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Islamic World News ( 23 Oct 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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9 killed in Pakistan mosque, roadside blasts

80 militants poised to sneak into J&K ahead of Obama visit

US pumps $ 2bn into Pak military

Curfew lifted from all parts of Kashmir Valley

WikiLeaks releases 400,000 Iraq war documents

Jazeera: WikiLeaks papers show Iraq torture, US killings

Infiltration bid in J&K, 3 terrorists killed

Af-Pak concept inherently flawed, says Gilani

Senior RSS leader chargesheeted in Ajmer blast case

Taliban on back foot like never before: NATO

3 killed as Afghan Taliban torch 13 NATO tankers

Half of Yemen graduates unemployed: Report

Somali forces kill 27 Al-Shabab rebels at Kenya border

Threat of Iran-West showdown persists

Jamia likely to confer doctorate on Dalai Lama on Nov 23

US to Pakistan: Stop anti-India terror groups; Kashmir bilateral issue

Troops driving Taliban out of terror bastion Kandahar

Pak national gets 15 years in US jail for aiding Taliban

Shah Rukh Khan brings Bollywood spice to Berlin

Anti-Muslim comment: US conservatives blast radio for sacking analyst

Interlocutors to begin Kashmir mission today

Srinagar dead were suicide bombers, says Jaish

Ghazi shrine ‘suicide bomber’ back home

Officer, soldiers among 11 killed in terror attacks

US Accused Of Failing To Probe Iraqi Abuse Cases

Captain, 2 jawans killed in landslide

Musharraf approved surveillance flights by US drones: Gilani

Documents detail Iraq 'bloodbath': Wikileaks founder

Sohrabuddin-Kausar Bi case: CBI files charge sheet against owner of farmhouse

Pakistan: Two flood survivors die of hunger

Ten militants killed in mine blast, shelling

Afghan panel asks Muslim states to help end war

30 missing after ship sinks in Indonesia

Forest fires rage in Indonesia; neighbours affected

US to cut aid to Pakistan army units over ‘abuse’

Secret operation’ launched in Karachi, says Malik

Colonel among 6 troops killed in Orakzai blast

24 passengers burnt in bus gas cylinder blast

King, Abbas weigh Mideast options

12 kids fathered by Saudis in Indonesia return to Kingdom

Haj plan being put in place

Peace with Palestinians would help US on Iran — Peres

Jewish occupiers desecrate West Bank cemetery

Iraq weapons inspector’s death was suicide — UK files

Political pawns: Iran loses chess record to Israel

US documents show hikers not in Iran when arrested

US commits $275 million to improve Jordan water

Malaysia seeks UAE investment

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




9 killed in Pakistan mosque, roadside blasts


Oct 23, 2010

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: At least nine people, including three worshippers at a mosque and a group of soldiers, were killed in yet separate bomb attacks in northwest Pakistan, police said on Friday.

In the first attack, a roadside bomb tore through a vehicle carrying paramilitary soldiers in the Orakzai tribal region, where the army recently declared victory over the Taleban.

The blast killed six soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, and wounded three others, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record to media.

Hours later, a bomb hit a mosque on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern province. Besides the three killed, 22 people were injured, said senior police official Liaquat Ali.

The attacks showed the fragility of the military’s gains in its offensives against Al-Qaeda and Taleban insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. The United States is hoping to bolster Pakistan’s fight against extremists with a surge in military funding expected to be announced Friday.

It was unclear whether the mosque was Sunni or Shiite affiliated. Pakistan is majority Sunni, and there have long been tensions between the two Muslim sects. The blast occurred during Friday prayers, which are typically the most attended prayer sessions of the week.

On Oct. 8, a massive bomb blast inside the Shirkat mosque in Takhar province n northern Afghanistan killed a governor and 19 other people. Thirty-five others were wounded in the explosion.

Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, is still reeling under a wave of ethnic violence that officials have blamed members of the Muttahida Quami Movement and the Awami National Party.

At least 51 people, including several political activists, have been killed and dozens more wounded since Saturday in sprawling port city of more than 16 million residents.


80 militants poised to sneak into J&K ahead of Obama visit

Oct 23, 2010

NEW DELHI: Nearly 80 trained militants, armed with sophisticated weapons, are waiting to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir from across the border along the Line-of-Control (LoC) to create trouble in the state in the run up to US President Barack Obama's visit to India early next month.

Intelligence inputs, available with security agencies, pointed out that the militants, belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM), Al Badar, Hizbul Mujahideen and other terror groups, are looking for opportunities to cross over to Jammu and Kashmir.

"The next 10 days are very crucial. We have information that the militants will try to engage in violence in the run up to the US president's visit to India," a government official said.

Though there has not been any specific input, the general intelligence has put the security agencies on their toes -- specifically when the Pakistan-based terrorists had a history of a major strike when the then US president Bill Clinton had visited India in 2000.

Lashkar terrorists led by Muzzamil, whose name has also figured in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case accused David Coleman Headley's interrogation, had led a group of militants who carried out a massacre of 36 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora in south Kashmir on the intervening night of March 19-20, 2000, when Clinton was on his first state visit to India.

Since such attacks have potential to catch international attention while bringing the Kashmir issue into focus, the security agencies have been taking all measures to stop such incidents. The border guarding forces along the LoC and also along international borders have been sansitised.

The official said, "Militants may also try to attack security forces and public properties before or during the shift of government machinery from Srinagar to Jammu, the winter capital of the state, on November 4 and 5".

Kashmir valley had witnessed a fierce gunfight between security forces and militants on Thursday in which three ultras were killed after the police blasted two houses where the terrorists were holed up since Wednesday night.

The government has, meanwhile, also enhanced security in Chabad houses or Jewish centres located in different parts of the country as these religious places continued to be vulnerable as terrorist targets.

The Chabad house in Mumbai was one of the targets during the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai. Besides a number of other targets in various cities, Headley had also videographed Chabad houses in Delhi, Pune and Ajmer and passed on the details to his Lashkar handlers in Pakistan.

Security agencies also fear a spurt in violence in Naxal-affected areas as intelligence agencies have indicated that Maoists are planning more violence in areas dominated by them.

"We have directed the concerned authorities to tighten security to foil any attempt by Naxals to disturb peace," the official added.


US pumps $ 2bn into Pak military

Sat Oct 23 2010

THE US on Friday announced it would provide a whopping $ 2.29 billion in new military aid to Pakistan to bolster its army’s anti- terror capabilities, notwithstanding New Delhi’s concerns that Islamabad has been diverting a portion of such assistance against India.

Applauding Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism, secretary of state Hillary Clinton said: “ The US has no stronger partner when it comes to counter- terrorism than Islamabad.” She made the remarks at the opening of the third US- Pak strategic dialogue with her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Of the total amount, $ 2- billion ($ 1 was ` 44.58 on Friday) is under foreign military financing programme and the rest is being given under the international military education and training funding.

Clinton said a request would be made to the Congress for the aid to be made available for the period from 2012 to 2016. “ This would complement the five- year $ 7.5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan under the Kerry- Lugar Bill,” she said.

This is for the first time that the US has made a multi- year commitment of international military education and training. On his part, Qureshi said Pakistan would not allow any space to terrorists within its territory.

“ There will be no distinction between good and bad terrorists,” he said, adding that violence against innocent people could not be justified.

He also thanked the US for its support to his country for dealing with the the devastating floods there.

The aid should also help Pakistan bolster its efforts to go after the Taliban and al- Qaeda affiliates on its territory.

The fresh military aid to Pakistan is expected to cause unease in India, where President Barack Obama is set to visit in early November. Defence minister A. K. Antony, who was in Washington last month for talks with his US counterpart Robert Gates and Clinton, had conveyed India’s concerns about the supply of US arms to Pakistan, arguing that a section of these are being used for targeting India.

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Curfew lifted from all parts of Kashmir Valley

Oct 23, 2010

SRINAGAR: Authorities on Saturday lifted curfew from all parts of Kashmir as the Valley limped towards normalcy despite a strike call given by hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference.

"Curfew has been lifted from all parts of Kashmir," a police spokesman said.

He said the situation so far was peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere in the Valley.

Although most of the shops and business establishments around commercial hub of Lal Chowk remained closed, life in Kashmir showed signs of limping towards normalcy, official sources said.

They said shops were open in many localities of Srinagar city and other towns and hamlets in the Valley.

A large number of private vehicles could be seen plying on the roads of the city and other inter-district routes, ignoring the strike call given by Geelani as part of his 10-day agitation calendar, the sources said.

However, public transport continued to remain off the roads, they said.

Kashmir Valley has been in a grip of protests, strikes and curfew since June when a 17-year-old boy was killed by a tear smoke shell fired by police at Rajouri Kadal area of the city.


WikiLeaks releases 400,000 Iraq war documents

Oct 23, 2010

LONDON: US forces often failed to follow up on credible evidence that Iraqi forces mistreated, tortured and killed their captives in the battle against a violent insurgency, according to accounts contained in what was purportedly the largest leak of secret information in US history.

The documents are among nearly 400,000 released on Friday by the WikiLeaks website in defiance of Pentagon insistence that the action puts the lives of US troops and their coalition partners at risk.

Although the documents appear to be authentic, their origin could not be independently confirmed, and WikiLeaks declined to offer any details about them. The Pentagon has previously declined to confirm the authenticity of WikiLeaks-released records, but it has employed more than 100 US analysts to review what was previously released and has never indicated that any past WikiLeaks releases were inaccurate.

The 391,831 documents date from the start of 2004 to Jan 1, 2010, mostly by low-ranking officers in the field. In terse, dry language, they catalog thousands of battles with insurgents and roadside bomb attacks, along with equipment failures and shootings by civilian contractors.

The documents describe a full gamut of a country at war: shootings at military checkpoints, contractors firing on Iraqis and savage acts committed on prisoners using boiling water, metal rods, electric shocks and rubber hoses. A group that counts casualties from the war said the files also document 15,000 previously unreported deaths.

The United States went to war in part to end the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime, but the WikiLeaks material depicts American officers caught in a complicated and chaotic conflict in which they often did little but report to their superiors when they found evidence that their Iraqi allies were committing their own abuses.

In some cases, the reports show the US military intervening to protect detainees, but in many others officers did not act on what their troops described as clear evidence of abuse.

