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As Foreigners Fight In the Philippines, a New Hub for Islamic State

New Age Islam News Bureau

31 May 2017

Government soldiers fighting the Maute group watch a helicopter attack (not pictured) as they take a break inside a military camp in Marawi City, southern Philippines May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro



 As Foreigners Fight In the Philippines, a New Hub for Islamic State

 Putting Together a Holistic Solution to Defeat Islamic State: White House

 Shabaab Claims US Is ‘Satan of Our Time,’ Praises Al Qaeda’s Leadership

 Taliban Reacts At Kabul Bombing That Left 80 Dead, Over 350 Wounded

 Hindu-Muslim Bonhomie, Pandits All Praise For Hospitality of Muslim in Kashmir


Southeast Asia

 As Foreigners Fight In the Philippines, a New Hub for Islamic State

 Military Role in Counterterrorism Operations Should Be Last Option: Komnas HAM

 PM: Muslims must reject extreme forms of teachings that lead to destruction

 Train guns at Islam’s real enemy, Muslims told

 Thai PM: Terror attack not linked to death of Malaysian IS militant

 ‘Probe book portraying DAP as enemy of Islam’

 PKR rep denies delivering political speech at Subang mosque

 The Star suspends two editors over ‘terrorist’ front page

 NU steps up fight against intolerance

 Roudhotul Muchlisin Mosque to Boost Religious Tourism in Jember


North America

 Putting Together a Holistic Solution to Defeat Islamic State: White House

 Washington: US Benefits from Saudi Arabia’s Counter-Terrorism Expertise

 US Town That Denied Mosque Permit to Pay Islamic Group $3.25M

 A Muslim ban is not constitutional



 Shabaab Claims US Is ‘Satan of Our Time,’ Praises Al Qaeda’s Leadership

 Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi Freed By Libyan Court

 Focus on Real Essence of Ramadan, Cleric Admonishes Muslims

 Liberia: 'Pray for Liberia,' Pres. Sirleaf Urges Islamic Community

 South Sudan begins trial of 13 soldiers accused of rape, murder in July 2016

 30 more refugees feared dead off Libya coast

 Lagos Governor, Ambode, thanks Muslims for standing by him

 Liberia: UPP Promises 'Christian State'


South Asia

 Taliban Reacts At Kabul Bombing That Left 80 Dead, Over 350 Wounded

 Taliban and ISIS Supporters Should Be Brought To Justice: Zubair Massoud

 Indian rights lawyer to lead U.N. probe into Rohingya crackdown

 Bangladesh Moves Statue of Justice to Less Prominent Location

 Three JMB militants arrested from Tejgaon

 RAB: Two extremists killed in Jhenaidah gunfight



 Hindu-Muslim Bonhomie, Pandits All Praise For Hospitality of Muslim in Kashmir

 32 Hindu Inmates Observe Roza with Muslims in Muzaffarnagar Jail

 Controversial Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik Trying For Malaysian Citizenship

 Tension Grips Bhopal after Stone Pelting Over Prayers Inside Hamidia Hospital

 Agra Police Uncovers Suspected Plot to Arm Muslims with Illegal Weapons

 Qaida-allied outfit carried out ‘revenge’ blasts: NIA

 Babri Masjid demolition case: Conspiracy charges against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti

 Russia-India joint approach on terrorism


Arab World

 UAE Forms Fatwa Council to Advocate Moderate Islam

 ISIL Sets Fire to 'Black Archives' in Nineve

 Tens of ISIL Terrorists Killed in Clashes with Kurdish-Led SDF in Northeastern Syria

 ISIS attack on Syria's Deir el-Zour kills 13 civilians

 At least 27 people killed in twin bombings in Baghdad

 Putin, Saudi prince praise dialogue on oil, Syria

 Daily: Saudi Media War against Qatar Indicates Regional Arab States' Regression

 New Video Proves Vast Participation of Russian Forces in War on Terrorists in Syria

 Syrian Army Retakes Full Control over Barzeh District in Damascus Province

 Jordan, Russia and US discuss efforts to create southern Syria safe zone

 US begins sending arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria



 World Watches As Yemen Descends Into Total Collapse: UN

 German Police Detain Islamist; Official Says He Planned Berlin Attack

 Survivor of 7/7 bombings took own life hours after Manchester attack

 Russia fires missiles at ISIS targets from Mediterranean

 Syrian government had no role in Idlib chemical attack: Putin



 Govt To Brief Senate Over Saudi-Led Alliance’s Mandate Today

 Huge Quantity of Arms Recovered From Tribal Areas: ISPR

 Rangers move to stop ‘forced collection’ of Zakat, Fitra

 Rehab for terrorists in Pakistan

 Banned outfits in Pakistan operate openly on Facebook

 PTI activist held in first case about ‘maligning forces’ on social media

 No change in US visa policy for Pakistan



 Israel to Cut Vital Services to 140,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem Al-Quds

 Mattis anti-Iran claims reciprocation of Saudi extravagance: Qassemi

 Blasts in Baghdad show terrorists’ inherent animosity toward Islam: Iran

 Israel must keep West Bank military control under any deal: Netanyahu

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




As foreigners fight in the Philippines, a new hub for Islamic State

May 30, 2017

MARAWI CITY: Dozens of foreign jihadis have fought side-by-side with Islamic State sympathizers against security forces in the southern Philippines over the past week, evidence that the restive region is fast becoming an Asian hub for the ultra-radical group.

A Philippines intelligence source said that of the 400-500 marauding fighters who overran Marawi City on the island of Mindanao last Tuesday, as many as 40 had recently come from overseas, including from countries in the Middle East.

The source said they included Indonesians, Malaysians, at least one Pakistani, a Saudi, a Chechen, a Yemeni, an Indian, a Moroccan and one man with a Turkish passport.

"IS is shrinking in Iraq and Syria, and decentralizing in parts of Asia and the Middle East," said Rohan Gunaratna, a security expert at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

"One of the areas where it is expanding is Southeast Asia and the Philippines is the center of gravity."

Mindanao has been roiled for decades by bandits, local insurgencies and separatist movements. But officials have long warned that the poverty, lawlessness and porous borders of Mindanao's predominantly Muslim areas mean it could become a base for radicals from Southeast Asia and beyond, especially as Islamic State fighters are driven out of Iraq and Syria.

Although Islamic State and groups affiliated to the movement have claimed several attacks across Southeast Asia in the last two years, the battle in Marawi City was the first long drawn-out confrontation with security forces.

On Tuesday, a week after the fighting began, the government said it was close to retaking the city.

Last year, Southeast Asian militants fighting for Islamic State in Syria released a video urging their countrymen to join the cause in the southern Philippines or launch attacks at home rather than attempting to travel to Syria.

Jakarta-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones passed to Reuters some recent messages in a chatroom of the Telegram app used by Islamic State supporters.

In one, a user reported that he was in the heart of Marawi City where he could see the army "run like pigs" and "their filthy blood mix with the dead bodies of their comrades".

He asked others in the group to pass information on to the Amaq News Agency, a mouthpiece for Islamic State.

Another user replied, using an Arabic word meaning pilgrimage: "Hijrah to the Philippines. Door is opening."

The clash in Marawi City began with an army raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for piracy and for kidnapping and beheading Westerners.

Abu Sayyaf and a relatively new group called Maute, both of which have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, have fought alongside each other in Marawi City, torching a hospital and a cathedral, and kidnapping a Catholic priest.

The urban battle prompted Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law across the whole island of Mindanao, an area roughly the size of South Korea with a population of around 21 million.

Fighters from the Middle East

The head of the Malaysian police force's counter-terrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, named four Malaysians who are known to have traveled to Mindanao to join militant groups.

Among them were Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian university lecturer who is poised to take over the leadership of Islamic State in the southern Philippines if Hapilon is killed, he said.

Security expert Gunaratna said that Ahmad has played a key role in establishing Islamic State's platform in the region.

According to his school's research, eight of 33 militants killed in the first four days of fighting in Marawi City were foreigners.

"This indicates that foreign terrorist fighters form an unusually high component of the IS fighters and emerging IS demography in Southeast Asia," Gunaratna said.

According to an intelligence brief seen by Reuters, authorities in Jakarta believe 38 Indonesians traveled to the southern Philippines to join Islamic State-affiliated groups and about 22 of them joined the fighting in Marawi City.

However, an Indonesian law-enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the actual number of Indonesians involved in the battle could be more than 40.

Indonesia officials believe some militants might have slipped into Marawi City under the cover of an annual gathering of the Tablighi Jamaat just days before the fighting erupted. The Tablighi Jamaat is a Sunni missionary movement that is non-political and encourages Muslims to become more pure.

An Indonesian anti-terrorism squad source told Reuters that authorities have beefed up surveillance at the northern end of the Kalimantan and Sulawesi regions to stop would-be fighters traveling by sea to the southern Philippines and to prevent an influx of others fleeing the military offensive in Marawi City.

"The distance between Marawi and Indonesian territory is just five hours," the source said. "It should not get to the point where they are entering our territory and carrying out such (militant) activities."



Putting together a holistic solution to defeat Islamic State: White House

May 31, 2017

The White House has said the Trump administration’s national security team is putting together a “holistic solution” to defeat Islamic State.

“When that strategy is complete, we’ll have something for you on it,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters yesterday at his daily news conference, the first after the return of President Donald Trump from his maiden overseas trip.

The White House press secretary also said the Afghan strategy review is still underway.

“On the Afghanistan review, he (Trump) is still reviewing that from the Department of Defense,” he said.

Spicer said the “common thread” of his overseas sojourn was terrorism and national security.

“He wants to defeat terrorism. Throughout the trip, that was the common thread -- that uniting the Muslim world, talking about it with (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, talking about it even with the Pope, that wherever he went on this nine-day trip, protecting our country, protecting the world’s people was at the front of that discussion,” Spicer said.



Shabaab claims US is ‘Satan of our time,’ praises al Qaeda’s leadership

May 30, 2017

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, has released a 55-minute video professing its adherence to global jihadist principles. The production is titled, “They Are Not Welcome — They Shall Burn In Their Fire.” It emphasizes that “defending Muslim lands is from the most important of individual obligations.”

Al Qaeda figures are peppered throughout the video, including clips of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, as well as the leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Al Qaeda’s most infamous terrorist operations against the US and American interests — including the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 USS Cole bombing, and the “blessed raids” of 9/11 — are all celebrated.

A snippet from a previously released talk by Zawahiri plays over images from Sept. 11, 2001. “By the grace of Allah, we are a nation that never accepts oppression nor do we forget to seek our vengeance,” Zawahiri said. “Therefore, whoever fights us we will fight them. And whoever kills us we will kill them. And whoever bombs us we will bomb them and the oppressor will eventually meet his deserving fate.”

The video concludes with a scene from a training camp for “martyrdom seekers” named after Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker for the 9/11 attacks inside the US. Jihadists are shown firing at targets set up at the “Mohamed Atta Training Camp,” which is presumably located in Somalia.

The media produced by al Qaeda and its regional branches has generally improved over the course of the past year. And “They Are Not Welcome” is a good example of this trend. Shabaab’s propaganda arm, Al-Kataib Foundation for Media, released the montage in four different languages: Arabic, English, Somali, and Swahili. Screen shots can be seen below.

The necessity of waging jihad

Viewers are introduced to Shabaab’s worldview with an audio recording of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who explained when jihad becomes mandatory. Rahman, who was convicted on terrorism-related charges stemming from his role in several plots in New York in the 1990s, passed away in a US prison earlier this year. His teachings had a profound impact on al Qaeda’s development and he is still revered by the group.

“The scholars, both past and present, are of the consensus that if a hand span of Muslim territory is occupied, then jihad becomes obligatory and a binding duty upon every Muslim, whether he is old or young, rich or poor, youthful or elderly and whether he is trained or not,” Rahman said. He continued: “The Muslim lands that have been occupied are not merely a hand span or even a thousand hand spans, but rather it is millions of hand spans. Entire countries have been forcefully taken from the lands of the Muslims and as such, jihad has become an individual obligation upon every Muslim.”

The teachings of other Islamic and jihadist scholars — such as Ibn Taymiyyah (a medieval thinker), Sayyid Qutb (a Muslim Brotherhood ideologue) and Abdullah Azzam (the godfather of modern jihadism) — are used throughout to underscore the necessity of waging jihad.

For Shabaab, parts of Somalia and Kenya are “occupied” and “defensive” jihad is required to liberate them.

Shabaab’s narrator expounds on this theme further, arguing that a “global coalition of disbelievers” is waging war against all of Islam. Even though the parties that make up this supposed coalition (the Assad regime in Syria, Russia, Iran, the US and other Western countries) differ in many respects, the narrator claims, they are all united in their enmity for Islam. Footage from the aftermath of a US airstrike that destroyed a mosque in Syria’s Aleppo province, as well as scenes from Burma, Chechnya, Central African Republic, Kashmir, and East Turkistan are included as evidence of this supposed conspiracy. (US officials have claimed that the building struck in Syria was actually an al Qaeda “meeting location.”)

The war in East Africa between Shabaab and AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia) is part of this same global conflict, according to the group. The “African crusaders” want to “bring an end to rule according to Islamic Sharia,” the narrator says.

Shabaab accuses AMISOM of various crimes, including a “systematic campaign of sexual violence” and rape targeting Muslim women in southern Somalia. Independent analysis by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has verified at least some of these claims. Excerpts from one HRW report are shown on screen.

Al-Kataib Media includes footage of Muslim women who were allegedly raped by AMISOM or other local forces to highlight the point. One woman accuses AMISOM of killing her sister.

Shabaab: America is “Satan of our time”

Al Qaeda’s leaders first marketed the idea that Muslims are confronted by a worldwide, anti-Islamic campaign. And Shabaab includes archival footage of Osama bin Laden to buttress the argument once again.

“The global alliance of disbelievers has incited and gathered against the Muslims,” bin Laden said. The al Qaeda founder continued: “What we are witnessing today is bombings, the destruction of bridges and homes, the violation of honor and the spilling of blood. The blood of Muslims today is considered the cheapest of blood.”

“Know that there is no way to repel oppression except by fighting and defending oneself,” bin Laden advised.

“Did we forget who America really is?” Zawahiri asked in another clip reproduced by Shabaab. “America is the enemy of Islam and the Muslims…We do not expect from America anything except every evil and corruption,” Zawahiri added.

In January, US Special Forces carried out a controversial raid targeting AQAP in Al Baydah, Yemen. A number of women and children were killed during the operation. Shabaab replays part of a speech by AQAP emir Qasim al Raymi concerning the aftermath.

