New Age Islam
Thu Oct 22 2020, 04:40 AM

Islamic World News ( 24 Apr 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Allah Allows Muslims to Take Four Wives’, Says Chechen Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook today said new detection tools wielded by its counterterrorism team are quickly detecting and removing extremist propaganda for the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.

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‘Allah Allows Muslims to Take Four Wives’, Says Chechen Leader

Software Better At Tackling Islamic State Propaganda, Says Facebook

Afghanistan’s Taliban Announce Annual Spring Offensive

Right Wingers Thrash, Shave Dalit Convert to Islam In UP

Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Abdul Rehman Makki insults Guru Nanak Dev

 

Europe

‘Allah Allows Muslims to Take Four Wives’, Says Chechen Leader

30 French Imams Say They’ll Help Counter Muslim Extremism, Oppose Anti-Semitism

Islamic Charity Kicks Off Pre-Ramazan Campaign across UK to Help Needy People

80 Nations to Attend Terror-Financing Moot in Paris

EU-UN conference on Syria begins in Brussels

Russian, Chinese FMs call for peace in Syria

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North America

Software Better At Tackling Islamic State Propaganda, Says Facebook

For Muslims, Supreme Court’s Ruling on Entry Ban Will Be Statement Of America’s Values

Israel reassured of US military presence in Syria: Source

Trump's adviser led anti-Muslim think tank

Trump says US wants ‘lasting’ footprint in Syria

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South Asia

Afghanistan’s Taliban Announce Annual Spring Offensive

Taliban Local Leader and Three Suicide Bombers Killed In Zabul Province

Police forces suffer casualties in Kabul city check post attack

Killing of top Jamiat commander to have negative consequences: Dostum

Taliban camp in Baghlan emphasizes tenuous security situation in Afghan north

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India

Right Wingers Thrash, Shave Dalit Convert to Islam In UP

AMU Alumnus' Pic with Hizb Operatives Seen On Social Media

‘Is It Difficult To Prove That Aseemanand And I Were In Jail At The Same Time?’: Shaik Abdul Kaleem

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Pakistan

Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Abdul Rehman Makki insults Guru Nanak Dev

PPP Refuses To Take Up Bill on Hindu Widows' Remarriage

Pakistan puts US diplomat on black list

Three suicide attacks rock Pakistan's Quetta, killing six policemen

Pakistan at bottom in gender equality at work index

Progressive Youth Alliance says four of its activists ‘picked up’ in Karachi

Pakistan, Russia agree to boost military cooperation

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Southeast Asia

Animated Short Films Could Be Answer to Spread of Extremist Ideas among Young People

Former Islamic Cleric Could Be Malaysia's Kingmaker

Indonesia Initiates World Ulema’s-Muslim Scholars Summit

Cops release photo of assassin behind Palestinian professor’s murder

Jokowi confirms meeting with 212 Rally Alumni members took place

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Africa

Herdsmen Attack on Nigerian Church Kills 18

Algeria Sentences Liberian to Death over Espionage for Israel

Mozambique: Three Islamist Attacks Reported Over Weekend

Special operators say African terror groups a future threat to US, if not right now

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Launches Attack On AU Peacekeepers' Base Near Mogadishu

Boko Haram: Security operatives foil suicide bomb attack in Bama

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Arab World

More American, French Military Convoys Arrive in Northeastern Syria

Syrian Army Captures ISIL's Positions in Southern Damascus

Militants in Three Regions in Southern Damascus Join Peace with Syrian Army

Russian Air Force Pounds Terrorists' Positions in Idlib Province

Syrian Army Repels Turkey-Backed Terrorists' Heavy Offensives in Western Aleppo

Tahrir Al-Sham Retreats again after Fierce Clashes with Rival Terrorists in Northern Syria

Pay for US military presence in Syria or lose Washington support: Saudi to Qatar

No deals for remaining Daesh terrorists in southern Damascus: Syria minister

UN, EU hold conference to gather more aid for Syrian people

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Mideast

Iran Vows Retaliation over Israeli Air Raid on Syria

Yemeni resistance will defeat aggressors soon: Iran

EU leader Mogherini says current Iran nuclear deal should be kept

Israel warns of attack if Russia air defences used in Syria

Saudi Arabia confirms it killed senior official of Yemen’s Houthi movement

Palestinian State without Al-Quds As Capital Will Not Be Accepted: PA Spokesman

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘allah-allows-muslims-to-take-four-wives’,-says-chechen-leader/d/115045

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‘Allah Allows Muslims to Take Four Wives’, Says Chechen Leader

April 25, 2018

Moscow: Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov on Tuesday said that men living in Russia’s predominantly Muslim region can take as many as four wives, even though polygamy is banned in the country.

Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya since 2004 and is a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin, told state television he was not preparing to legalise polygamy but that “for Muslims, I don’t need to give permission.”

“Allah gives permission to have four wives,” he said.

The Holy Quran says that a man can marry up to four women, but only if he is able to treat them all justly.

Polygamy has never completely disappeared from the North Caucasus region, even during the officially atheist Soviet era, he argued.

“Since forever, even during the harshest time of the Soviet Union, people would take a second, a third or even a fourth wife, and it’s impossible to ban us from doing this,” said Kadyrov.

He stressed that he was referring to a religious Islamic marriage, not a legally valid one officiated over by a registrar.

“We aren’t saying: take four wives, so the man takes them to the registrar and makes it official… But according to our religion, she is a legal wife,” said Kadyrov.

Kadyrov reportedly has one wife. He has 12 children, two of them adopted, Russian news agencies reported.

He has previously defended the practice of polygamy, arguing that as there are a greater number of women than men it gives more women the chance to have family life.

While Russia is a secular country, Kadyrov has been allowed to introduce Muslim customs in the region, where women are encouraged to wear headscarves in public.

On Tuesday, he criticised legal marriages as having a negative effect on family values.

Secular marriage ceremonies by a registrar “are the first step by the law in order to destroy the family,” Kadyrov said.

“So that a woman can feel that if the man is rich: right, now I’ll divorce him, take half his wealth and marry someone else.”

In return for helping the Kremlin battle Islamist insurgents in the North Caucasus, Kadyrov has been given a free hand and is accused by human rights groups of overseeing torture, extrajudicial executions and corruption.

https://www.siasat.com/news/allah-allows-muslims-take-four-wives-says-chechen-leader-ramzan-kadyrov-1346840/

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Software Better At Tackling Islamic State Propaganda, Says Facebook

April 24, 2018

Facebook on Tuesday said new detection tools wielded by its counterterrorism team are quickly detecting and removing extremist propaganda for the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda.

The leading social network 'took action' on 1.9 million pieces of IS or al-Qaeda-linked content in the first three months of this year -- nearly double the amount from the previous quarter, according to vice president of global policy management Monika Bickert and global head of counterterrorism policy Brian Fishman.

"Taking action," the company said, generally involved removing "the vast majority of this content." It "added a warning to a small portion that was shared for informational or counter speech purposes," Bickert and Fishman said in an online post.

In some cases, entire profiles, pages, or groups were taken down for violating Facebook policies, making all included content unavailable.

"We've made significant strides finding and removing their propaganda quickly and at scale," Bickert and Fishman said.

"We're under no illusion that the job is done or that the progress we have made is enough." Facebook credited detection technology and a counterterrorism team that has grown to 200 people from 150 people about 10 months ago.

Facebook defined terrorism as "any non-governmental organization that engages in premeditated acts of violence against persons or property to intimidate a civilian population, government, or international organization in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim."

Bickert and Fishman maintained that the company's intent is to be neutral on ideology and politics, meaning the terrorism definition applies equally to everything from religious extremism and violent separatism to white supremacy or militant environmentalism.

"It's about whether they use violence to pursue those goals," Bickert and Fishman said.

So far this year, the median time it took for new detection tools to uncover freshly uploaded terror content was less than a minute, according to the executives.

"Terrorist groups are always trying to circumvent our systems, so we must constantly improve," Bickert and Fishman said.

"We learn from every misstep, experiment with new detection methods and work to expand what terrorist groups we target." Early this month, Twitter said it had suspended over one million accounts for "promotion of terrorism" since 2015, claiming its efforts have begun to make the platform "an undesirable place" to call for violence.

In its latest transparency report, Twitter said it suspended 274,460 accounts between July and December 2017 "for violations related to the promotion of terrorism." The figure is down 8.4 per cent from the previous reporting period and is the second consecutive decline, a Twitter statement said.

Twitter and Facebook have faced pressure to crack down on jihadists and others calling for violent attacks, while at the same time maintaining open platforms for free speech.

In the latest six-month reporting period, Twitter said 93 per cent of the suspended accounts were "flagged by internal, proprietary tools," and that 74 per cent were cut off before their first tweet.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/software-better-at-tackling-islamic-state-propaganda-says-facebook-118042400131_1.html

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Afghanistan’s Taliban Announce Annual Spring Offensive

April 25, 2018

KABUL: The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive on Wednesday, in an apparent rejection of calls for the militants to take up the Afghan government’s offer of peace talks.

Operation Al-Khandaq — named after a famous seventh century battle in Medina in which Muslim fighters defeated “infidel” invaders — will target US forces and “their intelligence agents” as well as their “internal supporters,” a Taliban statement said.

The Taliban said the offensive was partly a response to US President Donald Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan announced last August, which gave US forces more leeway to go after insurgents.

The annual spring offensive traditionally marks the start of the so-called fighting season, though this winter the Taliban continued to battle Afghan and US forces.

The group also launched a series of devastating attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians.

Al-Khandaq will mainly focus on “crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters,” the Taliban said.

It added the presence of American bases “sabotages all chances of peace” and were key to “prolonging the ongoing war,” which began with the US-led intervention in 2001 that overthrew the Taliban regime.

Afghanistan’s largest militant group has been under pressure to accept Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s February offer of peace talks, but the statement made no mention of the proposal.

Western and Afghan experts said the Taliban announcement was an apparent rejection of the offer and heralded more intense fighting in the drawn-out war.

“We’re in for a hot and busy summer,” a foreign diplomat in Kabul said.

Afghan political analyst Ahmad Saeedi said the Taliban appeared to consider America’s rejection of the group’s own request for direct peace talks with the US in February as leaving them with “no other choice but to fight.”

“This year they will try to weaken the (Afghan) government even further. They will try to derail the election process,” the Kabul University professor said.

“A weak government would eventually mean forcing the US to talk to them.”

Defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish dismissed the Taliban announcement as “propaganda.”

The US-backed Afghan government is under pressure on multiple fronts this year as it prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections even as its security forces struggle to get the upper hand on the battlefield and prevent civilian casualties.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd outside a voter registration center in Kabul, killing 60 people and wounding 129, according to the latest figures from the health ministry.

The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the bomb, but Western and Afghan officials suspect Daesh receives assistance from other groups, including the Taliban’s Haqqani Network, to carry out attacks.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1291051/world

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Right Wingers Thrash, Shave Dalit Convert to Islam In UP

Sandeep Rai

Apr 25, 2018

MEERUT: Pawan Kumar, 34, a welder by profession, converted to Islam 20 days ago. He grew a beard and started wearing a skullcap. Monday night, right-wing groups got to hear of this and descended on his home at Vishwakarma locality of Shamli. They beat him up, threw away his skullcap and had him shaved. A video of the assault has been uploaded and widely shared online.

The activists also alleged that a local madrasa had coerced Kumar to convert to Islam. Kumar denied the allegations and said, "I read a lot about Islam on the internet and decided to embrace it. No one forced me or lured me into this." He has four married sisters. His parents are dead and he lives alone. A few days ago he was seen on the streets with a new look and the news spread.

Vivek Premi, regional head of students of Bajrang Dal, however, stuck to the "lured into Islam" theory and said that Kumar, after some counselling, even understood that he had made a mistake and agreed to return to Hinduism.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/right-wingers-thrash-shave-dalit-convert-to-islam-in-up/articleshow/63903860.cms

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Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Abdul Rehman Makki insults Guru Nanak Dev

Apr 25, 2018

Multan [Pakistan] Apr. 25 (ANI): Global terrorist Hafiz Saeed's brother-in-law and the second-in-command of terror outfit LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), Abdul Rehman Makki, has used foul language against Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, at an event in Multan city of Pakistan.

