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Islamic World News ( 29 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Aceh's Sharia Law Still Controversial in Indonesia

Massive Muslim Mob Damages Church Building in Indonesia

Online jihad recruiters target Asia

To get job in Surat, Muslim took Hindu name; revealed when he was killed

Hindus join Muslims in observing Muharrum

Taliban blow up girls school in Pak

US widens war against Al Qaeda to Yemen

Post Xmas terror plot, strict curbs greet flyers

‘Mousavi nephew killed in clashes’

Iran accuses Britain of meddling

Indonesia clears woman in e-mail libel case

Bangladesh says Myanmar to take back 9,000 refugees

Ahmedabad remembers Imam Hussain's sacrifice

Jews Remain in Eye of Al-Qaeda Storm

Indonesian Muslim Students Association (HMI) to help root out corruption in Indonesia

Don’t shy away from singing Vande Mataram, Ranganath tells Muslims

Myanmar to repatriate 9,000 Muslim refugees from B'desh

Jamia Millia wants to shed madrasa tag: Vice Chancellor (Interview)

Metro Detroit Muslims to condemn attack

Russia’s Muslims No Longer Need to Study Abroad, Medvedev Aide Says

Al-Qaeda group claims US plane plot

Pak helped NKorea build nuke weapons as early as 1990: Report

3 Iranians pull a fast one on traders

9 dead, including at least 6 kids, in US building fire

Obama orders review of flight security

Botched US jet attack: Nigerian suspect was nicknamed 'the Pope'

Mosque with no muezzin, only light

United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem

Af-Pak policy re-drawn, says U.S.

10 Bangladeshis arrested in Jammu

Al Qaeda group claims US jet plot, vows more attacks

The Maguindanao massacre: Peace of the grave

Muslim Cleric Anwar Awlaki Linked to Fort Hood, Northwest Flight 253 Terror Attacks

US university branches in Dubai struggling

Bomb suspect's probe expands

Terrorism suspect apparently wrote about loneliness

Umar hid explosives in his underwear

Post 9/11, air travellers take on terrorists directly

Would-be bomber’s dad had warned US

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Aceh's Sharia Law Still Controversial in Indonesia

Katie Hamann

29 December 2009

Lawmakers in Indonesia's Aceh Province recently passed a law that imposes death by stoning on Muslim adulterers.  Aceh was granted the right to implement Sharia law under a peace agreement with the national government that ended a long separatist struggle.  But the laws and punishments are unpopular and, many argue, at odds with Indonesia's national laws.

Banda Aceh's grand mosque is a soaring monument to Islam.

It is here, on the northern tip of Sumatra, that Arab traders brought Islam to Southeast Asia.  And it is here today that conservative Muslims seek the establishment of full Sharia law.

Under an agreement with the Indonesian government to end three decades of separatist fighting, the province received the right to implement Sharia.  For instance, caning is used to punish Muslims caught gambling and drinking, and for unwed couples engaging in sexual activity.

In September lawmakers went a step further, passing a law that would punish Muslim adulterers with being stoned to death.

Prosperous Justice Party member Moharriadi Syafari was a sponsor of the bill.  He explains that it is difficult for people in the West to understand Sharia, but the stoning law has the support of Acehnese people.

He says they do not understand why in America there is death by injection and in China execution by shooting.  Syafari says that stoning is what is ordered by God and when they implement Sharia they will receive blessings."

But Eva Zain, the director of the Aceh Human Rights NGO Coalition, says extreme interpretations of Sharia law are not compatible with Aceh's culture.

"They are creating a regulation with what they thought, not what is the context today, what is the psychology, what people in Aceh need," said Zain.

Objections have also been raised in Jakarta, where the central government has called for a review of the law.

Professor Nasaruddin Umar heads the Islamic Community Guidance office at the national Ministry of Religion.  He refers to the stoning law using the Indonesian word "rajam".

"Why do you need the the 'rajam' law?  It is very different to the Mohammed period," said Umar.  "Mohammed tried to avoid, but why are you looking for the rajam.  This is very different.  When [in] the Mohammed period there was only one case .., rajam case."

Supporters of the law say it is unlikely that an adulterer will ever be stoned to death.  But they say the law is necessary as a deterrent.

Muslim Ibrahim is the head of the Aceh Ulema's Council.  He explains the requirement of four witnesses will mean convictions are almost impossible.  He agrees the punishment is cruel, but it is important that people are overshadowed by the law.  If people are afraid they will not commit the crime.

Acehnese people are divided.

Some, like Ade, see it as part of their commitment to Islam.  She supports the law since it has been used for a long time, since the era of the Prophet.  She says it is not cruel because adultery is a big sin.

Anwar is less certain.  He says he understands that according to Islam adulterers must be stoned to death, but he is not sure for Aceh and Indonesia if that law is the way it should be.  He says, however, in the end they will support it.

Others worry that the law will be enforced unfairly, with those with political connections avoiding punishment.  And some fear that it not be imposed in true accordance with Islam.

Rights activist Zain says if Muslims like herself speak out against the law, they are labeled unbelievers or against Sharia.  She says lawmakers and others are manipulating the law for political ends and should focus instead on developing Aceh.

"How to bring justice for the victims during the conflict, that's what we need now. We need education regulation.  And then we need regulation on health, where it is easy to access to health [care]," she said.  "We need the welfare, where is the economic growth?"

Some of the lawmakers who supported the law were voted out of Aceh's legislature in April. Many in the province hope the new parliament will repeal or revise the law.

Acehenese legal groups say if lawmakers fail to do so, they will challenge the stoning law in Jakarta's Supreme Court.


Massive Muslim Mob Damages Church Building in Indonesia

Samuel Rionaldo

December 29, 2009

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CDN) — Hundreds of Muslims celebrated the eve of the Islamic New Year on Dec. 17 by attacking a Catholic church building under construction in Bekasi, West Java.

A crowd of approximately 1,000 men, women and children from the Bebalan and Taruma Jaha areas of Bekasi walking in a New Year's Eve procession stopped at the 60 percent-completed Santo Albertus Catholic Church building, where many ransacked and set fires to it, church leaders said. Damage was said to be extensive, but no one was injured.

The crowd initially gathered at the Tiga Mojang Statue about a mile from the church between 10 and 10:45 p.m., said Kristina Maria Rentetana, head of the church building committee. She said there were no hints that the group would become a mob and attack the church building.

Rentetana said she joined the crowd as they walked along. Upon nearing the church, she said, they began throwing stones.

"They shouted, ‘Destroy it, destroy it,'" Rentetana told Compass. "Even women carrying babies joined in stone-throwing. Then a large group dressed in white robes entered the church, which was under construction, and started fires."

The mob burned the security post and leveled a nearby contractor's office. "They broke roof tiles, marble slabs, floor tiles, and lamps which had been placed in the building," Rentetana said.

Some among the mob apparently had come prepared to burn the church building; an empty jerry can was found at the site. The mob also left a computer belonging to the contractor trampled in the gutter.

Rentetana immediately called police, and the mob finally dispersed around 12 midnight after at least 100 officers arrived.

Sector Police Chief Imam Sugianto said the attack on the church was spontaneous.

"There were agitators among the crowd as they walked," Sugianto said. "These persons incited the crowd to burn the church."

At press time police had arrested 12 people thought to be leaders of the mob.

"It is not clear whether these are all from the same organization or not," Sugianto told Compass. Among those arrested was Amat Rosidi, accused of stealing a drill from the construction site.

A Santo Albertus Church priest identified only as Father Yos said the mayor of Bekasi had issued a valid building permit on Feb. 6, 2008. Bekasi is near Jakarta.

The priest said the church building was 60 percent complete on a plot of land of 2,261 square meters. He said he did not know the amount of losses.

Sugianto said he encouraged the church to proceed with plans for a Christmas Eve service and promised to provide adequate security.

"Please hold the Christmas Mass," he said. "The police will guard the church."

Rentetana confirmed that police had guaranteed security for the scheduled Christmas Mass.

Sugianto added that the attack on the church will be duly prosecuted, saying, "We will attempt to arrest all of the leaders of this action."


Online jihad recruiters target Asia

By Indrajit Basu

December 29, 2009

Kolkata, India — Extremist groups using the Internet to recruit young people to radical Islam is not a recent phenomenon. But with stronger policing in the West, extremist groups are taking advantage of the not-so-tech-savvy Internet policing in South and Southeast Asian countries and are using online social networks to radicalize the youth of the region.

Two weeks ago, Pakistani authorities were jolted by the discovery that the Pakistani Taliban, identified only by the name “Saifullah,” was active on the popular video sharing website YouTube, inviting and facilitating radicalized young men to join the terrorist organization al-Qaida.

