New Age Islam
Wed Nov 25 2020, 12:48 AM

Islamic World News ( 16 Dec 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

At Least 28 Children among 76 Killed By Syria 'Barrel Bombs'







A wounded Syrian woman walks with her children following airstrikes on a rebel area of the War-torn northern city of Aleppo on December 15, 2013 (AFP Photo Mohammed Al-Khatieb)

 


Arab World


At Least 28 Children among 76 Killed By Syria 'Barrel Bombs'


At least nine killed in bombings in and around Baghdad


Saudi Arabia and Iran must end their proxy war in Syria


Takfiris threaten Islam - and the world


Washington’s New Islamic Front: Expanded U.S. Support to Al Qaeda Rebels in Syria


Saudi Arabia: Over 7,000 non-Saudi govt workers sacked


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India


Clerics of Maldives, Britain, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar Condemn ‘Misuse of Islamic Ideology’ By Terrorists


Counter Indian media propaganda in country: Pak Army Green Book entry


Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif asks Jatti Umra delegation to visit Pakistan


Pakistani Punjab CM, Badal bat for new trade routes


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South Asia


13 more dead over Jamaat leader hanging as B’desh PM issues warning


Business community yesterday held white-flag rallies across Bangladesh for Peace


Bangladesh Cabinet asks Union Parishad admin to quell violence


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Africa


Nigeria army kills scores of Boko Haram militants


Mali poll overshadowed by suicide bombing


Independence anniversary marred by attacks in Kenya


South Africa buries ‘greatest son’ Mandela


S Sudan declares curfew after troops clash


Al-Shabab claim they are back on Twitter


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North America


Local Syrian and Muslim Americans get grim update of Syrian revolution


Al Qaeda more dangerous than ever


US congressmen urge Hasina, Khaleda for direct talks


UN starts aid delivery to Syria from Iraq


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Europe


Middlesbrough suspends two fans from matches after claims Qur'an ripped up at game15


Europe: Islamic Fundamentalism is Widespread


Islam Flourishes In Tolerant Cameroon


Far-Right Protest Athens' Mosque


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Pakistan


Members of political, religious parties involved in Karachi violence: AIG


Islamic states urged to frame policies for sustainable peace


Political administration not prepared to replace army in Fata


India progress impresses Shahbaz


BDU expert, two others killed in Peshawar explosion


Bomb disposal officer among three killed in Peshawar blast


Bomb kills Afghan police chief, three others


Abdul Qadir Molla paid tribute


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Mideast


Syrian Islamic Front rebels to meet with U.S. in Turkey


Iranian cleric’s fatwa adds fuel to Syria fire


Yemen parliament bans drone attacks: news agency


Iran says nuclear talks continue despite US blacklist


Qatari-funded oil eases crisis in Gaza


Israel fires into Lebanon in retaliation


Yemen: Arabian Al-Qaeda struggles for influence


Muslim Finds Islam, Not Israel, Ruining Temple Mount


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Southeast Asia


Clash in China's Xinjiang kills 16: state media


Prevention ‘backbone’ of Xmas, New Year security: Jokowi


Islamic finance education in Malaysia


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Australia


Australia withdraws last combat troops from Afghanistan after 12-year involvement in conflict


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau


URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/at-least-28-children-among-76-killed-by-syria--barrel-bombs-/d/34866


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Arab World


 


At least 28 children among 76 killed by Syria 'barrel bombs'


2013-12-16


BEIRUT: Regime air raids using barrel bombs on rebel-controlled areas of Syria's second city of Aleppo at the weekend killed at least 76 people, including 28 children, activists said on Monday.


The number of people “killed after the bombing of areas in the city of Aleppo with explosive-packed barrels yesterday (Sunday) rose to 76,” including “28 children and four women,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


The Observatory said that one youth and 43 men had also been killed in the bombings, but did not specify whether any opposition fighters were among the casualties.


A previous toll from the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics for its information, had put the number of killed at 36, among them 15 children.


The Aleppo Media Centre, a network of activists on the ground, called the raids on the northern city “unprecedented”.


The Local Coordinating Committees, a network of pro-opposition activists, said military aircraft had dropped barrels packed with explosives on rebel-held areas of Aleppo.


More than 126,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, and millions more have fled their homes.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074435/at-least-28-children-among-76-killed-by-syria-barrel-bombs


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At least nine killed in bombings in and around Baghdad


2013-12-16


BAGHDAD: A series of bombings in and around the Iraqi capital Baghdad killed at least nine people on Monday, security and medical officials said.


The three car bombs and one magnetic “sticky bomb” attached to a vehicle also wounded at least 25 others, the sources said.


The latest bloodshed came a day after attacks in various areas of Iraq, including another string of bombings in Baghdad province, killed 19 people, including a TV presenter and a family of five.


The presenter, Nawras al-Nuaimi, was the sixth journalist to be killed in Iraq since October, five of whom died in the northern city of Mosul.


Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was emerging from a period of brutal sectarian conflict.


More than 6,450 people have been killed in violence since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074297/at-least-nine-killed-in-bombings-in-and-around-baghdad


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Saudi Arabia and Iran must end their proxy war in Syria


Fawaz Gerges


15 December 2013


After last week's suspension of non-lethal aid to the Free Syrian Army by the US and UK, western strategy towards the country lies in tatters. Washington and London were forced to act after Islamist rebels, including the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, took over the headquarters and warehouses of the western-backed FSA and reportedly seized anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, some of which are said to be American-supplied.


This humiliating defeat shows the rise of the Islamist rebels, most of whom oppose political dialogue with President Bashar al-Assad's regime and call for the establishment of a Qur'anic-based state. It also demonstrates the near-collapse of the FSA, which the west had hoped would unify the rebels, lead the campaign to topple Assad, and then take on al-Qaida. Many of the armed groups, including the powerful Islamic Front, say they do not recognise the western-backed political opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, as a legitimate representative and warn it against participating in next month's proposed peace conference in Geneva.


In the past year warfare among the armed rebels has overshadowed the bigger fight against Assad, allowing his forces to gain the upper hand and make tactical gains in Homs, Damascus and even the rebel stronghold Aleppo. Emboldened, Assad and his henchmen, with the backing of Iran and Russia, have repeatedly reminded the opposition they will not go to Geneva to hand over power to a transitional government.


Last week, the US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, conceded that Washington's approach to Syria is in disarray. Even Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, called on the rebels to "avoid discord and unite", reflecting Moscow's anxiety that the opposition's fragmentation does not bode well for the peace talks.


After almost three years of urban warfare, the uprising has mutated and produced unintended consequences. It has been hijacked by religious hardliners, criminal warlords and regional rivalries. The early hopes and dreams of millions of Syrians of an open, inclusive and pluralistic post-Assad government are now buried in the country's killing fields.


From the beginning, the odds were against the nationalist opposition. It was always overwhelmingly dependent on regional powers for military and financial support, which left it vulnerable to external manipulation.


Alongside this, the Obama administration's initial grandstanding – insisting that Assad must step down and that his days were numbered – was not matched by credible strategic planning or an accurate assessment of conditions on the ground. Britain and France repeated the US line without preparing for the fact that Syria could implode and trigger a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the recent freezing temperatures, and a regional war.


Syria is now mainly a battlefield where Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a proxy war, with devastating sectarian repercussions. It is doubtful the peace talks can be even convened, let alone produce results, without an implicit understanding between the two warring Gulf powers. While Saudi Arabia exercises considerable influence on Islamist rebels, Iran is crucial to Assad's survival.


Both have much to gain from preventing Syria's implosion. Under its new president, Iran may be willing to cut the umbilical cord with Assad, who has become a big liability for Tehran in the Arab world. Similarly, if Saudi Arabia can use its influence, it may avoid militant Islamist rebels haunting Syria's neighbours for years to come. It is a tall order, but the stakes for the Syrian people and the international community are huge.


http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/15/saudia-arabia-iran-proxy-war-syria


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Takfiris threaten Islam - and the world


Dec 16, 2013


Islam is a religion of moderation and inclusion. Today, it is threatened by a Takfiri ideology of extremism, fueled by fanatics with misplaced faith in their own exclusive access to ultimate truth.


Yesterday, one of the Takfiri rebel groups in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executed the secretary general of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), Ammar al-Wawi.