Makki's remarks are an eye opener for those Sikh militants who have taken shelter in Pakistan to wage acts of terror against India in the name of the so-called Khalistan movement. Makki has lashed out against the Sikh faith and has even gone to the extend of calling them " infidels ".

Makki, in his speech delivered to the LeT/JuD followers in Multan said , "The dirty conspiracy of denigrating Islam has been continuing for centuries. The emergence of Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs, was also part of the conspiracy and he (Guru Nanak) was equally a culprit of maligning Islam."

He also made derogatory remarks against the Sikhs, their faith and ideology and accused them of hatching conspiracy against Islam.

"About 350 years ago, someone called Baba Nanak appeared and people started calling him pro-Muslim and his teachings similar to Islamic teachings. The moulvis (Muslim religious scholars) and intellectuals developed an affinity towards him and quoted his (Nanak Dev's) sermons while describing a few 'aayats' (verses) of Quran," said Makki, who has a bounty of 2 million dollars on his head, announced by the United States Department of the Treasury a few years ago.

"At that time (350 years ago), the Hindus hatched the worst ever conspiracy against Islam to weaken Muslims and to compel them to embrace Hinduism. It was the conspiracy of Guru Nanak," Makki said in his hate speech.

Makki added, "Baba Nanak was fostered in Punjab in order to spread Sikhism up to Peshawar. Efforts were made to convince the Muslims that Sikhism believes in `towheed' (oneness of God), keeping beard (like Muslims) and use some phrases of `Quran'. People did not understand, they (Sikhs) were infidels, fraudsters and completely un-Islamic".

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 at Rai Bhoi ki Talvandi, present-day Nankana Sahib, near Lahore city. He was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.

At present, very few thousand Sikhs live in Pakistan and they continue to face persecution by Islamic fundamentalists. A majority of Sikhs remained in India during the partition in 1947. (ANI)

https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/lashkar-e-taiba-leader-abdul-rehman-makki-insults-guru-nanak-dev201804251240260003/

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Europe

 

30 French imams say they’ll help counter Muslim extremism, oppose anti-Semitism

24 April 2018

Thirty imams in France signed an open letter calling on their colleagues to help counter Muslim extremism.

The letter, which appeared Tuesday in the daily LeMonde, expressed “compassion for all our fellow citizens who have been directly or indirectly affected by terrorism and by the anti-Semitic crimes that have blindly struck our country.”

It added that the imams are “suffering from the confiscation of our religion by criminals.”

The letter was in response to a manifesto published on Sunday in LeParisien, the largest circulation newspaper in France, signed by 300 politicians, intellectuals, and artists denouncing the “new anti-Semitism in France” driven by radical Islamists in the country.

The manifesto also suggested that verses of the Quran calling for the “murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and disbelievers” be removed on the grounds that they are “obsolete.”

The imams offered their “theological expertise” to help guard against radicalized Muslims. They said that Islam has fallen into the hands of “an ignorant, disrupted, and idle youth. A naive youth, easy prey for ideologues who exploit this dismay.”

“For more than two decades, subversive readings and practices of Islam have been rampant in the Muslim community, generating a religious anarchy, rife throughout society. A cancerous situation to which some imams unfortunately contributed, often unconsciously,” the letter said.

The imams called on the “enlightened imams” to provide “counter-speech that prevents all practices of rupture and all forms of extremism that can directly or indirectly lead to terrorism.”

Meanwhile, Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, in a statement said the manifesto “subjected French Muslims and French Islam to an unbelievable and unfair trial.”

“French citizens of the Muslim confession are largely attached to their republican values and weren’t waiting for this manifesto to denounce and fight decades of antisemitism and Islamophobia in all its forms,” he wrote.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/30-french-imams-say-theyre-ready-to-help-counter-muslim-extremism/

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Islamic charity kicks off pre-Ramazan campaign across UK to help needy people

Murtaza Ali Shah

Apr 25 2018

LONDON: A leading Islamic charity has put Allah at the heart of its pre-Ramazan campaign aimed at inviting donations from people of all faiths and none to help who are less fortunate and needy.

Islamic Relief charity's pre-Ramazan campaign message for 2018 is "For the love of Allah, save a life now" which has been placed on public transport in London, Manchester and Glasgow to encourage Muslims to think of those less fortunate than themselves and help them in a positive way.

Islamic Relief told Geo News that for two weeks — until Sunday May 6 — the advertisement can be seen on the sides of 75 of London's iconic red double-decker buses. It said the advertisement is also being displayed on the sides of 100 buses in Manchester and in 82 underground trains in Glasgow.

The charity said that the aim of the advertisement is to encourage Muslims to think of people who are less fortunate this Ramazan and to be motivated out of love and compassion to help them — "For the love of Allah" and to raise awareness of the international humanitarian aid organisation and its work across the world.

Judith Escribano, Islamic Relief UK’s Head of Communications, explained the thinking behind the campaign: “Ramazan is a time of self-discipline and self-sacrifice, a period for Muslims to reflect and show compassion for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

"We have chosen bus advertising in cities with large Muslim populations as this is a cost-effective way to get our fundraising appeal noticed."

Escribano said, "Our advertisement’s message is simply a reminder to give glory to Allah, both for the opportunity to do good to others in this most blessed of months, and for the generosity of all those who have enabled Islamic Relief to assist more than 117 million people in over 40 countries over our 34-year history.

Full report at:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/192593-islamic-charity-kicks-off-pre-ramazan-campaign-across-uk-to-help-needy-people

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80 nations to attend terror-financing moot in Paris

April 25, 2018

PARIS - Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gather in Paris from Wednesday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, French officials said.

Attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years when followers of Islamic State (IS) have used vehicles and guns as their main weapon of choice.

But French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by IS between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria. A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that IS income was estimated at about one billion dollars (820 million euros) a year.

“It has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.”

The idea of the two-day conference, which will close with a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, is to share expertise and good practice that can be implemented internationally.

The Islamic State group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, but experts warn that its ideology will live on.

Some terror experts, including Peter Neumann from King’s College in London, have argued recently that the fight against the financing of terror groups has been ineffective since 2001.

In a report last year entitled “Don’t follow the money”, he argued that low-cost terror attacks were easy to mount and jihadist groups could transfer money easily without using the international banking system.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/25-Apr-2018/591572

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EU-UN conference on Syria begins in Brussels

24 April 2018

A two-day international Syria conference, organized by the United Nations and the European Union, began on Tuesday in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

Representatives from 85 countries and non-governmental organizations are attending the second Brussels Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the region."

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag will also deliver a speech on Turkey’s aid efforts in Syria during the second day of the event, which will focus on humanitarian support and the UN-led political peace process in Geneva.

The representatives of Turkish Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Turkiye Diyanet Foundation and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) are also attending the two-day conference.

Last year's conference pledged around nine billion euros (almost $11 billion).

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/201400/german-court-tries-vietnam-man-over-cold-war-style

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Russian, Chinese FMs call for peace in Syria

24 April 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Monday called for a peaceful settlement in Syria.

"We exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria. From both sides an extremely negative evaluation was given to airstrikes by the U.S. and their allies on Syria, as a flagrant violation of the international law," Lavrov said, according to Russian Foreign Ministry statement.

Lavrov's remarks came at a meeting with Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's foreign ministers summit in the Chinese capital Beijing.

The ministers discussed the situation in Syria, North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal and bilateral relations, according to the statement.

Both sides said that the Syrian crisis could only be solved through diplomatic and political means.

"We stressed that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement of the Syrian crisis. We agreed to increase bilateral coordination in this area, including in the UN Security Council," Lavrov said.

Wang Yi recalled that there was no UN Security Council approval for airstrikes on Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/201395/german-court-tries-vietnam-man-over-cold-war-style

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North America

 

For Muslims, Supreme Court’s ruling on entry ban will be statement of America’s values

By Abigail Hauslohner

April 24, 2018

Mehdi Ostadhassan is a celebrated professor and scientist, a mentor, a husband and father, and has been a North Dakotan for the past nine years.

He is also a Muslim and an Iranian national — a citizen of one of several majority-Muslim countries targeted by President Trump’s entry ban. And despite having a résumé that seems to match the Trump administration’s preference for a “merit-based immigration system,” he is now in his fourth year of an increasingly desperate quest for U.S. citizenship.

Ostadhassan’s immigration woes have nothing to do with Trump’s entry ban, which went into effect last December and which the Supreme Court will begin evaluating Wednesday. But he believes his trouble has everything to do with his being a Muslim. For that reason, Ostadhassan will be waiting, along with millions of others inside and outside the United States, to see what the court decides.

He believes the decision has the potential to influence the fortunes not only of those hoping to migrate to the United States but also of those Muslim immigrants already living here. Many fear that a Supreme Court decision upholding the ban would send a powerful negative message about the place of Muslims in the United States.

“People will feel like they’re not welcome in a country that’s supposed to provide all these opportunities and all this freedom, and I think that’s sad,” said Mahsa Payesteh, outreach coordinator for the National Iranian American Council.

With that in mind, the Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments in the case of Hawaii v. Trump, examining how far the president’s authority extends in determining U.S. immigration policy. At issue is Trump’s September proclamation that banned entry to the United States for citizens of five majority-Muslim countries as well as North Koreans and certain Venezuelan government officials, with limited exceptions.

The order was the third iteration of Trump’s original entry ban, which applied to citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. During his campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Since taking office, he has argued that the policy is not a Muslim ban, but that it is necessary to protect national security.

The case also will determine whether the president violated the Constitution or the Immigration and Nationality Act by discriminating on the basis of religion or nationality.

The justices are expected to issue a ruling in June.

An estimated 3.4 million Muslims live in the United States, accounting for dozens of nationalities and ethnic heritages. Some, like Ostadhassan, hail from countries targeted by the third version of Trump’s ban — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — while others immigrated from Pakistan, Indonesia, Lebanon, Turkey and beyond.

But regardless of their citizenship status or national origin, many will be interested in the Supreme Court’s decision. To members of one of the United States’ least popular religious minorities, this will be more than a ruling on the president’s authority. It will be a culturally pivotal moment; a statement of the nation’s values.

Since its implementation in December, the ban has made “many members of my community feel like they’re second-class citizens, ”said Debbie Almontaser, a board member of the Yemeni American Merchants Association in New York who knows Yemeni Americans across the country, including two of her nephews and one niece, who have spouses stranded abroad. “Like, you’re American, but we’re not going to let you have that American Dream,” she said.

Since Trump was campaigning for the presidency, his comments about Muslims — tying immigrants to the Islamic State and as president retweeting anti-Muslim propaganda videos and appointing advisers and Cabinet secretaries who have characterized Islam as dangerous — have harmed their American experience, many say.

FBI data showed a precipitous rise in reported anti-Muslim assaults during the election year. In 2017, 50 percent of American Muslims said they had experienced at least one instance of religious discrimination in the past year, according to Pew Research Center.

“Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric, both prior to and during the course of his presidency, emboldened those who sought to express their anti-Muslim bias and provided a veneer of legitimacy to bigotry,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a report released Monday.

A Supreme Court decision affirming the entry ban would, some fear, perpetuate that trend.

“It’s huge for Muslims,” said Faiza Patel co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. The president’s words and policies have “really shaken their faith in what America really stands for.”

When Ostadhassan arrived in the Midwest from Iran nine years ago, the United States offered an opportunity for him to earn a PhD in petroleum engineering and presented a fountain of other academic possibilities.

In the years since, Ostadhassan, 34, got married and had a child. Most recently, he developed an idea for a new method of cancer research using technology that he had previously used to analyze shale, and he won the support of the university’s medical school in the project.

Then, near the end of 2017 and after a years-long wait, the U.S. government told him that his application for permanent-resident status had been denied.

“This is basically the end of my professional career,” he said this month, after the university was compelled to terminate his employment.

Ostadhassan is one of several people named in a class-action lawsuit filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union, before his residency application was denied.

The lawsuit alleges warrantless religious discrimination towards Muslims in the U.S. immigration system through a secretive Obama-era program called Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP), and which the ACLU says singles out and delays the applications of Muslims without valid evidence of national security concerns.

 While the case won’t be directly impacted by the Supreme Court decision because it focuses on an existing vetting program, the lawsuit invokes Trump’s travel ban, outlining Trump’s comments and policies toward Islam and Muslims. Trump has vowed to implement "extreme vetting" — or as the ACLU reads it, make CARRP and other programs more discriminatory.

