New Age Islam
Wed Aug 12 2020, 07:20 PM

Islamic World News ( 22 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

2 Mumbai Men Who Joined Islamic State Promoted To Top Ranks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they wave the group’s flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq, on June 16, 2014. (Associated Press)

 

Islamic State Aims to Destroy Israel, ‘Liberate’ Jerusalem with Sinai Peninsula Terrorist Force

For Allah, China and Marx: A Theological Mix for Young Imams

British-Made Cluster Bomb Used by Saudi Arabia against Yemen

Suu Kyi Calls For 'Space' To Address Myanmar's Rohingya Issue as Kerry Visits

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India

2 Mumbai Men Who Joined Islamic State Promoted To Top Ranks

Confident of Acquittal, Imran’s Family Worries about SIMI ‘Taint’

Gujarat’s mosque claims to have world’s biggest Quran

Kashmiri militants wage selfie war against India

Terrorists kill three policemen in Srinagar

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Mideast

Islamic State Aims to Destroy Israel, ‘Liberate’ Jerusalem with Sinai Peninsula Terrorist Force

78 Palestinians Killed and 106 Arrested By Israel over One-Week Period

Regional inequalities in Turkey not easing

Turkey's Erdoğan gives Yıldırım mandate to form new government as PM

New Turkish PM again vows to bring in presidential system

Turkey’s new economic model to be based on production, defence: Erdoğan adviser

World’s first humanitarian summit kicks off in Istanbul

Sultanahmet ISIL bombing probe demands long jail terms

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South Asia

For Allah, China and Marx: A Theological Mix for Young Imams

Sirajuddin Haqqani among Possible Successors of Mullah Mansoor

8 militants killed during an attack on Taliban prison in Helmand

Mansoor’s death in Pakistan proves imposed proxy war on Afghan nation: Saleh

Abdullah says close to conclude peace deal with Hekmatyar

Afghan commandos release 23 hostages from Taliban-run prison in Helmand

Taliban leader supervising suicide attacks killed in Helmand airstrike

Witch-hunt in Bangladesh

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Arab World

British-Made Cluster Bomb Used by Saudi Arabia against Yemen

Several Terrorist Groups Sent to Iran by Saudi Arabia in Recent Days

ISIL Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Army's Ambush Operations in Homs

Iran's New Hi-Tech Drone to Fly in Beit-ul-Moqaddas 28 Drills

ISIL Suffers Heavy Casualties in Clashes with Syrian Army in Deir Ezzur

Commander: Army Using Advanced Communication Systems in Isfahan Drills

Iran's New Hi-Tech Drone to Fly in Beit-ul-Moqaddas 28 Drills

Iraqi Forces Start Large-Scale Operation to Recapture Fallujah

Iran Unveils New Reconnaissance, Combat Drone

Syrian Armed Forces Hit Jeish Al-Fatah Positions Heavily South of Aleppo

Syrian Soldiers, NDF Engage in Fresh Battle with ISIL East of Homs

Iran Unveils Ultra-Heavy Tank Carrier, Optimized Tank

Leader: Some Muslim states betray their nations

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Southeast Asia

Suu Kyi Calls For 'Space' To Address Myanmar's Rohingya Issue as Kerry Visits

Leading Malaysian IS Members in Syria Man an Expert Bomb-Maker

One Rohingya Muslim shot dead in mass escape from Thai detention centre

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Pakistan

US Drone Attack Violation of Pakistan’s Sovereignty, Says PM

US Strike Crosses ‘Red Line’ On Balochistan

Hoti flays centre, provincial govt for ‘ignoring’ Pakhtuns

Peace committee member, cop gunned down in Swat

Shab-e-Barat observed with religious zeal and fervour

GDA wants army to take over country, bring plunderers to justice

Banned outfits under police spotlight after traffic policemen killing

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Africa

Zambia ‘Worried At Iran’s Attempts to Spread Sectarianism in Africa’

Ten facts about Boko Haram's 7-year insurgency

George Kerevan: NATO leaders are meeting to discuss the start of the Second Libyan War

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Europe

Sadiq Khan Invites Donald Trump to London to Meet British Muslims

Islamic State Group Leader Urges Attacks in Europe and US

Jail warders treat Islamist terrorists with kid gloves fearing racism accusations

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North America

Top US Commander Makes Secret Visit To Syria

Halal Food Fest A Fusion of Flavours

Leading Canadian human rights org slams Iran Holocaust contest

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/2-mumbai-men-who-joined-islamic-state-promoted-to-top-ranks/d/107394

 

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2 Mumbai men who joined Islamic State promoted to top ranks

23 May 2016

After releasing a threat video, highlighting Indian jihadists of Islamic State, it has surfaced that Fahad Tanveer Shaikh and Aman Naeem Tandel of Kalyan, Mumbai, have been promoted to higher ranks in the IS, according to a Times of India report.

Shaikh, who is now referred as Abu Bakr al-Hindi, has been reportedly promoted to the rank of deputy caliph and he has been assigned the task of leading the terror outfit's operations against India.

According to the report, Tandel has been named as Abu Umar al-Hindi and he is now the governor of 'Hind Wal' 'Sindh', an Islamic State term used for India and Pakistan.

The chilling 22-minute video, in Arabic, shows Aman - who escaped to Syria to join Daesh in 2014 along with Fahad, Areeb Majeed, and Shaheem Tanki - warning the Indian public of retaliation for "committing atrocities against Muslims".

Aman, bearded and wearing an Islamic turban, is seen in the video saying, "We will return (to India), but with a sword in hand, to avenge the Babri Masjid, and the killings of Muslims in Kashmir, in Gujarat, and in Muzaffarnagar."

catchnews.com/national-news/2-mumbai-men-who-joined-islamic-state-promoted-to-top-ranks-1463987269.html

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Islamic State aims to destroy Israel, ‘liberate’ Jerusalem with Sinai Peninsula terrorist force

May 23 2016

With a media blitz, the Islamic State has set its sights on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as the next shot at expanding its empire and establishing a base from which to attack neighboring Israel.

The terrorist group’s propaganda units have gone into high gear for recruitment this month to build a force in Sinai large enough to one day conquer Jerusalem — the same way its fighters took over large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Last week, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of the Islamic State’s presence in Sinai, where the group may have placed as many as 1,000 terrorists. The general’s concern is a signal that the U.S. faces another war front against the Islamic State in addition to Iraq, Syria and Libya.

More than a dozen Islamic State media arms in Iraq and Syria have produced videos narrated by a who’s who of hardened jihadis, who are surely on a U.S. kill list for daily airstrikes.

Islamic State propaganda promises recruits that they will one day “liberate” Jerusalem and end the state of Israel, according to analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks jihadi communications. The Egyptian army, the force standing in the way, is threatened with beheadings if soldiers continue to fight.

Such a massive propaganda effort for one mission is unusual for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. Analysts says it means leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi views the land as increasingly important to his group’s ultimate goal of bringing down governments in the region and expanding its so-called caliphate, or Islamic state.

“I think ISIS sees the Sinai as a steppingstone for launching greater attacks against Israel, which would boost its claim to primacy in championing the Arab/Muslim cause against Israel, an issue that strongly resonates with many Arab Islamists,” said Jim Phillips, a Middle East analyst at The Heritage Foundation. “The Sinai cells also pose a long-term threat to Egypt, a key state with the largest Arab population. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but terrorists love them.”

Steve Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, said the Islamic State is applying lessons learned in Anbar, Iraq, parts of which it controls, as it tries to persuade Egyptians and people in Hamas-controlled Gaza to join. Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

“One of the videos noted that ISIS in Sinai has learned from the experience of ISIS in Al-Anbar as the two areas are similar in terms of its desert geography,” Mr. Stalinsky said.

“They have been calling Egyptian and Gazans to join them. They believe that ISIS in Sinai will be the gate towards the liberation of Palestine,” he said.

For now, the Islamic State lacks the firepower to repeat its success in Anbar, where it captured a number of towns including the disputed Fallujah, after invading Iraq.

“Their strategy now in the Sinai is basically hit-and-run kind of attacks,” Mr. Stalinsky said.

Egyptian forces on the peninsula are hit by those attacks almost daily.

The Islamic State made an enormous statement in Sinai in October when it placed a bomb on Metrojet Flight 9268, sending the Russian airliner crashing onto the desert landscape. The Islamic State claimed it sabotaged the plane, killing 224 people, with explosives hidden in a soda can. If so, the bomb was likely placed on the plane by an Islamic State insider at the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“ISIS leadership views the Sinai province as a key extension for the organization outside of its core area of control in Syria and Iraq,” says an analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Indeed, the Sinai province is considered one of the most powerful and effective among these extensions.”

Mr. Phillips said the Arab Spring uprising centered in Cairo fed the Islamic State the fighters it needed in Sinai as many Islamists were released from prisons.

“Extremist groups flourished in the Sinai, where they recruited disaffected Bedouin tribes, which had long resented what they perceived to be neglect and marginalization at the hands of the Egyptian government,” he said. “The Sinai also offered a conduit to Gaza, where extremists received support from Hamas and other radical Palestinian Islamist groups.”

Counteroffensive

A sampling of some of the more than one dozen Sinai-centered Islamic State videos provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute:

• Two jihadis in Iraq, Abu Qaswara Al-Masri, an Egyptian, and Abu Omar Al-Maqdisi, likely a Palestinian from Gaza, urge Egyptians to join the Islamic State in Sinai.

Al-Masri tells the Egyptian army: “We advise you to repent before we manage to find you. If we find you, there will be no other [fate] but beheading for you. There will be no mercy for you and you are aware of that. You have seen what the soldiers of the caliphate have done with your colleagues and you will see. I advise you to repent. I am a truthful adviser to you.”

• Islamic State fighters Abu Suhaib Al-Ansari and Abu Omar Al-Ansari, in Iraq’s Ninawa province, appear in a recruitment video. Abu Omar Al-Ansari urges Egyptians to attack Egyptian government officials and “spill their blood and communicate with them with guns and explosives and turn them into corpses with bombs.” He specifically called on Gazans to travel to Sinai.

• A video produced in Aleppo province, Syria, attacks the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as mainstream.

A fighter says, “You are the preachers for polytheism and falsehood, you are the ones who issued the fatwa for people to take part in the polytheist democracy, and you are the ones who issued the fatwa for people to vote for the pagan constitution, which puts sovereignty in the hands of the people instead of Allah.”

He added: “You have deceived your followers that [adhering to] democracy and entering the parliament will lead to [the implementation] of Islamic Shariah. Now, where is the Shariah, O enemies of Allah?”

The Brotherhood’s overriding goal is to spread Shariah, or Islamic law, around the world by undercutting secular governments.

Gen. Dunford, the Joint Chiefs chairman, raised alarm last week about the Islamic State’s growing presence in Sinai and said Egyptian forces had begun a counteroffensive against its units.

“We have seen a connection between the Islamic State in the Sinai and Raqqa,” Gen. Dunford told reporters, according to a dispatch by Voice of America. “We have seen communication between the Islamic State in the Sinai and the Islamic State in Libya and elsewhere, so we are watching that pretty closely.”

Raqqa is the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital in central Syria, from which it directs media operations and terrorist attacks.

“The Egyptians are taking the fight to the Islamic State right now,” he said aboard a flight for a NATO meeting in Brussels.

The Egyptian military said this weekend that it conducted a series of raids in Sinai that killed 51 Islamic State fighters, according to the Arab news site Al Bawaba.

“Just being able to have a presence and cause some disruption in between Egypt and Israel gives ISIS some propaganda value, at the very least, said retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. “It also causes Egypt to look both East and West and may, therefore, provide some operational flexibility to ISIS planning.”

washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/22/isis-seeks-to-destroy-israel-liberate-jerusalem-wi/?page=3

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For Allah, China and Marx: A Theological Mix for Young Imams

May 23, 2016

YINCHUAN: Every morning on his way to class at one of China's largest Islamic institutes, Wang Yue is reminded that the state comes before Allah.

Emblazoned in gold etching on a white marble slab at the main entrance and repeated all over campus is the slogan:

"Love the nation, love religion"

The contrast is even more striking than the hierarchy: in China, patriotism is synonymous with supporting the ruling Communist Party, which is officially atheist.

But the students see little contradiction between the teachings of Marx and those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

"Part of being a good person, and a good Muslim, is loving your own country," said Wang, who is in the last of his four years of studies at the institute in the northern region of Ningxia.

"Marxism and religion don't contradict each other, and understanding other religions or theories can help us better understand our own faith," he insisted.

While China's constitution enshrines freedom of religion, authorities keep strict limits on it, recognising only five belief systems, approving houses of worship, and seeking to control their messages.

The country has two main Muslim groups, the Hui, who are concentrated in Ningxia and aside from their religion share many similarities with the Han majority, and the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who have more in common with Central Asia.

Both are Sunni, but while the Hui are largely integrated into mainstream society, officials frequently blame religious extremism along with terrorism and separatism for violence in the Uighur homeland of Xinjiang.

China, which shares borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, has strict national security laws, regularly detaining people for watching jihadist videos, although little evidence of any links to groups such as Islamic State has been made public.

Hammer and sickle

Religious groups must follow the leadership of the Communist Party, President Xi Jinping told a government conference in April.

"We should guide and educate the religious circle and their followers with the socialist core values," he said, according to official news agency Xinhua.

“We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists,” he added.

China's leaders are keenly aware of the role the Catholic Church had in the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, and have sought to curtail outside influence in everything from the Internet to universities.

Islam has existed in China for over a millennium, entering with Arab traders on the Silk Road, some of whom settled permanently.

Now there are eight state-run Islamic institutes around the country, teaching young Muslims a version of Islam seen through a prism of Communist rhetoric and the Party-State system.

Wang, who is Hui, espoused his patriotism under a blackboard with an elaborate hammer and sickle drawn in the corner. In Arabic class, students recited in unison the words for “socialist core values” and “patriotism”.

dawn.com/news/1260150/for-allah-china-and-marx-a-theological-mix-for-young-imams

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British-Made Cluster Bomb Used by Saudi Arabia against Yemen

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A leading human rights group has discovered a banned British-made cluster bomb used by the Saudis in their war on Yemen.

Amnesty International found the undetonated bomb in a remote village in Northern Yemen, press tv reported.

The controversial BL-755 cluster bombs, banned decades ago, were built in the 1970s by the British company, Hunting Engineering, and designed to be deployed on UK-made Tornado fighter jets.

Each bomb has a cluster of 147 little bombs inside that scatter over a wide area when dropped. Some do not explode until agitated by unsuspecting civilians when they take their toll.

Amnesty says a Yemeni herdsman in the village located several miles from the Saudi border in Hajjah governorate warned the rights group that “in the area next to us, there are bombs hanging off the trees.”

Amnesty says the British government needs to destroy its cluster bombs and help find those it sold in the past.

Britain is believed to have sold many such munitions, which are prohibited in over a 100 countries, since the 1980s and 90s to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a Saudi ally in its war on Yemen.

It also sold scores of Tornado jet fighters to Riyadh ever since.

Amnesty International’s head of UK Arms Controls, Oliver Sprague, has reportedly said it would be an “absolute scandal” if British personnel had been in any connected to the incident.

“Cluster bombs are one of the nastiest weapons in the history of warfare, rightly banned by more than 100 countries, so it’s truly shocking that a British cluster munition has been dropped on a civilian area in Yemen,” he said.

"Given that this type of cluster bomb is very likely to have been used in combination with Tornado war planes which the UK has also sold to Saudi Arabia, there’s even a possibility that British support personnel might have been involved in the cluster bombing of Yemen. This would be an absolute scandal if confirmed.”

Yemen has been under airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since the regime in Riyadh launched its fatal campaign against the impoverished country on March 26, 2015, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Saudi-backed former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. More than 9,400 people have been killed in the Saudi airstrike ever since.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000759

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Suu Kyi calls for 'space' to address Myanmar's Rohingya issue as Kerry visits

23 May 2016

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi asked to be given "enough space" to address the plight of her country's Rohingya Muslim population, as visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed the Nobel peace laureate to promote respect for human rights.

Some 125,000 Rohingya in Myanmar are displaced and face severe travel restrictions in camps since fighting erupted in Rakhine State between the country's Buddhists and Muslims in 2012. Thousands have fled persecution and poverty in an exodus by boat.

The United States has long supported Suu Kyi's role in championing democratic change in Myanmar, but was surprised this month when she suggested to the new U.S. ambassador Scot Marciel to refrain from using the term 'Rohingya' for the persecuted Muslim minority.

The Rohingya, most of whom live in apartheid-like conditions, are seen by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and referred to by many as Bengalis.

