New Age Islam
Mon Mar 04 2024, 03:50 AM

Islamic World News ( 24 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Amid Mourning for Imam Hussein, Millions Give Messages of Unity across Turkey

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 Oct 2015

A mourning ceremony marking the death of Imam Husain in the seventh century was organized by members of İstanbul’s Jafari community in Halkalı on Friday. (Photo: Today's Zaman)



 Amid Mourning for Imam Hussein, Millions Give Messages of Unity across Turkey

 Saudi Fighter Jets Bomb Yemen's Hudaydah, Kill 115

 Another Iranian General, 7 Other IRGC Members Killed in Syria

 Former President Ahmadinejad's Bodyguard Killed in Syria

 Turkey says new wave of Syrian refugees will head for Europe



Southeast Asia

 Indonesia's Aceh Province Enacts Enforcement of Islamic Sharia Criminal Code

 Maldives Vice President Held Over Allegedly Plotting To Assassinate President

 Republic of Indonesia celebrates Santri Day by promoting pluralism

 Human rights body investigates student magazine recall



Arab World

 300 Militants Killed in Operations in Lattakia Province

 U.S, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Explore Political Solution on Syria

 ‘Baghdad Was Not Informed Of US Special Forces Raid’

 Militants Withdrawing in Aleppo, Syrian-Hezbollah Joint Forces Capture Two More Villages

 Russian Airstrikes Paralyze ISIL Terrorists in Syria's Deir Ezzur

 ISIL Sustains Large Casualties in Syrian Army Attack in Hama Province

 Syrian Army Tightens Noose around Militants in Damascus Countryside after Deadly Clashes

 Syrian Army, Popular Forces Win Back More Villages in Homs Province

 Syrian Fighter Jets Stage Massive Air Raids on Nusra, ISIL Positions in Aleppo

 Pentagon expects more raids similar to Iraq rescue

 Kurds say joint raid with U.S. in Iraq aimed to free their fighters

 Three countries seek help from King Salman Relief Centre




 Mosque Blasts Claim 55 Lives in Nigeria

 Rockets Kill Nine at Libya Protest against U.N. Deal

 EU calls for more cooperation with Sudan on migration

 What Nigeria Must Do To Defeat Boko Haram – Obasanjo




 Suicide Attack on Muharram Procession Claims 22 Lives

 Drone Kills Six ISIS Militants near Khyber Agency

 Nawaz Urges US to Side with Pakistan against Indian Aggression

 Nawaz Sharif says can’t bring Taliban to peace and kill them at same time

 Pakistan’s peacekeeping role highlighted

 Contempt petition filed against PM for English speech at UN

 CTD captures two ‘terrorists’

 MQM leaders barred from criticising govt

 Terror bids foiled in Kurram, Tank

 Ashura gives lesson of fighting against tyranny: Yousaf

 Terror attacks down by 70pc



South Asia

 21 ISIS Loyalists Killed In Separate Drone Strikes in Nangarhar

 Huseni Dalan Attack Planned To Destabilise Country: DMP

 Blasts kill one at Huseni Dalan, Bangladesh

 Bangladesh investigates alleged radical threat sent by Islamist group against media

 Hindu devotees in Bangladesh bid farewell to Goddess Durga

 Afghan special forces in firing line as fighting spreads




 400 Years On, This Tazia Symbolises Hindu-Muslim Unity

 Slain Hizbul Mujahideen Men Featured In Social Media Posts: Cops

 Lashkar says Sharif promised action against it to please India



North America

 White House Warns Netanyahu ‘Inflammatory Rhetoric’ Must Stop

 Obama names new counter-IS envoy

 Obama says Black Lives Matter movement raises ‘legitimate issue’




 Hundreds of Activists Hold Anti-Israeli Rally In Madrid

 Germany Speeds Up New Measures to Deal with Refugee Influx

 Iran, Egypt should attend future talks on Syrian crisis: Russia

 German Police Foil Attack on Refugee Shelter


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau






Amid Mourning for Imam Hussein, Millions Give Messages of Unity across Turkey

October 23, 2015

Millions of Sunnis and Alevis across Turkey on Friday marked the day of Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, in a battle near Karbala.

The mourning in the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year, reached its peak on the day of Ashura, which means “10” in Arabic and refers to the 10th day of Muharram, as a series of events was held in many provinces and districts all throughout Friday to commemorate the day when the forces of Umayyad Caliph Yazid killed Imam Hussein and his supporters in Karbala, 80 kilometres south of Baghdad in modern-day Iraq in A.D. 680.

Thousands of Alevis gathered in different districts in İstanbul on Friday. A mourning ceremony organized by members of the Jafari community was held in İstanbul's Halkalı district. Turkish Jafari Association President Selahattin Özgündüz said Jafaris do not want anything except “solidarity, justice and equality on these soils.” The event started with a recitation from the Quran, with many participants wearing black in mourning and holding chains on their arms, which are used for self-flagellation as a way to experience the pain of the Karbala massacre.

In another event in Maltepe, Alevis and Sunnis came together for an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner organized by the Anatolian Alevi Association on Thursday night.

In another ceremony held in the eastern province of Kars, a number of mourners donated blood to commemorate the martyrs of Karbala instead of flagellating themselves with chains, as is normally seen in some mourning ceremonies. As part of the ceremony, a re-enactment of the Karbala massacre was performed, causing some to weep.

Another mourning ceremony organized by members of the Turna Alevi Bektaşi Association was held in Amasya's Merzifon district on Friday. Turna Alevi Bektaşi Association head and member of the Anadolu Alevi Bektaşi Federation's executive branch Sevgül Akgün called for unity among Muslims. “Today we commemorate the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and the son of Imam Ali. The massacre of Imam Hussein along with a small group of his companions and family members is still great source of sorrow for us. As long as we live, we will continue to remember him and 72 of his companions with respect,” Akgün told the press following the ceremony.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) deputy and former president of the Confederation of Alevi Associations in Europe (AABF) Turgut Öker hosted an iftar at Parliament on Thursday. The dinner was attended by Alevi dedes (spiritual leaders) and a number of Alevi citizens affiliated with several Alevi organizations across Turkey.

In the İstanbul suburb of Tuzla, cemevis (Alevi houses of worship) made a statement of unity on Thursday during an iftar. Osman Eğri, a professor specializing in Alevi studies at Hittite University, said the message of unity that was preached in the 13th century by Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli, the spiritual leader of the Alevi community, should be embraced.

Imam Hussein, a great example in fight against despotism

Former Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Nuri Yılmaz said Imam Hussein serves as a great model for people today as he gave his life fighting against tyranny and injustice.

“When Yazid I illegally succeeded his father, Muawiyah, as the new caliph in 680, everybody obeyed him due to fear. There was only a group of people who resisted him: Imam Hussein, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Umar, etc. Those people are great examples for us as they fought against despotism and died for this cause,” Yılmaz stated.

Ali Balkız, the head of the Federation of Alevi-Bektaşi Associations (ABF), said people need to bring solidarity and peace into the forefront instead of hatred and enmity. “This massacre [of Imam Hussein] is without a doubt one of the most heinous and cold massacres in the history of Islam. Unfortunately, even today, we see similar massacres in different parts of the world. We will never forget what was done to Imam Ali and his group. But we need to turn Muharram into a month in which we plant the seeds of peace among people,” Balkız said.

Alevi Associations Federation Chairman Doğan Bermek said the pain felt by Muslims doubled this Muharram as Turkey lost at least 102 people in twin suicide bomb blasts in the capital on Oct. 10.

“The Muslim world is going through maybe the most difficult period in the history of Islam. I am really sorry to see millions of Muslims engaging in actions that have nothing to do with Islam. Muharram is a time when we commemorate what happened in the past. But this ongoing monstrosity and brutality do not even allow us to remember and understand the past,” Bermek stated.

On Oct. 10, two suicide bombings targeting a peace rally in Ankara killed 102 people. Unconfirmed reports say the attacks were carried out by a Turkish cell of the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).



Saudi Fighter Jets Bomb Yemen's Hudaydah, Kill 115

Oct 24, 2015

Saudi warplanes have continued their airstrikes against areas across Yemen, killing at least 115 people in the north-western province of al-Hudaydah.

According to reports, the people were killed on Friday after the Saudi fighter jets pounded a number of islands, including Uqban and Kamaran, in the Red Sea.

The Saudi warplanes reportedly launched over 20 sorties on the islands.

It was also said that the Saudi jets targeted a number of fishing boats in the area and prevented them from providing aid for the people on the targeted islands.

Riyadh also bombarded residential areas in the Yemeni province of Sa’ada, killing at least 11 people and injuring two others in the district of Haydan.

It was reported a gas station and some shopping centres were targeted in the Saudi attacks on the district as well.

Saudi Arabia also pounded residential areas in the district of Bani Hashish in the province, killing at least two children. Saudi attacks were reported in other districts of the province, including Baqim and Kattaf.

Elsewhere, Saudi warplanes also bombarded the district of Bayhan in the southern province of Shabwah, killing at least three civilians.

Local Yemeni media outlets said that Saudi Arabia targeted a market in the Yemeni north-western province of Hajjah, causing the death of eight civilians and wounding at least 20 others.

Witnesses also confirmed that Saudi fighters targeted the power plant and pylons in the district of Abs in the province.

The Yemeni provinces of Ta'izz and Ma’rib were also bombed by Saudi warplanes.

An artwork by a Yemeni artist is seen hanging on a wall of a building destroyed by Saudi Arabia in the capital, Sana'a, on October 8, 2015. (AFP photo)

On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that Saudi warplanes had targeted residential areas in Ta'izz, which is Yemen's cultural capital and third largest city, killing at least 22 people and wounding 140 others.

Yemen has been under incessant Saudi strikes since March 26. The strikes are supposedly meant to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Riyadh has repeatedly used cluster bombs against the Yemenis during the past months. On Wednesday, Saudi jets reportedly dropped banned cluster bombs on Sa’ada and killed an unspecified number of civilians.

Some 7,000 people have lost their lives in the airstrikes, and a total of nearly 14,000 people have been injured since late March.

As many as 114,000 others have also been forced to flee the war-stricken country due to the Saudi aggression, according to a UN report earlier this month.



Another Iranian General, 7 Other IRGC Members Killed in Syria

Oct 23, 2015

Brigadier General Reza Khavari, the senior commander of IRGC's Fatemiyoun Division, was martyred in clashes with Takfiri terrorists in the Northern parts of the province of Hama, Central Syria, Thursday night while fulfilling his duty as a military adviser.

A sum of 7 other IRGC members, mostly from Ansar Corps, have been martyred in Syria in the last two days. Amin Karimi, a member of the IRGC's Ansar Corps, has also been named among those killed in the last couple of days, although his military rank is not known.

IRGC Public Relations Chief General Ramezan Sharif told FNA on Friday evening that the IRGC has boosted the number of its advisors in Syria in recent days following government troops' striking victories in multiple fronts across the nation.

Ramezan Sharif confirmed the 8 casualties sustained by the IRGC in Syria in the last several days.

Asked why the IRGC casualties in Syria are mostly ranking officers, he said Iran does not have combat troops in Syria and has only sent advisors to help the Muslim nation, who provide counseling services and strategies to the Syrian army commanders in the battlefield and from a very close range to the forefront. He reminded that low-ranking officers are not fit for such a vital job.

Earlier today it was revealed that the bodyguard of Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been one of the latest IRGC casualties in in Syria.

Abdollah Baqeri Niyaraki was martyred while fulfilling his duty as military advisor in Syria's Northern province of Aleppo.

Baqeri Niyaraki was an IRGC commander who served as a bodyguard of former President Ahmadinejad for some time. Niyaraki was a member of IRGC's Ansar Corps.

His martyrdom came after three other IRGC war veteran commanders were killed during attacks by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Syria.

On October 13, two IRGC commanders, providing military counseling services to the Syrian forces in their fight against the Takfiri terrorists, were killed in Southern Syria.

Colonel Farshad Hasounizadeh, the former commander of IRGC's Saberin Special Brigade, was martyred while fulfilling his duty as military adviser in Syria and fighting the Takfiri terrorists in the Muslim country.

Also, the former commander of IRGC Hazrat Hojjat 1 Brigade Hajj Hamid Mokhtar-band, nicknamed Abu Zahra, was killed in Syria.

Both Hasounizadeh and Mokhtar-band were IRGC war veterans and were martyred in Southern Syria. According to Iran's military rules, those missed or killed in operation are promoted to a higher rank and that's why in a few Persian-language sources, Colonel Hasounizadeh has been referred to as a General.

A few days earlier, a top IRGC commander Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani was martyred during an attack by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the outskirts of the city of Aleppo.

General Hamadani was in Syria to render military advice to the Syrian army and popular forces in their fight against the ISIL terrorists in the Arab country.

In September 2014, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid announced that Iran's military advisors are present in the friendly regional states to provide those nations with necessary military recommendations.

"Some of our commanders are in the field to give military advice to the Iraqi army, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement," Major General Rashid said, addressing a conference attended by a group of senior military commanders in Tehran.



Former President Ahmadinejad's Bodyguard Killed in Syria

Oct 23, 2015

Abdollah Baqeri Niyaraki was martyred while fulfilling his duty as military advisor in Syria's Aleppo.