“O’ Muslims wherever you are! You and the rest of the world have witnessed the level of hatred that the crusaders harbor towards the Muslims,” Raymi said. “You have seen their targeting of women, children and even the infants in the wombs of their mothers, whom the Americans deliberately killed in a fit of crusader animosity. This is America! And this is its evil ugly face!”

Shabaab’s narrator goes even further, claiming that America is the Devil. “And thus the blood of the Muslims is mercilessly spilled, their honor violated, children orphaned, and lands invaded,” the narrator claims. “What we are witnessing today is a total war against Islam, spearheaded by none other than the Satan of our time: the United States of America.”

“So let the Muslims know that the objective of this global crusade is nothing but to extinguish the shining light of Islam, plunder the wealth of the Muslim ummah [worldwide community of Muslims], and spread immorality and all sorts of moral vices within the Muslim population,” the narrator says. “There is no other solution to these horrific atrocities, nor is there any other practical way to restore the rights of the oppressed, and implement Islamic sharia, except for Muslims to hold on firmly to the rope of Allah, unite under the pure banner of Tawhid [monotheism], so that they may fulfill the obligation of jihad and repel the aggressive onslaught spearheaded by the enemies of Islam.”

Shabaab’s war part of al Qaeda’s global jihad

In “They Are Not Welcome,” Shabaab trumpets its role in al Qaeda’s network and shares in the group’s legacy. Footage from pre-9/11 training camps in Afghanistan, including the Al Farouq (al Qaeda’s primary facility at the time), is included.

“It was through these epic battles of the global jihad that the mujahideen in East Africa…derived their inspiration,” the narrator says after some of al Qaeda’s most devastating attacks on the West, including 9/11, are trumpeted.

“Know that our jihad is a global one and not restricted to geographical boundaries,” Sheikh Abu Ubaidah Ahmad Umar, the current emir of Shabaab, says. “Our jihad is rooted in elevating the Kalima (word) of Allah, defending the downtrodden Muslims, fighting the disbelievers, liberating the occupied Muslim lands and freeing the Muslim captives from the prisons of the infidels and it will not stop until shirk [polytheism] in all its forms is eradicated and the Shariah of Allah is implemented on earth,” Umar adds. “It is obligatory upon you to uphold the unity of the Muslims and to consolidate the ranks of the Mujahideen. Never compromise on remaining one unified Ummah.”

In Aug. 2012, Sheikh Aboud Rogo, the leader of Al Hijra, was killed in Mombasa. Al Hijra was part of Shabaab’s plan to extend its reach in Kenya and elsewhere. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: UN warned of Shabaab ally’s ‘new and more complex operations’ in Kenya]

In a talk prior to his demise, Rogo drew a sharp line between Shabaab’s cause and nationalism. “I remind you again: do not think that the war in Somalia is a nationalistic war. That is not the case,” Rogo said. He continued: “The war in Somalia is between the cross and the Quran. Sympathize with your Somali brothers for they have hated and despised the cross throughout their history. Our brothers over there do not want the cross to enter their land and by Allah, we support them in their fight to expel the crusaders from Muslim lands.”

Rogo’s view was the same as Zawahiri’s.

“According to the Mujahideen, there is no difference between the Ethiopian invaders and the Kenyan, Ugandan, Burundian, African Union crusaders or whatever other names they call themselves,” Zawahiri said in another clip that is replayed for Shabaab’s audience. “All of them are disbelieving troops who have invaded the lands of Islam and it is an individual obligation on every Muslim to expel them from these lands.”

The Sheikh Muhammad Dulyadeyn Raid

In January, Shabaab overran a Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) base in southern Somalia. The al Qaeda branch claimed that more than 67 Kenyan soldiers were killed. The raid was named after Sheikh Muhammad Dulyadeyn, the alleged mastermind of the 2015 massacre at Garissa University College in Kenya. Dulyadeyn was subsequently killed in mid-2016.

Dulyadeyn is presented as the model jihadist scholar in “They Are Not Welcome.” As Dulyadeyn rallies his fighters in one scene, a clip is played of AQAP ideologue Ibrahim al Rubaysh explaining why it is necessary for scholars to take action and not just advocate jihad from the sidelines. Rubaysh, a former Guantanamo detainee, was killed in a US drone strike in 2015.

Dulyadeyn advocated attacks on Kenya’s Christians, arguing that such operations are religiously permissible. Dulyadeyn rhetorically asked his fighters: “Did we transgress upon them or are they the transgressors?” He continued: “Do we then not have the right to bring back what was unjustly taken from us, take their wealth, burn their churches and destroy their economy? Is this not justified in our religion?”

Al Qaeda’s senior leadership certainly thinks that operations targeting the Kenyans are not only “justified,” but necessary.

“To my Mujahideen brothers wherever they are: our battle is long, difficult and requires patience, and our greatest weapon in this battle is our creed,” Zawahiri said in yet another scene included toward the end of the video. “It is therefore important that we concentrate on specific goals, the first of which is targeting American and Jewish interests as well as the global crusader alliance, for these are the most important targets.”

But Zawahiri quickly added that the “second” priority is to target “the local leaders of disbelief such as those in the army, the police, the intelligence agencies, the apostate journalists and the hypocritical judges.”



Taliban Reacts At Kabul Bombing That Left 80 Dead, Over 350 Wounded

By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed May 31 2017

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The Taliban militants group in Afghanistan reacted at the deadly bombing in capital Kabul that left at least 80 dead, claiming that the fighters of the group have no role in today’s devastating attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement said the group has no role in the attack and the Taliban fighters were also not involved in it as they are not allowed to carry out attacks in areas where there are no targets.

Mujahid also added that the group strongly condemns today’s attack in the city.

The Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish said the attack was likely carried out using a truck full of explosives which was detonated close to Zambaq square, place to several diplomatic missions, including some embassies.

The Ministry of Public spokesman Wahid Majroh confirmed that 80 people were killed and over 350 others were wounded in the attack.

He said the casualties toll may change as the victims of the incident have been shifted to various hospitals.

Today’s incident followed a day after two suspected suicide bombers were killed in an explosion in the 11th police district.

The Kabul police commandment said the incident took place close to Qala-e-Najara area with the suspects detonating their explosives as they were being chased by the police forces.




Hindu-Muslim Bonhomie, Pandits All Praise For Hospitality of Muslim in Kashmir

May 30, 2017

Pandits all praise for hospitality of Muslim community

Mela Kheer Bhawani, one of the important festivals of Kashmiri Pandits, is being celebrated on Thursday (June 1, 2017) with religious fervour and gaiety at Tulmulla in central Kashmir’s ganderbal district - 18 miles north of capital Srinagar.

State administration has made all the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the festival.

Thousands of Kashmiri Pandit devotees from across the country particularly the migrated Kashmiri Pandits throng the famous Kheer Bhawani temple.

The temple is dedicate to Ragnya Devi a revered goddess of Kashmiri Pandits – popularly now called Kheer Bhawani.

Ragnya Devi is symbolised as a sacred spring at Tula Mula village.

'Kheer Bhawani' gets its name from the tradition of offering "Kheer" (milk) or rice pudding to the sacred spring to gain the favour of the Goddess.

In J&K State, Mela Kheer Bhawani – is the Annual Festival when devotees fast and gather here on the eighth day of the full moon in the month of May/ June. State government announced public holiday in Kashmir.

According to belief, the Goddess changes the colour of the spring's waters, which are ascribed to different manifestations of the Goddess.

The devotees hold the nightlong prayers to seek the blessings of the Maata Kheer Bhawani and pray for peace and prosperity of the state.

Keeping the faith alive thousands of pandit devotees come from different parts of the state and also outside the state who had left the valley during the mass migration in early 90s for paying obeisance.

The spring flowing beneath the temple according to the belief is believed to reflect the future of the valley through the changing colours of its water.

Walking barefoot, the devotees carry rose petals and offer tribute to the goddess as men take a dip in a nearby stream close to the shrine, which according to the devotees wash their sins.

The Mela is a demonstration of Hindu-Muslim bonhomie in Kashmir. The love for each other roots is visible during the festival, where Kashmiri Pandits praise the hospitality of the Muslim community.

Local residents leave no stone unturned in providing all the assistance and essentials to the pilgrims – the event makes one witness the real Kashmiri hospitality, culture, age old tradition of love and trust.

The pandit devotees are all praise this exemplary hospitality and brotherhood shown by the local Muslims of the area.

“Our festival is incomplete without the participation of local Muslims who set an example of brotherhood and amity in Kashmir,” says Babloo JI, a migrant pandit who was living in Bemina area of Srinagar before the exodus.

The Muslims of the locality at Tulmulla greet the visiting devotees with drinking water, milk, tea, coffee and the cold drinks. The Muslims community is be equally enthusiastic and eager to celebrate this Mela with their Hindu community.

The Muslims establish stalls outside the temple premises where they make Prasad (Nuts, Sweets and other eatables as a holy gift) to the devotees.

Some social groups also pitch in and provide free water and other eatables to the guests.



Southeast Asia


Military Role in Counterterrorism Operations Should Be Last Option: Komnas HAM

May 31, 2017

Jakarta. A greater role for the military in counterterrorism operations should only be the last option amid tougher measures currently under consideration, the national human rights body said in its objection to a government proposal on Tuesday (30/05).

Controversy surrounding the plan re-emerged after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Monday proposed a greater role for the Indonesian Military (TNI) in a revision of the 2003 Antiterrorism Law, which is currently being deliberated.

His remarks came after last week's Islamic-State-linked suicide bomb attack in East Jakarta, which led to renewed calls for the immediate passing of the antiterrorism bill. The bill seeks to give the police greater powers to act against suspected terrorists.

Over the past few decades, only the police had a special unit —the Special Detachment 88 unit, or known as Densus 88— specifically tasked with counterterrorism operations. Apart from the National Police, the government also has another body —the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT)— particularly tasked with preventing the spread of radical ideologies and performing their so-called deradicalization program to terrorism inmates.

"Countering terrorism still has to be based on the criminal justice system and must be carried out by the National Police, with a guarantee to protect human rights," National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Nur Kholis said in a statement.

"Involvement by the Indonesian Military in countering terrorism should only be the last measure," he said, referring to the 2004 TNI Law. The law stipulates a range of military actions that can only be carried out under a state decree.

The government moved to revise the Antiterrorism Law after an Islamic State-linked attack in Central Jakarta in January last year. However, human rights concerns have so far held back the passing of the bill.



PM: Muslims must reject extreme forms of teachings that lead to destruction

May 30, 2017

PUTRAJAYA, May 30 — Muslims in Malaysia must reject all forms of extreme teachings which could lead to destruction such as animosity with each other or taking their own lives in the name of Islam, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Commenting on the suicide bombing incident in Manchester, England and clashes between Philippine security forces and militants in Marawi, Mindanao which involved Malaysians recently, he said among the pillars of Islamic teachings was to protect one’s own life and the lives of others.

“Let us not forget,  one of the principles of Islam is to protect lives, not to kill ourselves or other people.

“Our lives are not ours but belong to Allah who determines to take it or to let us live a long life, “ he said  at a breaking-of-the- fast event with ulama (scholars) and umara (leaders) of Islamic non-governmental organisations at his official residence,  Seri Perdana here tonight.

Also present his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

Najib also stressed the importance of Muslims to unite to uphold Islam and ensure the future of the ummah (faithful).

He said unity was the foundation for all dreams and noble aspirations as the agenda to uphold Islam can no longer be borne by the government alone.

“If we are faced with enemies who are united and have a strategy, but we  isolate each other, ignore each other and do not seek ways to unite, we will surely be defeated by the enemies of Islam,” he said.

“A large number of Malaysians are Muslims and the government cannot  meet the Islamic agenda unless the NGOs as partners of the government fight for the sake of Allah, so unity is the most effective weapon to attain our aspirations,” he added.

He also stressed on the need for the ulama and umara to continue their efforts with honesty and lead with fairness and trustworthiness to uphold Islam and for the good of the people.

“According to the Prophet’s hadiths, if these two groups of people (ulama and umara) are good, then all will be good, but if they are not, then everything will be destroyed,” he said.

At the event, the prime minister performed the Maghrib prayers with the congregation and broke his fast with  1,500 guests including hard-core poor and orphans.

Later, he performed the Isyak and Tarawih prayers.

The prime minister also presented donations amounting to RM803,205 to 319 students of religious schools.

Full report at:



Train guns at Islam’s real enemy, Muslims told

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

May 31, 2017

PETALING JAYA: The uproar over The Star’s front page blunder on Saturday has left Amanah Communications Director Khalid Samad dumbfounded. He told FMT he couldn’t understand why some Muslims were angered more by a newspaper’s layout than by the hijacking of Ramadan by terrorists.

“I’m more angry with those who desecrated the good month of Ramadan and the good name of Islam by their acts of terrorism on the eve of Ramadan,” he said. “I think we should be more concerned about that and how terrorism has continuously given Islam a bad image.

“I’m surprised that no one seems to be angry over the acts of terrorism that happened in the Philippines, Indonesia, Britain and Egypt, all on the eve of Ramadan. Instead, many are focusing their anger on mistakes done by writers, graphic designers and so on.”

Several editors of The Star met Home Ministry officials on Monday over the controversial front page, which featured the headline “Malaysian terrorist leader” and a photo beneath it that showed Muslims at a congregational prayer. The picture had no connection with the headline.

Political leaders from both sides of the divide, along with some members of the general public, condemned the front page, which they said made all Muslims look like terrorists.

The Star promptly issued an apology for its “poor judgment”.

According to the daily, it was the newspaper’s practice to publish front page pictures of Muslims performing tarawih prayers on the first day of Ramadan as a mark of respect for the holy month.

Khalid agreed that The Star had made an error of judgment, but he said Muslims should forgive the daily “in the spirit of Ramadan”.

“What The Star has done is a bit silly and insensitive and opens up room for misinterpretation, but it has admitted the mistake and has apologised for it,” he said. “So I don’t think there’s any need to try to turn it into a bigger issue than it really is.”

He said he was also upset that some Muslims had exploited the error to make the generalisation that all non-Muslims were disrespectful of Islam and Muslims.

He alleged that this represented a hidden agenda pursued by some quarters.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “some are trying to make an issue out of the front page to create tension between Muslims and non-Muslims, such as by barring non-Muslims from fast-breaking events. I think this is very backward.

“We want to create a better relationship between the communities instead of tension. But some are trying to interpret acts of friendship as acts of animosity, and I think that’s a very ridiculous thing to do.”