"Emotive terms make it very difficult for us to find a peaceful and sensible resolution to our problems," Suu Kyi told reporters at a joint news conference with Kerry in Naypyitaw.

"All that we are asking is that people should be aware of the difficulties we are facing and to give us enough space to solve all our problems."

Kerry said he had discussed the Rohingya issue with Suu Kyi during their meeting, describing the issue as "very sensitive" and "divisive," in Myanmar.

"I know it arouses strong passions here," Kerry said. "At the same time, we all understand, as a matter of fact, that there is a group here in Myanmar that calls itself Rohingya," said Kerry, adding that the United States used that term.

"What's critical to focus on is solving the problem; what's critical to focus on is improving the situation on the ground to promote development, promote respect for human rights, and to benefit all of those who live in Rakhine and throughout Myanmar," he added.

There is widespread hostility towards Rohingya Muslims in the Buddhist-majority country, including among some within Suu Kyi's party and its supporters.

Taking up the cause of the beleaguered minority would carry a political cost for Suu Kyi, who took on the newly created role of state counsellor in April following the first-democratically elected government in some five decades.

Last month hundreds of demonstrators protested in front of the U.S. Embassy in Yangon in objection to the use of the term Rohingya in a statement issued by the embassy.

Ambassador Marciel has said he would keep using the term Rohingya because it is Washington's policy to do so.

"What we want to do is avoid any terms that just add fuel to the fire," Suu Kyi said in response to a question on her comments about the Rohingya.

In a clear reference to the United States, she said her "well-wishers" should be helpful as she tries to work through the issue of the Rohingya.

"While we are trying to find that solution, we would like our friends to be helpful in this," she said, "That is very difficult, I'm not denying that, and if our well-wishers are not ready to cooperate with us, it will make our task that much more difficult."

Kerry was on a brief stop in the capital Naypyitaw before he joins President Barack Obama in Vietnam on Monday.

IMPORTANT HURDLES

Kerry offered U.S. support for Myanmar's new government, but said there were still "important hurdles" for the country to overcome in its transition to full democracy from military rule.

Kerry met later to discuss further political reforms with the commander in chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the sprawling defence services complex in the capital.

The military still controls 25 percent of seats in the country's parliament and oversees three power ministries of defence, home affairs and border affairs.

Min Aung Hlaing has repeatedly said that the military will step back from the political arena when there is peace in the country.

Last week, the Obama administration further eased economic and financial sanctions against Myanmar. Kerry said a further easing of measures would not occur under the current constitution, which bars Suu Kyi from becoming president.

reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-usa-kerry-idUSKCN0YD01E

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India

2 Mumbai men who joined Islamic State promoted to top ranks

23 May 2016

After releasing a threat video, highlighting Indian jihadists of Islamic State, it has surfaced that Fahad Tanveer Shaikh and Aman Naeem Tandel of Kalyan, Mumbai, have been promoted to higher ranks in the IS, according to a Times of India report.

Shaikh, who is now referred as Abu Bakr al-Hindi, has been reportedly promoted to the rank of deputy caliph and he has been assigned the task of leading the terror outfit's operations against India.

According to the report, Tandel has been named as Abu Umar al-Hindi and he is now the governor of 'Hind Wal' 'Sindh', an Islamic State term used for India and Pakistan.

The chilling 22-minute video, in Arabic, shows Aman - who escaped to Syria to join Daesh in 2014 along with Fahad, Areeb Majeed, and Shaheem Tanki - warning the Indian public of retaliation for "committing atrocities against Muslims".

Aman, bearded and wearing an Islamic turban, is seen in the video saying, "We will return (to India), but with a sword in hand, to avenge the Babri Masjid, and the killings of Muslims in Kashmir, in Gujarat, and in Muzaffarnagar."

catchnews.com/national-news/2-mumbai-men-who-joined-islamic-state-promoted-to-top-ranks-1463987269.html

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Confident of Acquittal, Imran’s Family Worries About SIMI ‘Taint’

May 23, 2016

Imran Khan, 35, may be staring at an uncertain future after he was picked up by the Rajasthan anti-terrorism squad from Bhilwara last week for alleged involvement in organising meetings of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in 2008 and propagating radical ideology but back home in Bhilwara and Jodhpur, relatives say they are confident of his acquittal. They have heard of “similar cases” earlier, they say, and worry instead about the “taint” on the family.

Imran, of Jodhpur, was in-charge of computer-related facilities and systems at Sangam School of Excellence in Bhilwara. A Jaipur court last week remanded him in judicial custody until Monday. His name had not been mentioned in the 2008 FIR by additional superintendent of police Mahendra Singh, the investigating officer in the 2008 Jaipur blasts case. It came up in the subsequent investigation by special operations group additional SP Nawal Kishore. This probe held Imran guilty under IPC sections 295 A and 153 A (hate speech) and 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) besides various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

READ | Rajasthan: ‘SIMI activist’ nabbed in Bhilwara district, cops cite 2008 case

Since then, he had been “missing” as per police and ATS officials. Relatives, the school administration and friends, however, say that Imran had been working in Bhilwara since 2009, completed a computer course in Jodhpur and travelled between the two districts, owned a postpaid SIM card, and been meeting his relatives regularly. The family said the police had never approached them until he was picked up last week, days after another accused, Mohammad Suwale, was picked up by the Gujarat ATS. Suwale was allegedly arrested on the Gujarat border, after which agencies said they tracked Imran down.

In Bhilwara, Imran’s father-in-law Saleem Faujdar is confident. “We’re hopeful and confident he will be acquitted. If he is guilty, punish him. But we’re sure he will be acquitted,” said Faujdar, 68. “But what of the bad name we get in society?” He said theirs is a family “of patriots” and one of his elder brothers, Ashraf Faujdar, was a freedom fighter.

“He had a good future but with what is being done now, they have spoiled his career and life,” Imran’s father Mohammad Ilyas said. “I have all the records of where he was all these years, whether in Bhilwara or Jodhpur, and he never participated in any meeting as is being alleged.”

Imran’s mother Gulab Bano said, “He cannot ever hurt anyone. He was working hard in Bhilwara and supported us too. He was an ideal son and I never felt the need to scold him. I hope he is released soon.” Married in 2005, Imran has three daughters, of whom the second is mentally challenged and the youngest has a congenital eye ailment. Imran’s wife Irfana spoke fondly of his kindness. “Once some children came selling piggy banks, he bought them for twice the price. A papad wallah came in the summer heat, and Imran brought him inside and gave him lunch,” she said. “Whatever we earn is barely enough for us, but he made me give money to our neighbours when the man in that family had lost his job.” “He is the kindest among us,” agreed Imran’s uncle Asif Khan. “If one of us used abusive language in front of him, he would tell us, ‘Your good deeds are being cancelled out’.” Asif runs a mechanic’s shop in Bhilwara along with brother Ishteyaq, who spoke of the reputation Imran had built at the school. Sangam School principal Madhu Nagpal said that since Imran joined in 2009, the school’s computer systems have improved greatly. Shailendra, another teacher at the school, said, “He was an innocent boy. He was very softspoken and ready to help, no matter how late it was.” Imran’s brother Tausif is upset about the way the local press has reported the arrest, particularly a reference to Imran as a “terrorist”. On Tuesday, police and intelligence agencies searched the two-room home Imran has rented at Mohammadi Colony in Shastri Nagar, Bhilwara, which is now locked. “They told us they haven’t found anything in the house,” Saleem said. “They even went through the flour,” added Asif Khan.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/imran-khan-simi-india-jaipur-blasts-2008-2814225/

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Gujarat’s mosque claims to have world’s biggest Quran

May 23, 2016

Vadodara (Gujarat) : The Jama Masjid in Vadodara has added another feather to its cap with the claim of having the biggest Quran in the world.

The mosque, which is famous because of its association with cricketers Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan, has now claimed of having the biggest elaboration of the holy text.

The length and breadth of this Quran is 75 inch and 41 inch respectively. The ink used in this Quran is made up of Kohl and peacock’s feather. The border of this Quran is elaborated with a gold coating.

It is worthy to be noted that a Quran, kept at Russian city of Kazan’s Qolsharif mosque has been awarded a Guinness World Records certificate for being the world’s largest.

Printed on Scotland paper, this Quran edition is 150×200 cm, has 632 pages and weighs 800 kg.

The cover of the religious text was made of malachite and semi-precious stones and is encrusted with phyanite, jade, gold and silver leaf.

siasat.com/news/gujarats-mosque-claims-worlds-biggest-quran-961499/

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Kashmiri militants wage selfie war against India

23 May 2016

Jammu and Kashmir: Rebels like Burhan Wani, more adept at spreading their message via smartphone than wielding an assault rifle, are becoming a rallying point in Kashmir for youth who reject the authority of the Indian government.

Wani, a 22-year-old commander of Islamic separatist group Hizb-ul Mujahideen, personifies a new generation of militant who is winning public sympathy in a battle that once again risks destabilising the troubled northern region.

“He is on a pious path and we are proud of him,” said Mohammad Muzaffar Wani, the father of the militant who shot to notoriety with pictures of his group on social media last year, along with speeches calling Kashmiris to arms.

“All of Kashmir supports his cause,” Wani, the headmaster of a school, said in an interview at the family home in Tral in southern Kashmir.

A massive crackdown by Indian security forces has contained a separatist revolt in Kashmir that first flared in the 1990s, with Pakistan’s backing, but is now mainly homegrown.

But the backlash it has provoked reflects what many Kashmiris call the refusal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-year-old government to engage in a meaningful dialogue over the fate of India’s only Muslim-majority region.

“The government of India has decided that they want to engage with the problem militarily, not politically,” said Mirwais Umar Farooq, a hereditary religious leader and advocate of a peaceful path to independence.

Separatist leaders accuse New Delhi of keeping people in Kashmir, long the centre of a dispute between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan, under the heel of up to 750,000 security forces.

At the same time, they say, it is pursuing a long-term strategy to effectively annex the region of 12.5 million people demographically, religiously and economically.

The result, both moderate and hardline separatists warn, will be the further radicalisation of a generation already brutalised by a crackdown on a wave of street protests that peaked in 2010.

“It’s troubling—there should not be this level of alienation,” said Naeem Akhtar, the state’s education minister and a leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), that has run the Jammu and Kashmir state in an unlikely coalition with Modi’s Hindu-centric Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since last year.

“We should try and build emotional bonds between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country,” added Akhtar. “It will take time, but I think we are on course.”

Both parties say their alliance of opposites is working, but their development agenda—including a road building campaign to upgrade infrastructure ruined by decades of neglect—has yet to deliver.

Cat and mouse

Human rights advocates say the militants are not capable of launching serious attacks, preferring instead to play cat and mouse with security forces, who outnumber them by more than 3,000 to one, to make a political point.

“They have guns in their hands but circulating videos is not violence—it’s propaganda,” said Khurram Parvez, an official of a civil society grouping.

Wani, who remains at large, featured in a recent video, warming his hands by a forest campfire, chatting and laughing with colleagues.

In recent months, outpourings of sympathy for the militants have escalated, with stone-throwing crowds gathering at the site of gun battles to thwart efforts to kill or capture the gunmen.

Huge numbers have turned out, too, at funerals of rebels killed in “encounters”, such as a recent shootout in which three militants—two linked to Wani - died.

“The worrying part is that the trust deficit between the system and the public is huge,” said a senior Indian military officer who estimates the number of militants active in the Kashmir Valley at about 200.

“The only way they can express their grievances is by violence against the symbols of the state,” said the officer, who sought anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Militancy has decreased in Kashmir, a senior aide to Modi told Reuters, but social volatility has increased as security forces systematically eliminate domestic rebels, who rely on the sympathy of many Kashmiris.

“Before, the goal was to neutralise foreign infiltrators,” the aide said, on condition of anonymity. “Now the domestic terrorists are being bumped off.”

A female student, Shaista Hameed, 22, and a male youth died in stray fire in one such encounter, in the village of Lelhar in February, that killed a militant from the Pakistan-backed rebel group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Two rebels escaped, shielded by a stone-throwing crowd.

“These militants are our brothers,” said a local high school senior, who gave his name as Tariq. “They are fighting for us and demanding the right to freedom.”

Asked how he saw his future, he said, “If the atrocities continue, I will take up the gun.”

livemint.com/Politics/pivRvb4XRYeiW50ir1eprJ/Kashmiri-militants-wage-selfie-war-against-India.html

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Terrorists kill three policemen in Srinagar

May 23, 2016

SRINAGAR: Terrorists on Monday carried out two strikes within as many hours in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, killing three policemen, including an officer, and decamping with service rifle of one of the slain cops.

In the first strike, militants shot dead two policemen in Zadibal area of Srinagar at around 10:45am.

The ultras shot at the two cops from close range at Mill Stop in Zadibal area which connects the city to Hazratbal Shrine and super speciality SKIMS Hospital at Soura, a police official said.

The two cops died on the spot, he said, adding the deceased have been identified as assistant sub-inspector Ghulam Mohammad and head constable Nazir Ahmad.

The slain cops were posted at Zadibal Police Station.

Police and other security forces have been put on an alert to look out for the assailants, who managed to flee the spot.

In the second strike, militants shot at constable Mohammad Sadiq, who was posted as personal security guard to chairman of J&K Pasmanda Tabqajaat (downtrodden classes) Mohammad Abdullah Chatwal, at Tengpora on Parimpora-Hyderpora Bypass road.

The militants also snatched the service rifle of the injured cop before fleeing from the spot, the official said adding the attack took place at around 12 noon.

The cop later succumbed to injuries at Police hospital at Batamaloo.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Terrorists-kill-three-policemen-in-Srinagar/articleshow/52396883.cms

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Mideast

Islamic State aims to destroy Israel, ‘liberate’ Jerusalem with Sinai Peninsula terrorist force

May 23 2016

With a media blitz, the Islamic State has set its sights on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as the next shot at expanding its empire and establishing a base from which to attack neighboring Israel.

The terrorist group’s propaganda units have gone into high gear for recruitment this month to build a force in Sinai large enough to one day conquer Jerusalem — the same way its fighters took over large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Last week, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of the Islamic State’s presence in Sinai, where the group may have placed as many as 1,000 terrorists. The general’s concern is a signal that the U.S. faces another war front against the Islamic State in addition to Iraq, Syria and Libya.

More than a dozen Islamic State media arms in Iraq and Syria have produced videos narrated by a who’s who of hardened jihadis, who are surely on a U.S. kill list for daily airstrikes.

Islamic State propaganda promises recruits that they will one day “liberate” Jerusalem and end the state of Israel, according to analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks jihadi communications. The Egyptian army, the force standing in the way, is threatened with beheadings if soldiers continue to fight.

Such a massive propaganda effort for one mission is unusual for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. Analysts says it means leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi views the land as increasingly important to his group’s ultimate goal of bringing down governments in the region and expanding its so-called caliphate, or Islamic state.

“I think ISIS sees the Sinai as a steppingstone for launching greater attacks against Israel, which would boost its claim to primacy in championing the Arab/Muslim cause against Israel, an issue that strongly resonates with many Arab Islamists,” said Jim Phillips, a Middle East analyst at The Heritage Foundation. “The Sinai cells also pose a long-term threat to Egypt, a key state with the largest Arab population. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but terrorists love them.”

Steve Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, said the Islamic State is applying lessons learned in Anbar, Iraq, parts of which it controls, as it tries to persuade Egyptians and people in Hamas-controlled Gaza to join. Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

“One of the videos noted that ISIS in Sinai has learned from the experience of ISIS in Al-Anbar as the two areas are similar in terms of its desert geography,” Mr. Stalinsky said.

“They have been calling Egyptian and Gazans to join them. They believe that ISIS in Sinai will be the gate towards the liberation of Palestine,” he said.

For now, the Islamic State lacks the firepower to repeat its success in Anbar, where it captured a number of towns including the disputed Fallujah, after invading Iraq.

“Their strategy now in the Sinai is basically hit-and-run kind of attacks,” Mr. Stalinsky said.

Egyptian forces on the peninsula are hit by those attacks almost daily.

The Islamic State made an enormous statement in Sinai in October when it placed a bomb on Metrojet Flight 9268, sending the Russian airliner crashing onto the desert landscape. The Islamic State claimed it sabotaged the plane, killing 224 people, with explosives hidden in a soda can. If so, the bomb was likely placed on the plane by an Islamic State insider at the Sinai Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“ISIS leadership views the Sinai province as a key extension for the organization outside of its core area of control in Syria and Iraq,” says an analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Indeed, the Sinai province is considered one of the most powerful and effective among these extensions.”

