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Islamic World News ( 1 Sept 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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At Hajj Sermon, Terrorism and Violence against Civilians Denounced

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Sept 2017

For the stoning ritual, pilgrims will be filing in to crowds through a multi-level structure housing three pillars symbolizing the devil. (Supplied)



 At Hajj Sermon, Terrorism and Violence against Civilians Denounced

 Hajj Pilgrims Symbolically ‘Stone Devil’ In Last Major Ritual

 Islam Prohibits Terrorism, Bloodshed: Mufti

 In A First, Muslim Groups Issue Bakrid Guidelines in Yogi Adityanath’s UP

 Catholic Bishop Protects 2,000 Muslim Refugees in CAR

 Pak-Based Terror Groups Form Political Parties to Dodge Pressure from West


Arab World

 At Hajj Sermon, Terrorism and Violence against Civilians Denounced

 Hajj Pilgrims Symbolically ‘Stone Devil’ In Last Major Ritual

 Islam Prohibits Terrorism, Bloodshed: Mufti

 2M Muslims Gather near Mecca for Hajj Pilgrimage

 Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha as Hajj draws to a close

 ISIS’s Baghdadi is ‘probably still alive’ despite Russian reports of his death

 64 dead in clashes between Syria regime, IS

 Tens of Terrorists Killed in Russian-Syrian Operations in Central Syria

 Iraq’s Maliki welcomes Hezbollah-negotiated deal with ISIS

 Syrian civilians paying 'unacceptable price' in Daesh-held Raqqah: UN

 Lebanon fully liberated from Daesh terrorists: Hezbollah leader

 Brotherhood figures among 296 names added to Egypt terror list



 In A First, Muslim Groups Issue Bakrid Guidelines in Yogi Adityanath’s UP

 Don’t Share Videos of Animal Sacrifice, Clerics Urge Muslims

 Islamic State module wanted to kill in India after failing to reach Syria: NIA

 Beijing to PM Modi: Don’t raise Pakistan terror issue at BRICS

 Hizbul Mujahideen directs cadres not to use mobile phones, social media



 Catholic Bishop Protects 2,000 Muslim Refugees in CAR

 Daesh Attack Kills 2 Policemen in Libya

 10 civilians killed in US-backed raid, confirms Somali government

 Sudan’s al-Bashir pardons jailed human rights advocate

 Nigeria: Jonathan, Saraki, Dogara, Others Felicitate With Muslim Faithful

 Nigeria: Governors Caution Against Hate-Speeches, Seek Love, Unity, Forgiveness



 Pak-Based Terror Groups Form Political Parties to Dodge Pressure from West

 Dr Qadeer Told Me Army Group Was Against N-Tests, Says Hashmi

 Donating animal hides to banned outfits is cognizable offence: interior ministry

 3 killed in Mohmand landmine blast

 Qadri returns from London: ‘Metro leaks’ to end politics of Shahbaz

 Anti-terrorism court sentences 2 police officers in Benazir murder case

 Court acquits five accused ‘Taliban’

 Pakistan a forefront state in War against Terror, gave huge sacrifices: China


North America

 Canada Continues To Be Shaken By Intensified Anti-Muslim Attacks

 US Settles First Muslim Ban Lawsuit with Campaigners

 US Attaches New Conditions to Pledged Military Aid

 Daesh chief Baghdadi likely still alive: US general

 Canadian PM Trudeau greets Muslims on Eid-ul-Azha



 Britain Is Home To Up To 35,000 Islamic Fanatics of Whom 3,000 Are 'Worrying' For MI5 Says

 Syria Militants Plan Chemical Attack To Blame Government: Russia

 Has France Been Bought by a State Sponsor of Islamic Terrorism?

 Russia detains two over suspected ‘terror’ plot


South Asia

 Noor Claims Certain Circles in Government Attempts to Spark Ethnic Tensions

 Pakistani insurgent among 4 Taliban blown up by own explosives in Kunduz

 Bodies of 20 Rohingya Muslims pulled from river on Bangladesh border

 MoI confirms involvement of Ulema Council chief’s son in deadly Kabul wedding clash


Southeast Asia

 Najib Calls On Muslims to Imbibe the Spirit of Eid Ul Adha

 Indonesian Scandal Rocks Booming Mecca Pilgrimage Industry

 Malaysia’s Reckoning With the Islamic State

 Prosecutors Seek Five Year Jail Term For Golkar Politician Over Koran Graft



 Palestinians Vie With Israel over Muslim Pilgrims to Jerusalem

 Israel Again Shuts Down Palestinian Radio Station

 Middle East conflicts boost Bulgarian arms exports

 US takes aim at Iran over ties to Hamas

 Yemen’s Saleh makes first public appearance since clashes with Houthis

 Rouhani, Erdogan warn against secessionist moves

 Searches underway for Israeli soldier missing in occupied Golan Heights

 Bomb explosion wounds eight in Turkey’s Izmir

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




At Hajj sermon, terrorism and violence against civilians denounced


MAKKAH: Their palms facing the sky, around two million Muslims gathered Thursday on Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat for the highlight of the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the world's largest annual gatherings.

Sheikh Saad al-Shathri, a senior Saudi cleric, delivered a midday sermon denouncing terrorism and violence against civilians.

"Sharia came to preserve the security of nations and cultivate benevolence in (people's) hearts," he said, referring to the Islamic legal and moral code derived from the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He urged pilgrims to set aside politics during Hajj and come together with fellow Muslims.

"This is no place for partisan slogans or sectarian movements which have resulted in great massacres and the displacement of millions," he said.

Still, violence in the Middle East, including wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, and other global hotspots are sure to be on the minds of many pilgrims, who will spend the rest of the day on Mount Arafat.

By sunset they will move to the rocky plain of Muzdalifa to gather pebbles to throw at stone columns symbolising the devil at another location called Jamarat on Friday, which marks the first day of Eidul Azha (feast of sacrifice).

With temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius under the desert sun, the faithful climbed the hill east of Makkah where Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his last sermon some 14 centuries ago.

The second day of Hajj - a five-day pilgrimage that all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if physically and financially able - is dedicated to prayer and reflection.

"I came up here last night and prayed, took pictures and called my family and friends," said Maolana Yahia, 32, who made the trip from Indonesia.

This year's Hajj has seen the return of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran following a diplomatic row and a deadly stampede in 2015.

But thousands who would normally make the journey from neighbouring Qatar are absent apart from a few dozen because of the diplomatic crisis shaking the Gulf.

Helicopters flew around the area as the pilgrims converged from dawn on the Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma, or Mount of Mercy.

Forming a sea of white, the pilgrims ascended the hill and took up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun.

On the concrete pathways linking the plain to the hill, hundreds of thousands of devout Muslims invoked God, as others rested in makeshift tents or on sheets along the side of the road amid empty bottles and waste.

Tunisian mother-of-three Fatima Arfawi said she was moved beyond words.

"This is the first time I see anything like this, ever," she said. "This day is dedicated to prayer for my three children and my family." In a hospital opposite the mountain, an area was set aside for people suffering dehydration or heat exhaustion. Saudi Arabia's Red Crescent said it had deployed 326 ambulances along the pilgrimage route to handle health emergencies.



Hajj Pilgrims Symbolically ‘Stone Devil’ In Last Major Ritual

1 September 2017

Pilgrims began heading back to Mina and the Grand Mosque to perform further rites and rituals on the third day of their Hajj pilgrimage and first day of Eid al-Adha on Friday.

Having spent the previous night camped out in the open in Muzdalifah, pilgrims will proceed back to the Mina and Makkah to perform several duties, one of which is the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual.

On Friday, Muslims around the world are also marking one of two Islamic holidays, known in Arabic as Eid al-Adha, commemorating what Muslims believe was Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael as a test of his faith from God.

For the stoning ritual, pilgrims will be filing in to crowds through a multi-level structure housing three pillars symbolizing the devil.

The ritual is an emulation of Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade him from obeying God’s order to sacrifice his son, Ismael.

Muslims from around the world pour to Makkah every year to perform Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.



Islam prohibits terrorism, bloodshed: Mufti

September 01, 2017

ARAFAT -  As more than two million faithful gathered to perform Haj in Arafat on Thursday, Saudi Grand Mufti Shaikh Saad Bin Nasser invited Muslims around the world to unity and said Islam was the religion of brotherhood and gave the message of peace and tranquility, and it prohibits terrorism, violence and bloodshed.

The grand mufti urged the Muslim Ummah during the Haj sermon from Masjid-i-Nimra in Arafat to forge unity among its ranks to foil enemy designs. He said Islam was the religion of peace and spread the message of peace and brotherhood in its teachings around the world.

Mufti, who is a member of Council of Senior Scholars and an adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, delivered Khutba-e-Haj at Masjid-e-Nimra on the Arafat Day. The top Saudi cleric pleaded with the Muslim community around the world to: not persecute each other, rebuff divisions based on regional politics, fulfil the responsibility of uniting Muslim Ummah through sagacious use of social media, avoid plunging into sectarian chasms, and fear Allah the way it ought to be done.

He reminded the audience that the belief in the oneness of Allah was in fact the stepping stone of piety; no wonder, then, that only pious ones will enter the Jannah. He further stated that monotheism constituted the basic element of teachings of all the messengers of Allah. “All praise be to Allah, I testify that Allah has no partners. Worship Him and prostrate before Him. I instruct myself, and all of you, to fear Allah”, he said.

The sermon then touched the socio-economic dimensions of life by reiterating that Islamic teachings established brotherhood among human beings. The cleric reminded the audience that Zakat obliges Muslims to reserve certain portion of wealth for the needy. He said staying firm and offering prayers were guidelines given by Allah.

Expounding Islam’s principles related to morality, the honourable speaker said that usury and embezzlement of any kind were prohibited in Islam. “The offspring are obliged to obey - and take care of –their parents. Islam proscribed wickedness and obscenity. Allah has directed us not to predate on others’ rightful wealth”, the cleric said.

The beauty of Islamic law, the Sheikh said, is that it organised financial and economic systems along with regulations pertaining to one’s life into a formal arrangement on the face of the Earth. The top Saudi cleric rejected racism by reminiscing the verses of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s last sermon that: “A white man has no superiority over a black one nor a black has any superiority over any white”.

“Islam has forbidden us from humiliating Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It is binding upon us to fully observe Shariah-stated instructions; a Muslim is obliged to protect those boundaries that Allah has demarcated for him”, he said.

Their palms facing the sky, around two million faithful gathered on Mount Arafat for the highlight of the Haj pilgrimage, one of the world's largest annual gatherings.

With temperatures pushing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) under the desert sun, the faithful climbed the hill east of Makkah where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his last sermon some 14 centuries ago.

The second day of the Haj - a five-day pilgrimage which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if physically and financially able - is dedicated to prayer and reflection.

"I came up here last night and prayed, took pictures and called my family and friends," said Maolana Yahia, 32, who made the trip from Indonesia.

This year's Haj has seen the return of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran following a diplomatic row and a deadly stampede in 2015. But thousands who would normally make the journey from neighbouring Qatar are absent apart from a few dozen because of the diplomatic crisis shaking the Gulf.

Helicopters flew around the area as the pilgrims converged from dawn on the Mount Arafat plain and the hill known as Jabal al-Rahma, or Mount of Mercy.

Forming a sea of white, the pilgrims ascended the hill and took up positions to pray on rocks already heated by the morning sun.

On the concrete pathways linking the plain to the hill, hundreds of thousands of devout Muslims invoked God, as others rested in makeshift tents or on sheets along the side of the road amid empty bottles and waste.

Tunisian mother-of-three Fatima Arfawi said she was moved beyond words. "This is the first time I see anything like this, ever," she said. "This day is dedicated to prayer for my three children and my family."

In a hospital opposite the mountain, an area was set aside for people suffering dehydration or heat exhaustion.

Saudi Arabia's Red Crescent said it had deployed 326 ambulances along the pilgrimage route to handle health emergencies.

"Some pilgrims, for example, forget to protect their heads with an umbrella when they pray," said Bandar Al-Harthi, a nurse at a hospital facing Mount Arafat.

In the evening, the pilgrims set off for Muzdalifa where they will spend the night before taking part in a symbolic stoning of the devil.

The Jamarat Bridge, where the ritual is held, was the scene of a stampede in 2015 that claimed the lives of nearly 2,300 pilgrims - the worst disaster in the history of the Haj.

At the foot of Mount Arafat, mobile barriers have been installed to control the movement of the crowds. "They will be moved to enlarge the passages when there are more pilgrims," said Ahmed al-Baraka of the Saudi security forces.

Seated near the barriers at Mount Arafat, eight young women from Ghana who are all related took a brief respite after making their way from Mina, east of Makkah. Aged between 18 and 30, for some of them it was their first time away from home.

"This is the first time I leave Ghana," said 25-year-old Khadija. "My husband let me come alone because it is Makkah."



In a first, Muslim groups issue Bakrid guidelines in Yogi Adityanath’s UP

Aug 31, 2017

Muslim organisations in Uttar Pradesh have for the first time asked community members to follow a set of guidelines during next month’s Bakrid, aiming to avoid any controversy over the sensitive issue of animal sacrifice in the BJP-ruled state.

Eid al-Adha or the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ – popularly called Bakrid – will be celebrated on September 2 by the state’s Muslims, who form an estimated 19% of UP’s 20-crore population.

After winning an overwhelming mandate earlier this year, the BJP government led by chief minister Yogi Adityanath has clamped down on slaughter of cows, an animal considered sacred by a section of Hindus.

Self-styled vigilante groups have also attacked people they accuse of cow slaughter for consuming beef.

Over the past few days Muslim organisations have published advertisements in Urdu newspapers – including the leading one such as Sahafat, Inquilab and Urdu Sahara -- asking community members to avoid confrontation over animal sacrifice, a ritual that is an integral part of the festival.

The Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind -- that claims to be country’s largest Muslim organisation -- has urged Muslims not to offer sacrifice of “white animal”, widely understood to be cow.

“Kisi bhi halat main safed janwar ki qurbani na karein (under no circumstances should you sacrifice white animal),” read the appeal.

While Muslim groups have mostly ruled out cow or camel sacrifice, the RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch has even questioned the very practice of ‘qurbani’, saying that even sacrificing goat was as bad as triple talaq.

Sources said as that many Muslims, confused on whether to offer sacrifice individually or in groups, have also been flocking to clerics for advice.

A 40-page book by Iran-based top Shia cleric Sayyed Ali Hosseini Sistani, commonly known as Ayatollah Sistani, answering the commonly asked questions on sacrifice is in great demand among the Shias.

“Those who say animal sacrifice is prohibited don’t know their religion. But, it’s only mandatory during Haj. Other than that it’s linked to one’s wealth,” said noted Islamic scholar Masoodul Hasan.

“Other than the situations of Haj and wealth, sacrifice is described as ‘mustahab’, meaning an act that is appreciated by the sacred Islamic law (Shari’ah) but there is no harm if one doesn’t. In other words, if done it is greatly appreciated and rewarding in religious sense but no problem if one omits it,” Hasan said.

He said for qurbani to be made mandatory for Shias; they own 40 ‘ser’, equivalent to nearly 37 kilogram of silver or equivalent wealth.

Sunni cleric Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said animal sacrifice was mandatory for Sunnis, if someone possesses 52 ½ kilogram of silver or equivalent wealth.

Mahali said a group of Muslims met director general of police Sulkhan Singh over the issue.

“It’s true that because of stray incidents by cow vigilante groups, there is general apprehension among the community. That is why we met the DGP who assured us of security, saying there was no ban on traditional sacrifice. We told him that we will disengage with those offering sacrifice of animals banned by the government,” said Farangi Mahali.

Additional director general of police (law and order) Anand Kumar said instructions for strict vigil during the festival have been issued. The police’s social media cell is also keeping a watch to prevent any ‘mischief’ through social networking sites.



Catholic bishop protects 2,000 Muslim refugees in CAR

31 August 2017

A Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic (CAR) has given refuge to 2,000 Muslims who are living in fear of attacks from a mainly Christian militia.