Baqeri Niyaraki was an IRGC commander who served as a bodyguard of former President Ahmadinejad. He was a member of IRGC's Ansar Corps.

His martyrdom came two weeks after three other IRGC war veteran commanders were killed during attacks by the Takfiri terrorists in Syria.

On October 13, two IRGC commanders, providing military counseling services to the Syrian forces in their fight against the Takfiri terrorists, were killed in Southern Syria.

Colonel Farshad Hasounizadeh, the former commander of IRGC's Saberin Special Brigade, was martyred while fulfilling his duty as military adviser in Syria and fighting the Takfiri terrorists in the Muslim country.

Also, the former commander of IRGC Hazrat Hojjat 1 Brigade Hajj Hamid Mokhtar-band, nicknamed Abu Zahra, was killed in Syria.

Both Hasounizadeh and Mokhtar-band were IRGC war veterans and were martyred in Southern Syria. According to Iran's military rules, those missed or killed in operation are promoted to a higher rank and that's why in a few Persian-language sources, Colonel Hasounizadeh has been referred to as a General.

A few days earlier, a top IRGC commander Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani was martyred during an attack by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the outskirts of the city of Aleppo.

General Hamadani was in Syria to render military advice to the Syrian army and popular forces in their fight against the ISIL terrorists in the Arab country.

In September 2014, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid announced that Iran's military advisors are present in the friendly regional states to provide those nations with necessary military recommendations.

"Some of our commanders are in the field to give military advice to the Iraqi army, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement," Major General Rashid said, addressing a conference attended by a group of senior military commanders in Tehran.



Turkey says new wave of Syrian refugees will head for Europe

October 23, 2015

Turkey is preparing for tens of thousands more refugees from Syria as government forces and Russian warplanes pound opposition-held areas, and officials said many would try illegally to get to Europe.

Syrian government troops and their allies, backed by Russian jets, launched an offensive against rebels battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad south of Aleppo, still home to 2 million people, a week ago.

Another offensive in Hama province, southwest of Aleppo, has also displaced tens of thousands, aid workers say. Estimates of the overall numbers on the move ranged between a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) figure of 30,000 to as many as 100,000.

Turkish government and aid agency officials said there was no sign yet of people from Aleppo and surrounding areas reaching Turkey in large numbers but that it was just a matter of time.

"We are preparing our teams for a new wave. We have mobile kitchens, food packaged," said Kerem Kınık, vice president of the Turkish Red Crescent.

The situation had worsened since Russia launched air strikes three weeks ago, he said.

"This affected the south and east part of Aleppo. Roughly 70-80,000 people moved from their houses and flats and now they are trying to find a secure place," he told Reuters.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday there were "strong indications" a new wave of migration was starting from Aleppo and renewed calls for a "safe zone" in Syria to protect civilians, an idea that has won little international backing.

Amin Awad, Middle East director for UNHCR, said Russian air strikes and increased fighting around Aleppo had contributed to the "dynamic of displacement," with about 30,000 displaced, but had not contributed much so far to the refugee exodus.

Kınık and a Western diplomat said that refugees may, however, be prevented from reaching the Turkish border, obstructed by fighting on the way.

So far, the UNHCR has not seen "significant movement" across borders due to the latest hostilities, UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

The number of refugees and migrants reaching reaching Greece surged to 48,000 in the five days to Oct. 21, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

IOM said the latest surge of people arriving in Greece was the highest weekly total so far this year, bringing the number of Mediterranean migrant arrivals in Europe to 681,000.

Headed for Europe

A senior government official said Turkey, which is a staunch opponent of Assad and has been incensed by Russia's intervention in support of him, has been expecting new refugee movements because Moscow's air strikes had targeted relatively stable parts of Syria where civilians were sheltering.

Both Kınık and the government official said many would try to smuggle themselves on to Europe, as Turkey and its European partners struggle to combat people-trafficking networks.

"Our worry is the changing profile of the refugees. Migrants who came to Turkey in the past had the hope of returning and saw Turkey as a temporary home," the official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

"Now it has become a transit location. The final destination is Europe…which is why steps must be taken to restore calm in Syria. There's little point trying to address the symptoms without solving the main problem."

Turkey is under pressure from the European Union, which it aspires to join, to do more to keep refugees on its soil and help stem the biggest migration movement the continent has seen since World War II. The EU has proposed financial aid and faster membership for Turkey in the hope of winning its help.

But it is already sheltering more than 2.2 million refugees and while its wants more funding, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday Turkey should not be expected to turn itself into a "concentration camp" for refugees.



Southeast Asia


Indonesia's Aceh Province Enacts Enforcement of Islamic Sharia Criminal Code

October 24, 2015

Indonesia's conservative Aceh province has fully enacted a strict Islamic criminal code, local government officials say, criminalising drinking alcohol, adultery, homosexuality, and public displays of affection outside of a legally recognised relationship.

The law, passed in 2014 but is only now being fully enforced, "is to safeguard human dignity", said the head of the Sharia legal department in the provincial government, Syahrizal Abbas.

"It is to protect Aceh's Muslims from committing immoral acts," he said.

Aceh is the only province in the Muslim-dominated country to adhere to Sharia, Islamic law, which puts it at odds with other provinces where the vast majority of the population practices a moderate form of Islam.

"Non-Muslims can choose whether to be tried under Sharia law or the regular Indonesian criminal code," Mr Abbas said.

The new law also criminalises rape and sexual harassment. Those found guilty could face 40 lashes or more, according to a copy of the legislation seen by Reuters. The stoning punishment has been revoked.

Last year, an Acehnese woman faced being caned by the Banda Aceh Sharia Police despite being a victim of rape.

Rights groups warned the new law could criminalise consensual sex and create hurdles to reporting rape.

"To punish anyone who has had consensual sex with up to 100 lashes is despicable," Josef Benedict, Amnesty International's South-East Asia campaigns director, said in a statement.

"This is a flagrant violation of human rights and must be repealed immediately."

Aceh was granted special autonomy in 2005 as part of an agreement with Jakarta to end decades of separatist violence, and was then able introduce Sharia.

Earlier this year, a district in Aceh enacted a bylaw requiring schools to teach boys and girls separately, and another banned women from straddling motorcycles when riding with a driver.



Maldives Vice President Held Over Allegedly Plotting To Assassinate President

October 24, 2015

Maldives Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was arrested on Saturday, on suspicion of links to a blast on the presidential boat which took place on September 28. The explosion had occurred on the boat, which was carrying President Abdulla Yameen on his return from the Haj pilgrimage.

According to police spokesperson Ismail Ali, Adeeb was arrested at the airport after he returned from an official visit to China.

While the President escaped uninjured in the September explosion, his wife Fathimath Ibrahim and two others suffered injuries. The cause of the explosion is yet to be certified. The explosive device was kept under the seat which was usually occupied by the President.

Authorities suspect that the blast was an attempt to assassinate Yameen and has launched a criminal investigation.

"The police have not ruled anything out yet. They're doing a thorough investigation here locally and we're not certain at the moment whether it's an accident or a deliberate attempt on the president's life," said cabinet minister Mohamed Shareef.



Republic of Indonesia celebrates Santri Day by promoting pluralism

Ina Parlina

October 23 2015

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on all santri (Islamic students) to play a role in promoting the values of pluralism and nationalism during the maiden celebration of National Santri Day on Thursday, saying the day would adopt a spirit of maintaining diversity.

“Believe that our diversity as a nation — whether it is in ethnic groups, religions or culture — embraces the values of mutual respect and tolerance, as well as the spirit of maintaining brotherhood among all citizens,” Jokowi said in a speech during the celebration at the Istiqlal Grand Mosque, in Central Jakarta when he declared Oct. 22 as National Santri Day.

The day commemorates the declaration of the Jihad Resolution by Muslim cleric Muhammad Hasyim Asy’ari on Oct. 22, 1945, when he encouraged Muslims in the country to fight to uphold the nation’s independence.

Hasyim was the founder of the country’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama.

The event was attended by hundreds of santri and students of madrasa, Islamic schools, from across the island of Java, as well as Muslim figures and representatives of several Muslim mass organizations.

The President later urged the santri to “always remember the importance of maintaining our bhinneka [diversity] to ensure the country’s unity. With such spirit, we will be more optimistic in facing all challenges ahead of us”.

He also hoped that the santri could play a role in improving people’s welfare and social justice, as well as participating in the country’s development agenda.

Jokowi also reminded them to learn from what the santri achieved in 1945 when they played a role in uniting all elements of the country in the struggle for independence. “It was the spirit of nationalism, patriotism and a willingness to sacrifice for the nation,” he said.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said in his speech during the ceremony that the commemoration should be seen “as an effort to strengthen the roles of all elements of the country” in creating a better future for all.

“In terms of today’s situation, such a holy war means a fight against ignorance, corruption, anarchism, economic inequality and other things that hamper Indonesia’s development,” he said.

The declaration of National Santri Day, Lukman said, not only showed the government’s appreciation for the services of the santri in the past, but also aimed to serve as the government’s commitment to improving the dignity and the wellbeing of the santri.

“The government is now altering the role of the santri from merely a passive political commodity to an active driving force in Indonesia’s development,” he added, saying that the government was now seeking ways to ensure the santri and those graduating from madrassahs had better opportunities to compete globally.

According to Lukman, his office has started to engage in cooperation with Bank Indonesia, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) to ensure government programs and education and human resources facilities make room for the involvement of Islamic schools.

Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic organization, and Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Din Syamsuddin are reportedly opposed to the commemoration, arguing that the declaration could spark controversy among Muslims and jeopardize rather than promote the country’s multicultural roots.



Human rights body investigates student magazine recall

Edna Tarigan

October 22 2015

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has opened an investigation into the recall of an edition of student magazine Lentera, published by the Student Publishing Institute (LPM) at Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) in Salatiga, Central Java.

The rights body, according to Komnas HAM commissioner Ansori Sinungan, will meet with representatives of the university to find out details of the recall of the magazine, which featured the cover story Salatiga Kota Merah (Salatiga, the Red City).

The third edition of the magazine for 2015 includes stories about the killing of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and supporters in Salatiga in 1965.

Hundreds of copies of the magazine have been recalled because of their coverage of the 1965 massacre. UKSW Rector Rev. John A. Titaley and other university leaders held a meeting, attended by Lentera editorial members, and decided to recall all copies of the edition, drawing sharp criticism from human rights activists.

Representatives of NGOs such as the Presidium Alumni Forum of Indonesian Student Press Activist (FAA PPMI), Indonesian Independent Journalists (AJI), the Press Legal Aid Institute (LBH Pers) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) visited Komnas HAM headquarters on Thursday to call on the rights body to investigate the press censorship.

They demanded that Komnas HAM ensure that the recall of the magazines was stopped and that there would be no intimidation of journalists involved in publishing the magazine from any parties such as police or the university.

LPM published 500 copies of Lentera magazine, which sell for Rp 15,000 each (US$1.10). Purchasers of the magazine include cafes, government institutions and NGOs.

A few days after the publication of the edition, LPM general manager Arista Ayu Nanda, Lentera chief editor Bima Satria Putra and Lentera treasurer Septi Dwi Astuti were summoned by UKSW’s rectorate. They were also interrogated by Salatiga Police.

According to FAA PPMI chairman Agung Sedayu, the magazine was accused of provoking relatives of former PKI members, the victims of the 1965 tragedy.

“The content of that magazine is written in accordance with journalistic principles. There is no provocation. The journalists interviewed the historical actors and organized opinion polling,” Agung said.

Meanwhile, AJI coordinator for advocacy Aryo Wisanggeni said that there was pressure put on the Lentera editorial team after the magazine’s publication. “Our friends from Lentera have been pressured to apologize,” Aryo said. (bbn)



Arab World


300 Militants Killed in Operations in Lattakia Province

Oct 23, 2015

"More than 300 terrorists were killed in Lattakia province," Maikhoub said, added, "Our troops have control over Jub al-Ahmar and the Salma village."

On Thursday, the Russian and Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes on Takfiri terrorists' positions in across Lattakia province, leaving a large group of them dead.

The air raids hit the concentration centres of Takfiri terrorists in the centre of Jub al-Ahmar in Lattakia, and killed a large group of the militants.

Meanwhile, heavy clashes have erupted between the Takfiri militant groups and the Syrian forces in Salam in Lattakia, a military source said.

Syria's government troops, supported by Russian airstrikes, continue their offensive in the country's Western regions.

Russia started precision airstrikes against the ISIL targets in Syria on September 30, following a request from Syria's internationally recognized government. The Russian airstrikes hit targets that are chosen based on intelligence collected by Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran.



U.S, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi explore political solution on Syria

October 23, 2015

The United States, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia met on Friday to explore a political solution to the Syrian civil war despite the basic US-Russian disagreement over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's fate.

US Secretary of State John Kerry began the day-long series of meetings at a luxury hotel in the Austrian capital by consulting with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, both of whom share the US view that Assad must go if the conflict is to be resolved. Kerry met separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country is Assad's prime backer. The four ministers then held a group encounter.