Mr. Phillips said the Arab Spring uprising centered in Cairo fed the Islamic State the fighters it needed in Sinai as many Islamists were released from prisons.

“Extremist groups flourished in the Sinai, where they recruited disaffected Bedouin tribes, which had long resented what they perceived to be neglect and marginalization at the hands of the Egyptian government,” he said. “The Sinai also offered a conduit to Gaza, where extremists received support from Hamas and other radical Palestinian Islamist groups.”

Counteroffensive

A sampling of some of the more than one dozen Sinai-centered Islamic State videos provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute:

• Two jihadis in Iraq, Abu Qaswara Al-Masri, an Egyptian, and Abu Omar Al-Maqdisi, likely a Palestinian from Gaza, urge Egyptians to join the Islamic State in Sinai.

Al-Masri tells the Egyptian army: “We advise you to repent before we manage to find you. If we find you, there will be no other [fate] but beheading for you. There will be no mercy for you and you are aware of that. You have seen what the soldiers of the caliphate have done with your colleagues and you will see. I advise you to repent. I am a truthful adviser to you.”

• Islamic State fighters Abu Suhaib Al-Ansari and Abu Omar Al-Ansari, in Iraq’s Ninawa province, appear in a recruitment video. Abu Omar Al-Ansari urges Egyptians to attack Egyptian government officials and “spill their blood and communicate with them with guns and explosives and turn them into corpses with bombs.” He specifically called on Gazans to travel to Sinai.

• A video produced in Aleppo province, Syria, attacks the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as mainstream.

A fighter says, “You are the preachers for polytheism and falsehood, you are the ones who issued the fatwa for people to take part in the polytheist democracy, and you are the ones who issued the fatwa for people to vote for the pagan constitution, which puts sovereignty in the hands of the people instead of Allah.”

He added: “You have deceived your followers that [adhering to] democracy and entering the parliament will lead to [the implementation] of Islamic Shariah. Now, where is the Shariah, O enemies of Allah?”

The Brotherhood’s overriding goal is to spread Shariah, or Islamic law, around the world by undercutting secular governments.

Gen. Dunford, the Joint Chiefs chairman, raised alarm last week about the Islamic State’s growing presence in Sinai and said Egyptian forces had begun a counteroffensive against its units.

“We have seen a connection between the Islamic State in the Sinai and Raqqa,” Gen. Dunford told reporters, according to a dispatch by Voice of America. “We have seen communication between the Islamic State in the Sinai and the Islamic State in Libya and elsewhere, so we are watching that pretty closely.”

Raqqa is the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital in central Syria, from which it directs media operations and terrorist attacks.

“The Egyptians are taking the fight to the Islamic State right now,” he said aboard a flight for a NATO meeting in Brussels.

The Egyptian military said this weekend that it conducted a series of raids in Sinai that killed 51 Islamic State fighters, according to the Arab news site Al Bawaba.

“Just being able to have a presence and cause some disruption in between Egypt and Israel gives ISIS some propaganda value, at the very least, said retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. “It also causes Egypt to look both East and West and may, therefore, provide some operational flexibility to ISIS planning.”

washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/22/isis-seeks-to-destroy-israel-liberate-jerusalem-wi/?page=3

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78 Palestinians killed and 106 arrested by Israel over one-week period

May 23, 2016

United Nations: In a weekly report of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said “Israeli army wounded at least 78 Palestinians, including 32 children, in clashes during 10-16 May.”

The report, which was released on Friday stated that the Israeli army carried out at least 78 search raids in Palestinian homes across the OPT and arrested 106 Palestinians.

It also said that a fire broke out next to Beit ‘Awa village in Hebron following the firing of light flares by Israeli forces, resulting in the damage of around 250 dunams of land planted with olive trees.

Apart from domestic destruction, 30 trees were partially burnt when the Israeli forces fired teargas canisters at protesters in Kafr Qaddoum, north of the West Bank city of Qalqilia.

The report noted that in Gaza’s access restricted area on the sea, 12 fishermen, including four minors, were forced to take off their clothes and swim towards Israeli naval boats where they were taken into custody.

The report added that in East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities banned two Palestinians from accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque for two and three months. The report stated that Israel also demolished or confiscated 16 Palestinian owned structures in Area C of the West Bank on grounds of lack of building permits.

On 16 May, seven donor-funded residential containers were also demolished and materials for another three were confiscated in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Jabal al-Baba in the city of Jerusalem.

siasat.com/news/un-78-palestinians-killed-106-arrested-israel-one-week-period-961559/

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Regional inequalities in Turkey not easing

May/23/2016

Major regional inequality is one of Turkey’s structural problems. Even though investment incentive measures were taken in 2012, this gap is not shrinking.

In terms of regional inequality, Turkey is second only to Chile in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Among OECD member countries, the best regional balance is seen in North European countries, led by Sweden and Holland.

The regional inequality issue in Turkey is also an important obstacle to Turkey’s EU membership. Turkey must lower its interregional differences to an acceptable level, which is one of the key conditions to joining the union. 

There are significant historic, social and economic reasons for regional inequality in Turkey. Provinces in eastern and southeastern Anatolia have not been able to benefit adequately from the advantages of development. Not only them but also the eastern Black Sea region, certain parts of Central Anatolia, and even some parts of western Anatolia and the Mediterranean. 

From the 1980s to the 2000s, when Turkey became more open to the global economy and market fluctuations and more distanced from central planning, regional inequality in the country was exacerbated in favor of strong regions and against underdeveloped regions.

In a 26-region categorization of Turkey, six sub-regions in eastern and southeastern Anatolia are in the bottom seven places. Istanbul’s share of the overall national population is 3 percentage points higher than the population of 21 provinces in the east, but its share of national income is over 20 percentage points higher at 28 percent. The lowest six sub-regions in southeast Anatolia have a share of 7.4 percent.

Incentive programs and results

The “New Investment Incentive Program” that went into effect in mid-2012 introduced different practices according to the type of the investment, its size, and the region. The program is made up of four different practices:

1-Regional Investment Incentive Practice

2-Large-scale Investment Incentive Practice

3-Strategic Investment Incentive Practice

4-General Incentive Practice

The program contains tools such as tax reductions, support for the employer’s insurance premiums, and support for interest rates. It separates Turkey into six different regions according to economic and social development levels, within the framework of a study conducted by the Ministry of Development in 2011.

Region 1 was granted the least advantageous incentives while Region 6 was granted the best incentives.

However, this program was not successful as it failed to be sufficiently selective in supporting a certain region or a certain sector. As a result of this inefficient program, the desired reduction in the regional gap was not reached. The results of the period from June 2012 to the end of 2015 prove this.

According to data from the Ministry of Economy, in that period investments worth a total of 309 billion Turkish Liras were supported with incentives. However, the regional distribution of investments does not seem to be good at lowering the imbalance as desired. In the same period, Region 1 - which included Istanbul - took the top slot in investments with a share of 35 percent. Regions 2 and 3, both of which lie in the west of the country, had a share of 31 percent of the investments. As a result, two thirds of the supported investments were made in already developed and relatively developed regions. The least developed Region 6, covering the eastern and southeastern Anatolia, took only a 5 percent share of the supported investments in the same period.

For a more effective policy

Even though the gap in the distribution of national income among regions is an issue going back many years, it grew further with the neoliberal policies after the 1980s put an end to public investments. Following the privatization and closure of many public enterprises, along with their investments, the gap between the regions grew wider.

What’s more, the new paradigm that has based economic growth on the inflow of foreign resources - because of inadequate domestic savings - preferred to attract hot money with low exchange rates and high interest rates. This made importing cheaper, and the destructive policy of encouraging imports has rapidly eroded industry in Anatolia, which should have been protected. When Anatolia could not save itself from the de-industrialization disease, the bleeding in the workforce and capital accelerated with domestic migration.

Although a regional perspective in supporting investments seemed to be developed in the AKP era, an effective incentive policy was not created. The public sector has persistently avoided making investments, especially in the industrial sector, exacerbating inequality between developed and underdeveloped regions.

Incentives have mainly been offered to the most profitable sectors in the short-term, including the construction sector, the energy sector (which develops many environmentally unfriendly projects), and other service sectors with no value in foreign trade. The limited number of manufacturing investments was made largely in Istanbul and its neighboring regions, rather than Turkey’s more underdeveloped regions.

In recent years, especially when industrial investments slowed down, a new growth approach required a fresh industrial perspective that would encourage new investments. A fresh public investment model, focused on the public good rather than profitability, will be crucial in resolving problems resulting from regional inequality.

hurriyetdailynews.com/regional-inequalities-in-turkey-not-easing-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99507&NewsCatID=344

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Turkey's Erdoğan gives Yıldırım mandate to form new government as PM

Mon May 23 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 22 gave his close ally and Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım the mandate to form a government as prime minister in a move set to further consolidate the strongman's grip on power.

Yıldırım had earlier been chosen by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as its new chairman, immediately vowing to make a priority out of implementing Erdoğan's controversial plan for a presidential system to enshrine his status as the Turkish number one. 

He replaces in both posts Ahmet Davutoğlu. 

Yıldırım, 60, was the only candidate at the AKP extraordinary congress in Ankara, receiving 1,405 votes from 1,470 delegates present.

In a carefully choreographed process, Davutoğlu hours later met Erdoğan at the presidential palace to formally submit his resignation as prime minister.

Yıldırım then also went to the palace to be given the mandate to form the new government as premier, a presidential statement said.

Davutoğlu will stay on as premier until a new government is formed but that should be in the next days. 

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-erdogan-gives-yildirim-mandate-to-form-new-government-as-pm-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99526&NewsCatID=338

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New Turkish PM again vows to bring in presidential system

Mon May 23 2016

Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, has vowed to boost efforts for the adoption of a presidential system as part of the new constitution in line with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s demands after officially taking the reins of power from Ahmet Davutoğlu at an extraordinary convention.

“The most important thing we have to do today is to turn this de facto situation into a legal one and thus end the confusion. The way to do is with a new constitution and the presidential system within it,” Yıldırım said in a statement to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the convention on May 22.

Yıldırım was the sole candidate for the leadership, replacing Davutoğlu, who declared his resignation this month. Yıldırım was scheduled to be given the mandate to form the new government late May 22 after Davutoğlu submitted his resignation to Erdoğan after the closure of the AKP convention.

In a sign of a substantial reshuffle in the cabinet and party management, Yıldırım’s list for the 50-seat Central Decision-Making Body Council (MKYK) featured 26 new figures.

Although the convention was held to introduce Yıldırım as the new AKP chairman, all the symbolism at the Ankara’s Arena Hall was designed to prove that the real and unquestionable leader of the ruling party is Erdoğan. The congress hall was full of massive posters of Erdoğan, with videos showing footage of Erdoğan during his time as prime minister and president.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who was selected to chair the convention, made this explicit in a statement he made at the opening of the convention. “[The AKP] will continue to be the party of Tayyip as long as our people continue to say ‘The AK Party is the party of Tayyip.’ It’s not possible to think the AK Party is different from our president or our president is different from the AK Party. The AK Party has just one leader, our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” he said.

Erdoğan’s message sets AKP’s mission

Bozdağ’s statement was followed by a written statement from Erdoğan to the convention that expressed his belief that the new government would prioritize a systemic change to impose a presidential system on the country.

“My legal ties with my party might have been cut on Aug. 27, 2014, when I was elected as the president. But my bonds of love with my party have never been cut and will never been cut,” Erdoğan said.

His message went beyond a routine congratulatory one as he directly expressed his demands from the next government. “I believe this weird rule that obliged the president to cut ties with the political cadres will be soon removed in this new era as part of efforts to renew the constitution and governance system,” he said.

Erdoğan also thanked Davutoğlu while wishing success to the new leader and party management.

Thousands of AKP members and ministers stood up in the hall as Erdoğan’s message was read out by Bozdağ.

New PM starts by saluting Erdoğan

Continuing the symbolism, Yıldırım started his speech by respectfully saluting Erdoğan as “our leader, the architect of a bright Turkey.” 

“One of the first things to be done in the country is to rewrite the constitution,” Yıldırım stressed, asking the audience: “Are you ready to bring about the new constitution, presidential system?”

The election of the president through a popular vote has changed everything as Erdoğan bears the responsibility of millions of people who voted for him, the new AKP leader said.

“Although one argues that he [legally] has no responsibility, our president is a man of passion for Turkey and the people. His responsibility covers people’s problems. Therefore, the mos timportant thing we have to do today is to turn this de facto situation into a legal one and thus end the confusion. The way to do is the new constitution and presidential system in it.”

Operations to continue until PKK ends attacks

Yıldırım also addressed the ongoing fight against terrorism. “This is a matter of the country. Our determination in the fight against terror will continue in the same way. We have lived in this country for a thousand years in unity and as brothers, and we will continue to live like this,” he said.

Although many question when the operations being carried out by security forces will end, Yıldırım said: “I declare from here: These operations will continue until life and property security as well as their comfort of our people living in this region will be provided.” 

Turkey’s new premier vowed that operations would continue until attacks targeting civilians and security personnel will cease. “They will continue non-stop until the terror organization PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party], which has blood on its hands, ends its armed attacks. My people should feel comfortable. We will remove this terror trouble from Turkey’s agenda.”

One the government’s fight against the parallel structure, he said: “It should be well known that there is only one state in this country. And this is the Republic of Turkey.”

EU should end confusion over Turkey

Along with these matters, Yıldırım’s statement was predominantly focused on multi-billion-dollar projects, as he cited important ongoing projects like the third bridge and the world’s largest airport, although he also touched on Turkey’s EU accession process. Yıldırım called on the EU to end its confusion over Turkey’s overall membership process. “Turkey will either join or not join the EU; it will continue with determination to develop its democracy and human rights and to continue its development process as well as to fulfill all necessary regulations.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/new-turkish-pm-again-vows-to-bring-in-presidential-system.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99484&NewsCatID=338

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Turkey’s new economic model to be based on production, defense: Erdoğan adviser

May/23/2016

Turkey’s new economic model to be based on production, defense: Erdoğan adviser

Turkey’s new economic model will be based on production with the defense industry as a core component, Yiğit Bulut, an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said May 23.

Bulut told state broadcaster TRT Haber that the economic stance of the government would be maintained, regardless of who was in the new cabinet’s economic management team. 

Speaking about a refugee and visa deal between Turkey and the European Union, Bulut said the former could suspend all its agreements with the EU, including a customs union, if the bloc continues its “double standards” in talks with Ankara.

A deal between Brussels and Ankara to stem the flow of illegal migrants into Europe and provided Turkish citizens with visa-free travel to the Schengen zone has been hampered by disagreements over Turkey’s anti-terror law, which the European Union wants to see brought in line with EU standards.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-new-economic-model-to-be-based-on-production-defense-erdogan-adviser.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99525&NewsCatID=338

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World’s first humanitarian summit kicks off in Istanbul

May 23 2016

The two-day World Humanitarian Summit, the first of its kind, officially kicked off on May 23 in Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered the opening speech of the summit with a focus on Turkey’ efforts on humanitarian and development aid.

Erdoğan noted that Turkey was hosting more than 3 million Syrian and Iraqi migrants, pledging that the country would never close its doors on people and humanity regardless of their identities.

“We know very well that pain has no race, language and religion. With this understanding, Turkey conducts humanitarian and development aid in more than 140 countries of the world and realizes thousands of projects,” Erdoğan said.

The president also said the current systems were insufficient in the face of humanity’s urgent problems, noting that only some countries were taking more than their fair share of the burden.

Accordingly, Erdoğan urged all countries to shoulder responsibility on the issue.

He said the country had spent more than $10 billion on migrants while the international community’s contributions remained at $455 million.

World leaders from United Nations member states, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Kuwaiti Emir al-Jaber al-Sabah are in Istanbul for the summit.

During the summit, at least 50 heads of government will announce several commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.  

In 2014, the U.N. reported that around $540 million of the roughly $135 billion global aid budget was spent on decreasing disaster risk.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also expected to push for an increase in world spending on reducing disaster risk at the summit.

hurriyetdailynews.com/worlds-first-humanitarian-summit-kicks-off-in-istanbul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99529&NewsCatID=359

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Sultanahmet ISIL bombing probe demands long jail terms

May 23rd, 2016

The investigation into the deadly Jan. 12 suicide attack in Istanbul’s touristic Sultanahmet area has concluded, with prosecutors demanding jail times ranging from 7.5 years to aggravated life sentences for 26 suspects, 18 of whom are being tried under arrest. 

According to the probe, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) member Nabil Fadli arrived in Istanbul 15 days before the attack to carry out advance surveys of the site in Sultanahmet, where he later killed 12 German tourists.