Juan José Aguirre Munoz says that the refugees cannot leave the seminary's compound in the south-eastern city of Bangassou.

He told the BBC that the refugees "risk death" from anti-balaka militias.

The UN's humanitarian chief warned last week of possible genocide.

Stephen O'Brien said that violence in CAR was escalating and the situation was becoming dire.

"Violence is intensifying, risking a repeat of the devastating destructive crisis that gripped the country four years ago," he said.

Mr O'Brien added: "The early warning signs of genocide are there. We must act now."

CAR has experienced sectarian violence since 2013, when the largely Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, and were accused of killing non-Muslim civilians.

The anti-balaka "self-defence" groups were then formed but have also been accused of atrocities.

Balaka is a street name which means bullets and the militia's name therefore translates to "those who stop bullets". Seleka, on the other hand, means "coalition" in the widely-spoken Sango language.

According to the UN, thousands have been killed and at least a million people have been displaced in CAR since 2013.

It also says that at least half of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid.

A tenuous peace deal signed in June saw 13 out of 14 armed groups operating in the country agree with the government to end fighting in exchange for political representation and the integration of armed militias into the military.

Bishop Munoz says that the refugees sought help at the seminary after fighting broke out in May, and have since been under the care of the church and aid organisations.

"Nearby, there are anti-Balaka militias who prevent them from going out to search for food, water or firewood," he said. "So they are completely confined inside the seminary. They would risk death if they venture out," he told the BBC's Newsday programme. Protecting the vulnerable

A 10-year-old boy who was caught up in the violent clashes told a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid worker that he was shot at.

"People fired shots. One of my brothers received a bullet in his heart. Another brother got a bullet in his chest. I also received one in my testicle," he said.

A doctor with MSF, Ernest Lualuali Ibongu, told the BBC that there are other people in the seminary who need medical care but who cannot leave the compound to get to a hospital.

Bishop Munoz said that the refugees needed to be relocated because many aid organisations have stopped working in the area.

He said that attempts to appeal to the militia to allow aid workers in had failed.

"The anti-Balaka are armed and very violent and capable of killing children," he said. "It is very difficult to reason with [them]."

He says that both anti-Balaka and Seleka militias have attacked the church's properties, but adds that it is determined to protect vulnerable people from both sides.

"For us, there's no such thing as a Muslim person or a Christian person, everyone is a human being. We need to protect those who are vulnerable."



Pak-based terror groups form political parties to dodge pressure from West

Raj Shekhar

Sep 1, 2017

Amidst pressure from the international community to crack down on terror groups operating from its soil, Pakistan-based terrorists are forming political parties to give cover to their outfits.

Weeks after Jamat-Ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed formed a political party, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, a "global terrorist", is set to launch one, a trend that has left Indian intelligence agencies alarmed.

A few days ago, Khalil is learnt to have briefed the Pakistani media that his party would be named "Islah-e-Watan", security sources said.

Khalil was the founder of Kashmiri militant outfit Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and was put on the US state department's list of "specially designated global terrorists" in 2014. Khalil, who also was one of the founders of Harakatul Jihadul Islami in 1980, is the man who signed the fatwa issued by Osama bin Laden calling for jihad against the West.

Khalil was arrested in 2004 on charges of providing assistance to Pakistani militants in Afghanistan but was released a few months later. He then founded another outfit called Ansar Ul Ummah but it was soon disbanded, officials said.

Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, launched his party, Milli Muslim league, on August 8. Saeed has been under house arrest since January after years of living freely in Pakistan. The party will continue to follow the ideology of JuD, which the US says is a front for LeT.

The trend to form parties comes in the wake of US imposing sanctions on JuD and Pakistan-based extremists as part of their plan to disrupt their leadership and fund-raising networks. According to intelligence officials, launching a political party gives these terrorists a cover and also mainstreams their group.

"It not only helps them regroup in the wake of pressure from the West on Pakistan but also gives a legal face to their ulterior activities.

Once a political party is launched, all members of the banned outfits switch to being a member of a legal political party," an official explained.



Arab World


2M Muslims gather near Mecca for hajj pilgrimage

August 31, 2017

With their palms facing the sky in supplication, and many with tears in their eyes, around 2 million people from around the world gathered today in an effort to start anew, erase past sins and beg God for forgiveness and guidance in the peak day of the hajj pilgrimage.

From dawn until dusk, the massive crowd of people will be gathered here in Mount Arafat to spend the day in supplication and contemplation. It is here, on this mountain surrounded by desert, where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his final sermon more than 1,400 years ago.

“We hope that Allah will forgive our sins, and we hope to have a new start with our God,” said Khaled Ahmed, a 47-year-old pilgrim from Egypt.

In his sermon, the prophet called on his followers to repay their debts, beware of Satan, perform five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan and give to charity.

He also called on those with the means to perform the hajj once in a lifetime. He also reminded worshippers of the rights that women have, and said that no ethnic group or race has superiority over another except in piety and good action.

During the hajj, pilgrims are expected to shed symbols of materialism, though the trip itself can be quite expensive for most. Male pilgrims are required to wear seamless, white terrycloth garments for the entirety of the hajj.

Women wear loose clothing, cover their hair and forgo makeup and nail polish to achieve a state of humility and spiritual purity.

The large crowds gathered from more than 160 countries around the world, dressed in nearly identical white garments, are meant to symbolize unity among Muslims, humility and equality before God. The rich and poor among men are to dress the same while performing the rites of hajj.

The hajj is required of all Muslims once in a lifetime. The physically demanding journey tests pilgrims’ patience as they withstand long waits and thick crowds on their path to achieving spiritual purification and repentance.

Noura Sulieman, a pilgrim from the Philippines, said she’d been to the hajj many times before and was here again to pray for her family.

“I came here to Arafat to pray for my family, for my daughter, and my son, and all my family, and all the Philippines Muslims, and all Muslims in all countries,” she said. “God willing, Allah will accept our pilgrimage.”

Muslims believe the rites trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail Abraham and Ishmael in the Bible.

The movement of such a large and diverse crowd of people in a short period of time in limited spaces is a logistical challenge for the Saudi government. Authorities have deployed more than 100,000 security forces to secure the hajj and assist pilgrims. Additional doctors, nurses, ambulances and mobile health centers are also deployed in the areas of hajj.

Many begin their pilgrimage by traveling to Medina, the site of both the Prophet Muhammad’s first mosque and where he is buried.

The rites of the hajj, however, begin in Mecca, the site of Islam’s holiest place of worship. There, pilgrims circulate the cube-shaped Kaaba and kneel in prayer facing it. The Kaaba represents the metaphorical house of God and the oneness of God in Islam. Observant Muslims around the world face toward the Kaaba during the five daily prayers.

After Mecca, pilgrims spend the day in Mount Arafat before heading to an area called Muzdalifa. There, they will pick up pebbles for a symbolic stoning of the devil and a casting away of sins that takes place in the Mina valley for three days.

Male pilgrims will shave their hair and women will cut a lock of hair in a sign of renewal for completing the hajj. Around the world, Muslims will mark the end of hajj with a celebration called Eid al-Adha.



Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha as Hajj draws to a close

1 September 2017

Muslims around the world celebrated the Eid al-Adha holiday on Friday, one of the two most important festivals of the Islamic calendar.

Marking the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son on God's command, Muslims mark the holiday by slaughtering animals such as sheep and goats. The meat is shared among family and friends and also donated to the poor.

Faithful across continents marked the festival, which comes as the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia draws to a close.

Palestinians flocked to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque for prayers.

The festival was also celebrated across Africa, with the faithful in countries such as Somalia and Kenya attending mass prayers.

In Russia, thousands of Muslims gathered for prayers in Moscow.

Hajj draws to a close

Saudi Arabia said more than 2.3 million pilgrims, most of them from outside Saudi Arabia, had arrived for the five-day pilgrimage, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.

The pilgrims gathered at Mount Arafat on Thursday for a vigil to atone for their sins, then descended to Muzdalifa to prepare for the final stages of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Pilgrims clad in white robes spent the previous night in an encampment at the hill where Islam holds that God tested Abraham's faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Ismail and where the Prophet Mohammad gave his last sermon.

Other worshippers who had been praying in the nearby Mina area ascended in buses or on foot from before dawn as security forces directed traffic and helicopters hovered overhead.

Some of the faithful carved out seats on the craggy hillside, carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.

Sheikh Saad al-Shathri, a senior Saudi cleric, delivered a midday sermon denouncing terrorism and violence against civilians.

"Sharia came to preserve the security of nations and cultivate kindness in (people's) hearts," he said, referring to the Islamic legal and moral code derived from the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet.

He urged pilgrims to set aside politics during the Hajj and come together with fellow Muslims.

"This is no place for partisan slogans or sectarian movements which have resulted in great massacres and the displacement of millions," he said.

Saudi state television on Thursday morning showed a new kiswa, the cloth embroidered with verses from the Quran, being placed over the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque. Pilgrims will return to pray there at the end of Hajj.

Full report at:



ISIS’s Baghdadi is ‘probably still alive’ despite Russian reports of his death

1 September 2017

ISIS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be still alive, a top US military commander said Thursday, contradicting Russia's claims that it probably killed the top counterterror target months ago.

"Do I believe he's alive? Yes," said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who commands the coalition forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, referring to al-Baghdadi.

At first, Townsend said his belief stemmed from a lack of evidence he had seen — "rumor or otherwise" — that al-Baghdadi was dead. But, he then added: "There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he's alive." Townsend did not elaborate on the intelligence.

Russian officials said in June there was a "high probability" that al-Baghdadi died in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of Raqqa, Syria, a month earlier.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon from his headquarters in Baghdad, Townsend said US and coalition forces are actively searching for al-Baghdadi. If they find him, they probably will kill him rather than capture him, he said.

A good guess about where al-Baghdadi is hiding, Townsend said, would be the so-called Middle Euphrates River Valley, stretching approximately from the city of Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria to the town of Rawa in western Iraq. He said this area is shaping up to be the group's "last stand" following its ouster from nearly all of northern Iraq.

The most recent ISIS setback was in Tal Afar, west of the also recently-liberated city of Mosul, which had been the militants' main stronghold in Iraq. The Iraqi government announced Thursday that Tal Afar had been returned to government control. Townsend called it a "stunningly swift" victory for the Iraqi army, moving "like a steamroller" into the city in a matter of days.

The ISIS militants, who swept into Iraq in 2014 against minimal resistance from the Iraqi army, still control a large area of eastern Syria along the border with Iraq, as well as parts of Raqqa, the capital of the group's self-styled caliphate. Townsend said US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian forces have recaptured about half of Raqqa in ongoing fighting.

Assessing his 12 months in command of the US-led coalition, Townsend said more tough fighting remains but signs are positive. It will be up to the Iraqi government, he said, to safeguard the gains troops have achieved since 2015, when Iraqi security forces began a US-assisted counteroffensive in the western Anbar province.

"I think part of the rise of ISIS was disenfranchised peoples, most of them Sunnis, who looked at Baghdad and they didn't see their government representing them or their interests or their future," he said. "And I think that's probably the most important thing that the government of Iraq has to do. It has to reach out, reconcile, bring all Iraqis together and be the government of all Iraqis."

Townsend said he hopes the US government works out an arrangement for a long-term military presence in Iraq to minimize the chances of another ISIS-like episode. He said such talks are under way.

"We all saw what happened in 2011 when we parted ways completely," he said, referencing the pullout of US troops under former President Barack Obama and Iraq's subsequent struggles.

"My personal view is I wouldn't want to repeat that," Townsend said.

"So I think that our governments will work out something that will work for the future."

Townsend is ending his year in command in Baghdad and will hand off next week to another three-star Army general, Paul Funk II.

He credited the Trump administration with putting greater trust in him and other commanders to execute the counter-ISIS campaign.

"The current administration has pushed decision-making down into the military chain of command," Townsend said. "And I don't know of a commander in our armed forces that doesn't appreciate that."

Full report at:



64 dead in clashes between Syria regime, IS

Sep 1, 2017

BEIRUT - Fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and the Islamic State group has killed 64 combatants in Raqa province over a 24-hour period, a monitoring group said Wednesday.

The clashes come with the army pressing an advance through Raqa, in northern Syria, towards neighbouring Deir Ezzor, the only remaining province of the war-ravaged country still in the hands of IS jihadists. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the fighting had claimed the lives of 38 jihadists and 26 pro-regime combatants since Tuesday morning.

It takes to 145 the overall death toll in six days of fighting in villages on the banks of the Euphrates River in the east of Raqa province, near Deir Ezzor.

IS said in a statement on Tuesday that its members had killed dozens of regime combatants in “intense fighting lasting hours”.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the regime was fighting to secure a foothold in Raqa province “in order to advance in Deir Ezzor”.

The jihadists have laid seige to government forces and civilians in the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor since 2015.

Earlier this month, government troops and allied fighters arrived at the outskirts of Madan, the last IS-held town in the countryside of eastern Raqa province before Deir Ezzor.

But IS launched a counterattack last week that pushed the regime forces back, and fighting has since continued.

The Syria army operation in the area, backed by air support from ally Russia, is separate from the battle for provincial capital Raqa city.

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Tens of Terrorists Killed in Russian-Syrian Operations in Central Syria

Aug 31, 2017

The Russian and Syrian fighter jets launched airstrikes on ISIL positions and moves in Akash, Um Mil, Abu Jabilat and Northern and Southern Qastal and the town of Aqayrabat in Eastern Hama on Thursday.

They also heavily pounded the town of Ma'adan and its Southern outskirts in Southeastern Raqqa and the regions near Deir Ezzur airbase as well as the towns of Tal al-Qariya, al-Makabat, Panorama and al-Tharda in Deir Ezzur.

Dozens of terrorists were killed in the attacks and several of their bases and positions were smashed.

The Syrian army troops had on Saturday completed the siege on the terrorists in the Central part of the war-hit country, a military source confirmed.

The source reported that ISIL-held regions covering almost 3,000sq/km of area in Homs and Hama province are now under a full siege imposed by the army forces.

The source further added that the army men managed to advance against ISIL South of the town of Ithriya Northeast of Hama and reached their comrades that stormed ISIL's defense line from their positions North of al-Sha'er region in Eastern Homs and advanced towards Jabal al-Fasedah region in Eastern Hama.

The source went on to say that the army soldier have gained control over all the roads in the Eastern direction of the town of al-Salamiyah in Hama province, adding that ISIL withdrew a large number of its forces before the army gained control over the roads.

The source further said that most of the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists in Aqayrabat region in Hama province are suicide attackers that are in their positions to carry out suicide raids on the government forces to delay the fall of the town of Aqayrabat to the army.

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Iraq’s Maliki welcomes Hezbollah-negotiated deal with ISIS

31 August 2017

Iraqi Vice President and leader of the State of Law coalition Nouri al-Maliki welcomed the recent Hezbollah-negotiated deal with ISIS and said the decision to transfer hundreds of ISIS fighters from Lebanese borders to the Syrian city of Deir az-Zour was the right decision.

The deal has sparked outrage in Iraq with many politicians, including Prime Minister Haidar Abadi, condemning the deal.

Maliki said the deal was part of the battle’s strategy against terrorism, noting that what happens in Deir az-Zour and Abu Kamal are Syrian matters while overlooking that these two areas are adjacent to the Iraqi borders where Iraqi troops are combating terrorism.

Among those slamming the deal is Iraqi Al-Ahrar parliamentary bloc Member of Parliament Awad al-Awadi who said the Syrian government “can go to hell” if Iraqi blood will be shed for its sake.

Awadi, who represents the Sadrist movement, added that no Iraqi will accept to compromise at the expense of the Iraqi people’s blood. In another interview with Al-Hadath television station, Awadi called on the Iraqi government to take stronger stances towards the deal.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the alliance of Arab tribes in Ninevah Sheikh Muzahim al-Hawyeet told Al-Hadath that tribes reject the deal, adding that transferring ISIS fighters to areas adjacent to the Iraqi border is a new threat against Sunni governorates.