Pakistan’s security forces have not been able to nab “Saifullah.” Experts say this kind of online recruitment is a growing trend in the region. Having cleverly split into bits and pieces, terrorist groups are moving into the Asian region and progressively using the Internet as a tool to radicalize as well as recruit and train people sympathetic to their beliefs.

“The problem of online radicalization is growing in Asia and that‘s because, as physical spaces are being more closely monitored by security and law enforcement agencies, terror groups are increasingly turning to the Internet for their communication and recruitment strategies,” said Anthony Bergin, director of research programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which has been researching terrorists’ use of the Internet for the past few years.

“What we found was that there was an increasing number of extremist websites in the southern part of Asia and increasing use of web tools like chat sites, networking forums, blogs, etc., spreading extremist material,” Bergin said.

But Internet-based terrorist activism is not just affecting Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the other South Asian countries. Its impact is also being felt in neighboring countries like Australia, Japan and China.

A two-year monitoring exercise on the use of the Internet by terrorist groups, conducted jointly by ASPI and the Singapore-based S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, found that the number of radical and extremist websites from Indonesia and Malaysia alone rose from 15 in 2007 to 117 in 2008. The findings, revealed early this year, said these websites are just a small sample of the thousands more present in cyberspace. According to the University of Arizona, there could be as many as 50,000.

Besides, to remain one step ahead of intelligent policing, most website administrators closely monitor their sites and render them inactive or inaccessible if they suspect they are being investigated. Older sites are constantly replaced with new ones, which often have more technologically advanced features.

Although Islamic radicalism is moving fast on the Internet, a number of propaganda websites have managed to remain invisible to public access through clever administration and password protection. Some prominent websites that were active during the period of the research were,,, as well as social networking sites like and Multiply. These are no longer accessible, however.

According to the researchers, recognizing the importance of developing internal media units to communicate with the public via the Internet, militant groups are also developing their online media wings through publicly visible entities. One such vehicle is the Indonesia-based Ar Rahmah Media.

Others like Khattab Media Publication and the Mujahidin Syura Council, based in southern Thailand, provide unhindered propaganda in their uncensored content to radical groups lacking mainstream media access, the report said.

The research also found that extremist websites generally come in four categories: official websites manned by radical groups, websites manned by extremist groups, sympathetic websites, and websites manned by Muslim boarding schools, operated by religious leaders that produce young militants skilled in jihad.

According to James Harkin, a British Internet terrorism researcher and author of “Cyburbia: The Dangerous Idea That's Changing How We Live and Who We Are,” sympathetic websites run by groups of individuals with no links to any radical or extremist group are the most fertile ground for radical recruitment.

“It is often believed that the jihadi recruiters are large organized groups of people belonging to large terrorist groups like al-Qaida, but there are also many disorganized and small groups of recruiters who have no connection with the large terrorist groups like al-Qaida,” said Harkin. “Some visitors of these websites have genuine interests, but many within them are directly interested in violent means. They are simply looking for some excitement, and become the biggest hook for recruitment.”

Harkin also believes that, although governments focus on mosques or Muslim educational institutions in nabbing recruits, such organizations are not the main hunting grounds anymore. Most recruitment these days is done through the jihadi web, “which is a rich, global, Internet-based network of people who are interested in the fundamental Islamic theology.”

The Internet is likely to be a much more important facilitator of radicalization in the future, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, a London-based initiative. According to this center, the biggest challenge lies not in stopping or controlling radicalization, but in the policy dilemma faced by democratic governments in protecting civil societies from political extremists while upholding the individual rights to freedom of speech and expression.

“The solution is definitely not pulling the plug; it has to try and reduce the impact of these radical materials on the Internet,” says Bergin.

Most common methods – like removing websites, filtering or other forms of blocking content – have resulted in political backlash and loss of legitimacy, which has turned counter-productive.

According to the ASPI, a mix of “soft” and “hard” approaches is more effective, starting with encouraging Internet users to counter and “drown out” extremist messages by promoting websites and forums where Internet users can challenge extremist materials.

 “Internet users themselves should determine whether to accept, debate or delete the extremist message on the Internet,” said Bergin

This should be followed by harsher measures of identifying and prosecuting the creators of most extreme websites that spread destructive and violence-inducing content over the Internet.

The ASPI has also suggested an intelligence-led strategy that involves more than monitoring to sample the themes of discussion on websites and forums. The strategy includes creating an apex Asia-based intelligence agency that would check the web for extremist material and maintain a database that countries in the region could access to share intelligence.

Still, says Bergin, “It is completely unrealistic to assume that any effort, however strong, can completely censor successfully or take down all the radical material on the Internet.”

“The important point to remember here is that the problem of online radicalization is not an issue that could be solved just by governments. It has to be a cooperative effort where all community groups, like the Internet industry, civil society groups, peers, schools and teachers, have to chip in,” he added.


To get job in Surat, Muslim took Hindu name; revealed when he was killed

Kamaal Saiyed

Dec 29, 2009

Surat : All Mehboob Pathan (50) of Valak village on Surat’s outskirts wanted was a job in the city. Having a Muslim name, he felt, came in the way. So, to get himself a job in Surat’s diamond units, he passed himself off as Jayenti Bhatti, and managed to find work in two separate units in the Kapodara area.

Early this week, his “cover” was blown, after he was brutally killed over a monetary dispute. As the distraught family stepped forward to admit that Jayenti Bhatti was indeed Mehboob Pathan, they worried that having been cremated as a Hindu, the practising Muslim’s soul may not find peace.

In the ledgers of Surat’s diamond units, there are many leading a double life like Pathan. His son Mushtaq is registered as Mukesh and daughter Samina as Sharmila, and both are afraid of losing their jobs if the fact was known.

Diamond industry sources and workers say many Muslims assume Hindu names to find work in the city’s lucrative diamond business.

One of them, Allarakha Khan, admits to having passed himself off as a Hindu like many others from his village. “We would not get a job if we are known to be Muslims. We have been doing this for a long time, and we take great care not to reveal our real names or addresses at work,” he told The Indian Express.

Rohit Mehta, president of the Surat Diamond Association, however, denied knowledge of Muslims passing themselves off as Hindus for jobs. “We will inquire into this,” he said.

Pathan’s story came to be known after his body was found in a farm at Antroli last Monday, with the head smashed in. The police registered a case and kept the unclaimed body in the Palsana Primary Health Centre mortuary till Thursday. Then they arranged to give Pathan alias Bhatti a Hindu funeral, with all the rites.

His family, who had been looking for Pathan, had filed a missing complaint. Then, seeing news stories in local newspapers about an unclaimed body, Mehboob’s brother-in-law Iqbal Pathan decided to check. By that time, Pathan had been cremated, but the brother-in-law identified him from a photo of the body.

The family says Pathan was a pious Muslim and the change of name was just so that he and his children could find and keep a job. “We are too poor to do anything, but how could the police dispose of his body the Hindu way?” asks son Mushtaq. “A genital examination would have shown he was a Muslim.” Sub-Inspector of Kadodara police V R Malhotra said they had kept the body in mortuary hoping someone would turn up. “We disposed it of according to Hindu rites not knowing he was a Muslim. The family turned up too late and we are now helpless.”

Kapodara police inspector S J Tirmizi, probing the murder, confirmed Pathan had passed himself off as Bhatti for work. Manoj Rokad, who is the manager of the Varachha unit in which Pathan’s daughter Samina works as a diamond polisher, has reportedly confessed to the murder. According to the police, Rokad had become a family friend of the Pathans and knew their real identities. Two years ago, Pathan had reportedly loaned Rokad Rs 60,000 for an emergency, which he never returned. Pathan used to call Rokad repeatedly asking him to return the same, and the latter reportedly asked Pathan to meet him on December 20. They went to Antroli village, where Rokad allegedly killed Pathan with the help of two other diamond polishers, who have been identified as Chhanya Rathod and Sanjay. While Rokad has been held, and has reportedly admitted to beating Pathan to death, Rathod and Sanjay are on the run.


Hindus join Muslims in observing Muharrum

29 December 2009,

Special occasion: Procession of ‘panjas’ being taken out in Hubli on Monday as part of Muharrum.

HUBLI: Muharram, which commemorates the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain, was observed by Muslims in Dharwad, Haveri and Gadag districts as elsewhere in the State, on Monday. Several Hindus also joined them in the observance.

As part of the festival, a large number of Hindus painted like tigers visited households and performed the ritualistic “huli kunita”. This ritual, which is usually held for seven days, concludes on the Muharram day.

In Hubli-Dharwad, several people, including Hindus, carried “panja” and walked on burning coal in the morning to mark the occasion.

Processions were also taken out in the twin cities in the evening.