The order for the attack was reportedly given by ISIL “emir” Omar-Ebu Abid, who is currently in Iraq. The group’s border representatives, working under the code names “Mahir Ali Alakkal,” “Azzo Ali Alakkal” and “Omran,” reportedly gave the order for Fadli’s entrance to Turkey with the explosives a month before the attack.

The suspects were found to be frequently changing their GSM lines, using messenger programs like Telegram and WhatsApp to communicate. Messages related to the organization were sent through a crypt program called TrueCrypt.

Arriving in Istanbul 15 days before the attack, the Fadli took photos at sites like Taksim Square, Sultanahmet Square, the Hagia Sophia, and the Galata Tower and carried out reconnaissance in the Dikilitaş neighborhood, the site of the attack, according to the investigation.

After the attack, police found that Fadli, a 28-year-old Syrian citizen born in Saudi Arabia, had appealed for asylum in Turkey.

Gerhard Günther Höppner, Steffen Höppner, Rudolf Krollman, Hiltrud Krollman, Karin Erika Franke-Dütz, Rüdiger Karl Faber, Marianne Faber, Gernot Eike Mildner, Adolf Jurgen Glorius, Rudiger Becker, Birgit Glorius and another victim identified as Anke H., all German citizens, were killed in when Fadli blew himself up in Dikilitaş area of Sultanahmet on Jan. 12. It was the fourth attack staged by ISIL in Turkey after deadly bombings in Diyarbakır, Suruç and Ankara in 2015.

May/23/2016

hurriyetdailynews.com/sultanahmet-isil-bombing-probe-demands-long-jail-terms-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99530&NewsCatID=509

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South Asia

For Allah, China and Marx: A Theological Mix for Young Imams

May 23, 2016

YINCHUAN: Every morning on his way to class at one of China's largest Islamic institutes, Wang Yue is reminded that the state comes before Allah.

Emblazoned in gold etching on a white marble slab at the main entrance and repeated all over campus is the slogan:

"Love the nation, love religion"

The contrast is even more striking than the hierarchy: in China, patriotism is synonymous with supporting the ruling Communist Party, which is officially atheist.

But the students see little contradiction between the teachings of Marx and those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

"Part of being a good person, and a good Muslim, is loving your own country," said Wang, who is in the last of his four years of studies at the institute in the northern region of Ningxia.

"Marxism and religion don't contradict each other, and understanding other religions or theories can help us better understand our own faith," he insisted.

While China's constitution enshrines freedom of religion, authorities keep strict limits on it, recognising only five belief systems, approving houses of worship, and seeking to control their messages.

The country has two main Muslim groups, the Hui, who are concentrated in Ningxia and aside from their religion share many similarities with the Han majority, and the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who have more in common with Central Asia.

Both are Sunni, but while the Hui are largely integrated into mainstream society, officials frequently blame religious extremism along with terrorism and separatism for violence in the Uighur homeland of Xinjiang.

China, which shares borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, has strict national security laws, regularly detaining people for watching jihadist videos, although little evidence of any links to groups such as Islamic State has been made public.

Hammer and sickle

Religious groups must follow the leadership of the Communist Party, President Xi Jinping told a government conference in April.

"We should guide and educate the religious circle and their followers with the socialist core values," he said, according to official news agency Xinhua.

“We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists,” he added.

China's leaders are keenly aware of the role the Catholic Church had in the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, and have sought to curtail outside influence in everything from the Internet to universities.

Islam has existed in China for over a millennium, entering with Arab traders on the Silk Road, some of whom settled permanently.

Now there are eight state-run Islamic institutes around the country, teaching young Muslims a version of Islam seen through a prism of Communist rhetoric and the Party-State system.

Wang, who is Hui, espoused his patriotism under a blackboard with an elaborate hammer and sickle drawn in the corner. In Arabic class, students recited in unison the words for “socialist core values” and “patriotism”.

dawn.com/news/1260150/for-allah-china-and-marx-a-theological-mix-for-young-imams

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Sirajuddin Haqqani among possible successors of Mullah Mansoor

Mon May 23 2016

The top Taliban leaders have reportedly met on Sunday in the framework of their leadership council to discuss successor Mullah Akhtar Mansoor who was killed in an airstrike on Saturday.

The leadership council discussed regarding various possible successors, including the notorious guerrilla commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, Taliban sources told Reuters.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is the leader of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network and he reportedly played a key role in resolving the Taliban leadership issues following the confirmation of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death.

He has a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head and would likely prove an even more implacable foe of Afghan government forces and their U.S. allies.

According to the sources, Taliban were also considering Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, a potential unifier because of his father’s name.

Former Guantanamo detainee Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir and Mullah Sherin were also cited, the sources said.

Mullah Mansoor was killed in an airstrike carried out by the US forces in Balochistan province of Pakistan as he was travelling in a vehicle.

The Afghan government and security institutions as well as the US President Barack Obama confirmed Mullah Mansoor’s death on Sunday.

However, the Taliban group has not officially confirmed Mullah Mansoor’s death so far.

khaama.com/sirajuddin-haqqani-among-possible-successors-of-mullah-mansoor-01041

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8 militants killed during an attack on Taliban prison in Helmand

Mon May 23 2016

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said at least 8 militants were killed during an attack on the Taliban prison in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

According to a statement by Ministry of Defense (MoD), the raid was conducted in the restive Marjah district.

The statement further added that 7 militants were also arrested an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) manufacturing factory was destroyed along with a vehicle and two motorcycles belonging to the militants.

MoD said at least 19 hostages were also released from the prison belonging to the Taliban militants during the raid.

This comes as the commander of the 1st Brigade of 215th Maiwand Corps of the Afghan National Army General Noor Alam said Sunday that 23 hostages were released during an operation conducted in Sistani area late on Saturday night.

He said the hostages were all ordinary civilians who were kept by the Taliban militants in the prison.

According to Gen. Alam, at least 20 militants were killed and over 30 others were wounded during the operations in Helmand province.

The Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

khaama.com/8-militants-killed-during-an-attack-on-taliban-prison-in-helmand-01040

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Mansoor’s death in Pakistan proves imposed proxy war on Afghan nation: Saleh

Mon May 23 2016

The former Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief, Amrullah Saleh, has said the death of Muallah Akhtar Mansoor in Pakistan once again proves the legitimate claims of the Afghan people that the ongoing war is not an ethnic war but is a proxy war imposed on Afghan nation by Pakistan.

Saleh is the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor is a good news for the people Afghanistan since he killed thousands of Afghan people during the past one year.

According to Saleh, the Taliban found Mullah Omar also died in Pakistan and Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was declared his successor who did not only bring any changes to the policies and approaches of the group but intensified committing more atrocities against the Afghan people.

The former NDS chief further added that the death of Mullah Mansoor opens new doors of opportunities both in terms of politics and military to Afghanistan.

He said the Afghan government should mobilize thoughts of international community and Afghan people towards the main part of the war so that further pressures are brought on Pakistan besides increasing military aggression to weaken the grouip.

According to Saleh, unity among political elites, the government forces and further coordination among the security institutions in a bid to have better use from the available opportunity.

Pentagon and the Afghan government have both confirmed that the vehicle of Mullah Mansoor was targeted in an airstrike in the southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal.

However, the Afghan government said an investigation is underway to confirm that death of Mansoor which would be announced as soon as they receive final information confirming his death.

khaama.com/mansoors-death-in-pakistan-proves-imposed-proxy-war-on-afghan-nation-saleh-01038

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Abdullah says close to conclude peace deal with Hekmatyar

May 22 2016

The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has said the Afghan government is close to conclude a peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Speaking during a cabinet meeting today, Abdullah said negotiations between the High Peace Council and Hezb-e-Islami are underway.

Abdullah further added that the national interests of the country and the Afghan people are a top priority in all key issues, insisting that there will be no negligence in this regard.

He also emphasized that anyone joining peace process should lay down arms, stop insurgency activities, respect the Afghan constitution and reach to an agreement with the government.

In other parts of his speech, Abdullah hailed the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) for their devotion and commitment and said the Afghan people remains thankful to armed forces of the country.

The remarks by Abdullah comes as the Afghan government signed the draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami last week.

Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan told reporters last week that the draft agreement has been signed and will become enforceable once the Hezb-e-Islami party signs it.

Khan further added that the group has agreed to have no links with the anti-government armed militant groups, insisting that Hekmatyar’s only demand is to remove his name from the international blacklist.

Meanwhilel, the United States has welcomed political negotiations between the Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

“We support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process for a negotiated resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” said John Kirby, spokesman of the US Department of State.

Kirby further added that all relevant groups, including Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, should be a part of such a political dialogue so that Afghans can talk directly to other Afghans about the future of their country.

khaama.com/abdullah-says-close-to-conclude-peace-deal-with-hekmatyar-01036

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Afghan commandos release 23 hostages from Taliban-run prison in Helmand

Sun May 22 2016

Afghan commandos night raid in HelmandThe commandos of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces released at least 23 hostages from a Taliban-run prison in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The hostages were released during a night operation conducted by the Afghan commandos in the restive Marjah district.

The commander of the 1st Brigade of 215th Maiwand Corps of the Afghan National Army General Noor Alam said the operation was conducted in Sistani area late on Saturday night.

He said the hostages were all ordinary civilians who were kept by the Taliban militants in the prison.

According to Gen. Alam, at least 20 militants were killed and over 30 others were wounded during the operations in Helmand province.

Gen. Alam further added that 2 Afghan soldiers and 3 policemen were also wounded during various operations in the past 24 hours in this province.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as at least 60 prisoners were released from a Taliban-run prison in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan earlier this month.

The Afghan Special Operations Forces have stepped up night raids targeting the Taliban insurgents in the restive provinces recently as experts believe the operations have yielded positive results in curbing the insurgency activities of the militants.

khaama.com/afghan-commandos-release-23-hostages-from-taliban-run-prison-in-helmand-01035

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Taliban leader supervising suicide attacks killed in Helmand airstrike

Sun May 22 2016

A top Taliban group leader Qari Fida Mohammad was killed in an airstrike in the restive Marjah district of southern Helmand province.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Qari Fida was among three top Taliban leaders killed in the airstrike carried out by the Afghan Air Force.

A statement by MoD said Qari Fida was actively involved in planning and coordinating suicide attacks.

The statement further added that the two other top Taliban leaders have been identified as Mullah Muhajir and Mullah Nemtullah who were the recruitment and chief of operations of the group in Helmand.

MoD said at least 8 other militants were also killed during the airstrike but the Taliban group has not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as Taliban’s shadow judge for southern Helmand province was killed during an operation Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) led by 215th Maiwand Corps of the Afghan Army.

According to a statement by 215th Maiwand Corps, the operations were conducted in Marjah district where Taliban’s shadow judge Haji Rahmatulalh was killed along with a member of the military commission of the group.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

khaama.com/taliban-leader-supervising-suicide-attacks-killed-in-helmand-airstrike-01034

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Witchhunt in Bangladesh

May 23, 2016

May be time has come for Pakistan to re-open the trial of ‘Agartala Conspiracy’ case and take the matters to their logical conclusion by exposing the perpetrators.

Pakistan should also make a simultaneous beginning by raising the issue of war crimes trials by Bangladesh at the OIC, International Court of Justice and UN Human Rights Council.

Sentiment at most of these forums is overwhelmingly supportive of Pakistan’s point of view.

Pakistan summoned the BD envoy and lodged a protest.

The National Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution condemning Nizami’s execution.

However, so far response from Pakistan has been lacklustre, short of expectations of people of Pakistan.

Public sentiment is running high on the issue and the Government should respond to the situation in accordance with the aspirations of people.

International organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had deemed the decision (to hang JI leaders) unacceptable.

Since the beginning of sham war crime trials in Bangladesh, several international organisations, human rights groups and international legal figures have raised objections to the court composition, proceedings, fairness, transparency, and harassment of defence lawyers and witnesses.

Only those defence witnesses are permitted to appear in the court who are approved (read compromised through coercion) by government agencies.

International community has objected to the steps taken by government of Bangladesh to impose restrictions on the independence of these trial courts.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said: “Nizami’s trial was neither free nor fair, as the tribunal cut corners on fair-trial standards.

”UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, human rights organisations, and US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign notables’ had asked Sheikh Hasina to stop executions.

Motee-u-Rahman Nazami is the fifth senior official from opposition parties to have been executed since 2013 for alleged war crimes during the 1971 war.

After the confirmation of death sentence by the Supreme Court, Nizami’s lawyer had said that he [Nizami] would not seek any pardon as it would require him to admit crimes he was convicted of.

Earlier four victims also did not seek Presidential clemency for the same reason.

All of them bravely faced the trials and exposed the shortfalls of proceedings.

The 1974 Tripartite Agreement is the cornerstone of relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

As part of the agreement, the government of Bangladesh had “decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency.

”To prolong her political career in the face of plummeting popularity, Hasina Wajid decided to invoke the politics of hatred and vengeance by instituting International War Crimes Tribunal in 2010, notwithstanding that it had been agreed between her father Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman and Prime Minster Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in 1974, that nobody would be tried for the acts that took place during civil war.

In the wake of Nizami’s hanging, Pakistan has pledged to raise the issue of executions of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leaders in Bangladesh at appropriate United Nations forums, including its Human Rights Council (UNHRC), besides vowing to take the matter up at diplomatic level with other countries.

Condemning the Bangladesh executions, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz asked Bangladesh to reconsider its policy “not just in the interest of other Muslim countries, but also its own”.

Government might as well walk the talk.

The loudest protest came from Turkey: “I condemn the mentality that sentences to death a mujahid, who is over the age of 70 and who we believe has no earthly sin.

I think that such proliferation of hatred there, and the ordering of such death sentences despite our repeated initiatives, is neither fair governance nor a democratic mentality,” said President Erdogan on May 15.

Erdogan also condemned Europe for not speaking out against the execution.

“Weren’t you against executions?” Erdogan said.

“There was no noise (from the EU) because the person who was executed was a Muslim.

” “If you are against political executions, why did you remain silent to the execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami who was martyred a couple of days ago…Have you heard anything from Europe? … No.

Isn’t it called double standards?” Erdogan added.

“Those who keep silent now in the face of what happens in Bangladesh cannot abdicate their responsibility either,” he added.

Though there has been worldwide reaction to this gross injustice to JI leaders in Bangladesh, initiative of President Erdogan has earned him more respect not only among Muslim world but also the entire just-minded humanity.

Last year, Erdogan had condemned a death sentence handed to Egypt’s deposed President Muhammad Morsi and had condemned the West for turning a blind eye to the “coup” by Egyptian army chief, who is now president.

After Bangladesh gained independence, the JI was banned and most of its leaders went into exile.

It was only after the 1975 military coup, which brought Major General Ziaur Rahman to power, that the ban was lifted and many JI leaders returned.

Some of these leaders, including Nizami, became ministers in the two BNP-led regimes (1991-96 and 2001-2006).

Tribunal has executed JI leaders mainly for their alliance with BNP, but under the cover of so called war crimes.

Their only crime was their loyalty towards Pakistan and the two-nation theory.

They were executed for their love for Pakistan.

Nizami’s only sin was upholding the constitution and laws of Pakistan—before the birth of Bangladesh.

Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq led hundreds of workers of his party at a funeral-in-absentia arranged by his party for Nizami in Lahore.

He deplored that the Pakistan government had not made any serious effort to stop Nizami’s hanging.

Clashes erupted in Bangladesh after Nizami’s execution.

Earlier, executions of Jamaat leaders in 2013 had triggered the country’s deadliest violence in decades; around 500 people were killed, mainly in clashes between the JI protestors and police.

Tens of thousands of Jamaat supporters have since been arrested or detained without charge.

As Hasina failed to perform well during earlier terms of governance, she tried to win 2014 elections on the basis of hate-vote and vindictive politics.

However, there is strong polarisation in Bangladesh, and anti-Indian sentiments have surged due to various reasons.

With the turmoil and anarchy, India stands to gain.

The fact is now universally admitted by the writers and intellectuals throughout the world that Pakistan was dismembered through an international intrigue, India having played an active role by creating Mukti Bahini that stirred chaos and anarchy.

And when civil war erupted, India invaded former East Pakistan.

Over the years, people of Pakistan and Bangladesh had forgotten bitterness of the past and they wish to move forward to play their role for peace and prosperity in the region.

Pakistan and its people have been congratulating Bangladesh and its people on its independence day and other national events.

For her ulterior political motives, Hasina is reverse paddling the process by re-scratching the healed wounds.

When civil war erupted and hostile India intervened in former East Pakistan, it was indeed the responsibility of the then Pakistani government to act and control the indiscriminate massacre by Mukti Bahini—India trained rebel gangsters.