The ISIL and the FSA are supposedly fighting on the same side. But the roughly 1000 rebel groups fighting against the Syrian government seem to hate each other as much as they hate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Takfiris execute Christians as well as Muslims. They have been brainwashed to hate anyone who doesn’t think exactly as they do.


The fragmented Syrian opposition, mired in internecine conflict, is getting mopped up by government forces. The Syrian government, unlike the opposition, has managed to create a united front including Christians and secular-oriented people as well as Sunni, Shia and Sufi Muslims. Ironically, this is more in keeping with Islamic tradition than the “my way or the highway” attitude of the self-styled Islamic-extremist Takfiris.


Saudi Arabia, the world’s chief sponsor of Takfiri extremists, and its ally Israel, are both panicking. The Saudis are launching a last-ditch effort to save their Syrian mercenaries by throwing six billion dollars at them. That is how the Saudis always try to solve problems.


The Israelis, meanwhile, are lobbying the US government to support the Saudi effort to save the doomed Syrian insurgents. The US establishment is split between those bought and paid for by the Saudis and Israelis, versus those committed to some version of the US national interest. The latter group is getting increasingly fed up with Takfiri and Zionist fanaticism.


Takfirism, like Zionism, is an angry ideology of aggression and exclusion. Both the Takfiris and the Zionists define themselves by excluding and hating “the other.” Takfiris exclude and hate all non-Takfiris. Zionists try to exclude all non-Jewish natives of Palestine from their “Jewish state,” and hate everyone who dissents from Zionist orthodoxy. Both the Takfiris and the Zionists are aggressively expansionist. The Takfiris dream of taking over the whole Ummah (Islamic nation) by force. The Zionists keep grabbing more and more land as they dream of annexing everything between the Nile and the Euphrates. As the Zionists dream of a final ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, the Takfiris dream of a final religious cleansing of non-Takfiris. These deranged dreams are nightmares for the whole world. The Takfiris, who pose as radical Muslims, are a threat to Islam - and to the Islam-inspired politics of the Islamic Awakening.


Islam has always prospered by its inclusiveness, its reasonableness, and its ability to forge coalitions. From the early days when the Prophet (PBUH)  and his companions created the Constitution of Medina and forged alliances with a wide variety of tribes of different faiths, Islam has always included a respected place for the religious and ethnic “other” within the Islamic system. Most Muslim societies have always protected non-Muslim minorities and respected pluralism among the legal schools of Islam.


During the heyday of the Ottoman empire, thousands of Jews and Christians fled Europe to the Muslim lands to escape religious persecution. Andalusia (Islamic Spain) was even more pluralistic and tolerant than the Ottoman empire - and in many ways more tolerant than any modern society, as Maria Menocal explains in her book The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain.


The West subjugated both Andalusia and the Ottomans through a “divide and conquer” strategy. By forging alliances with first one Muslim city-state and then another, the forerunners of the Spanish Inquisition were able to pick off the Spanish Muslim societies one by one. The Andalusians, and their fellow Muslims around the world as well as non-Muslim allies, failed to unite to defend what many believe was the most advanced society that has ever existed on Earth.


The West used a different kind of divide-and-conquer against the Ottomans. It took advantage of conflict between the Ottoman and Persian empires, and stoked the rabid fires of nationalism among the many tribal and religious groups of the Ottoman lands - while enslaving the rulers through usury. One of the Europeans’ favorite tribal nationalist groups was the Wahhabis of Arabia - the forerunners of today’s Takfiris. Beginning in the late 18th century, the British imperialists encouraged an alliance between the Wahhabis and the House of Saud. The British were delighted when Wahhabi fanatics massacred the people of Karbala in 1802, sparking conflict inside the House of Islam. And they were even more delighted to see the Wahhabis and their Saudi patrons become a permanent thorn in the side of the Ottomans.


During World War One - a Rothschild-sponsored holocaust designed to destroy the Ottoman empire and plant a toxic Zionist entity in the heart of Islam - the British sent their agent T.E. Lawrence to open a Saudi-Wahhabi front against the Ottomans. The destruction of the Ottoman and Persian empires, following the earlier British demolition of the Mughal empire in India, subjugated the entire Islamic world to the Rothschild-funded European imperialists.


Today, Islam is rising as the Western sun slowly sets. Hard-line Zionist strategists, inspired by British Orientalist Bernard Lewis, are fighting a rear-guard battle to stymie the Islamic resurgence and preserve and expand the Zionist empire. Once again, the Takfiris and their Saudi sponsors are doing the imperialists’ dirty work.


As the West’s dominant Zionist faction continues to encourage the rise of the Saudi-funded Takfiris, dissenting voices point out the potential for “blowback.” These realist foreign policy experts argue that the Takfiris and their radical Zionist allies are out of control and “bad for business.” The realists have managed to stop the US from bombing Syria. They have succeeded in getting a preliminary nuclear agreement with Iran, despite the opposition of the Zionist faction. Whether they will manage to rein in the extremists permanently remains to be seen. In this case, what is good for Islam is good for the world.


If Muslims can return to their traditions of inclusiveness, tolerance, and coalition-building, and avoid the Takfiri temptations of extremism and obscurantism, political Islam will continue to rise as a force for justice; and the religion of Islam will spread even faster as the reality, rather than the Takfiri distortion, becomes better known throughout the world.


http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/12/16/340236/takfiris-threaten-islam--and-the-world/


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Washington’s New Islamic Front: Expanded U.S. Support to Al Qaeda Rebels in Syria


December 15, 2013


From the outset, the Western military alliance has (covertly) supported the terrorists with a view to destabilizing Syria as a nation state.


Lest we forget, Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA.


The US, NATO, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have channeled most of their support to the Al Qaeda brigades, which are also integrated by Western Special Forces.


British and French Special Forces have been actively training opposition rebels from a base in Turkey.


Israel has provided a safe have to Al Qaeda affiliated rebels in the occupied Golan Heights.


Western special forces have been training the rebels in the use of chemical weapons in Jordan.


NATO and the Turkish High command have been involved in the development of a jihad involving the recruitment of thousands of “freedom fighters”, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war:


Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Debkafile, August 31, 2011). Debka, August 2011 emphasis added)


This is a war of aggression. It is not a civil war.


The New Islamic Front


The Al Qaeda fighters integrated by mercenaries, trained in Saudi Arabia and Qatar constitute the mainstay of so-called opposition forces, which have been involved in countless atrocities and  terrorist acts directed against the civilian population from the outset in March 2011.


The existence of “more moderate opposition brigades” supported by the West is a myth. They exist in name, they do not constitute a meaningful military force. They are not the object of significant support by their Western handlers, who prefer to channel their aid to the Al Qaeda affiliated brigades.


The FSA and its Supreme Military Command essentially serve as a front organization. The SMC under the helm of General Salim Idriss has largely been used to channel support to the terrorists.


In recent developments, fighting has broke out between the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels covertly supported by the West and the more moderate FSA brigades, officially supported by the West.


Having “expressed their concern”, US officials have announced the holding of talks with the rebel commanders of the New Islamic Front (created in November).


The objective, however,  is not to mediate between opposing factions. What is contemplated are new procedures for channeling support to the Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists, through the newly created Islamic Front umbrella organization.


The New Islamic Front regroups six or seven major rebel entities, including the former  Syrian Islamic Front ( الجبهة الإسلامية السورية al-Jabhah al-Islāmiyya as-Sūriyyah) which constituted a Salafist umbrella organisation. The Salafist Ahrar al-Sham was the lead entity of the (defunct) SIF. The latter  has been disbanded and integrated (under a new label) into the New Islamic Front, which is working hand in glove with Washington.


The expected contacts between Washington and the radical fighters reflect the extent to which the [New] Islamic Front alliance has eclipsed the more moderate Free Syrian Army brigades — which Western and Arab powers tried in vain to build into a force able to topple President Bashar Al Assad. The talks could also decide the future direction of the Islamic Front, which is engaged in a standoff with yet more radical Sunni Muslim fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).


 A rebel fighter with the Islamic Front said he expected the talks in Turkey to discuss whether the United States would help arm the front and assign to it responsibility for maintaining order in the rebel-held areas of northern Syria.


