogi, kya jazbe honge, kya manzar honge."

He also adds who would believe that jihadis can fight for 48 hours in such freezing temperatures, harsh weather conditions, without sleeping, without eating.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Jaish-e-Mohammad-mocks-Indian-defence-agencies-says-they-could-not-tackle-six-jihadis/articleshow/50505688.cms

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26/11 lesson unlearnt, learnt: Ramshackle outpost revamped in Mumbai

Jan 9, 2016

AT the peak of last summer, policemen stationed at Bandra coast planted four seeds — two each of almond and coconut. The plan was to grow the plants so they would provide some shade in the future, should the Mumbai Police not install a permanent structure there.

But after The Indian Express carried a report on November 26 last year on the ramshackle police outpost near Bandra-Worli Sea Link — which would be at the front of the firing line should there be a repeat of an attack from the sea as on 26/11 — the structure has got a major facelift.

The coastal police outpost, one of the many that watch over Mumbai’s shores, is now a 10×10 cabin with wooden flooring and modern furnishing — a far cry from the eight bamboo poles and blue aluminium sheet that used to provide shelter to the two policemen who spent 12 hours each here with a single self-loading rifle and 50 bullets between them.

“We had no hope of a proper roof over our head, but that has changed now,” said a constable at the new cabin. The new outpost was inaugurated on December 21, 2015, nearly seven years after the police was first deployed there following the 26/11 terror attacks.

“Earlier, once the sun would set, the only source of light was a solar powered bulb next to our outpost. Now our outpost has two electricity bulbs, a wall-mounted fan and four plug points. Our condition has improved. We even have three tinted sliding windows,” said an officer.

The outpost, which still flaunts the ribbon from the inauguration above its main door, is built on a slight incline so that policemen posted there can see the Arabian Sea without obstacles. While Christmas has passed, those occupying the outpost are still in the festive mood. “I will bring a Christmas tree to decorate the room next week now that we have the space,” said a police officer.

The new office comes with a green doormat and visitors are asked to leave their footwear at the door. Outside, there’s a water dispenser and a piece of furniture retained for “sentimental reasons”. It’s a six-foot-long bed that served as the only resting place in the original shack. The new furniture includes five plastic chairs, a wooden bench and a table.

About 100 yards away, the foundation of a new toilet is still drying up. “It will be a western-style toilet,” said an officer.

The concrete roof also means no fear of the monsoon, which would usually damage the structure. “I can’t wait for the rains,” said one constable. A police water truck with a capacity of 1,000 litres visits the outpost every time the water tankers — of 5,000 litres and 500 litres — run dry.

The surrounding terrain has also been evened out and debris left behind after the completion of the sea link has been removed. This, said police officers, has also solved the mosquito problem. “Now we relax outside the cabin… all that this place required was some cleaning,” said a constable. A mosquito repellent tube has been tucked away in a desk drawer.

The Self-Loading Rifle lies in a corner. “Four more outposts remain to be inaugurated. Our priority is to secure the critical landing points of the city,” said Kirankumar Chavan, DCP, Port Zone.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/2611-lesson-unlearnt-learnt-ramshackle-outpost-revamped/

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The Sunni-Shia split: Why conflict defines Saudi-Iran relations

Aditya Iyer

Jan 09, 2016

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran took a turn for the worse last week after the execution of the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr at the hands of the Saudi authorities along with 46 others. Since then, various countries in the Muslim world, already witnessing an unprecedented level of militant activity, have been taking sides and breaking off diplomatic contact depending on their allegiances, which have more or less neatly followed Sunni-Shia religious lines.

But to claim that the tense devolution of relations between Iran and its bitter rival stem wholly from a religious conflict that occurred 1,400 years ago is, at best, wholly fatuous, and at worst propagating an Orientalist discourse. The two Muslim nations are not in conflict because of their religious demarcations; rather, their differences have been utilised to further their geo-political agendas via the promotion of sectarian violence.

Read: Awakening not suppressible: Iran condemns Nimr’s execution by Saudi

Origins of the split

The major schism in Islam occurred in the 7th century over a dispute over which caliphs to venerate, and in what order. The Shias, who approximately make up 10-15% of the total global Muslim population, were a movement - their current name is derived from their predecessors, the “Shiat Ali” (”Party of Ali”) referring to the caliph who was assassinated in 661 after a five-year-long civil war.

Despite being marked by civil discord and political instability, the Shias hold the belief that Ali’s successors were cheated out of their rightful legacy. Furthermore, they hold that Ali was the Prophet’s true successor, a claim that has lead many Sunni extremists to frequently denounce Shias as heretics.

The Sunnis, who comprise the majority of Muslims (approximately 80-85%) across the world, derive their name from the phrase “Ahl al Sunnah”, meaning “people of the Tradition”, hinting at their conservative practices.

But does a 1,400 year-old religious schism adequately explain the ongoing tensions in the Middle East?

1979: Saudi Arabia shifts uneasily as a Shah is toppled

As it turns out, no.

“Religious differences have a political function, whether they are used against non-Muslims or even within the Muslim community,” says AH Mohapatra, professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies in Delhi’s Jawarharlal Nehru University.

“Islam is unique in that it is a political religion par excellence, meaning that it is more susceptible to abuse and misuse to the benefit of political actors than, say, Judaism or Christianity,” he adds, emphasising the use of religious demarcations as a method for both Iran and Saudi Arabia to articulate their political desires.

Contemporary Sunni-Shia relations, which usually revolved around a clear hierarchy that favoured the former, changed almost completely in 1979, the year of the Iranian Revolution. The triumph of a revolutionary radical Shia Islamist agenda was seen as a challenge to the conservative Sunni countries; especially in the Gulf States, and especially in Saudi Arabia, which began assembling allies.

That they along with future enemies would fall along the lines of the historical Sunni-Shia divide was certainly not a coincidence; but neither was it the driving force behind the instability in modern Iranian-Saudi Arabian relations.

As the political scientist Gilles Kepel noted, Iran’s revolution constituted a potent challenge to the existing Shia-Sunni status quo, and the political gambles that ensued after 1979 were articulated with that ancient schism in mind. This was further exacerbated by the particular school of Sunni thought that Saudi Arabia follows - Wahhabism - which strictly does not consider Shias to even be Islamic.

The sectarian violence that followed this political standoff was not a result of politics over a religious issue; rather it stemmed from political ambitions of two very different states who realised that they could use the schism to further their own goals. Religion, as is so often the case, became a tool to further the aims of the state.

Read: Shia cleric’s execution in Saudi exposes divisions in the Middle East

The rapid escalation of violence in the region along Sunni-Shia lines can perhaps be better understood by understanding the times in which they grew. According to the academic and Middle East scholar Vali Nusr, as the Muslim world became decolonised the ideology of Arab Nationalism began to lose its appeal. Fundamentalism blossomed as a consequence, with the harsh teachings of the Sunni scholar Ibn Taymiyyah being especially popular.

There are some caveats to this argument, of course. Sectarian violence did flare up before 1979, and Saudi Arabia and Iran are not the only groups to have used the division for political gain (Saddam Hussein did during his war with Iran in the 1980s, and the largely-Sunni Islamic State group has been exploiting the conflict successfully in its fight in Iraq and Syria). But the fact remains that sectarian violence has only become a defining issue for the Middle East relatively recently.

Future consequences

So what does the fallout between Iran and Saudi Arabia mean?

With relations between the two countries at their lowest since the 1980s (Saudi Arabia had backed Saddam’s invasion of Iran) it is clear that the ramifications of the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has caused a political fallout across the Muslim world. The ongoing conflicts in the Middle East are already complex in nature because of the political machinations of both nations; in Yemen, Zaidi Shia-led Houthis launched a revolution with the backing of Iran, while in Syria Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shia fighters are currently fighting on the side of the al-Assad regime against a largely Sunni-dominated opposition which includes the Islamic State.

So it is possible that the escalating tensions between the two rivals will hamper peace efforts in the region.

There are also questions about how India, home to the second-largest number of Shias in the world, should react. “The MEA should think about acting in terms of dousing the flames before sectarian violence spills over from the Middle East,” says Professor Aftar Kamal Pasha, another professor at the Centre for West Asian Studies.

“It shouldn’t result in a law-and-order problem, but it certainly will have an impact on our country - among the Kashmiri Shias for example, and may change what the minority groups expect from the local political parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Telugu Desam Party.”

“India faces a challenge because of the increasing bilateral alliance that has emerged during the Syrian Civil War, and that has been exacerbated by the Yemen revolution,” agrees Mohapatra. “We can’t escape the situation because of our Shia population and the fact that we are dependent on Saudi Arabia for oil and Iran for gas - not to mention the historical and cultural ties we have with Iran.”

Despite Maulani Wali Rehmani, the general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, in an interview with Indian Express saying that the fallout from the executions would “not reflect here as there is no such inherent tensions here,” the Centre may have to consider a suitable response to the escalating crisis.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world/the-sunni-shia-split-why-conflict-defines-saudi-iran-relations/story-HBdzpRThsAdfjZoQDEwfHI.html

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Arab World

 

IS fighter executes mother for asking him to leave group

Jan 9, 2016

BEIRUT: A member of the militant Islamic State (IS) group killed his mother in a public square in the Syrian city of Raqa, a monitor said on Friday.

Ali Saqr, 20, reported his mother, Lina, to IS authorities in Raqa “because she tried to persuade him to leave IS and flee the city”, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The authorities subsequently arrested the woman and accused her of apostasy, the monitoring group said.

On Wednesday, she was shot to death by her son “in front of hundreds of people close to the mail service building in Raqa city”, the Observatory said.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the woman, who was in her forties, was living in the nearby town of Tabaqa but worked in Raqa city.

The incident was widely condemned online by social media users.

Raqa is the de facto Syrian capital of IS’s so-called “caliphate”, the territories it controls in Syria and Iraq where it imposes its harsh interpretations of Islamic law.

Among the crimes that warrant a death sentence in IS territories are homosexuality and adultery, according to the Observatory.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231752/is-fighter-executes-mother-for-asking-him-to-leave-group

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US Ground Troops Deployed in Syria's Aleppo

Jan 08, 2016

"The US troops are presently in control of the Tishrin Dam," the Arabic service of Deutsche Welle news channel quoted Syria's Local Coordinating Committees as saying on Friday.

This is the first US deployment of ground forces in Syria after crisis started in the country in March 2011.

The US deployment runs counter to President Obama's repeated claims that his country would have "no boots on the ground" in Iraq and Syria.

On November 25, the Syrian Local Coordinating Committees announced that the US officers and soldiers had entered the town of Kobani and on December 22 they set up an operations room with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the town of Mesrin in the Northern part of Aleppo province in a bid to take control of Tishrin Dam.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000488

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U.S. launches task force to combat violent extremism

9 January 2016

The White House announced Friday the formation of a new task force to combat the recruitment of Americans to violent extremist movements like ISIS.

The new effort comes in response to frustration that ISIS operatives and supporters have managed to recruit followers in Europe and the United States and launch deadly attacks without detection by intelligence services.

"The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino this winter underscored the need for the United States and our partners in the international community and the private sector to deny violent extremists like ISIL fertile recruitment ground," said National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price, using another acronym for ISIS.

The Countering Violent Extremism Task Force will harmonize Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department efforts in combatting domestic extremism.