Hawyeet also said that the alliance between ISIS and Iranian-backed militias has been exposed and called on the international coalition to shell any convoy that attempts to come near Iraqi borders.

Hezbollah militias have allowed ISIS elements to ride buses to get out of Lebanon’s Jroud and go to Deir al-Zour under an agreement involving the Syrian regime amid controversial accusations that Hezbollah is making deals at the expense of the Lebanese army.

In response, Abadi rejected the deal while Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri warned of going back to square one and rejected any deal that may bring ISIS back into Iraq or close to its borders.

In response to the official Iraqi stance, Hezbollah justified the agreement by saying that it stipulates transferring ISIS fighters and their families from Syrian territories to other Syrian territories.

Iraqi media websites warned of the agreement’s repercussions and reported that Iranian intelligence members, upon coordination with Maliki and their envoy Iraj Masjedi, agreed to supply ISIS members with dangerous weapons.

Full report at:



Syrian civilians paying 'unacceptable price' in Daesh-held Raqqah: UN

Aug 31, 2017

The UN human rights chief says civilians trapped in the Syrian city of Raqqah are paying an “unacceptable price,” suggesting that the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group may be violating international law in the territory.

“Given the extremely high number of reports of civilian casualties this month and the intensity of the airstrikes on Raqqah, coupled with Daesh’s use of civilians as human shields, I am deeply concerned that civilians -- who should be protected at all times -- are paying an unacceptable price and forces involved in battling Daesh are losing sight of the ultimate goal of this battle,” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement on Thursday.

The top UN human rights official added that “the attacking forces may be failing to abide by the international humanitarian law principles of precautions, distinction, and proportionality.”

The UN statement further noted that the US-led coalition has conducted nearly 1,100 airstrikes on and near the militant-held city of Raqqah this month, and that the figure showed a marked rise once compared to 645 aerial attacks last month.

“Daesh members continue to prevent civilians from fleeing the area, although some manage to leave after paying large amounts of money to smugglers. We have reports of smugglers also being publicly executed by Daesh,” Zeid pointed out.

Separately, UN Deputy Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien said more than two dozen people were being killed in Raqqah per day.

“The UN estimates that an average of 27 people are being killed in Raqqah every day, and up to 25,000 civilians still remain trapped in the city and are increasingly exposed to the crossfire of the ongoing fighting. They risk being killed either by airstrikes, or by ISIL (Daesh) snipers, or mines if they try to flee, or being used as human shields if they remain,” O'Brien stated.

The city of Raqqah, which lies on the northern bank of the Euphrates River, was overrun by Daesh terrorists in March 2013, and was proclaimed the center for most of the Takfiris’ administrative and control tasks the following year.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says Daesh extremists are holding some of the civilians trapped in Raqqah as human shields.

The world body says it has documented 151 civilian deaths in six incidents alone in August, due to US-led airstrikes and clashes between the US-backed militiamen from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Daesh terrorists in Raqqah.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.

Full report at:



Lebanon fully liberated from Daesh terrorists: Hezbollah leader

Aug 31, 2017

The secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has praised the victories recently achieved by the movement’s fighters and army soldiers in the fight against Daesh Takfiri terrorists, stressing Lebanon’s soil has been fully liberated from the extremist elements.

“We wanted the conclusion of this battle to come at the hands of the Lebanese Army and this is what happened, and the so-called caliphate of Daesh was defeated,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an address in Beirut on Thursday.

Addressing his followers via a televised speech, Nasrallah described the gains against the terrorists as the second liberation after the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from southern Lebanon and Western Bekaa region in 2000.

He stated that Lebanese army soldiers have made gains against terrorists, underlying that Hezbollah resistance fighters have driven members of the foreign-sponsored and Takfiri Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group from Juroud Arsal region, located 124 kilometers northeast of Beirut.

The Hezbollah leader pointed out that the United States had threatened to cut its assistance to the Lebanese army in case it did not put an end to its campaign against terrorists on the border with Syria.

Nasrallah then called upon Lebanese authorities to devise a plan aimed at the liberation of Sheba'a Farms from Daesh Takfiris, hailing Syrian army soldiers for helping their Lebanese counterparts liberate the strategic and mountainous region of Qalamoun.

Nasrallah stated that he had a meeting in person with President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian capital city of Damascus, and convinced him to agree to a deal between Hezbollah and Daesh, which allowed the transfer of Takfiri terrorists from Qalamoun to eastern Syria.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Hezbollah chief offered his sincere felicitations to the Iraqi nation and government on the liberation of the city of Tal Afar and the northern province of Nineveh from Daesh terrorists.

Earlier on Thursday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the city of Tal Afar and the entire Nineveh province had been purged of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The recapture of Tal Afar was made possible with the help of the Iraqi army, Federal Police, counterterrorism units, volunteer troops, and Rapid Response Forces, Abadi said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah praised the Islamic Republic of Iran for its unwavering support for the anti-Israel resistance front, stressing that Tehran had offered great assistance to the Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni nations.

“Israel is crying over the fate of its orphans (Daesh terrorists),” Nasarallah said, noting that the Tel Aviv regime had admitted that its plans in Syria had not succeeded.

The Hezbollah chief also described the United States as the real threat to the international community, warning that the policies of the administration of President Donald Trump vis-à-vis North Korea were steering the world towards a nuclear war.

The Hezbollah chief also criticized recent US accusations that Pakistan was harboring armed terrorist groups.

Full report at:



Brotherhood figures among 296 names added to Egypt terror list


1 September 2017

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Wednesday published the names of 296 people who have been added to the country’s terror list, including some with links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The verdict, issued by Cairo’s criminal court on July 24, ruled that the 296 people be added to the national terrorist list for three years.

It said some of the defendants were found guilty of leading the Brotherhood, being members, funding the group, or harming the national economy and public security.

As per Egyptian law, those on the list are barred from leaving the country, their assets have been frozen and their passports canceled.

The list of names includes several Brotherhood leaders living outside the country. Among them are Mahmoud Ezzat, the group’s deputy supreme guide who fled Egypt in 2013, and Secretary-General Ibrahim Mounir, who lives in in London.

Both were found guilty of planning terror attacks in Egypt while abroad. Figures designated on the list and living abroad could be arrested upon their return.

In December 2013, the government listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, accusing it of involvement in a series of deadly attacks against the state.

“Every country that wages a war on terrorism has to undergo three main steps to paralyze a group: Leadership decapitation, cutting sources of financing, and hampering recruitment by labeling it a terrorist organization,” said Said Sadek, a Cairo-based political sociology professor.

Paul J. Sulliven, adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University, said: “Terrorists need to be contained by squeezing terror groups of their financing and other means of recruiting and retaining people.

Full report at:





Don’t share videos of animal sacrifice, clerics urge Muslims

by Aditi Raja

September 1, 2017

Nine leading Muslim clerics, including president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Rabi Hasani Nadvi, have urged the community to exercise caution to ensure that no communal discord occurs while celebrating Bakr Eid or Eid al-Adha on Saturday. They have urged Muslims to refrain from sharing videos and pictures of animal sacrifice on social media that could cause “discomfort to compatriots”.

“Do not perform the (animal) sacrifice on roads and in public spaces. Do it in spacious enclosures . None of the conduct for (sacrifice) should cause discomfort to our compatriots. Let no tension be created and maintain discipline. We must not break the law in any situation,” the appeal, which will be read out in mosques during Friday prayers, stated.

The other signatories of the appeal are Khalid Saifullah Rahmani (secretary, AIMPLB), Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahli (member executive committee, AIMPLB), Saiyed Jalaluddin Umri (ameer, Jamate Islami Hind), Nawaid Hamid (president, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat), Yaseen Akhtar Misbahi (head of Darul Qalam), Saiyed Mahmood Madani (general secretary, Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind), Ali Asghar Imam Mahdi (general manager, Markazi Jamiat Ehle Hadees Hind), and Kalbe Jawad Naqvi (member, AIMPLB).

The appeal will also urge Muslims to form groups to monitor the situation. “Keep in touch with the local authorities to maintain peace. Don’t spread rumours. Do the needful after verification of such reports,” it added.

Clerics and scholars in Gujarat say that they have been asked to discourage community members from slaughtering cows and its progeny, in the wake of growing tension over cow slaughter.

Mufti Mohammad Imran Dairywala, secretary, Jamait-e-Ulema-E-Hind, said: “It is not mandatory to sacrifice a cow. Any good Muslim will not indulge in an act that hurts others or brings harm to humanity.”

“We are a country where people of many religions live together. Islam provides for the sacrifice to be done in purdaah, not by showing off to others. Other communities like Hindus and Jains, do get disturbed by looking at videos and pictures of sacrifice,” said Mufti Arif Hakim Falahi, principal of Darul Uloom in Vadodara.



Islamic State module wanted to kill in India after failing to reach Syria: NIA

Aug 31, 2017

Members of a self-professed Islamic State module collected arms and ammunition to carry out terrorist activities in India and to target non-Muslims when they failed to go to Iraq and Syria, a NIA chargesheet said on Thursday.

This emerged during investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing a module unearthed in March from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The members of the module visited various border areas in India in a bid to go abroad to join the Islamic State, the chargesheet said. After failing to reach Iraq and Syria, they bought arms, ammunition and explosives to carry out terrorist activities in India.

It said the module had planned to target non-Muslims, Muslim scholars of other sects as well as religious places in India.

“The module propagated the ideology of the Islamic State to attract, motivate and recruit youths to carry out terrorist acts.”

The anti-terror agency on Thursday filed the chargesheet before a special NIA court in Lucknow against eight persons of the module for being members of the Islamic State and their involvement in the conspiracy.

The NIA booked the accused on charges of waging war against the government and preparing to procure arms and ammunition and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Arms Act and the Explosive Substance Act.

Those named in the chargesheet are Mohammad Faisal, Gauss Mohammad Khan, Mohammad Azhar, Atif Muzaffar, Mohammad Danish, Asif Iqbal, Mohammad Atif and Syed Meer Hussain.

Sayed is a resident of Kannauj while others belong to Kanpur -- all in Uttar Pradesh.

Another accused, Saifullah, also from Kanpur, was killed in a shootout in Lucknow.

NIA investigators said Saifullah along with Atif, Danish, Syed and Gauss was allegedly involved in a blast on a Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train in March. On August 8 a chargesheet was filed against Atif, Danish, Syed and Gauss in a special court in Bhopal.

The case was initially registered by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad in March before it was taken over by the NIA.

“They took ‘Bayath’ (oath of allegiance) to the Islamic State, hatched a criminal conspiracy with intention of (committing) terrorist activities, recruited persons, raised funds, organized terrorist camps and carried out terrorist acts,” the NIA said.

It alleged that they conspired to threaten India’s sovereignty.

They shifted their hideouts in Lucknow, conducted a trial blast and killed a man in Kanpur, Ramesh Chandra Shukla, on October 24, 2016, the NIA said.

An NIA statement said the accused conducted reconnaissance of Sufi shrine Dewa Sharif in Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh and other religious places for planting IEDs.

Full report at:



Beijing to PM Modi: Don’t raise Pakistan terror issue at BRICS

Saibal Dasgupta

Sep 1, 2017

BEIJING: China on Thursday sent out a signal that it would object to any discussion about Pakistan's role in sheltering terrorists during the upcoming BRICS summit+ , which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi+ . China is worried Modi may raise the issue at the meeting because he did so at the Goa summit of BRICS last year while describing Pakistan as the "mother-ship of terrorism".

"We also noticed that India, when it comes to Pakistan's counter-terrorism, has some concerns. I don't think this is an appropriate topic to be discussed at BRICS summit," Hua Chunying, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a briefing. She also indicated that raising the topic might affect the success of the summit because Chinese leaders may be forced to defend its close ally, Pakistan.

"The world is paying great attention to the BRICS summit. I hope relevant parties can work with China to ensure the success of the summit and make due contributions," Hua said. She meant the five members of BRICS including India when she mentioned "relevant parties".

This time the BRICS summit is taking place on September 3 in Xiamen in China, which regards Pakistan as an "all-weather friend". India is in a stronger position to raise the issue because US president Donald Trump recently accused Pakistan of sheltering terrorists and threatened to withdraw financial aid if Islamabad refuses to mend its ways. There are chances Chinese leaders might come to Pakistan's defence+ at the summit.

One of the main objectives of BRICS is to enhance cooperation between the five member countries in fighting against terrorism. But it is difficult for India to join hands in any meaningful manner unless Beijing adopts a different attitude on this issue when it comes to the role of Pakistan.

Hua said, "Pakistan is at forefront of counter terror efforts and has made sacrifices for this. The international community should recognize their contributions and sacrifices made by Pakistan."

She added, "China is willing to work with Pakistan and other countries to enhance our cooperation in counterterrorism. This serves the common interest of all parties."

China routinely refers to "sacrifices" made by Pakistan in battling terrorism but refuses to discuss flawed policies of Pakistani military and government that results in bloodshed across the country.

In an interesting twist, the hawkish Global Times indirectly blamed Islam for terrorism, and said India is mostly free from terrorism because it is largely a Hindu nation. Terrorism exists in an "arc" of Asian countries including Pakistan and Philippines with significant Muslim presence, it said.

Full report at:



Hizbul Mujahideen directs cadres not to use mobile phones, social media

by Mir Ehsan

September 1, 2017

The Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) has warned its cadres against using mobile phones or social networking sites following the killing of over two dozen militants, including some top commanders, in August. Police sources said Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo, who is believed to have taken over as HM’s operational commander following Yasin Yatoo killing on August 13, issued the warning recently.

Electronic surveillance of phones is said to have led forces to many militant hideouts. In August, three top commanders Abu Dujana, Yatoo and Ayub Lelhari were among 26 killed mostly in South Kashmir. Sources said the three were tracked through electronic surveillance and human intelligence.

Inspector General of Police Muneer Ahmad Khan said they can track militants even if they do not use mobile phones. “In the 1990s, we carried out successful operations against militants when there were no mobile phones.”

Full report at:





Daesh attack kills 2 policemen in Libya

Aug 31, 2017

A Daesh terrorist drove his explosives-laden car into a checkpoint east of the coastal Libyan city of Sirte on Thursday, killing two policemen, military officials said.

The officials said the blast at Nofaliya, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of Sirte, also wounded two soldiers from the self-styled Libyan National Army, LNA. The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online.

The attack and the resulting death toll were reported by Col. Muftah Amgharief, from the security force guarding oil facilities in eastern Libya, and Faisal Ahbale, spokesman for the army's 101st Brigade. The incident and the death toll were also reported by the LNA spokesman on his Facebook page.

Thursday's attack came just over a week after Daesh militants beheaded 11 people in an attack on a checkpoint in the central district of al-Jufra, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Sirte, which Daesh held until Libyan forces expelled the militants late last year.

Bands of Daesh militants are now believed to be roaming the vast deserts around the city, preying on travelers and attacking isolated outposts or convoys belonging to the army or rival militias.

Libya has been rife with chaos since a 2011 popular uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Rival militias, many led by extremists, hold sway over large swathes of territory, while three rival administrations struggle to exercise authority.

The deserts of central and southern Libya have been largely lawless since 2011, with an array of armed groups holding sway and controlling overland crossings into neighboring countries.



10 civilians killed in US-backed raid, confirms Somali government

Aug 31, 2017

Government officials in Somalia have confirmed that the 10 people who were recently killed in a joint US-Somali raid in Bariire village were civilians.

"The 10 people were civilians. They were killed accidentally... The government and relatives will discuss about compensation. We send condolence to the families,” media outlets quoted lawmaker Mohamed Ahmed Abtidon as saying at a public funeral held for the victims on Thursday.

At least 10 people, including three children, were shot dead on Friday when the Somali army, supported by US troops, carried out an operation in the village of Bariire, which is located about 50 kilometers from the capital Mogadishu.

The US Africa Command confirmed that American troops had been involved in the Bariire operation and that the command was investigating reports of civilian casualties.