Allegations of torture and brutality by Shiite-dominated security forces - mostly against Sunni prisoners - were widely reported during the most violent years of the war when the rival Islamic sects turned on one another in Baghdad and other cities. The leaked documents provide a ground's eye view of abuses as reported by US military personnel to their superiors, and appear to corroborate much of the past reporting.

WikiLeaks said it provided unredacted versions of the reports weeks ahead of time to several news organizations, including the New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. It gave The Associated Press and several other news organizations access to a searchable, redacted database hours before its general release on Friday.

WikiLeaks was criticized for not redacting the names of informants in a July release of almost 77,000 documents from the Afghan conflict. This time, it appears to have removed the names of people, countries and groups from the searchable database.

WikiLeaks declined to make unredacted files available to the AP, saying journalists wanting such a copy would have to lodge a request with the organization, which would respond within a "couple of days."

The group describes itself as a public service organization whose mission is to "protect whistle-blowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public."

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange did not respond to an e-mail from the AP seeking comment but told CNN that the documents show "compelling evidence of war crimes," both by the US-led coalition and the Iraqi government. Such comments from Assange have drawn controversy in the past.

Assange rejected claims that his work was endangering anyone. The military has a continuing investigation into how the documents were leaked. An Army intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, Spc. Bradley Manning, was arrested in connection with the leaking other classified material to WikiLeaks.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell called the release "shameful" and said it "could potentially undermine our nation's security."

He said about 300 Iraqis mentioned in the documents are "particularly vulnerable to reprisal attacks" and that US forces in Iraq are trying to protect them.

The documents appeared to be mostly contemporaneous - routine field accounts that junior officers in units deployed across Iraq sent to headquarters within Iraq during the course of the war.

The leaked documents include hundreds of reports from across Iraq with allegations of abuse. In a typical case from August 2006, filed by the 101st Airborne, US forces discovered a murder suspect who claimed that Iraqi police hung him from the ceiling by handcuffs, tortured him with boiling water and beat him with rods.

The suspect, detained at the Diyala provincial jail, showed evidence of abuse, including bruises on his wrists, back, and knees. The 101st notified the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the case was closed, according to the documents.

In another case, US soldiers inspecting an Iraq army base quizzed their Iraqi counterparts about a scab-covered detainee with two black eyes and a neck which had turned, in the words of the report, "red/yellow." The prisoner said he had been electrocuted. Iraqi officials claimed the man received the injuries while trying to escape, according to the report.

In many cases, US forces did not appear to pursue the matter because there was no allegation that coalition forces were involved. Many reports signed off with: "As coalition forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary."

Other reports describe American attempts to halt abuse by Iraqi officers.

In one case, a US State Department employee prevented a prisoner from being beaten, the documents show.

One report describes US troops finding evidence of torture at a police station in Husaybah, including large amounts of blood, a wire used for electric shocks and a rubber hose. It describes ensuing visits by the Americans, checking of detention cells and demands for records on every prisoner.

"The detention cell officers have been counseled on the severe negative ramifications to relations with the coalition forces if human rights are not respected," it reads.

As a general policy, US forces in Iraq were supposed to take reasonable action to stop or prevent abuse. Morrell said US troops are required to report any abuses they witness to their superiors and that US policy has been to share that information with the Iraqi government "at the appropriate level."

US diplomats and military commanders in Iraq have said that US and allied military forces in Iraq tried to deter abuse, although US officials do not deny that torture or mistreatment has occurred.

Amnesty International called on the US to investigate how much its officials knew about torture when they handed over thousands of detainees to Iraqi security forces.

Some of the reports released Friday are laconic, barely a line long: "Individual stated she was beaten and raped for not cooperating with IP (Iraqi police) investigator," one November 2007 report filed from Tikrit said.

Others offer more a more detailed description of the abuse - and evidence.

US Marines patrolling Husaybah found a man in the custody of Iraqi forces who said he was pulled out of a taxi, blindfolded, beaten and kept in a room for three days, one of the reports says. It cites medical documents and pictures of the man's injuries as evidence that his allegation of abuse is substantiated. "No further investigation is warranted," it reads.

A "serious incident report" filed in December 2009 in Tal Afar said US forces had obtained footage of about a dozen Iraqi army soldiers - including a major - executing a detainee. The video showed the bound prisoner being pushed into the street and shot, the Americans said. There was no indication of what happened to the video, or to the Iraqi major or his soldiers. The incident is marked "closed."

The release of the documents comes at a pivotal time for the US in Iraq as the military prepares to withdraw all 50,000 remaining troops from the country by the end of next year. The US military had as many as 170,000 troops in Iraq in 2007.

Violence has declined sharply over the past two years, but near-daily bombings and shootings continue.

The situation has been exacerbated by growing frustration among the public over the failure of Iraqi politicians to form a new government. Al-Maliki is struggling to remain in power since his Shiite alliance narrowly lost the March 7 vote to a Sunni-backed bloc led by rival Ayad Allawi.

Some of the documents focus on the actions of coalition troops. A report from February 2007 describes a combat helicopter being dispatched to destroy a truck carrying a mortar tube that had just been used in an attack. Two insurgents get into another truck and drive away, then attempt to surrender after they are fired on. When they attempt to drive away a second time, a military lawyer advises the helicopter that "They can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets." The helicopter opens fire, with a missile, driving the insurgents into a shack before opening fire again and killing them.

The reports also document civilian contractors working for the military firing on cars that drove too close to their convoys, fearing the vehicles might be driven by suicide bombers.

The documents also provided new details about one of the most contentious issues of the war - civilian casualties.

The US military has recorded just over 66,000 civilian deaths, according to the documents posted by WikiLeaks. Iraq Body Count, a private British-based group that has tracked the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the war began, said in a press release that it had analyzed the information and found 15,000 previously unreported deaths, which would raise its total from as many as 107,369 civilians to more than 122,000 civilians.

The Iraqi government has issued a tally claiming at least 85,694 deaths of civilians and security officials were killed between January 2004 to Oct 31, 2008.


Jazeera: WikiLeaks papers show Iraq torture, US killings

Sat Oct 23 2010

Dubai : Al-Jazeera today released "startling new information" from US documents obtained by WikiLeaks, alleging state-sanctioned Iraqi torture and the killing of hundreds of civilians at US military checkpoints.

It said that the major findings included a US military cover-up of Iraqi state-sanctioned torture and "hundreds" of civilians deaths at manned American checkpoints after the US-led invasion of 2003 that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The Qatar-based satellite broadcaster also said the leaked papers, dating from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009, show the United States kept a death count throughout the war, despite US denials.

Al-Jazeera's English channel was to broadcast a series of programmes from 2100 GMT on Friday, it said in a statement sent to AFP, "that reveal startling new information about the operations of US forces during Iraq War."

"The secrets documents are more than four times larger then WikiLeak's Afghanistan files," the broadcaster said in a statement issued in English.


Infiltration bid in J&K, 3 terrorists killed

Oct 23, 2010

SRINAGAR: Three terrorists from across the border were on Saturday killed in a gunbattle with the army that continues to rage in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district, an official said.

"Three infiltrating terrorists have been killed so far in Uri sector of the Line of Control (LoC) in Baramulla," Lieutenant Colonel J S Brar, spokesman of the army's Srinagar-based 15th corps, said here.

"Alert troops of the army spotted a group of heavily armed terrorists in Uri sector on Saturday morning. They were challenged to surrender upon which they opened indiscriminate firing at the surrounding troops. This triggered a gunfight which is still on in the area," Brar said.


Af-Pak concept inherently flawed, says Gilani

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: Evidently addressing the image problem that Pakistan has in the comity of nations, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday said his country was engaged in correcting historic wrongs made by others in the region that has “suffered intractable conflict arising out of power play orchestrated from outside''.

In an interactive session with the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Pakistan, Mr. Gilani lamented that for far too long, countries in the region have been hostage to circumstances created by global strategic power play. And, Pakistan has “withstood alone'' the burden of “tectonic and cataclysmic'' shifts in the international strategic and political landscape.

Arguing that Pakistan has high stakes in Afghanistan's stability and prosperity, the Prime Minister said Islamabad favoured an Afghan-led and Afghan-driven reconciliation process. “Without peace in Afghanistan, there can be no peace in our region.'' Conceding that the destinies of the two countries are inter-twined, he rejected the Af-Pak concept as inherently flawed as the circumstances in the two countries are distinct. Asked if Pakistan was in the loop in the efforts at reconciliation with the Taliban, Mr. Gilani indicated that Islamabad expected the Karzai government to discuss the plan with it, the U.S. and Pakistan's Army. Stating that Kabul had not informed the U.S. till now, he added that talks which did not involve Pakistan would not be successful because Pakistan was a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

On the controversial drone attacks, Mr. Gilani said permission had been given “much earlier'' for reconnaissance and surveillance flights by the Predators. “But, never for attacks.'' Denying reports that the U.S. drones were operating from an airbase in Sindh, he reiterated that drone attacks were counter-productive as they undo the work done by his government and the Army to separate tribesmen from Taliban fighters. The drone attacks unite tribesmen and militants, he said adding that instead the U.S. should transfer drone technology to Pakistan or share credible and actionable intelligence with the Army to take action.


Senior RSS leader chargesheeted in Ajmer blast case

Oct 23, 2010

JAIPUR: A senior RSS leader's name figures in the chargesheet filed by the Rajasthan ATS against five accused in the 2007 Ajmer blast.

Indresh Kumar, the RSS leader, was present at a secret meeting held in a Gujarati guest house in Jaipur on October 31, 2005, in which six other functionaries of the outfit were also present, the 806-page chargesheet filed before a court in Ajmer on Friday said.

ATS sources said Indresh has not been made an accused in the case as further investigation is underway to ascertain whether he had any links with the blast.

Refuting any involvement in the blast, Kumar said, "it is a political conspiracy against me. Investigating agencies have been misused. The present government protects the traitors and wages a war against patriots. I will fight this injustice in court".

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said, "the truth has come out and the RSS should accept it. Later, the background of its leaders whose names have appeared and their links will come out. One should trust the judiciary that the truth will come out and those guilty will be punished."

The five accused in the chargesheet include Devendra Gupta, allegedly linked to radical Hindu group Abhinav Bharat. They have been charged with murder and defiling a place of worship.

The chargesheet was filed by the Anti-Terrorist Squad in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Jagendra Kumar Jain in connection with the blast on the premises of the dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti that left three persons dead and 15 others injured.