Russia's three-week-old campaign of air strikes against Islamist groups opposed to Assad has halted a summer offensive by rebels, including some backed by the United States and its allies, which had eroded Assad's control in the heavily populated west of the country.

Russia has rejected Western calls for Assad to step down, saying Syria's leadership can only be decided by the Syrian people via elections, and in the clearest sign of its backing, Russian President Vladimir hosted him in Moscow this week.

Speaking after talks with Jordan's foreign minister, who was also in Vienna but not present at the group meetings, Lavrov called on other countries to step up efforts to bring peace to Syria.

"We think that it is necessary to dramatically increase efforts to launch a political process" based on a three-year-old proposal reached in Geneva that hasn't taken shape, Lavrov said. That plan, the Geneva Communique, foresees the formation of a transitional government with the consent of both Assad and his government and the political opposition.

Lavrov, in comments carried by Russian news agencies, said the communique "envisages the beginning of broad talks between representatives of the Syrian government and the entire spectrum of the Syrian opposition, both internal and external, with an active support of foreign players."

Some diplomats and analysts believe Russia might be able to exploit its influence with Assad and its newly demonstrated military muscle in Syria's skies to broker a deal to end the conflict.

Speaking in Berlin on Thursday, Kerry said Assad himself was the central obstacle to resolving a conflict that has driven an estimated 4 million refugees into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Kerry said one focus of the talks would be to consider "a broader participation of very necessary countries, all of whom need to be at the table" to discuss the way forward in Syria. Russia is keen to bring Assad's other main supporter, Iran, into the talks, but Saudi Arabia in particular is opposed.

Kerry also said all the countries with an interest in Syria, including Iran and Russia, agree on what the result should be: a unified, secular and pluralistic Syria governed with the consent of its people.

"One thing stands in the way of being able to rapidly move to implement that, and it's a person called Assad -- Bashar Assad," he told reporters before he held talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "So the issue is, can we get to a political process during which time the future devolution and allocation of power in Syria is properly allocated by the people of Syria? And that's what we're working towards. So my hope is that these talks can begin a process that could open up a greater discussion."

Syria is in its fifth year of a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands, contributed to a massive refugee crisis in Europe and been complicated by the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Russia's direct military intervention.

Speaking in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested Russia regards Assad as central to any process, saying it was necessary to deal with him for a task as basic as telling different political factions in Syria apart.

"It is not proving possible to differentiate the moderate opposition … from various terrorist and extremist organizations," he told reporters in Moscow on Friday.

For his part, Steinmeier suggested the United States and Russia were still far apart. "We all know that ultimately the first steps into political solutions depend on whether Washington and Moscow find bridges towards each other," he said.

The German foreign minister also said his talks earlier this month in Saudi Arabia and Iran had "proven once more how deep the trenches are" between the two, which are supporting opposite sides in the conflict.

Shiite-majority Iran has backed Assad while Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia backs forces seeking to topple him.

Friday's meeting in Vienna -- the site of the world's last major international diplomatic success, the Iran nuclear deal in July -- follows a surprise visit by Assad on Tuesday to Moscow. There, he and Russian President Putin discussed Russia's military operations in Syria that the US and others say are bolstering Assad and not targeting ISIL militants, as Russia claims.

Putin said on Thursday that Assad had told him he is ready to engage in dialogue with his political foes. Putin defended Russia's bombing campaign, saying it would set the stage for peace talks.

A military victory over the militants "will not solve all problems, but it will create conditions for the main thing: a beginning of a political process to encompass all healthy, patriotic forces of the Syrian society," Putin said. His words echoed those of Syrian government officials, who have expressed readiness to negotiate with the "patriotic" opposition -- a term generally used to describe unarmed, mostly Damascus-based government critics who are tolerated by Assad.

French president: Assad is problem, not solution in Syria

Syrian President Assad is the problem and not the solution where the crisis in Syria is concerned, French President François Hollande said on Friday, revealing different views among European countries concerning the fate of the Syrian president.

"We need to work to find a political solution," Hollande said during a visit to Athens. "Bashar al-Assad is not the solution, he is the problem."

Hollande was speaking at a news conference alongside Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

European Union heads of state have been critical of Russia's military intervention in the civil war that has killed 250,000 people in Syria, but have failed to agree among themselves on whether Assad should have any role in ending the crisis. France has repeatedly said Assad should not be involved in any talks.



‘Baghdad was not informed of US Special Forces raid’

October 24, 2015

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Defence Ministry was not informed about a joint US and Kurdish military operation that rescued 69 prisoners held by Islamic State, a ministry spokesman said on Friday.

“We just heard this from the media, we didn’t know about it,” General Tahsin Ibrahim Sadiq told Reuters. “It was just the peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and the Americans, and the Ministry of Defence didn’t have any idea about that.”

Sadiq said ministry officials were meeting representatives of the US-led coalition in Baghdad on Friday to learn more about the operation, the most significant raid against Islamic State in months. Initial reports said Thursday’s operation near the northern town of Hawija had freed Kurdish hostages, but officials later confirmed the detainees were Arabs.

, including around 20 members of the Iraqi security forces. The others were local residents and Islamic State fighters that the group had accused of spying, said a US official. The prisoners were about to be executed and dumped in four mass graves, the official said.

Islamic State holds hostages in similar detention centres across the sprawling lands it controls in northern Iraq and neighbouring Syria. The jihadist group also regularly executes people it accuses of various crimes including spying for the Iraqis or foreign powers. It was not immediately clear why these particular hostages triggered a potentially risky rescue mission.

Long-standing enmity between Arabs and Kurds, who aspire for greater autonomy in their northern region, have complicated efforts to unify the battle against Islamic State militants. During a recent visit to Iraq, US Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for changes to Iraq’s fragmented security structure.

The security forces are now divided, with different commanders speaking to the United States on behalf of Iraq’s army, its militias, police and Kurdish peshmerga. A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the suggestion that the rescued hostages had connections to the US government. The Pentagon’s press secretary said the operation did not mark a change in US tactics in the war on Islamic State militants.



Militants Withdrawing in Aleppo, Syrian-Hezbollah Joint Forces Capture Two More Villages

Oct 23, 2015

The army said that the militant groups retreated from al-Huweiz and al-Qarasi after their positions came under attack of the Syrian forces.

Hours earlier today, the Army and Hezbollah forces pushed back militant groups from vast areas in the Northern Aleppo province, and recaptured at least three more villages.

Sources said that the Syrian Armed Forces and Lebanese Resistance recaptured Ghayghar, al-Ajoubiyah Farms and Tal Mafless after fierce clashes with the militants of Liwaa Suqour al-Sham and Harakat Nour al-Deen Al-Zinki.

The Syrian army on Thursday won back control over 9 villages in Aleppo.

The Syrian army and popular defense forces, backed by Russian warplanes, freed vast areas in Aleppo Province from the control of the Takfiri militants, killed a senior terrorist commander and took a wide stride towards the strategic Kuweires military airbase.

The Syrian forces regained control of al-Safira village in the Southern countryside of Aleppo in the early hours of Thursday, killing dozens of terrorists, including their senior field commander Uwais al-Qoqazi.

Later, the army also won back the villages of Balas, Jouret al-Hajjash, Rasm al-Skeikh Qiqan, Deir Salibah, Kafer Obeid, al-Halabiah and Teir al-Ward.

A few hours later on Thursday the army regained control of al-Ayyubiah village in the Southern countryside of Aleppo.



Russian Airstrikes Paralyze ISIL Terrorists in Syria's Deir Ezzur

Oct 23, 2015

The sources said that, in addition to the Russian air attacks' outcomes, the ISIL has suffered a significant number of casualties as a result of their aggressive attempts to bypass the Syrian Army’s defences at the South-eastern gates of this large airbase in the vast desert area of Eastern Syria.

The ISIL’s casualties sky-rocketed once the Russian Air Force entered the battle at the request of the Syrian army; this proved to be the difference maker during the terrorist group’s repeated infiltration attempts, as they would encounter several airstrikes from the Russian SU-24 fighter jets repeatedly circling their positions at the villages of al-Meri’iyeh and al-Jafra.

On Thursday morning, the ISIL chose to shift their attention to the battle inside the provincial capital in order to sideline the Russian Air Force and attempt to advance their positions at the al-Sina’a (Industrial) and al-‘Amal Quarters, but the ISIL attacks on the Syrian army’s positions at the al-‘Amal and al-Sina’a Quarters were ineffective, as the pro-government forces successfully repelled all of the terrorist group’s infiltration attempts.



ISIL Sustains Large Casualties in Syrian Army Attack in Hama Province

Oct 23, 2015

"Our armed forces successfully continue their advance, supported by the air force," General Ali Maikhoub said.

"An ISIL convoy of military vehicles was attacked near the town of Um Hadij, resulting in destruction of at least 23 vehicles and killing of 45 terrorists," the general went on to say.

ISIL militants suffered heavy casualties in Syrian fighter jets' intensive bombing of their hideouts in several parts of Hama province on Friday.

The sources said that the Syrian warplanes bombed the ISIL gathering centers in Eqeirbat village to the East of Salamiyeh city, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their vehicles and military equipment.

On Thursday, Syrian army troops killed members of a terrorist group affiliated to the so-called "Jeish al-Fatah" in Hama countryside.

The Syrian army killed the terrorists, and destroyed a vehicle and a machinegun in al-Mansoura town in Hama countryside, informed sources said.



Syrian Army Tightens Noose around Militants in Damascus Countryside after Deadly Clashes

Oct 23, 2015

The sources said that Mohammad Suleiman, Wasim al-Ghoush and Ahmad al-Dahla were among the killed terrorists in the army operations against the Takfiri terrorists in Zamalka town.

Meanwhile, the army killed many terrorists in other operations against terrorists in Douma.

Yousef al-Deiri, Abdull-Rahman Sultana and Ibrahim Naji were identified among the killed terrorists.

Syrian army troops conducted a series of military operations against the Takfiri militants on the outskirts of Harasta in Damascus countryside, and retook control of al-Majbal region.

A large group of the terrorists were killed and their vehicles were destroyed in the operations, reports said Wednesday.



Syrian Army, Popular Forces Win Back More Villages in Homs Province

Oct 23, 2015

The sources said that the army and popular forces seized back Snisil, al-Mahatta and Jawalak villages in the Northern countryside of Homs, after heavy clashes with the terrorist groups.

Several strategic regions in the Northern countryside of Homs province were regained by forces trained by a Brigade that was formed by Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani who was killed in Northern Syria earlier this month.

Imam Reza (AS) Brigade that was formed of the Syrian popular forces by Brigadier General Hamadani and trained by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement could recapture a number of blocks and farms in Mukhtariya district in the Eastern part of Tir al-Ma'aleh region, Homs province, a field source told FNA on Thursday.

He added that Imam Reza (AS) forces also inflicted heavy loss and damage on the terrorists' strongholds in the region and made them flee the scene after fierce clashes.

The IRGC in a statement on October 9 announced that its war veteran commander had been killed in Northern Syria, while providing military counseling services to the Syrian forces in their fight against the Takfiri terrorists.

General Hamadani was martyred during an attack by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the outskirts of the city of Aleppo while fulfilling his duty as military advisor and defending the holy Shiite shrines in the country, said the statement.

General Hamadani was in Syria to render military advice to the Syrian army and popular forces in their fight against the ISIL terrorists in the Arab country.



Syrian Fighter Jets Stage Massive Air Raids on Nusra, ISIL Positions in Aleppo

Oct 23, 2015

The sources said that the Syrian air force destroyed hideouts and vehicles of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Zeitan village in the Southern flanks of Aleppo city, leaving heavy militant casualties.

The Syrian fighter jets also carried out several sorties over headquarters and gatherings of the ISIL terrorists in al-Halabiyeh and al-Hamra villages, Tallet al-Shawaya and the Syrian-Saudi Chemical Company (SYSACCO) in the Eastern parts of Aleppo, destructing the militant sites' infrastructures.

On Wednesday, the Syrian fighter jets raided terrorists' positions in several regions across the Northern Province of Aleppo, and inflicted heavy losses on the Takfiris.

Syrian fighter jets destroyed headquarters and concentration centers of terrorist groups in al-Dakwaneh, al-Mfalseh, Sheikh Ahmad, al-Bab and Um Argheeleh in Aleppo, and destroyed the militants' equipment and vehicles.



Pentagon expects more raids similar to Iraq rescue

24 October 2015

A U.S.-backed military operation that freed 70 hostages who had been held by ISIS in Iraq produced a cache of intelligence, and U.S. forces supporting Iraqi troops are likely to undertake more raids in the future, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday.

Carter said he decided on the rescue mission after intelligence showed that executions were imminent and mass graves had been dug.

“When we find opportunities to do things that will effectively prosecute the campaign we’re going to do that ... raids is one of those categories and I suspect that we’ll have further opportunities in the future and we’re going to avail ourselves of them,” Carter said.

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS will also intensify its assault on the group’s oil production and sales enterprise, Carter said, pointing as an example to a recent strike against a pump station and site for crude oil production in eastern Syria.

Overseeing those efforts will be Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, who Carter placed in charge of counter-ISIS activities in Iraq and Syria. Three general had previously shared responsibility.