Welfare and Social Organisation (Perbak) head Muhammad Khairul has also come forward to defend The Star.

Full report at:



Thai PM: Terror attack not linked to death of Malaysian IS militant

May 31, 201

BANGKOK: Thai authorities have not found any evidence linking the recent bombing in southern Thailand to the death of Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a top Malaysian member of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, in Syria recently.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha nevertheless ordered Thai security agencies to continue investigations into the alleged link.

“Thailand has not found any intelligence information indicating that the bombing in southern Thailand was related to the recent terror attacks in Jakarta and Mindanao,” he said in a statement issued after the weekly cabinet meeting, here, yesterday.

Prayut said the government would inform the public should it have sufficient evidence to link the blast in Pattani recently with other terror attacks in the region.

A popular supermarket in the volatile province was struck by a powerful bomb on May 9 when it was packed with shoppers, injuring 69 people including several children.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a statement recently said the bombing in southern Thailand and terrorist attacks in Jakarta and Marawi in Mindanao were linked to the death of Wanndy.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar had previously confirmed the death of the Malacca-born terrorist in an attack in Raqqa, Syria on April 29.

Prayut also urged all sides in Thailand to end their conflict and not allow extremist forces from outside the country to meddle in its internal affairs.

On the progress of “Safety Zones” in southern Thailand, the Thai prime minister said both sides were still talking on the details of the matter.

Full report at:



‘Probe book portraying DAP as enemy of Islam’

Predeep Nambiar

May 30, 2017

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang DAP rep has appealed to the police and the attorney-general to investigate a book naming DAP as the enemy of Islam.

The book was recently launched by Umno information chief Annuar Musa.

Seri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer said the book, DAP Bahaya Kepada Melayu-Islam di Malaysia, was insidious in nature and should be banned.

“The book will only sow hatred for DAP and its leaders, putting DAP and its leaders at further risk of being assaulted at public functions and events,” he said in a statement today.

Rayer said the book incited hatred among peace-loving Malaysians and would reverse whatever racial unity had been achieved over the years.

“I am writing this personal appeal to Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar to act without fear or favour and Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali to act immediately against those responsible for the publication of this book.”

Rayer said he had lodged a police report on Sunday calling for the publishers of the book to be investigated.

“This book is written with the malicious intent to incite hatred among Malaysians and further aggravate the already fragile fabric of Malaysian society.

“We have recently also witnessed shocking and appalling public incidents of people being slapped without any provocation.”

Rayer said the book also broke national printing laws by publishing false stories and not bearing the name of the printer and publisher.

Annuar recently sponsored an essay-writing contest on why DAP’s parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang was racist.

Prize money of RM50,000 was offered to the winner of the competition.

It attracted about 1,200 entries in various categories like blogs, videos and infographics.

Full report at:



PKR rep denies delivering political speech at Subang mosque

May 31, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 ― PKR lawmaker R. Sivarasa has denied delivering a politically-infused speech at an event in a mosque in Subang Jaya last Wednesday.

The Subang MP told Berita Harian that he was only at Masjid An-Nur Kampung Melayu Subang to hand out a RM71,000 state contribution, which was to be distributed to mosques and surau in his constituency.

“I was there to deliver a brief Ramadan message and I stressed on the commitment by the Selangor government to always look after the welfare of mosques in the state.

“I also shared some of my experience visiting this mosque as an MP in 2008,” he was quoted as saying.

Sivarasa also denied he was there as a representative of Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, saying he only attended the event after receiving an invitation from the Kota Damansara state coordinator’s office.

“I did not attend the event as the MB’s representative as speculated by certain quarters… I am certain the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) is aware about this,” he was quoted as saying.

Full report at:



The Star suspends two editors over ‘terrorist’ front page

May 30, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Two senior editors at The Star have been suspended over a front page of the newspaper that juxtaposed an image of Muslims praying with a story titled Malaysian terrorist leader.

The paper said editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh Lee Yen and executive editor Dorairaj Nadason were relieved of their duties with immediate effect and for the duration of the internal investigation that will be conducted.

Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai will take over the supervision of the newspaper's editorial affairs in the interim.

The front page in question was published on May 27. The photograph was of Muslims praying in Putrajaya, while the unrelated cover story was of a former Universiti Malaya lecturer who was in line to become the next leader of the Islamic State in the region.

The juxtaposition led to complaints that Muslims were being portrayed negatively.

Full report at:



NU steps up fight against intolerance

May 31 2017

For decades, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has served as a bastion of a moderate and tolerant type of Islam in Indonesia — now branded as “Islam Nusantara,” or The Nation’s Islam.

As the largest Muslim organization in the country with millions of members and thousands of Islamic boarding schools culturally affiliated to it, many are pinning their hopes on NU to counter radical ideologies tha...



Roudhotul Muchlisin Mosque to Boost Religious Tourism in Jember

May 31, 2017

Jember. Ramadan, the holy fasting month in Islam, is considered the peak season for religious tourism, especially in East Java.

The Ministry of Tourism seizes the moment to promote the province's Roudhotul Muchlisin Mosque in Jember.

Built in 1978, the mosque was recently renovated in Turkish style.

The pillars were beautified with oriental ornaments and a fountain was built in front of its entrance.

According to the mosque's secretary, H. Mahrus, it can accommodate 1,500 people. "It is only inside, including the terrace and second floor, it can accommodate even 2,500 visitors," he said in the ministry's statement on Tuesday (30/05).

Pipin, a visitor from Patrang in East Java, came to the mosque for her evening prayers. "I first visited the mosque during my afternoon stroll and decided to pray here after breaking fast," she said.

A mosque library and homestays are going to be built soon for the pilgrims who visit Jember.

Other top religious tourist destinations in the region are related to the Walisongo, the "nine saints" believed to be the ones who introduced Islam to Java in the 15th and 16th century. Their tombs and mosques in West Java's Cirebon, Central Java's Demak and Kudus, and East Java's Tuban and Surabaya are important pilgrimage sites.

The ministry also tries to promote religious tourism outside Java.

Full report at:



North America


Washington: US benefits from Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism expertise

30 May 2017

The Department said that the United States benefits from Saudi Arabia’s expertise on counter-terrorism, adding that leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet in Washington in one year to review efforts made.

The statement was made by State Department Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) Stuart Jones during a briefing to reporters on Tuesday on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent trip to the Middle East.

“We are consulting the Gulf states on an ongoing basis on counter-terrorism efforts,” Jones told reporters.

Jones pointed to the success of establishing the Global Center for Combating Extremism and Ideology (Eitdal) in Riyadh and said it would help in analyzing and examining the behavior of extremists.

On the outcome of the recently concluded Riyadh Summit, Jones said the summit focused on the center being established in Riyadh as a key counter-terrorism destination.

Full report at:



US Town That Denied Mosque Permit to Pay Islamic Group $3.25M

May 30, 2017

A New Jersey town will pay an Islamic group $3.25 million to settle a lawsuit over its denial of a permit to build a mosque, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Under the settlement, the group will be allowed to build the mosque and the town agreed to limit the zoning restrictions placed on houses of worship.

The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge sued Bernards Township, an upscale town in central New Jersey, last year, claiming it changed its zoning ordinances in order to deny the group's plans. The Justice Department also sued the town last year, alleging it treated the group differently than other religious groups.

The $3.25 million is to settle the Islamic Society's lawsuit against the town, split into $1.75 million for attorneys' fees and costs and $1.5 million for damages.

Messages left with Bernards Township Mayor Carolyn Gaziano and an attorney representing the town weren't immediately returned Tuesday.

Town officials previously had argued that the mosque rejection was based on legitimate land use and safety concerns.

Central among those was parking: Township planners had concluded that because Friday afternoon was considered peak worship time, congregants would most likely be arriving straight from work and would each need a parking space.

But a federal judge disagreed, and wrote in a ruling December 31 that the town hadn't conducted similar assessments of worship habits when churches or synagogues had made applications.

The Justice Department lawsuit also alleged the town changed its zoning laws to require houses of worship in residential districts to be at least 6 acres - larger than the lot the Islamic Society had purchased in 2011.

Eight of 11 other houses of worship built before the zoning laws were changed are on lots smaller than 6 acres, the complaint alleged.

A similar lawsuit cost nearby Bridgewater Township almost $8 million in a 2014 settlement.

Full report at:



A Muslim ban is not constitutional

May 30, 2017

A federal appeals court based in Virginia handed President Donald Trump another defeat Thursday in his efforts to block immigrants from six nations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States. It is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court next. The president would be wiser to recognize he cannot impose a religious-based ban.

And whether he wants to or not — he cannot take back what he repeatedly said on the campaign trail.

Trump surrogates have tried to backpedal much of what candidate Trump said as simply rhetoric, comments made off the cuff. But candidate Trump was resolute about wanting a complete ban on Muslims while campaigning. He has changed his tune now, but judges still cannot un-hear what was said.

Writing for the majority, Roger Gregory, chief judge of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, wrote Trump’s executive order, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

Ten of the 13 judges participating in the decision supported blocking the ban; three judges dissented.

Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit based in San Francisco, is expected to rule shortly on whether it will uphold a Hawaii judge’s ruling blocking the travel ban. So even if the Fourth Circuit had decided for Trump, the ban would be blocked until that ruling.

The president first issued an executive ordering banning immigrants from seven nations on Jan. 27; Iraq was included in that executive order. It was blocked by courts. Trump wrote a new executive order — one that still temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, as well — and hoped the revised version would pass legal muster.

But the president can’t get past his past rhetoric — he once called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.” It will be hard to dispel the belief that the current ban is not religious based when Trump’s words and those of his surrogates, like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, support the theory that a ban affecting six Muslim-majority nations is a Muslim ban. It is also hard to dismiss the fact that nationals from these six nations are not connected to terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

What we are seeing here and abroad is that citizens are being radicalized either through the Internet or by other sources. The ideology that is twisting minds must be attacked, but a blanket ban on Muslims or Muslims from certain countries will have the opposite effect on fighting the spread of terrorism. Anti-terrorist experts across the globe continue to state the most effective weapon against a terrorist attack is information from members of the would-be terrorist’s community. That requires trust.

Full report at:





Saif al-Islam Qaddafi freed by Libyan court

30 May 2017

Issa al-Saghir, the attorney-general of the Ministry of Justice in the Libyan interim government, said that Saif al-Islam has been released by power of law.

The minister of justice asked the “Abu Bakr al-Siddiq” battalion, which is protecting him in prison, to release him.

The Libyan Justice Minister said that the battalion is keeping Qaddafi in a safe place, for his personal safety. The battalion published video of the statements of the Libyan minister on its pages of social media sites.

The deputy of the Ministry of Justice in the interim government stressed the necessity to release the son of Qaddafi, which came under the law of amnesty No. 6 in 2015. Issued by the legislative power of the Parliament.

The Statement of the decision was: “After reviewing the papers of the accused Saif al-Islam Muammar Qaddafi, and checking to the above-mentioned amnesty law, and study the excluded cases from the application of the law shows that these cases do not apply to him.”

The Libyan official said that the former justice minister in the interim government sent a letter to the institution of reform and rehabilitation supervising prisons in Zintan, to activate the amnesty law and demanding to release Saif Al-Islam.

Saghir called for the release of Saif al-Islam and to allow to move freely inside Libya and even abroad.



Focus On Real Essence Of Ramadan, Cleric Admonishes Muslims

MAY 30, 2017

Imam Abdullahi Shuaib, former Executive Director, Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation, said Muslims must focus on promoting good deeds in line with the provisions of the Ramadan fast. Shuaib said in an interview with newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday that if all Muslims live their lives as prescribed by the conditions for acceptable fasting, Nigeria would be a better place to live. “Muslims should always be focused because Ramadan has its own focus -that is obligation to God, yourself, your family, your neigbour and your country which is called “taqua.’’. “If we really focus on the real essence of Ramadan, the larger community will be better off at the end of the day. “Being dutiful to all and sundry without being a sycophant will ensure that we put the right thing at the right place and at the right time.’’ The Imam added,“You look at the people that you are dealing with and you ask how you can I impart value in their lives as well as in your own life. “We should be focused on the real essence of the fast; we should also focus on love and generosity which is important.’’ Also, the Amir of The Muslim Congress (TMC), Imam Luqman AbdurRaheem urged Muslims to be godly and pray for Nigeria during the one month fast. “Muslims should fast with sincerity because that is the essence of the fast; they should be godly. “They should remember our nation in their prayers and fasting; they should also to pray for continued sustainability of the nation. “They should use the opportunity to pray so that the menace of insurgents will come to an end, such that at the end of the 30 days spiritual retreat, our nation will be better,’’ AbdurRaheem said.



Liberia: 'Pray for Liberia,' Pres. Sirleaf Urges Islamic Community

29 MAY 2017

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has identified with the Islamic Community in Liberia as Liberian Muslims begin Holy month of fast and prayer.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf called on members of the Islamic faith to pray for the nation as they go through their month-long fast and prayer.

The Ramadan fast is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be observed by adult Muslims.

President Sirleaf also called on Muslim leaders to uphold the ideals of peace and respect as dictated by Islam.

The Ramadan began Saturday and all Muslims are expected to fast and pray from sunrise to sunset.

Full report at:



South Sudan begins trial of 13 soldiers accused of rape, murder in July 2016

May 30, 2017

A South Sudan military court has begun the trial sessions of 13 government troops suspected of raping foreign aid workers and murdering a local journalist in the capital Juba last July, as the world's youngest nation is still striving to restore stability and maintain security amid a four-year-long deadly civil war.

"There is a crime of murder, we have a crime of raping, we have a crime of looting and we have a crime of damaging property. There were a lot of investigations that have been taking place," said Chief Military Prosecutor Abubakr Mohamed Ramadan on Tuesday.

According to what witnesses told Human Rights Watch, on July 11, 2016, some 50 to 100 soldiers stormed Terrain Hotel, which then housed some 50 employees of foreign organizations, and began damaging the compound and went on a looting spree in it.

"Five women working with humanitarian organizations were then raped. John Gatluak [the local journalist] was shot at 6:15 p.m." local time, said the hotel manager, Mike Woodward, who was also one of the witnesses.

A report from a special United Nations' probe showed that desperate victims even called up the peacekeepers with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), stationed just 1.2 kilometers away, begging for help, but all to no avail. The UN mission, composed of some 13,000 uniformed personnel, showed "a chaotic and ineffective response" during the July fighting, it added.

The July incident came at the end of a three-day fighting between government forces led by President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to his then Vice President Riek Machar as the pair had held a meeting in Juba. More than 300 people were killed in the clashes.