Gupta and the other two accused in the case --Lokesh Sharma and Chander Shekhar Lave-- are in judicial custody. The accused have been charged with sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 120B (conspiracy) and 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship) of IPC among others.

Two other accused -- Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangre -- are absconding while another accused Sunil Joshi died during the course of investigation, according to ATS officer Satyendra Singh who filed the charge sheet. The prosecution has cited 133 witnesses.

The court has fixed October 26 for arguments on the charge sheet.

Gupta, who is believed to have links with Hindu group Abhinav Bharat, was arrested in April this year when he had come to meet his ailing mother here.

Officials had been probing Gupta's alleged links with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in the Malegaon blast case. The ATS had arrested Chandra Shekhar from Madhya Pradesh.


Taliban on back foot like never before: NATO

23 Oct. 10

BERLIN: Rebel forces in Afghanistan have been forced onto the back foot and are now under more pressure than they have ever been, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday.

After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Rasmussen said NATO was looking forward to handing principle responsibility for security in Afghanistan to local forces from next year, and that the timing for this looked good. “The insurgency is under pressure, under pressure like never before in Afghanistan. Our aim for this year was to regain the momentum,” Rasmussen told a news conference. “Now we have it.” Rasmussen and Merkel said a meeting on November 19-20 in Lisbon - where NATO will unveil a new strategic plan for the military alliance - had been at the forefront of their talks.

A revamped NATO would remain the “bedrock of transatlantic security,” the secretary general said, adding, “I believe that will include missile defence for Europe.” He said he hoped NATO heads of government would in Lisbon agree to build a system to protect Europe against missile attack, adding that he hoped this would “go together with a clear offer to Russia to cooperate and to benefit.”

Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, said he wanted NATO to step up cooperation with Russia on missile defence and Afghanistan. Russia is due to attend the Lisbon summit. “These relations (with Russia) have already improved substantially from where they were a year ago,” he said. “I think we can lay the foundation for a long-term strategic partnership between NATO and Russia.”

Rasmussen reiterated his desire to see NATO become a forum for consultation on international security matters.

“Who would suffer if our partners in Europe, central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East were to deepen their cooperation with NATO,” he said at a separate event in Berlin. “Who stands to lose if countries such as China, India and Pakistan were to engage in a closer dialogue with NATO,” reuters\10\23\story_23-10-2010_pg1_7


3 killed as Afghan Taliban torch 13 NATO tankers

23 Oct. 10

KABUL: Taliban fighters attacked a NATO convoy and killed three drivers before setting 13 fuel tankers ablaze in southeastern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said on Friday.

The attack happened on Thursday night in Shahra Safa in Zabul province, said Muhammed Jan Rasolyar, the provincial governor’s spokesman. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility.

Insurgents have intensified attacks on NATO supply convoys in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where one of the alliance’s vital supply lines begins.

Mid-level Taliban insurgency commanders do not believe their leaders have begun tentative peace talks with the Afghan government, with many vowing on Friday not to give up the fight after nearly 10 years of war.

NATO and Afghan officials have confirmed preliminary contacts between President Hamid Karzai’s government and the Taliban, although doubt surrounds when those contacts were made, who were they made with and what, if any, progress was made.

Insurgency commanders from across Afghanistan indicated they were not involved in the initial contacts.

“No one has come so far and sat with the government and there is no hope that the Taliban will come and negotiate with the government,” said Taliban commander Abdullah Nasrat of Girishk area, adding that, “As long as foreign forces are in Afghanistan, there will be no talks. Our morale is high.” agencies\10\23\story_23-10-2010_pg7_4


Half of Yemen graduates unemployed: Report


Oct 22, 2010

SANA'A: A recent government report warned that the number of unemployed graduates in Yemen is on the rise.

The report pointed out that thousands of university and secondary schools students with humanities majors who later struggle to find jobs are the reason for rising unemployment rates in the country.

“The uncontrolled increase in the number of graduates in higher education, notably among humanities majors, has led to a surplus in the number of unemployed people and could leave its mark on society,” the report on Yemen’s ruling party website said.

The report, prepared by high-ranking government body the Supreme Education Planning Council, estimated the unemployment ratio among graduates at 52 percent.

The report added that students enroll at universities to study these subjects to get social recognition, regardless of the needs of the society. They also fail to consider whether their chosen majors have any economic value.

"There is no balance between the number of students and the market and there is no government trend to kick start the market by focusing on desired majors like agriculture, tourism, etc.," the report stressed.

The report attributed the soaring number of unemployed graduates to the large number of students in redundant majors, the absence of cooperation between universities and companies and a lack of research to determine the needs of society.

The report maintains that annually, the number of jobs offered is not rising in line with jobseekers. Rather, available positions continue to adhere to the 13,000 jobs stipulated by the Third Fifth Plan (2006-2010).

Only eight percent of applicants were given jobs, in comparison to 21.7 percent four years ago.

The report recommended that the enrollment policy of universities should be tailored to the needs of developmental, economic and social plans, fulfilling the needs of the country through different majors and hence reducing unemployment.

It also calls on the government to stimulate investment as a generator for more jobs.


Somali forces kill 27 Al-Shabab rebels at Kenya border

Oct 23, 2010

MOGADISHU: Somali soldiers and allied militia killed at least 27 Al-Shabab militants in fighting along Somalia’s border with Kenya, local residents and a militia commander said on Friday.

Clashes erupted on Thursday in the government-held Somali border town of Balad Hawa as residents headed to evening prayers. Mortar fire reverberated through the dusty streets until after midnight when Al-Shabab fighters retreated.

A Kenyan security officer at the border said scores of Kenyan troops were deployed along the frontier as a precaution.

Resident Ahmed Osman said he counted 32 corpses in Balad Hawa on Friday morning. Somali forces put the known toll at 27 and said a unidentified number of their own troops were killed.

Others said the fighting had triggered an exodus from the town, with hundreds fleeing toward Kenya and nearby Ethiopia.

“Al-Shabab attacked our defensive positions...but we later defeated them and kicked them out of the town and surrounding areas,” said Sharif Abdiwahid, a spokesman for the joint force of government troops and Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca militia.

Kenya, east Africa’s largest economy, has long cast a wary eye at its lawless neighbor where first warlords and now Islamist insurgents have reduced government to haplessness.

Those living in Kenya’s remote northeastern provinces have reported increasing cross-border raids by Al-Shabab.

Twice hit by Al-Qaeda-linked attacks, Kenya has trained thousands of Somali recruits to beef up troops loyal to Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a move that has drawn condemnation from Al-Shabab.

“The town is empty now. We can say 90 percent of the people have fled either to Mandera in Kenya or Dollow in Ethiopia,” said Barre Adan Shire, a Somali lawmaker and commander of a local pro-government militia.


Threat of Iran-West showdown persists

By Simon Tisdall

23 Oct, 2010

THE US is quietly ratcheting up economic and financial pressure on Iran amid signs that talks about Tehran’s suspect nuclear programme could resume next month. These two developments may be connected. But neither sanctions nor diplomacy can wholly obviate the dread possibility of military confrontation unless something fundamental changes soon at the heart of Iran’s regime.

The US squeeze has been gathering force since July when Congress passed the comprehensive Iran sanctions accountability and divestment act, which in effect denies foreign banks access to the US financial system if they trade with targeted Iranian banks and businesses or the Revolutionary Guards.

Following the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions in June, the European Union, Japan, Australia and other western allies passed their own measures further restricting investment in Iran’s energy sector. Then last month the Obama administration gained the agreement of leading European oil companies to stop investing and trading with Iran. The American drive to isolate Tehran is unrelenting, and affects collaborators and competitors alike. An anonymous official recently briefed US media that “a significant list” of Chinese companies and banks were continuing to provide restricted technology and materials to Iran — and that the US had sent a senior envoy to Beijing to protest. The move embarrassed China into publicly reiterating its commitment to upholding the sanctions regime. Turkey and Azerbaijan, two of Iran’s close neighbours, were on the receiving end this week when Stuart Levey, the US treasury department’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, came calling. Levey said he intended to brief private and public sector businesses about Iran’s “illicit conduct” and urge government leaders to ensure sanctions were enforced. US officials have undertaken similar arm-twisting missions in the Gulf and across the Arab and Muslim world.

Reports from Tehran suggest the sanctions are biting, although to what degree is unclear. In addition to the usual complaints about unemployment and inflation, there seems to be growing unhappiness about shortages and pay.

The culture ministry issued a warning to print media that they faced closure if they reported opposition criticism. And dozens of reform activists are said to have been jailed in a new round of repression in recent weeks.

All the same, Washington’s sanctions enforcement drive faces considerable difficulties. Chinese machinations aside, there is resistance to the measures in Turkey and Iraq, where Iran exerts considerable influence.

Speaking last month, Shamseddin Hosseini, Iran’s finance minister, admitted sanctions had caused “some trouble”. But he insisted Iran had large reserves of hard currency and would overcome any obstacles the US and others laid in its path. “The world is big, and the people who are trading (with us) find ways to transfer money ... when you block the stream of water, it goes another route,” he said.

As if to underscore its determination not to succumb, Iran announced on Wednesday that its 20 per cent uranium enrichment programme, the focus of US nuclear weapons concerns, was advancing apace. Its stockpile now amounted to 30kg and was steadily rising.

Tehran also said it might rejoin the stalled nuclear talks next month. But, as ever, it seemed likely to try to limit the scope of the discussions. Despite all the pressure and despite some positive signs in recent months, there is little or no evidence so far that Iran’s top leadership is willing, or can be forced, to fundamentally change its ways. And so the dread juggernaut of direct, physical confrontation rolls ever closer.—Dawn/Guardian News Service


Jamia likely to confer doctorate on Dalai Lama on Nov 23

Oct 23, 2010

NEW DELHI: Jamia Milia Islamia is likely to be allowed to give honorary doctorate to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Jamia is going ahead with its preparations to confer the doctorate on November 23, highly placed sources said.

Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao in her briefing said, "I would not like to comment now, but the matter is receiving our attention." Before her interaction with reporters on Friday, Jamia Milia Islamia vice-chancellor Najeeb Jung spoke to Rao. Sources in the Jamia said,"We have been assured that the foreign ministry will take a positive look into the request."

Jamia sources also said, "We are dismayed with the reaction of the foreign ministry. The Dalai Lama's presence in the campus would have made a positive impact on students." A university official said, "The Dalai Lama has been given honorary doctorate by Banaras Hindu University, Jain Vishwa Bharati and nearly 10 more Indian universities. Why discriminate Jamia? At a time when one community is besieged, such a decision will send a wrong signal."