The fatal assault was carried out under the expanded powers that President Donald Trump had granted to US troops in Somalia in March.

US authorities have not publicly commented on the raid since Friday.

Somalia's military initially said all the dead were members of the al-Shabab Takfiri militant group but later acknowledged some civilians had died.

The Mogadishu government, however, later appointed a high-level investigation into the incident which was due to give its findings on Thursday.

Ibrahim Hassan Ali, a clan elder, earlier said that they had reached a deal with the government late on Wednesday.

"We met the government last night and agreed on three points: a national burial where the government officials will attend and admit the killings, compensation, and that the government will solve the clan conflict in the lower Shabelle region so that such incidents do not take place again."

The Bariire operation is likely to draw questions about Washington's growing foothold in Somalia.

Somali forces and African Union peacekeepers had fought to take Bariire village back from militants earlier this month. The region has also long been plagued by clan conflicts for control of the fertile farmland.

The White House has granted the military broader authority to carry out strikes in Somalia against al-Shabab militants.

Somalia has been torn apart by civil war since 1991.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-aligned militant group, was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011, but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets.

Full report at:



Sudan’s al-Bashir pardons jailed human rights advocate

31 August 2017

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has issued a presidential decree pardoning Mudawi Ibrahim, a prominent rights activist arrested last year for alleged spying.

Last December, Ibrahim was detained -- and held without trial -- after being accused of conducting “espionage” against the Sudanese government at the behest of foreign entities.

A court accused the activist of “fabricating” information that was later used in an Amnesty International report about Khartoum’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the restive Darfur region.

Along with a handful of his colleagues, Ibrahim had also faced accusations of attempting to undermine the Sudanese state, making unauthorized contact with foreign embassies, and treason -- all offenses that can potentially carry the death penalty.

Ibrahim’s lawyers hailed the presidential pardon, which was issued late Tuesday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Wednesday morning, Nabil Adeeb, head of Ibrahim’s defense team, said the move served to confirm his client’s innocence.

“We welcome the presidential decree pardoning Mr. Ibrahim,” Adeeb said, going on to call for the reform of Sudan’s entire judicial system with a view to making it “more transparent”.

Effective immediately, al-Bashir’s presidential decree calls for the release of Ibrahim and five detained colleagues.

Full report at:



Nigeria: Jonathan, Saraki, Dogara, Others Felicitate With Muslim Faithful


As Muslims across the world mark the 2017 Eid-el-Kabir, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, have expressed greetings, and called for prayers for Nigeria.

Jonathan in a statement by his spokesman Ikechukwu Eze, also urged Nigerians to make individual sacrifices for the betterment of our nation and greater good of humanity.

He further urged Nigerians to pray for the "less privileged among us and show them the love of God demonstrated through us, His creations."

He said: "As Nigerian Muslims mark Eid-el Kabir (Eid al-Adha) my family and I join in their celebration. This eid celebrates Abraham, a patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and is thus an opportunity to bring humanity together.

On his part, Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, urged Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the quest for an economically viable and politically stable Nigeria.

He also appealed for prayers from all citizens irrespective of their religious affiliations, for peace and unity in the country.

"It is significant that the Eid-el-Kabir and Jummat will be celebrated in one day. This tells us that all prayers offered during this solemn day will no doubt command double mercies of Allah towards us all," he said.

Saraki, who is currently in Saudi Arabia performing the Holy Pilgrimage, also called on Nigerians to pray for the good health of President Muhammadu Buhari and God's guidance for all persons in positions of authority.

Similarly, Ekweremadu called on Nigerians to eschew all forms of recrimination and imbibe self-sacrifice, forgiveness and other higher virtues that promote national unity and development.

In a goodwill message to Muslim faithful signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, the Deputy Senate President said the season presents an opportunity for reflection on national challenges and how they can be surmounted.

On his own part, the former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark called for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians, as guarantee to meaningful development.

In a statement, Mark expressed concern about divisive agitations in different parts of the country, and cautioned against any actions that threatened the unity of Nigeria.

He, however, noted that there is a need to address perceived imbalances with collective will and understanding, to effect changes in the current political and constitutional arrangement.

Also, the leadership of the House of Representatives has enjoined Muslim faithful to use the Eid-el-Kabir festival to promote unity, tolerance, peaceful coexistence and the spirit of sacrifice.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara noted that the country could only fulfill its great potentials as a nation if the citizens continued to foster unity, peace, security and stability as well as show greater respect and love for one another.

In a statement to mark this year's Sallah celebration, issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, Dogara reiterated his call for sustained prayers for the leadership of the country at all levels.

He said: "This is a moment for sober reflections; I enjoin you to use the period to uphold the spiritual benefit of the celebration by extending A hand of friendship and solidarity across all divides and imbibing the spirit of sacrifice and obedience to the higher authority as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim and upheld by Prophet Muhammed.

In the same vein, Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Suleimon Lasun Yussuff urged to Nigerians especially the Muslim faithful to continue to eschew violence and criminality and learn to live in peace and harmony.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Wole Oladimeji, Lasun urged Muslims to imbibe the spiritual lessons of the festival.

He said the Holy Prophet's teachings of love, justice, fairness, peaceful co-existence with one another, honesty and tolerance in all their dealings with their Christian brothers and sisters must not be lost.

Dickson Sues for Peace, Tolerance

Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson has felicitated with Muslims across the country especially in Bayelsa on the occasion of the 2017 Eid-el-Kabir.

In a statement released yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the governor congratulated all Muslims and urged them to continue to pray for peace, progress and sustenance of the nation's democracy.

The governor also implored them to work hard to preserve the unity of the country and promote religious and ethnic tolerance in their everyday endeavor so as to make the country a better place.

He equally called on all Muslim faithful to pray and support political leaders in the country who are dedicated in ensuring that the dividends of democracy reaches their door steps.

Bello: Remember the Significance of the Season

Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has reminded Muslim faithful of the significance of the Eid-el-Kabir. The governor in his Sallah message said the festival was ment to celebrate the love and grace of Almighty Allah to mankind through sacrifice, devotion and faith.

"Irrespective of our ethnic and religious affiliations, I urge Kogities to use the opportunity of the holy celebration to rededicate themselves to selfless sacrifices for the benefit of our neighbours and indeed the progress of Kogi Staten," the governor said.

He urged the people of the state to be their brothers' keepers and join hands together to build a state they will be proud to bequeath to their children.

Ayade Felicitates with Muslims

Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, has felicitated with Muslims in Nigeria as they celebrate this year's Eid-el Kabir.

The governor, in his goodwill message signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, said: "As we celebrate, I enjoin the Muslim Ummah and indeed all people of goodwill to remember the lessons of the celebration which is sacrifice, obedience and love.

"I implore you to channel your thoughts and creative energies in a positive direction to help the government realise its lofty dreams of a better state and country for all of us. The Muslim community should continue to join hands with people of other faiths to maintain the peace in the state, as peace is a precondition for development."

While entreating the Muslim faithful to stay committed in the worship of God, Ayade said: "We should remember Allah's faithfulness to His beloved Prophet Ibrahim which is a clear testimony that there is abundant reward in fidelity to Allah's injunctions." Ajimobi Preaches Unity and Togetherness

Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has admonished Nigerians to shun acts capable of disrupting the unity, togetherness and peaceful co-existence of the country.

In his message to Islamic faithful on the occasion of this year's Eid-El-Kabir yesterday, Ajimobi said it was only in an atmosphere of peace and unity that the country could achieve the desired greatness.

The governor who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi layinka, condemned what he called hate speeches and the ember of discord being stoked by ethnic agitators in some parts of the country.

From the benefit of the hindsight, he described the actions of agitators in the country as an ill-wind that would not blow anybody any good.

Ajimobi said: "We cannot say we are brothers and sisters and still be carrying guns and machetes against one another. What do we stand to benefit by killing and maiming ourselves?

While congratulating Muslims, the governor urged them to use the occasion of the Eid-El-Kabir to pray for the peace, progress and economic emancipation of the country.

Aregbesola, Group Call for Prayer, Unity

The Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has called on Muslim faithful in the state and Nigerian in general to use the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir celebration to pray for peace, unity, prosperity and stability of the state and country.

Also, the state chapter of a socio-political organisation, Asiwaju Grassroots Foundation (AGF), has felicitated with all Muslims in the state and across the country on the occasion of the festival.

Aregbesola, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Sola Fasure, called on Nigerians of all faiths to join hands with the government of

President Muhammadu Buhari in its determination to build a peaceful and harmonious country.

The governor tasked adherents of Islam to imbibe the lessons of commitment, dedication and obedience to higher authority as was demonstrated by Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to the will of God which the Eid-El-Kabir commemorates.

Amosun Preaches Selfless Sacrifice

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has enjoined Muslim faithful to demonstrate the virtue of selfless sacrifice as they celebrate the Eid-el-Kabir festival.

In a statement issued in Abeokuta yesterday, the governor said: "While I join my Muslim brothers and sisters to celebrate this holy day, I urge you to reflect on the essence of the festival.

"Otherwise known as the 'Festival of Sacrifice', the Eid-el-Kabir presents an opportunity for us to reflect on the faith with which Ibrahim (Abraham) willingly agreed to sacrifice his son and was set to let go of his personal belief in obedience to the command of Allah.

"With this, we should lay aside all forms of religious, ethnic and tribal sentiments in the interest of unity, peace, progress and prosperity of not only ourselves but also the nation.

"Therefore, I call on all of us to ensure that as we celebrate, and seek the face of Allah to be merciful unto us as well as heal our land. We should not relent in praying for wisdom, with which our leaders will see our nation through these challenging times."

Wike Calls for Prayer

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has felicitated with the Muslim community on the celebration of this year's EId-el-Kabir.

In his Sallah message yesterday, Wike urged Muslims to pray for the unity and peace of the nation as they celebrate.

He called on all Muslim faithful to use the EId-el-Kabir celebration to re-dedicate themselves to the ideals of peace, security and friendship, assuring faithful that the state government and security agencies have put in place security measures to ensure a peaceful celebration of the festival.

The governor urged Nigerians to promote religious tolerance, adding that such virtue would ensure peace across the country and enhance national development.

Okowa Urges Nigerians to Shun Hate Speeches

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has charged Nigerians to shun hate speeches and collaborate with the government to surmount the plethora of problems bedeviling the nation.

The governor, who stated this in his goodwill message issued in Asaba yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, to mark this year's Eid-El-Kabir, stressed the need for Nigerians to be their brother's keeper.

Okowa said: "I call on all Muslims and indeed Nigerians to use the period to reflect on the various challenges facing the nation. It takes the concerted efforts of all to achieve meaningful development in any nation especially in a period of economic recession.

"We must shun hate speeches because when these type of speeches are heard outside the shores of the country, it discourages foreign direct investments and make local investors to be cautious which will further endanger our fragile economy."

Yobe Places Restriction on Vehicular Movement

Yobe State Government has placed a restriction on vehicular movement to allow for a hitch-free celebration of Eid-el-Kabir in the state.

The governor of the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement by his Director of Press Affairs, Mallam Abdullahi Bego, said the measure becomes necessary in order to ensure the safety and security of people across the state.

Bego said: "His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has approved the placement of restriction on all vehicular movement from 10p.m.tonight (Thursday) until 11a.m.tomorrow (Friday)."

The statement advised members of the public to keep all vehicles away from the road, exception is however given to vehicles on official duty and with valid security clearance.

The statement read: "The Yobe State Government takes this measure in consultation with the heads of security and law enforcement agencies to ensure smooth, secure and hitch-free Eid prayers today (Friday)."

The public is also advised to cooperate with security agents to ensure hitch-free celebration.

Gaidam called on Muslim faithful to make sacrifices that will make the world a better place for all.

The governor, in a message to the state on Eid-el-Kabir celebration, said: "The acts of sacrifice in this festive period, symbolise our willingness to give up things and bounties that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts for the sake of others.

"We must learn to make sacrifices and strive towards the attainment of a happy society wherein we shall all live as our brother's keepers. We must make sacrifices to share the good things we have with our neighbours, the poor and the needy among us to enable them have a meaningful livelihood."

Akpabio Congratulates Muslims

The Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, has congratulated Muslims in the country on the celebration of this year's Eid-el- Kabir.

He charged them not to forget the very tenets of the religion, which are love, obedience and perseverance as they celebrate the festival.

Akpabio, whose goodwill message was contained in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Jackson Udom, urged Muslim faithful to eschew bitterness and hatred, and imbibe the spirit of love, unity and faith as they celebrate Eid-el-kabir today.

He charged Nigerians to continue to use the period to pray for the leadership of the country, noting that "the leadership of this country needs prayers and support from everyone, without any regard for political, religious or ethnic leanings, because economic hardship does not recognise politics, religion nor ethnic divides. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to salvage the situation for the benefit of Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora."

Engage in Acts that Enhance National Integration, Tambuwal Urges Nigerians

Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has called on Nigerians to always promote acts that would enhance national integration and brotherhood.

This was contained in a goodwill message in commemoration of this year's Sallah celebration issued by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, which was made available to journalists in Sokoto.

He stressed the need for Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of godliness, charity, perseverance and spiritual intercession for the nation as they celebrate Eid-el-Adha.

Tambuwal described the Sallah period as one that honours the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son to show submission to Allah's command.

Let Us Rededicate Ourselves to the Service of Allah, Says Obaseki

As our Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid-el-Kabir today, The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has offered felicitations on behalf of his government and the people of state.

According to him, "We have put in place measures to guarantee that everyone is secure in the state during the celebrations of this very significant event.

"I therefore urge you all to rededicate yourselves to the service of Almighty God and continue to manifest the essence of Eid-el-Kabir, which is obedience to God's command and the expression of love towards all."

We Believe in United Nigeria, Says APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged Nigerians to eschew all forms of violence, and have in peaceful coexistence.

In a goodwill message issued by the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, to felicitate with Muslim faithful in the country on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, the party expressed worry, saying: "The wave of agitations across the country has the potential of undermining the unity and our relationship across religious and ethnic divides.

"As we gather around family and friends to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, we should be reminded of the significance of the holy festival which is to celebrate the love and grace of the Almighty God to mankind through sacrifice, devotion and faith."

Bauchi Gov Distributes Food Items to Villages

As part of efforts to bring succour to the less privileged people especially in this festive period, the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday donated food items to the needy at Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, Lusa and Boi villages in Bogoro Local Government Area of the state.

Making the donation on behalf of the governor, former member of the state House of Assembly from Bogoro state constituency, Hon. Rifkatu Samson, explained that items to be distributed include 150 bags of rice and 50 bags of maize to the beneficiaries.

Others, according to him, were 500 bags of cement, 50 bundles of zinc, 10 drums of paints, mats and kettles for selected mosques in the two local government areas.

The governor, who noted that orphans and widows were mostly targeted, said the gesture was aimed to make them enjoy the Sallah festival like other citizens.

Fayemi, Osinkolu Sue for Patriotism, Love

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has felicitated with Muslims on the occasion of the Eid- el- Kabir, urging them to continue to uphold the lessons of love, loyalty and sacrifice which are the hallmark of the festival.

Fayemi, in a goodwill message signed by his Special Assistant on

Media, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, said the Eid el-Kabir festival also offers another opportunity for sober reflection, soul searching and spiritual renewal which God demands from the faithful.

The minister urged Nigerians to continue to pray and work for peace and unity in the country. He advised the Muslim faithful and adherents of other faiths to always demonstrate love and understanding towards one another in the quest for a greater and more prosperous Nigeria.

Also, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Dr. Olusegun

Osinkolu, has felicitated with Muslims for witnessing yet another Eid-el-Kabir celebration, urging them to use the festive period to pray for the country to be able to overcome its current challenges.

Ahmed, Baraje, Mustapha Task Muslims on Peace, Unity

Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, yesterday tasked Muslims in the state to use the period of this year's celebration to pray for peace and unity of the country.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba, Ahmed said the opportunity by Allah "to enable us witness yet another celebration should be used to pray for peace and unity in the country."