It comes as the White House was to open top level discussions in California Friday with top Silicon Valley Internet firms aimed at finding ways to cooperate in detecting and fighting radicalization by terror groups.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/New-U-S-task-force-to-fight-home-grown-extremism.html

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Iraq denies Turkish forces clashed with ISIS

9 January 2016

Iraq’s joint operations command denied on Saturday that Turkish forces based in northern Iraq had been attacked by ISIS or had clashed with the militants, refuting claims by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“The joint operations command denies there was a terrorist attack on the position of Turkish forces in Bashiqa by the terrorist Daesh (ISIS) recently,” said a news flash on state television, referring to a military base near Mosul.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/Iraq-denies-Turkish-forces-clashed-with-ISIS.html

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Iraqi special forces target IS in Hawija

January 09, 2015

BAGHDAD - Foreign special forces have been carrying out raids on an Islamic State stronghold in northern Iraq ahead of an offensive planned later this year to retake Mosul, the largest city under the group’s control, Iraq’s parliamentary speaker said.

Several attacks behind Islamic State lines around Hawija, 210 kilometres (130 miles) north of Baghdad, were carried out in recent weeks, Salim al-Jabouri told Reuters on Thursday.

Both the US and Iraqi military have denied that US forces have carried out military operations on the ground in Hawija since October, when US special forces rescued 69 Iraqis in a raid that killed one US commando. But Dubai-based al-Hadath TV and Iraqi media have reported at least half a dozen raids in and around Hawija since late December, led by US special forces.

Washington said last month it was deploying a new force of around 100 special operations troops to Iraq to conduct raids against Islamic State there and in neighbouring Syria, without providing details.

US Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the international coalition bombing Islamic State, rejected the media reports this week, calling them “Iranian disinformation” aimed at distracting from Iraqi military gains against Islamic State elsewhere.

He told Reuters that coalition forces in Iraq have not operated on the ground since the October operation. Iraq’s defence minister last week also denied that the US had a role in such raids.

Special operations in Hawija “have been repeated a second and third time ... These operations are bearing fruit,” said Jabouri, Iraq’s most senior Sunni Arab official. “They eliminate the terrorists and free innocents, and for us it represents a positive development.” Jabouri said the raids were carried out “from time to time” and “supported by Iraqi forces” but did not specify whether the United States played a role or how many had occurred.

The raids are “not direct ground attacks; they are operations targeting the dens of Daesh in important and sensitive areas,” Jabouri said, using an Arabic acronym for the group, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL. He said they were not enough to get rid of Islamic State but “are dealing them strong blows”. Local sources near Hawija, including a police officer and a municipal official, said last week that several raids had targeted Islamic State buildings including a courthouse and a police station, killing and capturing several militant leaders. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The October raid that included US special forces “is the only operation that we have spoken about and the only one that we will speak about,” Warren, the coalition spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday.

That operation, conducted with peshmerga commandos from northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, sparked outrage by powerful Iranian-backed Shia militias and Abadi’s own ruling coalition.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-Jan-2016/iraqi-special-forces-target-is-in-hawija

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Clashes Intensifying Near Deir Ezzur Airbase

Jan 08, 2016

"The ISIL launched an offensive at the Deir Ezzur airbase around the Southeastern perimeter of this large military base in Eastern Syria," the army said.

"Launching their preliminary assault from the strategic hilltop of Tal Kroum near the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River, hundreds of the ISIL fighters stormed the Syrian army's frontline positions at the Southeastern perimeter of the airbase, where they attempted to break past the first line of defense of the government forces and reach the security outposts," the army added.

"However, the ISIL's offensive was short-lived, as the Syrian army alongside the National Defense Forces (NDF) fought off the terrorists attempting to bypass their first line of defense near Tal Kroum," the army went on to say.

"The ISIL lost 33 fighters during their massive assault on the Syrian army’s defenses; these losses – coupled with the government forces advance at the Al-Thayyem Oilfields – have made this week a disaster for the terrorist group," the army went on to say.

The Syrian Army troops and their popular allies inflicted tens of casualties on invading ISIL militants after their positions around Deir Ezzur airbase came under massive attacks by the terrorist group for a second day on Friday.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000514

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Lattakia: Syrian Army Wins Back Strategic Regions

Jan 08, 2016

The army units took control of Tal Kherba, Al Juba and Height 1023 in Lattakia province on Friday. 

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured in heavy clashes with the Syrian troops and also during the Russian assaults.

The Syrian army captured several other strategic heights in the mountainous regions of Lattakia province after hours of fierce battle earlier today.

"The Syrian army troops and the country's National Defense Forces (NDF) continue to advance against the terrorist groups North of Lattakia and took back Heights 292, 296 and 387," the army said.

"The pro-government forces also won back the Heights 465, 342 and 489 near the newly-liberated village of al-Sarraf," the army added.

"Daghdaghan Farm, 60 kilometers to the North of Lattakia, came also under control of the Syrian government forces," the army said.

"Daghdaghan Farm was a one of the main centers of the militant groups used for storing weapons, ammunition and equipment coming from Turkey to make chemical weapons," the army added.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000727

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Militants Suffer Heavy Casualties in Gov't Forces' Attacks North of Dara'a

Jan 08, 2016

"The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) continued to hunt the militants near Sheikh Meskeen," the army said today almost a week after the conquest of the strategic city where al-Nusra Front, FSA and other terrorist groups lost hundreds of militants before withdrawing from the region.

"The militant groups' armed vehicles and hardware were also destroyed in the attack," the army added.

Earlier reports said that the Syrian Army troops and their popular allies advanced against the terrorist groups close to the border with Jordan in the Dara'a province for the first time in several months.

"The Syrian army and the NDF have advanced to the final border point in the al-Manshiyeh Quarter of Dara’a City before reaching the Nayef border-crossing to the Jordanian province of ‘Irbid," the sources said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000567

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Syrian Army Hits Militants' Centers Hard East of Quneitra

Jan 08, 2016

"The Eastern side of Mashara village near the Southwestern city of Quneitra was the scene of the Syrian army men's special operation against the militant groups," the army said.

"The army's attack was so heavy that the militant groups preferred to pull back forces from the battlefield after leaving behind scores of dead and wounded members," the army added.

On Tuesday, the militant groups' concentration centers in the Northern and Northeastern parts of Quneitra province were massively shelled by the Syrian army's artillery and missile units.

The militants' military grid, including a tank, were targeted in the Syrian army's missile-shelling in al-Hamidiyah in the Northern part of the province.

In the meantime a provincial source said that the tanks' crew were also killed or wounded in the attack.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000356

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Syrian Army Advancing against Militants near Border with Jordan

Jan 08, 2016

"The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have advanced to the final border point in the al-Manshiyeh Quarter of Dara’a City before reaching the Nayef border-crossing to the Jordanian province of ‘Irbid," the sources said.

"Overwhelmed and exhausted, the militants issued a distress call to their allies in the region to help them beat back the advancing government forces," they added.

"After months of fighting with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the provincial capital of Dara’a, the Syrian army’s 5th Armored Division is finally within a few hundred meters of the Jordanian-Syrian border-crossing," the sources said.

On Thursday, the Syrian army killed a large group of terrorists of al-Nusra Front and its allies in the recently-captured town of Sheikh Meskeen in Dara'a province amid reports of heavy airstrikes and artillery shelling.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000261

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Syria: Gov't Forces Inflict Major Losses on Militants North of Homs

Jan 08, 2016

The pro-government forces stormed the village of Um Sharhsouh, 10 kilometers North of the city of Homs and two kilometers to West of the M5 highway, killed a large number of terrorists and destroyed their military equipment.

Sources said earlier today that the Syrian Army has launched massive operations in Homs province.

"The ISIL defense lines in the ancient Assyrian town of Quaryatayn have been under heavy attack by the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF), which have left many terrorists dead or wounded," the army said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000616

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Gov't Forces Drive Militants Back From More Heights North of Syria's Lattakia

Jan 08, 2016

"The Syrian army troops and the country's National Defense Forces (NDF) continue to advance against the terrorist groups North of Lattakia and took back Heights 292, 296 and 387," the army said.

"The pro-government forces also won back the Heights 465, 342 and 489 near the newly-liberated village of al-Sarraf," the army added.

"Daghdaghan Farm, 60 kilometers to the North of Lattakia, came also under control of the Syrian government forces," the army said.

"Daghdaghan Farm was a one of the main centers of the militant groups used for storing weapons, ammunition and equipment coming from Turkey to make chemical weapons," the army added.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000167

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Cairo suburb gun attack kills officer and soldier

9 January 2016

Armed men shot dead a police officer and a soldier on Saturday while they were in their car in the Giza area, on the outskirts of Cairo, the state news agency said.

"Immediately after the incident several moving and fixed checkpoints were deployed in the Muneeb area in order to crack down on the attackers and catch them," a security source was quoted as saying by the state news agency.

Egypt is fighting a wave of Islamist militancy against security forces which started in the remote regions of the Sinai, but is increasingly spreading closer to the capital and focusing on targets previously considered safe such tourist resorts on the Red Sea.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/Cairo-suburb-gun-attack-kills-officer-and-soldier-.html

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Starving besieged Syrian towns to receive aid

9 January 2016

Humanitarian groups could begin delivering much-needed aid in three besieged Syrian towns as early as Sunday, spokesmen said on Friday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said they were preparing convoys packed with food and medical supplies for suffering populations in the towns of Madaya, al-Foua and Kefraya.

As Syria reels from civil war, a six-month-long blockade of Madaya by the Syrian army and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, has trapped about 40,000 residents now enduring a harsh winter.

Further north, the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya, in the Idlib governorate, are home to some 20,000 residents under siege by armed opposition groups.

Twenty-three people have died of starvation in Madaya since Dec. 1 at health centers supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the global medical aid group said.

Aid deliveries could start on Sunday or Monday as documentation is being prepared, said Pawel Krzysiek, a spokesman for the ICRC in Syria, speaking from Damascus.

The trips could be dangerous as the convoys cross battle lines, he said.

“Basically we’ll be crossing from the territory controlled by one side to the territory controlled by another,” Krzysiek said. “As you can imagine it is always a very, very sensitive operation.”

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/Aid-to-be-delivered-to-starving-Syrian-towns.html

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Uprising anniversary protests would violate Shariah: Egypt minister

9 January 2016

CAIRO: Egypt’s minister of religious endowments has warned against holding protests during the anniversary of the uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, the state news agency said, and suggested any unrest would violate Islamic law.

Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said during a meeting with officials in his ministry that maintaining stability and security is a priority.

He referred to a statement from Egypt’s grand mufti, the country’s highest religious authority, which said that any call for protests or destruction “is a full crime and illegal according to Shariah,” said MENA state news agency.

The uprising, which started on Jan. 25, 2011 and lasted 18 days, had raised hopes of a new era of democracy and greater economic opportunities in a country long dominated by men from the military and business and political elites who support them.

Instead it triggered turmoil and instability which hurt the economy, and the political landscape resembles the past.

Under the current rule, protesting without police permission is illegal.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/862456

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Iraq denies Turkey's claims of Daesh raid

Jan 9, 2016

Iraq has rejected Turkey’s claims that its forces "illegally" deployed to the Arab country had come under attack by Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

"The joint operations command denies there was a terrorist attack on the position of Turkish forces in Bashiqa by the terrorist Daesh recently," Iraq's state television said, referring to a military base near Mosul.

On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish forces had repelled an attempt by Daesh militants to infiltrate into their camp in the Nineveh province and killed 18 militants.

Erdogan said the alleged attack showed Turkey's decision to deploy troops to Iraq was justified.

However, the Iraqi TV said, "The joint operations command denies what was relayed in some media outlets from the Turkish president about clashing between the Turkish forces inside Iraqi territory and the terrorist Daesh whether in Bashiqa or any other areas."

Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accused Ankara of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troop deployment. Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari said Baghdad could resort to military action if forced.

Ankara has acknowledged there was a "miscommunication" with Baghdad over the troop deployment.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/09/445101/Iraq-Turkey-Daesh-Bashiqa-Erdogan/

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Mideast

 

Yemen being hit with banned US-made cluster bombs: HRW

January 09, 2016

NEW YORK - Human Rights Watch has accused the Saudi Arabia-led coalition of dropping banned cluster bombs manufactured and supplied by the US on civilian areas in Yemen, and called for an international inquiry into the alleged war crime.

Cluster bombs contain dozens or even hundreds of smaller munitions designed to fan out over a wide area, often the size of a football field. They are banned under a 2008 treaty for the high civilian toll they can cause. The treaty was adopted by 116 countries - although not by Saudi Arabia, Yemen or the United States.

According to Human Rights Watch, the US-supplied cluster bombs have landed near rebel-held villages in northern Yemen, putting residents in danger. Saudi-led coalition forces seriously violated the laws of war by airdropping the "indiscriminate weapon" on populated areas in the Yemeni capital on January 6, HRW said in a report

"The coalition's repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime," HRW arms director Steve Goose said, adding that these attacks are "outrageous." While no civilian casualties of the attacks on Wednesday have been reported as yet, cluster munitions have damaged residential buildings and cars, HRW said citing eyewitnesses.

"Many homes and a local kindergarten with newly pockmarked walls and broken windows" could be seen in the attacked residential areas, the human rights organization said.HRW also oversees an international treaty banning cluster munitions.

"Human Rights Watch viewed photographs taken on January 6 in Sanaa that showed unmistakable remnants of cluster munitions, including unexploded submunitions," HRW added.

The nearest "small" military targets including an office and a garage used by military guards, at which the strikes might have been directed, were hundreds of meters from the populated areas that were hit. "The use of cluster munitions meant they [the attacks] were still unlawful," the organization said.

The human rights advocacy group identified the munitions "as US-made BLU-63 antipersonnel/anti-material submunitions and components of a CBU-58 cluster bomb."It added that parts of the bomb remnants had markings indicating that it was manufactured in the US in 1978. According to US export records obtained by HRW, Washington transferred 1,000 such bombs to Saudi Arabia sometime between 1970 and 1995.

Nearly 2,800 civilians have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the UN said earlier this week. At the start of the year it was reported that the Saudi-led coalition might resume its bombing raids on Houthi anti-government forces in Yemen, after it decided to end a previously agreed ceasefire. The US State Department has said it is "looking into" the report’s allegations, adding it takes "all accounts of civilian deaths in the ongoing hostilities in Yemen very seriously."

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-Jan-2016/yemen-being-hit-with-banned-us-made-cluster-bombs-hrw

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Iran accuses Saudis of 'sectarian hate-mongering' at UN

Jan 9, 2016

UNITED NATIONS: Iran told the United Nations on Friday that it does not want to escalate tensions in the Middle East, even as it took a swipe at Saudi Arabia for what it called “sectarian hate-mongering".

Saudi Arabia was “spreading delusional hype about Iran” after failing to derail the nuclear deal reached with world powers, Tehran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“We have no desire or interest in escalation of tension in our neighbourhood,” Zarif said in the letter, obtained by AFP.

Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after angry protesters ransacked and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran over the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The tensions between the Sunni and Shia powers have reverberated across the Middle East and the Muslim world, complicating efforts to resolve conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

“Iran has called for Islamic unity in the face of Saudi sectarian hate-mongering,” Zarif wrote.

The foreign minister called for unity to confront extremists and said Riyadh must make a “crucial choice” to either “continue supporting extremist terrorists” or “play a constructive role in promoting regional stability".

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231836/iran-accuses-saudis-of-sectarian-hate-mongering-at-un

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Saudi Arabia Set to Try 4 Iranians on Terrorism, Spying Charges

Jan 08, 2016

The Riyadh government intends to try three Iranians on alleged terrorism charges and another individual for cooperation with Iran's intelligence ministry, the Saudi media reported.

The news comes as Saudi Arabia has sentenced another Iranian national to 13 years in jail on charges of trying to conduct terrorist attacks in the kingdom during the Hajj rituals. He will be deported after serving his term.

The Saudi media, however, did not elaborate on the venue and date of trial of the four Iranian nationals, or their identity.

The trial of Iranian nationals by Saudi Arabia comes after the kingdom cut its diplomatic ties with Iran in protest at an attack by a group of angry Iranian protesters at its embassy in Tehran.

Saudi Arabia has been pursuing a crisis-escalation policy against Iran during the last week.

The Saudi interior ministry announced on Saturday that it has executed Sheikh Nimr and 46 others. After the news was released, angry Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy.

Angry protesters in Tehran and Mashhad cities held protest rallies in front of the Saudi missions, with a number of protestors storming the embassy in the capital and throwing firecrackers at the building which caused fire.

Police rushed to the scene and dispersed the crowd.

A judiciary official announced on Sunday that the police forces arrested 40 people who had ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran last night after Riyadh executed a prominent Muslim cleric.

"40 people who had entered the embassy building have been identified and arrested so far," Tehran's Public Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said.

He underlined that investigations still continue to identify and detain other culprits who entered and damaged a part of the building after hearing reports of execution of Sheikh Nimr by Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Judiciary officials said four people have also been detained in connection with the Mashhad raid.

Spokesman of Tehran's Fire Department Jalal Maleki told FNA that the small fire at the Saudi embassy was extinguished very fast, adding that no one was injured in the incident.

He added that the fire damaged some properties at the Saudi mission.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari called for calm, and said there should be no more demonstrations around Saudi diplomatic premises.

He condemned the execution of Sheikh Nimr again, but underlined Tehran's responsibility for protecting the diplomatic places.

Also police officials announced that any protest rally in front of the Saudi embassy is forbidden.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000649

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Commander: Saudi Arabia's Collapse Imminent

Jan 08, 2016

"The Al Saud will collapse in the near future if it keeps on its sectarian policies in the region," General Salami warned on Friday.

He said that the Riyadh government's policies will produce a domino effect, and underlined, "The Saudi rulers will be buried under the avalanche that they have created."

General Salami's remarks came after the Saudi government executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr on Saturday and sparked angry protests worldwide that led to severance of ties with Iran.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian Intelligence Minister Seyed Mahmoud Alavi in a message condemned Sheikh Nimr's execution, and reiterated that the Saudi regime will be toppled soon.

"By adopting terroristic and inhuman policies, the Al Saud regime will not achieve enhanced security; on the contrary it will face imminent downfall," Alavi said.

The Iranian intelligence minister condemned Sheikh Nimr's execution, and extended his condolences to the Muslim Ulemmas (scholars), freedom-seeking nations and the axis of resistance.

Saudi Arabia has been pursuing a crisis-escalation policy against Iran during the last week.

The Saudi interior ministry announced on Saturday that it has executed Sheikh Nimr and 46 others. After the news was released, angry Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy.

Angry protesters in Tehran and Mashhad cities held protest rallies in front of the Saudi missions, with a number of protestors storming the embassy in the capital and throwing firecrackers at the building which caused fire.

Police rushed to the scene and dispersed the crowd.

A judiciary official announced on Sunday that the police forces arrested 40 people who had ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran last night after Riyadh executed a prominent Muslim cleric.

"40 people who had entered the embassy building have been identified and arrested so far," Tehran's Public Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said.

He underlined that investigations still continue to identify and detain other culprits who entered and damaged a part of the building after hearing reports of execution of Sheikh Nimr by Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Judiciary officials said four people have also been detained in connection with the Mashhad raid.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000694

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Yemeni Forces Down Another Saudi Apache Helicopter

Jan 08, 2016

"The Yemeni forces hit an Apache helicopter in Midi region in Hajjah province," the Arab-language media outlets quoted informed Yemen sources as saying on Friday.

The Yemeni army and the popular forces have intensified their attacks against the Saudi forces and their military positions in recent week by destroying their warships and helicopters.

In a relevant development in late December, an ammunition depot and two Apache helicopters of the pro-Saudi forces were also destroyed in the Yemeni ballistic missile strikes in Southern Yemen.

In late August, the Yemeni forces downed another Saudi Apache helicopter in al-Khubah district of Jizan Province, on the Yemeni-Saudi border.

Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the attack.

On December 28, Yemen's army and popular forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship in the waters near Bab al-Mandab Strait, the ninth Saudi vessel sinking in waters offshore Yemen in the last four months.

The Saudi warship was targeted with Yemeni missiles in the Al-Mukha coastal waters in the province of Ta'iz.

The sunken ship had repeatedly fired rockets at the residential areas in Ta'iz province, inflicting casualties and destruction there.

Other Saudi battleships that were approaching Yemen's coasts retreated fast following the attack.

The coast of Al-Mukha is located in Bab al-Mandab strait and the Saudi-led forces have been trying hard for several months now to win control over the coastal regions near the waterway.

On December 11, the Yemeni forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship in the waters near Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

On December 5, the Yemeni forces destroyed a Saudi-led coalition warship al-Mukha coast.

On November 25, the Yemeni forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship in the waters near Bab al-Mandab Strait.

On November 15, Yemeni forces destroyed a Saudi-led coalition warship al-Mukha coast.

On November 7, Yemeni forces fired rockets at a Saudi-led coalition warship and destroyed it near al-Mukha coast.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000358

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Syrian Army Launches New Massive Operations in Homs Province

Jan 08, 2016

"The ISIL defense lines in the ancient Assyrian town of Quaryatayn have been under heavy attack by the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF), which have left many terrorists dead or wounded," the army said.

"In the meantime, the pro-government forces have done a great job in targeting and destroying the militant groups' centers near Talbiseh in the Northern part of province since the early hours of this morning, causing heavy losses on the militants," the army added.

On Thursday, the Syrian army struck heavy blows at the Takfiri militants in Homs province amid reports of intensified air attacks on the terrorist' positions.

The Syrian warplanes bombed militants' positions in the ancient city of Palmyra, while the army also fired artillery shells at terrorists' positions in the cities of Quaryatayn and al-Houla.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941018000582

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Israeli soldiers shoot dead two Palestinians in West Bank

9 January 2016

Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinian men who tried to stab soldiers at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the Israeli military said, part of a wave of violence now in its fourth month.

The soldiers were not injured in the confrontation at Bekaot checkpoint in the northern West Bank and Israeli forces "thwarted the attack and shot the assailants," said the military. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the two men were dead.

Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks have killed 21 Israelis and a U.S. citizen since Oct. 1. Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 139 Palestinians, 89 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most others have been killed in clashes with security forces.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/Israeli-soldiers-shoot-dead-two-Palestinians-in-West-Bank.html

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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince receives Saudi Deputy Crown Prince

9 January 2016

Crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahayan received in Abu Dhabi on Friday Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who is on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Sheikh Mohammad discussed with the Deputy Crown Prince ties between the two countries and ways to strengthen and develop common strategic interests.

The two exchanged views on the current regional and international developments in addition to a number of issues of mutual concern.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/Abu-Dhabi-crown-prince-receives-Saudi-deputy-crown-prince.html

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Yemen rescinds expulsion of U.N. rights official

9 January 2016

Yemen told the United Nations on Friday that it has rescinded its decision to expel the leading U.N. rights official in the country, diplomats said.

The Yemeni foreign ministry announced a day earlier that it had declared George Abu al-Zulof persona non grata, accusing him of lacking impartiality in his reporting on the human rights situation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged the government to reverse its decision and allow Zulof to stay, warning that Yemen would be falling short of its obligations by "impeding" U.N. human rights work.