The UN mission then came under fire by rights groups for its inability to safeguard civilians' rights in the restive African country. The military head of the UNMISS was also sacked and its political head resigned over the incident. 

"What is concerned here for the court is to address the case in a proper way," added Ramadan in opening remarks.

According to court officials, the trial would resume on June 6. The case can also be perceived as a test of the government's capability to try war crimes.

A bloody civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013, when President Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup against him. The two sides then got involved in a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the impoverished country along ethnic lines between the rival communities of Dinka and Nuer, killing thousands of people.

Full report at:



30 more refugees feared dead off Libya coast

May 30, 2017

As many as 30 people were trampled or drowned after a recent shipwreck involving refugees off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean.

In interviews carried out on Tuesday in Pozzallo, Italy, rescued refugees said that between 20 and 30 were either drowned or were trampled during the panic that followed the shipwreck last week.

They said their rubber boat lost its motor and took on water hours after leaving Libya, adding that a small child was among the fatalities.

Officials have only recovered two of the bodies from the incident. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that more than 50 bodies have been brought to Italy over the past few days, warning that the toll could rise as dozens more are feared dead from several shipwrecks involving refugees.

Refugees rescued from another rubber boat also told the UNHCR that 82 were feared dead after their boat deflated last Wednesday.

Rescuers retrieved 33 bodies on the same day from a wooden boat that nearly capsized and dumped some 200 into the water. Those dead included 13 women and seven children.

The UNHCR has updated the toll from refugee journeys in the central Mediterranean, saying that 1,700 people have died or are feared missing since the start of 2017. Italy has recorded about 60,000 arrivals this year, nearly a third higher than figures recorded in the same period last year.

Full report at:



Lagos Governor, Ambode, thanks Muslims for standing by him

May 30, 2017

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday seized the occasion of his second year anniversary in office and Democracy Day commemoration to thank the Muslim Community for standing by and supporting his administration.

Speaking while joining some Islamic leaders and groups to observe Iftar (breaking of fast) at the Lagos House in Ikeja, Governor Ambode said he chose to use the occasion of Democracy Day to felicitate with Muslim faithfuls on the Ramadan period.

He commended religious leaders and groups for the harmonious relationship in the state, saying that the peaceful atmosphere had brought about significant development.

“Today is a very historic day for us in this state because just two days ago, we celebrated 50 years anniversary of Lagos State; yesterday, we were doing thanksgiving in the church and today is the third day of Ramadan and we are doing the Iftar here. Today is also the second-year anniversary of our administration,” Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, quoted the governor as saying.

“I am very happy to join you on this significant democracy day. In actual fact, this is my only official function today. I deliberately determined not to do any other thing to mark the second anniversary than to join my Muslim brothers and sisters.

“So, this is another way of doing thanksgiving by this way of sacrifice. It is not coming as a coincidence, if God did not ordain it, I would not be part of this particular Iftar. This is my own way of saying a big thank you to the Muslim community in Lagos for standing by me, for standing with me and for always supporting me. I recall when we went for the campaign at the National Stadium two years ago and I am happy seeing all my spiritual fathers here again two years after, I want to thank you again for everything.”

Governor Ambode also urged Muslims to utilize the opportunity provided by the ongoing Ramadan to continue to pray for the development of the state just as he urged them to continue to exhibit the good character of Prophet Muhammed, as well as embrace selflessness, which according to him, are the true essence of the fasting.

While alluding to the lecture delivered at the event by Tajudeen Yussuf of the University of Lagos who showered accolades on the governor for his sterling performance in all sectors and sections of the state, Governor Ambode said only God deserved the praises for giving him the grace to achieve what had been achieved so far.

“There is nothing more for me to say than to be grateful to God. He is the only one that should get the credit. No matter how much you praise me, it is not possible for me to do what I have been able to do if not for God. So, for every step we take, we will continue to give God all the glory. He is the only one that makes things happen,” Governor Ambode said.

 R-L: Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; member, House of Representatives, Lagos Mainland I Constituency, Hon. Jide Jimoh and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Abdul-Hakeem Abdul-Lateef during the Governor’s breaking of fast with Muslims (Iftar) at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Monday, May 29, 2017.

Speaking on the essence of Ramadan, Governor Ambode said: “This season is to urge Muslims to remain selfless. Ramadan has come to teach us how to ensure self-restraint. Lagos has benefitted immensely from the peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship among people of different religions and this is what we stand for.

 PIX 0174

“Our message to all Muslims is that they should use the opportunity of this Ramadan to continue to pray for the development of the state and to continue to exhibit the good character of Prophet Muhammed,” he said.

 L-R: Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; Guest Lecturer, Dr. Tajudeen Yusuf; Dr. Lukman AbdulRaheem; Imam Abdullahi Shuaib and Alhaji Shamsideen Li-Ahmed during the Governor’s breaking of fast with Muslims (Iftar) at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Monday, May 29, 2017.

Full report at:



Liberia: UPP Promises 'Christian State'

30 MAY 2017

By Ishmael F. Menkor

Mr. Wento chastises religious leaders on their abandonment of Proposition 24 to make the country a Christian Nation.

MacDonald A. Wento, political leader of the United People's Party (UPP), has promised a gathering of religious leaders in Ganta, Nimba County that if elected at the upcoming October polls, his government will pass a legislation making Liberia a Christian State.

Mr. Wento gave the assurance when he spoke at a leadership workshop held at the Ganta branch of the Trumpet Baptist Church recently.

Wento expressed disappointment at those he described as "religious leaders who denied their faith by not supporting Proposition 24," a constitutional proposal in favor of Liberia becoming a Christian State.

"As Christians, we need to stand firm and defend our faith to the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," he declared. "What makes one a religious leader when such person cannot defend his/her faith? Bishops and pastors who are supposed to be telling the people or their congregation to support Liberia being a Christian State are the ones who are preaching against it."

Mr. Wento explained that other religions will be allowed to practice their faith when Liberia is declared a Christian State.

He said in countries where other religions dominate, the laws cannot be underestimated, "because such religions cannot deny faith, rather the members remain resolute to stand by their faith."

Wento, meanwhile, condemned the idea of a Muslim heading Liberia's interreligious council, which he said would never happen in a Muslim dominated country for a Christian to head an interreligious council.

The UPP leader blamed the government for not allotting budgetary support to churches and pastors to spread the good news of God through Jesus Christ.

"In Saudi Arabia," Wento said, "the government allots budgetary support for Muslims to spread Islam."

Meanwhile, the constitutional proposition pushing for Liberia to become a Christian State has seemingly vanished from the recommendations currently before the House of Representatives for legislative action.

Proposition 24, put forward after nationwide consultations that concluded with a conference in Gbarnga, Bong County, is promoting Liberia becoming a Christian State. Amid widespread public criticism of the proposal, the Daily Observer gathered that the proposition has been removed by the House Committee on Good Governance.

Many persons including prominent religious leaders have reportedly rescinded their decision to support the proposition.

Full report at:



South Asia


Taliban And ISIS Supporters Should Be Brought To Justice: Zubair Massoud

May 30 2017

The former member of the National Security Council Zubair Massoud has said the supporters of the Taliban and ISIS should be brought to justice while responding to the council’s reaction regarding the remarks he made during an interview.

“I will reiterate that ISIS and Taliban should be eliminated and all those who support these terrorists should be brought to justice,” Massoud said.

The Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan reacted at the remarks of Zubair Massoud regarding the plans and activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan.

A statement by the Office of the National Security Council said the remarks by Massoud are his own views and do not necessarily represent that of the Afghan government.

The statement further added that Mr. Massoud is no more having an official duty with the Office of the National Security Council, rejecting the designation given to him during an interview with the Al-Jazeera.

NSC emphasized that Mr. Massoud has worked as an adviser with the Office of the National Security Council from October 2014 until late December of 2016.

Massoud admitted that he has worked with the Office of the National Security Council until 21st December, insisting that the interview was filmed before he left the office.

 “I agree with ONSC statement regarding my departure from ONSC on 21, Dec 2016.However, the interview on Al-Jazeera was filmed prior to my departure,” he added.

In his interview with the Al-Jazeera, Massoud had said “The terrorists you see in Syria are the same individuals that are here now in Afghanistan. These are terrorists that come from different countries – from Tajikistan, from Uzbekistan, Chechnya.”

Massoud further added “It’s a strategic place. They could go across the border and finally their main goal is Russia.”



Indian rights lawyer to lead U.N. probe into Rohingya crackdown

May 31, 2017

The United Nations on Tuesday appointed an Indian human rights lawyer and two other experts to a fact-finding mission investigating alleged killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

The mission will be led by Indira Jaising, an advocate of the Supreme Court of India, a U.N. statement said. The other two members are Harvard-trained Sri Lankan lawyer Radhika Coomaraswamy and Australian consultant Christopher Dominic.

Some 75,000 Rohingya fled northwestern Rakhine state to Bangladesh after the Myanmar army carried out a security operation last October in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on border posts in which nine police officers were killed.

A U.N. report from February, based on interviews with some of the Rohingya refugees, said Myanmar's security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that "very likely" amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to set up the mission in March. It was brought by the European Union and supported by countries including the United States that called for "ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims".

China and India distanced themselves from the resolution.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar's civilian government and also its foreign minister, has said she would only accept recommendations from a separate advisory commission led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan. Any other input would "divide" communities, she has said.

Myanmar diplomats have rejected the move as "not acceptable" and "not in harmony with the situation on the ground and our national circumstances". They asked for time for its national investigation to conclude its findings.

Jaising drafted India's first domestic violence act, allowing women to bring civil and criminal suits against attackers for the first time.

Full report at:



Bangladesh Moves Statue of Justice to Less Prominent Location


Bangladesh authorities moved the Lady of Justice statue to a less visible location at the nation’s supreme court complex after facing pressure from conservative Muslim groups to remove it completely.

Both secularists and hardline Muslim groups expressed dismay after authorities relocated the statue of a blindfolded woman holding the scales of justice to a less-visible site on the court's premises on Sunday, two days after taking it down.

Mrinal Haque, the statue’s 58-year-old sculptor, choked back tears as he oversaw the statue's removal.

“It is a slap in the face of the progressive people in this country,” he told BenarNews. “I am burying my own child. It is very painful for me.”

On Sunday, after the stainless-steel statue was moved a few hundred yards away, Haque said he was still unhappy.

“It was the same as not displaying it because no one, except the court’s people, can see it now,” he said.

Bangladesh, home to 163 million people of whom about 87 percent are Muslims, adopted a constitution in 1972 declaring itself a secular nation. But a huge group of people in the country of 400,000 mosques seeks to transform it into a society based on Muslim laws.

Others have been fighting to retain secularism in state policy and overall cultural pluralism.

The statue of a sari-clad woman holding a scale and sword in her hands – a Bangladeshi version of the Greek goddess of justice Themis – was installed in December. Since then, Hefazat-e-Islam, an Islamic organization dominated by hardline Qwami teachers, students, imams and their disciples at Muslim boarding schools, has staged protests to have it removed.

The National Eidgah, the prayer ground where Muslims mark the Eid holiday following the end of Ramadan, is in front of the Supreme Court, which stoked the religious sentiment of hardliners who called the sculpture an example of idol worship.

In an effort to avoid public protests, workers began removing the statue around midnight Thursday. Alerted by social media, almost 100 people gathered to protest the efforts.

On Sunday, the statue was reinstalled at the high court’s annex building.

Secularists described the move as a surrender to conservative Muslims and part of efforts to gradually radicalize society. The ruling Awami League is being criticized for compromising its ideology of secularism to appease Hefazat.

Conservative religious groups, meanwhile, condemned the government for mocking their religious sentiments.

Top justice ordered statue be moved

Surendra Kumar Sinha, the country’s first non-Muslim chief justice, faced complaints that he bowed to political pressures in ordering the move.

In April during a meeting with Hefazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi and other top clerics, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her dislike for the statue.

Despite that meeting, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the chief justice decided to move the statue.

“The government has nothing to do with it,” he told the BenarNews on Monday.

Mahbubey said that the chief justice, seeking to avoid any untoward incident, had discussed the removal with senior jurists.

“We had also advised him that it would be prudent to remove the statue from the entrance of the court as it is adjacent to the national prayer ground,” Mahbubey said.

Mixed reactions

The original removal provoked protests across Bangladesh as secular groups pointed to the apparent growing influence of Hefazat on the government.

On Friday, members of student fronts, cultural organizations and left-wing activists protested on the Dhaka University campus, causing police to lob tear gas canisters and spray water cannons to disperse the protesters.

Several demonstrators, including Bangladesh Students’ Union general secretary Litan Nandi, were arrested.

Following his release on bail, Litan told BenarNews on Monday the reinstallation was a small victory for secular protesters, adding the rise of the government’s alliance with militant groups is a threat to the future.

Professor Anisuzzaman, an eminent academic, said,Bangladeshis were witnessing some shocking developments.

Full report at:



Three JMB militants arrested from Tejgaon

May 31, 2017

Huge explosives and jihadi books were seized from them

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested three members of banned militant group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) during a drive in Dhaka’s Tejgaon area.

The detainees are Tushar, Rokib and Iliyas.

“Huge explosives and jihadi books were seized from their possessions,” RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Mufti Mahmud Khan told the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday morning.

Details about the trio could not be known immediately.

Full report at:



RAB: Two extremists killed in Jhenaidah gunfight

May 31, 2017

Three RAB officials have also been injured during the gunfight

Two members of banned outfit East Bengal Communist Party have been killed in an alleged gunfight with Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Jhenaidah’s Kotchandpur Upazila.

The deceased are Maidul Islam Rana, 50 and his associate Alim Uddin, 60. They were accused in several cases including murder.

Jhenaidah RAB 6 Company Commander Major Monir Ahmed said the incident took place early Wednesday in Baharampur area under the upazila.

Three RAB officials have also been injured during the skirmish.

“Being tipped off we conducted a drive in the area where the members of the banned outfit were having a meeting,” the RAB official said.

“Sensing RAB’s presence, the extremists opened fire towards the RAB officials. RAB fired back in retaliation, leaving Rana and Alim injured.”

“Their cohorts however managed to flee the scene. They were taken to Kotchandpur Upazila Health Complex where doctors declared them dead.”

The injured RAB men underwent treatment at the same hospital.

Full report at:





32 Hindu Inmates Observe Roza With Muslims in Muzaffarnagar Jail

May 30, 2017

Muzaffarnagar: About 32 Hindu inmates lodged in a jail in Muzaffarnagar are observing 'roza', the dawn-to-dusk fast during Ramzan along with 1,174 Muslim prisoners.