Iranians settled in Dharwad took out a procession from the mosque near Toll Naka to the mosque near Nucchambli Bavi.


Taliban blow up girls school in Pak

ANI Dec 29, 2009

Peshawar : A government primary girls’ school has been blown up by suspected Taliban insurgents in Shabqadar region of North West Pakistan.

Sources said the five-room school was completely destroyed in the bomb blast, which was triggered off by the Taliban.

Senior Police official Mohammad Riaz Khan confirmed the blast and told a foreign news agency that a nearby house was also damaged.

There were no casualties in the blast, The Dawn reports.

The militants efforts to deter girls from attending school in Pakistan are darkly reminiscent of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which banned education for girls and forced most working women to return to their homes.

In recent months, militants have blown up or burned down some 170 schools, most of them for girls, in the region where the Pakistani security forces are battling the extremists.


COVERT FRONT - US widens war against Al Qaeda to Yemen


In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the US has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen.

A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent some of its top field operatives with counter-terrorism experience to the country, according to a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secret special operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics, senior military officers said.

The Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the US department of defence, is spending at least $70 million (Rs327.6 crore) over the next 18 months, and using teams of special forces personnel to train and equip Yemeni military, interior ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels.

As US investigators sought to corroborate the claims of a 23-year-old Nigerian man that Qaeda leaders in Yemen had trained and equipped him to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day, the plot casts a spotlight on the Obama administration s complicated relationship with Yemen.

The country has long been a refuge for jihadis, in part because Yemen s government welcomed returning Islamist fighters who had fought in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The Yemen port of Aden was the site of the audacious bombing of the US navy destroyer Cole in October 2000 by Qaeda militants, which killed 17 sailors.

But Qaeda militants have made much more focused efforts to build a base in Yemen in recent years, drawing recruits from throughout the region and mounting more frequent attacks on foreign embassies and other targets. The White House is seeking to nurture enduring ties with the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and prod him to fight the local Qaeda affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, even while his impoverished country grapples with seemingly intractable internal turmoil. With fears also growing of a resurgent Islamist extremism in nearby Somalia and East Africa, administration officials and US law makers said Yemen could become Al Qaeda s next operational and training hub, rivalling the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan, where the organization s top leaders operate.

Yemen now becomes one of the centres of that fight, said Joseph I. Lieberman, senator of Connecticut and chairman of the senate committee on homeland security and government affairs, who visited the country in August. We have a growing presence there of special operations, green berets, intelligence, he said.

US and Yemeni officials said that a pivotal point in the relationship was reached in late summer after separate secret visits to Yemen by General David H. Petraeus, the US regional commander, and John O. Brennan, President Barack Obama s counter-terrorism adviser.

Saleh agreed to expanded overt and covert assistance in response to growing pressure from the US and Yemen s neighbours, notably Saudi Arabia, from which many Qaeda operatives had fled to Yemen, as well as a rising threat against the country s political inner circle, the officials said.

Yemen s security problems won t just stay in Yemen, said Christopher Boucek, who studies Yemen as an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. They re regional problems, and they affect Western interests.


Post Xmas terror plot, strict curbs greet flyers

28 Dec 2009

New Rules Lengthen Queues At Airports, Limit Ability Of Passengers To Move About In Planes

Micheline Maynard & Liz Robbins

In the wake of the terrorism bid on Friday on a Northwest Airlines flight by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, federal officials imposed new restrictions on travelers that could lengthen lines at airports and limit the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane.

The government was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be “unpredictable” and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport — a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike.

But several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.

Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines. That was already the case in some airports on Saturday, in the United States and overseas.

The restrictions will again change the routine of air travel, which has undergone an upheaval since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001 and three later attempts at air terrorism.

Soon after the attempt on Friday, travelers at airports around the world began experiencing heightened screening in security lines. On one flight, from Newark Liberty International Airport to Little Rock, Arkansas, flight attendants kept cabin lights on for the entire trip instead of dimming them for takeoff and landing.

The limits, which brought to mind some of the most stringent policies after the 2001 attacks, come at a difficult time for the airline industry. Travel has declined about 20 percent since 2008 because of the economy, and airlines have been dealing with numerous delays in the past week because of snowstorms on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Airline industry executives said the new steps would complicate travel as vacationers return home from holiday trips and could also cause travelers to cancel plans for flights in 2010. NYT NEWS SERVICE

‘No sign incident part of bigger plot’

There are no signs that the incident in which a Nigerian man has been charged with trying to blow up a US passenger jet bound from Amsterdam to Detroit was part of a larger plot, a senior US official said on Sunday. “Well, right now we have no indication that it is part of anything larger. But obviously the investigation continues.” US homeland security chief Janet Napolitano said. REUTERS


‘Mousavi nephew killed in clashes’

28 Dec 2009

Tehran: A reformist website said a nephew of Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi was killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Tehran.

Earlier, the opposition Jaras website said four people had been killed in a second day of violence in Tehran during a Shia Muslim religious festival. Tehran’s police chief denied that report.

The Parlemannews website said Ali Mousavi, 20, was killed in clashes on Sunday and his body had been taken to a hospital. Jaras said unrest also spread to other parts of Iran, including the holy city of Qom, in reports that could not be independently verified. The events underlined escalating tension in the Islamic

Republic six months after a disputed presidential poll plunged the oil producer into turmoil and exposed widening splits within the clerical and political establishment.

“Three people were killed and two others were wounded when police opened fire at protesters,” the website said. Any such violent incidents could provoke further opposition protests. “We will kill those who killed our brothers,” Jaras quoted demonstrators as chanting. These were the first reported killings in street protests since widespread unrest and violence in the immediate aftermath of the June poll in which the opposition says more than 70 people died. REUTERS


Iran accuses Britain of meddling

December 29, 2009

Iran has called on the British ambassador to respond to accusations of his government's "interference" in the Islamic Republic, as pro-government rallies continue.

Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, told a news conference on Tuesday that the ambassador had been summoned over Britain's interference in Iran's domestic affairs.

"If Britain does not stop talking nonsense it will get a slap in the mouth," he said.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, also said that recent opposition rallies in the country are "masquerade" backed by the US and Israel.

The UK said that the envoy would be robust in the face of any Iranian criticism and reiterate that Tehran must respect human rights.

The summons came hours after the Revolutionary Guards security force said opposition groups were working with Tehran's foreign enimies, implicating London.

Iran's primary reformist party has said that the government is not respecting Iranian law in battling opposition protesters.

"The Green Movement is peaceful and law-abiding. It avoids any violence and will press ahead on its path," the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) said in a statement carried by an opposition website.

"The IIPF condemns attacks on defenceless people and believes the incidents after the presidential election and especially on Ashura indicate the complete failure of the coup d'etat and not the strength of government."

State television reported that tens of thousands of people rallied nationwide in support for the government of Ahmadinejad, stating that the demonstrations had taken place spontaneously.

'Maximum punishment'

Earlier, Iranian MPs called for opposition protesters arrested following clashes with police on Sunday to face the "maximum punishment" allowed by law.

Hundreds of people were arrested as fierce battles were fought on the streets of the capital Tehran.

Many more, including aides to opposition leaders and pro-reform clerics, have reportedly been detained since.

Shirin Ebadi, the country's Nobel prize-winning human rights activist, said on Tuesday that her sister was among those arrested.

Intelligence officers reportedly raided Dr Nooshin Ebadi's house as part of its sweeping clampdown on the country's opposition.

"My sister Dr Nooshin Ebadi was arrested at 9pm [16:30 GMT] on December 28 by four intelligence agents at her home and sent to prison," Ebadi said in a statement carried by the opposition Rahesabz website.

"I am not aware of the place of her detention or the reason for her arrest."


MPs accused the protesters, who poured onto the streets in the latest display of anger at the disputed presidential election in June, of being "anti-religion" and "counter-revolutionaries".

"Over the past six months, violence has been used, a lot of people have been arrested, tens of people have been killed, but yet you don't see any decrease in the level of demonstrations"

Muhammad Sahimi, University of Southern California

Ali Larijani, the parliamentary speaker, said the legislative body "wants the judiciary and intelligence bodies to arrest those who insult religion and impose the maximum punishment on them without reservation".

Full report at:


Indonesia clears woman in e-mail libel case

Tue Dec 29, 2009

By Telly Nathalia

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court on Tuesday freed a woman charged with defamation for sending an e-mail to friends complaining about her treatment at a private hospital, a case that fuelled public anger and demand for legal reform.

The unpredictable legal system in Southeast Asia's biggest economy is regarded as a key deterrent to investment and critics say it frequently punishes the most vulnerable while favouring the rich and well-connected.