Ahmed, who urged Muslims to pray for safe return of pilgrims from the holy land, said Nigerians should be ambassadors of a united and prosperous country rather than engage in hate and disunity.

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and the Special Adviser to the Senate President, Hon. Mashood Mustapha, also felicitated with Nigerian Muslims on the occasion of Eid-el- Kabir.

The two in separate statements urged Muslims to use the period to pray for peace and tranquility in the country.

Niger Governor, PDP, Others Felicitate with Muslims

Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, and the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have felicitated with Muslims on the celebration of the Eid-el-Kabir festival.

While Bello asked the Muslim Ummah not to allow the zeal and commitment of the present administration to fix the country's economy to slip off, the PDP challenged them to remain fervent in prayer for the resuscitation of the economy.

Bello in the message signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mr. Jide Orintunsin, said: "There can be no better time than now to reposition the country for greatness."

In its statement, PDP rejoiced with all the Muslims in the state, saying: "We should avoid anything that will bring our great religion into disrepute."

Daniel Calls for Sacrifice, Forgiveness

Former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, has congratulated Muslims on the celebration of this year's Eid-el-Kabir urging them to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice, forgiveness and selfless service as part of the virtues of Islam.Daniel, in a goodwill message signed by his Media Officer, Ayo Giwa, stated that Muslims should be guided by the spirit of the festival, which was a symbolic demonstration of total obedience to the will of Allah, kindness to one another and service to humanity as exhibited by Prophet Ibrahim.

Eid-El-Kabir, according to the former governor, goes beyond festivity but rather, to embrace love, eschew bitterness and offer prayers for genuine peace, unity and progress of Nigeria and its leadership at all tiers of governance.

He also urged Muslims to always preach against religion extremism and allow lessons of the season to continue to guide their conducts long after the celebrations.

Akinlade Preaches Peace, Lauds Amosun

Three-time member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abiodun Akinlade, has felicitated with Nigerians, especially Muslims in Ogun State, as they celebrate this year's Eid-el-Kabir.

Akinlade, who is the Baba Adinni of Yewa, urged Muslim faithful to see the significance of the season as an act of devotion meant to inculcate the Islamic virtues of obedience, peace, devotion, and faith in the will of Allah.

While praying for a hitch-free Sallah celebration, Akinlade, who is a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, canvassed for genuine love, respect for one another, generosity and kindness in the state and the country.

The former representative of Yewa South/Ipokia federal constituency also lauded the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, for uplifting the standard of governance in the state, enjoining Muslims and Christians to continue their support for the state government.

Glo Congratulates Muslims

For being alive to witness this year's Eid-el-Kabir, Nigerian telecoms company, Globacom, has congratulated Nigerian Muslims as they mark the feast of sacrifice.

Globacom also felicitated with Nigerian pilgrims who successfully performed this year's Hajj, urging them to use the occasion of this year's festival to thank Allah for the progress made so far by the government in returning peace to some parts of the country once ravaged by insurgents.

According to a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, the telecoms giant encouraged the Ummah in Nigeria not to relent in their prayers, adding: "We urge you all to use this occasion to continue your supplications for the peace and prosperity of the nation, while being your brothers' keepers and helping one another to surmount current challenges in the country."

Sallah: Kalu felicitates with Muslims, Preaches Peace

Eminent businessman and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has joined muslim faithfuls across the country to celebrate the Eid-il-Kabir .

This is even as he urged the faithful to embrace peace and imbibe the values of Prophet Mohammed in their daily lives.

In a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Peter Eze, Kalu said Muslims have immensely contributed to the building of the nation hence, should avoid anything that would not be progressive.

He also congratulated all Nigerians who despite the economic situations successfully performed the Hajj this year in fulfillment of a key injunction of their faith.

He urged the faithful to continue to pray for peace in the country, noting that the fervent prayers by individuals and peace loving religious groups has accounted for the peace that Nigeria still enjoy as a nation in recent years.

The former governor said: "I want to urge our Muslim brothers to always be guided by the attributes and lessons from the life and times of Holy Prophet Mohammed which symbolises peace, love, tolerance, and good neighbourliness. We must put Nigeria first in all our considerations and endeavours.

"Nigeria will experience quicker progress towards the f security and stability which are essential for development by abiding by the rule of law and embracing our cultural values." he said .

Full report at:



Nigeria: Governors Caution Against Hate-Speeches, Seek Love, Unity, Forgiveness


By Lawrence Njoku, Gbenga Salau, Hendrix Oliomogbe, Charles Coffie-Gyamfi, Nnamdi Akpa, Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Tunji Omofoye and Ayodele Afolabi

The Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has charged Nigerians to shun hate-speeches and collaborate with the government to surmount the plethora of problems bedeviling the nation.

In a goodwill message in Asaba yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the governor said there was need for Nigerians to be their brothers' keepers.

He, therefore, urged the Muslim faithful to imbibe the spirit of peace, sacrifice, love, piety, tolerance and mutual co-existence to underscore the significance of the festival.

Also, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in his Sallah message called on Muslims to imbibe the values of sacrifice, love and continue to foster unity as they join their counterparts worldwide to celebrate this year's Eid-el-Kabir.

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, enjoined Muslim faithful to demonstrate the virtue of selfless sacrifice as they celebrate.In a statement signed by the state's Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Adedayo Adeneye in Abeokuta, the governor said: "While I join my Muslim brothers and sisters to celebrate this holy day, I urge you to reflect on the essence of the festival. I also urge you to do so in a state of piety as it is a solemn festival."

Besides, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor and made available to journalists in Abakaliki yesterday, described unity and religious tolerance as sine qua non to achieving cohesion and peace in any country and called on Muslim faithful to preach peace as they celebrate this year's Eid-el-Kabir.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State called for unity among the people.A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, quoted the governor as saying: "As our Muslim brothers and sisters celebrate Eid-el-Kabir today, I offer my felicitation on behalf of the government and good people of Edo State.

Meanwhile, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, has urged Muslim faithful to pray for peace, unity, prosperity and the stability of the state and country.

Aregbesola, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Sola Fasure, called on Nigerians to join hands with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in its determination to build a peaceful and harmonious country.

Also, his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose, has charged Muslims and Nigerians in general to be ready to make the sacrifices necessary for the progress of the country.

In the same vein, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has urged the Muslims to use the period to continue to promote and abide by the core values of Islam for the sustenance of peace, progress and unity of the country.The former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has implored the Muslims to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice, forgiveness and selfless service as part of the virtues of Islam.

Full report at:





Dr Qadeer told me army group was against N-tests, says Hashmi

September 01, 2017

MULTAN: Veteran politician Javed Hashmi claims Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan told him that a group in the army was not in favour of Pakistan’s nuclear tests.

Talking to the media here on Thursday, the senior politician said the US attempted to roll back the nuclear programme but the democratic governments continued with the [nuclear] programme.

He said there was a group of people who did not want to see Pakistan a nuclear power.

“A lobby like Pervez Musharraf was agreed to compromise on country’s nuclear programme,” he claimed.

He said Benazir Bhutto did not cap the nuclear programme but she introduced missile programme.

He said Nawaz Sharif had refused to attend the calls from the US when Pakistan was going for nuclear detonation.

He said the former dictator disgraced hero of nuclear programme Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.

“In 2003 at a ceremony hosted by the Saudi Arabian embassy, Dr Qadeer informed [the attendees] about the threats he was receiving from Pervez Musharraf. Admiral Abdul Aziz and Syed Mushahid Hussain were also present at that moment,” he said.

Mr Hashmi said at that time Dr Qadeer was disappointed as Musharraf had made life tough for him.

He said the person, who had withdrawn the security given to Benazir Bhutto, was her actual killer.

He said Pervez Musharraf had stated that he would not provide security to Benazir Bhutto, so he should be made accountable for the assassination of the former prime minister.

“Pervez Musharraf is the actual murderer of Benazir Bhutto and he should be brought back to Pakistan,” he said.

Hashmi said: “There is not a single leader [in parliament] who could hold talks with the US. The leader has been disqualified.”



Donating animal hides to banned outfits is cognizable offence: interior ministry

Sep 1, 2017

RAWALPINDI: The Ministry of Interior, on Thursday, issued a statement directing the general public not to donate animal hides to the banned organisation already existed on the ministry list.

In a public awareness message, the ministry issued a list of 71 banned outfits and warned that extension of any donation in cash or kind to these organisations is a cognizable offence.

It stated that donations can only be extended to such welfare organisations or outfits which have not been placed in the banned category as per the national or international laws.

The list of the banned or under watch organizations issued by the Ministry of Interior include, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Al Harmain Foundation, Sipah-i-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), Rabita Trust, Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), Anjuman-e-Imamia Gilgit Baltistan, Laskar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Muslim Students Organization (MSO) Gilgit, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat Gilgit, Tehrik-e-Jaffria Pakistan (TJP), Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammad (TNSM), Tehreek Nafaz-e- Aman, Tehreek-e-Islami, Tahafuz Hadudullah, Al-Qaida, Balochistan Waja Liberation Army, Millat-e-Islamic Pakistan (Ex SSP), Baloch Republican Party Azad, Khuddam-ul-Islam (Ex JeM).

Besides, Balochistan United Army, Islami Tehreek Pakistan (Ex TJP), Islam Mujahidin, Jameet-ul-Ansar, Jaish-e-Islam, Jamat-ul-Furqan, Balochistan National Liberation Army (BNLA), Hizb-ul-Tahreer, Khana-E-Hikmat Gilgit Baltistan Gilgit, Khair-un-Naas International Trust (Splinter Group of Jamat-ul-Daawa (JuD), Tehrik-e- Taliban Swat, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Tehrik-e- Taliban Mohmand (TTM), Islamic Students Movement of Pakistan, Tariq Geedar Group (TGG), Lashkar-e-lslami, Abdullah Azam Brigade, Ansar-ul-lslam, East Turkemenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Haji Namdaar Group, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan(IMU), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), Balochistan Republican Army (BRA), 313 Brigade, Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), Tehrik-e- Taliban Bajaur (TTB), Lashkar-e-Balochistan (LeB), Amar bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkir (Haji Namdaar Group), Balochistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), Baloch Student Organization Azad (BSO-A), Balochistan Musalla Defah Tanzeem (BMDT),  United Baloch Army(UBA), Shia Tulaba Action Committee Gilgit, Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), Markaz Sabeel Organization Gilgit, Daish/ISIL/IS/ISIS,  Tanzeem Naujawana-e-Ahle Sunnat (TNA) Gilgit, Jamat Ul Ahrar (JuA), Peoples Aman Committee (Layari), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi (LeJA), Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) Ex-SSP,  Ansar-ul-Hussain, Tehreek-eAzadi-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK).

Full report at:



3 killed in Mohmand landmine blast

Ali Akbar

September 01, 2017

At least three people were killed and two wounded in a landmine explosion in Mohmand Agency on Friday, officials said.

According to political administration officials, the blast occurred near Shati Mena area of Ambar tehsil, leaving three people dead and two others injured. A man and his son are among the dead.

A tribal leader, Malik Ali Rehman, and a second person wounded in the blast have been shifted to a local hospital for treatment.



Qadri returns from London: ‘Metro leaks’ to end politics of Shahbaz

September 01, 2017

LAHORE: The chief of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Tahirul Qadri, arrived here on Thursday morning from London, promising to continue his struggle for justice for those killed in Model Town during a police operation in June 2014.

Mr Qadri, who keeps popping in and out of the country, this time returned after a 10-day foreign tour and, according to party sources, will have a longer stay here “till Justice Baqar Najfi’s report is made public and cases regarding the Model Town tragedy are finalised.”

Talking to the media at Lahore airport, he said he had returned to the country to celebrate Eidul Azha here, whereas deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif left Pakistan on the occasion.

The court has put provincial government on notice for Sept 12 to present its position on the Justice Najfi Report. “This gives us a hope for justice,” he said.

The PAT chief said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had got a chance to restore its credibility in references against the Sharifs and it must.

He said under the NAB ordinance, the accountability courts were bound to give verdict within a month.

The Supreme Court had allowed them six months, which was sufficient time to proceed, he added.

“Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is the main cause of corruption in Pakistan. If he is not taken to task quickly, he can create instability in the country by colluding with foreign forces,” Qadri alleged. Nawaz was not thrown out only because of UAE work permit (Iqama), but all references were those of corruption and it would soon be evident, Qadri maintained.

He said the real investigation into the Model Town killings would only start after the ouster of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, which, he hoped, would happen soon.

“Panama Leaks have claimed political life of the elder brother, while the ‘Metro Leaks’ would end politics of the younger one (Shahbaz Sharif),” said.

He alleged that as soon as Shahbaz became the chief minister, they (Sharifs) started working on a global business plan “and now their business empire spreads across the globe”.

Full report at:



Anti-terrorism court sentences 2 police officers in Benazir murder case


LAHORE: Nine years after the assasination of former Prime Miniter and Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto, an anti-terrorism court has sentenced two police officers to 17 years of prison for 'negligence' under Sections 119 and 201 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Jude Muhammad Asghar Khan announced the verdict on Thursday following the completion of the arguments of the police officers CPO Saud Aziz and SP Rawal Town Khurram Shahzad's lawyers on Wednesday.

While five others accused in the case were aquitted, Former President of Pakistan General (r) Pervez Musharraf was declared to be a proclaimed offender in the verdict due to his failure to appear in the court.



Court acquits five accused ‘Taliban’


RAWALPINDI: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday acquitted five men - accused of being Taliban - who had been blamed for being involved in the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and branded former military ruler General (r) Pervez Musharraf a fugitive in the murder trial.

The verdicts are the first to be issued since Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister of a Muslim country, was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack nearly a decade ago, sparking street violence and plunging Pakistan into months of political turmoil.

The judge also found two police officers guilty of "mishandling the crime scene", the court official said, making them the only people to have been convicted over the assassination.

Saud Aziz, who was the police chief in Rawalpindi at the time of Bhutto's assassination, and former Rawal Town SP Khurram Shahzad were sentenced to 17 years each and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 0.5 million each.

Khurram Shahzad was accused of hosing down the crime scene less than two hours after the killing - an act the United Nations described in a report as "fundamentally inconsistent with Pakistani police practice".

Saud Aziz was accused of both giving Shahzad permission to hose down the scene, and of refusing multiple times to allow an autopsy of Bhutto's body to go ahead.

The two former police officials had earlier been granted bail and were present in court at the time the verdict was announced. According to the verdict, the former policemen had been awarded 10 years in prison under Section 119 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and seven years under Section 201 of the PPC.

Former president and military ruler Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have his political rival killed before elections. He has denied the allegation.

He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder in 2013, in an unprecedented move against an ex-army chief, challenging beliefs the military is immune from prosecution.

But he has been in self-exile in Dubai ever since a travel ban was lifted three years later.

The anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi ruled he had "absconded", a court official told reporters outside, saying it had also ordered the confiscation of his property.

The judge acquitted five men who had been accused of being Taliban militants involved in the conspiracy to kill Bhutto on December 27, 2007.

They were set to walk free nearly 10 years after they were first arrested, though a defence lawyer said it was not yet clear when they would be released.

"My clients were held for nine years and eight months for nothing," Malik Jawad Khalid, the lawyer for three of the men - Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul and Sher Zaman - told AFP.

Musharraf's government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.

Full report at:



Pakistan a forefront state in War against Terror, gave huge sacrifices: China

September 01, 2017

China has reiterated that Pakistan as a forefront state in war against terrorism, has rendered great sacrifices in this regard, reported Radio Pakistan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Hua Chunying during her regular press briefing in Beijing said that the international community should acknowledge and fully recognize contributions of Pakistan.

She said that China is willing to work with Pakistan and other countries to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism and protect regional security and stability.



North America


Canada continues to be shaken by intensified anti-Muslim attacks

Sep 1, 2017

Six months after a deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque, its president's car was deliberately set on fire, officials said on Wednesday. These incidents come as nationalist or right-wing extremists in the Canadian province have become more vocal against immigration and Muslim community. The rise of the anti-Muslim far-right in the West is something even Canada, host to over 1 million Muslims, is experiencing.