The broader implication for many Muslim across the country is that the Supreme Court’s decision on the entry ban will send a message about all kinds of religious discrimination, including existing government programs, that activists say target Muslims.

Even if the Supreme Court rules against the entry ban, Ostadhassan is still to have months or years of waiting and potential court battles ahead of him.

And if the court upholds the ban, he will have far less reason to be optimistic.

“It is one hundred percent a Muslim ban,” he said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/for-muslims-supreme-courts-ruling-on-entry-ban-will-be-statement-of-americas-values/2018/04/24/82db52c0-3f5b-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html?utm_term=.2cc54df7ee21

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Israel reassured of US military presence in Syria: Source

Apr 24, 2018

The Israeli regime has been reassured that the American forces would not immediately leave Syria, a diplomatic source of the Zionist regime reportedly suggests.

According to Israel’s Arutz Sheva 7 news website, the reassurance came via a visit by a top US general.

General Joseph Votel, the head of the US military’s Central Command (CENTOM), arrived in occupied Palestine on Monday to meet with top military officials from Israel, including the chief of staff of the US military, for that purpose.

General Votel, the head of US forces in Syria, was dispatched after about month from US President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US forces would leave the war-ravaged country "very soon."

"We're knocking the hell out of ISIS. We'll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon," said the president in an Ohio speech. "Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon, we're coming out. We're going to have a hundred percent of the caliphate, as they call it. Sometimes referred to as land, taking it all back. Quickly, quickly."

The US and its allies have been running a military campaign against purported terrorist targets in Syria since September 2014 without a mandate from the UN or Damascus, while backing militants fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hailed as a “great friend to the Jewish people” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump has mended ties with Israel that had gone sour under Obama.

On the 2016 campaign trail, the real estate mogul vowed to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, a move indicating that Washington recognizes the city as the capital of Israel.

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/24/559602/Israel-reassured-of-US-military-presence-in-Syria-Source

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Trump's adviser led anti-Muslim think tank

24 April 2018

President Donald Trump's recently seated national security adviser chaired a New York-based think tank steeped in "misleading and false anti-Muslim news", according to a news report published Monday.

John Bolton led the Gatestone Institute from 2013 until he took his White House position earlier this month, NBC News reported.

On its website's homepage, the institute has placed articles with titles such as  "Belgium: First Islamic State in Europe?", and "UK: 'Teacher Handbook' Supporting Extremism?".

The group describes itself as "a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank" dedicated to "educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report".

However, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Muslim advocacy group, told NBC the group is "a key part of the whole Islamophobic [sic] cottage industry on the internet".

Bolton's association with Gatestone "is very disturbing" particularly given his now prominent role in the White House, Hooper added.

NBC cited the group as one of the major sources of articles alleging Muslim-controlled "no-go zones" in Europe, which were cited by Senator Ted Cruz during his failed 2016 White House run, and by former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in 2015.

Moreover, the media outlet found four cases in which Russian social media trolls retweeted from the Gatestone Twitter account. All of them worked for the Russian government-linked Internet Research Agency, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. government after it was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly working to interfere in the 2016 White House race.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/201394/trumps-adviser-led-anti-muslim-think-tank

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Trump says US wants ‘lasting’ footprint in Syria

25 April 2018

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to dial back a promise to withdraw US troops from Syria immediately, saying it was important to not allow Iranian influence to grow in the country.

Stating that troops would be coming home soon, Trump nonetheless said that the United States wanted to “leave a strong and lasting footprint” in the country.

“We don’t want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean,” Trump told a joint press conference with his visiting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

“We’re going to be coming home relatively soon. We finished at least almost our work with respect to ISIS in Syria, ISIS in Iraq, and we have done a job that nobody has been able to do.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/04/25/Trump-says-US-wants-lasting-footprint-in-Syria.html

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South Asia

 

Taliban local leader and three suicide bombers killed in Zabul province

Apr 25 2018

A local leader of the Taliban group and three suicide bombers were killed during the operations of the Afghan armed forces in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman Gen. Mohammad Radmanish told reporters that the militants were killed in Shamolzai district of Zabul.

Gen. Radmanish further added that a total of sixteen militants were killed in Zabul province while Taliban commanders Abdul Mali, Omran Khan, and Ghazi Mujahid were killed along with 16 others in Aqtash of Kunduz province.

He said at least eleven ISIS militants were also killed in Nangarhar province and eleven others were killed in a separate operation in Uruzgan province.

According to Gen. Radmanish, at least seven militants including one of their commanders Qari Qudrullah were killed in Helmand while a commander of the ISIS group was killed in Chapa Dara district of Kunar.

He said at least one insurgent was killed in Paktia and five others were killed in Kahsan district of Herat in the West.

The MoD spokesman also added that 11 operations are underway currently in 11 provinces of the country, the Special Forces have conducted 65 operations while the Air Force has carried out 13 airstrikes.

Gen. Radmanish said the Afghan forces have also discovered and defused 41 improvised explosive devices during the same operations.

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-local-leader-and-three-suicide-bombers-killed-in-zabul-province-04978/

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Police forces suffer casualties in Kabul city check post attack

Apr 25 2018

A number of militants launched an attack on a check post located in the outskirts of Kabul city earlier this morning, leaving a number of police forces dead or wounded.

A spokesman for the Kabul police commandment Hashmat Stanikzai confirmed the incident took place in the vicinity of Company area in the 13th police district of the city.

Stanikzai further added that attack has left at least two policemen dead, citing the preliminary information but added that the an investigation is underway in this regard.

In the meantime, security sources in the area and eyewitnesses are saying that three policemen have lost their lives in the attack.

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

However, the Taliban group announced its spring offensive earlier today and said the offensive has been launched across the country from Wednesday morning.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/police-forces-suffer-casualties-in-kabul-city-check-post-attack-04977/

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Killing of top Jamiat commander to have negative consequences: Dostum

Apr 25 2018

The First Vice President and leader of Junbish Millie Party Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum has said that the killing of the top commander of Jamiat Islami will have negative consequences.

In a statement released following the killing of the Jamiat commander, Gen. Dostum said Gen. Ghulam Farooq Qateh was one of the key commanders of Jamiat in northern Faryab province.

Gen. Dostum further added that Gen. Qateh was playing a key role in suppressing the anti-government armed militants.

He warned that the killing of the Gen. Qateh will have negative consequences on security situation of the northern Faryab province.

Provincial police spokesman Abdul Karim Yurish said Gen. Qateh was killed in a roadside improvised explosive device explosion in Almar district.

He said Gen. Qateh was on his way to support the security forces in the outposts in Almar district when the incident took place.

According to reports, the Taliban militants launched a coordinated attack on security outposts in Almar district late on Monday night, sparking heavy clashes.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claims that the attack on commander Ghulam Farooq Qateh was carried out in the vicinity of Almar district beteween Joimat and and Och Ghatak areas.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/killing-of-top-jamiat-commander-to-have-negative-consequences-dostum-04974/

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Taliban camp in Baghlan emphasizes tenuous security situation in Afghan north

April 24, 2018

In a video released by the Taliban yesterday promoting its “Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour Camp” in Baghlan province, jihadists were once again marching through a town and driving in the desert in broad daylight, without fear of reprisal from Afghan and Coalition forces. The video highlighted the worsening security situation in the Afghan north, including Baghlan, where 12 of the province’s 14 districts are contested and one is controlled by the Taliban.

The Taliban video showed the group’s fighters in various stages of training as well as conducting operations in the province. The camp is named after Mullah Mansour, the previous emir of the Taliban who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province in May 2016.

The exact location of the camp was not disclosed by the Taliban. However, the group is known to control one district (Dahana-I-Ghuri), and contests the other 12 of Baghlan’s 14 districts, including the provincial capital of Pul-i-Khurmi, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Only the district of Andarab is considered to be “government influenced,” according to Resolute Support. However, this status indicates that the Taliban has some presence in the district and is not fully under government control.

In one scene, a company-sized Taliban force marched through a town in Baghlan with Taliban banners held high. Taliban vehicles blocked the roads to allow the fighters space to march. The movement was conducted during broad daylight.

In another clip, Taliban fighters mounted on vehicles, including a host of captured US-supplied HUMVEEs and Ford Ranger pickup trucks moved through are rural area in broad daylight, again with white Taliban flags flying proud.

Other scenes showed Taliban fighters during training, running through an obstacle course, firing weapons, conducting assaults, patrolling, and marching in the desert. The scenes from the obstacle course were reminiscent of al Qaeda training videos from the 1990s. And while many Taliban training camp videos appear to show makeshift or transitory facilities, the Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour Camp appears to be a permanent structure.

Jihadist training camps in Afghanistan

The Taliban has publicly flaunted at least 18 of its training camps since the end of 2014. In late 2015, the Taliban announced that its Khalid bin Walid Camp operated 12 satellite facilities throughout Afghanistan, and had the capacity to “train up to 2,000 recruits at a single time.” Additionally, it said the Khalid bin Walid Camp “trains recruits in eight provinces (Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Ghor, Saripul, Faryab, Farah and Maidan Wardak) and “has around 300 military trainers and scholars.”

Other jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, are also known to operate camps inside Afghanistan. In 2015, the US raided an al Qaeda camp in Bermal district in Paktika, and two others in the Shorabak district in Kandahar province. The outgoing commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said that one of the camps in Shorabak was the largest in Afghanistan since the US invaded in 2001. Al Qaeda has also operated camps in Kunar and Nuristan.

Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistani jihadist group closely allied with al Qaeda, “operates terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan,” the US government stated in 2014. The Turkistan Islamic Party, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Imam Bukhari Jamaat, an Uzbek jihadist group that operates in both Syria and Afghanistan, have all claimed to operate camps inside Afghanistan. Coalition forces have also raided Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan suicide training camps in Samagan and Sar-i-Pul in 2011.

Additionally, the US military has targeted training centers used by the Turkistan Islamic Party and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan over the past several months. In February, the US military said it struck “Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others.”

Full report at:

https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2018/04/taliban-camp-in-baghlan-emphasizes-tenuous-security-sitation-in-afghan-north.php

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India

 

AMU alumnus' pic with Hizb operatives seen on social media

Shalabh

Apr 25, 2018

LUCKNOW: Another photograph of former Aligarh Muslim University PhD scholar Mannan Wani has surfaced on social media. Security agencies tracking scores of Kashmiri youths who have strayed from mainstream and joined militancy, stumbled upon Wani's photograph and shared it with UP Police few days back.

Fears of law enforcement agencies came true as the photo shows Wani posing with two other terror suspects, including Hizb-ul Mujahideen's most wanted operative Saifullah, and one Hafiz Aadil. Saifullah, who hails from Pulwama district, was also a PhD scholar.

The photo shows Wani, Saifullah and Aadil posing with AK series rifles and sword in a hideout in Kashmir valley or across the border. The photograph landed at the desk of top officials at DGP headquarters last week and was passed on to anti-terrorist squad of UP police on Monday. "We have received a dossier on Wani and his activities and are trying to find out if he is in touch with youths in Aligarh. We are taking help of Aligarh police and have deputed cyber experts to find out from where the photograph was uploaded," said inspector general of UP ATS Asim Arun.

Having gone missing on January 2, 2018 from AMU, Wani had joined Hizb-ul on January 5. Three days later, Hizb-ul chief Syed Salahuddin issued a statement confirming that Mannan Wani had joined the outfit. He was expelled from AMU subsequently.

Mannan Wani (27) had joined AMU to pursue PhD in applied geology. He hails from Sogam in Kupwara.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/amu-alumnus-pic-with-hizb-operatives-seen-on-social-media/articleshow/63904922.cms

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‘Is It Difficult To Prove That Aseemanand And I Were In Jail At The Same Time?’: Shaik Abdul Kaleem

April 25, 2018

“If Aseemanand and I were not in Chanchalguda Jail at the same time then how did he know my name which he mentioned in his confession statement? How did he know that I was arrested earlier on suspicion of being involved in the Mecca Masjid blast case?” asked Shaik Abdul Kaleem, to whom Aseemanand allegedly confessed his involvement in the Mecca Masjid blast case. Kaleem was earlier arrested as a suspect in the case in 2007 and acquitted by court in 2008.

The prosecution had submitted Aseemanand’s confession before a magistrate in New Delhi and before Kaleem as the main evidence against him in the chargesheet, and the entire case hinged on these two points.