The criminal case against Prita Mulyasari struck a particular chord with thousands of Indonesians who signed pledges of support for the mother of two on sites such as Facebook.

"Defendant Prita Mulyasari has not been proved guilty of defamation and is free," Arthur Harnewa, the head of a panel of judges, told the district court in Tangerang, an area west of the capital Jakarta.

Mulyasari wiped away tears on hearing the verdict, which prompted an outburst of applause from the gallery.

"Thanks be to God," said Mulyasari, who was wearing a floral Muslim head-scarf.

She had accused Omni International Hospital of being unprofessional in its treatment for what turned out to be mumps.

Her private e-mail to friends was later circulated on other internet sites, prompting the hospital to file a defamation case accusing her of damaging its doctors' reputations.

Mulyasari was fined 204 million rupiah ($21,620) in a civil case and then faced a criminal case under a controversial information law passed in 2008 that meant she could have been jailed for up to six years in jail for spreading false news online. The public held collections to pay her fine, although the hospital later dropped the civil suit.

Full report at:


Bangladesh says Myanmar to take back 9,000 refugees

Tue Dec 29, 2009

DHAKA (Reuters) - Myanmar has agreed to take back 9,000 Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said on Tuesday, offering a part solution to a problem that dates back 30 years.

Dhaka says there are about 28,000 Rohingyas living in two camps in southeastern Bangladesh bordering Myanmar, and around 300,000 others living illegally outside the camps.

Myanmar had assured Bangladesh it will begin the process of repatriation "as soon as possible", Quayes said after a meeting with his counterpart Maung Myint, who arrived in Dhaka on Monday.

Rohingyas, not recognised as an ethnic minority by Myanmar, allege human rights abuse by the military junta, saying it deprives them of free movement, education and employment.

Rohingyas have been leaving Myanmar and heading mainly into impoverished Bangladesh since the late 1970s. The biggest influx occurred in 1992.

Rohingya refugees have created problems for several other countries in the region in recent months, with reports of Thailand putting those who come by boat back to sea, and others reaching Malaysia and Indonesia and trying to work illegally.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Online Muslim group to stage anti-terrorism rally

December 29, 2009

DEARBORN, Mich. - An online group composed mainly of Michigan Muslims plans a live rally against the man accused of trying to bring down a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas.

A Facebook group called Dearborn Area Community Members invites local Muslims and others to gather Jan. 8 at U.S. District Court in downtown Detroit. It's scheduled to coincide with a hearing for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Friday.

An al-Qaida group on Monday claimed responsibility for the assault.

Dearborn attorney Majed Moughni (MAH'-jed MUK-nee) says he formed the online group a few weeks ago but the airliner incident provided a rallying point. Moughni says the Muslim community must "stand up against the terrorists and let them know we've had enough.",0,3472482.story


Ahmedabad remembers Imam Hussain's sacrifice

Misbah Nayeem Quadri

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ahmedabad: It was a colourful start to the day's events with multi-coloured tazias coming on to the streets with cheerful kids and enthusiastic adults. The streets were lined with colourful tazias made of paper and bamboo replica of the tomb of Hazrat Imam on Monday as Muslim men, women and kids in the city took out a procession on Muhharam. On this day Muslims are expected to tread the path of Imam Hussain who laid down his lives to advocate truth, justice, and the ideals of Islam.

Thousands of Muslims took out large processions to mark the occasion reciting verses like "Ya Hussian". "Hazrat Imam Hussain made a sacrifice for a great purpose. His death is a day of immense mourning for all Muslims across the globe" says Majid Shaikh, local resident of Shahalam. Both men and women absorbed in the sorrow beat their chests heavily as tears rolled down their cheeks in remembrance of the tragedy at Karbala where the Imam and his family members were killed.

"These huge tazias are made of paper and bamboo sticks. Preparation for these taziayasbegin a month prior to the day. They have a lot of delicate and intricate engravings. done in them which requires special skills" says Ashraf Qureshi, local resident of Khanpur.


Jews Remain in Eye of Al-Qaeda Storm

by Hillel Fendel

December 29, 2009

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( Attention in the war against int’l terrorism and Al-Qaeda is once again drawn to Yemen, the Arabian peninsula country where perhaps 300 Jews still remain.

Yemen’s ties with Al-Qaeda were highlighted last week when it was revealed that the would-be bomber of the Detroit-bound airliner on Friday, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had visited Yemen over the past few months. Al-Qaeda’s network in Yemen has not only taken credit for the attempted attack, but it also released original photographs of Abdulmutallab grinning in front of an Al-Qaeda banner, and promised to "continue on this path until we achieve success.”

Furthermore, the Yemeni-based Al-Qaeda statement congratulated Ft. Hood mass-murderer Maj. Malik Nidal Hasan for killing 13 Americans and urged fellow Muslims to follow in his footsteps and kill American soldiers.

Yemenite connections with Al-Qaeda go back to the fact that Osama Bin-Laden’s father lived there. The country was the site of the launching of Al Qaeda’s jihad against the U.S. in 1992 when a hotel in Aden used by U.S. troops was bombed. Eight years later, the suicide bombing of the USS Cole off Aden killed 17 American sailors.

In addition, the year-old Yemen-based “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” is led by a former Yemeni Bin-Laden aide named Naser Abdel Karim Al-Wahishi. Leader Al-Wahishi was among 23 Al-Qaeda terrorists who escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2006, and is one of many terrorists currently in Yemen who are on Saudi Arabia's most wanted list.

The Yemenite terror band has been blamed for a series of recent attacks in Yemen, and has issued calls to get the ''infidels'' out of the Arabian peninsula.

Jews in Yemen: Largely Staying Put

This past year, close to 50 Jews made Aliyah to Israel from Yemen – but approximately 300 still remain. The ancient Yemenite Jewish community, going back more than 2,500 years, was almost completely translocated to Israel during Israel’s Operation Magic Carpet in the late 1940’s; tens of thousands of Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel at that time.

Now, again, free flights are being arranged by U.S. sources, including the Department of State, to extricate the remaining Jews. However, the response has not been overwhelming – despite the murder a year ago of a Hebrew teacher in the small town of Raydah. The victim, a father of nine, was killed by a Muslim Yemenite who demanded that he convert to Islam.  The Jews of the town had previously complained about Islamic against them, but the government paid little heed. The victim, like many of his Jewish neighbors, had ties with the Satmar Hassidic community in New York, which discourages them from moving to Israel.


Indonesian Muslim Students Association (HMI) to help root out corruption in Indonesia

December 28, 2009

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Students Association (HMI), Arip Musthopa, said his organization and other components of the people would do their best to help root out corruption in Indonesia.

"Not only that, Indonesia must become a respectable nation. Development efforts in all sectors such as politics, law, economy, social, education and so forth in the country must be carried out honestly," he said here on Monday.

He said in the future there should no longer be cases such as had happened this year when there were efforts to criminalize the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and build the image of certain political figures.

Musthopa made the remarks in answer to a question with regard to a plan to hold a year-end discussion on "Respectable and Corruption-free Indonesia 2010" by the HMI on Monday evening.

Speakers at the discussion would include House Speaker Marzuki Alie, Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Chairman Irman Gusman and the HMI chairman, he said.

He said efforts to create a respectable and corruption-free Indonesia 2010 must be started with cleaning from corruption candidates for regional head elections in 2010.

"Next year, there will be about 200 regional head elections throughout Indonesia, including seven for provincial head or governors. We have to clean all these regional elections from corrupt candidates," he said.

Besides for provincial head or governors, the regional head elections will also be held to choose city mayors and district heads.

All candidates must be those who have never been involved in a corruption crime case, both with police and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

So, according to Musthopa, the people and "we all should reject any candidate who is once investigated by police or KPK investigators in a corruption case, no matter how much the value of the case."

He said that the Indonesian people should no longer tolerate corrupt officials.

"But presumption of innocence must also be upheld. The people should not make use of the regional head elections as a means of eliminating good candidates," he added.


Don’t shy away from singing Vande Mataram, Ranganath tells Muslims

29 December 2009,

The song was sung in full at the meet to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of Congress

Surviving freedom fighters to be honoured during the year-long celebration of the anniversary

Appeal to honour trade union leader Ramulu

Veteran honoured: Senior Congress leaders N. Dharam Singh, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Siddaramaiah, R.V. Deshpande, D.K. Shivakumar and K.H. Muniyappa felicitating former Minister K.H. Ranganath at the party’s anniversary celebrations in Bangalore on Monday.

BANGALORE: Freedom fighter and former president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee K.H. Ranganath on Monday urged the people to sing Vande Mataram and appealed to Muslims not to shy away from singing the national song.