According to jail superintendent Rakesh Singh, prison authorities have made special arrangements for the inmates who are performing roza. Milk and dry fruits are being provided to them for 'iftar'.

Out of 2,600 inmates, 1,174 Muslims and 32 Hindus are observing the fast.



Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik trying for Malaysian citizenship

May 30, 2017

by Nikhil Agarwal

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on terror charges, has applied for Malaysian citizenship, according to agency sources.

Naik has been changing his base quite frequently after the NIA moved the Interpol for issuance of a Red Corner Notice (RCN), international arrest warrant, against him, they said.

The preacher, who is believed to be having Permanent Residence status in Malaysia, has now sought its citizenship but no decision has been taken so far on his application, the sources said.

The Indian government is planning to use its diplomatic channels to frustrate all attempts by the controversial preacher to get citizenship in any country, they said.

The Malaysian authorities were aware about terror cases pending against the controversial Islamic preacher, they said.

Naik is being probed for terror and money laundering charges. He had fled from India immediately after an investigation against him was initiated.


His present place of stay is unknown and it is believed that he has been shuttling between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, African and Southeast Asian countries, the sources said.

The controversial preacher is accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years.

The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year-long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence of his NGO -- Islamic Research Foundation - and Peace TV, being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups.

The central government has already banned his NGO and taken his TV channel off air. During the probe, the NIA claimed to have found 37 properties owned by Naik and companies run by him, which are estimated to be worth more than Rs 100 crore.

A Special NIA court in Mumbai, while issuing a non-bailable warrant against Naik, had said that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that Naik is evading arrest and that he will not voluntarily appear before the court or before the agency."

The NIA alleged that Naik has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through his speeches and lectures on various platforms and inciting Muslim youths and terrorists in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts.

Full report at:



Tension grips Bhopal after stone pelting over prayers inside Hamidia Hospital

May 31, 2017

Tension gripped Bhopal’s Old City on Tuesday night after arson and stone pelting following differences between Muslims and Hindus over the right to pray inside Hamidia Hospital complex.

There were two rounds of stone pelting in the area and at least four vehicles were set on fire near Peer Gate. The first was reported around 8.30pm when a large number of Muslims had gathered on the road for Iftar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members started heading towards a temple inside the hospital complex to offer prayers, said a police officer who did not want to be named.

Police cane-charged the mobs and also used teargas shells to disperse them. There were reports of injuries to some people, but they could not be immediately confirmed. Arson was also reported from the area.

The stone pelting spread panic and shops closed. A second round of stone pelting started around 10.30 pm when Muslims came out on the road after namaz in a nearby masjid. Police repeatedly cane-charged the mobs, but they kept coming back.

At the time of filing the report, sporadic stone pelting continued. Police said they were in control.

“The situation is now under control. There was heavy stone pelting from both sides and we had to use teargas and cane-charge the mobs. Heavy force has been deployed to maintain peace,” Arvind Saxena, superintendent of police (north), Bhopal, told HT.

Trouble has been brewing in the area for a few days. Some minarets were recently discovered in a structure during digging on the Hamidia hospital premises. Members of the Muslim community claimed it was a masjid and wanted to offer namaz there. The administration, however, did not allow it, saying that there was insufficient proof that it was a masjid, and experts would decide on it.

Full report at:



Agra Police uncovers suspected plot to arm Muslims with illegal weapons

Siraj Qureshi

May 31, 2017 

No matter how strict gun control laws may be in India, the fact is that Uttar Pradesh tops the list of both legal and illegal arms possessed by civilians.

Minor fights between neighbors now result in shots being fired and most of these incidents of indiscriminate firing take place with illegal weapons - both in the form of crude country-made pistols and well-finished illegally manufactured arms.

The UP police has so far been unable to track down the suppliers of these illegal weapons. However, with the recent discovery of an illegal weapons factory in Agra and now the arrest of two pistol suppliers in the city, it is becoming clear that a parallel business of illegal arms manufacture and sale is operating in UP. Incidentally, this is fuelling the internecine tensions that are on the rise in the state.

The Agra Police has made a sizeable discovery of illegal arms in the city in the past few months and the recent arrest of Furkan and Raja Khan, who used to sell illegally manufactured pistols and their ammunition only to Muslims, has created an uproar in the intelligence agencies.

The duo claims to have sold at least 50 such pistols in Agra, all of which had been brought from Munger in Bihar and all of them in possession of Muslims. Four semi-automatic pistols, two magazines and four cartridges were also recovered from them.

Furkan told India Today that he is a labourer in a shoe factory but he also carries pistols hidden in shoe boxes to sell them to clients. SSP Agra D C Dubey told India Today that Furkan seems to be connected to elements in Pakistan as his phone list had several numbers listed from the neighbouring.

A supplier named Aman was also involved in this racket. So far, the police has been able to recover 20 names and addresses of the people who purchased these pistols.


The SSP claimed that both these suppliers sold pistols only to those belonging to the Muslim community. Some other accomplices of these two are being searched and as soon as they are nabbed, their entire planning will be unravelled, including the purpose of deliberately arming only one community with illegal and untraceable weapons. He said that it is possible that these weapons could be used in a communal incident in the city in the future, so the recovery of each and every illegal weapon was paramount.

He said that Furkan used to buy one pistol for  Rs 15,000 in Munger and sold it for Rs 30,000 in Agra. Furkan has also travelled to Pakistan and the police in investigating his possible links to Pakistani smugglers and the ISI.

The SSP said that Furkan was soon to receive another consignment of 10 pistols from Munger, but he got arrested beforehand. Another agent's name has come to light in Firozabad and he is also being investigated.

Full report at:



Qaida-allied outfit carried out ‘revenge’ blasts: NIA

Neeraj Chauhan

May 31, 2017

NEW DELHI: A chargesheet filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) last week against Base Movement, a terror outfit that owed allegiance to Al Qaeda, says that the outfit carried out five blasts in court premises in south India last year to avenge the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani by Indian security forces, encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in Gujarat, hanging of Yakub Memon and killing of eight alleged SIMI terrorists in Madhya Pradesh last year.

NIA says in its chargesheet that the September 12, 2016 blast at Nellore court was carried out by the outfit to avenge the "mental agony" suffered by Kashmiri Muslims for about two months when Section 144 (prohibitory orders by the government) was imposed in parts of the valley following the killing of Burhan Wani.

It says that the outfit carried out the August 1, 2016 Mysuru court blast to avenge the hanging of 1993 Mumbai serial blast accused Yakub Memon and killing of eight alleged SIMI terrorists by Madhya Pradesh police.

Similarly, Base Movement carried out the June 15 blast at Kollam court to avenge the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in Gujarat. They also wanted to avenge lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Noida.

According to the NIA chargesheet, exclusively accessed by TOI, the members of the outfit also felt that Muslims lodged in jail were being ill-treated and courts were handing them a raw deal.

The chargesheet has been filed against Nainar Abbas Ali, Dawood Sulaiman and Samsun Karim Raja on May 24. Abbas and Sulaiman formed the outfit on January 26, 2015 at Madurai. Two members of the outfit, S Shamsudheen and Mohammad Ayub, are yet to be chargesheeted.

NIA chargesheet says that after forming the outfit Ali asked Dawood to look for the address of government offices in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Mumbai and media houses. Dawood prepared threat letters and same were sent to office of Tamil newspaper Dinamalar, various jails in Tamil Nadu namely Puhal, Kovai, Vellore, Salem, Nellai, Cuddalore, Madurai and Trichy apart from French consulate at Bengaluru.

They had printed a threat letter with Base Movement template on it threatening the then French President Francois Hollande.

The Base Movement carried out five blasts in court complexes at Mysuru, Nellore, Mallapuram, Kollam and Chitoor between April and November last year and had sent letters/videos, SMS' and WhatsApp messages to police and administration each time claiming responsibility for the blasts.

They also sent threat letters to the editor of Tamil newspaper Dinamalar in January 2015 threatening them with a Charlie Hebdo type attack.

In the threatening videos recovered from them, NIA has found clippings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior BJP leaders, L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Gen (retd) V K Singh, VHP leader Praveen Togadia, and pictures of embassies of US, Russia, France, Israel and Myanmar.

Full report at:



Babri Masjid demolition case: Conspiracy charges against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti

by Manish Sahu

May 31, 2017

A special CBI court in Lucknow ordered framing of charges Tuesday against BJP veterans L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Union Minister Uma Bharti and nine others who will now stand trial for criminal conspiracy in the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Charges were framed against Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Sadhvi Rithambara who appeared before the court. Their applications for discharge from the offence were rejected and they were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each. Special judge S K Yadav rejected the CBI opposition to their bail applications. The court will resume hearing Wednesday.

The six are already facing charges under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) read with sections 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object).

Click here to read what Advani, Uma Bharti, Joshi, Kalyan Singh are charged with

Last month, the Supreme Court revived the criminal conspiracy charge (IPC 120 B) against the three BJP leaders and shifted their trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow. It also ordered restoration of charges against Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and eight others but exempted Kalyan Singh from prosecution on account of the constitutional immunity he enjoys as Governor.

Ram Kumar Yadav, special CBI counsel, said: “The additional charge under IPC 120 B was to be framed against Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara and V H Dalmia on the direction of the Supreme Court. On the other IPC sections, they are already on bail and the trial against them is on.” Defence counsel K K Mishra said: “The court also framed charges against Satish Pradhan, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Champat Rai and Mahant Dharam Das after rejecting their discharge applications.”

Mishra said charges were framed against these six under IPC sections 120B, 153A, 153B, 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 505, 147 and 149.

“These six are among 13 who were dropped from the case following the High Court order earlier. The Supreme Court, in its order dated April 19 this year, ordered restoration of charges against all of them. The court exempted Kalyan Singh from prosecution on account of the constitutional immunity he enjoys as Governor. Six others have died,” Mishra said.

Full report at:



Russia-India joint approach on terrorism

May 31, 2017

MOSCOW: Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran on Tuesday said that Moscow and New Delhi share a similar approach and perspective to addressing international terrorism and are plagued with cross-border issues.

While elaborating on India-Russia cooperation on terrorism, Indian Ambassador said that "two-day official talks will result into agreements and statements that will showcase how both the countries are together in a fight against global terrorism".

"Russia and India have its own problems. There is a lot of scope for combating terrorism and this topic will come up during the discussion when the two leaders meet as we both have been the victims of terrorism from our neighbourhood."

PM Modi will be on a three-day visit to St Petersburg in Russia beginning May 31st to June 02. On the first day, the Prime Minister will be having his bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where both the leaders will discuss ways to enhance ties in trade, defence, nuclear sector and fight against terrorism. Under the 'Strategic Partnership' PM Modi will invite foreign firms to share technology with local players relating to defence equipment to be manufactured in India. PM Modi is likely to raise India's concerns over the China's One Belt One Road initiative with Putin.

On the second day, the Prime Minister and the Indian delegation will be participating in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which will be attended by thousands of business leaders from across the globe. The strategic partnership established in the year 2000 was raised to the level of Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership in the year 2010. Ever since Russia is the only country with which India have annual summits.

Full report at:



Arab World


UAE forms fatwa council to advocate moderate Islam


May 30, 2017

The Council will ensure that religious scholars advocate moderate Islam and eliminate any source of conflict among existing and future fatwa

The Cabinet approved during it sessions the formation of the UAE Council for Fatwa to be the sole reference for fatwa across the UAE and to ensure the alignment of all issued fatwa. The term refers to the ruling issued by Islamic scholars about an aspect of Islamic law.

The Council will ensure that religious scholars advocate moderate Islam and eliminate any source of conflict among existing and future fatwa.

The UAE Council for Fatwa will issue Islamic ruling on various issues at the request of government entities, institutions, or the general public, resorting to a defined mechanism to issue, announce and archive rulings. In addition, it will regulate the right to exercise the issuance of fatwa and ensure compliance to required licensing and training with the aim of eradicating all extremism and ill-motivated practices.

The UAE Cabinet, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, addressed goodwill messages to the leadership and people of the UAE to mark the holy month of Ramadan, praying for a blessed month for all and calling upon the community to live by the spirit of the holy month and spread giving, kindness, and compassion.

Higher Sharia Board for Banking and Finance

The Cabinet also approved the formation of the board members of the Higher Sharia Board for Banking and Finance to strengthen consistency of the Islamic finance industry across the UAE. The Board is responsible for setting rules, standards and general principles for banking and financial activities that comply with Islamic laws. As well as setting a general framework for Islamic governance and fatwa issuance on matters highlighted by the Central Bank or other financial institutions in the country.

On a different level, the Cabinet approved the establishment of a national policy to promote mental health through a national framework in order to raise awareness and improve services to the best international standards, in partnership with mental health providers.

The policy will have a positive impact on services provided for people who need psychiatric assistance by reducing the cost of treatment, increasing the quality of services provided, and providing comprehensive psychological services in a sustainable and healthy environment.

Protection of cultural artifacts

The Cabinet also approved a federal law on the protection of loaned foreign cultural artifacts of significance against seizure or confiscation. The impact of this law will positively reflect UAE's compliance to best international practices. The law sets an example in the region, which contributes to enhancing UAE's position on regional and international levels.

Rules and Certificates of Origin

The Cabinet adopted a Federal Law on Rules and Certificates of Origin, which targets exporting establishments and importers in order to facilitate the export of local products. It aims to develop economic policies and legislations to enhance the competitiveness of the national product in foreign markets and obtain market privileges. The Federal Law also outlines the relevant regulations thus gives investors a clear view on the criteria to obtain market privileges. The law includes the definitions of the "origin of the product", the process of certificate issuance, verification of validity, and the relevant official entities.

New product safety law

It adopted a federal law on product safety aimed at raising the quality of products to ensure optimal health and enhance the quality of life for the UAE community. The law includes the processes and measures required by producers, suppliers and retailers selling products in and outside of the UAE. The law also includes regulations to ensure products safety as well as procedures for recall or withdrawal measures from market shelves.

In international relations, the Cabinet adopted and ratified a number of international conventions, which included the ratification of a protocol between the UAE and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on amendments to the mutual visa exemption agreement for the holders of diplomatic passports. In addition, to the ratification of an agreement with the Kingdom of Sweden on Air Service Agreement, and another with the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica. The Cabinet ratified the statute of the Islamic Organisation for Food Security.

These agreements come within the framework of the UAE's keenness to strengthen its ties with the international community.

The UAE Cabinet held its meeting on Wednesday evening at the Presidential Palace and was attended by attended by His Highness Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.