In the judgment delivered by the NIA court on April 16, Judge K Ravinder Reddy who acquitted all accused in the case, including Swami Aseemanand, observed the prosecution failed to prove that Kaleem and another youth, Maqbool Bin Ali, were in Chanchalguda Jail when Aseemanand was lodged there.

Kaleem, 29, wondered why the CBI and the prosecution lawyer did not seek jail records to prove that they were together. “Is it so difficult to prove that two persons sent to judicial custody to Chanchalguda Jail, where entries are made, records are maintained and prisoners are given numbers, were there at the same time or not? (Accused) Lokesh Sharma and Devender Gupta were already there and then Aseemanand came. Sharma and Gupta were taken elsewhere and only Aseemanand was there in the barracks. We were together for a few days and that is a fact. That is what I told the court. I told this in Ajmer court as well as the Panchakula court where the prosecution made me a witness,’’ Kaleem says.

Kaleem, who works at the office of AIMIM MLA Ahmed Bhalala in Malakpet, says he is relieved that the case is over. “I don’t want to discuss the verdict. I don’t want to get into trouble again. I got married three months back, in January, and I want to forget the ordeal,” he said.

In his verdict, the judge also dismissed Kaleem’s testimony as untrustworthy, observing that he was under police surveillance and was obliged to become a police witness.

Kaleem was arrested on June 3, 2007, by a Hyderabad Police SIT as a suspect in the Mecca Masjid blast case. He was accused of impersonation and using forged documents to obtain SIM cards, which were allegedly used by his brothers Shaik Abdul Amjad alias Khaja and Shaik Abdul Khader, and other persons accused of being associated with organisations like Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami Bangladesh, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/mecca-masjid-blast-case-is-it-difficult-to-prove-that-swami-aseemanand-and-i-were-in-jail-at-the-same-time-nia-5150545/

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Pakistan

 

PPP refuses to take up bill on Hindu widows' remarriage

April 25, 2018

KARACHI: The joint opposition once against protested on Tuesday inside the Sindh Assembly when the government opposed taking up an amendment to the Hindu Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeking to allow Hindu widows to remarry of their own will.

The private bill on the agenda was moved by Pakistan Muslim League – Functional (PML-F) Parliamentary Leader Nand Kumar.  It was a private members day where all MPAs could present their bills and resolutions. However, almost all scheduled items on the agenda for the day were set aside as the government decided to pass an out-of-turn resolution that demanded reduction in the fee for national identity cards.

As the proceedings started with speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in chair, the question answer session began where hardly three to four questions were answered.

An uproar started in the House when, ignoring the agenda, the government attempted to move an out-of-turn resolution.

Sindh Assembly members want nutrition supplies to be treated as life-saving drugs

“The Hindu Marriage Bill is on the agenda. The government claims to be a champion for the rights of minorities. This is an important bill. Please first take it up rather than brining out-of-turn items in the House,” Kumar said.

Opposition members belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) joined the PML-F for taking up the Hindu Marriage Bill and finishing the agenda first.

Addressing the protesting opposition MPAs, the speaker said he himself favoured taking up the Hindu Marriage Bill first. However, he added that he would go with the wishes of the majority of the House.

Defending the government, Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said there were some flaws in the bill, due to which it should not be taken up.  Law Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar maintained that the assembly had already passed the law, however, Kumar wanted to make an amendment to it in haste, which was not possible.

Defending his proposed amendment, Kumar said there had been a custom in the Hindu community, according to which widows or divorced women were not allowed to remarry. “If a teenage girl becomes widow, she has to spend her life alone. This is a curse. We have to get rid of this custom through this bill,” he said.

PTI MPA submits resolution in Sindh Assembly against Zardari’s remarks on Rao Anwar

Despite the opposition’s insistence and protest, the government did not take up the bill.

Speaking to the media outside the assembly, Kumar said the Hindu Marriage Bill was not the only bill related to minorities to which the government was indifferent to. “The government is also undecided about the bill against forced conversions, which was rejected by the governor,” he remarked, adding that despite many reminders, the Pakistan Peoples Party ministers did not show willingness to reconsider the forced conversion bill in the House. “This shows that the PPP has failed to resolve minorities’ issues,” he said.

Other items on the agenda that could not be taken up included the Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment (Amendment) Bill, Sindh Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, Sindh Surrender of Illict Arms Bill, Sindh Prohibition of Tobacco and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Bill, Sindh Regularisation of Commercial Transport Companies Bill, Sindh Women  Protection Authority Bill and Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill.

PSP leaders attend Sindh Assembly session ahead of Senate elections

Five private resolutions moved by different MPAs on public interest issues, including cleaning of drains before the monsoon season and the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl in Manghopir were also not taken up.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1694383/1-ppp-refuses-take-bill-hindu-widows-remarriage/

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Pakistan puts US diplomat on black list

Apr 24, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has put the name of a US diplomat on its ‘black list’, barring him from leaving the country, in view of his involvement in a road accident which killed a motorcyclist earlier this month.

The government representative and deputy attorney general, Raja Khalid Mehmood, revealed this on Tuesday, during the hearing of a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The petition has been filed by Muhammad Idress, father of the deceased person, seeking the placement of the diplomat’s name on the ECL.

Mehmood informed the court that the home ministry had placed the name of US Air and Defense attaché Col Joseph Emanuel Hall, on the “black list”, which prevents him from leaving the country.

Explaining the term, Mehmood said that the US official’s name was not added to the Exit Control List (ECL). “The black list serves the same purpose but is a simpler procedure where the interior (home) secretary is competent authority to take the decisive step,” he said. “If required the suspect’s name will be added to the ECL,” he added.

He told the court that the Vienna Convention granted immunity to diplomats only in the accidents which occur during official duty. “A trial can only be held if the immunity is withdrawn,” he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-puts-us-diplomat-on-black-list/articleshow/63900401.cms

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Three suicide attacks rock Pakistan's Quetta, killing six policemen

April 25, 2018

Three suicide bombers attacked Pakistani police and paramilitary soldiers in the southwestern city of Quetta on Tuesday, killing six police and wounding 15 members of the security forces, officials said.

One bomber detonated his explosives near a police truck, provincial police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari said. Seven police officers were wounded in that attack.

"It is a suicide attack, and we have a confirmation that six of our police officials are dead," Ansari told Reuters.

Half an hour earlier, two suicide bombers tried to attack a paramilitary checkpoint on the city's outskirts, but troops deployed there engaged them, a paramilitary officer said.

He said the troops had opened fire at the attackers, who detonated their explosives, wounding eight soldiers. Both the suicide bombers died, he said on condition of anonymity because the army was due to issue an official statement.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Quetta is the capital city of the southwestern province of Baluchistan, which has been plagued by violence.

Islamist militants linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State have been operating in the province, which borders Iran as well as Afghanistan. It also has an indigenous ethnic Baloch insurgency fighting the central government.

Islamic State has created a branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly by recruiting among break away factions of other established militant groups. Its followers have claimed some of Pakistan's most deadly recent attacks.

Six members of Pakistan's tiny Christian minority community, four of them from the same family, and two people from the Shi'ite Muslim minority were gunned down in Quetta this month.

In December two suicide bombers stormed a packed church in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 10 people and wounding up to 56.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/pakistan/story/three-suicide-attacks-rock-pakistan-s-quetta-killing-six-policemen-1219560-2018-04-25

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Pakistan at bottom in gender equality at work index

Apr 25, 2018

Pakistan isn’t meeting its economic potential, and some of that has to do with widespread gender equality, according to a recent research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, which shows Pakistan at the bottommost end of gender equality at work.

MGI, the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Co, judged 18 economies in the Asia-Pacific region for gender equality in work and the society in general. India and Pakistan were judged furthest from gender parity, whereas Singapore tops the list with highest gender parity levels in the region.

According to the data collected during the research, Pakistan currently stands at the farthest end of the Index at a staggering 0.20, where 0 means no gender equality and 1 is gender parity.

The report further suggests that Pakistan’s standing as far as gender inequality at work is concerned comes under the category, ‘extremely high’ which is a worrying factor for women in the workforce.

“Women can help — and are helping — to power this engine, making vital contributions to sustaining and enhancing Asia’s growth and lifting more people out of poverty,” the report’s authors wrote. “Yet gaps remain large in many countries in the region on gender equality both in work and in society.”

Four women out of every 10 men are given leadership roles globally; however, the ratio is only one woman out of four men in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the report. There’s a lot of potential for gender parity in digital and financial inclusion in South and Southeast Asia, however, physical security and autonomy are the fields that do present a sorry state of affairs.

The report shows that half of the combined Asia-Pacific population consists of women but their contribution in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is only 36 per cent of the $26 trillion – which is the same as the global share.

The Asia-Pacific region as a whole has shown “significant progress” in several areas, says the report, especially maternal health and adult literacy, however, considerable steps need to be taken to increase women’s active participation in the workforce.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/04/25/pakistan-at-bottom-in-gender-equality-at-work-index/

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Progressive Youth Alliance says four of its activists ‘picked up’ in Karachi

April 25, 2018

KARACHI: The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) on Tuesday accused law-enforcement agencies of picking up its four activists for supporting the campaign launched by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) in recent multiple demonstrations.

In statements on social media websites, the organisation accused law-enforcement agencies of detaining its workers, claiming that the number of its ‘missing’ activists had now risen to nine.

“Four more comrades were arrested today [Tuesday] while protesting at Karachi Press Club for the release of 5 [already] abducted comrades by Pakistani security forces,” said a post shared by the organisation on its Facebook page, identifying the latest ‘missing’ persons as Yasir Irshad, Faras Raj, Shay Razai and Jalal Jan.

The PYA has announced countrywide protest demonstrations to demand release of the “abducted” activists and urged the “state institutions” to produce them before the court if they had committed any crime.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1403739/progressive-youth-alliance-says-four-of-its-activists-picked-up-in-karachi

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Pakistan, Russia agree to boost military cooperation

Baqir Sajjad Syed

April 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to intensify bilateral military cooperation during meetings between the top military and security leadership of the two countries.

The resolve to expand existing bilateral military cooperation was expressed when Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa opened his visit to Moscow with a meeting with Commander Russian Federation Ground Forces Col Gen Oleg Salyukov soon after National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Janjua-led delegation discussed key security issues with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev.

It was Gen Bajwa’s first visit to Russia. His predecessor Gen Raheel Sharif had earlier visited Russia in 2015. The military contacts between the two countries that started in 2007 have strengthened military cooperation as seen from the joint drills of ground troops and the navies.

In his meeting with the COAS, Russian Ground Forces Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleg Salyukov said his country was interested in expanding the existing military cooperation with Pakistan. Gen Bajwa, too, expressed Pakistan’s desire to enhance bilateral military engagements with Russia.

The two countries had in February agreed to set up a military cooperation commission for promoting military cooperation. Both sides had signed a defence cooperation agreement in November 2014 and later inked military-technical cooperation accord, which allows arms trade between the two countries and cooperation in weapon development, in October 2015.

The latest developments suggest that the engagement is all set to intensify. According to a Russian source, an intense programme has been developed for this year.

The rapprochement between the erstwhile cold war adversaries was driven by Russian concerns about instability in Afghanistan. Moscow believes the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan failed to restore stability in the country.

Gen Bajwa praised Russia’s “positive role” in resolving “complex situations in the region”. The army chief, according to ISPR, told the Russian Ground Forces commander that Pakistan would continue to play its part to “keep conflicts away from the region and seek approaches which bring regional convergences into play rather than divergences”.

The army chief’s trip was preceded by the visit of National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Janjua to Russia. His meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev resulted in an understanding that the security cooperation between the two countries needed a boost.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1403729/pakistan-russia-agree-to-boost-military-cooperation

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Southeast Asia

 

Animated Short Films Could Be Answer to Spread of Extremist Ideas Among Young People

April 24, 2018

Jakarta. Extremist Islamic ideas, such as narrow-minded views of what "jihad" really means or calls to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state, are easily spread on social media in Indonesia.

Often, the targets of this propaganda are young people.

Researcher Adjie Suradji identified many such cases in an article published in Kompas newspaper on Sept. 28 last year.

He mentioned the attack by by 22-year-old Sultan Aziansyah on a police station in October 2016.

A bomb was detonated at Oikumene Church in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, by 33-year-old Juhanda in November 2016, who got help from three teenagers aged 15, 16 and 18.