MacFarland pioneered the use of a Sunni force called Sahwa (Awakening) that worked with U.S. troops to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq six years ago, Carter said.

“His efforts will be critical in the coming months as we continue to provide support for capable partners fighting on the front lines,” Carter said.



Kurds say joint raid with U.S. in Iraq aimed to free their fighters

24 October 2015

U.S. and Kurdish special forces who raided a compound in northern Iraq were acting on intelligence that Kurdish fighters were being imprisoned there by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a source in the Kurdistan Region Security Council said on Friday.

Kurdish counter-terrorism forces planned and led the raid which rescued 69 people early on Thursday, supported by U.S. forces, Iraqi Kurdistan’s U.S. representative said. One U.S. commando was killed, the first American to die in ground combat with ISIS militants. Four Kurds were wounded.

Such rescue attempts are rare. The joint operation highlighted the status of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters as key allies of the U.S.-led coalition against the militants, who control large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

“The intention was to rescue peshmerga taken hostage by ISIL,” said the source in the Security Council of Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, using a different acronym for ISIS.

“We had solid intelligence that peshmerga were being held in that compound,” the source told Reuters.

The raid was led by forces from the Directorate-General for Counterterrorism of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, said Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan’s diplomatic representative in Washington D.C.

U.S. Special Forces commandos participated in the raid, Rahman said, and U.S. airstrikes and helicopter operations were launched as part of the operation.

“We share in American's grief for its fallen soldier, Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler,” Rahman said.

According to Kurdish media, the raided facility was an estate or compound formerly owned by an Iraqi government judge.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a news briefing on Friday that U.S. troops had not planned to enter the compound, and were there only to advise and assist the Kurdish fighters.

None of the captives freed by the raiders were peshmerga, suggesting that Kurdish prisoners may have been moved by militants to another location, a Kurdish source added.

The freed detainees were Arabs and included around 20 members of the Iraqi security forces. The others were local residents and ISIS fighters that the group had accused of spying or treason, said U.S. and Kurdish officials.

The prisoners were about to be executed and dumped in four mass graves, the official said.

ISIS militants attacked Kurdish positions on the frontline in Gwer, south of the region’s capital, overnight on Friday, after the raid.

An ISIS statement circulated online by the group’s supporters said “dozens” of peshmerga had been killed in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber. But Qader Hassan, a peshmerga on the frontline, said only two people had been

killed, and they belonged to an Iraqi army unit based there.

Missing fighters

U.S. forces accompanied the peshmerga as advisers in the Thursday’s mission but were drawn in to fighting as the Kurds began to incur casualties, said Colonel Steve Warren, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, which has been bombing ISIS militants for more than a year.

Some 62 peshmerga have gone missing in battle with the militants and several have been beheaded in ISIS propaganda videos.

ISIS holds hostages in detention centers across the sprawling lands it controls. It also regularly executes people it accuses of spying for the Iraqi state or foreign powers.

Iraqi government forces, Shiite militias and the Kurds are all fighting ISIS but coordination can be difficult in a country deeply divided along sectarian and ethnic lines.

Iraq’s Defense Ministry said earlier on Friday it was not informed about the raid, which took place just north of the ISIS-controlled town of Hawija.

“We just heard this from the media, we didn’t know about it,” ministry spokesman General Tahsin Ibrahim Sadiq told Reuters. “It was just the peshmerga and the Americans, and the Ministry of Defense didn’t have any idea about that.”

The mission was the most significant raid against ISIS in months, and Warren said it had been requested by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The Pentagon said it did not mark a change in U.S. tactics, and a CIA spokesman declined to comment on the suggestion that the rescued hostages had connections to the U.S. government.

U.S. officials denied the rescued hostages had any connection to the United States.

But senior Iraqi Shiite politician Ayad Allawi said he suspected there must have been significant figures among the hostages to warrant a risky intervention by U.S. special forces.

“I think this would have happened only if there were some useful assets,” he said.



Three countries seek help from King Salman Relief Centre

24 October 2015

DAMMAM: The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works has received more than six applications for help from war-torn countries, and is now considering three international requests to provide relief and humanitarian assistance to them, one of which is related to Syria.

The applications are being considered by the Ministry of Interior, said Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and general supervisor of the center.

Al-Rabeeah said: "Relief works do not wait for the request of the state, and if there is a humanitarian disaster, the centre must move according to its mandate regardless of an official request, as the centre determines humanitarian priorities on need and not on demand."

He also said that there were royal directives recently issued to consolidate all relief work, whether government or non-governmental, and said that the center is working to develop a plan to implement this order, so that there will be a link between civil society organizations and the outside world through the centre.

He confirmed that the centre has not yet begun the reconstruction phase in Yemen, as this has been deferred until the liberation of the entire Yemeni territory in order to provide an environment conducive to reconstruction.

"The Kingdom is one of the largest providers of foreign aid and assistance in the world, and we hope that all countries of the world will respond to support Yemen, as it is not limited to the jurisdiction of the Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council," Al-Rabeeah said, emphasizing that the Kingdom is part of a global system, so it should not bear the burden of the whole world alone.

On the problems faced by relief efforts in Yemen, Al-Rabiah said that some organizations struggle because they choose poor partners and methods of delivering aid. Further, in this case, there is great difficulty associated with simply reaching the besieged areas, an issue that even UN organizations are struggling to overcome.





Mosque Blasts Claim 55 Lives in Nigeria

Oct 24, 2015

MAIDUGURI: Bomb blasts ripped through mosques in northeast Nigeria on Friday, killing at least 55 people and injuring more than 100, as Boko Haram fighters seized a town in neighbouring Cameroon.

The attacks in Maiduguri, Yola and Kerawa again underlined the persistent national and regional threat from the militants, despite military claims of successes.

Fears will be heightened particularly in Maiduguri, which has been hit six times this month, killing a total of 76 people, according to a credible tally.

Questions will also again be raised about how the militants are able to carry out such attacks on a regular basis, after similar attacks in the city last month claimed 117 lives.

The first attack in Maiduguri happened shortly after 5am in the Jidari area of the Borno state capital, where Boko Haram was founded in 2002.

Umar Sani, a civilian vigilante assisting the military in counter-insurgency efforts, and local resident Musa Sharif both said there were two blasts at the mosque.

“I was involved in the evacuation. We counted 28 dead bodies apart from the two bombers, who were identifiable by the mutilation of their bodies,” said Sani. “Over 20 other people were injured.”

Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said only six people were killed and 17 others injured, while hospital sources put the death toll at 19.

Both Sani and Sharif said two people were arrested and handed over to the military for questioning after they were seen apparently celebrating following the blasts.

The two men were “standing from afar, hugging each other like a celebration, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’”, said Sani.

“To them it was a mission accomplished,” added Sharif.

Boko Haram, which wants to create a hard-line Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, has previously targeted mosques and religious leaders who do not share their extremist ideology.

The explosion in Yola happened at about 2pm at the Jambutu Juma’at mosque in the Jimeta area of the city, shortly after the imam had finished his inaugural sermon.

One volunteer at the Jambutu Juma’at mosque, who helped in the rescue effort but asked not to be identified, said: “This mosque was nearly built and this was the first prayers in it.

“While worshippers had risen for the prayers to start after the sermon by the imam, there was a huge blast in the premises.”

NEMA’s coordinator in the Adamawa state capital, Sa’ad Bello said that 116 people were being treated for injuries at two hospitals in the city.

Most of the injured were in a stable condition, with injuries ranging from fractures and burns to cuts from the blast, he added.

In Cameroon, regional and security sources said the rebels had overrun the town of Kerawa, in the far north area, and that an unspecified number of civilians were killed.

It was not immediately clear whether troops had engaged in any fighting with the Islamists but the source said “several people” were killed inside the town’s mosques.

Kerawa, which has 50,000 inhabitants, is located in the Kolofata district that is regularly targeted by Boko Haram.

There is a military camp inside the town, which was last hit by a double suicide bombing on September 3, which claimed at least 30 lives.

Cameroon, Chad and Niger have formed a military alliance with Nigeria and Benin to battle the extremists, who this year declared allegiance to the self-styled Islamic State.

The Islamists’ grip on the region has suffered as a result of offensives launched by local armies.

But the group maintains strongholds in areas that are difficult to access, such as the Sambisa forest, the Mandara Mountains and the numerous islands of Lake Chad.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2015



Rockets kill nine at Libya protest against U.N. deal

23 October 2015

At least nine people were killed and dozens more injured in Libya's second city Benghazi on Friday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported, when rockets hit a protest against a U.N. proposal for a unity government to end a political crisis.

Four years after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya is caught in a conflict that pits the internationally recognized government and its armed backers against a rival government set up by an armed alliance that took over the capital last year.

More than 2,000 people had taken to Benghazi's al-Keesh square to demonstrate against the U.N. proposal when at least seven rockets hit the crowds, the hospital sources said. Around 25 more were wounded.

Benghazi has become one front in Libya's multi-sided war, with General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army forces fighting an alliance of Islamist fighters and former anti-Qaddafi rebels.

Indiscriminate shelling and rockets sometimes hit civilian areas in the city, which is split into areas controlled by the rival armed factions. In some neighborhoods, life continues as usual, with banks and restaurants open, while fighting has reduced other areas to rubble.

The United Nations has presented a proposal for a national unity government between the two main political factions to end the chaos, but attempts to reach a deal have stalled as both sides face resistance from within their ranks.



EU calls for more cooperation with Sudan on migration

23 October 2015

The European Union on Thursday called for greater cooperation with Khartoum on migration and combatting human trafficking after an EU delegation visited a camp for Eritrean refugees in eastern Sudan.

Eritreans make up the third-largest number of those risking the dangerous crossing to Europe, after Syrians and Afghans, with many arriving in eastern Sudan as they flee their country.

“More cooperation between Sudan and European Union is needed to protect asylum seekers, improve border management, confront smuggling and provide meaningful alternatives to the migrants and the host communities,” said Tomas Ulicny, the EU head of delegation in Khartoum.

“The causes for human smuggling and trafficking are linked to the low development rates in east Sudan in particular and the Horn of Africa in general,” Ulicny said in a statement.

As well as Ulicny, heads of the diplomatic missions of Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Sweden in Khartoum attended Wednesday’s visit to the Wad Sharifey refugee camp.

Ulicny did not specify what sort of cooperation he meant, but since 2011 the EU has provided 79.5 million euros ($88.3 million) for development in impoverished eastern Sudan, where Eritreans arrive fleeing the east African state.

A report in June from the UN human rights office described widespread “gross human rights violations” in Eritrea, including mass incarceration of political opponents, extrajudicial killings and torture.

The Eritrean government dismissed the report.



What Nigeria Must Do To Defeat Boko Haram – Obasanjo

Obasanjo spoke with in an exclusive interview in Kenya where he attended the Africa Governance, Leadership and Management Convention organised by the Kenya Institute of Management.

He said military might alone be able to win the war against terrorism. He advised government to deal with genuine issues of socio-economic development which has created the fertile ground for domestic terrorism to thrive.

The former president also spoke on an array of issues in Nigeria ranging from President Buhari’s government, his choice of ministers to Nigeria’s 55 independence and how he felt when a court restrained him from publishing his autobiography titled ‘My Watch’, among others. Excerpts Below:

Your Excellency what is your take on President Buhari’s government so far?

Well it is too early for us to be making statements about the performance of President Buhari. He came with good intentions and so far he is on the right track and we should be praying for him and be helping him to remain on the right track, but I think little down the road people may then be looking at how has he performed. But for now he’s been there for four months: let’s help him to follow his own programme and succeed. What he said he will do, he has been doing them. He is dealing with the issue of Boko Haram; he is dealing with the issue of corruption, he said he will do that; he is giving Nigeria a new image and Nigeria is now being seen at the table in the international arena. I think those are good things and we should be encouraging him to keep on doing that so that for us as Nigerians we see a new Nigeria not only internally but other people see a new image of Nigeria.

What about his choice of ministers; what do you think about that?

Well he has chosen his ministers; for me they are no surprises. He has to pay some political debt and I think some of the people he has chosen was meant to pay political debt and that is understandable in party political life. I think what will matter more is the kind of leadership he himself gives because some ministers who would normally have behaved badly if they will be caught by the head of government they will behave not badly but properly.

Looking back at your leadership, your tenure in office, what you would say was your legacy as the president of Nigeria?

Oh, one, the legacy that Nigeria remains a country; two, that I started democracy and it continues; three, that we were able to move from one regime to another regime and now we have been able to move to an opposition defeating the incumbent government. I think our democracy has come to stay and that is very important. There will be a number of other things that you need to do. There will always be challenges for government but once the basic and fundamental things are taken care of — today we have challenge of Boko Haram; it wasn’t there in my time as a challenge — but once the stability of government is assured — democracy and good governance, that is very important — all other challenges can be faced and be dealt with.

So what would you say was the most difficult task you handled while you were in office?