Jamia officials are also expressing surprise that the China factor should influence such decisions. "Should we be so scared of China as to forget about our own country?" an official asked.

Official sources, however, said the final decision could still take a few weeks, the main reason being Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's scheduled meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of ASEAN summit later this month. Fearing a sharp response from Beijing, the government clearly does not want any awkward moment just ahead of the meeting, which is likely to take place on October 30.

Confirming the visit, Rao on Friday said there is enough space for two countries to grow together. Beijing lodged a strong protest after the recent "routine" meeting between the Dalai Lama and Singh. India continues to maintain that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and its honoured guest. It has, however, always tempered that remark with the assertion that India recognises the Tibetan Autonomous Region as a part of the Chinese republic.


US to Pakistan: Stop anti-India terror groups; Kashmir bilateral issue

October 23, 2010

Getting tough with Pakistan, the United States has told visiting Pakistani leaders to stop all terrorist elements within its border that pose a threat to India and Afghanistan and also rejected Islamabad's request to intervene in the Kashmir dispute.

In the on-going strategic dialogue, the US said that the Kashmir dispute should be resolved through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.

"We will continue to work with Pakistan, try to find ways to put pressure on these extremist elements that represent a threat to Pakistan, a threat to Afghanistan, a threat to India, a threat to the region as a whole and a threat to the United States," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told foreign media Thursday.

"So this security and counter-terrorism remains a significant part of our strategic dialogue," he said.

The dialogue led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is also attended by Pakistan's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

On Kashmir, Crowley said: "We recognise the importance of Kashmir to both India and Pakistan. We absolutely want to see tensions eased and ultimately a resolution to the situation in Kashmir."

"That we believe needs to come through additional dialogue between Pakistan and India. We have not been asked by both countries to play a particular role. This is the reason why, for a number of reasons we continue to encourage further dialogue between India and Pakistan," he said in response to a question.

Crowley described both India and Pakistan as US allies and said his country will continue to encourage both countries in their efforts to achieve piece and stability in the region.

His comments came a day after Qureshi sought US intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Policy magazine's blog 'The Cable' reported that the get tough with terrorists message was delivered personally by US President Barack Obama to the visiting Pakistani delegation during a meeting with National Security Advisor in-waiting Tom Donilon.

Qureshi, Kayani, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani were among those present at the meeting.

Obama dropped by and stayed for 50 minutes, according to an official who was there, and personally delivered the tough message that other top US officials have been communicating since the Pakistani delegation arrived, the Cable said.

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton dropped in unannounced during an another meeting between Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke and Kayani.

"She delivered the message that Washington's patience is wearing thin with Pakistan's ongoing reluctance to take a more aggressive stance against militant groups operating from Pakistan over the Afghan border," The Cable reported.

A similar message was delivered to General Kayani in another high-level meeting Wednesday at the Pentagon with Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman admiral Mike Mullen.;-Kashmir-bilateral-issue.html


Troops driving Taliban out of terror bastion Kandahar

Oct 22, 2010

ARGHANDBAD( AFGHANISTAN): American and Afghan forces have been routing the Taliban in much of Kandahar province in recent weeks, forcing many hardened fighters , faced with the buildup of American forces, to flee strongholds they have held for years, Nato commanders, local Afghan officials and residents of the region said.

Aseries of civilian and military operations around the strategic southern province, made possible after a force of 12,000 US and Nato troops reached full strength here in the late summer, has persuaded Afghan and western officials that the Taliban will have a hard time returning to areas they had controlled in the province that was their base.

Western and Afghan officials say heavy losses for Taliban have sapped the momentum insurgency had in the area. Unlike the Marja operation , they say, one in Kandahar is comprehensive civil and military effort that is changing public mood as well as improving security.


Pak national gets 15 years in US jail for aiding Taliban

Oct 23 2010

Washington : A Pakistani national, who entered the US on a student visa, has been sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for conspiring to help the Taliban and illegally possessing firearms, a Justice Department statement said.

Adnan Mirza, 33, who entered the US on a student visa to attend a local community college in 2005 and 2006, was convicted in May 2010 following a jury trial of all nine counts charged.

Besides the imprisonment, he was also been fined USD 1,000 for each of the nine counts of conviction by Senior District Judge in Houston Ewing Werlein on Friday.

As a foreign national with student visa, Mirza was not permitted by federal law to possess firearms while in the United States, the statement said.

An FBI undercover investigation found that Mirza and others intended to send funds to the Taliban and had engaged in weekend training and practice sessions with firearms to prepare for "jihad" on six different occasions beginning in May 2006 at a location on the north side of Houston.

The investigation was conducted by the Houston office of the FBI with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Shah Rukh Khan brings Bollywood spice to Berlin

23 Oct, 2010

BERLIN: Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan spoke of his love for Berlin on Friday as he presented his new film in the city, which hopes his huge pulling power will lure more Indian tourists to its attractions.

“Every time I come here it’s very cold and then I feel the warmth of lovely German bodies against me ... I’m really happy to work in this atmosphere,” said the superstar at a press conference in a chilly, drizzly Berlin.

“The city is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen ... I have been here for two weeks and I don’t feel I’m working,” he added.

“I’m just happy to be in Berlin. I love it. If you told me to stand up on a tourist bus and dance, I would do it.” Khan is on location in Berlin to shoot his new film, “DON-2”, billed by producers as a “Bollywood version of Bond.” The film features Khan in his old role as Don, the “unbeatable, unstoppable, smartest, smoothest gangster in the Asian drug world.” Viewers are promised “an edge-of-the-seat thriller, with a riveting plot and breathtaking action.” “DON-2” is being shot for 50 days in prominent venues in the German capital, including the stadium that hosted the 1936 “Hitler Olympics” and the East Side Gallery, a long, graffiti-strewn section of the Berlin Wall.

Director Farhan Akhtar said he hoped to introduce a German audience to the Bollywood genre.

“We’re not holding back as far as the Bollywood punches are concerned. We are throwing them all. There are many films shot in London, Australia, the US.

But it’s important to showcase new places. Berlin had it all.” The overall budget of the film was 12 million euros ($17 million) of which just over half was spent in Berlin. German authorities provided around two million dollars to support the film.

Known as “King Khan”, the 44-year-old actor is one of the most popular in Bollywood, with millions of loyal fans. He was once nominated one of the world’s 50 most important people in the world by Newsweek magazine.

The city of Berlin, already a magnet for film producers, hopes that Khan’s star power will encourage other Bollywood productions to be filmed in the capital, in turn boosting tourism from India’s burgeoning middle class.

Recent film stars in Berlin include Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”, Tom Cruise in “Valkyrie” and Kate Winslet in “The Reader” and the city hopes to cash in on Bollywood’s pulling power.

The chief executive of the “visitBerlin” campaign, Burkhard Kieker, said: “DON-2 will be our advertising campaign for India.” “With this film we want to enthuse a multimillion audience for the destination of Berlin and, in this way, secure our breakthrough on the Indian market.”—AFP


Anti-Muslim comment: US conservatives blast radio for sacking analyst

23 Oct, 2010

WASHINGTON: Top US Republicans, including three possible White House contenders in 2012, pushed on Friday to strip US public radio of taxpayer money for firing a news analyst over comments seen as anti-Muslim.

“At a time when our country is dangerously in debt and looking for areas of federal spending to cut, I think we’ve found a good candidate for defunding,” said former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Ms Palin’s comments, in a statement on her Facebook page, came after National Public Radio (NPR) fired long-time senior analyst Juan Williams for saying on Monday that he is uneasy when he sees Muslim passengers aboard an aeroplane.

“When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous,” he told Fox News channel.

The NPR said in a statement that Williams’s remarks were “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR”.

The controversy came with barely ten days to go until Nov 2 elections in which Republicans were expected to make big gains and possibly seize control of one or both houses of the US Congress.

Ms Palin said NPR had fired Williams “for merely speaking frankly about the very real threat this country faces from radical Islam” and stifled “an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism”.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, like Palin a possible 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, accused NPR of “censorship” and of being a “purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left”.

“It is time for the taxpayers to start making cuts to federal spending, and I encourage the new Congress to start with NPR,” Huckabee said in a blog post on the Web page of his political action committee.—AFP


Interlocutors to begin Kashmir mission today

Oct 23, 2010

SRINAGAR: The three newly appointed interlocutors on Kashmir are expected to arrive here on Saturday amid boycott calls from separatists.

"Noted journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and information commissioner M M Ansari are arriving here on Saturday on their first visit to the Kashmir Valley after being nominated as interlocutors," an informed source said.

Both the hardline and the moderate Hurriyat groups headed by Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq respectively have stated they would not meet the interlocutors and also asked local trade and student unions not to meet them.

Padgaonkar has, however, expressed hope that the team would be able to break the ice and meet a cross-section of Kashmir society during their four-day visit.

Talking to local English newspaper 'Greater Kashmir' over phone, Padgaonkar said: "We have not prepared any schedule for the meetings. As and when people wish to meet us we will be welcoming them. We will try to meet as many people as possible."

Geelani has said he would not meet the interlocutors unless the central government accepts the Kashmir issue as an international dispute.

The three interlocutors had met Manmohan Singh on Thursday and said the prime minister wanted them to look for a political solution to the dragging crisis in the state and especially speak to "youths and women".

Thousands of people have died since insurgency began in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. While things were beginning to look up last year, the state was plunged into a fresh crisis after stone-pelting protesters started clashing with the security forces. At least 110 people have been killed in the ongoing unrest since June 11.


Srinagar dead were suicide bombers, says Jaish

23 Oct, 2010

SRINAGAR: Three men killed in a gunfight in Indian-held Kashmir were on a suicide mission to attack Indian military bases, a militant group said on Friday, adding that three other guerrillas escaped.

Two of the militants from the Jaish-i-Mohammad were killed during a fierce gunbattle on the outskirts of Srinagar on Thursday. The body of a third militant was pulled from the rubble of two houses destroyed during fighting on Friday, a police officer said.

“The three militants were among six fidayeen (militants on suicide mission) assigned to carry out attacks on the Badami Bagh cantonment and Haft Chinar army camp in Srinagar,” Jaish’s operational chief Sajjad Afghani said.