The most shocking case involved 12-year-old Hatf Saiful Rasul from Bogor who traveled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State (IS) then tragically died in an air strike.

A survey by Mata Air Foundation and Alvara Research Center released in November 2017 claimed almost 20 percent of high school and university students supported the idea that Indonesia should become a caliphate – and many of the survey's correspondents said they were willing to join a jihad to achieve it.

These are the reasons why Yogyakarta's Center for the Study of Islam and Social Transformation (CISForm) has launched a series of animated short films for the internet-obessed younger generation – to provide counter narratives for these extremist ideas.

"We make animated short films that offer a different point of view or interpretation of Quranic verses or the Hadith [Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and actions] that have been regularly misinterpreted by extremists," CISForm director Muhammad Wildan said during a launch party for the films at Ibis Hotel Tamarin in Central Jakarta on Wednesday (18/04).

CISForm, an organization under the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University (UIN Sunan Kalijaga), originally launched the films in Yogyakarta two months ago.

The Jakarta launch was held in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University.

Production for the films started last year. Around 20 titles have been released on CISForm’s YouTube channel so far.

Wildan said his team will post one video every three days until they reach their goal of 40 titles.

Each film ends with a character reciting a Quranic verse, or a Hadith, or an ulema giving an explanation on the subject in question.

One of the titles clarifies common misconceptions around jihad, telling viewers going on a jihad does not mean you have to be a suicide bomber or take the often deadly journey to Syria.

Jihad, which literally means "to struggle" or "to strive" can be as simple as studying hard for your exams.

Other films remind viewers that Islam is not against the idea of democracy.

Extremists often accuse the democratic Indonesian government of being "taghut," or tyrants who set themselves up as false Gods.

But the real meaning of taghut is actually abusing one’s power.

Anyone can become taghut if they abuse power to their own advantage – anyone from state officials convicted of corruption to extremist leaders leading on innocent young people to do their dirty work.

Some of the other short films deal with more everyday subjects, such as whether or not the niqab head scarf is compulsory or whether or not non-Muslims should be allowed inside a mosque.

CISForm has also published two full-color comic books titled "Si Gun Pingin Jihad" (Gun Wants to Go on a Jihad) and "Rindu Khilafah" (Longing for a Caliphate) in 2016.

The comic books were distributed in limited quantities in schools across Yogyakarta.

'No Dalil = Hoax'

The short films' launch was attended by Nurshadrina Khaira Dhania, a 20-year-old former IS volunteer who returned from Syria last year.

Dhania went to Syria with her extended family in 2015 to live under the IS caliphate.

She told audience she had convinced her family to go to Syria because of online propaganda released by IS she saw on social media, which promised a beautiful life where Muslims leave peacefully with each other under Islamic teachings.

But what she saw in Syria was not the promised land.

Dhania and her family were placed in a filthy dorm where people get into nasty fights for the most trivial things.

The IS soldiers turned violent on these "jihadists" to punish them. Everything was contrary to the Islamic teachings Dhania knew.

Though IS had said men won't be forced to fight in Syria, the male members of Dhania’s family were sent into detention for refusing to go to battles.

Dhania’s family was condemned as "munafiq," or hypocrites.

She and her family managed to return to Indonesia last year after losing all their money twice to people smugglers.

Dhania said she has now been given "a second chance."

Dhania agreed that the internet is the main source of information for people her age.

"Counter narratives to extremist ideas can take any form, from comics, films to vlogs. The important thing is that the message has to be hard-hitting," she said.

Dhania said the content in CISForm's short films could still be improved.

"The films are good but they should have more dalil [proof]. Like what people say now, 'no picture = hoax,' young people today demand proof. The films can contain more Quranic verses or hadiths, more concrete proof so we're comfortable sharing them," she said.

Wildan said it would be quite a challenge to slip in more religious tenets into Instagram-style one-minute videos.

Nevertheless, he said "this is a new challenge for us to teach Islam in a light-hearted way to young people."

"These films will not teach you everything, but they can at least lead people to ask for more explanation about Islam from their ustad [teachers]," Wildan said.

http://jakartaglobe.id/features/animated-short-films-answer-spread-extremist-ideas-among-young-people/

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Former Islamic cleric could be Malaysia's kingmaker

April 25, 2018

While the battle for votes in Malaysia's fiercely fought general election campaign has largely focused on Prime Minister Najib Razak and his now archenemy and opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad, a one-time fiery Islamic cleric has emerged as a possible kingmaker.

Abdul Hadi Awang has aligned his one million-member Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) with Najib's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), an alliance that could steer the country toward a stronger Islamic agenda.

Just as no one in their wildest dreams could have imagined Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition chairman Mahathir and his former nemesis Anwar Ibrahim contesting the election as allies on May 9, a joint opposition ticket between Najib and Hadi is almost as surprising.

For decades UMNO and PAS, the two biggest Malay parties, were bitter rivals, seeking to mobilize the mass Malay vote at successive elections.

As a trim young Islamic cleric with a long black beard and white robes almost 40 years ago, Saudi-educated Hadi made fiery speeches denouncing UMNO, the party that has ruled since independence.

In one sermon Hadi declared that Muslims cannot work with UMNO because it "retains the constitution of the [British] colonialists, the laws of the infidels."

But 70-year-old Hadi, a tuan guru (master teacher) with two wives and 14 children, has been playing political footsie with Najib since PAS split with a three-party opposition alliance in 2015 over a series of policy disputes as the party pushed for punishments under Islamic law in Kelantan state.

Since the 1980s, when religious clerics took control of PAS, the party has had limited success trying to promote its religious agenda as an alternative to UMNO despite it being Malaysia's second-largest party by membership.

It holds only 13 seats in the 222-seat parliament after losing eight seats to defections in the last four years.

Hadi has told supporters the party aims to win enough seats on May 9 to seize power in its own right. "We either want to form the government or we want to join the government that is formed," he said.

However, PAS has never come to power through national elections and analysts say that rather than being able to win a majority of parliamentary seats, the party will act as a spoiler, causing a large number of three-cornered fights that are likely to favor UMNO, especially in seats where majorities are thin.

Even before campaigning officially got underway, Mahathir was taking aim at Hadi, saying the cleric had zero political knowledge and was unfit to lead any government.

"He should not have joined politics in the first place. He should be an ustaz (scholar) at some kampung. [This would] suit him well," Mahathir said.

Whether any formal deal has been struck between Hadi and Najib ahead of the election is unknown publicly.

But Clive Kessler, an expert on Malaysian politics from the University of New South Wales in Australia, says the old adversaries are changing Malaysia's political landscape through their complicit partnership, with a new Malay duopoly taking shape.

"The UMNO-PAS consortium sees the PAS not just reborn and strengthened but in a very serious policy and political sense in control," he said.

Hadi was quoted in February as saying that if PAS comes to power, non-Muslims would have only a secondary role in government, with Muslims in cabinet setting policy direction while non-Muslim ministers would only be tasked with carrying out what had been decided.

"IF PAS rules, [the administration] will be divided into two. One, a cabinet that decides on national policies. This must consist of people who adopt the national ideology and faith," he said.

"This cabinet will appoint an executive cabinet to carry out the policies and the members can be non-Muslims, appointed based on their experience."

Hadi said if Malaysians better understood hudud, the Islamic criminal code that includes amputations for thieves, they would choose it over civil law because it was a fair system.

"If there is hudud, it will follow what is already provided in the federal constitution or state enactments," he said.

"But non-Muslims will be given a choice of whether [to be governed by] hudud or civil law. Hudud does not seek to punish … it seeks to educate by way of instilling fear in people before they commit a crime."

Kessler, the university's emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology, said he expects that laws strengthening Islamic powers and penalties will be introduced in Malaysia "at some hardly remote time" after the election.

"We have been witnessing the slow but seemingly irreversible desecularization of Malaysian society since the mid-1980s, all under Islamic auspices, including legal and judicial matters," he said.

"Under Najib that process has intensified and accelerated as he survives, beholden to the Islamists, both local and global."

Joseph Chin Yong Liow, dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said PAS had been trying to advance its religious agenda as an alternative to UMNO since the early 1980s when the party fell into the hands of religious clerics.

It has enjoyed only limited success, with the possible exception of its Kelantan stronghold, he said.

"In fact, the PAS record is telling of a rather curious anomaly: electorally, PAS has been most successful when it worked in coalition with non-Malay parties," Liow said.

"For now, the Islamist opposition appears to have decided to go it alone, although there is evidence some of their leaders, including Abdul Hadi Awang, are leaning favorably toward UMNO. Precedence suggests such a strategy would not work in PAS' favour, and the party is not likely to win many seats, whether state or federal, on its own steam. At the same time, however, PAS will be in a position to deny victory to Pakatan Harapan's Malay parties."

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/former-islamic-cleric-could-be-malaysias-kingmaker/82138

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Indonesia Initiates World Ulema’s-Muslim Scholars Summit

25 APRIL, 2018

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesia is initiating the High-Level Consultation of World Muslim Scholars. The event will be held in the Indonesian city of Bogor from May 1 to 3, an official said.

"The high-level consultation is initiated by Indonesia, as the program of the Indonesian president's special envoy for Inter-religious and Civilization Cooperation, to develop and promote the Wasatiyat Islam concept," Indonesian president's special envoy for Inter-religious and Civilization Cooperation, Din Syamsuddin, stated on Monday.

According to him, around 100 participants, comprising of world ulemas and scholars, are expected to attend the consultation.

Some of the invitees who have confirmed their participation include Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt; Prof Ahmad Muhammad Ath-Thayyib; and President of Muslim Community Peace Promotion Forum, Prof Abdullah bin Bayyah, who is concurrently the president of the International Muslim Scholars Union.

He further remarked that the high-level consultation will discuss the concept of Islamic "Wasatiyat" and its implementation. So far, there have been many concepts in various books and the book of exegesis (Tafsir) regarding the Islamic Wasatiyat.

Full report at:

https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/04/25/055917883/Indonesia-Initiates-World-Ulemas-Muslim-Scholars-Summit

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Cops release photo of assassin behind Palestinian professor’s murder

25 April 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Police today released the photograph of one of the suspects who gunned down Palestinian professor Fadi Mohammed al-Batsh in Setapak on Saturday.

Calling for a sudden press conference in Bukit Aman, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said police managed to obtain the exact photograph with the help of the public and is now urging those with information to come forward immediately.

Initially on Monday police had released sketches of the two suspects which were drawn based on statements obtained from witnesses that have come forward to assist with investigations.

“We believe he is still in the country. I urge the public to continue helping us fast before the suspect tries to change his image …example by shaving his moustache or balding his head ..that will be a challenge then.”

Mohamad Fuzi said police have still yet to establish the suspect's identity and strongly believe that he is still in the country.

“We are still working with the relevant authorities to establish his exact identity. Our concern now is he could have used a fake identity while entering the country or while living here. That's another challenge we face currently.”

Initial investigations revealed the suspect has been in Malaysia since the end of January till now.

Investigators still can’t establish which country the suspect is from.

Earlier on Sunday police only release the photofit of both suspects to the media describing the duo to be 180cm tall and have fair complexion. One of them with a long beard.

Both were seen wearing dark jackets and carried backpacks on their high-powered motorcycles during the incident.

Meanwhile, on the search of the Kawasaki Versys with a registration number VKJ 413 used by the suspects at Danau Kota yesterday, Mohamad Fuzi confirmed it was not a stolen bike.

“We found it near a lake , about nine minutes away from the murder scene . It’s not a stolen bike and I can't tell you more at this point as investigations are still ongoing.”

Mohamad Fuzi also added police investigations have yet to rule out the possible involvement of foreign agents in the murder.

When asked by reporters if the killers were professional hired killers with military training background, he said: “definitely the murder was carried out in a professional manner.”

He refused to elaborate further.

Mohamad Fuzi urged those with information to contact any KL police or Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Rusdi Mohd Isa at 0196992261 or investigating officer ASP Shahrizal Salleh at 0177134705.

On Saturday, two men believed to be either Europeans or Middle Easterners fired 20 shots at Fadi as he was walking from his home in Setapak to a nearby mosque for “subuh prayers”.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had previously said police investigations so far showed the possible involvement of foreign agents in the killing of Fadi al-Batsh.

He said the assassination could have some links with foreign intelligence agencies, with the possibility of Fadi al-Batsh being considered a liability to nations “unfriendly” to Palestine.