I think power, because we didn’t have money. For the first three, four years I did not have money to put into power like I would have wanted to, and the oil companies I tried to encourage them but they didn’t see the point of view that I was pressing, and by the time we had money we were going into power in the way that I would want to see us going into it. We started the foundation and the successor government held back for almost two and a half years and that has had adverse effect on the energy or power in Nigeria. But it is an issue that of course is tied up with all aspect of infrastructure: But power has a source of energy to drive the economy, to drive even the social life to make for the welfare and wellbeing of the people is very crucial.

Nigeria recently celebrated 55 years since independence; what makes you proud of being a Nigerian?

When Nigeria became independent both our colonial masters and some Nigerians said that Nigeria was a geographical expression that will not last but we have lasted for 55 years and we are going strong. We have had ups and down, maybe a little bit more ups than down, but I believe we are also learning from our experiences, some mistakes unintentional some maybe intentional by leaders. We are also improving in the quality of leadership at every level and quantum of leadership. Today, if we have to talk about leaders in Nigeria at the national level, you will not be zeroing on only one or two; we have about half a dozen you will zero on. That’s not bad. There was a time when there will only be two you will be talking about; now you will be talking about half a dozen. So that is also very important, that in all walks of life we are increasing and improving in leadership, in governance, in management. We are not there yet. We are not there yet, but we are making progress.

WATCH the interview (the text version continues below):

Your book, My Watch, was banned from Nigeria; how did that make you feel?

I won’t say it was banned; it was the machination of one who is more of a criminal than anything else. He got the support of a judge and the judge reversed himself and said he had been misinformed and misadvised by the one who brought the case before him. But it has made the book more popular. You know when you write a book you want people to read it and the more popular a book is the more people want to buy and read it. So for me as an author or a writer I want whatever I write to be read, and people are reading and then the temporary stop put on it also wet the appetite of people who want to read. Now people are reading it that we are printing it in large quantities so that the price can be reduced and it can be within the reach of school children.

Nigeria is dealing with the issue of Boko Haram, so what are your thoughts about it in terms of managing this?

Boko Haram is a matter of socio-economic development, but for domestic terrorism to have hold of the people they must tie it up to something, and they tie it up to some form of religious agitation. So what do I see? I see a situation where first of all the government must have the upper hand militarily, then after you have had the upper hand militarily you have to deal with the genuine issues of socio-economic development. And I believe that if that is well-handled such issues will disappear.

How do you see the future Africa?

I see an Africa in in 20-25 years from now will be more integrated; will be more democratic; will be better governed. I believe that 20-25 years from now there will be no sit-tight African leader. They will have either parliamentary or presidential — whatever term they have — either they are voted out, if its parliamentary, and then they go out, or if its presidential they will have limit to the number of terms they can use. I see Africa loyally opening itself more and more for private investment from every corner of the world. I see Africa becoming a food basket of the world.

Do African countries need national airlines?

No, we should have one big airline for Africa. We have Kenyan Airlines probably not making much, but Nigerian Airlines I closed it down because it was shameful thing. What they call Air Afrique which was for francophone West Africa closed down. I don’t think the South African Airways is making roaring profit. The way I see it is that 20-25 year down the road there would be probably 4-5 major airlines down the world. The Americans for obvious reasons will have one; Europe will have one; China will have one; maybe Asia will have one; maybe the Middle East with the resources they have now will have one. Now Africa will not be able to have one, so how do we fit into thing if we are looking ahead? What should be our thinking? Maybe we should now think of an Africa regional airline that will be affiliated or associated with one of these world airlines.





Suicide Attack on Muharram Procession Claims 22 Lives

October 24, 2015

SUKKUR/HYDERABAD: A powerful suicide blast ripped through a Muharram procession in Lashari Muhalla in Jacobabad, killing 22 people, mostly children, and injuring more than 40 others on Friday.

The town was handed over to the army soon after the tragic incident. An emergency was declared in all hospitals of the town and announcements were made through mosques and Imambargahs for donation of blood.

While the processions taken out to pay homage to martyrs of Karbala concluded peacefully in major cities and towns, the carnage in Jacobabad which followed a similar tragic incident in the Bolan district of Balochistan a day earlier marred the performance of law-enforcement agencies which had made adequate security arrangements across the country.

Also read: Suicide blast outside imambargah in Bolan district kills 10

According to sources, the mourning procession was returning from Shershah-Jo-Per to Quetta Road in Lashari Muhalla when the suicide attack took place, causing suspension of electricity supply to the entire area.

Pieces of human flesh were lying all over the place.

Sixteen of those killed in the blast were identified as Ali Raza Lashar, 26; Nisar Ahmed Brohi, 10; Mashooq Ali Sarmastani, 9, and his brother Mohammad Qasim; Habibullah Jatoi, 30; Lal Dino, 25, and his brother Zahid Hussain Jakhrani; Aqsa, 6, and her 18-month-old sister Saba; Ali Raza Mughal, 10; Sikandar Ali Shaikh, 9, and his brother Asghar Ali Shaikh, 7; Sajjad Ali, 8, and his brother Farman Ali (nephews of a leader of the Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party); Mohammad Ali Talani and Niaz Jakhrani.

The dead and the injured were taken to the Civil Hospital and the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences, where condition of some of the injured was stated to be critical.

The entire Jacobabad town was in grip of grief and anger because of the killing of innocent children and was completely shut down.

Although emergency was declared in hospitals, there were reports that doctors and paramedical staff were not available there because of which some seriously injured people succumbed to their injuries. The situation led to a protest and ransacking of one of the hospitals by angry activists of different Shia organisations.

The Jacobabad PPP’s General Secretary, Mir Liaqat Lashari, visited the place and ordered shifting of the injured to the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences.

The town’s DC Chowk turned into a battlefield when Jacobabad SSP Malik Zafar Iqbal Awan arrived there to talk to Shia leaders. The protesters pelted his car with stones and blocked his way.

Police fired shots in the sky and used teargas to disperse the protesters who also returned fire. Mohammad Sharif, a Wapda employee, was reportedly killed in police firing.

Three officials of the Sukkur Electric Power Company were attacked with knives because of non-supply of power and four vehicles of the company were set on fire.

The protesters also set ablaze the main gate of DC office and burnt tyres on different roads of the town.

The angry people thrashed DSP City Rana Nasrullah in Civil Hospital and tore up his uniform. He took shelter in the hospital mosque.

SSP Malik Zafar Iqbal said the blast was a suicide attack.

Police and intelligence agencies took parts of the body of the bomber into custody.

The head of the bomber was not found.

According to the sources, the bomber was about 20 years old and a pistol was found fastened on the back of his body. A wire was also found attached to his legs and one hand.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah ordered the dispatch of an air ambulance to Jacobabad so that the critically injured could be brought to Karachi.

Denouncing the terrorist attack, the Shia Ulema Council announced protests to be held in Karachi and other cities and towns of Sindh on Saturday.

The Jacobabad SSP told Dawn over phone in the night that the blast occurred on a 6ft wide street. It was a small procession.

DG Health Services Dr Hassan Murad Shah said that 12 of the injured were later sent to the PAF Hospital in Jacobabad and two to a hospital in Larkana.

District Health Officer Dr Sawan Sheikh said the district hospital had received 14 bodies.

In was the second deadliest bombing in upper Sindh.

On Jan 30, an explosion at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur killed 61 people and injured over 60 others. Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, demonstrations were held in various towns of Badin district on Friday evening in protest against the Jacobabad bombing.

A PPP MNA and former speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza, former senator Bibi Yasmin Shah, Ismail Rahu, Syed Pappu Shah and Sardar Kamal Chang condemned the attack and called for foolproof security for mourners.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2015



Drone Kills Six ISIS Militants near Khyber Agency

October 24, 2015

PESHAWAR - At least six suspected militants were killed yesterday in a US drone strike in Nazyan district near Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency. Security sources said the drone targeted a militant compound in Nazyan district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, on the zero line bordering Khyber Agency. The drone strike killed six militants while the compound was completely destroyed. The sources added all the six militants belonged to the self-styled Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan.



Nawaz Urges US to Side with Pakistan against Indian Aggression

October 24, 2015

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged the United States to take Pakistan's side in its long-standing dispute with rival nuclear power India or run the risk of escalating conflict.

Speaking in Washington on Friday, a day after talks with US President Barack Obama, Nawaz said Pakistan was ready to help Afghanistan revive peace talks with Taliban rebels.

But he made it clear that his main priority was seeking international support to compel India to negotiate over the future of the disputed province of Kashmir.

The premier charged India of stepping up ceasefire violations across the Line of Control and Working Boundary.

“While refusing dialogue, India is engaged in a major arms buildup, regrettably with the active assistance of several powers,” he said, in an address to the US Institute for Peace.

“It has adopted dangerous military doctrines. This will compel Pakistan to take several countermeasures to preserve credible deterrence.”

“Obviously the Pakistan-India relationship poses the most difficult and urgent challenge,” Nawaz said.

“I believe a close review of some of the existing assumptions and analysis and greater attention to Pakistan's views and interests would be useful in enabling Washington to play a constructive role in averting the ever present danger of escalation and in promoting stability in South Asia."

He also noted “a stream of hostile statements by the Indian political and military leadership.”

At the White House on Thursday, Nawaz and Obama had agreed to help Afghanistan re-start peace talks that broke off in early August when it emerged that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.

Pakistan has been accused of covertly supporting the Afghan Taliban in its guerrilla campaign against Kabul and allied Nato forces.

Nawaz insisted his country has no interest in backing the Taliban's campaign of violence, but pleaded that Pakistan “cannot bring them to the table and be asked to kill them at the same time."

Of far more importance, he suggested, was Islamabad's relationship with India, pressuring Washington not to continue pursuing warmer ties with his giant neighbour.

“There is no alternative for the two countries but to resume a comprehensive dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.



Nawaz Sharif says can’t bring Taliban to peace and kill them at same time

Oct 24 2015

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that Islamabad is prepared to help revive stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban and that he has talked about it with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

But Nawaz Sharfi said he cannot bring Taliban to peace talks “and be asked to kill them at the same time.”

Nawaz Sharif did not elaborate but his remarks come after Kabul asked Islamabad to begun crackdown on Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups that carry out attacks in Afghanistan with their centers inside Pakistan.

Afghan government said if Pakistan really wants to assist Afghanistan, it should stop supporting the terrorist groups.

Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace was disrupted when a protester stood up shouting slogans of freedom for Balochistan province of Pakistan.

According to Reuters, a man in the audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace stood up and shouted “Free, Free Baluchistan!” and accused the Pakistani prime minister of being “friends” with late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, just as Sharif was starting a speech.

Sharif looked up and paused briefly as the man was led away, but did not comment on the interruption, Reuter’s reports.



Pakistan’s peacekeeping role highlighted

October 24, 2015

RAWALPINDI: While the world celebrates Oct 24 as the United Nations Day, it must not forget the role and sacrifices of Pakistan Army in UN peacekeeping missions all over the world.

Pakistan’s commitment with the UN for promoting international peace and prosperity stems from the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan’s role in peacekeeping efforts began in 1960 when it deployed its first contingent in the UN operations in Congo. Over the past 55 years, the country has been the most significant and consistent contributor to the UN peacekeeping around the world.

Know more: UN lauds Pakistani peacekeepers contribution to world peace

Pakistani peacekeepers have left no stone unturned in the noble cause of helping humanity, building peace and bringing stability across the regions under the banner of United Nations, said an Inter Services Public Relations statement on Friday.

Pakistan has contributed more than 160,000 troops to-date in 41 missions spread over 23 countries in almost all continents, it said.

The country has remained one of the largest troop contributing countries consistently for many years.

At present, Pakistan is contributing more than 7,500 personnel of all ranks deployed in six UN missions.

In pursuance of its commitment to the noble cause of international peace and tranquillity 144 Pakistani troops, among them 23 officers, have given the ultimate sacrifice in UN missions and almost an equal number of troops have been wounded.

The performance of Pakistani peacekeepers has been acknowledged by numerous world leaders and the UN leadership.

The undisputed high professional standing enjoyed by Pakistani peacekeepers has given them the honour of being one of the most desired bodies of troops in each UN peacekeeping mission, the ISPR statement said.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2015



Contempt petition filed against PM for English speech at UN


October 24, 2015

ISLAMABAD: A contempt petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for delivering his speech at the 70th United Nations General Assembly session in English.

Mian Zahid Ghani, the petitioner, contends that the prime minister had flouted the Sept 8 Supreme Court verdict which directed the federal and provincial governments to use, without any delay, Urdu for official and other purposes.

He said the heads of other states, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushmita Swaraj, Cuban President Raul Castro, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had addressed the same UN meeting in their national languages.

Take a look: Ways to switch over to Urdu

Prime Minister Sharif, the petition said, had committed an offence and, therefore, should be prosecuted under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

This is the second such petition. Earlier, a habitual petitioner, Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi, had moved a similar petition requesting the Supreme Court to hold the prime minister in contempt for flouting, with impunity, its Sept 8 judgment.

Contempt petitions against sitting prime ministers are nothing new in Pakistan. On April 26, 2012, the Supreme Court had handed down a symbolic punishment lasting less than a minute to then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for committing contempt, though he was later disqualified as member of parliament by another bench headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on June 19, 2012, on the same charges.