The Islamic Front rebel told reporters that rivalry with the ISIL had already led to a spate of hostage-taking between the two sides, and that the Front’s decision to talk to the Americans had further escalated tension. Although he described the two Islamist forces as ideologically close, he said ISIL appeared set on confrontation, perhaps encouraged by some of their backers in Saudi Arabia. (Gulf Today, December 13, 2013)


Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Stephen Ford  has been involved in negotiations with the Islamic Front. Ford had established contact with New Islamic Front leaders in November.


The involvement of Ambassador Ford should come as no surprise. He was one of the main architects of the death squad brigades sent into Syria, starting in March 2011. He has, no doubt, been in permanent liaison with Al Qaeda rebel commanders from the outset of the insurgency.


Robert S. Ford had previously worked at the US embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005) under the helm of Ambassador John D. Negroponte. He played a key role in implementing the Pentagon’s “Iraq Salvador Option”. The latter consisted in supporting Iraqi death squadrons and paramilitary forces modeled on the experience of  Central America. With regard to Syria, the US State Department has been collaborating with several US intelligence agencies and the Pentagon is overseeing US support to rebel forces in Syria.


A Syria policy committee was created in 2012. It involved the participation of Ambassador Robert Stephen Ford, former  CIA director David Petraeus, Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and Derek Chollet, Principal Deputy Director of Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff at the State Department.


Under Jeffrey Feltman’s supervision, the actual recruitment of terrorist mercenaries, however, is carried out in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in liaison with senior intelligence officials from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya and NATO. The former Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar, who remains a key member of Saudi intelligence, is said to be working with the Feltman group in Doha. (Michel Chossudovsky, “The Salvador Option For Syria”: US-NATO Sponsored Death Squads Integrate “Opposition Forces”, Global Research, 28 May 2012)


Expanded US Support to Al Qaeda Affiliated Rebels in Syria


What the US and its allies are establishing are new effective “direct channels” for increasing their support to their Al Qaeda foot soldiers, essentially using the new Islamic Front as a “Go Between”. This procedure is  contemplated following the apparent demise of the Supreme Military Command of the FSA.


Until recently US and allied support to Al Qaeda was channeled to the rebels through an indirect route, namely through Supreme military Command (SMC) commander General Salim Idriss.


General Idriss is reported to have fled Syria for Doha,  “as a result of the Islamic Front taking over his headquarters.” The takeover of SMC headquarters has, according to reports


prompted the United States and Britain to announce [December 11] that they were suspending non-lethal aid to northern Syria, due to fears of equipment ending up in the wrong hands.”


This again is a smokescreen: the New Islamic Front which attacked the SMC headquarters is working in close liaison with its Western handlers including Ambassador Robert Stephen Ford.


Washington intends to use the Islamic Front to channel its support to the more radical Al Qaeda factions including Al Nusrah which, according to reports, has established ties to the New Islamic Front.


The Obama Administration has committed itself to “an expanded Syrian insurgency that includes the recently-formed Islamic Front”:


The Front has been pressing for inclusion in the SMC, and wants to be represented at the Geneva talks, according to rebel commanders. … Ex-Ambassador Ford is traveling to London on Friday to meet other international backers of the opposition, and then to Turkey for discussions with the Syrian National Coalition. He may also meet there with the Islamic Front, said the senior official. (EA World View, December 13, 2013


The propaganda ploy is to portray the new Islamic Front as “moderate”.  With the FSA Supreme Military Command in disarray, Washington’s objective is to provide a semblance of legitimacy to the insurrection largely integrated by the Western military alliance’s Al Qaeda foot soldiers.


The creation of a pro-US Islamic Front serves that purpose, namely to channel money and weapons directly to the rebels via the new Islamic Front umbrella organization.


http://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-new-islamic-front-expanded-u-s-support-to-al-qaeda-rebels-in-syria/5361660


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Saudi Arabia: Over 7,000 non-Saudi govt workers sacked


16th Dec 2013


Riyadh, (Arab News): The Ministry of Civil Service has terminated the contracts of 7,468 non-Saudi employees working at several ministries and government directorates over the past year, according to latest statistics.


According to statistics from the Human Resource Development Fund at the Ministry of Civil Service, the ministry had previously contracted 3,196 non-Saudi employees — 1,404 men and 1,792 women — to work in several administrative and service jobs.


According to government figures, there were 73,684 non-Saudi employees working in the fields of health and higher education in government ministries last year.


The health sector accounted for the highest share of these jobs with 54,062 employees, while education ranked second with 14,195 employees.


A recent study showed that 457 Saudi employees have been sent on scholarships to study for higher degrees, with 54.7 percent studying for a master’s degree and 7 percent studying for a doctoral degree.


Full report at:


http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/middle-east/saudi-arabia-7000-non-saudi-govt-workers-sacked/


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India


 


Clerics of Maldives, Britain, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar Condemn ‘Misuse of Islamic Ideology’ By Terrorists


December 15, 2013


Over one lakh Muslims on Sunday took an oath against terrorism and to spread the message that Islam is a religion of peace and has always promoted harmony.


The ceremony, organised by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, was held at the Ramlila ground, and came after a two-day conference attended by clerics of Jamiat-e-Ulema in the Maldives, Britain, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur district, where it was decided to set up a forum to promote world peace.


"The forum will help promote peace and make the entire world understand that the motive of Islam is to promote peace and harmony. Islam has always wanted that peace prevails in the world," Jamiat-e-Ulema general secretary Maulana Arshad Madani said.


Only better understanding and a proper universal brotherhood will bridge the rift among people and let the world live in peace, he added.


"Freedom is the basic human right of every person in the world and by spreading terrorism, a lot of organisations has just tried to sabotage tranquility prevailing in the world," said Maulana Madani.


Full report at:


http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/muslims-take-pledge-against-terrorism-islam-religion-of-peace/1/331399.html


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Counter Indian media propaganda in country: Pak Army Green Book entry


Dec 16 2013


Islamabad: The Pakistan Army, which is alleged to have huge business interests, must acquire a television channel to counter the growing penetration of Indian TV and news channels in the country, a senior army officer has suggested.


The unusual recommendation has been made in one of the strategy papers written for the prestigious 'Green Book' of the Pakistan Army that provides rare insights into its ongoing internal debates, The News Daily reported.


It said "Indian media invasion could not be countered during the Kargil episode".


The strategy papers, written by uniformed professionals, are part of a special chapter in the Green Book titled 'Sub-conventional Warfare'.


While slamming the Pakistani media for not countering the penetration of Indian TV and newspapers effectively, Major General Muhammad Azam Asif, who commands an infantry division, has recommended that the Pakistan Army must acquire a television channel as well as a radio station to counter the "Indian propaganda".


Asif has claimed that the Pakistani media lacks credibility among the masses due to which the general public is compelled to tune in to All India Radio, the BBC and Indian satellite channels during a period of crisis or whenever an important event takes place, the media report said.


Citing the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, he has stated that the "primary aim of the Indian media was to defeat the enemy psychologically and disarm them morally".


The strategy paper penned for the Green Book by Asif has stated, "Our adversary (India) has taken big strides in acquiring media power and has been putting it to good use for her benefits."


"With a number of television channels and remarkable advancement in the information technology, India has attained a total electronic media supremacy over Pakistan."


Therefore, he has called for a brainstorming session between the Pakistani media and the Pakistan Army, saying if the nation is not motivated enough to withstand the aggression, it cannot aspire to preserve freedom.


The Green Book is published every two years by the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army as an internal publication which, as a matter of principle, is kept confidential from the general public.


Full report at:


http://www.indianexpress.com/news/counter-indian-media-propaganda-in-country-pak-army-green-book-entry/1208245/


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Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif asks Jatti Umra delegation to visit Pakistan


Yudhvir Rana


 Dec 16, 2013


JATTI UMRA: It was a homecoming that Pakistan Punjab's chief minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif had waited for 49 years. When Sharif reached the village his father Mian Muhammad Sharif had lived in before migrating to Lahore in 1932, it was yesterday once more for him.


Recalling his sole visit to his ancestral village, he said, "When I visited Jatti Umra in 1964 with my father and uncles, you people had served me hot milk and other eatables, The picture is vivid in my mind."


In touch with his roots and gripped by myriad emotions, Sharif said he was going to remember this visit forever as it had fulfilled his lifelong wish to kiss his village's sacred soil.