The ailing Mr. Ranganath, once jailed for his participation in the Quit India movement, said that the song was a prayer to Bharat Mata. Replying to his felicitation by KPCC President R.V. Deshpande, he said Ramulu, a trade union leader who had fought for independence, should also be honoured. Mr. Deshpande said that all the surviving freedom fighters would be honoured during the year-long celebration of the anniversary.

Congress workers, especially the seniors and the aged among them, were happy when KPCC Senior Vice-President H. Hanumanthappa, who compered the celebrations, asked noted singer Sangeeta Katti to render the song in full.

At the beginning of the function, only two stanzas were rendered by her and the audience stood in respect to it. So, Mr. Hanumanthappa said there was no need to stand up again. However, Ms. Katti stood while singing the song. There was total silence and many, on and off the dais, were seen clapping and enjoying the melody.

Recalling the 1905 Bengal revolt against its division by Montego Chelmsford, Mr. Hanumanthappa said it was Vande Mataram which ignited the nationalist fervour among people of all castes and religion forcing withdrawal of the same.


Full report at:


Myanmar to repatriate 9,000 Muslim refugees from B'desh

December 29, 2009

Dhaka: Myanmar today agreed to repatriate 9,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, a move likely to ease tension between the neighbours over the crossing of the Muslim minority into the Islamic nation "to escape persecution".

Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, said Myanmar has assured Dhaka that it will begin the process of repatriation "as soon as possible".

Myanmar's Rohingyas, a Muslim minority, have been crossing into Bangladesh in large numbers since 1991 "to escape persecution" by the military rulers there. The issue had sparked a diplomatic row, with Bangladesh asking Myanmar to take back the Muslim refugees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has set up camps in Bangladesh for the eventual repatriation of the Rohingya people.

Myanmar accepted the immediate repatriation of some 9,000 of the 28,000 Rohingya refugees registered as their identities have been verified, Quayes said here after talks with Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint here.

"This (refugee) issue was a top priority in our bilateral consultation and they will soon start the repatriation process to take back their nationals whose identities have been already verified," he told reporters.

Quayes underlined that a large number of the 28,000 registered refugees were ready to go back home while Dhaka "pressed Myanmar to expedite the process of their repatriation".


Jamia Millia wants to shed madrassa tag: Vice Chancellor (Interview)

2009-12-29 13:30:00

Jamia Millia Islamia is trying to shed the widely perceived 'superior madrasa' tag, says Vice Chancellor Najeeb Jung, asserting that his job is to position the 90-year-old university as a modern, secular institution of learning for one and all.

'We are not a superior madrassa. I don't know why many people think we are some kind of a Muslim university,' Jung told IANS in an interview at his well-appointed campus office. 'We want to change that mindset of people. That tag. I am convinced of it.

'We are a great institution. We are modern and secular. There is no other institution in the country as representative of India as Jamia,' he said, adding that 'the institution was established by great nationalists who were opposed to the idea of Pakistan'.

Jung is from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and was a surprise choice to succeed Mushirul Hasan four months ago. The university, established in 1920 by an act of parliament, has around 19,000 students. Jung said his students were from all religious denominations and not just Muslims.

The university celebrates Ramzan and Diwali with equal fervour, he said. 'You can see our boys and girls are hanging out in the lawns and cafes. There is no restriction.'

Asked what he is going to do different to shed the 'Muslim label' of the university, Jung said: 'Its very difficult. This is no magic wand. There is no formula that you will use to change it from tomorrow. It will happen over a period of time.

'We need to consolidate what we have. Children come here with hope that they will go with highest education. When they leave they should not go away with the feeling that there is something missing from the side of administration. I am for bigger classrooms, better laboratories.

'That's why I am working on emotional, social and educational sustenance of students. Students are coming to the institution from the interiors of India.... They must leave as finished article.

'When my students are coming here, they should not feel that they have come to some alien world. We want to tell our students and parents that its a home away from home. They must feel that they are in the company of surrogate parents. My people should learn that they are our children.'

Full report at:


Metro Detroit Muslims to condemn attack

By Tammy Stables Battaglia

Dec. 29, 2009

Leaders in metro Detroit's Muslim community are gathering today in Southfield to condemn Al Qaeda's claims of involvement in the foiled Christmas Day airline attack.


Members of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Nigerian-Muslim leaders are holding a news conference at the CAIR offices in Southfield at 9:30 a.m.

"It is the responsibility of mainstream Muslims in America and worldwide to repudiate those whose unlawful and un-Islamic actions tarnish the beautiful faith of Islam," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said while announcing the gathering.

CAIR is also asking others to avoid ethnic and religious profiling in the wake of 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed attempt to blow up Flight 253 from Amsterdam as it landed in Detroit.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed Monday that Abdulmutallab worked with members of its group and used Al Qaeda-manufactured explosives to retaliate for U.S. air strikes against the organization in Yemen.

Staff writer Kathleen Gray contributed to this report.


Russia’s Muslims No Longer Need to Study Abroad, Medvedev Aide Says

December 29, 2009

Paul Goble

Russia has established a system of Islamic training center that eliminates the need for Muslims from that country to travel abroad to study, thus eliminating one of the major channels for the introduction into the Russian umma of radical Islamist ideas, according to a Kremlin aide.

In a report to a meeting with Islamic specialists in Kuwait this week, Aleksey Grishin, the official of the Presidential Administration who oversees relations with Muslims, said that these efforts, undertaken both by the Islamic community in Russia and by the Russian government, enjoy the support of Arab governments (

Because of the Soviet regime’s anti-religious efforts, there were only two Muslim educational institutions in the USSR – one in Bukhara and another in Tashkent – which even together were not able to provide the amount of training necessary for the explosive growth of Islam in the Russian Federation after 1991.

As a result, more than 22,000 Muslims from Russia travelled abroad for study in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because they were often supported by and thus attracted to more radical institutions in the Middle East and South Asia, these students often returned home with radical ideas.

Consequently, beginning in the mid-1990s, first the leaders of the Muslim Spiritual Directorates (MSDs) and then the Russian government began to press for the opening of Muslim training centers within the Russian Federation in order to block what they view as a destabilizing outside influence.

Grishin’s report in Kuwait shows just how much progress Russia’s Muslims and the Russian government have made. Over the past few years, he said, “96 Islamic educational institutions have opened, including seven Islamic universities, about 20 higher medressahs, and about 70 educational institutions which provide mid-level training.”

In addition, the Kremlin aide said, attached to mosques in the Russian Federation “are more than 400 religious courses for believers, which provide primary education about Islam.” In most but not all cases, these institutions are closely supervised by the MSDs and by Russian officials from one or another agency.

“Parallel to this,” Grishin said, training for Muslims is now taking place in eight government higher educational institutions, where the government is financing instruction in Arab language and Islamic theology in order to provide future leaders for the MSDs and for domestic Islamic educational institutions.

While he did not provide details, the Kremlin aide said that the Russian government has adopted a special “state standard for higher professional education in Islamic theology” and that “at present, more than 320 students” are enrolled in such courses in government higher educational institutions.

Full report at:


Al-Qaeda group claims US plane plot

December 29, 2009

A group calling itself Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has said it was behind the failed attempt by a Nigerian man to bomb a US aircraft on Christmas day.

The group said in statements posted on the internet on Monday that the attempt had been carried out to avenge US operations in Yemen.

"We tell the American people that since you support the leaders who kill our women and children ... we have come to slaughter you [and] will strike you with no previous [warning]," the statement said.

"Our vengeance is near."

The group had earlier said in comments posted on a website that it would take revenge against the US over air raids in Yemen that it claims killed about 50 people.

Failed attack

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to to light an explosive device while on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

He was overpowered by passengers on the flight, which had nearly 300 people on board.

According to a charge sheet prepared by prosecutors, Abdulmutallab tried to bring down the aircraft using a device containing the explosive PETN, also known as pentaerythritol.

The explosive material was allegedly sewn into his underwear.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it had provided Abdulmutallab with the device, but that a technical fault prevented it from detonating.

Abdulmutallab, who suffered burns in the incident, was moved from a hospital to a federal prison west of Detroit on Monday.

Janet Napolitano, Obama's senior security official, said there was "no indication" Abdulmutallab was acting as part of a larger plot and warned against speculating that he had been trained by al-Qaeda.

According to The New York Times, Abdulmutallab told FBI agents he was connected to an al-Qaeda affiliate, which operates largely in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, by a radical Yemeni cleric whom he contacted online.

'Nothing suspicious'

The Yemeni government said on Monday that Abdulmutallab had lived in Yemen from August to December after obtaining a visa to study Arabic there, but that there was "nothing suspicious about his intentions" to visit the country.