In its petition, Zahid Ghani argued that since Prime Minister Sharif knew about the Sept 8 judgment, the apex court should order his disqualification as member of the National Assembly under Articles 62 and 63 (1 g) of the Constitution.

The petitioner also annexed with his petition the Sept 8 judgment in which former chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja acknowledged the contentions raised before the court that the governments were deliberately not implementing Article 251 of the Constitution which asked for making arrangements to implement Urdu for official and other purposes within 15 years of commencement of the constitution.

The verdict also asked the governments to consider and implement the three-month timeline, given by the government itself in a July 6, 2015, letter to all government departments, and directed the federal and the provincial governments to coordinate with each other for uniformity in the ‘rasmulkhat’, or font style of the national language.

In addition, federal and provincial laws will also be translated into the national language within three months, as suggested by the government in the July 6 letter; whereas statutory, regulatory and oversight bodies will take steps to implement Article 251 without delay and ensure compliance.

The verdict also asked the governments to introduce the language in competitive examinations at the federal level. Judgments in cases relating to public interest litigation or those judgments enunciating a principle of law in terms of Article 189 must also be translated into Urdu and published in line with Article 251 of the Constitution.



CTD captures two ‘terrorists’


October 24, 2015

LAHORE: The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed on Friday to have arrested two suspected terrorists of a banned outfit, who reached Lahore to carry out terrorist attack on Ashura processions.

According to sources, the CTD and intelligence agencies conducted raid in Shahdara and arrested Amjad Ali Chattha of Haveli Numbersaran Mohalla Jallo and Mubashir Miraj of Street No 5 of Mohalla Asifabad Colony, Sheikhupura. Both are members of the banned Jamatul Ahrar and TTP. The CTD officials recovered two 30 bore pistols, 550gm explosive, a hand grenade and 600gm explosive in double plastic bag and detonator.

The suspects reached Lahore to carry out attack on the Muharram processions. The CTD registered a case against suspects under section 4/5 ESA, 11-F (2) ATA, and 13-2a 20/65 AO and shifted them to undisclosed location for interrogation.

The CTD source said Jamatul Ahrar had been involved in last four terrorist attacks in Lahore including Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh, Youhanabad and Wagah attack. At Wagah flag-lowering ceremony suicide attack, more than 60 people were killed and the outlawed Jundullah and TTP-affiliated Jamatul Ahrar outfits claimed responsibility.

More than 17 people were killed and 70 injured in two suicide attacks outside churches in Youhanabad.



MQM leaders barred from criticising govt

October 24, 2015

ISLAMABAD - MQM chief Altaf Hussain has prevented the party lawmakers from unduly criticising the incumbent government until the completion of Grievance Redressal Committee’s report.

The members had been advised to take back their resignations and avoid criticism on the government in the coming three months, sources in MQM shared with The Nation.

The newly formed Grievance Redressal Committee will start its work in the coming week to compile its report on the complaints of MQM and other parties on the Karachi operation within 90 days.

“The MQM lawmakers, after taking back their resignations, will start participating in the proceedings of the assemblies and the Senate, but avoid locking horns with the government on each issue,” said a MQM member, desiring not to be named.

The MQM MNAs and senators, before submitting their resignations, used to register their protest against the alleged unilateral Karachi operation almost in every sitting of the National Assembly. They tendered resignations on August 12, giving 19 reasons, including the Karachi operation.

“We have submitted resignations for pushing us to the wall and imposing restrictions on their political, democratic and social activities,” these were the words of MQM parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar in NA before tendering resignations with the other MNAs of his party.

The PML-N government ignored MQM’s grievances for one month. Later, it formed a five-member team to look into the complaints of Muttahida regarding the ongoing operation in Karachi. This committee would hold a couple of meetings and complete its task in three months (90 days).

The allegations of MQM were rejected by the government side many times, saying the Karachi operation was only against the criminals disrupting the peace of the city. The government and MQM had also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the formation of the committee to make a report on the matter.

The committee, comprising Justice (r) Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice (r) Kahlilur Rehman, Justice (r) Ajmal Mian and Barrister Farogh Naseem from MQM will jointly work on it.

Talking to The Nation, an MQM lawmaker said they would present all the evidences and figures to the committee as a number of their workers were missing. “The MQM members faced illegal detentions, but our grievances were not addressed. We hope this committee will give weight to our complaints,” said a Muttahida lawmaker.

It would not be out of place to mention here that MQM had several times detached itself from the PPP government over grievances. The party had faced a severe criticism for its ‘political somersaults’ as in the PPP era MQM left the government for several times and rejoined after some time on acceptance of their demands.



Terror bids foiled in Kurram, Tank

October 24, 2015

KHURRUM AGENCY - Major terror plots were foiled in Kurrum Agency and Tank district when law enforcers arrested a suicide bomber and defused explosives on Friday.

According to sources, the terrorists were planning to attack Muharram-ul-Harram majalis. Law enforcers arrested a suicide attacker in the Pir Qayyum area of Kurram Agency and are conducting raids to arrest other accomplices of the bomber. Security arrangements have also been made tighten for Muharram-ul-Harram in the Agency.

Meanwhile, security forces foiled terror bids after they defused a bomb in Tank district. According to the police, unknown saboteurs had fitted a 15kg bomb with the gate of an Imambargah in Tank.

The police along with army and bomb disposal squad were informed by an informer. The bomb disposal squad defused the bomb.



Ashura gives lesson of fighting against tyranny: Yousaf

October 24, 2015

Islamabad - Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said yesterday said the day of Ashura has a special significance in Islamic history due to supreme sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), which gave a the lesson of fighting against the tyrannical forces. In his message of Youm-e-Ashur, he said the day of Ashura has a special significance in Islamic history. This is the day when Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), and his companions took on the forces of falsehood for the gory of Islam, he added.

He said “The battle between forces of truth and falsehood imparts us a lesson of sacrifice and selflessness.”

He said “This great event in the human history taught us that we can fight against any challenge by implementing the universal principles of Islam.” He called for creating a spirit of forbearance, sympathy and tolerance in the society.

He said “On this very day, our great religion, Islam, stands for brotherhood, equality, truthfulness, and justice. By implementing these principles in our lives, we cannot only succeed in this world and the Hereafter but also ensure the universality of the Islamic message.”

He said, “We are fully determined and on this day of Ashura, we reiterate our pledge that we would further strengthen unity, political and social harmony, mutual tolerance, and brotherhood in our ranks”.



Terror attacks down by 70pc

October 24, 2015

WASHINGTON - Terming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's four-day visit to the United States successful, Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz yesterday said it has laid the foundation of multidimensional and broad-based partnership between the two countries.

Talking to reporters here after the culmination of the visit, he said Pak-US bilateral ties have improved during the last two years, comparing the past when there had been some hiccups in the bilateral relations that also caused suspension of strategic dialogue.

He said six working groups were already working to improve the Pak-US ties; however, it was needed to address each other’s concerns through such an interaction.

He said the joint statement issued after the meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and US President Barack Obama had dispelled the negative impressions being created in the media about the bilateral ties vis-à-vis Pakistan’s nuclear programme and action against militancy.

He said Pakistan has successfully convinced the US authorities that its nuclear programme was meant to maintain minimum deterrence what he said was also essential for stability in South Asia.

Sartaj Aziz who was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani told media persons that the international community has recognised safety and credibility of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

He averred the US has lauded Pakistan’s bold action against terrorists besides acknowledging the sacrifices the country rendered during this course.

He stated due to the effective implementation of the National Action Plan, terrorist attacks have decreased by around 60 to 70 percent, adding 190,000 Pakistani troops had been deployed in tribal areas to fight the menace.

About the US concern regarding action against Haqqani Network, he said Pakistan had made it clear that indiscriminate action would be taken gradually against all the groups involved in terrorism.

He asserted the prime minister has reiterated his stance that Pakistan will not allow the misuse of its soil for cross-border terrorism, though Zarb-e-Azb operation has already weakened the terrorists to a great extent.

The foreign adviser maintained Pakistan’s concerns were mainly about India, including hostile statements, ceasefire violations and increased intervention in Pakistan.

He said Pakistan was ready for dialogue, but India was putting pre-conditions.

He affirmed the joint statement has clearly called for steps to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, besides setting up a mechanism to end aggression at the Line of Control.

He said both Pakistan and the US have agreed to make concerted efforts to revive the peace process in Afghanistan that had been disrupted by some elements by breaking the news about death of Mulla Omar.

He claimed this visit would help broaden the Pak-US ties beyond security issues to education, economy and defence cooperation.

About the new initiatives decided between Pakistan and the US, he asserted both the countries have agreed for a clean energy partnership to produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity.

Besides, an education corridor would be established, introducing modern facilities and capacity building in the education sector.

Aziz said access to the US markets, Pakistan’s participation in bidding process of US defence contracts, Shale gas and defence production cooperation are among the initiatives in the pipeline.

The adviser said dossier containing the evidences of Indian involvement in Pakistan have been handed over to the US authorities as part of process to raise international reaction on the issue.

He claimed inclusion of Kashmir as dispute in the joint statement is a major achievement of Pakistan that rejected the old Indian stance.

He said Pakistan had urged the third force to play its role for resolution of Pak-India issues which could not be addressed bilaterally.

To a question, Sartaj Aziz said the durable peace in Afghanistan could only be achieved through talks, adding Pakistan would try to help resume the peace process but first Afghan government would have to show its willingness in this regard.

He stated as the summer season was getting over, hostility would decrease in Afghanistan during the winter, so the next three to four months would be of utmost importance for peace process.

The foreign affairs adviser said the United States had committed to providing US $900 million under the Coalition Support Fund.

He asserted the United States representative had acknowledged that situation in Pakistan was conducive for investment and that they would hold a conference which would follow another moot on Bhasha Dam.

To a question, he said work on Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline would start once sanctions on Iran are lifted.

Sartaj Aziz made it clear that Pakistan felt compelled to take similar action when its adversary tried to create imbalance of power in the region and reiterated that its nuclear programme was to ensure the very equilibrium.

He averred both Pakistan and India were candidates to become part of the Nuclear Supplier Group and would join it simultaneously.

Responding to a question, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said the US side had expressed concerns about peace and security in Afghanistan.

“In this regard, we made it clear that Pakistan is already striving for the same in its own interest and as moral obligation,” he concluded.



South Asia


21 ISIS loyalists killed in separate drone strikes in Nangarhar

Oct 23 2015

At least twenty one affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed separate drone strikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, local officials said Friday.

The airstrikes were carried out in Achin district on Friday afternoon, targeting hideouts of the loyalists of the terror group in two separate villages.

The district administrative chief of Achin, Haji Ghalib, said the first airstrike was carried out in Mamand, leaving at least eight loyalists of the terror group dead.

He said the airstrike was carried out in Bandar area, leaving at least three dead including a commander of the terror group and the third airstrike targeted a checkpost of ISIS loyalists in Abdullah Khel area, leaving at least 10 of them of dead.

The loyalists of ISIS terror group are actively operating in remote districts of eastern Nangarhar province and often carry out insurgency activities.

The terror group has lost numerous fighters in a series of airstrikes during the recent months.

In a separate operation, at least loyalists of the terror group were killed in Achin district earlier this week with local officials saying a hideout of the terror group was targeted by the artillery fire.

In the meantime, the Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security said earlier this week a vehicle transporting weapons and ammunition to ISIS loyalist was seized by NDS operatives in Nangarhar province.



Huseni Dalan attack planned to destabilise country: DMP

October 24, 2015

Terming the blasts at Dhaka’s Huseni Dalan a planned attack, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said a vested quarter carried out the attack to destabilise the country.

“Primarily, it seems to be a planned attack,” the DMP chief told journalists after visiting the spot around 6:00am today.

“Three bombs were blasted in the gathering despite tight security,” the police commissioner said.

The police officer however claimed that the law and order situation in the country have now at satisfactory level.

A child was killed and about 87 others were injured in the bomb explosions around 1:30am when members of Shia community were gathering there hours before the traditional Tajia procession to mark the holy Ashura.

Sixty of the injured were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital while others were admitted to the Mitford Hospital in the capital.



Blasts kill one at Huseni Dalan, Bangladesh

October 24, 2015

At least one person was killed and about 87 others were injured in homemade bomb explosions in front of Huseni Dalan in old Dhaka early hours today.

The blasts happened around 1:30am when members of Shia community were gathering at the building, about half an hour before the traditional Tajia procession was to be brought out from there to mark the holy Ashura.

The day marks the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), and the Shia community has been observing the day for centuries. But it is the first time that they have come under such an attack, though it was not clear who carried out the attack or why.

The attack came hours after a suicide bombing at a Shia Muslim mosque in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan killed at least 10 people including six children. Baluchistan has been wracked by separatist violence and rising sectarianism for almost a decade.

The historic differences of opinion between the Shias and the Sunnis caused divisions and attacks on the rivals in different places. In Iraq, attack on Shia’s marked a sharp rise since the fall of Saddam Hussein, who was the leader of Sunni Ba’ath Party.

Fears of violence have been heightened this year after Taliban splinter groups pledged allegiance to the Syria- and Iraq-based Islamic State, which has repeatedly targeted Shias. Analysts say Pakistani groups hoping for patronage want to impress Islamic State.