Wishing to keeping his link with his ancestral village alive, Sharif asked his Indian Punjab counterpart to send a delegation from the village, including his father's friends Gian Singh and Massa Singh to Pakistan, and said he would ensure their visa.


Issuing an invitation to the people of his ancestral village, Sharif said that Gurbachan Singh and Major Singh, son of his father's friend Arjan Singh, had visited him last year.


His father's friends Gian Singh and Massa Singh were overwhelmed to see the CM son of their mate Muhammad Sharif. They hugged and kissed Sharif on the forehead and blessed his wife, his son Suleman Sharif, daughter-in-law, daughter Ayesha Haroon and son-in-law Haroon Yousaf Aziz.


Full report at:


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Muhammad-Shahbaz-Sharif-asks-Jatti-Umra-delegation-to-visit-Pakistan/articleshow/27444193.cms


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Pakistani Punjab CM, Badal bat for new trade routes


Dec 16, 2013


NEW DELHI: Marking the end of Pakistan Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif 's visit to India, the two Punjabs on Sunday agreed to reduce trade barriers for promotion of business and encourage new routes of trade.


A joint statement approved by Sharif and his counterpart Parkash Singh Badal said the two sides will also pursue policies for easy access for people of both sides to religious places of their respective faiths. During his visit to India, Sharif last week met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and renewed Islamabad's invitation to Singh to visit Pakistan. In his meetings with both Singh and Badal, he emphasized that war was not an option for the two countries and that they needed to live as civilized neighbours.


The PM had raised with him the issue of recent ceasefire violations which have stalled the dialogue process between the two nations.


During his interaction with Badal, it was mutually agreed to promote cooperation for the common interest of "peace, harmony, economic growth and leveraging each other's potential".


Full report at:


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistani-Punjab-CM-Badal-bat-for-new-trade-routes/articleshow/27447617.cms


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South Asia


 


13 more dead over Jamaat leader hanging as B’desh PM issues warning


December 16, 2013


DHAKA - Thirteen more people were killed Sunday and overnight Saturday in Bangladesh in continuing protests sparked by the execution of a top Islamist leader, as the prime minister warned of a crackdown.


Police said they opened fire after Islamist supporters torched houses and fought street battles with them during a third day of unrest over the hanging of Abdul Quader Molla for mass murder during the 1971 war. Six people were killed on Sunday, including four in the northern town of Patgram, and another seven died elsewhere overnight, police said.


The deaths occurred as Islamist supporters enforced a nationwide strike over the execution of Molla, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.


“Police fired rifles after Jamaat protesters torched at least 20 houses belonging to ruling party supporters,” government administrator Habibur Rahman told AFP of the violence in Patgram.


“We have banned protests and gatherings in the area to prevent further violence.”


Molla’s execution on Thursday night triggered fresh violence in the impoverished country, already reeling from political unrest in the build-up to a deeply divisive national election scheduled for January 5.


Twenty-five people are now known to have died and dozens more have been injured in the clashes since Thursday between outraged Jamaat activists and police and between the activists and supporters of the ruling Awami League. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned of strong action against the rioters, saying “We have shown enough patience. We will not tolerate any more.”


“People of the country know how to reply to these atrocities (the latest violence), we (government) also know how to respond to, control you (the rioters),” she told a rally late on Saturday to commemorate those killed in the 1971 war.  Molla, 65, became the first person to be executed for his role in that war.


Jamaat called the hanging a “political murder” and said it would avenge it.


Convicted of rape, mass murder Molla had been found guilty in February by a much-criticised domestic tribunal of having been a leader of a pro-Pakistan militia and killed some of Bangladesh’s top professors, doctors, writers and journalists.


He was convicted of rape, murder and mass murder, including the killing of more than 350 unarmed civilians. Prosecutors called him the “Butcher of Mirpur”, a Dhaka suburb where he committed most of the atrocities.


Molla was one of five condemned to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, sentences which the opposition says are aimed at eradicating its leaders.


The sentences have triggered riots and plunged the country into its worst violence since independence. Some 255 people have been killed in street protests since January, when the first verdicts were handed down.  During Sunday’s violence in Patgram, three Jamaat protesters including the head of its regional student wing were shot dead while protesters hacked to death a ruling party supporter, Rahman said.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/national/16-Dec-2013/13-more-dead-as-b-desh-pm-issues-warning


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Business community yesterday held white-flag rallies across Bangladesh for Peace


December 16, 2013


In a desperate move to stay afloat, the entire business community yesterday held white-flag rallies across the country demanding a peaceful end to the ongoing political crisis and the return of trade-friendly environment.


In the capital, leaders of different trade bodies chanted “peace, peace and peace” hoisting their white flags in a huge rally in front of the Federation of the Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) office.


Thousands of business people streamed into the financial district of Motijheel, coming in white-flag processions from parts of the city. The gathering stretched from Bangladesh Bank to Dainik Bangla intersection, with some crowds spilling into nearby roads.


Outside Dhaka, businessmen gathered in front of the district chambers offices in all 63 districts from 11:30am to 12:15pm.


The FBCCI called the countrywide programme to protest against the current political impasse and the mounting losses due to continuous agitation by the opposition alliance.


Business leaders had already met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia urging them to hold talks with a view to resolving the stalemate, but to no avail.


“We gather here today at a critical moment of the nation. We want peace. We want a business-friendly environment,” FBCCI President Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed told the rally in Dhaka.


“We denounce the current political situation, as many people have been burnt to death. Today we hoist white flags, but if necessary, the business community will go for tougher programmes,” he said.


Akram urged the government to write off bad loans of businessmen created due to the political deadlock.


“We welcome the dialogues between the leaders of the two political parties [Awami League and BNP] initiated by some foreign diplomats. If they [politicians] want they can hold a peaceful election,” he said.


The FBCCI president also demanded immediate release of former president of the apex trade body Abdul Awal Mintoo, who had been arrested on November 8.


“If the politicians fail, we should be given the leadership. Today’s programme is the first showdown. We will have to take to the streets if you [politicians] do not succeed in solving the problems,” said former FBCCI president Salman F Rahman.


He said, “This kind of politics must stop. I am asking you [businessmen] to remain alert as businesses are in deep trouble.”


Another former FBCCI president Annisul Huq said the Bangladesh now was a different Bangladesh that people were not supposed to come across with.


He said a country of huge potential had reached the verge of destruction due to unhealthy politics.


“Dead bodies are piling up everywhere. Is Bangladesh a country like Somalia, Syria, Iraq or Libya? The political leaders have turned the country into a land of corpses,” said Annisul.


He urged political leaders to rise above their personal interest and agree to their demand of restoring peace.


FBCCI Former president AK Azad said, “You [politicians] do not feed us or clothe us, but are killing us.”


He said if the situation did not improve soon they would take their demands directly to the prime minister and the leader of the opposition.


Atiqul Islam, president of apparel makers’ platform Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the backbone of the garment sector had already been broken.


Full report at:


http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/peace-please/


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Bangladesh Cabinet asks Union Parishad admin to quell violence


December 16, 2013


Union Parishad chairmen and members would be held responsible if they fail to maintain law and order in their respective UP areas with the help of law enforcers, said a top official of the home ministry yesterday.


The decision came at a meeting of the cabinet committee on law and order in the home ministry yesterday, he said.


“UP chairmen and members would be instructed to seek law enforcers’ help, if needed, to prevent any possible anarchy in their jurisdictions. If they [UP chairmen and members] show any negligence, they would be held responsible and punitive action will be taken for that” he said.


The UP chairmen and members have been instructed to be more responsible to deal with the violent political situation and asked to asses possible threats to inform local law enforcers of the matter, he said.


The local government ministry issued a circular in this connection on Thursday.


Chiefs of law enforcement agencies informed the meeting that due to lack of manpower and logistic supports they are facing problem in containing combustible political situation, said the top official.


Full report at:


http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/cabinet-asks-up-admin-to-quell-violence/


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Africa


 


Nigeria army kills scores of Boko Haram militants


Dec 15, 2013


Scores of Boko Haram militants have been killed in ground and air raids in the northeast of the country, a Nigerian military official says.


Colonel Muhammed Dole, the spokesman for the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, said on Saturday that a large number of Boko Haram militants were killed in the raids on their secret bases in the West of Maiduguri.


Dole said that the Thursday attack has “resulted in serious decimation of Boko Haram fighters.”