ISIL Sets Fire to 'Black Archives' in Nineve

May 30, 2017

Jabbar al-Amouri said that the ISIL has set fire to its archives, including security files and vital information, near the residential areas of al-Ba'aj after withdrawing militants from its bases in the town.

Noting that the archives have been burnt to prevent disclosure of the terrorist group's crimes against civilians and conceal the identity of its supporters, he said the measure is indicative of ISIL's collapse in the town.

"While a large number of ISIL ringleaders have fled al-Ba'aj to other regions, the operations to take back the town will end soon," al-Amouri said.

Meantime, the comprehensive military campaign by Iraqi military forces to liberate the Northern city of Mosul in Nineveh from ISIL militants also continued on Tuesday, as local reports said the Iraqi forces continued military operation to capture the ISIL hideouts in Mosul's Old City.

The Iraq's Federal Police declared that Baghdad forces continued military operation to capture Mosul, killing fourteen ISIL militants in Mosul’s Old City.

“Federal Police troops in al-Zanjili district, North of the Old City, are deploying addition troops toward al-Sihha district in order to gain control on all of the area, amid missile shelling,” Lt.Gen.Shaker Jawdat said.

“The selling targets ISIL defenses ahead of advancing,” he said adding that “the drone shelling left 14 militants killed and nine motorbikes in the narrow alleys of the Old City, destroyed.”

Full report at:



Tens of ISIL Terrorists Killed in Clashes with Kurdish-Led SDF in Northeastern Syria

May 30, 2017

The SDF fighters launched fresh attacks to cut off ISIL's supply lines between Raqqa province and other cities in Syria and managed to take full control over the villages of al-Houreh, Baroudeh and Matyoureh 20km East of the newly-liberated town of al-Tabaqa.

The Kurdish combatants killed 25 ISIL militants and destroyed one of their bomb-laden vehicle. They also seized over a large volume of arms and ammunition.

In relevant developments in the province on Saturday, the SDF fighters engaged in a tough battle with ISIL and managed to capture the village of Karidan, deploying forces in the nearest distance to al-Ba'ath dam.

The ISIL lost 10 members and a large volume of arms and ammunition in the attack.

Full report at:



ISIS attack on Syria's Deir el-Zour kills 13 civilians

30 May 2017

Syria’s state media and a war monitoring group say that at least 13 civilians were killed when the ISIS shelled government-held neighborhoods in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour.

The official state news agency SANA says the shelling hit the neighborhoods of al-Joura and Qussour late on Monday. The report says a woman was among those killed.

ISIS has controlled other parts of the city since 2015, leaving more than 90,000 people under siege in the government-held areas.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the shelling took place shortly before sundown as residents were preparing to break their daytime fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The Observatory put the death toll at 14.

Full report at:



At least 27 people killed in twin bombings in Baghdad

May 30, 2017

At least 27 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in two bombings in Baghdad, security and medical officials said on Tuesday. In the first attack, a suicide bomber struck near a popular ice cream shop overnight, killing 16 people. In the second, a car bomb exploded near one of the capital’s main bridges this morning, killing 11, the officials said.

The Islamic State group issued a statement claiming the first attack, identifying the bomber as an Iraqi who blew up an explosives-rigged vehicle targeting Shiite Muslims.

IS considers members of Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority -including the women and children who were victims of the ice cream shop blast – to be heretics and thus legitimate targets for attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the second attack, but IS carries out frequent car bombings targeting civilians in the Iraqi capital.

The blasts, which come just a few days into the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, highlight the danger posed by jihadists even as security forces have dealt them a string of battlefield defeats.

Full report at:



Putin, Saudi prince praise dialogue on oil, Syria

May 31, 2017

DUBAI/MOSCOW - Russia and Saudi Arabia praised their growing partnership in oil markets and dialogue on Syria on Tuesday, in a formidable departure from past hostilities between top global producers and major players in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin poured praise on Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who looks after the kingdom’s defence and energy, as he welcomed the possible future king in the Kremlin. It was the second meeting between the two men over the past year following a breakthrough meeting in China, where Putin and Prince Mohammed showed the first signs the world’s two biggest oil exporters could clinch a deal to prop up oil prices. Non-OPEC Russia has long opposed any cooperation in reducing oil output in tandem with OPEC, where Saudi Arabia is a de-facto leader.

Russia’s military campaign in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad in the past two years has effectively pitted the Kremlin in a direct military confrontation with Saudi Arabia as the Sunni kingdom has long fought for Assad’s removal.

But the oil prices plunge in the last two years has overstretched the budgets of both producers, making joint cuts more likely, especially with Russia facing a presidential election next year and Saudi Arabia requiring higher prices for economic reforms and the listing of its energy giant Aramco.

“The relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia are going through one of their best moments ever,” Prince Mohammed told Putin.

“We have a lot of common grounds. As far as our disagreements are concerned, we have a clear mechanism of how to overcome them. We are moving forward quickly and in a positive way,” he added.

“The most important thing is that we are succeeding in building a solid foundation to stabilise oil markets and energy prices,” Prince Mohammed said.

Last December, Russia and 10 other non-OPEC nations agreed to join OPEC’s output cuts for the first time in 15 years. Last week Moscow agreed to extend its cooperation by another nine months until March 2018.

Both Moscow and Riyadh said that cooperation would last beyond the current agreement as both countries are still trying to find ways how to co-exist with US shale oil producers, which have been responsible for creating the current oil glut and which are not part of the global output reduction deals.

“We are grateful to you for your ideas and the joint work between OPEC and the countries, which are not part of the cartel,” Putin told Prince Mohammed.

“We support political contacts, contacts between defence ministries, we work together on sorting difficult situation, including in Syria,” Putin said.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed on Tuesday any suggestion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were behind a chemical attack that killed scores of people in Idlib province in April.

“According to our information, there is no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad. We are convinced that he didn’t do it,” Putin told daily newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.

Full report at:



Daily: Saudi Media War against Qatar Indicates Regional Arab States' Regression

May 31, 2017

"The Saudi and UAE's media attack against Qatar indicates the regional Arab states' regression, while these countries have switched off from their tribal society 50 to 100 years ago to a political society," Qatari newspaper al-Watan wrote on Tuesday.

The daily regretted that interactions among the Arab regional countries have changed from political interactions into tribal interactions based on espionage operations.

Last Thursday, an article appeared on Qatar’s state-run news agency, quoting the emir as criticizing the United States, Saudi Arabia, and its client states for their attempt to stir up tensions with “Islamic power” Iran.

A post also appeared on the agency’s Twitter page, quoting the Qatari foreign minister as saying that his country was withdrawing its ambassadors from Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE amid tensions.

The Qatari government soon said that the state agency had been hacked and that the remarks attributed to the emir and the foreign minister had never been made.

The official denial, which was offered several more times, too, nevertheless failed to stop a widening rift from emerging between the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. Saudi media viciously attacked Qatar, accusing it of having “betrayed” the other Arab countries particularly at a time when they had attempted to stage a show of “unity” against Iran in a much-publicized and extravagant series of events in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also blocked Qatari websites and broadcasters.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani later said the country was being targeted in a “hostile media campaign, which we will confront.” He was referring to the media blackout.

Kuwait, however, did not join the blackout. Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Jarallah called the ban “regrettable” and expressed Kuwait’s readiness to converge its views with those of Qatar.

Some analysts say Riyadh fears that the Arab Persian Gulf countries it has long sought to coopt may be gravitating toward Iran, which Saudi Arabia perceives as a regional adversary.

Full report at:



New Video Proves Vast Participation of Russian Forces in War on Terrorists in Syria

May 30, 2017

The Russia TV network, Channel 1, released a video showing that the Russian forces have military presence in different regions in Syria, participating in anti-terrorism operations in addition to their role in training and advising the Syrian soldiers and assisting them to restore security to the liberated regions.

The Russian forces have recently been deployed near Syria's border with Iraq due to the US-led coalition's attack on Syrian forces.

Russia has begun an aerial operation against the terrorists in Syria since September 2015 at Syrian President Bashar Assad's request.

On September 30, 2015 Russian bombers conducted their first strikes against terrorist targets in Syria, hitting ISIL positions near the cities of Homs and Hama.

Although Russia annihilated tens of thousands of terrorists in Syria, the country also suffered military losses.

The Russian military said late 2016 that the county's warplanes conducted 71,000 airstrikes and killed at least 35,000 terrorists since the start of Russia's anti-terror campaign in Syria.

"Since the start of the operation, Russian jets have conducted 17,800 sorties, launching 71,000 strikes on terrorists' infrastructure, eliminating 725 training camps, 405 plants producing ammunition, 1,500 pieces of terrorists' military equipment, 35,000 militants, including 204 field commanders," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Shoigu also added that the Russian Aerospace Forces destroyed over 700 terrorist training camps in Syria during its campaign.

The Russian General Staff also said April 2017 that an analysis has shown that the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted four times more airstrikes than the US-led coalition despite having fewer aircraft.

"Comparative analysis of the results of activities by Russian aircraft and the international coalition's aircraft in Syria shows that having far fewer aircraft, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out three times more combat sorties and made four times more missile and bomb strikes," chief of the Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said.

Rudskoi added that the number of terrorist units decreased, which allowed us to withdraw almost half of the aircraft based at the Humeimim airbase."

Full report at:



Syrian Army Retakes Full Control over Barzeh District in Damascus Province

May 30, 2017

Damascus Governor General Bashr al-Saban said that the fourth phase of the evacuation deal ended after over 1,000 gunmen that refused to endorse the peace agreement with the army and their family members left Barzeh district.

He further added that a sum of 1,012 people including 455 gunmen left the district. Barzeh was one of the first districts in the Syrian capital that fell to the militants in late 2011, and now with Barzeh under the control of the Damascus forces, the Syrian government has officially cleared the Eastern parts of the province.

Local sources in Northern Damascus reported on Monday that the last group of gunmen and their family members were leaving Barzeh district for militant-held regions in Idlib following implementation of an evacuation deal between the Syrian Army and militants.

The sources said that preliminary measures were done for the evacuation of the last group of gunmen that refused to endorse the peace agreement with the Syrian Army from Barzeh, adding that several buses arrived in Barzeh to transfer them to Idlib province.

Thousands of gunmen and their family members left Barzeh and a number of them remained in the district, applying for government amnesty.

Full report at:



Jordan, Russia and US discuss efforts to create southern Syria safe zone

31 May 2017

Officials from Jordan, the US and Russia have recently discussed the establishment of a safe zone in southern Syria, sources familiar with the matter have told Al Arabiya.

Earlier this month, Iran and Turkey agreed to a Russian proposal for “de-escalation zones” in Syria, in which all sides would agree not to attack.

The Kremlin has been touting a plan to create safe zones in Syria that is aimed to "further pacification and cessation of hostilities."

After talks with Turkey counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that the safe zones were meant to lead to "further pacification and cessation of hostilities."

He also said the proposed zones would also be no-fly areas if fighting on the ground there stopped entirely.

The Kremlin's plan echoes calls by US leader Donald Trump to establish safe zones in Syria.

Damascus supports the Russian plan, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.

Full report at:



US begins sending arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria

31 May 2017

The United States on Tuesday began providing small arms to Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in northern Syria, the Pentagon said, fulfilling a pledge that has infuriated Turkey.

The weapons transfers have begun ahead of an upcoming offensive to recapture Raqa, the last major bastion for ISIS in Syria.

“|We have begun to transfer small arms and vehicles to the Kurdish elements” of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said, referring to a Kurdish-Syrian Arab alliance fighting ISIS.

The weapons include AK-47s and small-caliber machine guns, Rankine-Galloway added.

President Donald Trump this month approved arming the fighters from the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG).

Full report at:





World watches as Yemen descends into total collapse: UN

May 31, 2017

United Nations - Yemen is descending into total collapse, its people facing war, famine and a deadly outbreak of cholera, as the world watches, the UN aid chief said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the UN Security Council, Stephen O’Brien said “the time is now” to end the world’s largest food emergency and put Yemen back on the path to survival. “Crisis is not coming, it is not looming, it is here today - on our watch and ordinary people are paying the price,” said O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

“The people of Yemen are being subjected to deprivation, disease and death as the world watches.”

The crisis is spiralling towards “total social, economic and institutional collapse” in the poor Arab country, O’Brien added.

His remarks reflected frustration with the Security Council’s failure to pressure the warring sides in Yemen to pull back from the brink and engage in serious negotiations on ending the two-year war. More than 8,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign in March 2015 against Iran-allied Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa.

The conflict has left 17 million people facing dire food shortages including nearly seven million who are one step away from famine in the country, which is heavily dependent on food imports.

Since late April, a cholera outbreak has killed 500 people while 55,206 Yemenis - one third of them children - are ill, according to UN figures.

Another 150,000 cases of cholera are expected in the next six months.

After the Saudi-backed government moved the central bank from Sanaa to Aden, more than one million civil servants stopped receiving their salaries, pushing more families toward starvation, said O’Brien.

He singled out the Saudi-led coalition for criticism, saying its threat of attacks on the rebel-held port of Hodeida - a “lifeline” for Yemen’s imports - coupled with clearance delays for ships had sapped traders’ confidence.

“Giving rising costs, major shipping companies are now simply avoiding the Red Sea ports, thereby depriving the Yemeni people of desperately needed food and fuel,” said the UN aid chief.

Returning from talks in the region, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed reported no progress in his efforts to broker a return to negotiations and to clinch a deal on allowing vital deliveries to Hodaida.

“I will not hide from this council that we are not close to a comprehensive agreement,” he told the council.

Last week, 22 international and Yemeni humanitarian and human rights groups including Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee and Oxfam raised alarm over Yemen.

They called on the council, in particular Britain which has the lead for addressing the conflict at the top UN body, to “end its year-long inaction on Yemen, and move decisively to end what is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”



German police detain Islamist; official says he planned Berlin attack

May 31, 2017

German police on Tuesday detained a 17-year-old militant who a spokesman for the interior ministry in the state of Brandenburg said was a Syrian planning a suicide attack in Berlin, citing a report by the German news agency DPA.

"I can confirm that," the spokesman said, referring to the report.

However, Brandenburg police said they had not yet found evidence that the suspect, who was arrested in the Uckermark region north-east of Berlin, was planning an attack.

"The Syrian nationality and concrete attack plans could not so far be confirmed. The investigations continue," Brandenburg police tweeted.

"According to evidence, he joined Jihad and said goodbye to family members," they added, referring to the term for Islamic holy war.