"Authorities are currently investigating who he was in contact with in Yemen and the results of the investigation will be delivered to those concerned with investigating the terror plot in the United States," a statement from the Yemeni foreign ministry said.

Ali al-Ahmed, the director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in the US, said that the attack had similarities with other operations carried out by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a relatively new branch of al-Qaeda formed in 2008.

"It has carried out several operations - about a year ago against the US embassy in Sanaa, a failed attempt on the Saudi assistant minister of the interior in September.

Full report at:


Pak helped NKorea build nuke weapons as early as 1990: Report

PTI 28 December 2009

WASHINGTON: North Korea, with the help of Pakistan, may have opened an alternative way to clandestinely build nuclear weapons as early as 1990s by constructing a plant to manufacture a gas needed for uranium enrichment.

Pyongyang may have been enriching uranium on a small scale by 2002, with maybe 3,000 or even more centrifuges and Pakistani supplied vital machinery, drawings and technical advice, The Washington Post has reported citing an account by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb programme.

The Post quoting a US intelligence official said Khan's information adds to their suspicions that North Korea has long pursued the enrichment of uranium in addition to making plutonium for bombs.

The paper quoted the Pakistani scientist as saying that there was tacit agreement between the two governments that his labratory "would advice and guide them with a centrifuge programme and that the North Koreans would help Pakistan in fitting the nuclear warhead into the Ghauri missile".

The paper quoted Khan as saying that during his visit to North Korea in 1999, he was taken to a mountain tunnel, where his source had showed him components of three finished nuclear warheads.


3 Iranians pull a fast one on traders

Mayank Soni,

29 December 2009

Mumbai: Suave and sophisticated, Iraninan national Ahman Madadi (26) could have given the well-groomed criminals of Ocean's Thirteen a run for their money. Madadi's grifting escapades not only gave many shopkeepers in Bandra sleepless nights but also burned a hole in their pockets. But the law finally caught up with Madadi.

The Bandra police arrested Madadi and two of his Iranian associates, including a minor, for cheating a restaurant and the cashier of a departmental store in the past two weeks.

"The accused are on a two-month tourist visa. They are such good actors that initially we almost believed that they were innocent," an official said.

Last week, said investigating officer PSI Vishnu Kesarkar, Madadi along with Kevan Tanna (31) and a 25-year-old Russian woman went to a restaurant and sought to book a table for 10 persons. Madadi then went to the cashier and asked if he could get a currency note of 1000 denomination in exchange for two Rs 500 notes.

When the cashier gave him one, he insisted on a note bearing a serial number starting with alphabet S. The unsuspecting cashier took out a bundle from the drawer and divided it into two—he started checking one and gave Madadi the other to check. However, neither could find a note with serial number S, but Madadi managed to flick Rs 55,000.

Said detection officer API Anil Badgujar, "The cashier claims that he felt as if he under some kind of spell and couldn't refuse Madadi's strange request. He realized that he was cheated only after the trio left”.

Officials, based on Madadi's description given by the cashier, launched a manhunt for him. Constables Sachin Raut and Shivram Sawant caught Madadi and Tanna with the stolen cash.

During investigation, the police learnt that the duo along, with a young girl, had stolen Rs 13,000 in a similar manner from Shoppers' Stop, Bandra. CCTV footage obtained from the store showed Mariam Piyajo (17) stealing the money. Piyajo turned out to be a relative of Madadi.

The police are now hunting for the Russian, whom they suspected to be a commercial sex worker.


9 dead, including at least 6 kids, in US building fire

AP 29 December 2009

STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI: Nine people, including at least six children, died early on Monday in an apartment fire, officials said. The blaze was reported around dawn, according to county coroner Michael Hunt. He and state fire marshal Mike Chaney confirmed the deaths. Hunt said the children ranged in age from 4 months to 6 years.

Firefighters were still at the scene more than six hours later, and there was no word on how the blaze started.

"All I can tell you is we had a fire in one of the older apartment buildings," Starkville Fire Chief Rodger Mann said. "That's about all I can say. When a fatality is involved, things move a lot slower."

He did not identify any of the victims. The apartment that burned is in a large complex of six two-story buildings, each divided into eight apartments. The heaviest damage was to three apartments on the second floor of one of the buildings, though all of those who died were in one apartment, Mann said.

Starkville, which has about 24,000 residents, is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) from Jackson, Mississippi.


Obama orders review of flight security

AGENCIES 29 December 2009

DETROIT/ WASHIONGTON: President Barack Obama ordered a review of US no-fly watch-lists and demanded to know how a Nigerian man managed to board a Detroit-bound airliner wearing an explosive device, even as his Homeland Security secretary conceded that the aviation security system failed when the Nigerian on a watchlist was allowed to board a fight with explosives.

The system used by US security agencies of lists that become shorter as the risk increases has come under fire since it emerged that the 23-year-old bomb suspect was on one of the terrorist data bases when he embarked on his deadly suicide mission.

"There's a series of data bases that list people of concern to several agencies across the government. We want to make sure information-sharing is going on," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told NBC news.

The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was added to one of the larger watch-lists last month after his father is said to have told US embassy officials in Abuja that he was concerned by his son's increasing radicalism.

The suspect, whose father is a prominent Nigerian banker, remained off the no-fly list of just 18,000 names and was able to retain his US visa issued in 2008 and fly from Lagos to Amsterdam on Christmas Eve and on to Detroit the following day.

Obama had ordered a second review to examine how "an individual with the chemical explosive he had on him could get onto an airliner in Amsterdam and fly into this country", Gibbs said.

US investigators are trying to piece together any terrorism connections of Abdulmutallab, who was charged on Saturday with attempting to blow up the jetliner after reportedly confessing that he had been trained by al-Qaida in Yemen.

But Obama's top security official said on Sunday there was "no indication" that Abdulmutallab was acting as part of a larger plot and warned against speculating that he had been trained by al-Qaida. "This was one individual literally of thousands that fly and thousands of flights every year. And he was stopped before any damage could be done," US Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said. Napolitano conceded on Monday that the aviation security system failed when the man on a watchlist with a US visa in his pocket and an explosive hidden on his body was allowed to board a fight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

A day after saying the system worked, Napolitano backtracked, saying her words had been taken out of context. "Our system did not work in this instance," she said. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."


Botched US jet attack: Nigerian suspect was nicknamed 'the Pope'

IANS 28 December 2009

LONDON: The Nigerian man who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight this week was so clean he was nicknamed the Pope, his former British teacher said.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, who has been charged with attempting to bomb a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, earned the nickname because he did so little wrong, the Daily Mail reported Monday quoting his ex-teacher.

History teacher Michael Rimmer, who taught Abdulmutallab at the British International School in Togo, said his student was "every teacher's dream - very keen, enthusiastic, very bright, very polite".

"At one stage, his nickname was 'the Pope'.

"In one way, it's totally unsuitable because he's a Muslim, but he did have this saintly aura. He was a model student, very keen, enthusiastic and loved the subject I taught him, history, and would often stay behind after lessons to discuss items in the lesson or in the news."

Fellow student Efemena Mokedi said: "He was very popular, a good guy, a very religious person, a very honest person who was friends with all the teachers."

Abdulmutallab's family fear he began to turn radical after 2005, when he began a three-year course in engineering at the prestigious University College London.

One friend said: "When his degree course ended, he 'disappeared' to Yemen, where he was being taught Arabic. His family are suggesting he was probably recruited in London but became radicalised in Yemen. He had been in Yemen for about a year or even a year and a half."

Rimmer said Abdulmutallab started to express extremist views after 9/11, adding: "I was angry at the nutters who had put these silly ideas in his head but also angry with him because he had wonderful parents and comes from a lovely family, with lots of friends and had everything going for him.

"He's a fine looking lad, very bright and I expected great things of him. But he's thrown it all away and his parents will be devastated."

Full report at:


Mosque with no muezzin, only light

Steven Erlanger

29 December 2009

MARSEILLE: The minaret of the new Grand Mosque of Marseille, whose cornerstone will be laid here in April, will be silent — no muezzin will disturb the neighborhood with the call to prayer. Instead, the minaret will flash a beam of light for a couple of minutes, five times a day.

Normally, the light would be green, for the color of Islam. But Marseille is a port, and green is reserved for signals to ships at sea. Red? No, the firefighters have reserved red.

Instead, said Noureddine Cheikh, head of the Marseille Mosque Association, the light will almost surely be purple — a rather nightclubby look for such an elegant building.

So is this assimilation? Cheikh laughs. "I suppose it is," he said. "It's a good symbol of assimilation."

But as Western Europe is plunged into anxiety over the impact of Muslim immigration — reeling from the implications of a Swiss vote to ban minarets altogether — some scholars see a destructive dynamic, with assimilation feeding a reaction that, in turn, spawns resentment, particularly among young Muslims.