Diplomats said Yemen's foreign ministry had notified the United Nations that the decision had been reversed and was to send official confirmation.

Relations between the United Nations and the government of President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi have become testy over the world body's increasingly vocal criticism of the war in Yemen.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/01/09/Yemen-rescinds-expulsion-of-U-N-rights-official.html

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Leader warns of enemy attempts to harm Iran's Islamic Revolution

Jan 9, 2016

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says enemies have left no stone unturned over the past decades to destroy Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In a Saturday meeting with a group of people from the holy city of Qom, Ayatollah Khameni said the Islamic Republic faces an enemy front comprised of the US, the Israeli regime and the Daesh Takfiri terror group.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/09/445117/Iran-Ayatollah-Khamenei-Qom-Meeting-Enemies/

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Turkey did not summon Iran ambassador: Iranian source

Jan 9, 2016

Iran rejects claims that Turkey had summoned its ambassador to Ankara to protest criticism of President Recept Tayyip Erdogan in the Iranian media.

“The news on the summoning is a lie,” Mehr News Agency quoted the informed source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry as saying on Friday.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said earlier Bikdeli was summoned over reports linking the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia to last week’s visit to Riyadh by Erdogan.

The Iranian source denied the allegation. “The Iranian ambassador, on his own request and in order to outline Iran's positions and the current developments in this regard, had asked the Turkish Foreign Ministry for a meeting."

“The purpose of this short news piece was to imply that Turkey had joined Saudi allies in the diplomatic protest against Iran,” the source added.

Bikdeli himself has denied having been summoned. The IRNA news agency on Friday quoted him as saying on his Facebook page that his visit to the Turkish ministry had been planned before.  

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/09/445093/Iran-Turkey-Iranian-ambassador-Saudi-Arabia-Nimr/

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South Asia

 

U.S. Army deploying 500 soldiers to Afghanistan

Jan 09 2016

The U.S. Army will deploy about 500 soldiers to Afghanistan for an assignment of up to nine months who will also serve as advisors to Afghan national security forces.

According to information released by the Army on Friday, the soldiers will be deployed later this winter to join the 10th Mountain Division at Bagram Airfield after completing a mission rehearsal exercise this month at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

“Our nation’s Army continues to call upon Mountain soldiers to serve around the

world in places like Afghanistan due to their proven record of high standards, mission success and selfless service,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, in a statement.

This comes after the NATO and U.S. military commander in Afghanistan General John F. Campbell said that due to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan he seeks to keep as many U.S. troops in Afghanistan as possible through 2016.

In a telephonic interview with USA TODAY from Kabul, Gen. John Campbell said that maintaining the current force of 9,800 U.S. troops to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism raids is vital, and that the scheduled reduction to 5,500 by Jan. 1, 2017, should be put off as long as possible.

“My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could,” he said. “At some point it becomes physics. I’m going to have to get them out.”

“My job as commander on the ground is to continually make assessments,” Gen. Campbell added. “Every time I’ve gone to the president and said, ‘I need X,’ I’ve been very, very fortunate that he’s provided that. So he’s been very flexible. It’s actually been conditions based as we’ve gone forward.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/u-s-army-deploying-500-soldiers-to-afghanistan-4474

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IS claims murder of Christian convert in Bangladesh

January 09, 2016

DHAKA - Islamic State has claimed responsibility for murdering a Christian convert in Bangladesh, says an online group that monitors extremist activity, the latest killing declared by the militant group in the South Asian nation.

Islamist violence has surged in recent months in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, but the government has rejected Islamic State's claims of involvement, blaming political opponents instead.

The US-based SITE Intelligence Group said Islamic State had asserted that it killed the man on Thursday in Jhenaidah, a district about 100 miles (161 km) west of Dhaka, the capital, because he converted from Islam.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-Jan-2016/is-claims-murder-of-christian-convert-in-bangladesh

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Ghani extends term of the appointed members of Afghan Senate

Jan 09 2016

President Mohammad AShraf Ghani extended the term of the appointed members of the Afghan Senate – Upper House of the Parliament (Meshrano Jirga), the Presidential Palace said Saturday.

A statement by ARG Palace said the decision was taken following a meeting with the members of the Afghan Senate House on Friday.

The statement further added that the meeting was attended by the chairman of the Senate House (Meshrano Jirga) Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, deputy administrative chiefs along with the administrative delegation of the Senate House.

The deputy head of the Office of Administrative Affairs Nematullah Sayer read the presidential decree regarding the extension of the term of appointed members of the Afghan Senate, the statement said, adding that the decree was issued after the members of the Senate House requested President Ghani to extend the term of the appointed members in accordance with the enforced laws of the country.

According to the decree, the appointed members of the Senate House will continue to their work until the end of 16th period of the Lower House of the Parliament and appointment of the new members as per the article 84 of the Afghan constitution.

This comes as the government extended the term of the lawmakers in the Lower House of the Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) in June last year, saying the term of the parliament has been extended until the parliamentary elections are conducted and results are announced.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace announced late in December last year that the government is prepared for the Parliamentary and Provincial Councils elections between summer and fall seasons of next year.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/ghani-extends-term-of-the-appointed-members-of-afghan-senate-1956

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Afghan intelligence conducted over 2,000 raids in 2015: Andarabi

Jan 09 2016

The Afghan intelligence operatives conducted around 2,200 counter-terrorism raids across the country in 2015 and thwarted major terrorist attack plots by the anti-government armed militant groups.

The acting Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief Masoud Andarabi told reporters during the general session of the parliament that the Afghan intelligence operatives eliminated at least 14 terrorist groups during the same period.

Andarabi was summoned along with the other top government officials by the Afghan lawmakers to brief the house regarding the deteriorating security situation of the country.

He said some of the major strategies of the anti-government armed militant groups were also thwarted by the Afghan forces.

Andarabi further added that the militant groups were looking to execute their strategies in some of the volatile provinces, including northern Kunduz, eastern Nangarhar, southern Helmand provinces.

In regards to threats posed by the emergent loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan, Andarabi said the Afghan security institutions are closely working to ascertain the roots of the terror group, insisting that the extremist group has links outside the country.

The remarks by Andarabi comes as the loyalists of the terror group have recently increased their insurgency activities and anti-government propaganda besides terrorizing the residents of eastern parts of the country as they aim to establish a regional base in eastern Nangarhar province.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-intelligence-conducted-over-2000-raids-in-2015-andarabi-1955

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Afghan Air Force to receive another Mi-25 from India in 3 weeks

Jan 09 2016

The Afghan Air Force will receive the fourth and final Mi-25 gunship helicopter from India within the next three weeks, acting defense minister Masoom Stanikzai said Saturday.

Briefing the Afghan lawmakers in the Lower House of the Parliament – Wolesi Jirga, Stanikzai said the Ministry of Defense is working on a long term plan for the development of the Afghan Air Force which covers the equipment process and training of the Afghan pilots, maintainers and engineers over a period of five years.

Stanikzai also expressed optimisms regarding the growth of the Afghan Air Force capabilities with the arrival of fixed wing light attack aircraft from United States.

Afghanistan received three of the four Mi-25 gunship helicopters from India late in the month of December last year and days before the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kabul.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-air-force-to-receive-another-mi-25-from-india-in-3-weeks-1954

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US drone kills Daesh, civilians in Afghanistan: Report

Jan 9, 2016

At least 17 people are killed in a US drone strike in the Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, the local Khaama Press says.

The strike in the Achin district on Friday targeted a crowd who had gathered to watch Daesh's beheading of Taliban militants and an Afghan soldier, the report said.

An official source said Daesh terrorists had asked the people to attend beheading of seven people.

The drone attack took place as the fifth beheading was underway, a local resident told Khama Press.

A provincial spokesman said the fatalities included four Daesh commanders and an unknown number of civilians.

On Friday, clashes left 13 Takfiri terrorists dead and more than 10 Taliban injured in Nangarhar’s Chaparhar district. 

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/01/09/445103/Afghanistan-Daesh-US-drone-raid-Nangarhar-Taliban/

----------

 

Terror in South Asia

Jan 9, 2016

Despite so many anti-terror wars

Recent attacks against Indian interests – one in Pathankot inside India and the other in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan – show how terrorists remain able to not only strike at sensitive locations, but also disrupt crucial, landmark diplomatic advances. To a large extent the terrorist attack has achieved its aim, though not completely. New Delhi has acted more responsibly than expected, but it has associated further advancement in the recent ‘thaw’ with progress, from Pakistan, on investigating the attacks. In addition to bringing perpetrators of this particular round of attacks to book, this development raises a number of important regional questions as well.

With the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and to an extent, India fighting wars against terrorism, the phenomenon should have died some time ago. Instead, it has not just grown, but assumed dangerous proportions. And while the popular narrative about the Pathankot fallout will concentrate on Pakistan reining in alleged former proxies, there is a greater question that the region faces. Clearly various anti-terror initiatives have not met their desired ends. In fact, only the Pakistani operation has come close to something worth writing home about, and here too much needs to be done before the fight is eventually won.

Full report at:

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/09/comment/terror-in-south-asia/

----------

 

North America

 

‘ISIS sympathizer’ shoots Philadelphia police officer

9 January 2016

A man claiming allegiance to ISIS shot and seriously wounded a police officer in Philadelphia, opening fire multiple times at point-blank range with a stolen police gun before he was arrested, officials said

The apparent assassination attempt comes amid heightened security -- and paranoia -- in the United States following last month's assault by a radicalized Muslim couple in California that killed 14 people, and the November terror attacks in Paris.

Policeman Jesse Hartnett, 33, was shot three times in his left arm as he sat in his patrol car late Thursday in the northeastern city. "I'm shot. I'm bleeding heavily," he yelled in a dispatch call.

Authorities said they were astonished he survived.

Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross called the attack "absolutely chilling" and described the officer's injuries as "very, very serious."

Stills captured from video surveillance and released to the press show the suspect -- named by police as Edward Archer, 30, a local man -- opening fire as he walked towards the patrol car, extending his arm into the vehicle and then continuing to fire as he flees on foot.

"If that doesn't just make the hairs on your neck just rise when you see that, it's scary," Ross told reporters.

The officer got out of his vehicle, despite being injured, and managed to return fire, hitting the suspect, who was quickly arrested.

"He stated that he pledges his allegiance to Islamic State," homicide police Captain James Clark told a news conference, using another name for ISIS.

Police said Archer has a criminal record, but that it was unclear whether he acted alone or as part of a wider conspiracy.

"He doesn't appear to be a stupid individual, just an extremely violent one," Ross said.

Ross added that he was "absolutely amazed" that Hartnett, an officer with four years' experience, had survived. "This man fired at least 11 shots from a nine millimeter at close range," he said.

'Nothing to do with Islam'

Police said it was unclear how the suspect obtained the firearm, which was stolen from police in October 2013.

"That is one of the things that you absolutely regret the most, that an officer's gun is stolen and it is used against one of your own," Ross said.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney praised Hartnett's bravery but urged people to draw no link between the criminal act and Islam.

"That is abhorrent, it's terrible and it does not represent the religion in any way, shape or form or any of its teachings," Kenney said.

"This is a criminal with a stolen gun trying to kill one of our officers. It has nothing to do with being a Muslim."

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2016/01/08/U-S-reveals-terror-related-arrest-indictment-in-two-states-.html

----------

 

Reforms to protect New York Muslims from discriminatory surveillance

Jan 9, 2016

NEW YORK: New York will appoint an independent monitor to review police investigations as part of reforms designed to protect Muslims from discriminatory and blanket surveillance, officials said on Thursday.