Jaish said the trio were part of a six-member group told to stage the suicide attacks but they were intercepted by troops before they could reach their targets.—AFP,-says-jaish-300


Ghazi shrine ‘suicide bomber’ back home

By Abid Mehdi

23 Oct, 2010

SIALKOT: A man of Daska who was dubbed a suicide bomber and proclaimed dead in an attack on the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi returned home on Friday.

Ishtiaq Zaffar, 27, had been missing from his home for two months.

He said he had been living in Gulistan Mor area of Sialkot and enjoying sedative injections with other addicts.

Talking to reporters, Ishtiaq Zaffar said: “I am an addict, but I can never be a militant because I love my Pakistan.”

Ishtiaq said he was unaware of intelligence reports broadcast by television channels, along with is picture, that he had blown up himself at Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine.

He said he had never been to Karachi.

His mother Munawwar Bibi said she had faced a terrible time and suffered humiliation at the hands of security officials.

She said police and intelligence personnel had forc- ed her to own the head of the bomber as that of her son.

She said she had repeatedly told the officials that the head was not that of her son and he could never be a militant.

“They also took my blood samples for DNA tests.”


Officer, soldiers among 11 killed in terror attacks

By Syed Hassan Mahmood and Ali Hazrat Bacha

23 Oct, 2010

KALAYA / PESHAWAR, Oct 22: A lieutenant-colonel, five soldiers and five civilians were killed in bomb attacks on a paramilitary convoy in Orakzai Agency and a mosque near Peshawar on Friday.

A bomb planted on a road in Yakho Kandao area was detonated by remote control when a paramilitary convoy was going from Ghaljo to Thall garrison in Hangu district.

Lt-Col Mohammad Yousaf who belonged to Sargodha and soldiers Tahir Marwat, Habib Mangal, Mohammad Khan, Hanif Rehman and Mazhar Hussain were killed. Two soldiers were injured.

The area was cordoned off and a search operation was carried out, but no arrest was made.

At least five people were killed and 30 injured in the bomb attack on the main mosque of Peshtakhara Bala near Peshawar.

The blast damaged parts of the mosque and shattered windowpanes of nearby houses.

Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan told reporters that the explosive device placed beside a pillar in the veranda was detonated by remote control.

He said security had been beefed up around all mosques in bazaars and congested areas, but securing such places in villages was almost impossible.

He said that apparently the attacker entered the mosque when worshippers were gathering for Friday prayers. The explosion took place at about 1.55pm when people had started leaving.

He said that in view of the situation, people should set up local peace committees, keep an eye on suspicious people and provide information about their movement to police.

Major Shafqat Malik, the chief of the bomb disposal unit said small ball bearings had been found at the place, adding that 3kgs of explosives used in the blast left a deep crater in the veranda. The explosives were packed in a canister wrapped in cloth.

Cantonment Circle SP Shafiullah Khan said a search operation had been launched in the area close to Khyber Agency.

The blast killed Naseer (18), Rehmat (20), Hasnain (5), Haroon (9) and Younus Khan (10). The injured were taken to the Khyber Teaching Hospital, Lady Reading Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex where six of them were in critical condition.

Mohajirullah, who was in the mosque, said he was offering prayers when he heard the blast and rushed to the veranda. “It was smoke all around with the victims lying on the ground and the injured crying in pain.”

Most of the injured were young men or children. Villagers took them to hospitals in private vehicles.

Senior provincial minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour said that terrorists, who were in disarray because of action taken against them, had started attacking innocent people in places of worship.

He said the government was determined to continue to mount pressure on terrorists till their elimination. He announced a compensation of Rs300,000 for each deceased and Rs100,000 for the injured.

A police post had been attacked in Bara Qadeem locality in the same area on Wednesday.

HIDEOUTS ATTACKED: After the explosion in Orakzai, helicopters gunships attacked suspected militant hideouts in the upper tehsil of the agency. Security officials claimed that 12 insurgents had been killed and eight injured.

The claim could not be verified from independent sources.

FUNERAL: The funeral of Lt-Col Yousaf and the five soldiers was held in Peshawar, attended by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani and senior military officers.

Talking to reporters, the governor said the nation had been rendering sacrifices for three years and despite casualties and sufferings people’s morale was high. “We have to win this war at all cost.”

He said the war against terrorism might continue for another three years.

AP adds: Officials in the tribal region said some areas in Kurram Agency had also come under helicopter attack and the total number of suspected insurgents killed was 16.

A police official in Peshawar said the bomb attack on the mosque might have been carried out to avenge a recent crackdown on militants in the area.,-soldiers-among-11-killed-in-terror-attacks-300


US Accused Of Failing To Probe Iraqi Abuse Cases

Oct 23rd, 2010

Washington: WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war on Friday, some detailing gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the U.S. military knew about but did not seem to investigate.

The Pentagon decried the website's publication of the secret reports -- the largest security breach of its kind in U.S. military history, far surpassing the group's dump of more than 70,000 Afghan war files in July.

U.S. officials said the leak endangered U.S. troops and threatened to put some 300 Iraqi collaborators at risk by exposing their identities.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents showed evidence of war crimes, but the Pentagon dismissed the files as "ground-level" field reports from a well-chronicled war with no real surprises.

"We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world," Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, said.

The Iraq war files touched on other themes, including well-known U.S. concerns about Iranian training and support for Iraqi militias. The documents, which spanned 2003 to 2009, also detailed 66,081 civilian deaths in the Iraqi conflict, WikiLeaks said.

Assange told Al Jazeera television the documents had provided enough material for 40 wrongful killing lawsuits.

"There are reports of civilians being indiscriminately killed at checkpoints ... of Iraqi detainees being tortured by coalition forces, and of U.S. soldiers blowing up entire civilian buildings because of one suspected insurgent on the roof," WikiLeaks said in a statement.

In one 2007 case, according to the documents, an Apache helicopter killed two Iraqis suspects who had made signs that they wanted to surrender. The document said, "They cannot surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets." It can be seen here: here

Although the Iraq conflict has faded from U.S. public debate in recent years, the document dump threatens to revive memories of some of the most trying times in the war, including the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

Cracked ribs and executions

Those media organizations given advance access to the database -- 10 weeks in one case -- broadly concluded that the documents showed that U.S. forces had effectively turned a blind eye to torture and abuse of prisoners by Iraqi forces.

In one case, an Iraqi policeman shot a detainee in the leg. The suspect was whipped with a rod and hose across his back, cracking ribs, causing multiple lacerations and welts.

"The outcome: 'No further investigation,'" the Guardian wrote.

The documents also cited cases of rape and murder, including a videotaped execution of a detainee by Iraqi soldiers. That document can be seen here: here B27A2F1D750FE720

The New York Times said that "while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored." It said soldiers had told their officers about the abuses and then asked Iraqis to investigate.

Amnesty International condemned the revelations in the documents and questioned whether U.S. authorities had broken international law by handing over detainees to Iraqi forces known to be committing abuses "on a truly shocking scale."

"These documents apparently provide further evidence that the U.S. authorities have been aware of this systematic abuse for years," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The document release could also renew debate about foreign and domestic players influencing Iraq, which has been in a political vacuum since an inconclusive election in March.

Military intelligence reports released by WikiLeaks detail U.S. concerns that Iranian agents had trained, armed and directed death squads in Iraq, the Guardian reported.

It cited an Oct. 31, 2005, report stating that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps "directs Iranian-sponsored assassinations in Basra."

The U.S. envoy in Iraq said in August he believed groups backed by Iran were responsible for a quarter of U.S. casualties in the Iraq war.

More than 4,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the start of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. All U.S. forces are set to withdraw from Iraq by the end of next year.


Captain, 2 jawans killed in landslide

Oct 23, 2010

NEW DELHI: Parts of Kashmir valley, including health resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg, on Friday received season's first snowfall, bringing down the temperature to 15.7 degrees, three degrees below normal. However, Srinagar and other areas were lashed by heavy rains, hampering traffic movement to Ladakh.

An army captain and two troopers, who lay in ambush at Tikri village near the LoC in Uri sector, were killed in a landslide triggered by heavy rains and snowfall, police said. Army post at Rai in Tikri area has 20 inches of snow.

Troops of Sikh Light Infantry had laid an ambush at the village last night following information that a group of militants might try to sneak into the Valley. Twenty other soldiers escaped unhurt. The dead were identified as Captain Gaurav, Lance Naik Karnail Singh and Sepoy Karan Singh. Their bodies have been recovered.

Met officials said Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Qazigund areas of the Valley received the first snowfall of the season. tnn


Musharraf approved surveillance flights by US drones: Gilani

Oct 22, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday for the first time said that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf approved the controversial surveillance flights by US drones which later started targeting terrorists in the country's lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

During an interaction with the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Pakistan, Gilani indicated that the permission to operate drones inside Pakistan was given by the previous regime of President Pervez Musharraf.

The permission had been given "much earlier" for reconnaissance and surveillance flights by spy planes and "it was never given" for attacks, he said when asked why Pakistan is not seeking an apology for US drone attacks in its volatile tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Gilani also denied reports that US drones were operating from an airbase at Jacobabad in Sindh province.

He reiterated his stance that drone attacks are counter-productive as they undo the work done by his government and the army to separate tribesmen from the Taliban fighters.

The drone attacks unite the tribesmen and militants, he said.

Earlier, Musharraf, who is currently living in self-imposed exile in London, condemned the surge in US drone strikes late last month.

"Within Pakistan there is sensitivity of the people of Pakistan. We have got forces to deal with any situation and if action needs to be taken the West should realise that they should equip the Pakistan army or air force," he had said.

Gilani also said that the US should transfer drone technology to Pakistan or it should share credible and actionable intelligence so that the Pakistani military can take action against the militants.

In recent weeks, the US has significantly increased drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, which it calls the global headquarters of al-Qaida and dreaded Haqqani network.

Over 160 people have been killed in more than two dozen missile attacks since early September in the region. There were 23 drone strikes last month and 16 this month.

Among those killed include a British terror suspect who was to head al-Qaeda group in the UK 'The Islamic Army of Great Britain' and was tasked to carry out Mumbai-style attacks on London, Paris and other European cities.

More than 1,100 people have been killed in over 140 US drone missile strikes in the area since August 2008.


Documents detail Iraq 'bloodbath': Wikileaks founder

Oct 23, 2010

WASHINGTON: Newly released Wikileak documents on Iraq give a blow-by-blow account of the "bloodbath" in the country over six years, the whisteblower's founder Julian Assange said Friday.