On Monday, Israel's defence minister dismissed suggestions that spy agency Mossad had assassinated Fadi al-Batsh.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1623904/cops-release-photo-of-assassin-behind-palestinian-professors-murder

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Jokowi confirms meeting with 212 Rally Alumni members took place

April 25, 2018

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, addressing rumors circulating in the media, confirmed on Wednesday that a meeting between him and members of the self-proclaimed 212 Rally Alumni group took place at the Bogor Palace last Sunday.

Recently, a photo of Jokowi walking in a mosque with several members of 212 Rally Alumni went viral in media reports. The President was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and a black peci (traditional cap) while the clerics mostly wore white gamis (Muslim gowns).

Jokowi said the meeting was only a silaturahmi (friendly gathering), similar to other meetings with ulema during his visits to Islamic boarding schools and his meetings with clerics who were routinely invited to the Presidential Palace for discussion.

"The purpose is to build cordial relations with ulema, religious figures and clerics from across the country's provinces [...] in order to maintain brotherhood and unity," Jokowi said on Wednesday.

The President said that during the meeting on Sunday, he and the members conducted a midday prayer together and had lunch. The discussion was mainly about issues in society, Jokowi added.

The alumni group comprises Islamic groups and activists that participated in street protests to call for the prosecution of then-Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy in 2016.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/25/jokowi-confirms-meeting-with-212-rally-alumni-members-took-place.html

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Africa

 

Herdsmen Attack on Nigerian Church Kills 18

April 25, 2018

MAKURDI - Two priests were among at least 18 people killed in a dawn attack on a church in central Nigeria, police said Tuesday, in violence condemned by President Muhammadu Buhari as “satanic”. Around 30 suspected herdsmen attacked Mbalom community in the volatile region killing the worshippers and the two priests, said Benue state police commissioner Fatai Owoseni in the state capital of Makurdi. “They attacked the venue of a burial ceremony and also attacked the church where the two reverend fathers were holding mass,” said Owoseni.

“We were able to recover 16 bodies from the scene of the attack and those of the two priests.”

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari described the violence as “satanic” in a statement.

“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable,” said Buhari.

“Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”

Worshippers were gathered for the daily 5:30 am (0430GMT) service at St. Ignatius Catholic church when they heard gunshots, said Mbalom resident Terhemen Angor to AFP.

“People started scampering and wailing,” said Angor, saying that scores were “gunned down in cold blood while many sustained injuries including bullet wounds.”

“After attacking the church, the invaders descended on the community and razed over 60 houses,” he said.

“The community is on fire and deserted, people are fleeing to neighbouring villages hoping to find a safe haven for their families.”

The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi confirmed the death of priests Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha in a statement denouncing the violence.

Riots over the killings erupted in Makurdi, the epicentre of the violence that has thrown the state into chaos.

Police fired teargas to disperse a rampaging mob that took over a busy intersection and lit massive fires in protest of the latest attack.

“We are under siege,” said acting governor of Benue state Benson Abounu.

“We have been attacked from all corners and this is unacceptable.”

Central Nigeria is in the grip of a security crisis as nomadic herders and sedentary farmers fight over land in an increasingly bloody battle for resources.

The conflict is now more deadly than the Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged Nigeria’s northeast and is becoming a key issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential polls.

Benue state lies in Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt that separates the predominantly Muslim north from the largely Christian south.

The area has long been a hotbed of ethnic, sectarian and religious tensions between indigenous farming communities, who are mainly Christian and the nomadic cattle herders, who are Muslim.

The clashes over land have escalated into a rift that has deepened along nominally religious lines.

Buhari, who is seeking a second term, has been under pressure to end the violence and ordered in military reinforcements, but the killings continue in the absence of a strong police force and efficient judicial system.

“People are being killed regularly and nothing is being done in terms of bringing perpetrators to book,” Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development West Africa, told AFP.

“There is this belief that there is a conspiracy against the people,” Hassan said, speaking from Abuja.

“It is getting worse and it’s getting messier,” Hassan said, warning “we must quickly address this, before we get into a free-for-all war.”

https://nation.com.pk/25-Apr-2018/attack-on-nigerian-church-kills-18

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Algeria sentences Liberian to death over espionage for Israel

25 April 2018

An Algerian criminal court has awarded death penalty to a Lebanese-born Liberian national over a case of spying for Israel. The court also sentenced six individuals from Guinea and Mali to 10 years in jail in the same case.

A legal source said on Tuesday that the “Ghardaïa court south of Algeria has condemned seven individuals of different African nationalities on a case related to espionage for Israel.”

“The main accused Elm al-Deen Faisal, a Liberian national, earned death penalty, while six others were sentenced to 10-year imprisonment. Each one of them will also pay an $8,000 fine,” the source added.

The seven defendants were arrested in an Algerian police operation in the city of Ghardaïa, 600 kilometers south of Algiers, in January 2015. They were found with documents and communications equipment, which prosecutors said were related to spying for Israel.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2018/04/25/Algeria-sentences-Liberian-man-to-death-over-espionage-for-Israel.html

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Mozambique: Three Islamist Attacks Reported Over Weekend

24 APRIL 2018

Maputo — The Islamist group that has been active in parts of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado since last October launched three raids against villages over the past weekend, according to a report in Tuesday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.

The epicentre of the jihadist insurgency is the district of Mocimboa da Praia where the first attacks against police premises occurred on 5 October. Last Friday the terrorist group returned to Mocimboa da Praia, attacking the village of Diaca Velha, near the boundary with Nangade district.

The attackers stole food and other goods, and killed a number of people. The “Mediafax” report could not put a figure on the number of casualties.

On Saturday, the islamists attacked Mangwaza village in Palma district, where they killed one person, burnt down four houses and stole more food.

On Sunday, the group returned to Diaca Velha, and the local population abandoned their homes, fleeing to the nearby village of Awassi. Three people are missing, believed to have been kidnapped by the raiders.

These attacks happened within a week of President Filipe Nyusi's working visit to Cabo Delgado.

The Mozambican police have neither confirmed nor denied the weekend attacks. Contacted by “Mediafax”, the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina, asked for time to obtain information from Cabo Delgado.

However, the paper's sources report that the Defence and Security Forces in Cabo Delgado launched pursuit operations on Sunday, and captured 30 people believed to be members of the jihadist group.

About a week ago the Cabo Delgado provincial attorney's office remitted to the provincial court the case against 234 people arrested after the earlier attacks, 32 of whom are Tanzanian nationals. They are accused of crimes including first degree murder, mercenarism and the illegal possession and use of firearms.

155 of the accused are in preventive detention, while the other 79 have been released conditionally and are awaiting trial at home.

The prosecution says that none of the accused give clear motives for their actions, and will not say who ordered the attacks.

The group is known locally as “Al Shabaab”, although it does not seem to have any formal connection with the Somali terrorist organisation of that name. Among its demands are the imposition of sharia law, a ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks, and the removal of secular monuments and Christian crosses.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201804250074.html

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Special operators say African terror groups a future threat to US, if not right now

By JOHN VANDIVER

April 24, 2018

AGADEZ, Niger — The runway under construction here, stretching more than a mile in the southern Sahara Desert, is both the Air Force’s biggest building project ever and the newest sign of a growing American military campaign against extremists in West Africa.

At Air Base 201, U.S. airmen put down damp burlap sacks to keep fresh concrete from cracking under the blaze, while building a home for MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The U.S. is bolstering air operations at a time when the costs of its Africa strategy have grown clearer: five American servicemembers were killed in combat operations during the past year in Africa, the first such deaths in a generation.

It raises the question: Does the threat posed by any extremist group in Africa justify U.S. forces being thrust into harm’s way?

As the Pentagon has dedicated more resources to counterterrorism efforts in Africa, there are conflicting views among security analysts about the broader threat and whether it’s as significant as the U.S. military sees it.

“I think we can be smarter about what we are doing and doubling down on a military investment isn’t really a smart long-term strategy,” said Steven Feldstein, a former State Department official for Africa and analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Is $100 million for a drone base in Agadez the smartest way to approach the issue?”

U.S. military leaders acknowledge that none of the major extremist groups — Al-Shabab in Somalia and a mix of Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates elsewhere — constitute a major threat to the U.S. today. But commanders argue that they could if their activities go unchecked.

“If there isn’t something done to assist the countries across the Sahel region, it is going to become a very real threat,” said Col. Brad Moses, commander of the 3rd Special Operations Group, which handles missions in 11 West African countries. “Twenty years from now they will be an existential threat if we don’t assist our partner forces now.”

The rationale for the military’s expanding mission in places like Somalia and Niger and a $110 million base in Agadez — that a threat to the homeland looms in the not-so-distant future — has generally been accepted in Washington.

Terrorism’s ebb and flow

Moses’ assessment echoes what top military leaders have been saying since U.S. Africa Command was launched a decade ago. Gen. William E. Ward, who stood AFRICOM up in 2007, to Gen. Thomas Waldhauser today, all have said the same thing — that extremists on the African continent aspire to attack America. When four soldiers were killed in an October ambush in Niger, lawmakers were surprised by the risk troops face, but not necessarily the underlying logic that drives the missions.

The data gives a mixed picture about how terrorism is evolving in Africa.

In 2017, there was a nearly 50 percent decline in fatalities, with 10,376 deaths caused by Islamic militant groups in Africa compared with 18,728 in 2015, according to the U.S. government-affiliated African Center for Strategic Studies.

Much of the drop-off is attributed to few attacks by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram group, which a few years ago was the most lethal of all African terrorist groups. Boko Haram has expressed little interest and demonstrated no capability in operating outside the region.

However, Al-Qaida aligned groups have proved resilient in West Africa. They caused 391 deaths last year, nearly double 2016’s fatalities, according to ACSS. The increase is blamed on the emergence of a new jihadi umbrella group known as Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin, or JNIM.

In March, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for an attack on an Army base in Burkina Faso and the French embassy there, which caught the attention of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa boss Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks. The attacks marked a shift from mainly civilian-populated areas to hard targets.

“They (al-Qaida linked groups) have been building capability and capacity since 2012,” Hicks said during a recent stop in Niger to observe his command’s Flintlock exercise, the largest special operations war game on the Continent.

For Hicks, the military’s investment now in places like Niger equals preventive medicine.

“This is exactly the time and exactly the place to address these threats,” Hicks said in an interview. “If we don’t deal with it here at a cost that is affordable, we will end up dealing with it somewhere else at a much higher cost.”

The risk of not acting

Feldstein says more skepticism is needed when considering aspirational rhetoric from extremists and what they are actually capable of achieving. But to argue against the idea that the militant groups in Africa could evolve into the al-Qaida of Osama Bin Laden is to take on risk.

“If you are the person who basically says I don’t think this threat is that serious and something happens, no matter how small, that can be used against you,” Feldstein said. “It is always to your political advantage to be very serious about threats.”

In Africa, the costs have been high for U.S. special operations forces. In May, SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer Kyle Milliken was killed in combat in Somalia.

In Niger, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright of the 3rd Special Forces Group were killed in the October ambush along with attached soldiers Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

“It’s a complex environment just like any other place we work in,” said Capt. Neal, a Green Beret with the 3rd Special Forces Group who recently advised Nigerien troops during the Flintlock exercise.

Neal, whose last name was withheld for security reasons, declined to comment on the ambush in Niger. But when asked whether it was worth taking on risks in countries like Niger where the threats to the U.S. are vague, he said it was.

Full report at:

https://www.stripes.com/news/special-operators-say-african-terror-groups-a-future-threat-to-us-if-not-right-now-1.523659

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Somalia: Al-Shabaab Launches Attack On AU Peacekeepers' Base Near Mogadishu

24 APRIL 2018

Heavily armed Al-Shabab militants have launched an overnight attack against AMISOM military base in the vicinity of Elasha Biyaha, located on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

Residents reported that units from Al-Shabaab carried out the assault in the early hours of the night on Burundi forces based at Arba'ow area, near Elasha Biyaha.

"We heard a lot of heavy gunfire and grenade explosion," a resident who asked to remain anonymous, told Radio Shabelle over the phone.

There were no immediate reports on casualties, and Al-Shabaab said in a statement that its fighters inflicted heavy casualties on the AMISOM troops in the base during the gunfight.