During these difficult times Jamaat-i- Islami, Muslim League and other patriot political entities extended helping hand to the legitimate government of Pakistan.

Independent writers like Dr Sarmila Bose, a Hindu by faith, an Indian by original nationality and an ethnic Bengali researcher in her book ‘Dead Reckoning: Memories of 1971 Bangladesh War’, and authors: Richard Sisson and Leo Rose in their book ‘War of secession: Pakistan, India and creation of Bangladesh’ have duly exposed the claims of war atrocities as trumpeted by Hasina Wajid.

These authors maintain that “India had planned interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan.

Same was shamelessly acknowledged by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India in 2015.

nation.com.pk/columns/23-May-2016/witchhunt-in-bangladesh

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Arab World

British-Made Cluster Bomb Used by Saudi Arabia against Yemen

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A leading human rights group has discovered a banned British-made cluster bomb used by the Saudis in their war on Yemen.

Amnesty International found the undetonated bomb in a remote village in Northern Yemen, press tv reported.

The controversial BL-755 cluster bombs, banned decades ago, were built in the 1970s by the British company, Hunting Engineering, and designed to be deployed on UK-made Tornado fighter jets.

Each bomb has a cluster of 147 little bombs inside that scatter over a wide area when dropped. Some do not explode until agitated by unsuspecting civilians when they take their toll.

Amnesty says a Yemeni herdsman in the village located several miles from the Saudi border in Hajjah governorate warned the rights group that “in the area next to us, there are bombs hanging off the trees.”

Amnesty says the British government needs to destroy its cluster bombs and help find those it sold in the past.

Britain is believed to have sold many such munitions, which are prohibited in over a 100 countries, since the 1980s and 90s to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – a Saudi ally in its war on Yemen.

It also sold scores of Tornado jet fighters to Riyadh ever since.

Amnesty International’s head of UK Arms Controls, Oliver Sprague, has reportedly said it would be an “absolute scandal” if British personnel had been in any connected to the incident.

“Cluster bombs are one of the nastiest weapons in the history of warfare, rightly banned by more than 100 countries, so it’s truly shocking that a British cluster munition has been dropped on a civilian area in Yemen,” he said.

"Given that this type of cluster bomb is very likely to have been used in combination with Tornado war planes which the UK has also sold to Saudi Arabia, there’s even a possibility that British support personnel might have been involved in the cluster bombing of Yemen. This would be an absolute scandal if confirmed.”

Yemen has been under airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since the regime in Riyadh launched its fatal campaign against the impoverished country on March 26, 2015, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Saudi-backed former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. More than 9,400 people have been killed in the Saudi airstrike ever since.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000759

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ISIL Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Army's Ambush Operations in Homs

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and popular forces continued their military operations against the terrorist groups in Homs province, and killed scores of militants over the past 24 hours.

The army units seized a large amount of explosives and weapons from the terrorists in Homs province.

The Syrian army also inflicted heavy losses on the terrorist groups in other key provinces across Syria.

Homs

The Syrian military forces and popular fighters stormed the ISIL strongholds near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) and forced the militants to retreat from at least three key heights in the region.

The Syrian government forces' anti-terrorism operation near Palmyra ended in the recapture of the heights of al-Hari citadel, 619 and 711 in al-Mazar mountain.

At least 18 members of the ISIL were killed and several more were wounded in the attacks.

The Syrian and Russian fighter jets, in a fresh round of combat sorties, targeted the ISIL positions in the Eastern and Southwestern parts of Homs province, while the army's aircraft pounded al-Nusra Front's strongholds in the Northern territories of the province.

The Syrian and Russian Air Force bombed jointly the ISIL strongholds in the oil-rich region of al-Shaer and Um al-Tababir, which ended in the killing or wounding of several militants.

The Syrian air fleet, meantime, struck the ISIL concentration centers near Palmyra and near al-Bardeh region in the Eastern side of the ancient Assyrian town of Quaryatayn, which also claimed the lives of several militants.

Al-Nusra gatherings in Tald, Houla, Borj Qai, Keisin and al-Rastan were massively bombed by the Syrian jets, pinning down the militants behind their defense lines.

Deir Ezzur                 

The Syrian fighter jets carried out two separate rounds of combat flights over ISIL strongholds near the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur and inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists.

The ISIL strongholds near the strategic Deir Ezzur airbase and Southwestern countryside of the city came under massive bombardments of the Syrian army's aircraft, in which not only scores of the ISIL terrorists were killed or wounded but the group's armored vehicles were destroyed in large scale.

Sweida

Dozens of ISIL terrorists were killed or wounded in the Syrian Army troops' offensives in the Northeastern territories of Sweida province.

The Syrian soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL near the village of al-Qasr in al-Badiyeh region, which ended in the killing or wounding of tens of the militants.

The ISIL, meantime, left behind its damaged military equipment and machinegun-equipped vehicles and fled the battlefront to evade more casualties.

Lattakia

A notorious commander of Ahrar al-Sham was killed in the Syrian Army troops' offensives in the Northeastern part of the coastal province of Lattakia.

Ismayeel Ali Pasha known as Abi Ziya Banash was killed in a tough battle with the Syrian soldiers and popular forces near Tal al-Hadada.

The Syrian army has been engaged in heavy fighting with the terrorists in the Northeastern part of Lattakia, mainly in Tal al-Hadada, Rabi'eh and Salma to root out militancy in the region.

Hama

The Syrian army announced that its troops alongside their popular allies repelled the ISIL attacks along the strategic Ithriya-Salamiyah road and forced them to retreat from the battlefield under its heavy fire.

"The Takfiri terrorists suffered a heavy death toll and their military vehicles and equipment sustained major damage after the terrorist group's offensive to take control over the Ithriya-Salamiyah road was fended off by the Syrian government forces," the army said, adding, "The Syrian soldiers detonated the ISIL's bomb-laden suicide cars before they reach to the government forces' positions."

Damascus

The Syrian Army troops and National Defense Forces continued to target the concentration centers of Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra Front in Eastern Ghouta and pushed the militants back from more territories there.

The Syrian government forces drove the terrorist groups back from surroundings of Tal Farzat, which ended in the killing of several militants.

The army, meantime, took back several positions near Seyed Sakineh mausoleum and Sharideh square.

The Syrian fighter jets, in several combat flights, pounded the terrorist centers in Harasta al-Qantara axis from al-Marj direction.

The Syrian army's artillery units, for their part, opened retaliatory fire at strongholds of terrorists near Zamalka bridge in Jobar.

Aleppo

A command center of al-Nusra Front in the Southern districts of Dara'a city came under attack by the Syrian military forces, city sources said Sunday, adding that several militants were killed in the attack.

"The Syrian Army troops targeted the command center of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Arba'een neighborhood in Dara'a al-Balad, which ended in the killing of at least 15 militants and wounding of several more," the sources said, adding, "Al-Nusra military hardware and ammunition also sustained major damage in the attacks."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000333

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Iran's New Hi-Tech Drone to Fly in Beit-ul-Moqaddas 28 Drills

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's new state-of-the art reconnaissance drone, Mohajer M2, will fly during a major military drill codenamed Beit-ul-Muqaddas 28 in Isfahan province in Central Iran on Monday.

"Mohajer M2 weighing 90 kilograms will fly at an altitude of 11,000 feet on a reconnaissance mission for two hours," Iranian Ground Force's Drone Team Commander Reza Khaki told reporters on the sidelines of Beit-ul-Moqaddas 28 military drills on Monday.

He said that Mohajer M2 will send real-time images to the command center during its reconnaissance mission against the hypothetical enemy.

"A complete flight team with drones and equipment, launch-pads and vehicles carrying the air force officers for coordination between the Ground and Air Forces will be present in the military drills zone," Khaki added.

Beit-ul-Moqaddas 28 military exercise started in two provincial regions in Central Iran on Sunday in a ceremony attended by Commander of the Iranian Ground Forces Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan.

The drills started with fire-testing of two Army rockets in Kashan’s Maranjab Desert and Isfahan’s Nasrabad region.

The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

In a relevant development in recent months, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) showed the newly-designed model of its longest-range drone, Shahed (Eye Witness) 129, during the annual February 11 rallies on the occasion of the 37th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

The new model whose features haven’t been revealed yet to the public is different from its predecessors, at least, in appearance. Yet, it could be said that the aircraft's nose has gone under some changes.

The Shahed 129, which was unveiled in September 2012, is capable of carrying out eight combat and reconnaissance missions for 24 hours and has a flying range of 2,000 km.

The IRGC announced in February that its Shahed 129 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is providing combat support to the resistance front in the war on terrorism in Syria.

The drone also enjoys an effective operational radius of 1,700 km, datalink range of 200km, flight endurance of 24 hours, and a flight ceiling of 24,000 feet.

The IRGC launched mass-production of the indigenously developed drone in September 2012. The drone was displayed recently in an armed configuration, carrying four guided missiles loaded on two twin-launchers, carried underwing. The State TV said the drone can carry up to eight weapons, designed to hit stationary and mobile targets alike.

Shahed 129 is a powerful platform with significant more payload capacity, compared to other similar drones. Its external shape reflects significant advancement in composite materials fabrication, including the production of large airframe and structural elements. Strike missions employing guided weapons also indicate the evolution of compact yet capable sensors and datalinks, enabling the relay of target images and engagement of such targets in real time, over considerable distances.

According to IRGC Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Iran is currently marketing the Shahed 129 UCAV for export to potential international customers.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000550

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Several Terrorist Groups Sent to Iran by Saudi Arabia in Recent Days

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran's Expediency Council (EC) Mohsen Rezayee revealed on Monday that Saudi Arabia has sent several terrorist groups to Iran in the past few days.

"The Saudis don’t give up support for terrorism and the terrorists and have sent several terrorist groups to the Islamic Iran in the past few days, but all of them have been captured," Rezayee told reporters in the Western province of Lorestan today.

Expressing regret that the Saudis are frantically interfering in the Middle-East's tranquil and safe regions and are after carrying out terrorist operations, he called on the Iranian officials not to show patience with the Saudis' deeds anymore and inform other Islamic states of their crimes.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 following demonstrations held in front of its embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad by angry protesters censuring the Al Saud family for the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Riyadh on January 2.

Nimr’s execution caused international outrage and sparked anti-Saudi demonstrations in many other countries.

Riyadh has been attempting to rock the boat in relations between Iran and other world states and has spared no efforts to pressure Tehran.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) claimed in April that Mahan Air was banned due to alleged violations of local safety rules. The GACA claimed in a statement that several violations related to airline safety had been committed by Mahan Air.

Immediately after the announcement, Director of Civil Aviation Organization Reza Jafarzadeh said Iranian airlines had never tried to land or make any request to fly in the Saudi airspace.

In a statement at the time, Jafarzadeh said Saudi authorities should explain why they claim they have withdrawn licenses given to Mahan Air to land in the Persian Gulf kingdom or fly in its airspace over ‘safety’ claims.

“No Iranian airline, including Mahan Air, has ever asked to land in Saudi Arabia or fly in its airspace. Iranian airlines have stopped their flight services to Saudi Arabia altogether. It just doesn’t make any sense for the Saudis to question the safety of Iranian jet airliners,” he added.

This is while trade between Iran and Saudi Arabia has mostly been small and each year only Iranian pilgrims travel to the kingdom for the Hajj pilgrimage.

Also in April, Ground Force Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said Saudi Arabia is masterminding terrorist attacks on the Islamic Republic by training and funding terrorist groups along the borders.

Speaking to reporters, Pakpour said Iran has arrested terrorists that have confessed to their affiliation to Saudi Arabia and some other Persian Gulf Arab states.

Pakpour said Riyadh is striving hard to make Iran insecure, and added, "Right now, countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are engaged in organizing and equipping these groups but the reason why no terrorist act is committed is due to our preparedness."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000705

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Commander: Army Using Advanced Communication Systems in Isfahan Drills

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- New state-of-the-art communication systems are being used in the massive Ground Force wargames underway in the Central parts of Iran, a commander said on Monday.

"State-of-the-art communication and Electronic Warfare Self Protection (EWSP) systems are used in Beit ul-Moqaddas wargames by the Islamic Republic's Ground Force," Head of the Ground Force's IT and Communications Organization (FAWA) General Mohsen Talebi Sayyad told reporters on the sidelines of the drills in the Central province of Isfahan.

He said that during the exercises, communications are mostly made in the two forms of fixed and mobile, adding that secured lines have been created for fixed communication and tactical communication devices have been mounded on military vehicles and weapons.

Iran's Ground Force started massive missile drills codenamed 'Heidar Karrar 3' in the Central parts of the country on Sunday as a part of Beit ul-Moqaddas wargames series.

Different infantry, mechanized and air force units are participating in the exercises.

Earlier today, Iran unveiled an ultra-heavy tank transporter named 'Pouria' and 'Felaq' optimized tank.

"Pouria ultra-heavy tank carrier and Felaq tanks were unveiled during Beit ul-Moqaddas drills," General Massoud Reza Zawarei, the head of the Iranian Ground Force's Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad, told reporters in Isfahan today.

He said that Felaq is equipped with automatic and stabilized Dushka weapon which is controlled by the crew inside.

The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000625

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Iraqi Forces Start Large-Scale Operation to Recapture Fallujah

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi forces on Monday began a military campaign to retake the ISIL stronghold of Fallujah in Anbar province.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the start of the military operation to recapture the city of Fallujah that is occupied by the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group.

"It is time to liberate the city of Fallujah," the Iraqi PM said.

He added that all kinds of the armed forces are involved in the operation, as well as several groups allied to Baghdad.

The strategic city of Fallujah has been under ISIL control since 2014.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000648

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Iran Unveils New Reconnaissance, Combat Drone

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Monday unveiled a new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) which can be used for reconnaissance and combat operations.

The drone named 'Siraf' has a flying range of 100km and was unveiled during Beit ul-Muqaddas 28 wargames underway in the Central province of Isfahan.

Siraf which is capable of taking images and real-time transfer of them has been built by students at the college of the Ground Force's artillery training center in Isfahan.

Earlier today, Iran unveiled an ultra-heavy tank transporter named 'Pouria' and 'Felaq' optimized tank.

"Pouria ultra-heavy tank carrier and Felaq tanks were unveiled during Beit ul-Moqaddas drills," General Massoud Reza Zawarei, the head of the Iranian Ground Force's Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad, told reporters in Isfahan today.

He said that Felaq is equipped with automatic and stabilized Dushka weapon which is controlled by the crew inside.

Iran's Ground Force started massive missile drills codenamed 'Heidar Karrar 3' in the Central parts of the country on Sunday as a part of Beit ul-Moqaddas wargames series.

Different infantry, mechanized and air force units are participating in the exercises.

The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000538

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Syrian Armed Forces Hit Jeish Al-Fatah Positions Heavily South of Aleppo

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops and Air Force, in several coordinated offensives, targeted the strongholds of the terrorists of Jeish al-Fatah in the Southern part of Aleppo province, pinning the militants down behind their defense lines, battlefield sources said Monday.

"The Syrian government forces gathered their fighters near Tal Arabaeen and Tal Zazin and launched large-scale attacks on positions of Jeish al-Fatah near al-Eis and Kahn Touman, which claimed the lives of tens of the terrorists and forced them to pull the remaining pockets of their forces from the battlefield," the sources said.

"Jeish al-Fatah further retreated towards hills in the region," the sources said, adding, "The Syrian fighter jets, for their part, bombed heavily the concentration centers of Jeish al-Fatahin al-Zarbeh, al-Eis, Khan Touman, al-Khalediyeh and Aleppo-Damascus highway."

"The recent operations of the Syrian armed forces South of Aleppo decreased significantly the military and logistic abilities of Jeish al-Fatah in the region. The army also gained control over several small towns in Southern Aleppo," the sources said.

Earlier this month, the Syrian Army troops and the country's military aircraft struck the terrorist groups' bases and positions in the Southern and Northern territories of Aleppo province, slowing down the militants' movements across the battlefield.

The Syrian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over the territories under the control of the terrorists and targeted their gatherings heavily near Handarat camp, road of Castillo and al-Canadi hospital, which claimed the lives of tens of the militants.

The Syrian army and its popular allies, meantime, stormed the terrorist groups' strongholds near Khan Touman in the Southern part of the province, which destroyed the militants' military hardware in large scale.

The Syrian government forces also engaged in sporadic clashes with the militant groups near al-Tamoureh in the Northern territories of Aleppo province, inflicting major losses of them. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000564

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Syrian Soldiers, NDF Engage in Fresh Battle with ISIL East of Homs

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops and National Defense Forces (NDF) struck the ISIL positions around a key oil-rich region in the Northeastern side of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur), military sources said, adding that the government forces have gained the upper hand in the battlefield.