Vincent Geisser, a scholar of Islam and immigration, believes that the more Europe's Muslims establish themselves as a permanent part of the national scene, the more they frighten some who believe their national identity could be altered forever. "Today in Europe the fear of Islam crystallizes all other fears," Geisser said. "In Switzerland, it's minarets. In France, it's the veil, the burqa and the beard."

The large new mosque is a source of pride here in France's second-largest city, which is at least 25% Muslim. But it is also cause for alarm, Geisser said.

At the Grand Bar Bernabo, a cafe near the site of the new mosque, an older man who refused to give his name said, "I'm going to bomb it when it opens." Asked why, he said: "There are a lot of them already, and this will bring more of them, and there will be trouble."


United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem

PTI 29 December 2009,

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday opposed new construction in East Jerusalem saying that neither Israel nor Palestine should take any steps that would jeopardise the peace process.

"The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

"Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible," he said.

The Obama administration, he said, recognises that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

"We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realises the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world," he said.


Af-Pak policy re-drawn, says U.S.

29 December 2009,

Washington: Those behind the 9/11 terror strikes are still in the Af-Pak region and planning more attacks against the U.S., said officials on Monday.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration had re-oriented its focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“We are drawing down in Iraq and focusing on Pakistan and Afghanistan, the place where the attacks of 9/11 originated and where people sit in caves and in houses today planning more attacks on this country,” he told the NBC channel.


He said the administration had renewed its approach towards addressing the threat coming from the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and strengthened its partnership with many countries.

“The President certainly has taken steps in his time in office to re-orient our priorities as it comes to fighting that war on terror. Now, we’ve strengthened our partnerships and cooperation with a number of countries, including Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, as I mentioned before, and used all elements of our American power to seek to eliminate heads of Al-Qaeda, and we’ve had great success in all three of those countries,” he said. — PTI


10 Bangladeshis arrested in Jammu

29 December 2009,

Jammu: Ten Bangladeshis were on Monday arrested by the Border Security Force troops when they were trying to cross over to Pakistan near the International Border in Arnia sector of Jammu district, officials said here.

The BSF troops noticed movement of people near border outpost of Kot Kuba in Arnia sector in the early hours of the day and challenged them, they said, adding they were later taken into custody.

Preliminary investigations reveal that they had come from Bangladesh and were crossing over to Pakistan.


Al Qaeda group claims US jet plot, vows more attacks

Dec 29, 2009

Sanaa : A regional wing of al Qaeda said it was behind the failed Christmas Day bombing of a US passenger plane, which was meant to avenge US attacks on the group in Yemen, according to a web statement posted on Monday.

The group told Americans to expect more attacks, after the failed bomb plot turned the spotlight on the poor Arab country.

The United States and Yemen's neighbour Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda will use instability in the country to carry out attacks in the world's main oil exporting region and beyond.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said in the statement posted on Islamist websites that it had provided the Nigerian suspect with a "technically advanced device" but that it had failed to detonate because of a technical fault.

The group said the attack was in retaliation for recent raids on its militants that it said had been carried out by US jets and had caused many civilian deaths.

"We tell the American people that since you support the leaders who kill our women and children ... we have come to slaughter you (and) will strike you with no previous (warning), our vengeance is near," the statement said.

The Yemeni government says it carried out military raids on Dec. 17, in which more than 30 al Qaeda members were killed, and another on Dec. 24.

Opposition groups said about 50 civilians were killed, including women and children.

The 'New York Times' has said Washington gave hardware, intelligence and other support to Yemeni forces for the raids.

"We call on all Muslims ... to throw out all unbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula by killing crusaders who work in embassies or elsewhere ... (in) a total war on all crusaders in the Peninsula of (Prophet) Mohammad," the statement said.

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is charged with trying to blow up a Delta Airlines plane as it approached Detroit on a flight from Amsterdam with almost 300 people on board.

Besides al Qaeda, Yemen is also grappling with a Shi'ite revolt in the north and a separatist movement in the south with both complaining of social and economic discrimination, something the government denies.

On Monday, a spokesman for the northern rebels rejected as "fictitious" reports that rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi had been killed in the fighting, Al Jazeera TV's website said.

Yemen's national security chief Ali Mohammad Al-Ansi told a state-run website that 29 al Qaeda members had been arrested.

"There will be more operations awaiting terrorist elements and their nests," the Defence Ministry website quoted an unidentified security official as saying.


The Maguindanao massacre: Peace of the grave

December 29, 2009

‘The peace the “Ampatuan formula” brings is the peace of the grave.’

THE year is about to end and the biggest news of 2009 is without question the massacre of 57 people, more than half of them media men. The Ampatuan family and their henchmen in Maguindanao are accused of this slaughter.

So much has been said about the cold-blooded mass killing as reflective of the deep-rooted ills of the greater society: the culture of impunity, the barely submerged violence that underpins local and national politics and, in general, the return of the worst of feudal abuses during the nine years of the dysfunctional administration of Gloria Arroyo.

Yet, there is one lesson from the Maguindanao massacre that deserves to be stated again and again. There is no alternative to liberal democracy, however distorted its incarnation is on these islands, if we are survive as a nation.

As told by political analyst Obet Verzola in private conversations before the Maguindanao massacre, some otherwise perceptive Muslim intellectuals had been wondering whether the "Ampatuan formula" was the answer to the violence-wracked politics in the politically backward areas in Mindanao.

The "Ampatuan formula," in its simplest formulation, is the concentration of political power – with its resulting near-monopoly of violence and treasury money – in one person or family. Internecine warfare is avoided. The community manages to secure the most beneficial bargain from the national government. The arrangement, in addition, is generally more attuned to the culture of clan-oriented polity and hews closer to the traditional community consensus in the selection of political leaders.

The attraction of the "Ampatuan formula" oddly enough can be traced to two classical lines of political philosophy.

One is the Hobbesian idea that man in nature has to surrender his right to defend himself and his property to a body, the state, which henceforth will have the monopoly over violence. With the cession of his powers of violence to the state, the individual is secured by the Leviathan from the state of nature where life is brutish, nasty and short.

The other line is the communitarian ideal as opposed to the individualistic pursuit of the good life under an atomistic regime of political agents. It is asked: What have the poor and the powerless, for example, gained from their formal enjoyment of individual rights, including the right to vote and to be voted into office? They are better off securing their safety and happiness within the smaller community led by a strong leader.

The Maguindanao massacre shattered all these illusions. Warlordism, even if packaged as an arrangement more suitable to communities outside the political mainstream, is fundamentally based on ruthless exercise of violence.

The peace the "Ampatuan formula" brings is the peace of the grave.


Muslim Cleric Anwar Awlaki Linked to Fort Hood, Northwest Flight 253 Terror Attacks

By Russell Goldman

Dec. 29, 2009

U.S.-Born Imam Affiliated with Al Qaeda Has Been Linked to Several Terror Plots Against Americans

Most Americans have never heard of Anwar al Awlaki, but the radical Muslim cleric who may have inspired a young Nigerian man to try to blow up a plane on Christmas Day has been linked to the alleged perpetrators of the deadliest terror attacks on U.S. soil this decade, from 9/11 to the massacre at Fort Hood.

Awlaki twice made headlines last week. Along with several other al Qaeda operatives, the preacher was the target of a U.S. airstrike in Yemen Dec. 24. He was mentioned in articles around the world again the following day, when one acolyte, suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to detonate an explosive device while aboard a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit on Christmas.

Awlaki apparently is still alive after the Yemen attack, and has reportedly made calls to Yemini journalists in the last few days. This would not be the first time U.S.-born imam slipped through the hands of American justice.

With much of the senior al Qaeda leadership believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, Awlaki has been able in recent years to fill a niche for those looking to hear and read extremist interpretations of Islam, said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East and terrorism specialist at the Congressional Research Council.

"Some of the benefit of Awlaki was that he wasn't being chased. For a long time he was not under severe pressure, when others were," said Katzman. "He only came to prominence after the Fort Hood shootings. He was not being heavily pursued, and that afforded him a certain amount of liberty, to preach and let people contact him."

After several years of preaching an extreme version of Islam across mosques in the United States, the 36-year-old imam left the U.S. in 2002 following a decision that forced federal authorities to rescind a warrant issued for his arrest related to alleged passport fraud.

Once in Yemen, Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, hooked up with the local branch of international terror syndicate al Qaeda, according to U.S. authorities. Despite moving to the Middle East, through his Web site and audio recordings he preached a message of violence and hate that became popular with a new generation of Muslims raised outside the Arabian Peninsula.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based branch with which Awlaki is affiliated, took credit Monday for Abdulmutallab's botched bombing on Christmas Day.