Speaking to CNN after the documents' publication, he said they presented a much more straightforward picture than material on the conflict in Afghanistan previously published by Wikileaks.

"These documents reveal six years of the Iraq war at a ground level detail -- the troops on the ground, their reports, what they were seeing, what they were saying and what they were doing," he told the broadcaster.

The Iraq documents cover the deaths of some 104,000 people over six years -- compared the deaths of 20,000 people in Afghanistan detailed in previously released papers.

"We're talking about a five times greater kill rate in Iraq, really a comparative bloodbath compared to Afghanistan," he told CNN.

The Iraq documents gave "not just the aggregate, not just that, you know, 'in Fallujah a lot of people died,' but rather the deaths of each person, with precise geographic coordinates and the operation under which they died.

"That is the big outcome for us, is that these people whose deaths were previously anonymous, they are no longer anonymous," he added. "We can see where they died and under what circumstances.

"I think the message of this material is powerful and perhaps a little easier to understand than the complex situation in Afghanistan," he added.

The comments came shortly after Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 pages of secret military field reports from Iraq, including graphic accounts of torture, civilian killings and Iran's hand in the Iraq war.

The US administration said the release could endanger US troops and Iraqis but would not shed new light on the war.


Sohrabuddin-Kausar Bi case: CBI files charge sheet against owner of farmhouse

Oct 23, 2010

AHMEDABAD: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday filed a supplementary charge sheet in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausar Bi murder case before a special CBI court in Ahmedabad.

In the charge sheet filed before special CBI judge G.K. Upadhyaya, the CBI charged Rajendrakumar Jirawala, the owner of Arham farmhouse, where Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi were kept, with facilitating the co-accused and concealing the presence of the deceased before their elimination and subsequent destruction of evidence.

It was also stated that as per the corroboration by the personal assistant of IPS officer Geetha Johri, who at one stage was investigating the case, she had recorded on a note sheet that there was a systematic effort on the part of certain agencies, including the police, to tamper with the witnesses and evidences. Under the circumstances it was not possible for the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which at that point was headed by her, to meet the deadline set by the Supreme Court and the directions given by the apex court, she had noted. Ms. Johri also noted that “the government may please be, therefore, moved to hand over the case to the CBI for the purpose of meting out justice to the petitioners and maintain the image of the Gujarat police or making necessary changes in the SIT.”

The CBI claimed that as per Ms. Johri's notes, she was under tremendous pressure to tamper with the evidence and witnesses. The CBI has added 70 witnesses and 37 documentary evidences in support of the chargesheet.

Meanwhile, Ram Jethmalani, advocate of the former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, who is arguing for the former Minister's bail plea before the Gujarat High Court, termed the CBI court's decision to deny Mr. Shah bail one that showed complete lack of judicial balance.

Mr. Jethmalani said Sohrabuddin was an extortionist and a racketeer, and that the entire CBI exercise was politically motivated to tarnish Mr. Shah's reputation.

Mr. Jethmalani said the Gujarat police was honest in admitting that the encounter in which Sohrabuddin was killed was fake. “There is neither circumstantial evidence nor eyewitness to prove the conspiracy theory.”


Pakistan: Two flood survivors die of hunger

By Qurban Ali Khushik

23 Oct, 2010

DADU: A woman and a man died of hunger in flood relief camps in Mehar on Friday.

At least four displaced people have died of hunger in the town over the past week.

Sher Bano Chandio of Saeedpur died at the Government Technical College and Shahnawaz Chandio of the same village at Government Mono-technic College. Four days ago, Niaz Hussain Chandio of Saeedpur had died at a vocational school.

Ramzan Chandio of Drib village had died in a camp earlier.

Former nazim of Khan Jo Goth union council, Dr Hidayatullah Chandio, told Dawn that the deaths followed suspension of food supply to camps by the administration.

He said various diseases had struck flood survivors, but doctors were not treating them. He also alleged that elected representatives were selling relief goods.


Ten militants killed in mine blast, shelling

22 Oct, 2010

PARACHINAR / KALAYA: Ten Taliban militants, a ‘commander’ among them, were killed and several others injured in a landmine blast in Kurram Agency and shelling by helicopter gunships in Orakzai tribal region on Thursday.

Local people said a vehicle carrying militants hit a landmine along a road in Marandi area of central Kurram, killing six militants and injuring several others.

The dead included local Taliban commander Hakeem Khan, Nawaz Khan and Rahim Khan. The vehicle was destroyed in the blast.

Officials said that two people were injured in bomb explosions in Balishkhel area of Lower Kurram and Boshera area of Upper Kurram.

In upper Orakzai tehsil, four militants were killed and two others wounded when helicopter gunships pounded their hideouts.,-shelling-200


Afghan panel asks Muslim states to help end war

22 Oct, 2010

KABUL, Oct 21: Afghanistan’s new peace council said on Thursday it would be willing to make concessions to bring militants to the negotiating table, and called for Saudi Arabia’s help in mediating peace talks.

Qiyamuddin Kashaf, the spokesman for the High Peace Council, also appealed to all Muslim nations for help in brokering an end to a war now in its 10th year, and repeated Kabul and Washington’s longstanding demand that militants renounce violence.

Inducements to tempt fighters back into the government fold could include jobs, homes and cash, Mr Kashaf told a news conference in the Afghan capital.

“The High Peace Council expects the Islamic world, in particular the (Organisation of the) Islamic Conference, and the Saudi king, to support the pious people of Afghanistan in achieving peace,” he said, reading from a council statement.

When pressed what role Saudi Arabia could play, and why he mentioned it, Mr Kashaf said it was one of the three nations that recognised the Taliban government, had good ties with Pakistan, and was custodian of the holiest Islamic sites.

Saudi Arabia sponsored secret talks last year and has acted as an interlocutor between Afghan officials and Taliban commanders in the past.

The 70-member council was proposed by President Hamid Karzai and endorsed by a jirga earlier this year.—Reuters


30 missing after ship sinks in Indonesia

23 Oct, 2010

MAUMERE: A small passenger ship is sinking in eastern Indonesia waters, and about 30 people are missing.

Col. Hadiwibowo, chief of the local navy, said initial reports were that 20 people were rescued. The Karya Pinang was sinking on Friday off the cape of Watumanuk on Flores island of East Nusatenggara province.

Hadiwibowo said rescuers were sent but had not yet reported from the scene.

Ships are a main source of transportation in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands.—AP


Forest fires rage in Indonesia; neighbours affected

23 Oct, 2010

JAKARTA: Indonesia has sent hundreds of firefighters to battle blazes on Sumatra island that have enveloped Singapore and Malaysia in a choking haze, senior officials said on Friday.

Dozens of fires were still burning across Sumatra on Thursday — many lit by small landholders to clear trees from areas of peatland in order to grow oil palm or other crops.

Indonesia’s forest fire chief Noor Hidayat said about 300 extra firefighters had been sent to the worst-affected area, Sumatra’s Riau province, which lies opposite Singapore across the Malacca Strait.

“We have been making efforts to contain the fires. It’s very difficult in the peatland areas,” Forestry Minister Zulkilfi Hasan told reporters.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo telephoned his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa Friday to express the city state’s concerns about severe air pollution, and offer help in controlling the fires.

Natalegawa “assured minister Yeo that Indonesia would address the haze problem, adding that many Indonesians in Sumatra are also affected,” the Singapore foreign ministry statement said.

“This so-called haze situation is a classic case or example of a challenge that is transboundary in nature that cannot be solved simply by one country,” Natalegawa said.

“It must be recalled that we have not had a similar case for more than three or four years,” Natalegawa said, referring to previous success in the attempt to curb haze.

Malaysia has also been hit by the problem, which peaked on Sunday when 351 hotspots were recorded on Sumatra, but air travel has so far remained normal in all three countries.

The haze issue has resurfaced just a week before a summit meeting of Asean leaders in Hanoi. Indonesia will chair the 10-nation bloc in 2011.

The most severe outbreak took place in 1997-1998, when widespread fires caused nine billion dollars in economic, social and environmental damage, according to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Jakarta has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored in Indonesian provinces.

“Their weakest points are enforcement of the laws and lack of transparency,” Joko Aris, Southeast Asia forest team leader at environmental group Greenpeace said.

He said not enough information was being given to the public on the location and size of forest fires.—AFP


US to cut aid to Pakistan army units over ‘abuse’

23 Oct, 2010

WASHINGTON: The US intends to cut off aid to about a half-dozen Pakistan Army units believed to have killed civilians and unarmed prisoners during anti-Taliban offensives, The New York Times reported late on Thursday. If confirmed, the decision would represent an extraordinary censure of the Pakistani military just as US President Barack Obama’s administration seeks greater action from Islamabad in tackling Taliban safe havens. The newspaper said the US has not told Pakistan of the decision, even though senior Pakistani government and military officials are in Washington for a series of meetings. It quoted an unnamed US official saying there was “a lot of concern about not embarrassing” the Pakistani military. US officials this year have repeatedly raised questions with Islamabad about allegations of extra-judicial killings by the Pakistani military. agencies\10\23\story_23-10-2010_pg1_2


Secret operation’ launched in Karachi, says Malik

23 Oct, 2010

KARACHI: Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday that a secret operation has been launched in order to counter the target killings in Karachi.

Addressing a joint press conference along with Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Ali Mirza, Malik said, “We shall restore peace in Karachi and other parts of the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other northern areas. He said strict action will be taken against those challenging the writ of the state, and the government would not talk with them, adding that the government had broken the back of terrorists by launching a successful operation against them in the northwest.

Malik said, the government had chalked out its strategy during the meeting with all political parties in Karachi, adding that terrorists had no ideology or affiliation with any political party, but used and took shelter of different political parties to disturb the law and order situation in the country.

Malik said that during the last two days, the target killings had stopped due to the government’s action against the criminals.

He said Karachi had been besieged by different mafias, with new mafias emerging everyday, including the land mafia, bhatta mafia and the drug mafia.

Malik said, Benazir Bhutto along with President Asif Ali Zardari had visited the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) central office and promised them that the friendship between MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would continue for decades and the PPP government would continue the strategy of the reconciliation policy set by Benazir.

To a question, the interior minister said the government listened to the complaints of the MQM, adding that the atmosphere of reconciliation had been much stronger now.

Malik further said that 3,000 appointments in the ladies wing of the police force would soon be made in Karachi’s police department.