"The Syrian government forces carried out a fresh round of anti-ISIL operations near Mistadura gas field in the Northwestern side of the village of Arak," the sources said, adding, "The army resolved to push the ISIL back from the gas fields whose products have been sold in black market by the Takfiri terrorists."

"The Syrian and Russian Air Forces, in several joint combat flights, targeted the ISIL strongholds in Mistadura gas field before the ground forces' offensive to weaken the defense abilities of the terrorists as much as possible," they went on to say.

In relevant developments in the Central province on Sunday, the Syrian military forces and popular fighters stormed the ISIL strongholds near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) and forced the militants to retreat from at least three key heights in the region.

The Syrian government forces' anti-terrorism operation near Palmyra ended in the recapture of the heights of al-Hari citadel, 619 and 711 in al-Mazar mountain.

At least 18 members of the ISIL were killed and several more were wounded in the attacks.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000449

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Iran Unveils Ultra-Heavy Tank Carrier, Optimized Tank

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Monday unveiled an ultra-heavy tank transporter named 'Pouria' and 'Felaq' optimized tank.

The two new army achievements were unveiled during Beit ul-Muqaddas 28 wargames underway in the Central province of Isfahan.

"Pouria ultra-heavy tank carrier and Felaq tanks were unveiled during Beit ul-Moqaddas drills," General Massoud Reza Zawarei, the head of the Iranian Ground Force's Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad, told reporters in Isfahan today.

He said that Felaq is equipped with automatic and stabilized Dushka weapon which is controlled by the crew inside.

Iran's Ground Force started massive missile drills codenamed 'Heidar Karrar 3' in the Central parts of the country on Sunday as a part of Beit ul-Moqaddas wargames series.

Different infantry, mechanized and air force units are participating in the exercises.

The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran's wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000345

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ISIL Suffers Heavy Casualties in Clashes with Syrian Army in Deir Ezzur

May 23rd, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least 32 members of the ISIL terrorist group were killed and many more were wounded in clashes with the Syrian Army troops and popular forces in the mountainous region of the Southern part of Deir Ezzur.

The Syrian government forces' anti-terrorism operation near al-Tharda mountain ended in the killing of at least 32 ISIL terrorists and inflicted major damage on their military equipment too.

The Syrian army also repelled offensives of the ISIL on the government forces' positions from Haweija al-Saker to penetrate into al-Sina'ah district, which claimed the lives of scores of terrorists.

In relevant developments in the Eastern province on Sunday, the ISIL strongholds near the strategic Deir Ezzur airbase and Southwestern countryside of the city came under massive bombardments of the Syrian army's aircraft, in which not only scores of the ISIL terrorists were killed or wounded but the group's armored vehicles were destroyed in large scale.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950303000323

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Leader: Some Muslim states betray their nations

May 22, 2016

TEHRAN - Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that certain Muslim governments have been betraying their nations by helping the U.S. to actualize its policies in the region.

Receiving participants at an international Qur’an competition in Tehran, the Leader said, “Those regional countries, which implement the U.S. policies in the region, are in fact betraying their people and the Islamic Ummah, paving the way for the American influence.”

Referring to the faith and resistance of the Iranian nation against the overambitious U.S., the Leader saw arrogant powers’ fear of the nation as originating from its Islamic-based clout.

“Enemies are panicked by the mighty and courageous Islam,” he noted.

Powerful Islamic Ummah hushes arrogant powers, keeps Palestine in spotlight

Pointing to haughty powers’ attempts and plots to damage Islam and the Islamic Ummah, Ayatollah Khamenei noted, “They (enemies) are aware that Muslims cannot be suppressed if they are powerful, and the Palestine issue will not be consigned to oblivion.”

Ayatollah Khamenei also warned the Islamic world against being deceived by arrogant powers’ promises and afraid of their threats.

“Today, the most important duty of the Islamic Ummah, particularly the ulema, the enlightened, and the educated of the Islamic countries is to struggle for enlightenment and explanatory Jihad about the facts of the Islamic world.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Supreme Leader branded the U.S. as “the major Taghut and the Great Satan,” saying Daesh and other Takfiri groups follow an ideology rooted in “Wahhabism” which is preached by Saudi clerics and tolerated and even supported by its rulers.

tehrantimes.com/news/402695/Leader-Some-Muslim-states-betray-their-nations

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Southeast Asia

Suu Kyi calls for 'space' to address Myanmar's Rohingya issue as Kerry visits

23 May 2016

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi asked to be given "enough space" to address the plight of her country's Rohingya Muslim population, as visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed the Nobel peace laureate to promote respect for human rights.

Some 125,000 Rohingya in Myanmar are displaced and face severe travel restrictions in camps since fighting erupted in Rakhine State between the country's Buddhists and Muslims in 2012. Thousands have fled persecution and poverty in an exodus by boat.

The United States has long supported Suu Kyi's role in championing democratic change in Myanmar, but was surprised this month when she suggested to the new U.S. ambassador Scot Marciel to refrain from using the term 'Rohingya' for the persecuted Muslim minority.

The Rohingya, most of whom live in apartheid-like conditions, are seen by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and referred to by many as Bengalis.

"Emotive terms make it very difficult for us to find a peaceful and sensible resolution to our problems," Suu Kyi told reporters at a joint news conference with Kerry in Naypyitaw.

"All that we are asking is that people should be aware of the difficulties we are facing and to give us enough space to solve all our problems."

Kerry said he had discussed the Rohingya issue with Suu Kyi during their meeting, describing the issue as "very sensitive" and "divisive," in Myanmar.

"I know it arouses strong passions here," Kerry said. "At the same time, we all understand, as a matter of fact, that there is a group here in Myanmar that calls itself Rohingya," said Kerry, adding that the United States used that term.

"What's critical to focus on is solving the problem; what's critical to focus on is improving the situation on the ground to promote development, promote respect for human rights, and to benefit all of those who live in Rakhine and throughout Myanmar," he added.

There is widespread hostility towards Rohingya Muslims in the Buddhist-majority country, including among some within Suu Kyi's party and its supporters.

Taking up the cause of the beleaguered minority would carry a political cost for Suu Kyi, who took on the newly created role of state counsellor in April following the first-democratically elected government in some five decades.

Last month hundreds of demonstrators protested in front of the U.S. Embassy in Yangon in objection to the use of the term Rohingya in a statement issued by the embassy.

Ambassador Marciel has said he would keep using the term Rohingya because it is Washington's policy to do so.

"What we want to do is avoid any terms that just add fuel to the fire," Suu Kyi said in response to a question on her comments about the Rohingya.

In a clear reference to the United States, she said her "well-wishers" should be helpful as she tries to work through the issue of the Rohingya.

"While we are trying to find that solution, we would like our friends to be helpful in this," she said, "That is very difficult, I'm not denying that, and if our well-wishers are not ready to cooperate with us, it will make our task that much more difficult."

Kerry was on a brief stop in the capital Naypyitaw before he joins President Barack Obama in Vietnam on Monday.

IMPORTANT HURDLES

Kerry offered U.S. support for Myanmar's new government, but said there were still "important hurdles" for the country to overcome in its transition to full democracy from military rule.

Kerry met later to discuss further political reforms with the commander in chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the sprawling defence services complex in the capital.

The military still controls 25 percent of seats in the country's parliament and oversees three power ministries of defence, home affairs and border affairs.

Min Aung Hlaing has repeatedly said that the military will step back from the political arena when there is peace in the country.

Last week, the Obama administration further eased economic and financial sanctions against Myanmar. Kerry said a further easing of measures would not occur under the current constitution, which bars Suu Kyi from becoming president.

reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-usa-kerry-idUSKCN0YD01E

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Leading Malaysian IS Members in Syria Man an Expert Bomb-Maker

23 May 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: The threat posed by the man who has vowed to bring the Islamic State’s terror campaign to Malaysia has taken a new and dangerous dimension. Security agencies, which have been tracking him over the past few weeks, have learnt that Zainuri Kamaruddin, the man leading Malaysian IS members in Syria, has a special and rare set of skills — he is an expert and deadly bomb-maker. For years, this skill set was not readily available to local terror cells. Zainuri’s knowledge of putting together improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and his determination to pass on his skills to those willing to pursue the IS cause, has now made him public enemy No. 1, and the repercussions, police warned, are chilling. Counter-terrorism operatives first uncovered his “hidden” skills when “friendly services” with close links to the Khatibah Nusantara group, which Malaysian fighters come under, shared intelligence on conversations Zainuri had with his comrades. These conversations centred on the guilt Zainuri was forced to carry with him when one of the IEDs he was working on detonated prematurely, killing his then-wife, Rahimah Osman. The information took them back to 1998 when the explosion tore apart Zainuri’s home in Perak. The “official” story then was that she had gone to the kitchen in the middle of the night and was killed when a gas cylinder exploded. This happened before Zainuri was picked up for his involvement in the 2001 Southern Bank Bhd robbery. He later served 10 years in jail for possession of firearms and explosives. He was Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia’s Selangor chapter’s chief. Federal police Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (SB-CTD) chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said intelligence revealed that on the night of the incident, Rahimah was killed when one of the IEDs that Zainuri had stored under the sink went off. “Zainuri had been making IEDs, which he hid in the kitchen. “His wife woke up in the middle of the night to prepare milk for their child. Some water had spilled onto the devices, causing them to detonate. “He was unhurt and before the authorities reached his house, he wiped clean any evidence that would suggest that bombs were involved,” Ayob told the New Straits Times in an exclusive interview. Zainuri has since married Rahimah’s younger sister, 47, and police were certain that he never told her that he was responsible for Rahimah’s death. Zainuri left his wife behind to fight alongside IS in Syria in 2014, under the name Abu Talhah. In a propaganda video released last Monday, Zainuri, 49, called on IS supporters, specifically in Indonesia and Malaysia, to fight their governments, which IS had labelled as toghut (sinners/those having gone against Islamic teachings). The country’s counter-terrorism operatives had, all this while, been comforted by the fact that there were only a handful of Malaysian terrorists with bomb-making skills, and that those who had the knowledge had been neutralised. Notorious Malaysian terrorist Noordin Mat Top, who was known as a master bomb-maker, died in September 2009 in an ambush by the Indonesian Detachment 88 Anti-Terror police in Solo, Central Java. The SB-CTD had last year arrested 12 people in Gunung Nuang, Hulu Langat, Selangor as they were trying to put the bomb-making skills they had gleaned from the Internet to practice. The only other known Malaysian IS bomb expert is a military commando, who was arrested last year before he could carry out his plan to bomb several local targets. He has since been charged in police custody and is awaiting trial. SB-CTD is monitoring IS supporters for signs that they were taking on the challenge that Zainuri had thrown at them. Zainuri studied at Madrasah Misbahul Falah, Baling, Kedah, before furthering his studies at Abu Bakar Islamic University, Karachi, Pakistan, where he eventually joined Kumpulan Mujahidin Afganistan for two years. “That was where he first trained to become a fighter. Zainuri has vast battlefield experience, joining battles in Konar, Khowst and Jalalabad in Afghanistan,” Ayob said. SB-CTD had also linked him to the attempted assasination of Nivashini Rajeswaran on May 25, 1998, and the assassination of Lunas assemblyman Dr Joe Fernandez. However, Zainuri was not the trigger man. In Oct 25, 2000, Zainuri and his accomplice, known as Abu Omar, planted two bombs at Plaza Warisan and had, on the same day, detonated a bomb at a temple near the Pudu Raya bus station. He and several KMM members were also involved in the 2001 attack on the Guar Chempedak police station in Kedah where they had planned to seize several M-16 rifles, which they had planned to use to topple the government. In the Southern Bank case, which led to Zainuri’s incarceration, Ayob revealed that it was his accomplices who had given him up. “We were led to his involvement by his accomplices, who were arrested following the robbery. “Police raided his house and seized firearms, ammunition and several types of explosives,” Ayob said, adding that Zainuri was not part of the heist as his instincts had told him that it would not end well. In the incident, one of his comrades was killed after being shot by a security guard. Two were injured. In August 2014, he escaped an ambush by the Bashar al-Assad army with injuries to his neck and thigh. His comrade, Zainan Harith, 52, also a former KMM member, was killed in the firefight.

nst.com.my/news/2016/05/147256/local-man-expert-bomb-maker

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One Rohingya Muslim shot dead in mass escape from Thai detention centre

23 May 2016

BANGKOK: Thai police shot dead a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar on Monday during a dramatic mass escape of detainees from an immigration camp in southern Thailand, police said.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Noppadon Rakchart said 21 Rohingya fled the Phangnga Immigration Detention Centre at about 1 a.m. after sawing through an iron bar in their communal cell.

One was shot dead and three arrested after throwing stones and punches at police and immigration officers who gave chase, said Noppadon. The other 17 escaped.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya "boat people" have fled poverty and persecution in western Myanmar since religious violence erupted there in 2012.

Many headed for Malaysia but often got waylaid at human trafficking camps in the jungles of southern Thailand or arrested by the authorities.

Most Rohingya are stateless and unrecognised by the two countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, they call home.

This complicates repatriation, which can lead to lengthy spells in overcrowded Thai detention centres, which Rohingya often try to escape.

The latest attempt was triggered by "stress and homesickness," said Noppadon. "They have been inside for almost a year."

The Rohingya was killed because "he resisted arrest and attacked the police", Police Major General Worawit Parnprung, Phangnga police chief, told Reuters.

"The police had to defend themselves," he said

The Phangnga detention centre had held 28 Rohingya, all of whom illegally entered Thailand by boat, he said.

The number of migrants leaving Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat in the past year plunged after both countries cracked down on human smugglers and traffickers.

Thai police launched a sweeping operation against gangs in May 2015 after the bodies of 30 suspected migrants were found in jungle graves near the Malaysian border.

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi asked to be given "enough space" at the weekend to address the plight of the Rohingya population, as visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed the Nobel peace laureate to promote respect for human rights.

channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/one-rohingya-muslim-shot/2809176.html

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Pakistan

US drone attack violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, says PM

May 23, 2016

KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday criticised the drone strike which the US carried out in Balochistan a day earlier and said that a strong protest had been lodged with the US over the attack.

Talking to reporters after his arrival in London for a medical check-up, he described the air strike in the Dalbandin area of Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Mr Sharif was quoted by TV channels as having said that it was not clear that Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was among the two people reportedly killed in the air strike, adding that details of the incident were still being collected.

Examine: US strike crosses ‘red line’ on Balochistan

A statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad said the US had shared the information that a drone strike had been carried out in Pakistan near the Pak-Afghan border in which Mansour was targeted. The information was shared with Prime Minister Sharif and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif after the strike.

The FO statement said that on the basis of information gathered till late Sunday a person identified as Wali Muhammad, son of Shah Muhammad, who carried a Pakistani passport and an identity card and who was a resident of Qila Abdullah, entered Pakistan through the Taftan border on Saturday.

His passport bore a valid Iranian visa. He was travelling on a vehicle hired from a transport company in Taftan. The vehicle was found destroyed at Kochaki along the Pak-Afghan border.

The driver was identified as Muhammad Azam whose body had been identified and handed over to his relatives.

The identity of the second body was being verified on the basis of evidence found at the scene and other relevant information.

The statement said that while investigations were being carried out, “Pakistan wishes to once again state that the drone attack was a violation of its sovereignty, an issue which has been raised with the United States in the past as well”.

The FO said that the fifth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group held on May 18 had reiterated that a politically negotiated settlement was the only viable option for a lasting peace in Afghanistan and called upon the Taliban to give up violence and join peace talks.

Taliban reaction

A senior leader of the Afghan Taliban said that Mansour had been killed. Mullah Abdul Rauf told The Associated Press on Sunday that Mansour died in the air strike late on Friday night. However, a Wall Street Journal report quoted the Taliban officials in Afghanistan as saying that their leader was alive.

A member of the Taliban who is close to the militant leadership distributed a message to some associates promising to release an audio message proving Mansour was still alive.

“The attack did occur and some important military persons were there, but Mansour was not among them,” Mullah Abdul Samad Sani said, according to a person who received the message. “Now we deny it officially and in the next three days we will release Mansour’s audio message.”

A member of the Taliban press team, Emran Khalil, also published a tweet, calling the news “completely wrong”.

People close to the Taliban said the strike took place as senior ‘commanders’ were travelling to attend a wedding in a Pakistani village.