A large number of people of the Shia community gather at the Huseni Dalan in the capital's Bakshi Bazar yesterday hours before the blasts. The mourning procession is organised every year to mark the day of holy Ashura. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

Police cordoned off Huseni Dalan and said they were investigating the blasts.

The dead is Sajjad Hossain Saju, 14, said Nazimunnesa, deputy director of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. She said the boy was brought dead to the hospital.

Most of the victims were men, but some of them women. Their injuries were said to be minor and their condition stable.

Locals and law enforcement agencies rushed the wounded to the DMCH, where the emergency unit was heavy with cries of relatives.

Additional doctors and nurses were called in to cope with the situation.

Nasrin Sultana, an official of Lalbagh Fire Service and Civil Defence, said unknown criminals charged several cocktails when members of the Shia community were taking their final preparations to bring out the mourning procession to Mohammadpur. She was leading the rescue team.

In a Somoy TV report, people were seen running frantically about the blast scene. Numerous flip-flops and sandals were scattered around and many of the injured, including a young woman, were seen being carried to microbuses or other vehicles.

The report also showed there were a few unexploded cocktails left on the ground.

Rab Additional Director General Col Ziaul Ahsan said they were examining the evidence collected from the scene.

"We think these blasts were done to create a chaotic situation in the country," he said.

A supervisor of the Huseni Dalan said, "We've been observing this occasion here for ages. But we've never seen any incident like this. We demand a quick and fair investigation into the blasts."

During the first 10 days of Muharram, Huseni Dalan becomes a centre of mourning and religious gathering in old Dhaka. Shia followers end the festival by bringing out a large procession that parades through the city streets.

On this day in the Hijri year of 61, Hazrat Imam, grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), along with his family members and 72 followers embraced martyrdom in the hands of soldiers of Yazid at Karbala desert.

The day is a public holiday in Bangladesh.

President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday issued separate messages on the occasion.

In his message, the president said holy Ashura is a significant as well as a day of mourning for the Muslim Ummah for establishing truth and justice.

“On this day, I wish unity, solidarity and continuous development of the Muslim Ummah along with establishment of a society based on justice and equality,” he added.

The PM in her message said Ahsura is a very significant day in the history of mankind. She urged all to reflect the teachings of holy Asura in establishing truth and justice in the national life.



Bangladesh investigates alleged radical threat sent by Islamist group against media

Oct 23, 2015

Bangladesh police said on Tuesday they are investigating an email sent to various media organizations reportedly by a banned Islamist group threatening to topple “towering buildings” and telling the media not to run anything that goes against what it called jihad. The email — sent after a series of deadly attacks targeting moderates and foreigners — contains a six-point directive that includes telling women to stay at home. It urges businesses to fire any female employees, and says that working outside of the home is a “punishable offense” according to Shariah, or Islamic law. It does not elaborate what would constitute appropriate punishment.

The letter is signed by the group Ansarullah Bangla Team, which is allegedly linked with several other groups that claimed responsibility for killing four atheist bloggers this year. It threatens to kill more atheist bloggers, naming six in Bangladesh and nine others living abroad to be targeted as soon as they returned to the South Asian country. It said the list of 15 names is not final, warning that anyone who attempts to degrade Islam would face serious consequences and anyone supporting the atheist bloggers will not “be spared.” Authorities said they are taking the threat seriously and are investigating. “Higher authorities have been informed,” Dhaka police spokesman Muntasirul Islam told reporters. The email, received Monday by many Bangladeshi media outlets but not the AP, has renewed concerns about radical forces within Bangladesh. Since late September, two foreigners — an Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural worker — have been gunned down in daylight attacks. Responsibility for both attacks was claimed by the Sunni radical group Islamic State, but the Bangladesh government rejected those claims along with any suggestion that IS was active in the country. The email was signed with the name Abdullah bin Salim, who said he is an Ansarullah spokesman. Authorities determined it had been sent from a computer in the southeastern district of Chittagong, according to local media that received the email including online news service and the Dhaka Tribune newspaper. Ansarullah also allegedly has ties with al-Qaida’s branch in South Asia, launched last year in India. “Our directives will be the law for you from today,” the email says, according to Bangladeshi news service “The consequences will be severe if you do not walk the path of Islam. Towering buildings will crumble to the ground, your heads will roll at the feet of the soldiers of Islam.” It warns the media, “If your freedom of expression breaks the limit we have set, every news media unit should be prepared to face (the consequences) of our freedom to vent our anger,” according to It also says anyone working for a media organization that publishes reports condemning the “jihadis” for attacks “will be considered to be abettors of atheists and atheism, and they would be fully uprooted.”



Hindu devotees in Bangladesh bid farewell to Goddess Durga

October 24, 2015

Hindu devotees yesterday bade farewell to Goddess Durga and her children with solemn immersion of their idols, ending the five-day-long festival, the biggest of its kind for the Hindu community in Bangladesh.

Thousands of Hindus in the capital marched with spectacular truck processions carrying idols of Durga towards nearby rivers for immersion.

According to Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad (BPUP), about 200 idols from different puja mandaps of the capital were immersed in rivers.

A procession was brought out from Dhakeswari Mandir around 2:50pm and over 100 trucks full of devotees reached Wais Ghat where the idols were immersed in the Buriganga, said Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee, joint secretary of BPUP.

Idols from the mandaps in Kalabagan, Banani and Gulshan were immersed in the Turag river, he added.

Nirmal said about 25-30 idols of goddess Durga will be kept at permanent temples such as Dhakeswari to be replaced by new ones during next year's puja.

Our correspondents from Cox's Bazar and Chittagong report that devotees thronged different beaches and rivers to see the immersion of Durga.

In Chittagong, devotees packed into the Patenga Sea Beach, the main immersion spot of the port city. More than 150 idols were immersed in the waters there, said Ratnakar Das, general secretary of Puja Udjapan Parishad in Chittagong.

In Cox's Bazar, devotees went to the beach on motorcades as well as in colourful processions around 2:00pm. Tourists joined them during the immersion.

More than 29,000 mandaps have been set up across the country, including 225 in Dhaka alone, on the occasion this year, BPUP sources said.

Cities, urban centres and even remote villages wore festive looks with the puja mandaps lit brightly and decorated lavishly.

The origin of Durga Puja can be traced back to the 15th century. With the ascent of Mughals, Durga Puja became more popular. Grand celebrations, gala feasts and huge fanfare were part of the festival.

According to Hindu mythology, goddess Durga appeared in the midst of common people following the prayers of king Kangsha. Marking the occasion, the first Durga worship was arranged at Taherpur in Rajshahi in the Bangla month of Aswin in 1480 by Kangsha Narayan.



Afghan special forces in firing line as fighting spreads

October 24, 2015

Kabul - Jessica Donati and Hamid Shalizi - As Afghan soldiers and police struggle to contain an escalating insurgency that has targeted several cities in recent weeks, the country’s special forces are being tested as never before.

Trained in counter-insurgency tactics at the elite School of Excellence near Kabul, these soldiers led the battle to retake Kunduz, after regular forces fled their posts last month to cede the northern city to militants they easily outnumbered.

“The credit for the Kunduz victory goes to the Afghan special forces of the police and Afghan National Army,” said interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, referring to the government’s recapture of most of Kunduz a few days after it fell to the Taliban in late September.

“They are tough fighters.

” Events surrounding the first capitulation of a provincial capital to the Taliban since they were ousted from power in 2001 underlined the weakness of Afghanistan’s regular army and police and the relative strength of its special forces.

Worryingly for Kabul and the United States, which has spent around $65 billion training local forces to allow the rest of its troops to withdraw, Afghan special forces are feeling the strain.

Numbering about 18,000 of a total Afghan National Security Force of up to 350,000 and divided between the army, police and Interior Ministry, Afghan special forces units and commandos undertook 2,800 independent operations in the year to May 2015, according to a report from the US Department of Defense.

“Our forces shoulder a lot of responsibility and sometimes they have to respond to attacks as often as twice a day,” said Abdullah Guard, head of police special forces in Kunduz.


With better equipment, training and pay, as well as more prestige than regular troops, special forces are the first units turned to in a crisis.

That burden was bothering Afghan special forces commanders even before the dramatic events in Kunduz.

Since then, heavy fighting has flared near Ghazni, a city 130 km southwest of Kabul, and, in the last few days, around Lashkar Gah in the south, Herat in the west and in the northern Faryab province bordering Turkmenistan.

Some commanders are concerned that too much reliance is being placed on units originally intended to provide specialised back-up to regular security forces.

“Commandos are not being used in the way they were supposed to be,” one Afghan commander complained to a team of US special forces at a remote outpost in Paktia province, close to the Pakistan border where the Taliban have long been active.

“They’re being used like a conventional unit,” he added at a meeting this summer convened for the benefit of a visiting US special forces commander.

The Afghan officer declined to be named, because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

“If they continue to use commandos like a conventional force, we won’t get any new recruits and we will lose everything that we have.

As training has been handed from US to Afghan instructors, there have been complaints from some officers that the quality of recruits has fallen.

“When we get them, we have to teach them everything from the beginning,” the Afghan commander said.

As international forces step back from active combat, the dynamic between US and Afghan Special Forces units has shifted, with American soldiers leaving most of the fighting to local colleagues.

“We’re not going out as much as we used to, and that’s a good thing,” said one US Special Forces adviser.

The Americans’ main role, according to command sergeant major James Napolet, NATO Special Operations Command Component-Afghanistan, is to support Afghans where their resources are weakest, including intelligence and medical evacuation.


NATO’s 13,000-strong Resolute Support force is there to “advise and assist” after the main combat mission, numbering 130,000 soldiers at its peak, ended last year.

A few thousand more US troops engage in hunting senior Taliban and al Qaeda figures.

In the heat of battle, lines between Afghan and foreign special forces can become blurred.

On Oct.

1, US advisers working alongside Afghan Special Forces came under attack from Taliban fighters in Kunduz and returned fire, which a NATO spokesman said was within their remit to “protect themselves if necessary”.

The US military has taken responsibility for the bombing of a hospital in Kunduz that killed 22 staff and patients, which it said came in response to an Afghan request for air support.

But US and Afghan Special Forces also point to notable successes.

Earlier this month, General John Campbell, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, hailed one of the biggest ground assaults his forces had conducted, targeting al Qaeda cells in Kandahar province in the south.

While a statement did not specify the involvement of special forces, the operation was the kind carried out by elite commandos.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our brave US servicemen and women and their Afghan counterparts,” Campbell said.

“It’s because of their extraordinary efforts that terrorists here haven’t been able to attack our homeland in over 14 years.






400 Years On, This Tazia Symbolises Hindu-Muslim Unity

Chaitanya Deshpande

Oct 24, 2015

NASHIK: When Shia Muslims worldwide observe the mourning day of Muharram by taking out Tazia processions on Saturday, Nashik residents will follow a 400-year-old tradition symbolising Hindu-Muslim unity. Hindu followers will once again lift the Tazia and Taboot (replica of tombs) built by Hindu and Muslim devotees together in the Ashurkhana of Imamshahi area of old Nashik.

"Haloka Tazia is considered to be the 'Manacha Tazia' (Tazia of honour) in Nashik. It receives salutations from all other Tazia processions in the city. In the last 400 years, generations have followed the tradition of building this Tazia along with Hindu followers," said Sayyad Kalim Noor, who represents the fifth generation of the Noor family, which organises the Haloka Tazia procession.

After building the Tazia, it is always lifted by Hindu followers on the first day of Muharram. It is then placed for public viewing in Imamshahi. Devotees worship the Tazia and perform all rituals during the 10 days of Muharram. On the seventh day, the first procession is taken out, which is also shouldered by Hindus, while on the 10th day of Muharram (Yom-e-Ashura), Hindus lift once again the Tazia for public viewing. This year, Yom-e-Ashura falls on Saturday.

"These rules were set by our ancestors and we consider it an honour to lift the Tazia. Thousands of Hindus in Nashik believe that this Tazia answers their prayers," said Ratnakar Pagare, one of the followers who lift the Tazia every year.

"The city has witnessed this unique tradition for 400 years. We are committed to continue the tradition to strengthen the bond of unity between the Hindus and Muslims of Nashi," said Sayyad Noor.

Muharram processions today

A grand mourning procession will mark the day of Yom-e-Ashura on Saturday. Muslims will begin the day with 'Namaz'. Tazia processions will be taken out from Fakirwadi, Nanawali, Multanpura, Konkanipura Koth, Jehangir Masjid Chowk, Andheri Vihir and other locations. All the processions will gather at Imamshahi late in the night and salute the Haloka Tazia. While all Tazias will be immersed in the Godavari, the Haloka Tazia will be buried as per tradition.



Slain Hizb ul Mujahideen Men Featured In Social Media Posts: Cops

By Mir Ehsan

Oct 24, 2015

The two Hizb ul Mujahideen militants killed in an encounter in south Kashmir Thursday had appeared in photographs and videos uploaded on different social networking sites recently. Police said the slain militants, Irshad Ahmad Sheikh and Adil Khanday, were affiliated to the Hizb ul Mujahideen and were active in Tral and Shopian areas on Friday, protests were observed against their killing, with hundreds of villagers participating in their funeral procession.