The raids took place in the Ngauramari farming community of Bama Local Government Area, located in Borno state.


The Army’s raid came after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau on December 12 claimed responsibility for an attack on military installations in the northern city of Maiduguri earlier this month.


On December 2, hundreds of Boko Haram militants attacked army barracks, an air force base and several other areas of Maiduguri.


Full report at:


http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/12/15/340110/nigeria-raids-kill-boko-haram-militants/


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Mali poll overshadowed by suicide bombing


December 16, 2013


BAMAKO: Malians began voting on Sunday in the second round of parliamentary elections intended to cap the nation’s return to democracy, but overshadowed by the deaths of two UN peacekeepers in an attack.


The polls mark the troubled west African nation’s first steps to recovery after it was upended by a military coup in March last year, finalising a process begun with the election of its first post-conflict president in August. Turnout looked low as polling stations opened in the capital Bamako, sparking fears that voters would be scared away by an upsurge in violence by Al Qaeda-linked rebels against African troops tasked with election security alongside the Malian army.


Two Senegalese UN peacekeepers were killed and seven wounded on Saturday when a suicide bomber ploughed his explosives-laden car into a bank they were guarding in the northeastern rebel bastion of Kidal.


Sultan Ould Badi, a Malian jihadist linked to several armed groups, said the attack was in retaliation for African countries’ support of a French-led military operation launched in January against rebels in northern Mali, which ethnic Tuareg’s call “Azawad”.


“We are going to respond all across Azawad and in other lands... with other operations against France’s crusades,” he told AFP by telephone.


Senegalese President Macky Sall said the attack would “in no way undermine the strong commitment of Senegal to Mali” in a statement published by the state news agency APS.


“These two soldiers, killed in battle, had gone into Mali to defend democracy, freedom and peace,” he added.


The French army has been carrying out an operation against armed Islamists north of the desert caravan town Timbuktu over the past week.


The offensive targeting Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a “huge military operation, the largest in the Timbuktu region since the major northern cities were retaken by allied forces”, an African military source in Timbuktu told AFP.


Twenty jihadists have been killed so far, according to French and African military sources.


Voting a ‘moral duty’


In the first round of the election on November 24 just 19 of the national assembly’s 147 seats were allocated, with turnout at 38.6 percent, a drop of almost 13 percentage points from the first round of the presidential vote.


After the first round of the parliamentary election, Louis Michel, chief of the European Union observation mission, called on “all political actors” to turn out in the second round Sunday.


“In the specific context of Mali, voting is not only a right, it is a moral duty,” he said.


But the campaign failed to capture the imagination of the electorate and many analysts in Bamako are expecting feeble participation.


An AFP correspondent waited half an hour at a polling station in the Hamdallaye district of Bamako before seeing the first voter arrive.


“Regarding the organisation, everything is ready but as regards the turnout... I do not think there will be many people, like last time,” said Badra Traore, the chief official in the voting centre.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/international/16-Dec-2013/mali-poll-overshadowed-by-suicide-bombing


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Independence anniversary marred by attacks in Kenya


December 16, 2013


NAIROBI: Thirteen people have been killed in four attacks in Kenya during week-long celebrations to mark the country’s 50th anniversary of independence, including the first attack on tourists in two years.


No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks — the most recent of which was an explosion on a Nairobi bus that killed four people Saturday — and there have been no arrests.


Kenya has been the target of sustained attacks since the army sent troops into neighbouring Somalia to fight the country’s al Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents in October 2011.


Eastern Kenya, along the 700-kilometre border with Somalia, has been particularly hard hit.


Experts are reluctant to draw any link between the armed conflict with the Shebab and the latest series of attacks. One Western observer told AFP that, as yet, there was “no evidence” to link the attacks.


Late Friday, one person was killed and three injured in a double explosion at a market in the town of Wajir, some 100 kilometres from the Somali border.


On Tuesday, eight people were killed, including five policeman, in the Garissa region some 20 kilometres from the Somalian frontier after their vehicle was attacked in an apparent ambush.


Another policeman is missing following the attack.


And Saturday’s bus attack blew the vehicle apart, turning it into a mangled metal skeleton and sending shrapnel flying through the air. Four people died and 36 were wounded. There was also a rare attack on tourists during the week in the popular tourist location of Mombasa, a predominantly Muslim city.


A grenade thrown at a minibus transporting British tourists hit a window, but did not explode. It was the first attack on tourists since 2011.


The British tourists were en route to the famous Masai Mara safari park.


In September 2011, British tourist David Tebbutt was killed as he fought kidnappers in a luxury tourist village on the Kenyan coast, not far from Somalia.


His wife, Judith, was captured and taken to Somalia, where she was freed after six months of captivity.


In the same year, a Frenchwoman living in Kenya, Marie Dedieu, was kidnapped by Somali gunmen from her beachfront home in Lamu, in the south-east of the country, and subsequently died.


Full report at:


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\12\16\story_16-12-2013_pg4_1


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South Africa buries ‘greatest son’ Mandela


December 16, 2013


QUNU - South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, closing one chapter in its tortured history and opening another in which the multi-racial democracy he founded will have to discover if it can thrive without its central pillar.


The Nobel peace laureate, who was held in apartheid prisons for 27 years before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation, was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Qunu, after a send-off mixing military pomp and the traditional rites of his Xhosa abaThembu clan. As his coffin was lowered into the wreath-ringed grave, three military helicopters flew low over the cemetery dangling the South African flag on weighted cables, a poignant echo of Mandela’s inauguration as South Africa’s first black president nearly two decades ago. A battery of cannons fired a 21-gun salute, sending booms reverberating around the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape, before five fighter jets flying low and information roared over the valley. “Yours was truly a long walk to freedom, and now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of your maker,” a presiding military chaplain told mourners at the family gravesite, where three of his children are already buried.


At the graveside were 450 relatives, political leaders and foreign guests including Britain’s Prince Charles, American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Mandela’s casket was buried at his family plot in his rural boyhood home of Qunu, watched by his widow Graca Machel, ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, other family members and around 450 selected guests.


The interment followed a ceremonial state funeral that ran well over its allotted two hours, as speaker after speaker paid emotional tribute to the man who led South Africa out of the apartheid era. “The person who lies here is South Africa’s greatest son,” said ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in an opening address. A 21-gun salute and full military honour guard had escorted Mandela’s coffin to the marquee where 4,500 mourners said their final goodbyes.


His flag-draped casket was placed on cow skins, surrounded by 95 candles - each signifying a year of his extraordinary life. The frail and ageing leaders of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle also attended: George Bizos, Desmond Tutu and Ahmed Kathrada, whose voice broke with as he delivered a eulogy for his old friend. “I first met him 67 years ago,” said Kathrada, who along with Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1963. He recalled his fellow inmate as a powerful amateur boxer who could cope far better than others with the physical challenge of hard labour.


“What I saw in hospital was a man helpless and reduced to a shadow of himself,” he said struggling not to break down. “We can salute you as a fighter for freedom. Farewell my dear brother, my mentor, my leader. “Now I’ve lost a brother my life is in a void and I don’t know who turn to.”


His words left many in tears among the invited guests, whose ranks included foreign dignitaries and celebrities ranging from Britain’s Prince Charles to US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. The funeral closed the final chapter on a towering public figure whose courage and moral fortitude turned him into a global symbol of freedom and hope. During 10 days of mourning, hundreds of thousands of South Africans had turned out across the country to bid the founding father of their ‘Rainbow Nation’ farewell.


They braved a rain-sodden memorial in Soweto and queued for three days to see his remains as they lay in state at Pretoria’s Union Buildings. For 50 million compatriots, Mandela was not just a president, but a moral guide who led them away from internecine racial conflict. “Ever since he passed away, I wanted to walk the journey with him,” said Pascal Moloi, 52, who made the trip from Johannesburg to Qunu.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/international/16-Dec-2013/south-africa-buries-greatest-son-mandela


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S Sudan declares curfew after troops clash


16 Dec 2013


South Sudan's president has said groups within the country's security forces are plotting a coup, hours after heavy gunfire rang out in the capital Juba.


Salva Kiir said on Monday that a curfew had been imposed and that he would hold a news conference to speak about the attempted coup.


Riek Machar, who was fired as vice president in July along with other ministers, was arrested and the army said it was firmly in control.