"Another hateful act" targeted the mosque and its president Mohamed Labidi in addition to "a long series" of other incidents, the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec said in a statement.

The fire was set on Aug. 6 but was only made public on Wednesday in order to allow police to investigate.

Mosque officials and the mayor linked the fire to an Aug. 4 announcement of the upcoming opening of the city's first Muslim cemetery.

"It would be a strange coincidence" if the two were not somehow related, said Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume.

Police are not ruling out any motive, whether it was a hate crime against Muslims or just a random act of vandalism, said police spokesman Jean-Francois Vezina.

Labeaume had championed the new Muslim cemetery as a sign of support for Quebec City's relatively small Muslim community following an avowed white supremacist's killing of six worshippers at a local mosque in January. The "increase in hateful gestures" toward the Muslim community in Quebec City is "worrying," he commented.

In June, a group left a pig's severed head at the entrance of the mosque targeted by the lone gunman. Police are investigating these incidents but no suspects have been named so far.

The Canadian statistical agency, Statistics Canada, found that there was an increase of reported hate crimes against Muslims in Canada from 2014 to 2015, from 99 incidents to 159, an increase of 60 percent. The agency also found that hate crimes against Catholics also rose by more than 33 percent, however Jews remain the most persecuted religious group in the country, making up nearly half of all victims.

The membership numbers of far-right groups in Canada might not be skyrocketing but they are steadily increasing nonetheless. While being accused of being Neo-Nazis and neo-Fascists, they do not in fact fly swastika banners, perform the Roman salute in rallies or do much of anything that would fall under the category of something like 'white supremacist' activity, they are do however hold a very hard stance against Islam.

Much like Geert Wilders in The Netherlands, they are critical of Islam, saying that it does not comply with Western values. They are in-fact more radical than the civic nationalist Marine Le Pen and her Front National in France.

While there are currently no viable political parties in Canada which threaten the establishment like the Front National or Wilders' Party for Freedom, they do have some public and online presence. While the situation in Canada might sound like it's increasingly volatile, the numbers say that such activities in Europe and the United States are much, much more widespread both online with boots on the ground.



US settles first Muslim ban lawsuit with campaigners

Sep 1, 2017

The US government will allow people barred from entering the country in the early days of President Donald Trump's travel ban to reapply for visas following a legal settlement with campaigners.

Under the terms of the agreement, announced on Thursday, the government must contact all individuals who had been turned away at borders as a result of the president's first executive order that came into force on January 27, and inform them they may seek re-entry.

It does not guarantee applicants will receive new visas nor does it award them compensation, but obliges the government to act in "good faith" when processing their paperwork.

The settlement also guarantees that those who reapply for their visas can do so with the help of the Department of Justice liaison for a three-month period.

The settlement brings an end to the case Darweesh v Trump, a nationwide class-action suit filed by two Iraqi men detained at New York's JFK airport because of the ban. They were represented by numerous rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

'Legal fight will continue'

It was the first legal challenge to the original Muslim ban, and had previously succeeded in gaining an injunction on removing anyone from the US on the basis of the ban.

"Although the government dragged its feet for far too long, it has finally agreed to do the right thing and provide those excluded under the first Muslim ban with proper notice of their right to come to the United States," Lee Gelernt, an ACLU lawyer involved in the case, said.

But the "legal fight against Muslim ban 2.0" would continue, he added, with the Supreme Court set to hold another hearing in October.

Gerlent said it is unclear how many people will benefit from the settlement because the government has refused to disclose the total.

The first order, which banned for three months nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - and refugees for four months, caused chaos at airports and triggered protests across major cities.

Hundreds of nationals from the countries affected by the ban were detained on arrival despite having valid visas or even residency documents.

It was quickly challenged in court by campaigners and several US states, and was suspended on February 3.

A revised version was announced in March, barring nationals from the countries mentioned in the previous ban, except Iraq. The revised order also said that visa and green card holders were exempt.

The administration scored a partial victory in June, when the Supreme Court ruled that it could proceed with the ban, though people with a "bona fide relationship" to a US person or entity were exempt.

Texas Muslims are turning mosques into shelters for Hurricane Harvey victims

Mosques across the state of Texas are being turned into shelters for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), which represents 21 Islamic centres in the area, has opened four of their properties as functioning 24-hour shelters.

They will provide “a dry place to stay, food and emotional support for displaced residents”, its website says.

The society is partnering with Muslim charity Baitulmaal, which is making hygiene products, food and water available to those in need.

M J Khan, president of ISGH told the Mic news website: "This is an obligation, a religious obligation to help others. When you give you don’t give only to your own family… You give to anybody who needs help.”

In the beginning there was some difficulty, as many roads leading to the mosques were inaccessible. However Mr Khan made some phone calls, and volunteers soon arrived with bottled water, sleeping bags and supplies.

The numbers of Muslim volunteers grew so large that many were instructed to offer their services at local city shelters.

The ISGH have also been fundraising, and both money and additional supplies are making their way to Houston from the Muslim community across America.

In addition, 50 doctors from the community have offered their services, should anybody need it.

“We have mosques all over the greater Houston area,” Mr Khan said. “If you have no place to go, go to your neighbourhood mosque.”

News of the ISGH's generosity comes after Pastor Joel Osteen, of the 16,000 seat Lakewood Church was criticised for not opening the building to members of the public.

It did eventually help with the relief effort.

Full report at:



US attaches new conditions to pledged military aid

Anwar Iqbal

September 01, 2017

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has held back previously promised military aid of $255 million to Pakistan by attaching new conditions which, the State Department says, will allow it to review the level of its cooperation with Islamabad before making new commitments.

“The Department notified Congress on August 30 of our intent to obligate $255 million in FY 2016 Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan. At the same time, the Department is placing a pause on spending those funds and on allocating them to any specific FMF sales contracts,” said the State Department in a statement sent to Dawn.

Also read: 'Peanuts, not billions of dollars': Nisar assails Trump's claims of aid for Pakistan

The FMF provides grants and loans to help countries purchase US weapons and defence equipment and for acquiring defence services and military training in the United States.

“Consistent with our new South Asia strategy, this decision allows us the flexibility to continue reviewing our level of cooperation with Pakistan prior to committing new security assistance resources to projects in Pakistan,” the State Department said.

In its notification to the US Congress on Wednesday, the administration said it was putting the entire amount into an escrow account that Pakistan could access only if it did more to eradicate alleged terrorist safe havens in the tribal areas and stopped cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

The previous US administration had committed the money in 2015, promising to release it to Pakistan in 2016. The Trump administration did not refuse to release the funds but attached new conditions to further delay the release.

The $255 million in military assistance was the largest portion of an estimated $1.1 billion of US aid Congress had authorised in 2016.

Although figures released to the US media estimate the volume of annual US assistance to Pakistan at $1.1bn, hundreds of millions of dollars are withheld every year under different restrictions imposed since 2011, when relations between the two countries began to deteriorate after Osama bin Laden’s discovery in Abbottabad.

“The duelling messages sent to Pakistan — promising aid but attaching strings if the country’s counterterror efforts fall short — are part of an increasingly confrontational turn in an alliance that has long been strained,” commented The New York Times.

In its statement, the State Department said that while the US valued its cooperation with Pakistan and wanted to see it continue, it also wanted Islamabad to do more to eradicate terrorism.

“The President has been clear that we are looking to the Pakistani government to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region. It is vital to US interests that Pakistan prevent terrorist sanctuaries,” the message said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in the region.”

The statement also referred to the remarks US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made last week, saying: “We are ready to work with [the Pakistanis] to help them protect themselves against these terrorist organisations.”

The US claims to have provided Pakistan more than $33bn in aid since 2002. But Laurel Miller, Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan till June, told PBS News last week that the actual amount was much less.

“Over an extended period, the US has provided substantial support (to) Pakistan, primarily security related, but that’s been dwindling quite considerably over past years and is expected to dwindle further,” she said.

“And as a consequence, it’s not really a major point of leverage with the Pakistanis anymore. The US is not providing billions of dollars any longer to Pakistan.”

But President Trump said he would use US assistance to Pakistan to persuade Islamabad to change its policies.

The New York Times, however, reported that the US did not want to stop all its assistance to Pakistan.

“Rather than lose such a carrot, Trump administration officials said they wanted to use the money as incentive for Pakistan to change its behaviour,” the newspaper said.

Full report at:



Daesh chief Baghdadi likely still alive: US general

1 September 2017

WASHINGTON: Elusive Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is probably still alive and likely hiding in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, a senior US general said Thursday.

“We’re looking for him every day. I don’t think he’s dead,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the counter-Daesh coalition in Iraq and Syria, told reporters in a conference call.

Townsend admitted he didn’t “have a clue” where Baghdad is precisely, but believes he may have fled with many other Daesh soldiers into the Middle Euphrates region stretching from Syria to Iraq, after coalition and local force assaults on the Daesh bastions of Mosul, Raqqa and Tal Afar.

“The last stand of Daesh will be in the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” Townsend said.

“When we find him, I think we’ll just try to kill him first. It’s probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him.”

With a $25 million US bounty on his head, Iraq-born Baghdadi has successfully avoided an intense effort to seek him out for six years or more.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime conflict monitor, said in mid-June that it had heard from senior Daesh leaders in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province that Baghdadi was dead.

Russia’s army said in mid-June that it was seeking to verify whether it had killed him in a May air strike in Syria.

Full report at:



Canadian PM Trudeau greets Muslims on Eid-ul-Azha

Sep 01 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has extended greetings to Muslims around the world on Eid-ul-Azha.

In a video statement released on his social media, Trudeau said, “Today, Muslims in Canada and around the world will celebrate Eid al-Azha. On behalf of our family, Sophie and I extend our best wishes to all those celebrating Eid.”

“This year, as we mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Eid al-Azha is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the important contributions the Muslim community has made to build the diverse, strong and inclusive country that we all call home,” he added.

Around two million Muslims offered Eid-ul-Azha prayers at Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and Masjid an-Nabawi, also called the Prophet’s Mosque, in Saudi Arabia early Friday morning.

Full report at:





Britain Is Home To Up To 35,000 Islamic Fanatics of Whom 3,000 Are 'Worrying' For MI5 Says

31 August 2017

Britain is home to up to 35,000 fanatical Islamists of whom 3,000 are 'worrying' for the security service MI5, Europe's top anti-terrorism official said today.

EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove singled out the UK as having more radicalised Muslims than any other country in Europe.

Mr de Kerchove also warned Islamic State will attempt a cyber-attack on nuclear power stations or air traffic control systems within five years.

This could be done by paying Russian hackers to break into vital computer systems.

The official, who is in regular contact with security services, terrorism experts and governments around Europe, said: 'The United Kingdom has identified 20,000 to 35,000 radicals.

'Of these, 3,000 are worrying for MI5, and of those 500 are under constant and special attention.

'France has 17,000. Spain many less, but more than 5,000 I suppose. In Belgium almost 500 have been to Syria and there are around 2,000 radicals or more.

'I wouldn't like to put a concrete figure on it, but (in Europe) tens of thousands, more than 50,000.

'We must select those who are really worrying and the most dangerous, and they should be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.'

Mr de Kerchove, who has been in his position since 2007, was speaking in an interview with Spain's El Mundo newspaper.

He warned European countries will suffer further attacks inspired by ISIS - and said greater measures must be taken to prevent them.

Asked about the 12-man cell who murdered 16 and injured more than 100 in attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17 and 18, he said: 'It's early to draw definitive conclusions, but we know that we need much greater efforts in prevention.

'How do we detect the first signals (of radicalisation), no matter how weak they are? They succeeded in preparing the attacks under the radar.

'We will suffer more attacks. Most, except for Brussels and Paris, were not directed from Raqqa, but they were inspired there. And later Islamic State claims responsibility.

'The propaganda of the organisation no longer requires people to go to the caliphate. They can attack in their places or origin, including on a small scale with home-made weapons.'

Mr de Kerchove said it was vital that European intelligence agencies and police properly analyse the data they collect and share.

For example, police in Catalonia had been warned about Abdelbaki Es Satty, the alleged leader of the Barcelona cell, by counterparts in Belgium, but failed to recognise the danger he represented.

The counter-terrorism official warned that radicals were increasingly using the Islamic concept of 'taqiyya' - concealing their religious beliefs from those around them - in order to prevent detection.

And he said: 'We must work more at protecting so-called easy targets. Bollards, the re-designing of pedestrian streets are necessary. There is a clear effect of imitation in terrorism, and it seems clear that something like Barcelona will happen again.'

Mr de Kerchove said European security services had 'dismantled cells, destroyed plans, arrested people. Spain has arrested 51 jihadis so far this year. In 2016, 69, in 2015, 75.'

He added: 'This is a generational problem. It will take time, decades, it won't be resolved in months.'

The official said to date there have been no recorded cases of cyberterrorism, 'in the sense of penetrating or intending to penetrate the systems of nuclear power stations, prisons, electrical stations or aerospace'.

But he added: 'I would not be surprised if in the next five years it happens. Not that it works but that they try. One should not underestimate the potential of Islamic State.

'At the moment they don't have the knowledge for this. But in the dark net you can find system vulnerabilities for sale.

'Or they can buy the services of Russian hackers, because they have money.'



Syria Militants Plan Chemical Attack To Blame Government: Russia

Aug 31, 2017

A senior Russian diplomat has warned that members of a foreign-backed militant group plan to carry out a chemical attack in Syria’s Dara'a province in order to put the blame on the Damascus government.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that members of Shabab al-Sunnah group, which is linked to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), have access to chemical weapons in Syria’s Dara'a province.

"There are currently several munitions filled with toxic agents at the Shabab al-Sunnah group’s warehouse located in the Bosra al-Sham settlement in Dara'a province," media outlets quoted the spokeswoman as saying, who added, "According to our information, militants plan to use these weapons to attack one of the settlements in the Dara'a province, putting the blame on the government forces."

According to the Russian spokeswoman, six settlements, namely Hiran, Nawa, Inkhil, Jamila, Tafas and Deira  are most likely to come under chemical attack across the troubled region.

The remarks come as Terrorists have already used weapons of mass destruction in their war against Damascus.

On April 4, an alleged gas attack hit the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib province, killing more than 80 people.

Following the attack, Western countries rushed to hold Damascus responsible for the incident, with the US launching a missile attack against Shayrat Airbase in Syria’s Homs province on April 7, claiming that the airfield targeted in the missile raid was the origin of the April 4 purported chemical attack.

Syria rejected the accusations, saying that militants, not pro-Damascus forces, were using chemical arms.

In late June,  Mike Billington, an expert at the Executive Intelligence Review from Leesburg, said in an interview with Press TV that Some people within the US and UK administrations were pushing for a war on Syria in line with their attempts to “sabotage” any possible cooperation between the US and Russia on fighting terrorism.

“Trump was fooled the first time. He was told that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad used chemical weapons. It was obvious to the entire world that was a lie,” Billington said, adding, “It is another case of Iraq scam [and similar to] the accusations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which later of course turned out to be a total lie.”

The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the US back in 2013.

On August 25 this year, the head of the Russian military's branch for protection from chemical weapons, Major General Igor Kirillov, said that his forces had managed to dismantle two chemical weapons facilities in the formerly militant-held areas in war-torn Syria.

The development raised doubts about the West's claims that the Syrian army was in possession of chemical weapons.

Al-Nusra will not be removed from terror list

Elsewhere in her remarks, Zakharova said that all attempts made by the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra terror organization in Syria to become legalized by changing its name were futile.

"There is a feeling that [Jabhat] al-Nusra members came to believe in the saving force of the already customary rebranding and assume that a new change of the form and name will help remove them from the terror organizations list. However, all these attempts to avoid responsibility for the crimes and, let’s put it this way, to become legalized are, of course, forlorn," the Russia diplomat pointed stressed.

"The UN Security Council has clearly classified Jabhat al-Nusra and other structures affiliated to al-Qaeda as terrorist, with all ensuing consequences," she pointed out.