Memories are still fresh in Germany of the Berlin Christmas market attack last December, in which 12 people were killed by a failed asylum seeker who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Full report at:



Survivor of 7/7 bombings took own life hours after Manchester attack

May 31, 2017

A survivor of London’s 7/7 bombings has been found dead just hours after the Manchester Arena attack, reported Mirror.

Tragic Tony Walter, 52, was discovered at his home after failing to turn up for work .

Friends believe the Manchester bombing, and the Westminster attack in March when four people were killed by Khalid Masood , brought back traumatic memories of 7/7 and Tony could not cope.

A friend said: “He is the 23rd victim of Salman Abedi 's suicide bombing.”

Mr Walter, from Tottenham, is believed to have become overwhelmed by the horror of discovering more innocent lives being victims of terrorism.

One friend said “He didn’t want to live in a world where these ­terror attacks continue.”

Ten years ago Tony was just feet from fanatic Mohammad Sidique Khan when he detonated a device on a Tube train after it left Edgware Road station.

Seven people, including Khan, died and Tony survived despite being showered with shrapnel.

Tony’s sister-in-law Sheila Walter described the death as “a tragedy and we’re devastated. Tony was such a lovely man.”

Police found him dead at his home when he failed to turn up to work hours after suicide bomber Salman Abedi murdered 22 and injured 116 at Manchester Arena.

Staff at the London legal firm where he worked were reportedly told by a boss on Thursday morning that he had taken his own life.

The friend said: “After the Westminster attack Tony really struggled. He was off work for a few days saying he couldn’t cope with how it brought back the memories of 7/7.

Full report at:



Russia fires missiles at ISIS targets from Mediterranean

31 May 2017

A Russian warship and a submarine have fired four cruise missiles from the Mediterranean to hit ISIS manpower and equipment near the Syrian city of Palmyra, Russian news agencies cited the Defense Ministry as saying on Wednesday.

Russia had warned the United States, Turkey and Israel before launching the missiles, the ministry was quoted as saying.



Syrian government had no role in Idlib chemical attack: Putin

May 30, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed confidence that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces had no role in the April chemical attack in Idlib Province, describing the incident as the West’s pretext to continue its pressure against Damascus. 

"According to our information, there is no proof that chemical weapons were used by Assad. We are convinced that he did not do it," Putin said in a Tuesday interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro.

The allegation was a way of "explaining to the international community why it was necessary to continue to impose measures to pressure Assad, including militarily," Putin added.

The remarks came a day after new French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country blames Assad for the attack, slammed the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a red line for Paris which would result in reprisals.

Putin said he had offered to arrange inspections of the site of the chemical attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun, but all the major powers had rejected the proposal.

Over 80 people died in the April 4 purported gas attack on Khan Shaykhun, which the Western countries blamed on the Syrian government.

Using the incident as a pretext, US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Syria’s central province of Homs on April 7. US officials claimed that the suspected Khan Shaykhun gas attack had been launched from the military site.

Full report at:





Govt to brief Senate over Saudi-led alliance’s mandate today

May 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD - The government on Tuesday agreed, after some reluctance, to make a statement in the Senate about the mandate of the Saudi-led Islamic military alliance on counter terrorism.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will finally make the statement in the Senate today what would be the mandate of the alliance.

The adviser agreed to brief the Upper House after Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani’s decision to issue notices of breach of privilege of the house to secretaries of defence and foreign affairs that were “transferring the burden on each other saying the issue did not come under their domain”. The chair also summoned Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Sartaj Aziz to the house today (Wednesday).

Pakistan People’s Party Senator Farhatullah Babar through a calling attention notice had drawn the attention of the adviser to PM towards some media reports stating the statements of Saudi authorities that the alliance will not restrict only to terrorist organisations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda but will also take action against the rebel groups posing threat to any member country, on a request from the country concerned.

“You are not entitled to have this information”, Rabbani ironically said when Babar pointed out that no minister concerned was present in the house to respond to his calling attention notice. “Why we not pack up this Parliament,” said the chair.

The Senate chairman explained that the calling attention notice was submitted to the Senate Secretariat on April 25 and the notice was sent to the Ministry of Defence for a response on May 2. On May 26, the defence ministry told the house that it has nothing to do with the matter and the same has been referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. Now the foreign affairs ministry has informed the same saying that the matter has been sent back to the defence ministry.

“We will not allow anyone to make the parliament like a ping-pong ball, I will not tolerate this,” said Rabbani adding that this was the right of the Parliament to get this sensitive information.

Later, the chair informed the House that Sartaj Aziz has conveyed to the house that he was ready to come to the house to make a statement right now. “Because the mover was not present so I have decided that it should be done on Wednesday,” he said when the law minister informed the chair that defence minister was also ready to come to the house to give the statement.

Earlier taking part in the budget debate, Senator Babar said that the 2017 budget seeks to “ambush the Supreme Court, shut the door on FATA reforms, launches a bristling attack on human rights and failed to inject even a token transparency and accountability in the military spending structures”.

He said that for the first time the total financial powers were vested in the executive in what he said “ambush of the Supreme Court”. This is the foremost political statement of the budget, he said.

The August 2016 verdict, he said, stated, “The prime minster cannot take decisions by himself or by supplanting or ignoring the cabinet because the power to take decisions is vested with the federal government i.e. the cabinet and unilateral decisions taken by the PM would be usurpation of power”.

“Never before the SC was fired upon using the platform of the Finance Bill,” he said.”The much trumpeted FATA reforms are dead and buried” is yet another political statement of the budget, he said.

“The third political message is bristling attack on the human rights of citizens by transferring the resources and powers of independent National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) to the executive and setting up of a parallel human rights body under the executive,” he said.

“The law provides for independent NCHR to oversee state’s performance in human rights,” he said adding, “however a notification issued in March brought it under the administrative control of the government “. The NCHR is supposed to take notice of human rights violations committed by the executive, how can it be brought under the executive itself, he asked.

“Funds have been allocated in the PSDP for a new institute of human rights under the executive while the Commission starved of funds as no allocation made to set up the “Fund” provided in the law,” he said.

The senator said that the independent commission was placed under the executive in March after its representative contradicted the official version about terrorism at an international forum.

“Protection of human rights is not the political agenda of the government” is a stark message of the budget, he said.

Senator Babar said the nation always provided as much as asked for in the name of national defence but the absence of transparency, lack of accountability and no civilian oversight cannot be condoned in the name of national security and defence.

He said transparency and accountability were alien to the government. It has persistently refused information about the post retirement perks and privileges of retired generals.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman pointed out prolonged power outages in the month of Ramazan and said that the circular debt had reached Rs410 billion. She deplored that around 82 percent of the taxes gained are indirect. “The whole burden of heavy taxation has been imposed on poor masses.”

She said that 27 percent of the budget had been allocated for the development schemes of lawmakers of the ruling party to lure the voters to get support in the next elections. Similarly, the budget of operation Zarb-e-Azb had been included in Public Sector Development program instead it should be included in the current expenditure account, he said.



Huge quantity of arms recovered from tribal areas: ISPR

May 30, 2017

Security forces recovered huge quantity of arms and ammunition during intelligence based operations in parts of Waziristan and Swat on Tuesday, Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) said in a press release.

The intelligence based operations were carried out as a part the Operation Raddul Fasad, said the ISPR statement.

Security forces recovered huge quantity of arms and ammunition during IBOs in village Punga Kali in South Waziristan Agency and village Idak in North Waziristan Agency, Roringar valley, Matta (Swat) and village Jatgram of Nehag Darra,” the statement added.

Full report at:



Rangers move to stop ‘forced collection’ of Zakat, Fitra

May 31, 2017

KARACHI - Law enforcement agencies claimed on Tuesday to have arrested at least 54 suspected criminals in raids and operations carried out in parts of the city.

The Sindh Rangers claimed to have arrested nearly half a dozen suspects in targeted raids and operations in parts of the metropolis.

According to the Rangers spokesperson, the paramilitary force arrested four suspects during a raid on a hideout in the Super Market area. The suspects were identified as Faisal, Sagheer Gilani, Samiullah and Murad Bakhsh. The Rangers spokesperson said the suspects were drug peddlers.

Similarly, two suspects were arrested by the Rangers. They were arrested during a raid conducted in the Baloch Colony area. The suspects were identified as Rashid alias Rasha and Nadir Ali. According to the Rangers spokesperson, the arrested suspects were involved in various cases of street crime.

The spokesperson also claimed that the Rangers had recovered arms, ammunition and drugs from their possession. The suspects were later handed over to police for further legal action.

In a related development, police claimed to have arrested 48 suspects in raids and operations in parts of the city.

Police said the accused were involved in different criminal activities. Among those arrested were target killers, robbers, street criminals, extortionists and drug peddlers. Police claimed to have recovered weapons and narcotics from the possession of the arrested accused. The accused were later shifted to various police stations for further legal action.

The Rangers have asked the citizens of Karachi to inform the paramilitary force if they are coerced into paying Zakat and Fitra during the holy month of Ramazan.

“Before giving Zakat and Fitra, you must be sure that your Zakat and Fitra are not used by militant wings of political parties and other banned militant and sectarian outfits," reads a statement issued by the Rangers spokesperson.

A spokesperson for the Rangers asked the citizens to contact the paramilitary force through the Helpline 1101 or WhatsApp 03162369996 and email to register complaints against forced Zakat and Fitra collection. He appealed to Karachiites to help the Rangers overcome such incidents.

Full report at:



Rehab for terrorists in Pakistan

Muhammad Amir Rana

May 30 2017

In its war against terrorism, Pakistan has been successful on many counts. But a complete victory is still not within sight. What the military assault lacks is a holistic combat strategy, made up of both hard and soft measures.

Hard power measures are strictly military or law enforcement techniques, which include the use of force to kill, capture and detain terrorists. The soft wartime initiatives, on the other hand, seek to roll back the appeal of extremist ideologies and help individuals reintegrate into society.

Both are important, for a long-term solution to terrorism. And both need to be employed together.

The first chatter in Pakistan of resorting to soft measures emerged in late 2003, when the Army launched an assault in the remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The operation culminated in a peace agreement with militant commander Nek Muhammad. Thereon, a mantra of truce talks with the terrorists began to dominate public discourse.

In the lead up to the 2013 election, both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf had highlighted peace talks with the Taliban as a key roadmap to eliminate militancy. This narrative only changed in December 2014, after a brutal terror attack killed over 100 schoolchildren in Peshawar.

But this year again, the question of how to rehabilitate captured terrorists and flush out militancy is gaining momentum, after reports surfaced that Jamaat-ud-Daawa– an under observation group – is planning to enter the mainstream political domain. Later, a video confession of Ehsanullah Ehsan, the surrendered spokesperson of the Pakistani Taliban, was broadcasted on local media. This gave a new twist to the pressing issue of what to do with hardened militants.

For commentators, soft measure means de-radicalization, counter-radicalization, reconciliation, demobilisation, disengagement and mainstreaming. Of these, three approaches are the most popular around the world. First is a multi-layered de-radicalization approach, adopted by Western countries. These countries have developed de-radicalization strategies, which range from engagement to winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim immigrant communities. The main objective here is to neutralise security threats. Thus, security institutions, such as the police, lead these programs. Besides the West, some predominately Muslim countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, are also pursuing this strategy to grapple with homegrown terrorism.

The second approach looks at developing effective counter-narratives. Here, religious scholars play a pivotal role. Such programs engage religious scholars on two levels: first, in programs meant to de-radicalize the terrorist detainees; and second, in programs of intellectual effort meant to counter the religious arguments of extremists. Case in point is Morocco, which launched an extensive religious reform program following the 2003 and 2007 bombings in Casablanca.

The third approach concentrates on reintegration of the vulnerable communities. Algeria’s reintegration program is an example of such an approach, built upon two referenda, one in 1999 and the second in 2005, which led to the production of the Civil Concorde Law and the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation. This program revolves around certain measures of achieving peace, such as pardons, amnesties, reduction in sentence, and dropping of charges against those who renounce violence and surrender their weapons in exchange for forgiveness.

Back in Pakistan, no one approach can do the war justice. Since the 1980s, to date, the country has developed a diverse militant landscape. To tackle it, it needs a multifold framework, which includes the following components:

1. Rehabilitation of detainees: Pakistan already has a few rehabilitation centres. Initially, these centres were established in Swat. The centres run three programs – Sabaoon with focus on juveniles, Mishal, concentrates on adult detainees, and Sparlay, which deals with the family members of the detained persons. The rehabilitation efforts are further divided into modules, including an education module, psychological counselling and therapy and vocational training.

Full report at:



Banned outfits in Pakistan operate openly on Facebook

May 31, 2017

They exist in plain sight, just one search and one click away from any of Pakistan’s 25 million Facebook users.

An investigation carried out by Dawn across the month of April 2017 has revealed that 41 of Pakistan’s 64 banned outfits are present on Facebook in the form of hundreds of pages, groups and individual user profiles.

Their network, both interconnected and public, is a mix of Sunni and Shia sectarian or terror outfits, global terror organisations operating in Pakistan, and separatists in Balochistan and Sindh.

For the purpose of this investigation, the names of all banned outfits – including acronyms and small variations in spelling – were searched on Facebook to find pages, groups, and user profiles that publicly ‘liked’ a banned outfit.

The biggest outfits on the social network, in order of size, are Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) with 200 pages and groups, Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) with 160, Sipah-i-Sahaba (SSP) with 148, Balochistan Students Organisation Azad (BSO-A) with 54 and Sipah-e-Muhammad with 45.

Other banned outfits which exist on Facebook at a smaller scale include Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, 313 Brigade, multiple Shia outfits and a host of Baloch separatist organisations.

A closer look at activity

An examination of some user profiles linked to these banned outfits indicates open support of sectarian and extremist ideology. A few of these profiles have also publicly ‘liked’ pages and groups related to weapons use and training.

While some of the Facebook pages and groups claim to be ‘official’ representatives of the outfits, others appear to be managed by members and supporters in ideological agreement.

The content shared on their forums is varied. Although there are occasional posts in the form of text or status updates, the more common updates feature photos, videos and memes shared to explain and elaborate on the outfit’s ideology; provide updates on recent or ongoing events and on-ground activity; and encourage private contact and recruitment of motivated Facebook users.

In general, the Facebook updates are in Urdu or Roman Urdu rather than English, suggesting the content is primarily for local consumption. A very small number are in Sindhi or Balochi, also indicating a niche target audience.

Open spread of ideology

Invariably, most of the Facebook pages and groups glorify existing leaders or those killed in the past while some banned outfits also campaign for the release of their activists or leaders.