Colonel Philip Aguer, the South Sudan military spokesman, said some military installations in Juba had come under attack from armed soldiers who have since been repulsed.


The officer gave no further details, saying an investigation was under way and that the situation was tense but not likely to deteriorate.


"So far the army is in full control of Juba,'' Aguer said.


An Associated Press reporter saw heavily armed soldiers patrolling the streets of Juba early on Monday amid sporadic gunfire emerging from Juba's main army barracks.


There has been political tension in the world's youngest nation since South Sudan President Salva Kiir sacked Riek Machar as his deputy in July.


Machar, who has expressed a willingness to contest the presidency in 2015, said after his sacking that if the country is to be united it cannot tolerate a "one man's rule". His sacking, part of a wider dismissal of the entire Cabinet by Kiir, had followed reports of a power struggle within the ruling party.


The local Sudan Tribune newspaper reported on its website that clashes erupted late on Sunday between members of the presidential guard.


The fighting seemed to pit soldiers from Kiir's Dinka tribe against those from the Nuer tribe of Machar.


Citizen advisory


Full report at:


http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/12/s-sudan-declares-curfew-after-troops-clash-2013121695416452887.html


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Al-Shabab claim they are back on Twitter


16 Dec 2013


Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, al-Shabab, has returned to the social media networking site Twitter more than two months after their last account was suspended, an official for the group told Al Jazeera.


On Monday, a message was posted on the social media site under the handle of @HSM_INFO carrying the standard signature of the group.


"The aim is to vigorously challenge defamatory reports in the media by presenting an accurate portrayal of the current state of Jihad in Somalia and countering Western, state-sponsored propaganda machines that are paid to demonise the Mujahideen," an official for al-Shabab, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera.


The Somali government, which has borne the brunt of most of al-Shabab attacks, has called on Twitter to ban the group.


Abdirahman Omar Osman, a Somali government spokesman, told Al Jazeera that the government was opposed to al-Shabab being back on the social media site.


“People like this should not be given the platform to mislead the youth. They should be banned," he said.


In September, Twitter suspended at least six accounts belonging to al-Shabab after the group, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall, mocked the Kenyan government’s response to the four-day siege that left more than 60 people dead.


According to Twitter’s policy on abusive behaviour, “Users may not make direct, specific threats of violence against others.”


Full report at:


http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/12/al-shabab-claim-they-are-back-twitter-2013121610453327578.html


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North America


 


Local Syrian and Muslim Americans get grim update of Syrian revolution


By Stephen Magagnini


Dec. 16, 2013


The Syrian uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad – despite its undying resolve – has turned into a humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions, a panel of activists told local Syrian and Arab Americans at the SALAM Islamic Center in East Sacramento on Sunday night.


“We have close to 2.5 million refugees in about six countries, more than a million of them children … 10 million Syrians, half the country, are in need of humanitarian assistance,” said Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, director of government relations for the Washington, D.C.-based Syrian American Council. International aid groups are calling it “worse than Darfur and Haiti combined,” Ghanem said, as people freeze and starve to death.


More than 120,000 people have died since nationwide protests against Assad ripped through the country in April 2011, and Ghanem said that number could rise to half a million in the coming years years if the United States doesn’t intervene on the side of the opposition and “allows the conflict to ripen until both sides are exhausted.”


“In five years, there will be no opposition to negotiate with,” he said.


Ghanem, who has briefed Congress on the crisis, spoke at “Syria What’s Next?” which included several Grass Valley activists who have taught Syrian children in Turkish refugee camps. Other speakers included Syrian American human-rights blogger Razan Ghazzawi and Raed Fares, a Syrian democracy activist known for inspiring nonviolent protests in the face of military crackdowns. The event was moderated by UC Davis graduate Anas Jebrini.


Air-quality engineer Isam Boulad – one of the Syrian Americans in the audience – said there are about 500 Syrian families in the Sacramento region. “For years they were afraid to speak up,” Boulad said, because the regime would punish their relatives. “Half the Syrian population has already left because if you are a free thinker and do anything considered an insult to the government, they will not only prosecute you but your family.”


Because the United States has chosen not to intervene while international officials investigate the poison gas attacks that killed 1,400 people in July, “the fortunes of the Assad regime have changed for the better with the insertion of Hezbollah,” the Iranian-backed militia, Ghanem said. “Iran has supported Assad heart and soul with weapons, advisers … The scales on the ground have tipped toward Assad for seven consecutive months, beating the opposition into the ground.” The U.S.-backed opposition is now also fighting against al-Qaida, Ghanem said.


Although peace talks are scheduled in Geneva on Jan. 22, “If and when this process fails, the Syrian American community will need to play a role to ensure that the U.S. is on the right side of history and that civilians are protected,” Ghanem said.


A ray of hope was offered by Fares, an activist from Kafranbel, a town in Idlib province, who has inspired months of nonviolent Friday protests with posters, banners and cartoons. A former member of the Baath Party, in 2011 Fares launched his campaign and took it to YouTube.


Full report at:


http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/16/6003928/local-syrian-and-muslim-americans.html


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Al Qaeda more dangerous than ever


2013-12-16


WASHINGTON: More than two and a half years after US commandos shot dead Al Qaeda figurehead Osama bin Laden, the global extremist network is more dangerous than ever, American experts and counterterrorism officials warned this week.


Thanks notably to a flood of recruits flowing to join Al Qaeda-linked jihadist forces fighting in Syria’s civil war, the group is back on its feet, and securing territory from which it could once more threaten Europe and the United States.


Bin Laden’s former lieutenants in Al Qaeda’s historic leadership have been killed by US Special Forces or in drone strikes, or else are isolated and on the run in the tribal badlands on the Afghan-Pakistan border.


But armed groups in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and West Africa have flocked to his banner and Al Qaeda is rebuilding its influence and recruiting fighters across the region.


“Their leadership has been hit very hard, but this brand is still growing.


And it’s growing from an increased number of safe havens,” said retired US Marine Corps general James Mattis.


Between 2010 and earlier this year, Mattis led US Central Command, in charge of prosecuting Washington’s long war against extremists in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa.


Full report at:


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074177/al-qaeda-more-dangerous-than-ever


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US congressmen urge Hasina, Khaleda for direct talks


 December 16, 2013


Expressing concern over the continued political deadlock and violence, six leading US congressmen have urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia to engage in direct negotiations immediately to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and viewed as credible by the Bangladeshi people.


“We are concerned that continued political deadlock and related violence, including violence aimed at Hindus and other minorities, will have a negative impact on the real progress that is being made Bangladesh,” the congressmen said in a bipartisan letter sent to the prime minister and the BNP chairperson.


Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv J. Shah in another letter to the prime minister yesterday urged to find an agreed way to hold free and fair elections.


Full report at:


http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/us-congressmen-urge-hasina-khaleda-for-direct-talks/


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UN starts aid delivery to Syria from Iraq


16 Dec 2013


The United Nations sent its first delivery of humanitarian aid by air to Syria from Iraq and said it plans to deliver more food and winter supplies to the mainly Kurdish northeast in the next 12 days.


The first cargo plane carrying food took off from Arbil in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region on Sunday heading to Hassakeh in Syria.


The food supplies over the next 12 days should be able to feed more than 6,000 Syrian families for the rest of December, the UN's World Food Programme said.


This is the third winter since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.


The airlifts were delayed last week because of a storm which swept across Syria and Lebanon, bringing with it high winds and freezing temperatures. Cold, dry winds whipped the Tarmac at Arbil airport before takeoff.


"We witnessed today the first flight that took place from Arbil International Airport to Qamishli city, which is populated by Kurdish inhabitants in Syria. This is the first flight to be conducted in this manner," Dindar Zibari, deputy head of Kurdistan's Foreign Relations Department, told journalists at the airport.


Both governments gave permission for the aid flights which will also include supplies of non-food items such as blankets, clothes and medicine in the coming days.


Harsh winter


The 12-day airlift, involving various UN agencies, will include 400 tonnes of food and 196 kg of medical kits, he said.


Full report at:


http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/12/un-starts-aid-delivery-syria-from-iraq-2013121691014688775.html


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Europe


 


Middlesbrough suspends two fans from matches after claims Qur'an ripped up at game15 December 2013


CAIRO – Two Middlesbrough fans have been suspended from matches after facing accusations of ripping up the Noble Qur’an during game against Birmingham city, as police announced an investigation on the alleged hate crime.