Civil liberty campaigners welcomed the changes, which settle two lawsuits, saying the move by the country’s largest police force sent a powerful message at a time of rising anti-Muslim sentiment.

The lawsuits alleged that New York police stigmatised communities based solely on religion, and that lawful political and religious activities were subject to unwarranted police surveillance following the 9/11 attacks.

The terms of the settlement, which were reached after more than a year of negotiations, must be approved by a federal judge.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which helped bring one of the suits, welcomed what it called a “watershed” move.

Discriminatory surveillance sowed fear and mistrust, drove down mosque attendance and forced religious leaders to censor conversations out of concern that they might be misunderstood, the group said.

Hina Shamsi, ACLU National Security Project director, said it introduced “much-needed constraints on law enforcement’s discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of Muslims”. “At a time of rampant anti-Muslim hysteria and prejudice nationwide, this agreement with the country’s largest police force sends a forceful message that bias-based policing is unlawful, harmful and unnecessary,” she added.

Muslim community leaders have complained of an unprecedented backlash across the United States after extremist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, fuelled by rhetoric on the presidential campaign trail.

The new representative, an independent lawyer, would have the power to ensure that all safeguards were followed and served as a check on investigations directed at political and religious activities, ACLU said.

They would be required to report any violations to the police commissioner, who would investigate and report back, it added.

The reforms would also limit police use of undercover and confidential informants, and end open-ended investigations by imposing time limits and require status reviews every six months, ACLU said.

Rebuilding relations

Police would need facts alleging possible criminal activity before opening an investigation, the ACLU said.

The police denied the proposed settlement would weaken their ability to investigate and prevent terrorist activity. Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner Bill Bratton welcomed the terms.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231748/reforms-to-protect-new-york-muslims-from-discriminatory-surveillance

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U.S. reveals terror-related arrest, indictment in two states

8 January 2016

U.S. authorities said two people with ties to the ISIS group are due in court Friday in California and Texas, including a refugee from Syria who lied about his travels there.

The arrests come amid heightened security in the U.S. following last month’s assault by a radicalized Muslim couple in California that left 14 people dead and the November terror attacks in Paris.

There is also growing pressure for more scrutiny of refugees from war-ravaged Syria, amid terror fears.

Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, an Iraq-born Palestinian arrested Thursday who came to the U.S. from Syria as a refugee in 2012, traveled to Syria the following year where he fought with various terror groups, according to a criminal complaint.

One of those groups was Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), which once operated in both Iraq and Syria.

Listed as a terrorist organization by the U.N. and the U.S., its Iraq faction has since merged with the ISIS group, though some of its Syrian fighters rejected ISIS.

But U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner was careful to stress that “while (Jayab) represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country.”

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2016/01/08/NYC-settles-lawsuits-over-police-surveillance-of-Muslims.html

----------

 

Pakistan

 

US drone strike kills 20 'IS militants' near Pak-Afghan border

ALI AKBAR

Jan 9, 2016

PESHAWAR: At least 20 suspected militants were killed Saturday in a United States drone strike in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province close to the zero line near Pakistan's Khyber tribal region.

Security sources said those killed belonged to the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistan.

They were killed when the drone targeted suspected militant hideouts in Nangarhar's Achin district. Several suspected insurgent compounds were also destroyed in the attack.

Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province borders the Khyber Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231829/us-drone-strike-kills-20-is-militants-near-pak-afghan-border

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Jamaat threatens march on Islamabad over CPEC

Jan 9, 2016

PESHAWAR: The Jamaat-i-Islami on Friday announced it would stage a ‘long march’ on Islamabad and hold a sit-in outside the Prime Minister’s House if the original China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project was not executed.

The announcement was made by JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmad Khan during the party’s sit-in staged outside the Governor’s House to protest the ‘change’ in the CPEC original plan.

The sit-in staged on the busy Sher Shah Suri Road from 2pm to 5pm was attended by a large number of JI workers.

The activists of the Qaumi Watan Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami and Pakhtunkhwa Olasi Tehreek were also in attendance.

Holding banners and placards, the protesters shouted slogans against the federal government insisting injustice has been done to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan over the CPEC project.

The sit-in caused massive traffic jam on several arteries linked to Sher Shah Suri Road for almost three hours to the misery of motorists and commuters.

JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmad said federal minister for planning and development Ahsan Iqbal had been reluctant to disclose details of the CPEC project.

Says will hold a sit-in outside PM House if original corridor project not executed

“Ahsan Iqbal has failed to satisfy the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa leadership regarding the change in the CPEC,” he said.

Mr Mushtaq said Nawaz Sharif was not only the prime minister of Punjab but he was the prime minister of other provinces as well.

He said all political parties and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had strong reservations about the CPEC project due to change in its original route to benefit Punjab.

“We have no complaint against the people of Punjab. Instead, we’re worried about the attitude of the prime minister,” he said.

The JI leader said Pakistan was a federation with four units (provinces), which should be given the due share in the CPEC project instead of Punjab getting all the focus.

He said the CPEC project would not only benefit Pakistan but it would bring economic prosperity in the entire region as well.

Mr Mushtaq said the decisions taken about the CPEC project during the Islamabad multi-party conference should be implemented in letter and spirit. He said according to the multi-party conference’s decisions, work on the CPEC’s western route would be executed with all its components such as railway, oil and gas pipeline, fiber optic cable, and electricity, LNG and transmission line projects.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231827/jamaat-threatens-march-on-islamabad-over-cpec

----------

 

Attack on police officials: 25 suspects arrested in Quetta

Jan 9, 2016

QUETTA: Security forces on Saturday launched a search operation in various parts of the provincial capital and arrested 25 suspects in the aftermath of targeted attacks on police officials.

“25 suspects were arrested from various parts of Quetta,” said a police official.

Raids were conducted by security forces in Kasi road, Balochi street and other areas of the provincial capital.

All suspects were being interrogated by security forces in connection with the recent attacks on police officials.

Four policemen were killed during past week in two separate incidents of targeted killings in Multani Mohalla and Sariab road areas of Quetta.

In both incidents, the assailants managed to escape unhindered from the scene of the attack.

No group or individual has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1231838/attack-on-police-officials-25-suspects-arrested-in-quetta

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Top civil-military brass for extending all-out help to Delhi

January 09, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday reaffirmed commitment to cooperation with India for probe into the Pathankot terror attack and elimination of terrorism from the region.

The commitment came at a high-level meeting held under his chair at Prime Minister’s House, a second such huddle in the last one week to discuss the issue.

The meeting condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expressed the resolve that Pakistan would not allow use of its soil for terror activities and extend all-out help to the neighbouring countries in eradication of this menace.

Soon after the Pathankot attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was in Sri Lanka at that time phoned his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and gave him firm assurance to extend complete help in the probe, besides sympathising with him on the loss of security personnel’s lives.

The meeting noted with satisfaction that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism campaign had made significant gains and that the country’s entire leadership and institutions were working in complete harmony to counter terrorism and extremism.

The people of Pakistan have evolved a political consensus for action against all terrorists and terror organizations without any discrimination.

They have also resolved that no terrorist will be allowed to use Pakistan’s soil for committing terrorism anywhere in the world.

The meeting also discussed the Pathankot attack and condemned this incident, besides reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to cooperation with India to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting the region.

In line with Pakistan’s commitment to effectively counter and eradicate terrorism, the meeting reviewed the progress made on the information provided by India.

It was decided to remain in touch with the Indian government in this regard.

The meeting expressed the confidence the two countries would remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process, maintaining the goodwill generated by the recent high-level contacts.

The meeting was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (r) Nasser Khan Janjua, ISI DG Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and DG Military Operations Maj-Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza.

The development came a day after India called on Pakistani authorities for “prompt and decisive” action against militants it blames for the weekend attack that killed seven Indian military personnel and wounded 22.

India says it gave Pakistan “specific and actionable information” regarding the Pathankot airbase attack on Tuesday.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/top-civil-military-brass-for-extending-all-out-help-to-delhi

----------

 

Imran wants govt to mediate in Saudi-Iran conflict

January 09, 2016

Imran Mukhtar

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) yesterday cautioned the government against becoming part of the proposed 34-nation Islamic military alliance to combat terrorism and extremism if it was aimed at targeting Iran.

Chairman PTI Imran Khan gave these remarks while addressing a press conference at the party’s central secretariat after his separate meeting with the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The separate meetings of the ambassadors of two Islamic countries with the leader of main opposition party are significant at a time when Pakistan had announced to become part of 34-nation military alliance and in the wake of growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“Pakistan should make its position clear that it would not be part of any alliance that could be used against Iran and should play the role of a mediator in resolving the Saudi-Iran stand off,” Imran Khan said, adding that Iran believed that 34-nation military alliance would be used against it instead of fighting against militancy and extremism.

Imran Khan said that Pakistan was a nuclear Muslim state and must play a ‘leadership role’ in resolving Saudi-Iran crisis.

He said that the government must clear its position that it was not become part of any anti-Iran coalition.

“We are in opposition, but we have made our position clear.

We still don’t know what role Pakistan is going to play in resolving the Saudi-Iran tensions.

it [government] should make it clear its position,” he added.

PTI vice chairman who was also present on the occasion quickly added that the government had greed to brief the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs next Friday despite knowing the tension was escalating with each passing day.

“It is a pity to see the government is delaying the briefing to the members of parliament on the issue.

it should brief the parliament as soon possible but the seriousness of the government is quite unfortunate,” he regretted.

Imran insisted that attack on Saudi embassy in Tehran paved the way for the ongoing conflict between the two countries.

“Iranian ambassador told me during the meeting that his country was not involved in attack on embassy,” he said.

The ambassador told me that Iran would bring to book the culprits soon, he said.

In the meeting the ambassador also told Imran Khan that the hanging of Shia scholar Sheikh Nimr by Saudi Arabia was a message of hate from it.

The Saudi ambassador in his meeting with PTI chief said that the hangings of 47 people was their internal matter and it should be clear that out of the executed persons, 44 belonged to Sunni sect.

He dispelled the impression that these executions were an action against Shias.

He told chairman that Saudi Arabia had no option to sever its relations with Iran after attack on its embassy.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/imran-wants-govt-to-mediate-in-saudi-iran-conflict

----------

 

Military courts convicted 40 terrorists so far

January 09, 2016

ISLAMABAD - The military courts since their establishment have convicted 40 terrorists belonging to different known and unknown militant groups and out of them 36 have been awarded death sentence, four given life term and eight hanged, says a report recently issued by an international non-governmental organisation.

A briefing paper titled “Pakistan: The trial of civilians by military courts” and issued by International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) states that 11 military courts have so far conducted the trial of 64 alleged terrorists, finding the defendants guilty in 40 cases.

About 36 people have been sentenced to death and four have been given life sentences while 24 people have not been found guilty by these courts.

The establishment of military courts in the country through 21st Constitutional amendment and amendment in Army Act, 1952 is part of the Federal government’s 30-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism announced after Army Public School tragedy in December 2014.

The decision has remained a major concern for human rights groups both locally and internationally.

The decision to empower military courts to try terrorism related cases came in the wake of horrific massacre of nearly 140 school children at the Army Public School in Peshawar.

Since Parliament passed the 21st amendment on January 6, a year ago, the government had constituted 11 military courts.

The ICJ briefing paper states that about 100 cases are still pending before the various military courts.

The report quoting various Press statements of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Army’s media wing, states that the convicted terrorists held responsible for carrying out armed attacks belonged to various banned as well as militant organisations.