Jabhat al-Nusra, long acting as an affiliate of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, has recently renamed itself and claimed to have broken ranks with al-Qaeda.

Syria has been grappling with militancy since March 2011. The anti-terror fight took a fresh momentum last year, when pro-government forces liberated Aleppo, Syria’s largest city before the start of war in 2011. The liberation hugely boosted the morale of the army and allied forces to go after terrorists in other regions.

Full report at:



Has France Been Bought by a State Sponsor of Islamic Terrorism?

by Drieu Godefridi

August 31, 2017

The state of Qatar has been officially labelled as a "state sponsor of terrorism", and an active supporter of Islamic terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State -- not by Western governments, but by Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islamic faith, and the other Islamic regimes of the region.

Knowing the facts of Qatar -- 11000km2, one-third the size of Belgium, population 2.5 million -- the question may seem far-fetched: How could France, the great France, possibly be bought by a tiny state such as Qatar?

For the single reason that, thanks to its huge gas and oil reserves, Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world and huge reserves of cash to invest everywhere, whereas France, thanks to 40 years of socialism, is in dire need of cash and has a tradition of corruptible officials, to say nothing of a propensity for "collaboration".

On August 4, the English press -- not the French press -- revealed that French prosecutors are actively investigating two events: the awarding the 2022 World Cup of football (soccer) to Qatar, and the purchase by "Qatari Diar", a state-owned investment company, of a stake in the French utility firm Veolia.

At the center of the investigation is former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. To be sure, Sarkozy has not been formally indicted (and he may never be), but the evidence is overwhelming.

First, the World Cup. That the State of Qatar, known for decades for its active support of Islamic terror organizations, and with a temperature among the highest in the world -- in addition to zero tradition in the world of football -- was awarded the 2022 World Cup is, of course, a source of wonder ever since the award was announced by FIFA, the international governing body of football.

French investigators are now looking into a meeting that took place between then-President Sarkozy, Michel Platini -- the French former president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), who sat on the FIFA committee that chose Qatar -- and Qatari officials on November 23, 2010 (10 days before the vote). It is alleged that Platini was dead-set against Qatar and that Sarkozy urged him to change his mind: "They're good people."

The "deal" is said to have been sealed when Qatar agreed to buy the biggest French soccer team, the Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG). It is alleged that huge bribes were paid by Qatar to high-ranking French officials, to secure these two deals: the World Cup and the Veolia investment. Although no evidence has yet been presented, the case would not have been opened by French prosecutors without it. In addition, no one has ever denied the meeting of November 23, 2010.

In April 2010, the "Qatari Diar" fund bought a 5% stake in Veolia. Investigators are tracking 182 million euros suspected of having been used to bribe French officials. Investigators are also looking into a possible link between these two operations: Qatar investing in Veolia as a favor to France, possibly in exchange for France's support for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

It is doubtful if the French investigators will ever get to the bottom of these two cases. The judiciary in France has a long tradition of submitting to the government. Since 1789, the French judiciary has not even been an independent power -- as are the Legislative and the Executive -- but a mere authority with a more limited scope.

It is revealing that these two investigations were exposed, not by the French press, but by the English press.

What we already know for sure is the following:

A state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar, was allowed to buy France's leading soccer team, Paris-Saint-Germain, with the help of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy. The former owner of the PSG was a private fund controlled in Europe by one of Sarkozy's close friends. There would have been no deal without the direct consent of Sarkozy -- that is the way France functions.

A state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar, was not only allowed, but actively courted, by French officials to invest in some of France's largest companies, including defense companies, such as Veolia, as well as the Airbus parent company, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS); the energy group EDF; the construction firm, Vinci; and the media and defense group Lagardère.

A state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar, was actively supported in its 2022 bid for the World Cup by the government of France and Nicolas Sarkozy, who declared after the FIFA vote in 2010: "Sport does not belong to a few countries. It belongs to the world... I don't understand those who say that events should always be held in the same countries and the same continents."

There is a significant part of the French political class that seems to consider the Embassy of Qatar in Paris some sort of automatic teller machine (ATM), as has been showed by renowned journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot in their book, Nos très chers émirs (Our Very Dear Emirs) and deplored by the new ambassador of Qatar in France, Meshaal al-Thani.

Since 2008, a state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar, has benefited from a huge tax break in France: the exemption of profits on property sales. In France, profits on property sales are not only taxed at 19%, they are subject to a further CSG/CRDS and social tax (15.5%), resulting in a combined total minimum tax rate of 34.5%. The rule is the same for everyone, whether a person or a corporation. Everyone, that is, but the State of Qatar, when the administration of Nicolas Sarkozy decided to exempt it from the tax. As a result, Qatar's royal family and sovereign fund have since built up a huge portfolio of assets in France, one that dwarfs the portfolio of a state such as Saudi Arabia. Qatar's portfolio ranges from a Champs-Élysées mall to the Lido Cabaret. "Our deficit has destroyed our freedom," said Nathalie Goulet, a centrist senator from Lower Normandy, in 2013. "The Qataris are here to buy, while we are selling our family jewels." Which they did. [1]

Qatar and other Gulf states try to benefit from tax exemptions everywhere in the world, but this convergence of facts -- the selling of assets, sports clubs, defense companies and governmental representatives -- is unique to France. It is through these tax breaks -- this is only one of them -- that the Qataris are buying the "jewels" of France. Of course, the U.S. is also selling arms to the Qataris -- the U.S. has a military base in Al Udeid -- but the U.S. is not selling its defense companies to Qatar.

We therefore probably do not even have to wait for the results of the latest investigations to note that France, particularly but not exclusively under the auspices of Nicolas Sarkozy, has literally been bought by a state sponsor of terrorism, Qatar.

At the same time, Islam in France has been spreading. France has been deeply infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood terror organization, which is not categorized in France -- unlike the UK -- as a sponsor of terror. This organization, since it was overthrown by Egypt's current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is now the darling of Qatar. Without Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood would be without a home-base. Given its huge financial, corporate and political dependence on Qatar, it is clear that France -- in the name of "stability" -- would not do anything to displease its darling.

Although France is a member of NATO and a nuclear power, nowhere else in the West is Islamism so deeply embedded in the fabric of the institutions, mind and zeitgeist of a country as it is there. Even in the UK, you still find very powerful counter-powers (see the governmental report on the Muslim Brotherhood). Not in France.

Consider the case of the Palestinian official Jabril Rajoub -- sentenced to life in prison in 1970 for throwing a grenade at an Israeli army vehicle, but released, along with others, in exchange for three Israeli soldiers taken hostage by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Rajoub is now chairman of the Palestinian Football Association -- another illustration of the deep infiltration of FIFA by Islamists and Jew-haters sponsored by Gulf States, beginning with Qatar. Would that position even be thinkable without France's sponsorship of Qatar in FIFA? Probably not.

Full report at:



Russia detains two over suspected ‘terror’ plot

31 August 2017

Russia’s FSB intelligence agency said Thursday that it had detained two men from ex-Soviet Central Asia who were plotting to carry out stabbing and suicide bomb attacks in Moscow.

The FSB said the men were looking to strike “mass gathering places” in Moscow and the surrounding region on Friday, the first day of the Russian school year.

One of the suspects was arrested after posting a video of himself swearing allegiance to the ISIS and was intending to “attack civilians using bladed weapons”, the agency said in a statement.

A second alleged ISIS member was detained after a “powerful homemade explosive device” was discovered at his residence, the FSB said.

“He admitted that he intended to become a suicide bomber,” it said.

Russia has repeatedly been threatened by ISIS militants over its intervention in Syria.

The group has claimed responsibility for two recent stabbing attacks in Russia, but authorities have played down the group’s possible involvement.

On Monday, two men stabbed a policeman to death and wounded another in Dagestan in Russia’s North Caucasus before being shot dead by police.

And on August 19, a man stabbed seven people on the street in the northern city of Surgut before being shot and killed.

Full report at:



South Asia


Noor claims certain circles in government attempts to spark ethnic tensions

Sep 01 2017

The provincial governor of northern Balkh province and chief executive of Jamiat-e-Islami party Ata Mohammad Noor has claimed that certain circles in the government are attempting to spark ethnic tensions among the people.

In a statement released on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha, Noor said the misbehaviors and wrong approaches by the circles have resulted into growing gap among the Afghan people belonging to different tribes and ethnicities.

Insisting that the Afghan people need a unity more than any other time, Noor warned that such approaches will have a grim end and a long term negative impact on the people if the circles within the government did not refrain from their wrongful acts.

Noor further added that the government leaders are obliged to pay attention to the concerns, demands, and recommendations of the people in a bid to create an atmosphere of unity among the people.

He said the Jamiat-e-Islami party has concerns regarding the moves, remarks, and stances being put on display on orders of the governmental circles.

The Balkh governor also added that Jamiat-e-Islami together with new political coalition members strictly monitor the situation and will not allow those circles to achieve their goals and play with the fate of the ordinary people.

Noor did not disclose the circles which he believe are involved in hatching conspiracies but in the past he and his party have harshly criticized the senior security officials in the government for their failure in ensuring security and attempting to spark tensions among the people.



Pakistani insurgent among 4 Taliban blown up by own explosives in Kunduz

Aug 31 2017,

At least four insurgent including a Pakistani national were killed after an Improvised Explosive Device went off prematurely in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army in the North said the incident has taken place in the vicinity of Imam Sahib district.

The Shaheen Corps officials said the militants were attempting to prepare the Improvised Explosive Device to be placed on a roadside when it went off.

The officials further added that a Pakistani national who was involved in the engineering works of the roadside bombs was also among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

The anti-government armed militant groups frequently use explosives materials for the roadside bombings and car bombings to target the government staff and security personnel.

However, in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted besides such bombings incur casualties to the security personnel and in some cases the Taliban militants themselves are killed or wounded.

Full report at:



Bodies of 20 Rohingya Muslims pulled from river on Bangladesh border

September 1, 2017

The bodies of 20 Rohingya Muslims were pulled out of a river Thursday along the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, across which thousands have fled this week. Twelve of the dead were children.

In just one week, almost 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled their homes in Myanmar's Rakhine state, according to estimates by the UN.

As many as 27,000 of the displaced people crossed the Bangladeshi border to camps in areas around Cox's Bazar, while a further 20,000 are in no-man's land between the two countries.

"The worsening cycle of violence is of grave concern and must be broken urgently," the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee said in a news release Thursday.

The exodus began last Friday after the Myanmar government intensified "clearance operations" following an attack by Rohingya militants on border posts that left 12 security officials dead.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are considered some of the most persecuted people in the world. Myanmar, also known as Burma, considers them Bangladeshi interlopers, and Bangladesh says they're Burmese.

The 20 bodies were pulled early Thursday from the Naf River, Ariful Islam, commanding officer of the Bangladesh Border Guard in Teknaf, told CNN.

He said they may have been on a boat that capsized trying to make it across the river to Bangladesh.

"The situation is not good. The Rohingyas are all coming across to escape," he said.

"We can see the smoke on the other side; we can hear the gunfire, they fire very frequently. The intensity of the influx is getting more and more each day."

Thousands of refugees flee across border

Islam said his team of border guards are intercepting Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh to "prevent the illegal intrusion." He estimates they have sent around 1,000 people back to Myanmar since clashes began a week ago.

Myanmar state media reported Tuesday that more than 110 people had died since Friday's "coordinated attacks by extremist terrorists."

While thousands of Rohingya refugees have made it across the border to Bangladesh, thousands of others are stranded in a no man's land between the two countries, the International Organization for Migration said.

The organization said it's unclear how many people have made it into camps along the Bangladeshi border. Aid agencies working in the camps are compiling numbers since there is no registration process for undocumented Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh.

Militants accuse Myanmar of atrocities

On Wednesday, the leader of the militant Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army group accused the Myanmar authorities of atrocities, including killing children and throwing them into rivers, mutilating women and torching houses.

Flanked by two men brandishing automatic weapons, Atah Ullah used a video statement to call on the international community to act and urged Bangladesh to help the thousands fleeing and those stranded in the no man's land, where "many will perish" in the next few days if they don't get help.

He said that the Rohingya community was subject to "atrocities being repeatedly and consistently perpetrated by the Burmese regime."

"Even on this day infants and toddlers were murdered before mutilating their bodies and later disposed of in the water," he said.

"Our women were too mutilated after being chased on the streets." He called on the international community and rights groups to apply pressure on the Myanmar government.

Report: 'Status quo cannot continue'

The violence erupted last week hours after a long-awaited report into the treatment of Rohingya by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The report warned that unrest in Rakhine could spiral out of control unless concrete action is taken soon.

"Tensions remain high and they risk becoming worse," Annan said. "The status quo cannot continue."

The UN Security Council held a closed door discussion Wednesday at the request of the United Kingdom to address the escalating violence in Myanmar.

Matthew Rycroft, British ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters resistance from some countries meant a consensus on any action from the world body was unlikely. No joint statement was released.

Rights groups in the region have been critical of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party swept to power in 2015.

"Aung San Suu Kyi has been putting out statements (which are) consistently disturbing, and her office is generating anti-Rohingya, anti-aid worker propaganda, fueling tensions in the country," Matthew Smith, co-founder of human rights group Fortify Rights, told CNN this week.

Full report at:



MoI confirms involvement of Ulema Council chief’s son in deadly Kabul wedding clash

Sep 01 2017

The Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan (MoI) confirmed the involvement of Afghan Ulema Council chif Mawlavi Qeyamuddin Kashaf son’s involvement in the deadly clash in a wedding hall in Kabul city.

MoI spokesman Najib Danish confirmed the deadly incident in one of the wedding halls in Kabul city as he was speaking to reporters during a press conference today.

Danish further added that the incident took place in Afghan Khyber wedding hall in the vicinity of Taimani area of the city.

He said the incident took place after a clash broke out between the son of Mawlavi Kashaf and a member of the supreme court of Afghanistan.

According to Danish, at least four people have been arrested in connection to the incident and an investigation is underway in this regard.

He did not disclose further information regarding the incident and it is yet not clear if the son of Mawlavi Kashaf has been arrested or not.

This comes as earlier reports indicated at least four people were killed and two others were wounded during the incident.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Najib Calls On Muslims to Imbibe the Spirit of Eid Ul Adha

August 31, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Razak today called on Muslims in the country to imbibe the spirit of Aidiladha as the celebration could foster unity between Muslims in general and others.

The prime minister said by fully appreciating the meaning of Aidiladha, Muslims would be able to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood, oneness and sacrifice.

“Muslims who reject unity will make themselves vulnerable to the enemies of Islam, who will infringe upon the religion, and weaken and destroy it and its followers.

“Indeed, the unity and peace bestowed upon us is an invaluable gift that must be protected.

“In fact, it is obligatory for us to practice fairness when dealing with one another even if we are from different communities and subscribe to different religions and beliefs,” he said in a message in his blog in conjunction with the Aidiladha celebration tomorrow.

Najib said the Aidiladha celebration this year was more meaningful as it followed the National Day celebrations and Malaysia’s emergence as the champion of the just-concluded 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

The prime minister also shared his joy over Malaysia sending the largest number of haj pilgrims to the Holy Land this year.

“We wish to record our thanks to the Saudi Arabian government for easing the management of our pilgrims as we were the first country to participate in the haj pilgrims pre-clearance programme this year, in which our pilgrims were exempted from going through Customs and passport checks in Mecca and Madina.

“This privilege was also offered to us because of the close relationship we have established and maintained with the Saudi Arabian authorities,” he said.

Najib also called on Muslims to celebrate the Aidiladha with full gratitude and faith, besides strengthening bonds with one another so as to build a successful ummah in this life and the hereafter.



Indonesian scandal rocks booming Mecca pilgrimage industry

September 1, 2017

JAKARTA -- Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan has made headlines at New York Fashion Week with collections of Muslim attire that landed the 31-year-old on the Forbes Indonesia magazine list of inspiring women in 2017.