“We can confirm that, at this point, two individuals have been suspended from attending Boro matches,” Middlesbrough Football Club said in a statement cited by Birmingham Mail on Sunday, December 15.


“As investigations by West Midlands and Cleveland Police into the alleged incident at Birmingham last weekend are ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further,” the club added, vowing to ban anyone convicted of the crime from the Riverside Stadium for life.


An investigation involving police and Middlesbrough Football Club has been launched following allegations Boro fans engaged in anti-Muslim hate crime.


The allegations appeared after online reports suggested that a “minority” of Boro fans ripped up copies of the Qur’an during the club’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham on Saturday.


“Police are investigating a report of a hate crime which happened during the football match between Birmingham and Middlesbrough on Saturday 7 December,” PC Tim Gant from West Midlands Police, told Birmingham Mail.


“Officers are following a number of lines of inquiry including examining CCTV footage and are working closely with both clubs.”


“We have recovered paper which is currently being examined. We will not speculate on its content until examinations are complete,” he added.


A spokesman for Middlesbrough FC said the club operates a “zero tolerance policy” towards all forms of discrimination.


He added that the club is a strong supporter of football’s pledge to “eradicate racism in all its forms”.


Hate Crime


As news of police investigations goes on, Muslim MP for Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood said the alleged offenders should be charged with incitement to religious hatred.


“If these allegations are proven then the culprits should be dealt with severely and be charged with incitement,” he said on Saturday.


“It’s disgraceful to allow pure hatred to come to an area like Bordesley Green with a high Muslim population and incite people like this.”


Meanwhile, Boro supporters’ group, Red Faction, organized anti-racism march before Saturday’s game with Brighton & Hove Albion.


“It’s a direct response to the incident last Saturday at the Birmingham away game when a minority of supporters ripped up the Qur’an,” Steve Fletcher, member of Red Faction supporters’ group, said.


Full report at:


http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/467037-english-premier-league-fans-rip-quran.html


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Europe: Islamic Fundamentalism is Widespread


By Soeren Kern


December 16, 2013


A discussion paper published by the Germany-based Gustav Stresemann Foundation -- a think tank dedicated to the preservation and advancement of liberal democracy in Europe -- warns that national and international Islamic organizations are increasingly putting pressure on Western politicians gradually to criminalize any critique of Islam.


In a commentary on the study, the German newspaper Die Welt says the findings cast serious doubt on the unbridled optimism of European multiculturalists, who argue that Muslim citizens will eventually internalize the mindset of Western democracies.


The majority of Muslims in Europe believe Islamic Sharia law should take precedence over the secular constitutions and laws of their European host countries, according to a new study, which warns that Islamic fundamentalism is widespread and rising sharply in Western Europe.


The "Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey"—a five-year study of Moroccan and Turkish immigrants in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Sweden—was published on December 11 by the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, one of the largest social science research institutes in Europe.


According to the study (German and English), which was funded by the German government, two thirds (65%) of the Muslims interviewed say Islamic Sharia law is more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live.


Three quarters (75%) of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran, which should apply to all Muslims, and nearly 60% of Muslims believe their community should return to "Islamic roots."


The survey shows that 44% of the Moroccans and Turks interviewed agree with all three of the above statements, which makes them "consistent fundamentalists," and fundamentalist attitudes are just as widespread among younger Muslims as they are among older Muslims.


According to the study, Islamic fundamentalism is most pronounced in Austria, where 73% of Muslims interviewed say Sharia law is more important than the secular laws of the state; 79% say there is only one correct interpretation of the Koran that should apply to all, and 65% believe Muslims should return to their Islamic roots. In Austria, 55% of the Muslims surveyed say they agree with all three of the above statements.


The author of the study, the Dutch sociologist Ruud Koopmans, says that "comparisons with other German studies reveal remarkably similar patterns. For instance, in the 2007 Muslime in Deutschland study, 47% of German Muslims agreed with the statement that following the rules of one's religion is more important than democracy, almost identical to the 47% in our survey that finds the rules of the Koran more important than the laws of Germany."


The survey also shows considerable Muslim hostility towards so-called out-groups, which are viewed as threatening the religious in-group. For example, nearly 60% of the Muslims interviewed reject homosexuals as friends and 45% say Jews cannot be trusted.


Here too, Muslims in Austria appear to be more fundamentalist than in other European countries: 69% of Muslims in Austria say they reject homosexuals as friends, 63% say Jews cannot be trusted, and 66% believe the West seeks to destroy Islam.


By way of comparison, among European non-Muslim natives interviewed for the study in the six countries, 8% express mistrust against Jews, 10% against homosexuals, 21% against Muslims, and 1.4% against all three.


According to Koopmans, Muslim fundamentalism "is not an innocent form of strict religiosity…While about one in five native Europeans can be considered as Islamophobic, the level of phobia against the West among Muslims—for which oddly enough there is no word; one might call it 'Occidentophobia'—is much higher still, with 54% believing that the West is out to destroy Islam."


According to Koopmans:


"These findings clearly contradict the often-heard claim that Islamic religious fundamentalism is a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe or that it does not differ from the extent of fundamentalism among the Christian majority. Both claims are blatantly false, as almost half of European Muslims agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, that there is only one interpretation of the Koran, and that the rules laid down in it are more important than secular laws. Among native Christians, less than one in 25 can be characterized as fundamentalist in this sense. Religious fundamentalism is moreover not an innocent form of strict religiosity, as its strong relationship—among both Christians and Muslims—to hostility towards out-groups demonstrates.


"Both the extent of Islamic religious fundamentalism and its correlates—homophobia, anti-Semitism and "Occidentophobia"—should be serious causes of concern for policy makers as well as Muslim community leaders. Of course, religious fundamentalism should not be equated with the willingness to support, or even to engage in religiously motivated violence. But given its strong relationship to out-group hostility, religious fundamentalism is very likely to provide a nourishing environment for radicalization."


In a commentary on the study, the German newspaper Die Welt says the findings cast serious doubt upon the unbridled optimism of European multiculturalists, who argue that Muslim citizens will eventually internalize the liberal democratic mindset of Western society.


"The data are not suitable for simple conclusions," the paper writes. "But it must be recognized: democracies must beware of those who believe a free society is something that needs to be vanquished."


Separately, a discussion paper (German and English) published by the Germany-based Gustav Stresemann Foundation—a think tank dedicated to the preservation and advancement of liberal democracy in Europe—warns that national and international Islamic organizations are increasingly putting pressure on Western politicians gradually to criminalize any critique of Islam.


The author of the report, the German political scientist Felix Strüning, provides a meticulously detailed analysis of the Islamic lobbying effort—by means of a "human rights lawsuit"—to silence Thilo Sarrazin, a prominent German banker who has criticized the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society.


During an October 2009 interview with the Berlin-based culture magazine Lettre International, Sarrazin said:


"A large number of Arabs and Turks in this city [...] have no productive function except for the fruit and vegetable trade [...] The proportion of births among Arabs and Turks is two to three times higher than their corresponding proportion of the population. Large parts [of this population] are neither willing to integrate nor capable of integrating. The solution to this problem can only be to stop letting people in [...] except for highly qualified individuals and not provide social welfare for immigrants anymore [...]."


"Integration is an effort of people who integrate themselves. I do not have to accept someone who does nothing. I do not have to accept anyone who lives from the state, rejects this state, does not reasonably provide education for his children and constantly produces new little girls in headscarves. This applies to 70% of the Turkish and 90% of the Arab population in Berlin. Many of them do not want integration."


The Turkish Union in Berlin-Brandenburg (Türkischer Bund Berlin-Brandenburg, TBB) responded by pressing criminal charges against Sarrazin due to alleged incitement-to-hatred (Volksverhetzung). However, German prosecutors concluded that Sarrazin's statements were protected by the freedom of expression and they ceased their investigation.


The TBB then took its lawsuit to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which was tasked with determining whether Sarrazin's statements violated the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).


In February 2013, CERD decided that Sarrazin's statements "contain ideas of racial superiority, denying respect as human beings and depicting generalized negative characteristics of the Turkish population."