Out of them, 11 of the convicted terrorists belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), six from Toheedwal Jihad Group, five from Sipaha-e-Sahaba, four from Harkat ul Jehad-e-Islami, one each from Jaish-e-Muhammad, al Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban (Swat), and four were members of other undisclosed proscribed organisations.

The ICJ paper states that the organisational affiliation, if any, of seven of the 40 people convicted has not been made public.

“Some of the incidents they were tried for include the attack on the APS in Peshawar, an attack on a bus carrying members of the Muslim Ismaili community near Safoora Chowk in Karachi, an attack on a bus carrying Shiite Muslim Hazara pilgrims in Mastung and other violent attacks against law-enforcement agencies,” the paper stated.

On December 2, four terrorists convicted by military courts were hanged in Kohat.

They were convicted for their involvement in terrorist activities including harbouring, funding and transporting suicide bombers who attacked APS.

According to an ISPR statement, they were all active members of the Toheedwal Jihad Group.

Four more terrorists sentenced to death by military courts were hanged on 29 December 2015.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/military-courts-convicted-40-terrorists-so-far

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Now Saudi defence minister due tomorrow

January 09, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Crown Prince and Minister for Defence of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman Al Saud will visit Pakistan tomorrow (Sunday).

According to official sources here on Friday, Minister of Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif would receive the guest on his arrival at Nur Khan Airbase here.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed al Jubeir visited Pakistan on Thursday and held meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz. During his meeting with Army chief, the ISPR statement said that both the dignitaries exchanged views on regional security.

Later, Jubeir called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss host of issues ranging from bilateral relations and 34-nation coalition against terrorism.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/now-saudi-defence-minister-due-tomorrow

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Saudi Arabia to try four Iranians

January 09, 2015

RIYADH:-  Four Iranians including an alleged spy will stand trial in Saudi Arabia, local media reported Friday as a diplomatic crisis festers between the regional rivals.

The Arab News daily reported that the three were alleged “terrorists”, but gave no details of the accusations and the Iranians were not identified. The Saudi Gazette said they were arrested in 2013 and 2014. The reports come after tensions escalated between Saudi Arabia and Iran.–APP

Riyadh severed diplomatic ties and air links with Tehran after crowds set fire to its embassy in the Iranian capital and its consulate in second city Mashhad last weekend.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/saudi-arabia-to-try-four-iranians

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Work starts to make capital schools role model

January 09, 2016

Islamabad - Following the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to make capital’s educational institutions a role model for entire country, the ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has started work on the development of the city’s schools and colleges.

Talking to APP here Friday an official from the ministry of CA&DD said that the ministry has assigned target to Capital Development Authority (CDA) to renovate these schools and colleges.

In this connection CDA in Phase-1, has started maintenance work in 23 schools and colleges of Islamabad, which would be completed till January 15, he added.

He said on the directives of the Prime Minister, all 422 schools of the capital would be made as a role model for the whole country including Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

For the first time in Pakistan, Montessori, a pre-school education system was being introduced in the Public Sector schools.

Initially Montessori would be introduced in five schools which would be further expended to other school in the second phase.

In this regard the ministry of CADD was held a special meeting recently with internationals representatives from USAID, DFID, JICA, WFP, Canadian Programme Cooperation in Pakistan and others.

The people were appreciated the Prime Minister’s vision for education and shared their contributions in various sectors specially education.

Minister of State for CA&DD, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary appreciated the contribution of International Development partners in Pakistan and said that government was introducing a complete reform programme for Islamabad which other provinces could replicate for themselves.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/work-starts-to-make-capital-schools-role-model

----------

 

Europe

 

'Paris attacks bomb factory' found in Brussels

 08 January 2016

Belgian police have found three belts for possible use in suicide attacks, traces of explosives and a fingerprint of wanted Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam at a Brussels flat, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutors said Abdeslam might have hidden in the flat after the November 13 attacks, but that they were also working on the theory that the explosive devices used in the massacre could have been made there.

The discovery was made in December during a search of an apartment in the Schaerbeek area of the Belgian capital. It was rented by someone using a false name, possibly used by another suspect now in custody, they said.

"In the framework of the investigation opened after the Paris attacks the federal prosecutor confirms that during a house search conducted December 10th in an apartment on the third floor, Rue Bergé in Schaerbeek, material that can be used to fabricate explosives as well as traces of TATP were found," the prosecutor said.

"This apartment was rented under a false identity that might have been used by a person already in custody in this case," the statement added.

"Three handmade belts that might be used to transport explosives as well as a fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam were also discovered."

Police have been hunting for Belgian-born Abdeslam, 26, since suicide bombers and assailants firing automatic weapons killed 130 people and wounded many more in a wave of attacks across Paris.

Investigators said friends drove Abdeslam from Paris back to the Belgian capital, slipping through three police checks, while one suspect has since said that he drove Abdeslam across Brussels to Schaerbeek on November 14.

- Suspect visited, but when? -

Federal prosecutors spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said however that it was not clear when Abdeslam visited the Brussels apartment.

"We found the fingerprint but we have no idea when it was left -- a fingerprint has no date or time on it," Van Der Sypt told AFP.

"Maybe he went there to get his belt (before the attacks), and maybe he went back afterwards. I suppose it's a possibility of both," he added.

He would not comment on Belgian media reports that the flat had been cleaned and checked for fingerprints after the attacks, which would explain why only one of Abdeslam's prints was found.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/168213/paris-attacks-bomb-factory-found-in-brussels

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Two arrested in US over ISIL links

08 January 2016

U.S. authorities said two people with ties to the ISIL group are due in court Friday in California and Texas, including a refugee from Syria accused of returning there to fight alongside ISIL.

The arrests come amid heightened security in the United States following last month's assault by an extremist couple in California that left 14 people dead and the November terror attacks in Paris.

The attacks added to pressure for more scrutiny of refugees from war-ravaged Syria.

Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, an Iraqi-born Palestinian arrested Thursday who came to the United States from Syria as a refugee in 2012, traveled to Syria the following year where he fought for various terror groups, according to a criminal complaint.

One of those groups was Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), which previously operated under its own banner in Iraq and Syria.

Listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the U.S., its Iraqi faction has since merged with the ISIL group, though some of its Syrian fighters rejected ISIL.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner was careful to stress that "while (Jayab) represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country."

Another Iraqi-born Palestinian, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, was indicted Wednesday in Texas for providing material support to the ISIL group. He is due to make an initial court appearance on Friday.

Hardan, 24, was charged with one count each of attempting to provide material support to ISIL, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other local officials said Hardan's arrest backed their calls for a refugee ban.

"This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists," he said.

The state's Attorney General Ken Paxton called the arrest a "troubling revelation," using the occasion to take a swipe at President Barack Obama.

"The arrest in Houston of an Iraqi refugee for suspicion of terrorist activities is a troubling revelation -– especially in light of the president's insistence on placing further refugees in Texas," he said.

"My office will continue to press for the right of Texans to ensure that terrorists are not being placed in our communities."

- From refugee to radical -

Hardan, who lives in Houston, was granted legal permanent resident status in 2011, two years after entering the United States.

According to the indictment, he provided training, expert advice and assistance to ISIL.

He also lied on his formal application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, saying he was not association with a terror group despite having been associated with ISIL members and sympathizers throughout 2014.

During an October 2015 interview, Hardan is also said to have falsely claimed he had never received weapons training of any kind when he had in fact learned to use machine guns.

He faces up to 53 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on all charges.

The complaint against Jayab, the 23-year-old Californian man, states that he planned his trip to Syria through online contact with various individuals and arrived there via Turkey in November 2013.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/168209/kuwaiti-detainee-repatriated-from-gitmo

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Imran wants govt to mediate in Saudi-Iran conflict

January 09, 2016

Imran Mukhtar

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) yesterday cautioned the government against becoming part of the proposed 34-nation Islamic military alliance to combat terrorism and extremism if it was aimed at targeting Iran.

Chairman PTI Imran Khan gave these remarks while addressing a press conference at the party’s central secretariat after his separate meeting with the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The separate meetings of the ambassadors of two Islamic countries with the leader of main opposition party are significant at a time when Pakistan had announced to become part of 34-nation military alliance and in the wake of growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“Pakistan should make its position clear that it would not be part of any alliance that could be used against Iran and should play the role of a mediator in resolving the Saudi-Iran stand off,” Imran Khan said, adding that Iran believed that 34-nation military alliance would be used against it instead of fighting against militancy and extremism.

Imran Khan said that Pakistan was a nuclear Muslim state and must play a ‘leadership role’ in resolving Saudi-Iran crisis.

He said that the government must clear its position that it was not become part of any anti-Iran coalition.

“We are in opposition, but we have made our position clear.

We still don’t know what role Pakistan is going to play in resolving the Saudi-Iran tensions.

it [government] should make it clear its position,” he added.

PTI vice chairman who was also present on the occasion quickly added that the government had greed to brief the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs next Friday despite knowing the tension was escalating with each passing day.

“It is a pity to see the government is delaying the briefing to the members of parliament on the issue.

it should brief the parliament as soon possible but the seriousness of the government is quite unfortunate,” he regretted.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/imran-wants-govt-to-mediate-in-saudi-iran-conflict

----------

 

Military courts convicted 40 terrorists so far

January 09, 2016

Imran Mukhtar

ISLAMABAD - The military courts since their establishment have convicted 40 terrorists belonging to different known and unknown militant groups and out of them 36 have been awarded death sentence, four given life term and eight hanged, says a report recently issued by an international non-governmental organisation.

A briefing paper titled “Pakistan: The trial of civilians by military courts” and issued by International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) states that 11 military courts have so far conducted the trial of 64 alleged terrorists, finding the defendants guilty in 40 cases.

About 36 people have been sentenced to death and four have been given life sentences while 24 people have not been found guilty by these courts.

The establishment of military courts in the country through 21st Constitutional amendment and amendment in Army Act, 1952 is part of the Federal government’s 30-point National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism announced after Army Public School tragedy in December 2014.

The decision has remained a major concern for human rights groups both locally and internationally.

The decision to empower military courts to try terrorism related cases came in the wake of horrific massacre of nearly 140 school children at the Army Public School in Peshawar.

Since Parliament passed the 21st amendment on January 6, a year ago, the government had constituted 11 military courts.

The ICJ briefing paper states that about 100 cases are still pending before the various military courts.

The report quoting various Press statements of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Army’s media wing, states that the convicted terrorists held responsible for carrying out armed attacks belonged to various banned as well as militant organisations.

Out of them, 11 of the convicted terrorists belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), six from Toheedwal Jihad Group, five from Sipaha-e-Sahaba, four from Harkat ul Jehad-e-Islami, one each from Jaish-e-Muhammad, al Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban (Swat), and four were members of other undisclosed proscribed organisations.

The ICJ paper states that the organisational affiliation, if any, of seven of the 40 people convicted has not been made public.

“Some of the incidents they were tried for include the attack on the APS in Peshawar, an attack on a bus carrying members of the Muslim Ismaili community near Safoora Chowk in Karachi, an attack on a bus carrying Shiite Muslim Hazara pilgrims in Mastung and other violent attacks against law-enforcement agencies,” the paper stated.

On December 2, four terrorists convicted by military courts were hanged in Kohat.

They were convicted for their involvement in terrorist activities including harbouring, funding and transporting suicide bombers who attacked APS.

According to an ISPR statement, they were all active members of the Toheedwal Jihad Group.