The Taliban’s chief justice official, Mullah Shaikh Abdul Hakim, could have been among those killed in the strike, they said.

dawn.com/news/1260041/us-drone-attack-violation-of-pakistans-sovereignty-says-pm

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US strike crosses ‘red line’ on Balochistan

May 23rd, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The US drone strike targeting Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was the first-ever in Balochistan, which has long been a ‘red line’ for Pakistan.

There have been about 391 drone strikes by the US in Pakistani territory, primarily targeting Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders since 2004, according to a database maintained by Long War Journal.

All but four of these strikes took place in the tribal agencies. The only previously reported strikes that took place in settled areas were in Hangu district (2013) and three in Bannu (2008).

Seventy-one per cent of the strikes took place in North Waziristan, while 23pc targeted areas in South Waziristan.

The strikes in Bannu had prompted fears among the Pakistani leadership that the US could expand the theatre of drone warfare into the settled areas of Pakistan, i.e. outside the tribal region.

“Even politicians who have no love lost for a dead terrorist are concerned by strikes within what is considered mainland Pakistan,” then US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson had conveyed to Washington after the drone strike in Bannu, leaked diplomatic cables had revealed.

While the government kept condemning drone strikes all along, terming them a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, it had already conveyed a set of ‘red lines’ to the US in 2010, specifically mentioning attacks in Balochistan as a no-go area.

A document at that time had, while defining the ‘red lines’ communicated to the Obama administration, stated explicitly: “No extension of drone attacks to Balochistan.”

dawn.com/news/1260044/us-strike-crosses-red-line-on-balochistan

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Hoti flays centre, provincial govt for ‘ignoring’ Pakhtuns

May 23rd, 2016

MARDAN: Awami National Party provincial president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has said that both federal and provincial governments have ignored the issues and problems of Pakhtuns.

Addressing a public meeting in PK-30 constituency here on Sunday, he said that both Mian Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan were opposing each other just for the sake of the slot of prime minister but they were not paying any heed to the problems of Pakhtuns.

Mr Hoti said that both the leaders were not sincere with people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because they looked at Punjab as the entire country. They were struggling to get maximum political power in Punjab, he added.

He said that the previous provincial government of ANP executed mega development projects across the province and resolved the problems of people to a great extent.

Mr Hoti said provincial government deceived Pakhtuns through the slogans of “merit” and “change” but failed to launch any mega project in the province since coming into power after the last general elections. He said that for the first time in the history of the province, common people as well as government officials were staging protests against the provincial government.

“The PTI government has failed to deliver despite being in the power for the last three years. The people of the province have fed up with the bad governance of the provincial rulers,” the ANP leader alleged.

He said that Imran Khan was criticising Prime Minister Nawaz Shrif and his family members for forming off-shore companies but the PTI chief himself and his other party leaders also established their off-shore companies to avoid taxes.

Mr Hoti said that provincial government had no funds even for payment of salaries to the employees. He said that the provincial government was planning to cut Rs80 billion from the next developmental budget of the province. It was not acceptable to them and they would not only protest but would also strongly resist it, he added.

On the occasion, prominent social worker Haroon Khan and union council nazim Azam Khan announced to join ANP along with their family members and friends.

dawn.com/news/1260126/hoti-flays-centre-provincial-govt-for-ignoring-pakhtuns

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Peace committee member, cop gunned down in Swat

May 23rd, 2016

PESHAWAR: Peace committee member Muhammad Khan and his police guard were shot dead by suspected militants in Swat's Bara Bandai area on Monday. Another guard and a passerby sustained injuries during the attack, police said.

Station House Officer (SHO) Kangu Rahim Khan said the peace committee member was targeted near his house, and his police guards Bakhtbedar and Bilal were also shot at.

The injured were taken to the hospital where Bakhtbedar succumbed to his injuries.

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Muhammad Khorasani claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to journalists.

Police have started a search operation in the area, the SHO said.

dawn.com/news/1260154/peace-committee-member-cop-gunned-down-in-swat

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Shab-e-Barat observed with religious zeal and fervour

23 May,2016

LAHORE (Dunya News) - Faithful observed Shab-e-Baraat, the night of reverence and fervour and divine blessings for the Muslims, across the country on night between Sunday and Monday.

According to Islamic lunar calendar, the 15th night of Shabaan month is known as Lailatul Barat or Laylatun Nisfe-min-Shaban in the Arab world. According to Muslim belief, Shab-e-Barat is the night when Almighty Allah arranges affairs of the next one-year.

Faithful gathered at mosques and houses after Isha prayers and offered nightlong special prayers, while different gatherings and Mahafil-e-Naat were arranged to mark the holy night.

Ulema and religious scholars in their sermons highlighted the true teachings of Islam and various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

The houses, streets and especially mosques were decorated with colourful lights and buntings.

dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/337901-ShabeBarat-observed-with-religious-zeal-and-ferv

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GDA wants army to take over country, bring plunderers to justice

May 23rd, 2016

HYDERABAD: Delivering his presidential address at a convention of workers here on Sunday, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) chief Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, who is the spiritual leader of the Hur Jamaat and also heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), said that the army should take over the country for five or eight years to bring all criminals and plunderers of the national exchequer to justice.

Pir Rashdi argued that when the army was called in to deal with every small and big issue, then why should not it be assigned the task of cleansing the country of all evils by ruling over it for a specified period. Let them take over the country for a few years to put things on the right track, he said.

He said that a friend of his late father had advised him after the Dec 2012 public meeting in Hyderabad not to waste money in the [2013] general elections given the fact that the results had already been decided.

“You all should remember that whenever elections are held, and I don’t say they will be held in 2018, you will win,”he addressing the GDA leaders and supporters declared.

He threw his weight behind former president Gen Pervez Musharraf, who is facing treason charges, by saying that he was not a traitor. “If an army chief is a traitor, then who is loyal?”

He said that [slain Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson] Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was a great loss but a greater loss to Mr Musharraf as he was to continue as president for the next five years after the 2008 elections had she remained alive.

Pir Rashdi insisted that the 2013 poll were rigged. He recalled that the then army chief had visited the Election Commission of Pakistan although it was not his job. Had the army chief and chief justice of Pakistan taken a stand, the elections results would have been fair, he added.

He said he supported [Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif unconditionally after his party’s victory only to support federation but after becoming the prime minister Mr Sharif dealt with Sindh differently.

He said Panama Papers leaks were a tip of iceberg as billions and trillions were kept elsewhere. The United States and European Union have been making laws since 2010 to check the money being used for terror financing and 146 countries were the signatories of such a document, he said, adding that if the Pakistan government wrote a letter for an inquiry, no one who owned ill-gotten money would no more be able to keep it. He said that if the looted money was brought back to the country, it could be used in the development sector for eight to 10 years. “Let the army to take over the country to bring all thieves and criminals to justice,” he remarked.

He did not rule out an adventure by [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi against Pakistan as he knew that he was ruling over India for the first and last time.

The GDA chief observed that the Rangers had succeeded in curbing 80 per cent of crime in Karachi and hopefully they would launch a similar operation in other parts of Sindh.

GDA spokesman and chief of the Qaumi Awami Tehreek Ayaz Latif Palijo asked PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to tell the masses as to what they had given to Sindh over the last eight years. He said that farmers were not getting the right price of their produce.

He said that it was the PPP that had signed an agreement with the establishment leading to amnesty under the national reconciliation ordinance (NRO). He said the [PPP founder chairman] Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had also signed a deal with the establishment after pushing Shaikh Mujeebur Rehman against the wall.

He criticised Mr Sharif for giving nothing to Sindh and demanded holding of fresh elections in Sindh. He claimed that billions were buried in the houses and guest rooms of various provincial ministers but NAB and FIA were not discharging their duties.

Speaking at the convention, Dr Zulfikar Mirza said that elections in Badin were an example for everyone. [MNA] Faryal Talpur and Asif Zardari could not do anything if people showed bravery. He said people should come forward under the leadership of Pir Pagara to protect the honour of Sindh. He said that the Kalabagh dam project was again being talked about and if the so called “policy of reconciliation” was allowed to continued, then the proponents of the dam would succeed.

Resolutions

The convention passed several resolutions, one of them declaring that the PPP had no moral or political reason to rule over Sindh after rigging the 2013 general elections and 2015 local government polls.

“The GDA demands fair elections in Sindh afresh in the larger interest of the people of Pakistan in order to hand over powers to true public representatives,” another resolution said.

Through other resolution, the convention called for adequate prices to be fixed for agriculture commodities; jobs and development projects to Sindh; an end to water shortage and loadshedding in the province, arrest of ministers and lawmakers involved in massive corruption; and across the board action to check corruption and terrorism.

Former chief ministers Syed Ghous Ali Shah, Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Liaquat Jatoi, MPAs Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Mehtab Akbar Rashdi, as sell as Ameer Bukhsh Bhutto, Pir Sadaruddin Shah, Zafar Ali Shah and Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi also spoke.

dawn.com/news/1260001/gda-wants-army-to-take-over-country-bring-plunderers-to-justice

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Banned outfits under police spotlight after traffic policemen killing

May 23rd, 2016

KARACHI: The police investigation into the targeted killing of two traffic police constables at Ayesha Manzil in Azizabad on Saturday is focused on the same banned militant outfits that were involved in the killing of six traffic policemen last year, officials said on Sunday.

The police counterterrorism department registered an FIR against unidentified gunmen under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 on a complaint of the Azizabad traffic section officer.

Karachi-West Zone police DIG Feroze Shah told Dawn that initially they were focusing on the possible involvement of the same militant group that killed six traffic policemen and wounded four others last year.

The DIG said two suspects allegedly involved in the 2015 killing had recently been arrested in central district and they belonged to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi while their four accomplices were absconding.

Replying to a question, the DIG said the suspects told the interrogators that they had been targeting law enforcement personnel in a ‘reaction’ to the killing of their leader Malik Ishaq and others in Punjab. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi chief with 13 others, including his two sons, was killed in Muzaffargarh in July 2015.

The DIG said that following the killing of the traffic constables, the police had launched targeted actions in surrounding areas of Azizabad and detained 14 people for questioning, but 10 of them were released while the others were being interrogated.

The officer did not disclose the identity and possible affiliation of the held suspects with any group.

Meanwhile funeral prayers of the slain traffic policemen Mohammed Akram and Shakeel Ahmed were held at the police headquarters in Garden. Sindh police IG A. D. Khowaja expressed his sympathy with the relatives of the slain policemen.

The IG police and Rangers DG Maj Gen Bilal Akbar also held a meeting at the office of the DIG-South, which was attended by senior officials.

The participants decided to enhance intelligence sharing and accelerate joint operation against militants and criminals.

dawn.com/news/1260099/banned-outfits-under-police-spotlight-after-traffic-policemen-killing

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Africa

Zambia ‘worried at Iran’s attempts to spread sectarianism in Africa’

Monday, 23 May 2016

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia has expressed serious concerns over Iran’s attempts to make headway in Africa to spread its sectarian ideology.

“These attempts are a source of serious concern for the African leaders,” Lungu told Okaz/Saudi Gazette in an exclusive interview.

The Zambian president was in Saudi Arabia on an official visit during which he held talks with Saudi King Salman and senior Saudi officials on Tuesday.

Lungu called for an immediate halt to Iran’s machinations in the region and asked Muslims to sit together to settle their differences lest they might destroy each other.

“We should stay away from sectarianism. We all believe in the same God. We should all be tolerant. Our message is peace. We should stay away from anything that might disturb peace or create turmoil,” he said.

Lungu also condemned the Russian protection to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

“There is no reason for Russia to destroy Syria under the pretext of protecting the regime,” he said.

He called for putting an immediate end to the killings of innocent people especially women and children in Syria and said all African leaders are looking forward to an immediate cessation of hostilities and destruction in this Arab country.

The Zambian president called for amending the statute of the UN and the Security Council so that small countries will not feel the hegemony of the big powers.

Lungu said his talks with King Salman on Tuesday focused on bilateral relations, regional and international issues and the current developments in the region, particularly Syria and Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia is playing a pivotal role in resolving these two crises and we support and encourage him,” he added.

The president was sure the Houthi rebels in Yemen will come back to the negotiating table and pointed out that all crises in the world, even the World War Two, were resolved through negotiations.

Lungu expressed his worries over extremist activities in Africa, especially by Boko Haram of Nigeria, and said the continent wants peace and stability.

“A reason of my visit to the Kingdom is to have a firsthand assessment of its experiment in combating terrorism,” he explained.

He considered religious extremism to be a major cause of extremism and said they should not be allowed to steal religion to promote their agenda.

“In Zambia we also have extremists and we are trying to face this challenge through close cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the United States,” he said.

english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/05/23/Zambia-worried-at-Iran-s-attempts-to-spread-sectarianism-in-Africa-.html

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Ten facts about Boko Haram's 7-year insurgency

23 May 2016

Niamey - World leaders and aid chiefs have been discussing how to coordinate the fight against Boko Haram and respond to the humanitarian crisis created by the Islamist militant group's seven-year insurgency in north-east Nigeria.

Nigeria's neighbours, French President Francois Hollande, and senior US and British officials attended a security summit earlier this month in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien will speak at a panel on the impact of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region at this week's World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, where he hopes to draw attention to the needs of the affected populations.

Here are 10 facts about Boko Haram:

- The Islamist militant group Boko Haram became active in 2003 and carried out its first attack in 2004, from its then heartland in north-east Nigeria around Maiduguri.

- Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful” in the Hausa language, demands the adoption of sharia (Islamic law) across Nigeria and considers all people who do not follow its ideology to be infidels, whether they are Muslim or Christian.

- Since 2009, the militants have waged an insurgency aimed at establishing an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.

- The most high-profile attack took place on April 14, 2014, when the militants kidnapped 276 schoolgirls, from a secondary school in Chibok in Borno state, northeast Nigeria. About 50 of the girls escaped but 219 were captured.

- Boko Haram controlled a swath of land in northeast Nigeria around the size of Belgium at the start of 2015, but was pushed out by Nigerian and regional troops. The militants have since struck back with cross-border attacks and suicide bombings.

- About 2 000 girls and boys have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since the beginning of 2014, and are used by the group as cooks, sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers.

- Boko Haram used 44 children to carry out suicide attacks in West Africa last year, up from four in 2014, with some as young as eight, mostly girls, detonating bombs in schools and markets.

- The insurgency has forced around 2.4 million people to flee their homes in the four Lake Chad Basin countries - Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

- The militant group has killed more than 15 000 people.

- Boko Haram last year pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which rules a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, and may be sending fighters to assist the group in Libya.

iol.co.za/news/africa/ten-facts-about-boko-harams-7-year-insurgency-2024916

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George Kerevan: Nato leaders are meeting to discuss the start of the Second Libyan War

MAY 23RD, 2016

OUR next war starts officially on July 8. On that date, the heads of all the Nato countries meet in Warsaw National Stadium. Top of the agenda is rubber-stamping a Nato-led assault on what is left of Libya. Preparations have already begun with British, French and US Special Forces infiltrated and active on the ground against the Libyan branch of Daesh. Prospect: as big a Western debacle as we have seen before in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Flashback to 2011 and the overthrow of mad dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the son of a local goat-herder who originally led a military coup against pro-Western King Idris back in 1969. For the record, Libya has a population not much larger than Scotland’s but is 22 times bigger. It also has oodles of oil and gas, which is its attraction to the West.

Before he went bonkers, Gaddafi and his fellow army officers represented a secular, anti-imperialist, pan-Arab nationalism, modelled on the Egypt of Gammal Nasser. But the string of post-colonial regimes spawned in the Nasserist era succumbed to corruption, authoritarianism, crony-capitalism, and (with the fall of Communism) the return of Western influence by the back door. The latter offered – in return for access to all that lovely oil – help against the Muslim Brotherhood, a new Islamic social movement inheriting Arab resistance to imperialism after the degeneration of secular Nasserism. The Muslim Brotherhood was joined by more violent Islamist movements, including al-Qaeda and Daesh.

Gaddafi’s unique 42-year regime spanned this long historic cycle. Libya’s tiny population was easy to intimidate or buy off using the proceeds of oil sales, leaving Gaddafi to do his own thing. The oil industry was theoretically “nationalised” but in truth Gaddafi was always happy to deals with Western oil companies to extract the black gold. Indeed, he proved very adept at playing US and European oil companies against each other the better to fund his regime and his family’s increasingly extravagant lifestyle. The West seemed happy with this arrangement because Gaddafi’s erratic, egomaniac politics were more of a threat to anti-Western regimes in North Africa and the Middle East than anywhere else. Only after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing did an embarrassed West finally decide it needed to rein in Libya by applying economic sanctions that brought the country to the edge of bankruptcy.