Police said Sheikh and Khanday were close associates of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, considered an expert in using social networking sites for propagating militancy and lure recruits. Local residents and police said the duo was part of the militant group whose pictures in military fatigues carrying weapons were uploaded on different social networking sites. Police said the militants were killed at Manzimpora, Shopian, in a joint operation by the police and the Army. However, one of their associates managed to escape. Police said Khanday, along with his accomplices,  was involved in killing of three police personnel in Amshipora, Shopian, in April this year, while Sheikh was involved in militancy-relate d cases.



Lashkar says Sharif promised action against it to please India

Oct 24, 2015

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday for promising action against the group during his meeting with US President Barack Obama.

“Prime Minister Sharif’s promise of taking action against the group was aimed at pleasing New Delhi,” its spokesman Abdullah Gaznavi said in an e-mail statement.

He said Sharif’s statement has “hurt the sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims” and it will have a bearing in the state.

“His (Sharif’s) action cannot be termed as right and beneficial for the freedom struggle of Kashmiris,” he said.

Sharif promised action against all terrorist networks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, in a joint statement issued after his talks with Obama on Thursday.



North America


White House warns Netanyahu ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ must stop

23 October 2015

The White House warned Benjamin Netanyahu against “inflammatory rhetoric” Thursday after the Israeli prime minister claimed a Palestinian religious leader provoked the Holocaust.

Netanyahu on Tuesday suggested Hitler was not planning to exterminate the Jews until he met Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian nationalist, in 1941.

Responding sharply to the controversial claim, since pedaled back by the Israeli leader, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, “I don’t think there’s any doubt here at the White House who is responsible for the Holocaust that killed six million Jews.”

“We here continue to stress publicly and privately ... the importance of preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations or actions on both sides (that) can feed the violence.”

“We believe that inflammatory rhetoric needs to stop.”

Netanyahu’s comments were widely criticized, with Palestinian leaders and the Israeli opposition accusing him of distorting the past, while historians called them inaccurate.

The White House reaction comes after Secretary of State John Kerry met Netanyahu in Berlin, urged Palestinians and Israelis to halt all incitement.



Obama names new counter-IS envoy

October 24, 2015

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Friday tapped veteran Iraq expert Brett McGurk to coordinate the troubled US campaign against the Islamic State group, the White House said.

Announcing the departure of General John Allen, who steps down after a year marked by setbacks, policy reversals and increasing regional chaos, Obama described McGurk as “one of my most trusted advisers on Iraq.

” Allen played a key role in trying to hold together the disparate 65-member coalition who has vowed to roll back Islamic State’s territorial gains.

The bloc has sometimes struggled, with the White House reluctant to dramatically gear up US involvement and key members of the coalition holding divergent aims and differing degrees of commitment.

The task has only become more complex since Russia and Iran have intervened to prop up the Syrian government and deepen ties with Baghdad.

Obama offered his “profound gratitude” to Allen, who spent 38 years in the Marine, saying he had met the “challenge with tremendous ability and courage.

” McGurk had most recently been Allen’s deputy, focusing largely on efforts to with Sunni tribal leaders and the Iraqi government to take back Ramadi.

It is unclear if his appointment signals a rethink in policy, which critics say has floundered in recent months.

Obama recently scrapped a $600 million mission to train Syrian opposition fighters to take on Islamic State.

The group controls swathes of northern Syria and is within striking distance of Baghdad.

On Thursday, a serviceman became the first American to be killed in action since the fight began in Iraq in June 2014.

He was in a contingent of Kurdish and US forces that stormed a prison in northern Iraq, freeing some 70 captives who were facing imminent execution, the Pentagon said.

Moreover, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday he hoped to reconvene another meeting on Syria as early as October 30, after talks with his Russian, Turkish and Saudi Arabian counterparts.

“What we agreed to do today is to consult with all parties and aim to reconvene, hopefully as early as next Friday with a broader meeting in order to explore whether there is sufficient common ground to advance a meaningful political process,” he told journalists in Vienna.

Kerry had met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish and Saudi Arabian counterparts to discuss ways of ending the Syrian war, which claimed more than 250,000 lives in four-and-a-half years.

Ahead of the gathering, Lavrov met with his Jordanian counterpart and announced that Russia and Jordan had agreed to “coordinate” military operations in Jordan.

Moscow has thrust itself into the heart of the conflict with its bombing campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia back rebel groups fighting Damascus.

Lavrov also called for the inclusion of key regional players like Egypt and Iran in diplomatic efforts.

“This quartet is clearly not enough,” he said.

But Kerry rejected the suggestion of involving Iran.

“There will come a time perhaps where we will talk to Iran but we are not at the moment at this point of time,” he said.

” Describing Friday’s meeting as “constructive”, Kerry said the talks had generated some ideas which had “the possibility of changing the dynamics”.

“We all know that arriving in a solution to the crisis in Syria is difficult,” he added.

Russia began an air campaign in Syria on September 30 that has shifted the dynamics in the brutal war, allowing Assad’s battle-weary forces to go on the offensive and overshadowing a US-led coalition bombing the Islamic State (IS) group.

The US and it regional allies have decried Russia’s strikes, insisting Moscow is not targeting Islamic State as it claims, but other groups battling the regime in Damascus, and that the Kremlin’s intervention will only prolong the fighting.



Obama says Black Lives Matter movement raises ‘legitimate issue’

23 October 2015

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the Black Lives Matter movement is raising a “legitimate issue” about African-Americans being treated unfairly in certain communities.

Obama made his first public remarks about the group, which grew in aftermath of police shootings of unarmed black men, during a discussion of the importance of criminal justice reform.

Critics of Black Lives Matter allege the group promotes bias against other groups, including white Americans and police, and started the saying, “all lives matter.”

“I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter,” Obama said while speaking on a panel convened at the White House to address criminal justice issues.

“What they were suggesting was, there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that is not happening in other communities. That is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”

The Black Lives Matter movement grew on social media around the protests in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen in August 2014.

“There is a specific concern as to whether African-Americans in certain jurisdictions are not being treated fairly or are subject to excessive force more frequently,” Obama said.

He cautioned that pointing out bias against the black Americans by police should use data rather than anecdotes and avoid painting the picture with “a broad brush.”




Hundreds of activists hold anti-Israeli rally in Madrid

Oct 24, 2015

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists have held a rally in the Spanish capital Madrid to show their anger at Israel’s aggressive policies towards the Palestinians.

On Friday night, around 400 activists, holding Palestinian flags, gathered outside Israeli culture center and museum Sefarad House in Madrid to demonstrate their solidarity for Palestine.

The angry demonstrators chanted slogans and carried placards demanding an end to the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, and also called on the international community to boycott Israeli products.

The rally was previously set to be in front of the Israeli embassy in the Spanish capital. However, protesters had to change the location of the gathering after receiving threats from an anti-Muslim extremist right-wing group. A large number of police officers were deployed to prevent any incident of violence

Organizers say the pro-Palestinian demonstration passed peacefully with no incidents. The participants also vowed to continue their demonstrations in support of the Palestinian cause.

Pro-Palestine activists rally outside the Israeli culture center in Madrid on October 23, 2015.

Tensions in the occupied territories gained momentum after the Tel Aviv regime imposed in August restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem). The Palestinians are also angry at aggressive Israeli settlers, who frequently storm al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 54 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more have been injured in Israeli attacks since early October. At least nine Israelis have died as a result of attacks over the past few weeks.



Germany speeds up new measures to deal with refugee influx

23 October 2015

Germany is introducing measures to tackle its refugee crisis earlier than previously expected, a top government official said on Friday, and allowing accelerated deportation procedures to begin as early as next week.

Germany expects a record influx of more than 800,000 migrants this year, by far the most in the European Union. With the new measures, Berlin is aiming to cope better with the unprecedented number of arrivals and to stem the influx.

The tighter rules aim to speed up asylum and extradition procedures for migrants from south-eastern Europe, in order to focus on refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Peter Altmaier, Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, said the new measures could now be expected to come into effect before a previously foreseen start date of Nov. 1.

"That would be a good signal," he told ARD television.

"We want to get better and faster this year at the deportation of rejected applicants who have no claim to remain here," added Altmaier, who Merkel appointed earlier this month to oversee her government's handling of the refugee crisis.

Support for Merkel's conservatives has fallen due to concern over the refugee crisis.

Many Germans feel the country cannot cope with the record influx. A poll for ARD showed three-quarters of Germans expect the influx of refugees to change German society.

Several European leaders are due to meet on Sunday to tackle the migrant crisis in the western Balkans as thousands trying to reach Germany are trapped in deteriorating conditions.

Hungary has responded to the largest migration wave Europe has seen since World War Two by building a steel fence along its borders with Serbia and Croatia, a step both welcomed and criticized by various leaders around Europe.

"The more fences are erected the greater the misery," Altmaier said. "Europe must see to it that this movement and this influx is orderly and structured."

The head of Germany's police trade union, Rainer Wendt, said the crisis was stretching police resources thin. "I have personally told the chancellor: we can't be in two places at once," Wendt told newspaper Die Welt.



Iran, Egypt should attend future talks on Syrian crisis: Russia

Oct 23, 2015

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow wants Iran and Egypt to participate in any future talks on finding a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Lavrov made the remark following a Friday meeting between Russia, the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the Syrian conflict in the Austrian capital Vienna.

"We requested that our future contacts take place in a more representative format, which implies the involvement of a range of countries from the region, including… Iran and Egypt,” he said.

Lavrov also stressed that a number of relevant organizations, including the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, could take part in future negotiations on Syria.

He reiterated Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying, "Our partners have some obsession with the figure of the Syrian president, but we reaffirmed our position."

The top diplomats of the four countries agreed to hold another meeting next week in an expanded format with delegates from other countries.

Speaking to reporters after the Friday meeting, Kerry did not rule out participation by Iran in the future talks.

"What we agreed to do today is to consult with all parties and aim to reconvene, hopefully as early as next Friday, with a broader meeting in order to explore whether there is sufficient common ground to advance a meaningful political process,” Kerry said.

Later on Friday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini backed Russia’s stance on inviting Iran, saying, “All relevant actors, regionally and internationally, should be involved.”

“Our open channel with Iran is something we are using very actively, and I hope Iran can be part of this process,” she added.

Iran has not been invited to previous peace talks on Syria, all of which ended in failure over the demand by the US, Turkey and some Arab states that Assad relinquish power as a pre-condition for peace, which he refuses to consider.

After the top-level meeting, the Saudi foreign minister said divisions remain about the future of the Syrian president.

“There still remain some gaps with regards to the departure of Bashar al-Assad and the timing of such a departure,” Jubeir said, adding, “We will continue such conversations perhaps with a broader range of countries in order to see if we arrive at a consensus on the way forward for Syria.”

The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and left over one million injured, according to the United Nations.

The Syrian army has recently made a series of new gains in the fight against Takfiri terrorists operating in their country. Reports say large numbers of Daesh terrorists are quitting the ranks of the extremist group amid the advances of government troops backed by Russian airstrikes.

Moscow launched its air raids against terrorist groups in Syria upon a request by Damascus on September 30, shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate to use the air force in the Arab country.



German Police Foil Attack on Refugee Shelter

23 October 2015

CAIRO – Reflecting growing danger posed by far-right in Germany, police have foiled a far-right attack on refugee shelters in Bavaria, amid increasing violence and threats against refugees.

“If these are thrown into a car or a smaller space, people can be seriously injured or killed,” Werner Mikulasch, the local deputy police chief, told the Telegraph on Thursday, October 22.

The suspects were growing “more radical and more violent by each month.”

The police was talking about the “highly dangerous explosives” that far-right extremists planned to use in an attack on two government shelters for asylum-seekers in the town.

Police arrested 11 men and two women aged between 21 and 36, are believed to be members of The Right, a small local far-Right party, and Nügida, a Bavarian offshoot of the Pegida anti-immigrant movement.

During police raids in the Bavarian town of Bamberg, police seized a gun, knives and illegal fireworks, well as far-Right propaganda material including a red flag bearing a swastika.

The far-right group, which aimed to spread fear and terror, has been described by the chief prosecutor for Bamberg Erik Ohlenschlager as a “violent and brutal group” who “are dangerous and have to be taken seriously”.

The far-right extremists planned to attack the refugees on October 31, the same day in which anti-refugees protests are scheduled.

According to the Federal Criminal Police (BKA), more than 285 attacks on migrant centres across Germany were reported between July and September.

At least 576 offences targeting refugee hostels since the start of the year, including cases of criminal damage and inciting hatred, 523 of which were committed by far-right extremists, BKA added.

"Alongside the attacks on asylum-seeker hostels, attacks against officials held responsible (for the influx of migrants), such as politicians or the managers of lodging places, could grow," a BKA spokesperson told Agence France Presse (AFP).

The number of newcomers is enormous. Of the more than 800,000 new asylum seekers expected in Germany this year, some 80 percent are Muslims, according to the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD).

More than 161,000 Syrians now live in Germany and the number is expected to grow further, making it the largest Syrian community in Europe.