Four more terrorists sentenced to death by military courts were hanged on 29 December 2015.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/military-courts-convicted-40-terrorists-so-far

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Now Saudi defence minister due tomorrow

January 09, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Crown Prince and Minister for Defence of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman Al Saud will visit Pakistan tomorrow (Sunday).

According to official sources here on Friday, Minister of Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif would receive the guest on his arrival at Nur Khan Airbase here.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed al Jubeir visited Pakistan on Thursday and held meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz. During his meeting with Army chief, the ISPR statement said that both the dignitaries exchanged views on regional security.

Later, Jubeir called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss host of issues ranging from bilateral relations and 34-nation coalition against terrorism.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/now-saudi-defence-minister-due-tomorrow

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Work starts to make capital schools role model

January 09, 2016

Islamabad - Following the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to make capital’s educational institutions a role model for entire country, the ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has started work on the development of the city’s schools and colleges.

Talking to APP here Friday an official from the ministry of CA&DD said that the ministry has assigned target to Capital Development Authority (CDA) to renovate these schools and colleges.

In this connection CDA in Phase-1, has started maintenance work in 23 schools and colleges of Islamabad, which would be completed till January 15, he added.

He said on the directives of the Prime Minister, all 422 schools of the capital would be made as a role model for the whole country including Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

For the first time in Pakistan, Montessori, a pre-school education system was being introduced in the Public Sector schools.

Initially Montessori would be introduced in five schools which would be further expended to other school in the second phase.

In this regard the ministry of CADD was held a special meeting recently with internationals representatives from USAID, DFID, JICA, WFP, Canadian Programme Cooperation in Pakistan and others.

The people were appreciated the Prime Minister’s vision for education and shared their contributions in various sectors specially education.

Minister of State for CA&DD, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary appreciated the contribution of International Development partners in Pakistan and said that government was introducing a complete reform programme for Islamabad which other provinces could replicate for themselves.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-Jan-2016/work-starts-to-make-capital-schools-role-model

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Europe

 

'Paris attacks bomb factory' found in Brussels

 08 January 2016

Belgian police have found three belts for possible use in suicide attacks, traces of explosives and a fingerprint of wanted Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam at a Brussels flat, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutors said Abdeslam might have hidden in the flat after the November 13 attacks, but that they were also working on the theory that the explosive devices used in the massacre could have been made there.

The discovery was made in December during a search of an apartment in the Schaerbeek area of the Belgian capital. It was rented by someone using a false name, possibly used by another suspect now in custody, they said.

"In the framework of the investigation opened after the Paris attacks the federal prosecutor confirms that during a house search conducted December 10th in an apartment on the third floor, Rue Bergé in Schaerbeek, material that can be used to fabricate explosives as well as traces of TATP were found," the prosecutor said.

"This apartment was rented under a false identity that might have been used by a person already in custody in this case," the statement added.

"Three handmade belts that might be used to transport explosives as well as a fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam were also discovered."

Police have been hunting for Belgian-born Abdeslam, 26, since suicide bombers and assailants firing automatic weapons killed 130 people and wounded many more in a wave of attacks across Paris.

Investigators said friends drove Abdeslam from Paris back to the Belgian capital, slipping through three police checks, while one suspect has since said that he drove Abdeslam across Brussels to Schaerbeek on November 14.

- Suspect visited, but when? -

Federal prosecutors spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said however that it was not clear when Abdeslam visited the Brussels apartment.

"We found the fingerprint but we have no idea when it was left -- a fingerprint has no date or time on it," Van Der Sypt told AFP.

"Maybe he went there to get his belt (before the attacks), and maybe he went back afterwards. I suppose it's a possibility of both," he added.

He would not comment on Belgian media reports that the flat had been cleaned and checked for fingerprints after the attacks, which would explain why only one of Abdeslam's prints was found.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/168213/paris-attacks-bomb-factory-found-in-brussels

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Two arrested in US over ISIL links

08 January 2016

U.S. authorities said two people with ties to the ISIL group are due in court Friday in California and Texas, including a refugee from Syria accused of returning there to fight alongside ISIL.

The arrests come amid heightened security in the United States following last month's assault by an extremist couple in California that left 14 people dead and the November terror attacks in Paris.

The attacks added to pressure for more scrutiny of refugees from war-ravaged Syria.

Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, an Iraqi-born Palestinian arrested Thursday who came to the United States from Syria as a refugee in 2012, traveled to Syria the following year where he fought for various terror groups, according to a criminal complaint.

One of those groups was Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), which previously operated under its own banner in Iraq and Syria.

Listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the U.S., its Iraqi faction has since merged with the ISIL group, though some of its Syrian fighters rejected ISIL.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner was careful to stress that "while (Jayab) represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country."

Another Iraqi-born Palestinian, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, was indicted Wednesday in Texas for providing material support to the ISIL group. He is due to make an initial court appearance on Friday.

Hardan, 24, was charged with one count each of attempting to provide material support to ISIL, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other local officials said Hardan's arrest backed their calls for a refugee ban.

"This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists," he said.

The state's Attorney General Ken Paxton called the arrest a "troubling revelation," using the occasion to take a swipe at President Barack Obama.

"The arrest in Houston of an Iraqi refugee for suspicion of terrorist activities is a troubling revelation -– especially in light of the president's insistence on placing further refugees in Texas," he said.

"My office will continue to press for the right of Texans to ensure that terrorists are not being placed in our communities."

- From refugee to radical -

Hardan, who lives in Houston, was granted legal permanent resident status in 2011, two years after entering the United States.

According to the indictment, he provided training, expert advice and assistance to ISIL.

He also lied on his formal application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, saying he was not association with a terror group despite having been associated with ISIL members and sympathizers throughout 2014.

During an October 2015 interview, Hardan is also said to have falsely claimed he had never received weapons training of any kind when he had in fact learned to use machine guns.

He faces up to 53 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on all charges.

The complaint against Jayab, the 23-year-old Californian man, states that he planned his trip to Syria through online contact with various individuals and arrived there via Turkey in November 2013.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/168209/kuwaiti-detainee-repatriated-from-gitmo

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Italy PM calls Putin to discuss energy, Syria

08 January 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday discussed the situation in Syria and potential energy projects with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the Kremlin said Friday, after Rome briefly held up extending EU sanctions on Moscow last month. 

The two leaders "confirmed the importance of continuing joint work in the interests of realising mutually profitable energy projects" and discussed the "chances for resolving the conflict in Syria" after Renzi called Putin, the Kremlin said in a statement.

"The importance of close coordination of efforts in the fight against international terrorism was underlined," the statement said.

Sources close to Renzi confirmed the phone conversation and said the two leaders wished each other Happy New Year and discussed an overview of the international situation, Italian news agencies reported.

Italy in December appeared to drag its heels on backing a renewal of European Union sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, briefly delaying a decision to extend the punitive measures to July before it was officially approved by the 28-nation bloc.

Europe's economic sanctions on Russia and a retaliatory food embargo from the Kremlin have hit several key Italian industries.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/168223/italy-pm-calls-putin-to-discuss-energy-syria

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Far-right group intimidates refugees in Finland

08 January 2016

Asylum seekers may face a backlash in Finland where members of a neo-Nazi linked group are patrolling the streets, claiming to protect locals from refugees, Finnish media has reported.

Members of the extremist group, "Soldiers of Odin", voluntarily patrol the streets in five Finnish towns where new asylum centers opened, according to recent reports.

"We woke up to a situation where many different cultures met. It caused fear and concern in the community. We started to gather a bunch of people," Mika Ranta, one of the group’s founders, told Finnish daily newspaper Aamulehti Thursday.

"The biggest issue was when we learned from Facebook that new asylum seekers were peering through the gates of primary schools, looking at young girls," Ranta said.

There have been no reported incidents so far between asylum seekers and the far-right extremist group, which has around 500 members across Finland, according to local Finnish paper Karjalan Heili.

"Attacking is not part of our principles, only defense," three members of the group in the eastern town of Joensuu told the daily. "Everyone has the right to defend themselves if we are attacked. We defend ourselves and call the police," they said.

The Finnish government criticized the group, which the Finnish intelligence services said had members with links to far-right extremist movements, including neo-Nazi groups.

"There are extremist features to carrying out street patrols. It does not increase security," Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo told national broadcaster YLE Thursday. "Volunteers have no right to use force," he said.

Finland received over 30,000 asylum applications in 2015, mostly from Iraqi applicants, according to immigration services. Finnish shipping company, Finnlines, has stepped up identity controls on its route from Travemunde in Germany to Helsinki, in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/168219/italy-pm-calls-putin-to-discuss-energy-syria

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Paris attacks suspect's 'bomb factory' found in Brussels

8 January 2016

Belgian prosecutors believe they may have found a bomb factory also used as a hideout by one of the jihadists after the Paris attacks.

Police found traces of explosives, three handmade belts and a fingerprint of fugitive Salah Abdeslam.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35261223

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Kuwaiti detainee repatriated from Gitmo

08 January 2016

A Guantanamo Bay inmate has been transferred from the U.S. military prison back to his home country of Kuwait, the Pentagon announced Friday, bringing the prison's remaining population down to 104.

"The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Faez Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of the state of Kuwait," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The U.S. military and intelligence agencies had "determined continued law of war detention of Al-Kandari does not remain necessary," and that Al-Kandari was no longer considered a significant threat to U.S. security.

According to his leaked prison file, published by the New York Times, 40-year-old Al-Kandari was a "committed member" of Al-Qaeda and was an influential religious figure for the group's fighters in Afghanistan.

He was initially captured in December 2001, and sent to Guantanamo in May the following year.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/168225/kuwaiti-detainee-repatriated-from-gitmo

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NY police settle lawsuits over spying on Muslims

08 January 2016

The New York Police Department (NYPD) on Thursday agreed to a series of reforms as part of a settlement of two high-profile lawsuits over its practice of illegal surveillance of Muslims following the 9/11 attacks.

Under the settlement, the police force in the U.S.'s largest city agreed to strengthen safeguards against launching investigations and conducting surveillance against Muslims based on their faith.

The department also agreed to reinstall an independent civilian watchdog that will monitor NYPD’s counter-terrorism activities to ensure investigative practices are in accord with the Constitution, according to the settlement.

"This settlement is a win for New York Muslims and for all New Yorkers, who have a right to be free from discriminatory police surveillance and to practice their religion without stigma or fear," Hina Shamsi, the director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

"For the first time, this watershed settlement puts much needed constraints on law enforcement’s discriminatory and unjustified surveillance of Muslims,” she added.

The lawsuits were among a number of legal actions that followed a Pulitzer-prize winning series of stories published in 2011 that revealed the NYPD's intelligence branch engaged in religious profiling and surveillance of Muslims in the city and beyond since 2002.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/168197/ny-police-settle-lawsuits-over-spying-on-muslims

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Southeast Asia

 

Analysts: Bumi, Muslim credentials in Pakatan pact needed to fight anti-Malay label

BY SHAZWAN MUSTAFA KAMAL

January 9, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — Pakatan Harapan’s pledge to uphold Malay and Muslim interests in its official agreement is timely and necessary to counter accusations that the federal opposition pact is anti-Malay and anti-Islam, political pundits say.

Analysts who spoke to Malay Mail Online also believed that while the coalition’s agreement was a step in the right direction, Pakatan Harapan’s challenge was to ensure that leaders from the three member parties—DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) — remained committed to the spirit of the pact, especially in inter-party disputes.

“What has surprised the opposition is how much traction racial and religious issues can have with the Malay ground. This has shown member parties of Pakatan Harapan that they had overestimated the public acceptance of their agenda on good governance and inclusive politics.