In the wake of 9/11, and under threat from the new Islamist upsurge himself, Gaddafi returned to the Western fold, offering oil and a (ruthless) hand against al-Qaeda if sanctions were lifted. Britain’s then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was only too happy to “bring Libya in from the cold”. Gaddafi thought he was safe but soon discovered (like many before him) that the Western powers never honour a deal with the Arabs. When in February 2011, at long last, the long-suffering people of Libya rose in rebellion against the hated Gaddafi family dictatorship, the West pulled the plug. By October, Gaddafi was dead. Undoubtedly, the Western powers figured that dumping Gaddafi would open the path to a pliant pro-Western regime and easier access to all that oil and gas.

To speed Gaddafi on his way to Hades, Nato and assorted pro-Western Arab states intervened in the Libyan uprising with an unprecedented avalanche of air strikes. Nato admits to flying an extraordinary 26,500 individual sorties against targets in Libya in 2011. Yet there have been only 3,933 Allied (non-Russian) air strikes in Syria against Daesh forces since bombing began in August 2014. In Iraq, there have been 8,438 Allied air attacks on Daesh units. So in Syria and Iraq combined, US and Nato forces have flown less than a third of the air strikes they did against the Gaddafi regime.

The result of the horrendous Nato bombing of Libya was effectively to destroy the country’s entire infrastructure – oil accepted, of course. Why this ridiculous overkill? Partly, it was at the behest of the Saudi-led Arab League which wanted revenge on the maverick Gaddafi. Partly, it was Nato and the US showing it could still flex military might after the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Partly it was the petty vanity of Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Nicholas Sarkozy, who wanted to pretend to be a reincarnation of Mrs Thatcher. And it was the usual Western disdain for Arab lives.

Having destroyed the country, the Western powers simply walked away leaving Libya to descend into chaos. This dysfunctional country is now split into three warring zones. In the east, in Benghazi, there is the anti-Islamist House of Representatives, which is backed by neighbouring Egypt. HoR has some democratic legitimacy and is supported (after a fashion) by the remnants of the Libyan National Army led by ambitious General Khalifa Haftar. His is the strongest indigenous military force. Meanwhile, the western part of Libya, centred on Tripoli, remains in the hands of a variety of Islamist militias. In the middle: Daesh.

Two factors have renewed Western concern over Libya. The first is the flow of refugees and economic migrants using the country as a route into Europe. After the deal brokered between the EU and Turkey to return refugees to Turkish camps, chaotic Libya is now the obvious point of departure for those seeking to get to Europe. The UN reckons there are at least 100,000 would-be migrants waiting in their chance in Libya.

How can the EU broker a deal with Libya to send back any refugees, if there is no proper Libyan government? Answer: create a puppet government, sign a deal with them, then send in Nato military assets to enforce the deal. Last month, such a puppet government was delivered to Tripoli by boat (reportedly Saudi) and now resides in a heavily fortified naval base in Tripoli. This so-called Government of National Accord (GNA) is led by Faiez Serraj, whose father was a minister under the old pre-Gaddafi monarchy. The GNA is recognised by none of the other factions in Libya including strongman General Hafter. It remains surrounded not just by hostile Islamist militias in Tripoli but increasingly by Daesh. Daesh has deliberately opened a second front in Libya to break out of its encirclement in Syria-Iraq. It has anything between 4,000 and 6,000 fighters in Libya, based on Gaddafi’s old stronghold of Sirte. Despite ceding ground recently to General Hafter’s National Army, Libyan Daesh last week inflicted heavy casualties on militia units protecting Serraj’s puppet GNA.

At Nato’s July summit, the decision will be taken to blockade Libya’s 2,000-kilometre coast, to turn back refugees and isolate Daesh. Britain has already deployed a spy ship (HMS Enterprise) to the area and US drones are flying daily across Libya from the Italian island of Pantelleria. Various reputable media sources reveal there are already British, American, French and Italian Special Forces on the ground directing militia operations against Daesh. Come July expect renewed airstrikes targeting Daesh.

The UK has publically offered to send 1,000 military advisors to train a new Libyan army loyal to the wobbly Serraj government. As these British personnel would be based in easy striking distance of Daesh suicide bombers, any notion they would be non-combatants is risible. The Second Libyan War has already begun. Where it will end is anybody’s guess.

thenational.scot/comment/george-kerevan-nato-leaders-are-meeting-to-discuss-the-start-of-the-second-libyan-war.17861

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Europe

Sadiq Khan invites Donald Trump to London to meet British Muslims

May 22, 2016

London’s newly-elected mayor, Sadiq Khan, has invited Donald Trump to London to introduce him to Britain’s Muslims.

The offer signifies a thawing of the relationship between the two men, which had been rather frigid since Khan’s victory earlier this month.

During his presidential campaign Trump pledged to impose a ban on all Muslims from entering the United States. However, the Republican presidential candidate said that Khan, the first Muslim to be elected mayor of London, could be an exception.

In an interview with HuffPost UK, Khan said that his mission was to prove to Trump that Muslims are not the “bad people” he sees on the TV news and are instead crucial in the fight against extremism.

Khan who earlier rejected Trump’s offer to exclude him from the ban on Muslims entering the United States, highlighted that both the UK and the US had seen “huge benefits” from immigration.

He also pointed out that Trump himself was of migrant roots, adding “But for immigration, what would America be like today?”

Further, Khan warned that Trump’s “ignorant” view of Islam could make both Britain and the US less safe.

“It risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of extremists. “Donald Trump and those around him think that Western liberal values are incompatible with mainstream Islam – London has proved him wrong.”

However, in an interview with the Huffington Post, Khan extended an invitation to Trump, saying he hoped to inform him better.

“So my point to Donald Trump is: if it is the case that your views on Islam are ignorant, if it is the case that you have not met Muslims who are compatible with, comfortable with Western values, to all purposes ‘normal’ – come to London.

“There are literally hundreds of thousands of Londoners who are Muslim and Western. Meet my family, meet me, meet my friends, meet other Londoners and hopefully that will reassure that it’s possible.”

Mr Khan’s remarks towards the mogul were more conciliatory than those made by his Tory predecessor, Boris Johnson, who said he was cautious about inviting him to London

“I wouldn’t want to expose Londoners to an unnecessary risk of meeting Donald Trump.”

tribune.com.pk/story/1107480/sadiq-khan-invites-donald-trump-london-meet-british-muslims/

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Islamic State group leader urges attacks in Europe and US

May 23, 2016

CAIRO (AP) — An Islamic State group spokesman has urged sympathizers in Europe and the U.S. to launch attacks on civilians there if they are unable to travel to the group's self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

In a 31-minute audio message released late Saturday by the IS media arm al-Furqan, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani told his followers that, "the tiniest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the biggest action by us ... there are no innocents in the heart of the lands of the Crusaders."

He encouraged lone wolf attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to start early next month, "to win the great award of martyrdom."

Al-Adnani also said the U.S.-led war against the group was doomed to failure and that America "fell in the swamp of perdition."

The speech may have been aimed at boosting morale after the group suffered a string of military setbacks and lost territory in both Iraq and Syria.

Last week, Brett McGurk, the U.S. presidential envoy to the 66-country anti-IS coalition, said that "this perverse caliphate is shrinking."

Addressing these losses, al-Adnani said that even if it was pushed out of its strongholds such as Raqqa and Mosul this would not count as defeat because "defeat is the loss of will and the desire to fight."

His mention of the possible loss of the Syrian city of Raqqa coincided with a secret trip to Syria on Saturday by army Gen. Joseph Votel, the new commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East. The U.S. is trying to develop credible Arab fighters to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-declared capital.

Mosques in Raqqa broadcast an announcement that civilians would be allowed to leave the city, after earlier this week planes thought to belong to the international coalition dropped flyers on the city instructing residents to leave ahead of an offensive.

Al-Adnani cited Omar al-Shishani as one of the current leaders of the Islamic State group, indirectly denying a Pentagon report that in March an airstrike in Syria killed al-Shishani, described as the IS "minister of war."

cnsnews.com/news/article/islamic-state-group-leader-urges-attacks-europe-and-us

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North America

Top US commander makes secret visit to Syria

May 23, 2016

NORTHERN SYRIA (AP) — On a secret trip to Syria, the new commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Saturday he felt a moral obligation to enter a war zone to check on his troops and make his own assessment of progress in organizing local Arab and Kurd fighters for what has been a slow campaign to push the Islamic State group out of Syria.

"I have responsibility for this mission, and I have responsibility for the people that we put here," Army Gen. Joseph Votel said in an interview as dusk fell on the remote outpost where he had arrived 11 hours earlier. "So it's imperative for me to come and see what they're dealing with — to share the risk they are dealing with."

Votel, who has headed U.S. Central Command for just seven weeks, became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer known to have entered Syria since the U.S. began its campaign to counter the Islamic State group in 2014. The circumstance was exceptional because the U.S. has no combat units in Syria, no diplomatic relations with Syria and for much of the past two years has enveloped much of its Syria military mission in secrecy.

Votel said he brought reporters with him because, "We don't have anything to hide. I don't want people guessing about what we're doing here. The American people should have the right to see what we're doing here."

Votel flew into northern Syria from Iraq, where he had conferred on Friday with U.S. and Iraqi military commanders. In Syria he met with U.S. military advisers working with Syrian Arab fighters and consulted with leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of Kurdish and Arab fighters supported by the U.S.

A small group of reporters accompanied Votel under ground rules that, for security reasons, prohibited disclosing his visit until after he had left Syria. After landing at a remote camp where American military advisers are training Syrian Arab troops in basic soldiering skills, Votel split off from the reporters who flew in with him; he then visited several other undisclosed locations in Syria before returning to the camp.

Syria is a raging war zone, torn by multiple conflicts that have created severe human suffering across much of the country. But on Saturday the U.S. advisers camp that Votel visited was quiet. Situated about 50 miles from the nearest fighting, it was remarkably quiet. The sharpest sound was a month-old puppy's yapping as he ran between visitors' legs. A light breeze nudged several bright-yellow flags of the Syrian Democratic Forces attached to small bushes and atop a post buried in an earthen berm beside a shooting range.

Aides said Votel's flight into Syria was the first made in daylight by U.S. forces, who have about 200 advisers on the ground. Military ground rules for the trip prohibited reporting the kind of aircraft Votel used, the exact location of where he landed and the names and images of the U.S. military advisers, who said they have been operating from the camp since January.

An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other news organizations were the first Western media to visit the secretive operation.

The last known high-level U.S. official to visit Syria was Brett McGurk, Obama's envoy to the coalition fighting Islamic State militants. He spent two days in Syria in late January, including a tour of Kobani, the small town near the Turkish border where Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikes had expelled an entrenched group of Islamic State fighters a year earlier.

In the interview, Votel said his visit had hardened his belief that the U.S. is taking the right approach to developing local forces to fight IS, an acronym for the Islamic State group.

"I left with increased confidence in their capabilities and our ability to support them," he said. "I think that model is working and working well."

The U.S. has struggled to find an effective ground force to take on IS in Syria, where President Barack Obama has ruled out a U.S. ground combat role. This presents a different problem than in Iraq, where the U.S. at least has a government to partner with.

The problem in Syria is complicated by the fractured nature of the opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. is trying to develop credible Arab fighters to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State group's self-declared capital, while Syrian Kurds have retaken territory from IS in other parts of northern Syria.

The U.S. is supporting what it calls the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is predominantly comprised of Syrian Kurds, numbering at least 25,000 fighters, with a smaller element of Syrian Arabs, numbering perhaps 5,000 to 6,000. The U.S. is trying to increase the Arab numbers.

Syrian Arab commanders who were made available for interviews at the U.S. camp Saturday said their forces are gaining battlefield momentum but also need a lot more help. They were quick to say the U.S.-led coalition should pitch in more.

Qarhaman Hasan, the deputy commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, said he has given the Americans a list of his most pressing needs. Atop his list: armored vehicles, heavy weapons like machine guns, as well as rocket launchers and mortars.

"We're creating an army," he said through an interpreter, and have had to rely on smuggling to get weapons.

"You can't run an army on smuggling," he said.

Tribal leaders said in interviews that they also want to see the U.S. do more, both militarily and with humanitarian aid.

"America has the capabilities," said Sheik Abu Khalid as he puffed on a cigarette under the shade of pomegranate and pine trees.

Talal Selo, spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, was especially strong in his criticism of the U.S. for providing too little assistance and for giving the SDF "very useless" support. He said that if this continued, the Syrians opposing the Islamic State group will have to fight for another 50 years.

usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-05-22/top-us-commander-makes-secret-visit-to-syria

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Halal Food Fest a fusion of flavours

May 22, 2016

When Scarborough’s Shawn Johnson converted to Islam about seven years ago, there was one thing he really missed: Jamaican jerk chicken.

“Being a Muslim you have to eat halal and what I find is that there’s no halal Jamaican food really,” he said.

Halal meat must be slaughtered in a specific way, by a Muslim, and if Johnson didn’t cook it at home he had to do without.

But with some help from his mom Rosemarie, he decided to “fill a niche” himself.

“It’s catching on you know?” said Rosemarie, who came to Canada from Jamaica in 1975 and has been “cooking ever since.”

“We decided, might as well do a business out of it and let everybody get a taste of my cooking,” she added, standing beside drum barbecue and a tent full of family members, busy serving up steaming plates of chicken and corn on the cob.

Rose’s Kitchen made its debut at the fourth annual Halal Food Fest, held in Mississauga over the long weekend, just one of the vendors combining different traditions for a unique, only-in-Canada multicultural mash-up, from butter chicken poutine to “beef bacon.”

Festival founder Salima Jivraj said she started it four years ago after her halal foodie blog exploded and he realized the market was “absolutely something that’s not tapped into.”

It’s now billed as the largest halal food festival in North America, attracting over 35,000 people last year.

From halal Mexican to Malaysian, Jivraj sees the event as a meeting place for different flavors, and a chance to support smaller businesses that might otherwise have trouble marketing themselves.

“One of our goals as organizers is to have diversity,” she said.

“People don’t want to see just the usual suspects.

At a jewel-bedecked booth near the front of a packed Mississauga International Centre, Henna Sethi and her mother Nina were selling dates wrapped in different spices.

Henna, a banker who makes the treats with her family as a side business, warns there’s a “tsunami of flavours,” in each one.

Dates are traditionally served during Ramadan, but the mother-daughter duo has combined them with Paan, a South Asian mouth freshener

“A lot of people are coming to our table and they’re like, ‘what is this?’” Henna said with a laugh.

“The community has loved the fusion of different tastes,” added Nina.

Mehmet Solmaz, who owns Solmaz Finest Meat Products, sells everything from Sujuk, a traditional dry, spicy Turkish sausage, to “beef bacon.”

“We try to bring all that European western products converted into halal versions and try to keep the flavour, not exactly for Middle Eastern or South Asian people, but somewhere in the middle between the west and the east,” said Solmaz.

“We have a lot of customers that are not Muslim but they buy from us because they like the flavour, they like the quality of it,” he added.

Solmaz grew up in Turkey watching his father, a halal butcher, “using his knife perfectly like an artist.”

He now runs his business alongside his brothers.

His secret, he said, isn’t spices, but family.

“A lot of people say, ‘what do you put inside’? I say, ‘you know what, I just put my love inside.’”

thestar.com/news/gta/2016/05/22/halal-food-fest-a-fusion-of-flavours.html

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Leading Canadian human rights org slams Iran Holocaust contest

May 22, 2016

Iran’s annual international cartoon contest, which trivializes the Holocaust and compares Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the horrors of the Nazi regime, perpetuates anti-Semitic stereotypes, says a leading Canadian Jewish human rights organization.

The contest, which began on May 14 and will run for two weeks, has received 150 entries from over 50 countries around the world.

“Iran's continued hostility and threats against the Jewish state are rarely challenged in global forums,” Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith, one of the oldest human rights organizations in Canada, said in a statement. “Calling this ‘concerning' is an understatement. The Islamic regime’s almost daily calls for the destruction of Israel clearly define Iran's motives and utter lack of credibility as a partner on the international stage.”

Masoud Shojaei-Tabatabaei, the event’s organizer, told an Arab television station that “This exhibition constitutes a response to the publications of cartoons by the French Charlie Hebdo magazine, which affronted the Prophet Muhammad, as well as an expression of our opposition to the massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian people.”

In a tweet, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said: "I am appalled by the annual Holocaust Cartoon Contest in Iran. This is anti-Semitism, not humour”, and added that the murder of over 6 million Jewish people is a historical fact.

israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/212676

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/2-mumbai-men-who-joined-islamic-state-promoted-to-top-ranks/d/107394

 

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