This comes amidst a time where the Al-Shabab, a militant group linked with Al Qaeda has threatened to step up its attacks against Somali and African Union forces in the country.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201804240786.html

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Boko Haram: Security operatives foil suicide bomb attack in Bama

April 24, 2018

By Maina Maina

Security Operatives in Bama town of Bama local government area of Borno State, northeast Nigeria, monday night foiled a suicide attack in the town.

This came less than 48 hours after bombs detonated at a mosque killed 7 people.

A statement from DSP Edet Okon,

PPRO Borno State Command on Tuesday morning, said, at about 10pm Monday night, three suicide bombers who attempted to infiltrate Bama town through Ajilari area were sighted and challenged by security operatives.

“The bombers hurriedly detonated the IEDs strapped to their bodies killing themselves only.

“The area has been rendered safe by PMF and EOD personnel of the Nigeria Police Force. Normalcy has also been restored.” The Police said.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/04/24/boko-haram-security-operatives-foil-suicide-bomb-attack-bama/

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Arab World

 

More American, French Military Convoys Arrive in Northeastern Syria

Apr 24, 2018

Al-Manar TV network reported that a new American military column, including several vehicles, arrived in Hasaka city and later moved toward the town of al-Shadadi in Southern Hasaka.

The network quoted field sources as reporting that the US convoy of armored vehicles moved towards al-Shadadi from a military base North of Khabour Dam.

Al-Manar further said that three military vehicles under French flags entered a Kurdish militia base in al-Aliyeh silos region South of the town of Ra'as al-Ein in Northwestern Hasaka.

Another Arab media also reported earlier today that the US Army has set up a new military base in Hasaka province despite President Donald Trump's claims that Washington is resolved to withdraw forces from Syria.

Moraseloun news website quoted media activists as reporting that the US forces have embarked on setting up a new military bas between the towns of Tal Tamer and Tal Bidar in Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria.

It added that the US plans to set up a military airport near the base.

Donald Trump recently announced that Washington is determined to withdraw its military forces from Syria.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970204001209

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Syrian Army Captures ISIL's Positions in Southern Damascus

Apr 24, 2018

The pro-government troops, backed up by missile and artillery units, finally broke through the years-old ISIL frontline positions South of Hajar al-Aswad region after days of bombardment with tank fire, artillery shelling and airstrikes.

Field sources said that the army's advances represent a definitive shattering of the ISIL's first line of defense around Southern Damascus, at least in al-Qadam and Hajar al-Aswad regions.

According to military-affiliated sources, the Syrian Army’s seasoned 4th Mechanized Division – supported by the National Defense Forces – managed to capture the al-Jorah Orchards in al-Qadam district, now giving them fire control over the al-Jorah neighborhood area.

Earlier, the army distributed thousands of leaflets in militant-held regions in the Southern part of Damascus province, urging the terrorists to lay down arms and surrender to the government forces immediately.

The army men continued to storm ISIL's positions in the Southern part of Damascus province and imposed control over several farms between Hajar al-Aswad and Yalda region up to Matnazah al-Asheq and al-Bawayek regions.

Also, the Syrian Air Force pounded ISIL's strongholds in Yarmouk Refugee Camp and Hajar al-Aswad, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at terrorists' movements and positions in al-Tarboush area in Yarmouk camp.

A field source reported that the army's advances have tightened noose on the terrorists in the region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970204001170

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Militants in Three Regions in Southern Damascus Join Peace with Syrian Army

Apr 24, 2018

The Syrian Army and the Russian Reconciliation Center, in a meeting with the militants near Bebeila-Seyedi checkpoint, concluded the preliminary measures to a peace agreement in Yalda, Bebeila and Beit Saham regions in the Southern part of Damascus province.

Based on the agreement, the militants who refuse to join the peace plan will leave the region for other militant-held areas and those who do not intend to leave are allowed to apply for government amnesty.

However, the army operation against the ISIL and Al-Nusra will continue in Southern Damascus.

Earlier reports said that the army distributed thousands of leaflets in militant-held regions in the Southern part of Damascus province, urging the terrorists to lay down arms and surrender to the government forces immediately.

The army men continued to storm ISIL's positions in the Southern part of Damascus province and imposed control over several farms between Hajar al-Aswad and Yalda region up to Matnazah al-Asheq and al-Bawayek regions.

Also, the Syrian Air Force pounded ISIL's strongholds in Yarmouk Refugee Camp and Hajar al-Aswad, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at terrorists' movements and positions in al-Tarboush area in Yarmouk camp.

A field source reported that the army's advances have tightened noose on the terrorists in the region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970204000977

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Russian Air Force Pounds Terrorists' Positions in Idlib Province

Apr 24, 2018

The fighter jets stuck the terrorist groups' tactical positions, storage sites, camps and movements in and around the town of al-Habit (near the militant stronghold of Kafr Nabudah) in Southern Idlib.

The Russian airstrikes in Southern Idlib were, at the same time, supplemented by heavy fire of artillery units of the Syrian Army in al-Latamina, Kafr Zita and Zakat regions.

The Syrian Army artillery and Russian warplanes often target terrorists in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib (sometimes on a daily basis) in response to the militants' shelling of government-held areas and as a means to foiling militants' mobilizations.

In a relevant development earlier this month the Russian and Syrian warplanes carried out several rounds of combat flights over the positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham in Jisr al-Shughour, Ariha, Jabal al-Zawiyeh, Jabal al-Araba'een, al-Sukriyeh, al-Qasaniyeh and Halouz region in Southwestern Idlib, killing an unspecified number of militants and destroying their equipment.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970204000933

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Syrian Army Repels Turkey-Backed Terrorists' Heavy Offensives in Western Aleppo

Apr 24, 2018

Syria's al-Watan daily reported that the army warded off two heavy offensives of the terrorists in Western Aleppo, adding that the militants' attacks on government forces' positions West of the Research Center Building and Northwest of Rasoul Grand Mosque in the Western countryside of Aleppo city were both repelled.

The daily further said that the clashes between the army men and militants spilled over to Jam'iyat al-Zahra and New Aleppo neighborhoods.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units pounded terrorists' positions in the settlements and villages of al-Mansoura, Kafr Hamra and al-Lairamoun, killing or wounding a number of militants and destroying their equipment.

Al-Watan further said that the militants' attacks on the government forces in Aleppo had been done at the order of Ankara to derail the public attention from growing tensions among terrorists groups in Western Aleppo.

Infighting among terrorist groups is on rise in Western Aleppo. Control over several regions in Northern Syria is exchanged between Syria's Tahrir Front and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at as a result of fierce clashes between the two rival groups.

Tahrir al-Sham recaptured the village of Taqad in Western Aleppo earlier today after they lost it to Syria's Tahrir front on Sunday.

A tough battle is now underway between the two rival groups in the villages and towns of Bastaroun, Ajel, al-Abzamou, al-Habatah, al-Zaba'a hills, al-Nu'aman and Taqad in Western Aleppo. Both warring sides have reportedly sustained a number of casualties in the clashes.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970204000878

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Tahrir Al-Sham Retreats again after Fierce Clashes with Rival Terrorists in Northern Syria

Apr 24, 2018

Tahrir al-Sham stormed the positions of Syria's Tahrir front in Western Aleppo and seized control again over the villages of Labanta, al-Habatah and two regions of Ja'iyeh al-Sa'adiyeh and Ebud al-Rahman.

The two warring sides sustained casualties in the clashes.

In the meantime, Syria's Tahrir front stormed the positions of Tahrir al-Sham in the small town of Uroum al-Kobra in Western Aleppo.

In a similar development on Monday, control over several regions in Northern Syria was exchanged between Syria's Tahrir Front and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at following fierce clashes among rival groups in Western Aleppo.

Tahrir al-Sham recaptured the village of Taqad in Western Aleppo earlier today after they lost it to Syria's Tahrir front on Sunday.

A tough battle is now underway between the two rival groups in the villages and towns of Bastaroun, Ajel, al-Abzamou, al-Habatah, al-Zaba'a hills, al-Nu'aman and Taqad in Western Aleppo. Both warring sides have reportedly sustained a number of casualties in the clashes.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970204000692

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Pay for US military presence in Syria or lose Washington support: Saudi to Qatar

Apr 25, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir says Qatar must pay for the US military presence in Syria if it wants to sustain Washington’s support.

“Qatar has to pay for US military presence in Syria and send its military forces there, before the US president cancels US protection of Qatar," Jubeir said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Tuesday.

He made the remarks hours after US President Donald Trump urged wealthy Middle Eastern countries to increase their spending in Syria in a bid to contain Iran after the collapse of the Daesh terrorist group in the Arab country.

“Very rich countries are in the Middle East.  They have to make major contributions.  They have not been doing it as they should.  A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort,” Trump said in a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Jubeir further claimed if the US withdraws its 11,000 military personnel from al-Udeid Air Base southwest of Doha, Qatar “would fall there in less than a week.”

Last week, the top Saudi diplomat expressed Riyadh’s readiness to send troops to Syria as part of a potential wider deployment led by the US.

The comments came in response to Trump’s call on Washington’s allies, “including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, and others” to form an Arab force to replace the US military in Syria.

“We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing larger amounts of money,” he said.

Additionally, US military newspaper Stars and Stripes revealed last month that Trump had asked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for $4 billion to spend on advancing Washington’s objectives in Syria, which Riyadh also shares.

Last December, the US president lamented Washington’s waste of $7 trillion in the Middle East wars.

“After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!” he tweeted.

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/25/559635/Qatar-Saudi-Arabia-Syria

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No deals for remaining Daesh terrorists in southern Damascus: Syria minister

Apr 24, 2018

A Syrian minister has said remaining militants in southern Damascus will not be offered reconciliation deals by the government.

The Syrian minister in charge for national reconciliation, Ali Haidar, made the announcement on Tuesday, noting that the militants remaining in the Hajar al-Aswad area and Yarmouk were mostly comprised of Daesh Takfriri terrorists.

"The problem with the rebels in Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk is that they are mostly Daesh militants. So communication and reaching a final deal is not possible with an organization like Daesh," he said.

He added that Syrian military operations will continue in the region until the terrorists are eradicated.

"Military operation is what will determine the situation in Yarmouk," he added.

Haidar noted that the aerial bombardment of the said areas would be carried out via precision operations.

"The military operation is based on targeting a bank of militant sites and weapons stores. It is a bank of targets and not random bombardment. Hence the operation took a while and may continue for days, because it is a precise operation," he added.

Earlier, Syrian government troops, supported by Syrian Air Force fighter jets,  launched a new operation in the country’s southwestern province of Rif Dimashq, targeting underground tunnels and fortified positions used by Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

On Sunday, militants and families were still being evacuated from Eastern Qalamoun to Syria’s northern regions.

As a result of a deal between the Syrian government and militant groups on the withdrawal of militants from the three localities, armed groups and their families have been evacuating Eastern Qalamoun since Saturday, after handing over their weapons and ammunition to the government troops.

On Friday, Syrian forces established full control over a town northeast of the capital, Damascus, after the militants controlling the area agreed to hand it back to the government. 

The withdrawal of Jaish al-Islam militants and their families followed that of their fellows earlier this month from the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus.

Dumayr is a short drive away from Douma, the last East Ghouta town the government managed to recapture from the militant groups.

The Syrian army on April 14 declared the liberation of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus, after the last pockets of militants from the so-called Jaish al-Islam group and their families left the area.

The militants and their relatives were fully evacuated to the militant-held city of Jarablus in northern Syria.

Earlier on Tuesday, the EU and UN kicked off a two-day conference in Brussels in an attempt to boost humanitarian aid for Syria from international donors, as the seven-year crisis continues to take its toll on millions of people in the country.

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/24/559601/syria-minister-takfiri-yarmouk

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UN, EU hold conference to gather more aid for Syrian people

Apr 24, 2018

The EU and UN have held a two-day conference in Brussels in an attempt to boost humanitarian aid for Syria from international donors, as the seven-year crisis continues to take its toll on millions of people in the country.

Aid organizations, UN agencies and donor countries, gathered in Brussels on Tuesday for the seventh annual conference on Syria's future.

Senior UN and EU officials are scheduled to hold talks with aid organizations working in Syria and neighboring countries before government ministers meet on Wednesday.

While according to EU figures, the total aid provided by international community after the 2017 conference was $7.5 billion, the bloc hopes to gather more help in this year’s conference.

"We have seen the situation get dramatically worse since the beginning of the year. We have had inside Syria some 700,000 displaced during a period of four months," AFP quoted a senior EU official as saying.