In their Facebook updates, all banned outfits place blame on the state, or, in the case of outfits focused on Kashmir, on India. In rare cases, pages and groups linked to these banned outfits share graphic content depicting acts of violence — including photos and videos of bodies.

The more organised outfits appear to have ‘official’ media cells sharing press releases and religious sermons or political speeches as both audio and video. Such pages and groups also share links from websites, blogs or Twitter accounts that appear to be run by members of these outfits. The content in general includes anti-state propaganda or hate speech directed at religious minorities and other members of society.

Local footprint

Of the pages, groups and users investigated for the purpose of this story, a majority appeared to be based in larger urban centers such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Those users that had publicly listed the educational institutions they had attended are mostly based in large, government-run universities, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan.

Many banned outfits have pages and groups with their names followed by district names, inviting users to join based on locality e.g. in the case of Baloch separatists, divisions include Gwadar, Kharan, Mastung, Panjgur etc.

Others, such as sectarian outfits, are organised down to localities e.g. North Nazimabad in Karachi, or even by-election constituency e.g. NA-68. Furthermore, others are organised using terms such as ‘student wing’ or ‘youth wing’.

Tip of the iceberg

At all times, members and supporters of these banned outfits operating on Facebook have the option to shift communication from public to private.

Any user linked to, or interested in a proscribed organisation can befriend and chat with like-minded users, message those operating the pages and groups or click the provided links to websites and blogs. To establish contact off Facebook, all they would need to do is use the publicly listed email addresses or local phone numbers provided by some outfits.

The findings of this investigation are just the tip of the iceberg however, as a far larger number of pages and groups could exist without publicly using the name of the banned organisation in order to operate in secret. Unlike the profiles examined, most Facebook users would also not leave their list of pages and groups public – unless they feel they can use the social network with impunity.

Facebook’s militancy problem

Delete, block or hand over information to authorities — these are Facebook’s primary responses in the event that the social network is used for terror or criminal activity.

Although the company has acknowledged working with Pakistan in multiple cases, due to a lack of real transparency the nature of the cases is unknown, as is the process by which the requests and exchange of information is made. It is entirely possible that these requests are related to politics, blasphemy, sexual harassment etc. rather than on investigating banned outfits.

Details of Pakistan’s requests to Facebook provided in its ‘Government Requests Reports’ from 2013 to 2016 show a sharp upward trend from 2015 onwards, reaching a high of 1,002 requests in July-December, 2016. The percentage to which Facebook complied with the requests to some extent has been between 64% to 68% since 2015.

As stated in its policies, Facebook “may access, preserve and share your information in response to a legal request (like a search warrant, court order or subpoena) if we have a good faith belief that the law requires us to do so.”

It also does not allow any organisations engaged in terrorist activity, or organised criminal activity to have a presence on Facebook.

More controversially, the company also removes user accounts and content “that expresses support for groups that are involved in the violent or criminal behavior mentioned above. Supporting or praising leaders of those same organisations, or condoning their violent activities, is not allowed.”

This specific policy led to many user accounts being blocked or deleted in 2016 for criticising India following the killing of Kashmir’s young ‘freedom fighter’ Burhan Wani and the resulting violent protests and crackdown by India’s security forces.

The Kashmir conflict is just one example of the quagmire Facebook faces as it tries to govern 1.9 billion users. Preventing the social network from being misused by militants and terrorists spread across all the continents, and also distinguishing those outfits from legitimate freedom movements is a task that Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has admitted to being beyond the company’s capacity.

In a note shared on Facebook, Zuckerberg said, “In the last year, the complexity of the issues we've seen has outstripped our existing processes for governing the community...We've seen this in misclassifying hate speech in political debates in both directions — taking down accounts and content that should be left up and leaving up content that was hateful and should be taken down. Both the number of issues and their cultural importance has increased recently.”

Formerly known as the SSP, the ASWJ was banned 10 years after its predecessor, on February 15, 2012. They are known to spread anti-Shia sentiment across Pakistan, and often attack minority groups.

Full report at:



PTI activist held in first case about ‘maligning forces’ on social media

Zulqernain Tahir

May 31, 2017

LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) activist in the first case in its campaign to crack down on social media users criticising the country’s armed forces on different digital platforms.

The FIA’s cybercrime wing arrested Adnan Afzal Qureshi in the Defence Housing Authority on Tuesday and charged him under Sections 20 and 24 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (harming the reputation of a person and cyber stalking), and Sections 419 and 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (impersonation and defamation).

“We arrested the PTI activist for [posting] a series of anti-military tweets and running a Facebook page containing such content. The suspect used abusive language against some military personnel and political leaders. We are interrogating him to know whether he is part of a group that has launched an anti-military campaign or whether he is doing it on his own,” FIA investigator Rizwan Arshad told Dawn.

Mr Arshad said the suspect was an active member of the PTI from NA-125, the constituency of Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. To a question about further arrests in this regard, he said: “We have identified more suspects and will take them into custody in the coming days,” he said.

Earlier, the FIA had interrogated over a dozen people suspected of running an anti-military campaign. They were released after the FIA could not establish anything serious against them. “This is the first FIR in a crackdown on the anti-military campaign on social media networks,” Mr Arshad said.

The crackdown was launched two weeks ago on the orders of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who took notice of criticism against the armed forces following a tweet by the Inter-Services Public Relations rejecting a government notification in connection with a story published in Dawn. Since then, forensic teams of the FIA’s cybercrime wing have been combing Facebook accounts, various WhatsApp groups, blogs and websites suspected of carrying such material.

Major opposition parties have vowed to resist the attempt to place curbs on social media. The PTI youth are known to be active on social media and are often accused by rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of targeting the prime minister’s family (on social media).

The PTI has also announced that it would petition the court against “illegal action” taken by government agencies against its political workers and social media activists. “We will move the court against the FIA’s action against young boys [PTI activists] whose only crime is to express their opinion,” PTI leader Andleeb Abbas told Dawn.

Full report at:



No change in US visa policy for Pakistan

May 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD - The Unites States has not changed visa policy for Pakistani applicants since President Donald Trump took over in January this year, diplomatic sources said.

Official record suggested that there was a 40 per cent drop in the number of US visas granted to Pakistanis under the Trump administration.

Pakistan however, is not on the list of the US president’s travel ban countries.

The travel-ban countries - Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – witnessed a 55 per cent decline in non-immigrant visas compared with the last year.

Pak-US ties have been troubled in the recent past as the two countries developed differences over Pakistan’s role in the war on terrorism.

Washington has been skeptical about Pakistan’s role and has been urging Islamabad to “do more”.

The US is also influenced by India’s and Afghanistan’s allegations against Pakistan of allegedly protecting some militant groups.

Pakistan denies this hypothesis, citing its sacrifices in the ongoing war to eliminate terrorism.

President Trump had spoken to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after winning the November 2016 polls and pledged to enhance bilateral cooperation.

There was also a brief interaction this month in Riyadh where they had gathered to attend the US-Arab Islamic summit.

At the summit, Trump termed India a victim of terrorism but did not mention Pakistan leaving Islamabad fuming.

On top of that, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not have an opportunity to speak at the summit to count Pakistan’s sacrifices.

US embassy spokesperson Fleur Cowan told The Nation that the decline in visas granted to Pakistanis was not linked to any change in policy.

“There has been no change in law for Pakistani applicants or how we review visa applications,” she said.

Cowan referred to the US State Department, which said “visa demand was not uniform throughout the year.”

Among Pakistani applicants, 3,925 were granted non-immigrant visas in April and 3,973 visas in March 2017.

During Barack Obama’s last year in power, 78,637 non-immigrant visas were issued to Pakistanis which was 40 per cent higher with a monthly average of 6,553.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the visa issue had been discussed with Washington in the recent months but there had been no hint of any change in policy.

“We did discuss the visa issue on several occasions but this only meant, we wanted to make the process easier. The decline in issuance of visas is not related to Pak-US ties,” he said.

The official said that it was the right of any country to issue or deny a visa to any applicant.

“But after Trump’s inauguration the visa process has remained the same. The decline in visa issuance may be due to lesser applications or poor candidates,” he added.

Recently, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had appointed Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, aiming to improve ties with Washington through his experience.

International relations expert Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said that Pakistan needed an active foreign policy and focus on activating its lobby in the US.

“Trump has not changed his policy towards Pakistan too much. He is continuing with Obama’s policy,” he said.

Jaspal said that Pakistan should try to improve ties with the US.

“The smaller issues such as visas will be dealt with when we have good ties,” he said.

Former ambassador Fauzia Nasreen said that Pakistan should convince the US about its role in the war on terror.

Full report at:





Israel to cut vital services to 140,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem al-Quds

May 30, 2017

The Israeli regime is to cut off water supply and other vital services to a pair of crowded districts of East Jerusalem al-Quds in the occupied West Bank, even though the sanitation condition in those areas is alarmingly deteriorating.

According to Jerusalem Affairs and Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin on Monday, Tel Aviv's plan to improve conditions of the city does not include two very large areas that are situated beyond the so-called separation barrier, namely Shuafat refugee camp plus its environs, and Kafr Aqab neighborhood.

The much-criticized separation barrier, erected a decade ago, cuts off Jerusalem al-Quds and some settlement blocks from the remainder of the occupied West Bank. The provocative measure, since its highly controversial imposition, has sparked numerous protests by Palestinians in the West Bank, including by those living in the city.

It is estimated that over a third of Jerusalem al-Quds' population, some 140,000 people, live in the two impoverished neighborhoods, 60,000 of whom residing in Kafr Aqab.

The $49.5-million plan, which was approved at a special cabinet session over the weekend, is aimed at addressing household waste disposal, construction debris and sewerage infrastructures.

Since the establishment of the so-called separation wall, Israeli authorities, principally those of the Jerusalem Municipality, have refused to provide regular services to Shuafat and Kafr Aqab. The discriminative policy has led to the increased sanitation problems in the two areas, as the garbage piles up, sewage flows in the streets and the water supply is problematic.

Residents of Kafr Aqab said that there had been inconsistent fresh water supply for the previous two months.

Meanwhile, Palestine's Water and Sewerage Company said that Mekorot, Israel's water company, was not pumping sufficient water to the two districts, adding that it also refused to issue new water access license for desperate applicants.

Munir Abu Ashraf, a member of Kafr Aqab's council, said that the water cut might last for five consecutive days, prompting the residents to save water in personal reservoirs, which can contain as much as 1,500 liters.

However, he warned that the large number of reservoirs on the roofs would mean that the collapse of a whole building, consisting of over 30 housing units, could be looming in the horizon.



Mattis anti-Iran claims reciprocation of Saudi extravagance: Qassemi

May 30, 2017

Iran says the recent claims made by US Defense Secretary James Mattis against the Islamic Republic were reciprocation for Saudi Arabia’s profligacy during President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Tuesday rejected the US defense secretary’s allegations that an alleged plot by Iranians to kill the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, was an “operation approved at the highest level.”

“The aforementioned accusations by US defense secretary about the [failed] assassination of an Arab ambassador in Washington by Iran are a fabricated and unfounded scenario,” Qassemi said, adding, “US divisive policies vis-à-vis Muslim countries are among this country’s strategic objectives with the purpose of creating fabricated and fake threats to plunder the assets of the regional people.”

He said some warmongering officials in the US and Saudi Arabia, as its ally in the Persian Gulf region, are pursuing such a false scenario, adding that the Islamic Republic paid no heed to such “baseless” accusations.

It was not surprising that Mattis made such allegations only a few days after the US president’s trip to Riyadh, because leveling groundless claims was an option for Washington to make up for Saudis’ generosity, Qassemi added.

On his first overseas trip since taking office, President Trump attended a signing ceremony on May 20 for almost $110 billion worth of military equipment to support Saudi Arabia's military.

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that Washington’s double standard-driven approach to terrorism poses a serious threat to stability and security across the world, particularly in the Middle East region.

He warned that the continuation of such policies would damage the prospects of the international community’s success in fighting the “ominous and dangerous phenomenon of terrorism.”  

In a televised interview with CBS’s Face the Nation this week, Mattis claimed that the Iranian officials “are not looking out for the best interests of their people.”

Full report at:



Blasts in Baghdad show terrorists’ inherent animosity toward Islam: Iran

May 30, 2017

Iran has censured terrorist bombings in two busy districts in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, saying the “criminal move” clearly indicated the inherent enmity of terrorists toward Islam and Muslims.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Tuesday expressed his sympathy with the Iraqi government and nation as well as the bereaved families of the victims of the terrorist blasts, which killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 115 in Baghdad.

In the deadliest of the two attacks, a terrorist detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at a popular ice cream shop at around midnight (2100 GMT Monday), killing at least 16 people and wounding 75.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bombing, with its affiliated Amaq outlet saying a bomber had targeted a “gathering of Shias.”

The Iranian spokesperson said the criminal act in the holy month of Ramadan was a clear indication of Takfiri terrorists’ inherent enmity toward true Islam and Muslims.

It was also the latest futile attempt by terrorists to make up for their defeats in Iraq, he added.

Qassemi emphasized that the final victory against terrorism in Iraq was imminent and expressed hope that Iraq would be completely cleansed of Takfiri terrorists soon given the recent achievements by the Iraqi popular forces in the northern city of Mosul.

In a statement on Saturday, the Iraqi military announced the beginning of an offensive to retake the last enclave controlled by Daesh in Mosul as the Takfiri terrorist group is being dealt final blows in the Arab country.

Full report at:



Israel must keep West Bank military control under any deal: Netanyahu

May 31, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Tel Aviv regime should maintain its military occupation of the West Bank under any agreement to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

“The idea that we can give up territory and achieve peace is not right. In order to assure our existence, we need to have military and security control over all of the territory west of the Jordan [River],” Netanyahu told Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, under which Israel is required to withdraw from all territories seized in the war.

Palestinian officials have repeatedly said that they want the resolution of the decades-long conflict with Israel based on the so-called two-state solution along pre-1967 boundaries.

Elsewhere in his comments, Netanyahu claimed that the root cause of the conflict with the Palestinians lies not in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but rather the “continued refusal by the Palestinians to recognize Israel.”

He further noted that the Palestinians are stuck in their attitude of “not setting up a state but rather negating the existence of” Israel.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said recently that the Palestinians had problem “with the occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine ...The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation.”

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump traveled to the occupied territories and met with Netanyahu and Abbas amid Washington’s recent move to drop the US commitment to the two-state solution.

Trump said both Netanyahu and Abbas had “assured” him of their willingness to “reach for peace.”

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is set make a visit to the occupied territories between June 7 and June 9, where she is expected to hold meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as its capital.

Full report at:




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