But her involvement in the twice-annual show, purchase of a luxury residence, and investment in a restaurant in London, are being investigated as part of a massive Ponzi scheme run by First Travel, a tour company specializing in low-cost pilgrimages that belongs to Hasibuan and her husband, Andika Surachman.

The couple were recently arrested on suspicion of swindling nearly 850 billion rupiah ($63 million) from nearly 60,000 people who have registered for the Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The scandal has thrown a spotlight on the booming religious tour business to Mecca. The Hajj, the preeminent pilgrimage, this year runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4. The number of Hajj pilgrims is capped each year by the Saudi authorities, so less expensive and the more flexible Umrah pilgrimages at any other time of the year have become a popular alternative.

The world's Muslim population is projected to increase from 1.7 billion in 2014 to 2.2 billion by 2030, and this is driving insatiable demand for pilgrimages. A series of serious fraud cases, however, are raising questions about oversight in the Muslim world.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is reviewing control of tour operators in the wake of the First Travel scandal. Less obvious frauds have long been perpetrated on would-be pilgrims.

Rags to riches

Ten years ago, Surachman worked in a convenience store to support his small family while Hasibuan studied at the University of Indonesia. After the death of her father, the couple sold their house to enable Surachman to open a small kiosk in Depok, West Java, selling everything from cell phone coupons to burgers. The business also helped travel agents find customers.

Everything changed in 2012. Surachman won a bid to send 170 employees of the central bank and of Pertamina, the state oil company, to Mecca. "We only based our proposal on a number of readings on the Umrah," Surachman told Kompas daily in 2015. "We managed to defeat experienced bidders -- nobody knew we had never done the Umrah before."

Full report at:



Malaysia’s Reckoning With the Islamic State

By Cristina Maza

Sep 1, 2017

In Malaysia’s bustling capital Kuala Lumpur, with its towering steel and glass skyscrapers and sleek, modern rail and highway networks, the call to prayer rings out from a mosque on a quiet side street just several doors down from a Hindu temple.

With a population of around 1.6 million, much of which is employed in the finance and real estate sectors, Kuala Lumpur is the heart of a country that has embraced shopping malls and almost entirely eradicated poverty. Malaysia’s mix of ethnic Malay, Chinese, and Indian residents – Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus respectively – all work and worship on the same streets, allowing the country of 31 million inhabitants to be upheld as a symbol of cosmopolitan multiculturalism and tolerance.

But simultaneously, the world’s most regressive and ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim group is increasingly targeting this majority-Muslim nation. As U.S.-allied forces drove extremists from the Islamic State (ISIS) out of major parts of their self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq, the militants ramped up their efforts in Southeast Asia and declared Malaysia a part of their dominion. Most recently, the extremist group named Malaysia’s anti-terror chief, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, one of its main targets, calling on its adherents to “awake now and finish off Ayob Khan,” according to social media messages and media reports.

In response, Malaysian authorities have doubled down on the group’s online recruitment efforts and launched security measures to prevent terrorist attacks at home.

Police have arrested more than 300 individuals over the past four years for suspected links to the Islamic State, and shut down numerous pro-ISIS websites. But experts say the government’s efforts have failed to prevent a significant number of Malaysians from fighting for ISIS in diverse countries such as the Philippines and Iraq, and that more efforts will be needed as ISIS militants return home to Malaysia.

Full report at:



Prosecutors Seek Five Year Jail Term For Golkar Politician Over Koran Graft

Sep 1, 2017

Jakarta. Prosecutors demanded a prison term of five years for young Golkar party politican Fahd El Fouz on Thursday (31/08) over alleged bribery related to the government's procurement of the Koran and computer laboratories.

Prosecutors also sought a fine of Rp 250 million ($19,000) or an additional prison sentence of six months for Fahd, who allegedly received Rp 3.4 billion in bribes over the 2011-12 project.

"Demanding that the panel of judges declare defendant Fahd El Fouz guilty of committing corruption collectively," prosecutor Lie Putra Setiawan said at the Jakarta Anticorruption Court, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.

Fahd allegedly accepted bribes from businessman Abdul Kadir Alaydrus to have the latter's companies carry out the Rp 31.2 billion procurement of computer laboratories for senior Islamic high schools in the country and a Rp 72 billion procurement for Korans from the Ministry of Religious.

Fahd allegedly received a total of nearly Rp 14 billion in bribes alongside Zulkarnaen Djabar, a former member of a House of Representatives commission overseeing religious affairs, and his son, Dendy Prasetya.

Full report at:





Palestinians vie with Israel over Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem

Sep 1, 2017

Jerusalem: On any given day, Muslim pilgrims arrive at a Middle East airport on a journey to one of Islam’s holiest sites.

At Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, they rub shoulders with larger groups of visitors - diaspora Jews and Christian tourists - many of them headed for the same destination, a 45-minute drive away: the sacred city of Jerusalem.

The Muslims are only a small part of the Holy Land’s religious tourism market. But both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank are vying for their business.

They come mainly to pray at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, in a compound that is one of the world’s most contested and volatile holy sites. Al-Aqsa is the most important shrine in Islam after Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, but less of a draw for foreign Muslims, many of whose countries spurn Israel or its claim of sovereignty over the eastern sector of Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 war.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry recorded 115,000 Muslim tourists in 2016 - 3 percent of the 3.8 million foreigners who arrived at its airports or land borders it controls with Jordan and Egypt.

Half of these Muslim tourists identified as pilgrims, the ministry said. Most of them - around 100,000 - came from Turkey, which recognizes Israel. But there were also some from Indonesia and Malaysia, which do not, and whose citizens Israel admits under special provisions for pilgrims.

Each Muslim tourist spends an average of $1,133 on the trip, the Israeli ministry said. Palestinians fret that too much of that goes to Israel and want the tourists to opt for alternative Palestinian venues in Jerusalem or the West Bank.

“We have been conducting a campaign to introduce Turkish tourist companies to Palestinian hotels in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and we have started to see many of them booking their rooms in these hotels,” said Jereyes Qumseyah, spokesman for the Palestinian Tourism Ministry.

He said the Palestinians have permanent displays at major tourism conferences in Turkey.  

The Palestinian ministry offered no statistics on the scope of foreign tourism to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But Qumseyah said Palestinians are also enjoying “big success” in teaming up their tour companies with counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Arab world so to draw more pilgrims.

Politics and Religion

Beyond the economic benefits, Palestinians see such visits as cementing pan-Islamic sympathy for their goal of establishing a state with East Jerusalem - whose walled Old City is dominated by Al-Aqsa and the gilded Dome of the Rock - as their capital.

To that end, Palestinian religious authorities dispute an edict by Youssef Al-Qaradawi of Egypt, Sunni Islam’s top cleric, that non-Palestinian Muslims should not go to Jerusalem lest they be perceived as validating Israeli rule.

 Even for Palestinians, access is not a given: Since their 2000 uprising against Israel, it has routinely restricted their travel to Jerusalem from the West Bank and imposed a tighter clampdown on the Gaza Strip, which is under Islamist Hamas rule.

Still, the senior Palestinian cleric, Grand Mufti Mohammad Hussein, sounded cautiously optimistic about foreign pilgrims.

“An increasing number of Muslims are visiting Al-Aqsa. Maybe the numbers are not as high as we had hoped, but we hope they will increase in days to come,” he told Reuters.

One British pilgrim, Adeel Sadiq, came to Al-Aqsa this week with 15 fellow Britons. “We want to show our support to the people here, that you are not alone and Al Masjed Al Aqsa (Al-Aqsa mosque) is for all Muslims,” he told a Palestinian reporter.

Israel has no counter-campaign aimed at attracting Muslim pilgrims. The Israeli Tourism Ministry said its marketing budget is allocated to countries in North and South America, Europe and the Far East and Russia, and does not include Turkey.

At the height of tensions in Jerusalem last month over Israeli controls on access to Al-Aqsa, Turkey’s Islamist-rooted president, Tayyip Erdogan, urged his compatriots to flock there in solidarity with the Palestinians.

The general manager of Turkish Airlines followed up with an ad offering $159 round-trip flights to “Jerusalem” - though in fact the planes land at Ben Gurion. Israel’s envoy to Ankara, Eitan Na’eh, tweeted in turn: “We will always be glad to warmly welcome Turkish tourists to Israel and our capital Jerusalem.”



Israel again shuts down Palestinian radio station

Sep 1, 2017

HEBRON - Israeli forces have shut down a Palestinian radio station in the occupied West Bank for six months, the army and sources at the station said on Thursday.

Al-Hurria station in the southern West Bank city of Hebron was closed “for content inciting violence and encouraging terrorism,” an army spokeswoman said without providing further details.

A source at the station said technical equipment had been confiscated during a raid on the station’s offices. Israel’s army regularly acts against media it accuses of encouraging young Palestinians to take up arms against Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Al-Hurria, which means freedom in Arabic, was one of two channels similarly closed for six months in November 2015 shortly after the start of a fresh wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The unrest has continued, killing more than 294 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 47 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Full report at:



Middle East conflicts boost Bulgarian arms exports

Sep 1, 2017

SOFIA - Conflicts in the Middle East boosted Bulgaria’s arms exports by almost 60 percent in 2016 to record levels not seen since the end of communism, official data showed Thursday.

Bulgaria, which specialises in the production of light-weight Soviet-style weapons and munitions, exported over 1.0 billion euros’ ($1.2 billion) worth of arms in 2016 compared to 642 million in 2015 and 402 million in 2014.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia were the main buyers, followed by the United States, Afghanistan, Croatia, Azerbaijan, India, Egypt and Russia, the annual report of the export control committee showed.

Experts believe that many of weapons exported by Bulgaria - and other countries in the region - end up in war-hit Syria and Yemen after being re-exported by Saudi Arabia and the US to armed groups in these countries.

A 2014 study by the British Conflict Armament Research organisation concluded that one quarter of the munitions used by the Islamic State group in northern Iraq and Syria were Bulgarian-made.

Bulgaria’s economy ministry, which greenlights all arms exports, had downplayed the issue, saying that it cannot be held accountable for any re-exports.

Bulgaria makes “Russian models that are not expensive and are easy to use,” expert Tihomir Bezlov from the Sofia-based think-tank Centre for the Study of Democracy commented recently to AFP.

Full report at:



US takes aim at Iran over ties to Hamas

31 August 2017

The United States on Thursday described remarks by a Palestinian Hamas leader boasting of strong military ties with Iran as a “stunning admission” that showed Tehran was violating a UN ban on arms exports.

Hamas leader Yahya al-Sinwar, who heads the Palestinian Islamist movement in Gaza, told reporters on Monday that Iran was the “biggest supporter of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

“The Iranian military support to Hamas and al-Qassam is strategic,” said Sinwar, adding that ties with Iran had “become fantastic and returned to its former era.”

In a statement, the US mission to the United Nations recalled that Iran is barred from exporting weapons under a key UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.  

‘True colours’

“Once again, Iran is showing its true colors,” said US Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Iran must abide by UN resolutions or decide “whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement,” she added.

“It’s long past time for the international community to hold Iran to the same standard that all countries who actually value peace and security are held to.”

A strong supporter of Israel, Haley has repeatedly criticized Iran at the United Nations and cast doubt over its commitment to the nuclear deal.

The United States considers Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, a terrorist organization.

Hamas has run Gaza since 2007 and received Iranian financial and military support for years, but the movement had distanced itself from Iran over Tehran’s strong backing of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Full report at:



Yemen’s Saleh makes first public appearance since clashes with Houthis

31 August 2017

Ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a public appearance in Sanaa and participated in the funeral of Khaled al-Razi whom Houthis killed in Saturday’s clashes.

Saleh called for investigating the murder and arresting the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, Adel al-Shojaa, a member of Saleh’s Party, the General People’s Congress, slammed the Houthis and said they resemble ISIS in the way they practice terrorism and behave like gangs, adding that the Houthi movement is a cancerous phenomenon that must be eliminated.

This is Saleh’s first public appearance since Saturday’s clashes between Houthi gunmen and his loyalists.

Saleh said that at the night when the clashes erupted, Houthi gunmen searched his son’s car Salah at a security checkpoint although he identified himself, adding that they opened fire on the car.

The situation is still tense in Sanaa as both parties seem to be lurking for one another.

Houthi militias have stalled removing the checkpoints they recently set.

Although Houthis and Saleh loyalists agreed to ease tensions, some observers think that Houthis do not commit to their vows.

Full report at:



Rouhani, Erdogan warn against secessionist moves

Aug 31, 2017

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have warned that secessionist moves are not in the interests of the regional peace and stability, but rather to the detriment of nations.

"Some powers are applying their desires in the region to the detriment of nations," Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with the Turkish leader on Thursday, the state news agency IRNA reported.

The two presidents were apparently referring to Iraqi Kurdish leaders' decision to go ahead with a referendum on possible secession from the Arab country on September 25.

"Iran does not believe some of the separatist tendencies and problems that have arisen in the Persian Gulf region are ever for the sake of peace and stability in the region," Rouhani said.

The central government in Baghdad is opposed to the vote and regional players like Iran and Turkey have also voiced alarm about its consequences, arguing that it could create further instability in the region.

In his conversation, Rouhani regretted insecurity and conflicts in some regional countries, stressing that Tehran and Ankara should more than before play a role in restoring peace to the region.

He also voiced dismay at recent developments in Myanmar, where Rohingya Muslims are fleeing their homes in the wake of a brutal military crackdown in the Rakhine state.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not brook oppression against Muslims in any place of the world and condemns it,” President Rouhani added.

The Turkish president, for his part, said he was confident that his country’s cooperation with Iran would grow under the new administration in Tehran. 

He also expressed regret at the ongoing crackdown against Muslims in Myanmar and underlined the need for unity between Iran and Turkey to resolve regional issues.

Talks with Qatari emir

Separately on Thursday, Rouhani held another phone conversation with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, voicing Iran’s keenness to strengthen brotherly relations among the regional Muslim countries and boost ties with Qatar.

Tehran has already said it is ready to help resolve a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt which have imposed a trade embargo on Doha.

Rouhani said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran regards what has been imposed on Qatar as unfair and a source of more tensions among the regional countries.”

Tehran, he said, does its best to cooperate with Qatar and help its nation and government cope with the situation for the sake of the regional stability.

The Saudi-led quartet has accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” which Doha rejects, contenting that it is being targeted for following a foreign policy line independent of Riyadh.

In his conversation with President Rouhani, the Qatari emir appreciated Iran’s principled stance on the "unfair sanctions."

Full report at:



Searches underway for Israeli soldier missing in occupied Golan Heights

Aug 31, 2017

Israeli military teams are searching the Golan Heights to find a soldier, who left his unit during military activity in the occupied territory on Wednesday and has since disappeared.

The searches are focused on Katzrin area in the central Golan Heights, where the missing soldier was last seen on Wednesday afternoon, the Times of Israel news website reported.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

During the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked Syrian military targets in the Golan Heights in what is considered an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

Back in April 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially admitted for the first time that the regime's military had conducted strikes in Syrian territory.  

Damascus says Israel and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the Arab country, while the Tel Aviv regime's military carries out such sporadic strikes against Syrian government forces. The Israeli regime has even set up field hospitals to treat wounded militants evacuated from Syria.

Full report at:



Bomb explosion wounds eight in Turkey’s Izmir

Aug 31, 2017

A bomb placed in a garbage container has exploded in the western Turkish city of Izmir, wounding at least eight people on a shuttle bus nearby.

The explosion took place in Izmir’s Buca district on Thursday around 0500 GMT, the Turkish media said.

According to the reports, suspected terrorists reportedly detonated the bomb as the bus was passing by.

Television images showed the shattered windows of the shuttle bus and other damaged vehicles near the explosion site.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Police launched an investigation to find the perpetrators of the attack.

In January, an explosion struck near a courthouse in Izmir, leaving two people dead and 10 others wounded. The Turkish government blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for the attack.

Over the past few years, Turkey has seen a rise in terror attacks targeting civilians and security forces. Most of the assaults were claimed either by the PKK militants or Daesh terrorists.

Full report at:




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