According to the EU, nearly 6.1 Syrian are currently internally displaced, over five million have fled the country and 13 million other are in need of assistance.

One third of Syrian youngsters are out of school and a third of schools in the country cannot be used due to the war, Save the Children International chief executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt said.

UN children's agency UNICEF said nearly 2.8 million Syrian children had stopped their education, warning that going to school in some parts of Syria "has at times become a matter of life and death."

The war crisis has killed nearly half a million people inside Syria. Meanwhile, over 400,000 people are still trapped in different areas under siege.

Apart from the humanitarian donations, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also held talks with UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday with regard to resumption of Syria peace talks.

Following the meeting, Mogherini and de Mistura appealed for swift political talks to end the long war in Syria, noting that military force cannot resolve the crisis.

“Real, meaningful political negotiations ... are clearly the only way forward,” Mogherini said.

The Syrian government and opposition groups are already involved in a political process mediated by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The talks have led to the formation of four de-escalation zones across Syria and helped significantly reduce violence in the country.

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/24/559593/Syria-UN-EU

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Mideast

 

Iran vows retaliation over Israeli air raid on Syria

April 25, 2018

TEHRAN/BRUSSELS - A senior Iranian security official vowed Tuesday that Iran will punish Israel for killing its military advisers in an air raid on Syria.

The Islamic republic would decide on the time, place and way to respond to the Israeli "evil" move , Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said. "Israel has violated Syria's air space and has targeted the forces fighting terrorism," Shamkhani said, adding that Israel should wait for the consequences and retaliation. Shamkhani made the remarks on Tuesday before leaving Tehran for an international security conference in Russia's Sochi. On April 8, Israel reportedly launched airstrikes on Syria's T4 air base, killing 14 people including Iranian military advisers.

Israel warns of attack if Russia air defences used in Syria

Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that his country would attack Russian S-300 air defence systems in Syria if they were used against Israeli targets.

His remarks came a day after the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Moscow could soon start to deliver S-300 systems to its ally Damascus, and cited a source as warning of “catastrophic” consequences if they were attacked.

EU, UN seek aid boost for Syria

The EU and UN on Tuesday began a two-day push to drum up fresh aid pledges for war-torn Syria and reinvigorate the faltering Geneva peace process as the conflict enters its eighth year. Donor countries, aid organisations and UN agencies are gathering in Brussels for the seventh annual conference on Syria's future as international inspectors probe a suspected gas attack in the town of Douma, highlighting the brutal nature of the war.

The meeting comes in the wake of strikes by the United States, France and Britain on Syrian military installations, carried out in response to the alleged chemical weapons incident in Douma which has been widely blamed on Damascus. EU officials hope to beat the $6 billion (5.6 billion euros) pledged at last year's gathering, as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a new offensive against Islamic State militants entrenched in a southern district of Damascus.

The UN has warned that its own appeal for money for humanitarian work in Syria this year is less than a quarter funded, receiving less than $800 million of the $3.5 billion needed.

"Within the resources we can plausibly expect to mobilise this year we cannot meet even all the urgent needs," Mark Lowcock, the head of UN humanitarian agency OCHA said at the start of the conference. "Our focus is now to ensure the 5.6 m people we assess as being in acute need inside Syria are made the focus."

Some 6.1 people are now internally displaced, more than five million have fled Syria and 13 million including six million children are in need of aid, according to the EU.

Lowcock said the "intensity of the humanitarian crisis has escalated again in 2018", with more than 700,000 people displaced since the start of the year.

UN and EU officials are holding talks with aid groups working in Syria and neighbouring countries on Tuesday to get their views before government ministers arrive on Wednesday.

Save the Children International chief executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt urged donors to focus on education, saying a third of Syrian youngsters are out of school and a third of Syrian schools are unusable because of the war.

"We have let Syrian children down. This is the seventh year and they're still being let down," Thorning-Schmidt told AFP.

"2018 has been a very bloody year for Syrian children, and one of the things they are missing out on enormously is education."

UN children's agency UNICEF said some 2.8 million Syrian children had missed out on education, warning that in parts of the country simply going to school "has at times become a matter of life and death".

According to EU figures, the total given by the international community after last year's conference was $7.5 billion - 25 percent more than pledged - with Germany, the United States and EU institutions leading the way.

Alongside the aid drive, the EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini will hold talks with the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Tuesday as part of efforts to restart peace talks.

Eight rounds of talks under UN auspices in Geneva have made little headway, while Russia, Iran and Turkey launched a rival process in the Kazakh capital Astana last year.

Russia and Iran are Assad's key allies and their military intervention in Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the civil war.

But the EU still insists the Geneva process is the best way to bring an end to the war.

"The only way to avoid that the Syrian crisis spirals into wider conflict is to put pressure on all parties including the Syrian regime to come to Geneva for meaningful discussions," Mogherini said last week.

EU foreign ministers said the conference should be used to "reinvigorate" the Geneva process, but it is not clear how effectively the gathering will be able to do this.

As with previous editions of the conference, neither the Syrian government nor opposition groups will be represented. It also remains unclear who, if anyone, will come for Russia, Turkey and Iran.

https://nation.com.pk/25-Apr-2018/591566

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Yemeni resistance will defeat aggressors soon: Iran

Apr 24, 2018

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi says the Yemeni people's resistance will achieve a final victory in the face of aggressors soon.

Qassemi on Tuesday expressed his condolences over the assassination of a senior official of the Houthi Ansarullah movement in a Saudi Arabia’s airstrike in the western Yemeni province of Hudaydah.

He praised the resistance of the brave and patient Yemeni people over the past three years and said they would enjoy the sweet taste of victory against aggressors in the near future.

Saleh al-Samad, the chairman of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, lost his life in Saudi airstrikes that targeted his residence in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah on Thursday.

The council also conveyed its sincere condolences to the Yemeni nation for the loss of Samad, an influential figure in Yemen’s resistance against a more-than-three-year-old war imposed by Riyadh on the impoverished country.

IRGC condemns Saudi attack in Hudaydah

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) also on Tuesday denounced the recent Saudi-led airstrike in Hudaydah and extended its condolences to the Yemeni people, army and Leader of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi.

"This crime shows that the admirable resistance of the Muslim, oppressed and Arab people of Yemen thwarted a plot by Saudi criminals and their regional and extra-regional allies," IRGC spokesman Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif said.

He added that the Yemeni people's resistance would lead to a final victory, God willing.

"Undoubtedly, crimes by Yemen's enemies to continue killing this country's people and continue their food and medicine blockade will lead nowhere," the IRGC spokesperson pointed out.

Yemen’s Supreme Political Council was formed by the Houthi movement and the General People’s Congress Party to run state affairs in the absence of an effective government in 2016, a year after the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies began their US-backed war against the country.

Samad was number two on the Saudi-led coalition’s most-wanted list and the alliance had offered $20 million for any information that would lead to his capture.

The leader of Houthi Ansarullah movement, in a live speech, said on Friday all aggressor countries, including the US and Saudi Arabia, were responsible for the killing of Samad, and they must await the consequences of their crime.

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/24/559584/Qassemi-Houthi-Ansarullah-Yemen-Saleh-alSamad-IRGC-Saudi-Arabia

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EU leader Mogherini says current Iran nuclear deal should be kept

25 April 2018

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the current deal with Iran is working effectively to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and should be preserved for the future.

Mogherini spoke after US President Trump again showed dissatisfaction with the international agreement during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, highlighting a trans-Atlantic rift on the issue.

Macron said the current deal should not be ripped apart without a clear path to the future, and said after talks with Trump that there could be a way to move to a “new agreement,” building on the one in place.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/04/25/EU-leader-Mogherini-says-current-Iran-nuclear-deal-should-be-kept.html

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Israel warns of attack if Russia air defences used in Syria

24 April 2018

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that his country would attack Russian S-300 air defense systems in Syria if they were used against Israeli targets.

His remarks came a day after the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Moscow could soon start to deliver S-300 systems to its ally Damascus, and cited a source as warning of “catastrophic” consequences if they were attacked.

“What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us,” Lieberman told the news website Ynet.

“If they’re used against us, we’ll act against them.”

Russia and Syria signed an accord in 2010 for the S-300 system but the missiles have not been delivered because of Israeli pressure, according to Kommersant.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month that no decision had yet been taken on the S-300 missiles.

The Russians have deployed the S-300 around their own Tartus naval base on Syria’s Mediterranean coast and the more advanced S-400 at their Hmeimim air base in western Syria.

“We have an open line; we really do have discourse” with the Russians, said Lieberman, noting that their systems had never been used against Israel.

“For several years we’ve been constantly in coordination and able to avoid friction with the Russians.”

Israel and Syria are still technically at war, though the armistice line on the sector of the Golan Heights which the Jewish state seized from its Arab neighbour in 1967 was largely quiet for decades until the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011.

The Israeli side of the Golan has since seen regular spillover fire, and Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes on Syrian armed forces and their allies.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/04/24/Israel-warns-of-attack-if-Russia-air-defenses-used-in-Syria-.html

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Saudi Arabia confirms it killed senior official of Yemen’s Houthi movement

Apr 25, 2018

Saudi Arabia confirms that it has been behind the airstrike that killed the President of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council Saleh al-Samad last week.

Saudi forces “were able to successfully” target the senior official with the Houthi Ansarullah movement, Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khaled bin Salman tweeted on Tuesday.

Khaled said his brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Saudi defense minister, oversaw the attack, which came after Samad threatened to launch missile strikes in retaliation for Riyadh’s deadly bombardments.

Samad lost his life as his residence in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah was pounded on Thursday.

He was number two on the Saudi-led coalition’s most-wanted list and the alliance had offered $20 million for any information that would lead to his capture.

The Supreme Political Council was formed by the Houthi movement and the General People’s Congress Party to run state affairs in the absence of an effective government in 2016, a year after the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies began their US-backed military aggression.

Yemen’s top governing body has appointed Mehdi Mohammad Hussein al-Mashat as its new head.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry has vowed a “crushing response” to the assassination, saying Saudi Arabia and the US will regret their “criminal adventurism.”

Leader of the Houthi Ansarullah movement Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi held the US and Saudi Arabia responsible for Samad’s killing, saying, “This crime won’t go unanswered.”

The Saudi aggression was launched in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government of president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and against the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective administration.

The offensive has, however, achieved neither of its goals despite the spending of billions of petrodollars and the enlisting of Saudi Arabia's regional and Western allies.

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/25/559632/yemen-Saudi-arabia-houthi

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Palestinian State without Al-Quds As Capital Will Not Be Accepted: PA Spokesman

Apr 24, 2018

The spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinians will not accept any attempt aimed at the solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict without occupied Jerusalem al-Quds being the capital of Palestine.

“We tell those who try to circumvent the Arab Peace Initiative and legitimate international resolutions by proposing vague ideas or slogans that these attempts are doomed to failure because no one will accept them, and there will be no Palestinian or Arab interaction with them,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement published on the official Wafa news agency on Tuesday.

He added, “All solutions and ideas will fall short without establishing an independent Palestinian state with East al- Quds as its capital and on the 1967 borders, and a just solution to the refugee issue.”

“Al-Quds with its holy site will remain the core of the Palestinian identity, and the key to peace, security and stability in the region and the whole world. We reiterate that any bogus and unclear idea will be futile, and will direct the region and the world towards more tensions and instability,” Abu Rudeineh pointed out.

The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed a new wave of tension ever since US President Donald Trump announced his decision on December 6 last year to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the city triggered demonstrations in the occupied territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.

On December 21 last year, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”

In an attempt to avert the resolution, Trump warned that “we’re watching,” threatening reprisals against countries that backed the measure, which had earlier faced a US veto at the UN Security Council.

Israel, however, rejected the world body’s resolution while thanking Trump for his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

On January 18, the US reneged on a December pledge to contribute $45 million in food aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The announcement came only two days after the US State Department said it would withhold another $65 million in funding to UNRWA.

The announcement to cut aid to Palestinian refugees came after the US president made a threat to cut off aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.

In a series of tweets on January 2, Trump said that the US had paid “the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year” and yet got “no appreciation or respect.”

Full report at:

http://107.189.40.42/Detail/2018/04/24/559578/Palestinian-state-without-alQuds-as-capital-will-not-be-accepted-PA-spox

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