Awlaki has "no known direct links with al Qaeda Central, but [he has them] with al Qaeda in Yemen," said Bruce Hoffman, a professor and terrorism expert at Georgetown University, in an e-mail.

Full report at:


US university branches in Dubai struggling

Dec 28 2009

A large number of expatriates left Dubai after losing their jobs, reducing the prospective college student pool

Tamar Lewin

The collapse of Dubai’s overheated economy has left the outposts of Michigan State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) struggling to attract enough qualified students to survive.

In the last five years, many US universities have rushed to open branches in the Persian Gulf, attracted by the combination of oil wealth and the area’s strong desire for help in creating a higher-education infrastructure. Education City in Qatar has brought in Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth.

Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE and the one that controls most of its oil, is still flourishing. And it is still generous in its support for the most ambitious American educational effort in the area, New York University’s liberal-arts college, which is scheduled to open there next year with a highly selective class of 100 young students from around the world.

In Dubai, however, the timing for Michigan State and the Rochester Institute of Technology could hardly have been worse. Both started classes in August 2008, just before Dubai’s economy began to crumble. By this month, Dubai’s debt problems were so serious that Dubai World, a government-owned investment company, avoided a bond default only with a $10 billion (Rs46,800 crore) bailout from Abu Dhabi.

Because most Dubai residents are expatriates, thousands of them left when their jobs disappeared, and the prospective college student pool in the area has shrunk substantially. “Nobody could have anticipated the global meltdown, which has certainly had a negative effect on our student marketing,” said Brendan Mullan, executive director of Michigan State Dubai.

Michigan State, with only 85 undergraduates, is seeking to raise that figure with a scholarship offering half-price tuition to the first 100 qualified transfer applicants for the semester that starts next month.

“We’ve had close to 200 transfer applications, some from other universities in the UAE, but others from India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Oman,” Mullan said. “We are not compromising on quality, even if that means it takes us longer to gain traction here. We actually turned down 30% of our applicants last fall.”

Mullan said that while the break-even point for the campus was now expected to be five years, up from the original goal of three years, Michigan State was determined to remain in the Gulf.

Full report at:


LEADING THE NEWS - Bomb suspect's probe expands

By Evan Perez & Peter Spiegel

Investigators in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle East are racing to determine how the son of a Nigerian banker became the first person in eight years to try to set off an explosive aboard a U.S. commercial airliner.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday that the aviation-security system failed when the young man on a watchlist with a U.S. visa in his pocket and a powerful explosive hidden on his body was allowed to board a fight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The Obama administration has ordered investigations into the two areas of aviation security--how travelers are placed on watch lists and how passengers are screened--as critics questioned how the 23-yearold man charged in the airliner attack was allowed to board the December 25 flight.

A day after lauding the system, Ms. Napolitano backtracked, saying her words had been taken out of context. "Our system did not work in this instance," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

The White House press office, traveling with President Barack Obama in Hawaii, said early Monday that the president would make a statement from the Kaneoho Marine Base later in the day. White House spokesman Bill Burton didn't elaborate.

Lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns that the man charged in the Christmas Day attempt to bomb Northwest Flight 253, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was able to board an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight with a hidden cache of explosives.

The incident comes on the heels of nearly a dozen terrorism probes and alleged plots to come to light in recent months. The string of cases highlights the difficulty, more than five years after the 9/11 Commission called for better communication between intelligence, law-enforcement and security agencies, of identifying relevant information that could stop a terrorist attack.

One U.S. official briefed on the inquiry said investigators are still trying to determine whether the suspect's claims of links to al Qaeda in Yemen are accurate, and how strong those ties are.

Jitters over the case were heightened Sunday by another incident involving a passenger on the same Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, two days later. A Nigerian man was subdued by the flight crew after he began "acting belligerently," according to U.S. officials.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which acquired Northwest last year, said the crew of Sunday's Flight 253 asked authorities to meet the plane upon landing in Detroit because of a "verbally disruptive" passenger. All 257 passengers and 12 crew members got off the plane safely.

The Homeland Security Department said Sunday evening that "indications at this time are that the individual's behavior is due to legitimate illness, and no other suspicious behavior or materials have been found."

Full report at:


Terrorism suspect apparently wrote about loneliness

December 29, 2009

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab may have written about 300 online musings about his studies and his struggles as a devout Muslim.

Washington - The 23-year-old Nigerian man accused of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner apparently turned to the Internet for counseling and companionship, writing in an online forum that he was "lonely" and had "never found a true Muslim friend."

"I have no one to speak too [sic]," read a posting from January 2005, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was attending boarding school. "No one to consult, no one to support me and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems."

The Washington Post reviewed 300 online postings under the name "farouk1986" (a combination of Abdulmutallab's middle name and birth year). The postings mused openly about love and marriage, his college ambitions and angst over standardized testing, as well as his inner struggle as a devout Muslim between liberalism and extremism.

In often-intimate writings, posted between 2005 and 2007, he sought friends online, through Facebook and in Islamic chat rooms: "My name is Umar but you can call me Farouk."

A U.S. government official said late Tuesday that federal intelligence officials were reviewing the online postings but had not independently confirmed their authenticity. Many of the biographical details in the writings, however, match up with facts already known about Abdulmutallab.

All of the postings are on the Islamic Forum website

Farouk1986 wrote often of the college admissions process, once describing his plans to study engineering at Stanford University, UC Berkeley or Caltech. But he also wrote of his disappointment in scoring a 1,200 on the SAT. "I tried the SAT," he wrote in March 2005. "It was a disaster!!!"

As a student at the British boarding school in Togo, Farouk1986 wrote that he was lonely because there were few other Muslims.

Full report at:,0,4873988.story


Umar hid explosives in his underwear

Eric Schmitt & Eric Lipton

28 Dec 2009

Washington: Federal authorities on Saturday said Umar Abdulmutallab told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen linked to al-Qaida.

The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection claimed by the man. But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was “plausible”.

Members of Congress who were briefed on Saturday also pointed to a Yemeni connection. “The facts are still emerging, but there are strong suggestions of a Yemen-al-Qaida connection and an intent to blow up the plane over US airspace,” Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence, said.

In an affidavit filed in support of the criminal charges, the authorities said that Abdulmutallab had tried to ignite a device, which was attached to his body, resulting “in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion.”

The affidavit said the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a highly explosive substance used in 2001 by Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber whose attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight was also thwarted.


Post 9/11, air travellers take on terrorists directly

28 Dec 2009

Detroit: They heard a pop that sounded like fireworks. They saw a glow of flame followed by a rush of smoke. And that was enough for passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to pounce.

From several seats away, Dutch tourist Jasper Schuringa, 23, says he jumped to extinguish a fire ignited by a quiet man who just moments before allegedly told passengers his stomach was upset and pulled a blanket over himself. Schuringa said his first thought wasn’t to signal a flight attendant or wait for an air marshal to break cover, but rather, “He’s trying to blow up the plane.”

“I basically reacted directly,” Schuringa said on Saturday in an interview with CNN. “I didn’t think. I just jumped. I just went over there and tried to save the plane.”

Aviation safety experts once would have called Schuringa’s actions a mistake and cautioned passengers against fighting back during hijackings and other crises in the air. That was before the September 11 attacks and the actions of passengers on United Flight 93, who learned while aloft about the hijacked jets that slammed earlier that day into New York’s World Trade Center.

They staged a cabin revolt against the al-Qaida terrorists who had taken control of their flight and died when their plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But they succeeded in keeping the jet from destroying another building that day, and their story became legend.

“I don’t think people are going to sit back and let somebody kill them in the process of fulfilling their extremist agenda or whatever it happens to be,” said Dave Heffernan, who helps oversee self-defense training for commercial flight crews at Valenica Community College in Orlando, Florida. “People have talked about it. They’ve thought about it. They have a plan of action.” AP


Would-be bomber’s dad had warned US

28 Dec 2009

Washington: US government officials say that the Nigerian man charged with trying to destroy a jetliner came to the attention of US intelligence in November when his father went to the US embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to express his concerns about his son.

A congressional official said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, popped up in US intelligence reports about four weeks ago as having a connection with both al-Qaida and Yemeni militants.

Another official said that Abdulmutallab’s father went to the embassy in Abuja with his concerns, but did not have any specific information that would put him on the “nofly list”. Neither was the information sufficient to revoke his visa to visit the United States. His visa had been granted June 2008 and was valid through June 2010. AP

Nigerian was denied UK visa

ALondon-educated Nigerian man charged with attempting to blow up a US airliner was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year, a government source confirmed. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab studied engineering at University College London between 2005 and 2008 and tried to return for another course in May. AFP

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