Speaking on the occasion, Home Minister Zulifqar Mirza said police had arrested a key suspect along with four other snipers involved in the Karachi target killings and recovered weapons from their possession. Mirza called upon the critics to refrain from indulging in aggressive debates, which had been causing problems for the government.

He urged all parties to cooperate with the government in ending the menace of target killings. During the press conference, Mirza announced the establishment of a media cell at the central police office. Sindh Inspector General of Police Sultan Salahuddin Babar Khattak, Karachi Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Fayyaz Laghari and other senior police officials were also present at the occasion.\10\23\story_23-10-2010_pg1_4


Colonel among 6 troops killed in Orakzai blast

23 Oct. 10

PESHAWAR: A lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and five other soldiers were killed when a roadside time bomb exploded in Hangu district on Friday, official sources said. It was the third deadly attack on paramilitary troops patrolling the tribal belt this week.

A security forces’ convoy of eight personnel was on its way to the Thall town from Ghiljo area of Orakzai Agency when it was attacked by terrorists through a remote-controlled device in the Yakh Kandao area, killing a lieutenant colonel and five other soldiers. Two personnel were hurt in the explosion and soon air lifted to the Kohat CMH.

Hours later, gunship helicopters pounded three spots in Upper Orakzai and the neighbouring Kurram and killed 22 suspected terrorists, local government officials Aurangzeb Khan and Jamil Khan said. It was not immediately clear whether the airstrikes were in retaliation or not.

The bombings showed the fragility of the military’s gains in its offensives against al Qaeda and Taliban along the border with Afghanistan. staff report/agencies\10\23\story_23-10-2010_pg1_6


24 passengers burnt in bus gas cylinder blast

23 Oct. 10

LAHORE: At least 24 people, participating in a barat ceremony suffered injuries following an explosion in a bus, a private TV channel reported on Friday.

The explosion was caused by a blast in the CNG cylinder as fireworks onboard went off. Forty-five passengers were travelling on the vehicle in new Sabzi Mandi area of Multan, the channel reported. Remaining 21 passengers escaped unhurt.

As many as 16 injured passengers were shifted to the Nishtar Hospital. The hospital sources said that 10 passengers were in critical condition.

Passengers with minor injuries were treated by Rescue 1122 teams, the channel said.\10\23\story_23-10-2010_pg7_5


King, Abbas weigh Mideast options


Oct 23, 2010

RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his palace in Riyadh Friday afternoon.

They discussed the latest developments in Palestine, including efforts to bring stalled peace talks back on track and stressed the need for the global community to renew its commitment to establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Chief of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin and Deputy Commander of the National Guard for Executive Affairs Prince Miteb bin Abdullah received Abbas on his arrival at the Riyadh Air Base.

Palestine’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Jamal Al-Shubaki told Arab News that during the three-hour summit, King Abdullah offered his full support to the Palestinians and said the issue was central to Saudi foreign policy. "The president explained to the king the situation in Palestinian territories and the present status of peace efforts. The two leaders also stressed the significance of joint Arab efforts in the face of Israel’s stubbornness.”

Al-Shubaki added that discussions also explored other options such as going to the UN Security Council to find a just solution to the Palestinian issue.

Abbas was accompanied by Secretary to the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Yasser Abed Rabbo, chief Palestinian negotiator and member of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat and media adviser to the president Nabil Abu Rudainah.

The last visit by Abbas to the Kingdom was in August, before direct talks between Palestinians and Israel began.

Direct US-brokered peace negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel began Sept. 2, but the Palestinians suspended talks after a 10-month Israeli moratorium on housing in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank expired Sept. 26.

The Kingdom supports Arab and international efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive Middle East peace, which would ensure the Palestinians’ right to an independent state.

The Saudi Council of Ministers urged the United Nations on Oct. 4 to force Israel to abide by international law and Security Council Resolutions and restore the usurped rights of the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia has also stressed the need for national unity between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

Relations between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank were severed after Hamas routed and ousted pro-Abbas forces in deadly fighting in Gaza in 2007.

The latest meeting scheduled to patch up differences between Hamas and Fatah factions in Damascus on Wednesday was postponed.


12 kids fathered by Saudis in Indonesia return to Kingdom

Oct 23, 2010

JEDDAH: The Saudi Embassy in Jakarta has been able to return 12 children born out of relationships between Saudi men and Indonesian women to the Kingdom last year, according to local Arabic daily Al-Watan on Friday.

“These children were the result of illegal marriages between Indonesian women and Saudi men who visited Indonesia for business or tourism,” Saudi Ambassador Abdullah Al-Khayyat said. He added that after making sure that the children belonged to Saudi fathers, the embassy contacted the men and provided them with support so they could be reunited.

The ambassador said the embassy took good care of the children and gave them air tickets to travel to Saudi Arabia with their fathers. He also said the embassy liaised with the authorities concerned in Indonesia and the Kingdom to facilitate the return of the children to their home country and also made efforts to heal the rifts between the fathers and mothers.

The ambassador said Saudis were not allowed to marry foreign women, except with permission from the Ministry of Interior, but said these cases were rare.

He said there were still a few children left and added that the embassy was trying to rectify their situation.


Haj plan being put in place


Oct 23, 2010

JEDDAH: The Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques will today start implementing its plan for this year's Haj season, aimed at enabling the guests of God to perform their rituals in peace.

The strategy will remain in place until the end of the pilgrimage season, Dul Hijjah 30 (Dec. 6), Deputy President of the Presidency Muhammad ibn Nasser Al-Khuzaim announced Friday.

“The plan is aimed at ensuring an ideal atmosphere for worship inside the Two Holy Mosques and their surrounding plazas and courtyards,” he told Arab News, adding that under the plan, pilgrims will be guided on how to perform the Haj rites correctly.

Al-Khuzaim said the presidency is keen to provide all necessary services and prepare all facilities to be used by the pilgrims.

He said over 5,700 people including official staff, temporary employees and seasonal workers will carry out the plan and added that the number of preachers has also been increased this year.

According to Al-Khuzaim, the President of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques will hand over the new Kaaba kiswa (dress) to the chief guardian of the Grand Mosque on the first day of Dul Hijjah and said all carpets inside the Grand Mosque will be rolled out to avoid impeding the movement of pilgrims and prevent the spread of any contagious diseases.

He said the blessed Zamzam water would be distributed among Hajis at their accommodation, but urged pilgrims not to take it inside the mosque to avoid spillages on the floor and making it slippery.

Al-Khuzaim said there were 43 locations with 340 taps spread across the ground, first, second and top levels of the Masaa where pilgrims can drink Zamzam water. He said these facilities are not be used for ablution.

He added that four Zamzam water points with 110 fountains were established around the Tawaf area.

Al-Khuzaim said the Masaa has been expanded and all its floors, including the underground, ground, first, second and roof levels, have been made ready for pilgrims.

He said the passages for pilgrims and wheelchairs have been greatly expanded to allow easy movement and said 74 marble lockers have been placed on the ground floor for the storage of shoes.

The deputy president said amplifiers were placed in the courtyards and plazas of the two mosques so that worshippers could easily listen out for prayer calls and added that seven temporary bridges and mobile stairs have been installed to facilitate the easy movement of worshippers.

Al-Khuzaim said 62 bathrooms have been set up near the eastern Al-Fath door with 100 taps for ablution.


Peace with Palestinians would help US on Iran — Peres

Oct 22, 2010

JERUSALEM: Israel needs good ties with the United States to survive and must be more understanding of US demands over securing peace with the Palestinians, Israeli President Shimon Peres said in remarks aired on Friday.

Peres, Israel’s elder statesman, said an end to the Palestinian conflict would improve the United States’ own security position in the Middle East and help isolate Iran.

His comments came as a diplomatic deadlock deepened over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to bow to demands from Washington to extend a freeze on West Bank settlement building so peace negotiations with the Palestinians can resume.

“We fought alone, but we cannot exist alone. For our existence we need the friendship of the United States of America. It doesn’t sound easy, but this is the truth,” Peres said in a speech to Jewish leaders broadcast by Israel Radio.

“As the United States is trying to understand the security needs of Israel, we Israelis ourselves must understand the security needs of the United States,” he said, speaking in English in an address made on Thursday evening.

“In our own small way we can be of help, and of help means (to) enable an anti-Iranian coalition in the Middle East. And the contribution will not be by a declaration, but if we will stop the secondary conflict between us and the Palestinians.”

Washington, which often sides with the Israelis in key diplomatic forums and underwrites their military, has been trying to rein in the nuclear aspirations of Israel’s arch-foe, Iran, through tougher international sanctions. Yet some Arab powers have publicly chafed at that campaign, pointing to the Palestinians’ stalled drive to achieve independence on land Israel occupied in a 1967 Middle East war.

US leaders in recent months have connected the need for peace with the Palestinans to US security interests, blaming the continued tensions for fueling Islamist militancy.

As head of state, ex-premier Peres lacks executive powers but is often a bellwether of opinion among left-leaning Israelis who oppose the rightist Netanyahu government’s policymaking.


Jewish occupiers desecrate West Bank cemetery


Oct 22, 2010

RAMALLAH: Jewish occupiers raided West Bank village of Kafr Qaddoum, to the West of Nablus, and sprayed graffiti on gravestones and village's walls on Friday.

Palestinian sources said that the occupiers from nearby Kedumim settlement sprayed the writing "Kahane was right" on the gravestones and painted stars of David.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of racist Kach party, was a member of Israeli Knesset from 1984 until his party was declared racist and banned from the Knesset in 1988. He was assassinated in New York on Nov. 5, 1990.

The Palestinian sources added that the occupiers also sprayed graffiti on the wall threatening the residents of revenge and calling them to leave the village.

Israeli forces arrived at the village and said that the incident as extremely severe.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Mohammed Hussein condemned the incident saying that the "occupiers visited Kafr Qaddoum and violated the sanctity of the graves under the escort of Israeli forces."

Hussein held the Israeli occupation authorities responsible for the desecration of the Muslims graves after "allowing the occupiers to break into the village."

He called on the Arab and Muslim nations and on international organizations to take initiatives to "curb the extreme right-wing government which has failed to restrain the radical groups from carrying deliberate provocations against the dead and living Palestinians."

"Desecrating the cemetery will be a move crossing all red lines and may provoke reactions,” Hussein warned.

The attack is the latest in so-called "price tag" attacks, intended to pressure the Israeli government away from making concessions regarding settlement building in the West Bank. The 10-month partial moratorium expired on Sept. 26.