“It was after all racial and religious issues that so easily caused Pakatan Rakyat to break up and that are tempting PAS to collaborate with Umno,” said Dr Ooi Kee Beng, deputy director of the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Yusof Ishak Institute, referring to Pakatan Harapan’s predecessor.

Malay Mail Online reported yesterday the contents of Pakatan Harapan’s official agreement, in which prominent pledges were made to protect the special position of the Malays, the Malay Rulers, Islam as the religion of the federation, and Bahasa Malaysia — the same provisions of the Federal Constitution that Umno considers its main “thrusts”.

Pakatan Harapan leaders are scheduled to sign the agreement at its convention in Shah Alam later today.

Ooi said that the agreement was aimed at countering the anti-Malay label and at the same time, at promoting Pakatan Harapan’s acceptance of the Federal Constitution.

Dr Faisal Hazis, associate professor at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said the Pakatan Harapan Agreement was a good start to finding a common platform between the opposition parties.

He said the three parties needed to publicise the contents of the agreement so that Malaysians could gauge the pact’s viability as an alternative to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).

“They need to publicise the agreement, especially the provision in upholding the main tenets of the Constitution in order to counter BN propaganda,” he said.

But the analyst noted that Pakatan Harapan’s greatest challenge would be to manage the many personalities within the three parties.

“Often, self-serving politicians tend to go overboard and make statements or take actions that could jeopardise the coalition,” he said.

Political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun, however, believed that the fear of Pakatan Harapan, especially DAP being anti-Malay, was only prevalent in rural areas of peninsular Malaysia, and that such issues were of no concern in Sabah and Sarawak.

“It would only somewhat allay the fears of conservative Malays against the supposedly secular DAP especially in the rural areas, which are still under the heavy propaganda of both Umno and PAS. 

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/analysts-bumi-muslim-credentials-in-pakatan-pact-needed-to-fight-anti-malay

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Islamic banking advances in Southeast Asia

Hafiz Noor Shams

January 8, 2016

An upsurge in piety among Muslims has been a boon for Islamic banking in Southeast Asia, where the sector is growing faster than conventional banking, albeit from a lower base.

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In Malaysia, central bank data show the amount of outstanding Islamic loans grew 35 per cent from the beginning of 2014 to October 2015, while total loans expanded by 17 per cent.

Indonesians are less enthusiastic about Islamic banking but the sector still enjoys double-digit growth: Islamic loans increased by 13 per cent and total loans by 19 per cent respectively in the same period.

Islamic teachings forbid the charging of interest and investment in activities Muslims consider as sinful such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling. In response, Islamic financial institutions offer interest-free products and steer clear of un-Islamic industries.

A recent survey by FT Confidential Research, a Financial Times research service, found that 61 per cent of Indonesians and 73 per cent of Malaysians say that they either use Islamic banking services primarily or as often as conventional ones.

While religious obligation is the main driver behind the growth in Islamic banking, it is not the only one. The survey found that 60 per cent of those using Islamic banking services in Indonesia and Malaysia cited religious requirements as a factor.

Others were more interested by less divine incentives such as risk and cost. Islamic lending, for instance, puts a cap on effective interest rates — the so-called profit rate — while there is no legal or other imposed limit on interest rates under conventional lending.

Indeed, the appeal of Islamic banking can reach beyond the Muslim population. In the same survey, 13 per cent of Indonesian and 25 per cent of Malaysian Islamic banking customers were not Muslims.

But despite its broad appeal, Islamic banking still has only small market shares in the two countries.

At the end of the third quarter of last year, just 7 per cent of total loans worth $284bn in Indonesia and 27 per cent of loans worth $334bn in Malaysia were Islamic, according to Bank Indonesia and Bank Negara Malaysia, the central banks.

The market for Islamic banking is bigger in Malaysia than in Indonesia, even though Malaysia’s population is just 31m, compared with about 257m in Indonesia. One reason is the “soft infrastructure” installed by the Malaysian government to support the industry, including tax breaks and coherent regulation, since the 1980s. Indeed, Malaysia is a global centre of Islamic banking and finance, with 51 per cent of all outstanding sukuk (Islamic bonds) originated from the country in 2015.

Full report at:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/3/339bcb8c-b5fa-11e5-8358-9a82b43f6b2f.html#axzz3wjufvRHV

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Indonesia's Muslim women hail female-only motorbike taxis

08.01.2016

Female motorbike taxi drivers in headscarves zigzag through heavy traffic in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the latest two-wheeled transport service for women making a dent in the male-dominated world of ride-hailing apps in the Muslim nation. A flurry of new motorbike taxi options have in the past year appeared in the metropolis of 10 million, led by popular service Go-Jek, giving Indonesia's growing middle class a greater choice of transport to get through some of the world's worst traffic jams.

The services – many inspired by ride-sharing app Uber and accessible on smartphones – are a challenge to traditional motorbike taxis in Indonesia, known as "ojeks", which are ubiquitous but have drawn criticism with their dishevelled, dangerous drivers and unpredictable pricing.

Several services with women drivers entered the market in 2015 after years of increasing piety in Indonesia – home to the world's biggest Muslim population –and amid heightened safety concerns following reports of attacks on women by male motorbike taxi drivers.

They are in part designed with religious sensitivities in mind, as an increasing number of Muslim women wear headscarves and follow strict interpretations of Islam that forbid close contact with anyone of the opposite sex except one′s spouse. "The need for transportation for women is huge, especially in big cities where rates of crime and sexual harassment are very high," Evilita Adriani, co-founder of motorbike taxi company Ojek Syari, told journalists.

Popularly known by its nickname "Ojesy", it is the service that aims most clearly at devout female passengers, requiring its drivers to be Muslim women wearing headscarves and loose-fitting clothes. Ojesy drivers can currently only be hailed by a phone call or through mobile messaging service WhatsApp, but the service is also developing an app that was being tested this month.

The service, which began in Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya in March before expanding across the main island of Java, only accepts female passengers or children. "I feel more comfortable sharing a ride with a fellow Muslim woman," said Nurlaila, a Surabaya housewife who goes by one name.

She uses the service to take her children to school – a common practice in the country where whole families often travel squashed together on a motorbike.

The company says business is booming – after starting in March with Adriani as its only driver, it now has 350 drivers. Other motorbike taxi companies vying for a stake in the female market include app-based service LadyJek, whose drivers dress in pink jackets and helmets, and Sister-Ojek, a start-up that began operations earlier this year with capital of just $100.

Indonesia stands out for the number of motorbike taxi services aimed at women that it boasts, with female drivers relatively rare in many developing nations where the mode of transport is popular.

Full report at:

https://en.qantara.de/content/indonesias-muslim-women-hail-female-only-motorbike-taxis

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Indira’s case is humanitarian issue, says Jihad for Justice

January 9, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: M Gandhi’s custody battle with her Muslim-convert ex-husband is not a religious issue, but a humanitarian one, stresses Jihad for Justice Chairman, Thasleem Mohamad Ibrahim.

“It is not a fight between Hindu and Islam. We should tell the religious leaders: For goodness sake, don’t say that it’s a victory for Islam. It is not,” Thasleem said at a forum themed “The implications of the court case and the way forward’, in reference to the Court of Appeal’s recent decision.

“Emotion should not come into the matter. Don’t paint the matter as being religious. The judges should only look at the legal aspect of it, and from the humanitarian point of view.”

“They should at least have had the consent of the mother, which they didn’t. The three children did not even recite the basic shahadah during their conversion,” he said.

The social justice advocate pointed to Surah Al-Baqarah 256, which indicates that there is no compulsion in the acceptance of Islam.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/01/09/indiras-case-is-humanitarian-issue-says-jihad-for-justice/

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Africa

 

Cholera kills 10 Somalis in world's largest refugee camp

09 January 2016

At least 10 people have died and over 1,000 fallen sick with cholera in an outbreak among Somali refugees in the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya,UN officials said Saturday.

The outbreak began in November in the Dadaab camp complex in northeasternKenya, home to some 350,000 Somali refugees, said Osman Yussuf Ahmed, from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Aid workers say they are working to stop the outbreak spreading.

"The most important thing is hygiene," Ahmed said, describing how aid workers were spraying chlorine across the camp and distributing soap. "We are not leaving anything to chance."

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/168228/cholera-kills-10-somalis-in-worlds-largest-refugee-camp

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ISIS claims Libyan police center bombing

8 January 2016

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide truck bombing on a Libyan police training center on Thursday that killed at least 47 people in the worst militant attack since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

ISIS fighters have expanded their presence in the North African state, taking advantage of turmoil to control the city of Sirte and launch attacks on oilfields and key oil ports.

“This operation is one in a series of the battle of Abu al-Mughira al-Qahtani, which will not stop until we liberate all Libya,” ISIS’s Tripoli militancy said in a statement.

The group said one of its militants had died carrying out the suicide bomb attack, but Libya authorities have so far not confirmed that detail.

The truck bomb exploded at the police training center in the coastal town of Zliten just as hundreds of recruits were gathered there for a morning meeting. More than 100 people were also wounded, many by shrapnel.

Since a NATO-backed revolt ousted Gaddafi, Libya has slipped deeper into turmoil with two rival governments and a range of armed factions locked in a struggle for control of the OPEC state and its oil wealth.

In the chaos, ISIS militants have grown in strength, targeting Tripoli and also the OPEC nation’s oil infrastructure, including this week’s shelling of two major oil export terminals in the east.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/africa/2016/01/08/ISIS-claims-Libyan-police-center-bombing.html

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Gaddafi warned Blair of extremists' rise

08 January 2016

Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has warned UK's former Prime Minister Tony Blair that extremists would rise and eventually attack Europe if his regime was allowed to collapse, phone conversations from February 2011 reveal.

Though out of office, Blair had influence with Gaddafi as his 2004 so-called "deal in the desert" brought Libya in from the cold as Tripoli scrapped its chemical weapons.

Gaddafi claimed Al-Qaeda cells had been attacking police stations, saying: "They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe."

Blair said: "The way to deal with this is the leader says and makes clear he wants a peaceful outcome.

"The use of airplanes to attack cities and the use of force against civilians -- this has to stop."

In the second call, Gaddafi said he was preparing to "arm the people" for a battle against "colonisation".

"If you want to reap Libya we are ready to fight, it will be like Iraq," he said.

Blair urged Gaddafi to take the initiative and lead a peaceful transition process.

"I repeat the statement that people have said to me, if there is a way that he (Gaddafi) can leave he should do so now," Blair said.

"If we don't find a way out in the next few hours I don't know what will happen.

"This is the last chance to resolve this peacefully."

The conversation ends with Gaddafi saying "just leave us alone" and Blair urging him to "keep the lines open".

- 'If you have a safe place to go you should go'-

Blair also told Gaddafi to stand aside and find a bolthole in the early days of the Libyan uprising.

Blair urged the Libyan dictator to stop the violence, start a process of change, stand aside, resolve the situation peacefully and keep communications open between them.

Gaddafi insisted Libya was under attack from sleeper cells from the Al-Qaeda terror network who wanted to take north Africa and attack Europe -- and if Western forces intervened, Libya would end up "like Iraq".

"If you have a safe place to go you should go there because this will not end peacefully," Blair warned.

The transcripts cast light on Gaddafi's thinking as the uprising began to escalate.

They were published by the British parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, which is examining the Western intervention in Libya's civil war and Britain's options now concerning the troubled country.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/168220/cholera-kills-10-somalis-in-worlds-largest-refugee-camp

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/15-muslim-iit-aspirants-crack-olympiad/d/105932

 

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