On Wednesday, occupiers set fire to a school warehouse in the West Bank village of Al-Sawyeh, to the south of Nablus.

Israeli security forces suspect the school vandalism was part of the "price tag" effort initiated by occupiers as revenge for the demolition of structures in the settlement Bat Ayin, north of Hebron.

The Palestinians have halted direct talks with Israel after the latter refused to extend construction moratorium. An Arab League committee on the peace process last week supported the Palestinian's decision on suspending talks and gave the US administration, the peace mediator, one month to convince Israel to freeze settlement building.


Iraq weapons inspector’s death was suicide — UK files


Oct 23, 2010

LONDON: Britain released secret medical files on Friday that poured cold water on lingering conspiracy theories that former UN Iraq weapons expert David Kelly may have been murdered.

Kelly, 59, was found dead in 2003 after being named as the source of a BBC report which accused then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government of exaggerating the military threat posed by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to help build the case for war.

His death caused one of the biggest controversies of Blair’s time in office and led to fevered speculation about the circumstances surrounding his loss of life.

Judge Lord Hutton led an independent inquiry into the death and concluded in 2004 that the scientist slit his left wrist after taking painkillers in countryside near his home.

Critics called the ruling a whitewash and medical experts have since questioned whether Kelly’s injuries were severe enough for him to bleed to death.

Hutton asked that Kelly’s post mortem papers remain classified for 70 years to protect his family. However, the government decided to release them after only seven years.

“I am publishing these reports in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the inquiry into how Dr Kelly came by his death,” said Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

Pathologist Nicholas Hunt, who conducted the post-mortem, said there was no evidence Kelly had been assaulted, strangled or dragged to the scene of his death in Oxfordshire.

“The orientation and arrangement of the wounds over the left wrist are typical of self-inflicted injury,” he wrote. Tests showed he had taken a “significant quantity” of a painkiller containing paracetamol and dextropropoxyphene, an opioid.

A group of doctors wrote to the Times newspaper in August to argue that the wound to Kelly’s wrist was “extremely unlikely” to have killed him. Hunt responded by saying the death was an “absolute classic case of self-inflicted injury.”

Lawmaker Norman Baker, who investigated the death for a year, told Reuters in an interview in November 2007 that he was convinced Kelly had been murdered.

He wrote a book that claimed Kelly was killed by Iraqis close to Saddam in revenge for his work as a weapons inspector. He alleged that Britain’s secret services had covered up the murder due to its political sensitivity.

Hutton said in a statement the medical papers had been available to lawyers representing parties at his inquiry.

“There was no secrecy surrounding the post-mortem report,” he said. “I requested, not ‘ordered’, that the post mortem report should not be disclosed for 70 years. I made this request solely in order to protect Dr Kelly’s widow and daughters for the remainder of their lives.”


Political pawns: Iran loses chess record to Israel

Oct 23, 2010

JERUSALEM: An Israeli broke the record for most simultaneous games of chess played by an individual on Friday, seizing the title from a chess master from his country’s archenemy, Iran.

Israeli chess champ Alik Gershon played 523 people, moving from board to board in a Tel Aviv plaza. He started Thursday and finished overnight, winning 454 of the matches, losing 11 and drawing in 58.

In London, Guinness World Records confirmed that the Israeli was the new world record holder.

The previous record was set last year by Iranian champ Morteza Mahjoob, who played 500 opponents at the same time in a Tehran arena.

The new record holder acknowledged the tensions between the countries. “Hopefully this is the only war we are going to have with this enemy, ever,” Gershon said.

He also noted the game’s ancient origins in Persia — now Iran.

“Taking the record from an Iranian in a game that was invented by Iran — it’s going to be even sweeter,” he said as his record attempt was getting under way Thursday.

Israel believes Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons despite its denials and sees that as an existential threat.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has questioned the veracity of the Holocaust and suggested Israel should be “wiped off the map.” This is not the only Guinness title to be drawn into Mideast politics.

Israel has a long-running competition with Lebanon over who can make the world’s biggest plate of hummus, which is seen as a national dish in both countries.

The record has changed hands several times. Lebanon is the current holder, after making a 10-metric-ton plate of the chickpea dip earlier this year.

Palestinians have also tried to set Guinness records, partly in an attempt to draw international attention to their conflict with Israel. Children in the Gaza Strip now hold records for the most people simultaneously flying kites and dribbling basketballs: 3,000 and 7,000, respectively.


US documents show hikers not in Iran when arrested

23 October 2010

WASHINGTON — The three American hikers arrested by Iran last year were on the Iraqi side of the border, according to US military documents released on Friday by WikiLeaks, reported the New York Times.

The internal US document highlights military grids where the group was detained, which the Times said were on the Iraqi side of the border.

Two of the three — Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer — have been held in a Teheran jail for more than a year, and their female companion Sarah Shourd was released last month. All three, along with US authorities, have insisted they were not in Iranian territory.

The document described their arrest as a “kidnapping” of US tourists, supporting the hikers’ claim — contrary to Tehran’s insistence — that they were visiting the area but were not US intelligence operatives.

Military officials writing in the document also question the group’s “lack of coordination” on their trip, and highlight a report from the Kurdish military in northern Iraq that the hikers were detained by Iran “for being too close to the border.”

The hikers’ lawyer told AFP this week it would begin trying the hikers for espionage on November 6.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton renewed appeals for the release of the two men still in custody on “humanitarian” grounds, adding that the United States did not believe there was any basis “whatsoever” for them to be put on trial.


US commits $275 million to improve Jordan water

23 October 2010

WASHINGTON — The United States said on Friday it will commit 275 million dollars to help parched ally Jordan improve its water supply.

The grant, to be signed Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, will “increase the supply of available water” in the country, a State Department statement said.

The project will look at the efficiency of water delivery as well as treatment and collection of wastewater.

The assistance comes through the US Millennium Challenge Corporation, which awards money to developing nations that meet criteria on both economic and social freedoms.

Jordan is one of the closest US partners in the Middle East, including in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian peace process.


Malaysia seeks UAE investment

Muzaffar Rizvi

23 October 2010

DUBAI - Malaysia seeks to attract UAE investments in key economic sectors and the projects worth over Dh300 million are on active list that may be finalised soon, a top official of Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, or MIDA, said.

The proposed projects involve a major investment of over Dh200 million in plastic packaging solution venture and three other transactions in manufacturing sector, Mohammed Ismail Abu Bakar, Director, MIDA Dubai, told Khaleej Times in an interview. “We are engaged in talks with Mubadala Development Company and other UAE investment vehicles to discuss various projects in manufacturing and services sectors,” he said.

Abu Bakar said Malaysia and UAE have been engaged in various projects in edible oil refining, plastic industry oil and gas sector. The two brotherly Islamic countries are also collaborating in real estates, financial services and pharmaceuticals to boost investment and business relations.

“MIDA Dubai is playing an active role to bring the UAE investment in Malaysian manufacturing and services sectors. We have witnessed great interests from the UAE investors who are willing to invest in Malaysia,” he said.

1 Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MBD, and Mubadala Development Company recently signed two collaboration agreements on a strategic partnership for the development of key strategic projects within the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District and a major initiative in aluminium sector.  “Kuala Lumpur International Financial District, spreading over 34.4 hectares, will provide a state-of-the-art home for world class institutions. The development of key projects within the district will cost around $8.3 billion,” he said and adding that it would work on the patron of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and will offer the similar services to the foreign investors in Malaysia.

“The setting up of a financial district similar to DIFC will provide the impetus to propel Kuala Lumpur into a global financial hub,” he said.

Elaborating the second deal, Abu Bakar said the partnership deal in aluminium sector is based on Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy and will involve an investment of $6.92 billion. Sharing other successful joint venture projects, he said 1 MBD signed a collaboration agreement on a strategic partnership with Mubadala early this year in the development of Malaysia’s carbon neutral city with each contributing $100 million. He said Dubai-based Oilfields Supply Centre Limited has also signed a joint venture agreement with Tanjong Agas Supply Base and Marine Services Sdn Bhd to develop a multifunctional common user supply base in the East Coast Economic Region. The total investment is amounted to $198 million, he said.

In financial sector, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank acquired 25 per cent stake in RHB Capital Berhad. Dubai Islamic Investment Group acquired 40 per cent stake in Malaysia Islamic Bank while National Bank of Abu Dhabi is also going to open a branch in Malaysia after getting an approval from Malaysian Central Bank to start operations in the country, Abu Bakar said.  “These partnership deals will also generate the interest of other investors from the Middle East to invest in Malaysia,” he said.

Abu Bakar said there is wide scope for UAE investors to invest in Malaysia as it offers huge potential in manufacturing sector especially in chemical and petrochemicals, halal-food products, agriculture and livestock, machinery, appliances and parts.

“Islamic Finance, real estate projects, hotels and tourism, health care sector, regional establishments, logistics and distributive trade services have potential to attract UAE investors,” he said.  Abu Bakar said Malaysia offers various incentives and benefits to UAE investors. “We offer income tax exemption, ranging from 70 per cent to

100 per cent of statutory income for a period of five to 10 years. There is also tax exemption for raw materials, components, spare parts and machinery imported.”

He said UAE investors can also take the benefits of investment tax allowance, ranging from 60 per cent to 100 per cent on qualifying capital expenditure incurred for a period of five to 10 years. “The allowance can be offset against 70 per cent to 100 per cent of the statutory income for each year of assessment.”

In reply to a question, Abu Bakar said MIDA Dubai since its launch in 2009, is playing an instrumental role in attracting investment from the Middle East to Malaysia. “The MIDA is the government’s principal agency for the promotion of the manufacturing and services sectors in Malaysia. We are the first point of contact and also act as a one-stop centre for companies and investors, which intend to invest in manufacturing and services sectors in Malaysia,” he said.

He said it is prime responsibility of MIDA to identify potential sectors for investment and then organise round-table meetings with potential investors. “We organise trade and investment mission to UAE as well as arrange a visit of potential investors to Malaysia,” he said and adding that the MIDA has also established a website in Arabic to disseminates information on investment opportunities in Malaysia.

Abu Bakar said Malaysian companies have also been participating in major exhibition in UAE such as Gulf Food, Big Five, etc. “Malaysian companies and investors also attend major international conferences in UAE and working closely with local chamber of commerce and industries, business associations and media as well.”

“The MIDA sponsors Journalist Visit Programme and Industry Leaders Programme every year to highlight investment opportunities in Malaysia,” Abu Bakar concluded.