CERD also stated that Sarrazin's statements were "incitement to racial discrimination" because he favors refusing social welfare benefits for Turks and would (with the exception of highly qualified individuals) generally prohibit immigration.


More importantly, CERD criticized Paragraph 130 of the German Criminal Code, the so-called incitement-to-hatred paragraph (Volksverhetzungsparagraf), which protects the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression unless such speech is "capable of disturbing public peace."


By contrast, the ICERD has a far lower threshold for determining when speech becomes hate speech. For example, the UN convention does not include the stipulation that such speech must be "capable of disturbing public peace." As a result, Germany has come under pressure from CERN to change its domestic law in order to bring it into conformity with the UN convention.


Full report at:


http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4092/europe-islamic-fundamentalism


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Islam Flourishes In Tolerant Cameroon


16 December 2013


DOUALA, Cameroon – A new visitor to the coastal city of Douala would not fail to notice the increasing number of mosques as many Cameroonians are embracing Islam because of the exemplary behavior exhibited by local Muslims.


"The expansion of existing mosques and building of new mosques clearly shows that Islam is growing very fast in Douala and Cameroon in general," Sheikh Mohamed Malik Farouk, the chief imam of Douala, told Andolu Agency on Sunday, December 15.


"Alhamdulillah [thank God] we have now many mosques for Friday prayers in Douala and this is a sign of the growth of Islam," he added.


Deemed as the Cameroon economic capital, Douala was witnessing an increasing number of mosques recently.


At least every two years, local Muslims build a new mosque to accommodate the growing number of believers.


This was not the usual case in the coastal city.


Though Islam was first introduced in Cameroon in the 1800’s, it only came to Douala in 1922 after Muslims from northern Cameroon and foreign traders came to the coastal city.


"The first big mosque was built in 1922," recalled Sheikh Farouk, adding that the number has increased significantly over the years.


"In Douala alone we have over 90 mosques and about 500,000 Muslims out of the 3 million population of the city."


According to the CIA Factbook, Muslims constitute about 20 percent of Cameroon's total population of 20.5 million.


Most of them live in northern Cameroon and hail from major tribes such as the Fulani and the Peuhl.


Muslims in Cameroon are mostly engaged in trade and own large businesses in the African country.


Unlike in other African countries, the Cameroonian Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government generally respects this right in practice.


Role Models


Offering a role model to Cameroonians, exemplary Muslims were among the key factors of increasing number of reverts to Islam recently.


"Muslims here conduct themselves morally well. They treat their non-Muslim neighbors with respect," Sheikh Farouk asserted.


"They also don’t engage in any immorally activities, which has attracted many non-Muslims to our faith," added the local religious leader.


"Many people who want to live a clean life from drugs, alcohol and casual sex, which could lead to HIV, are rushing to join the faith."


Like the followers of other faiths, Cameroonian Muslims run schools, hospitals and other community uplifting projects.


Moreover, Sheikh Farouk added that Muslims donate generously to help build mosques or Muslim schools.


Full report at:


http://www.onislam.net/english/news/africa/467075-islam-flourishes-in-tolerant-cameroon.html


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Far-Right Protest Athens' Mosque


15 December 2013


ATHENS- A day after Greek government has confirmed that Athens' first official mosque will go ahead as planned, Greece's far-right activists have protested the idea once again, vowing to end Muslim dreams.


"This very moment, Golden Dawn with this massive and dynamic demonstration expresses the great, pan-Hellenic demand," said Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn party's spokesman and lawmaker, while addressing the party's protesters, New Tang Dynasty TV reported on Saturday, December 14.


"Not one illegal mosque in the Greek territory."


Some of 700 members and backers of Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have gathered in the Eleonas neighborhood, in central Athens, the location of Athens' first mosque, to protest the mosque plans.


Chanting 'Greece belongs to Greeks… Victory or death' and 'No mosques in Athens', protesters in black have raised banners with anti-mosques slogans along with the Greek flag.


The protest is not the first against Athens first mosque.


Last November, Golden Dawn MPs asked for a national vote on the plans to construct the Muslims’ only worshipping house.


The calls came less than two weeks after ‘J&P Avax, Terna, Aktor, Intrakat’ consortium won a tender to build the long-stalled construction of a state-funded mosque in Athens.


Greek Muslims have long called for building a grand mosque to accommodate the religious needs of the growing Muslim minority in the capital Athens.


Athens has come under fire by human rights groups such as Amnesty International for being one of the few European capitals without a mosque.


Repeated plans for a mosque in Athens began decades ago. The plan has angered far-right groups, which vowed to block the building of the mosque.


Despite objections from its powerful Orthodox Church, Greece had pledged to build a mosque in Athens to serve the city's growing Muslim minority.


Full report at:


http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/467045-far-right-protest-athens-mosque.html


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Pakistan


 


Members of political, religious parties involved in Karachi violence: AIG


December 16, 2013


KARACHI: Karachi Additional Inspector General of Police Shahid Hayat Khan has said that members of the political and religious parties are involved in violent acts in different areas of the city.


In an exclusive interview with BBC Urdu service Shahid Hayat Khan said that the police have prepared a list of those involved in violent incidents and action would be taken against them. He said a list of target killers and other terrorism suspects wanted by police is being provided to the relevant agencies and it would subsequently be provided to the government as well. The Karachi police chief added that the government will be requested to announce prize money to enable their arrest and speak to the political parties for their handover.


"We're going to all areas and there is no political pressure on the police in the ongoing operation," he said. Khan did not name the suspects on the list of wanted persons. The police chief said Karachi is the centre of commercial and industrial activities and it is easier for the extortionists to raise money and thus they try to take control of the city through acts of violence and terrorism. He said money is needed by the political and religious parties and it is the main reason for increase in militancy in the city.


Full report at:


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\12\16\story_16-12-2013_pg7_8


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Islamic states urged to frame policies for sustainable peace


December 16, 2013


ISLAMABAD: A lecture on the topic of “From Sacred Text to Sustainable Peace” by famous Indonesian scholar Dr H. Agus Maftuh Abegebriel was organised by International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) in collaboration with Indonesian embassy.


The lecture was also attended by Indonesian ambassador Burhan Muhammad, President IIUI Dr Ahmed Yousif Al-Draiweesh, Director General AF &P Gulzar Ahmed Khwaja, DG Islamic Research Institute Dr Sohail Hassan, Deans, directors of the university, and staff of the embassy of Indonesia.


Dr Abegebriel, in his lecture, stressed upon upholding Islam for curbing the contemporary challenges of violence and lack of peace while urging the Islamic states to work on formula of diminishing the influence of the extremist organizations.


“Islam is religion of peace and we, the Muslims, can be the significant source in the world for disseminating peace,” he said. He urged the Ulema to let the masses know about the verses of Holy Quran on the topic of peace.


“Islam abhors violent attitudes and calls for peace, this we have to implement in Umma and then across the world and Islamic organisations can play vital role for this purpose” Dr Abegebriel maintained. He was of the view that Quran stressed on rule of justice in the society, he also insisted on formulating societies for the purpose of sustainable peace which should be based on true Islamic lines.


Dr Burhan, the ambassador of Indonesia, said that a large number of Indonesian minds being nurtured according to teachings of Quran and Sunnah at IIUI, Indonesian govt would be found cooperative in the matter of extending mutual educational relations among IIUI and Indonesian institutes. He also paid thanks for arranging the lecture and vowed to remain available for such healthy activities.


Dr Al-Draiweesh said that being Muslims must refrain from violent attitudes and we should follow the way of peace which is given by Islam. He hoped that cooperation among IIUI and Indonesian universities would pave the way for constructive results in the field of education. He vowed that IIUI will remain committed to extend its bilateral relations with the educational institutions of the Islamic countries.


Earlier, Dr Gabriel along with Indonesian embassy staff members was welcomed by DG AF & P Gulzar Ahmed Khwaja and Director Admin Raja Khalid on arrival at new campus. A brief introduction of the university was given to the guests by DG AF & P. Later, the delegation visited faculty of Shariah and Law and Central Library of the university. A luncheon, in the honour of Dr H Agus Maftuh was also hosted by President IIUI.


Meanwhile, he IIUI students, especially female students, have expressed concerns over illegal settlement of around 300 makeshift houses on the green belt between H-10 and I-10 sectors that has turned onto a security threat for the residents of locality and students of International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI).


According to a survey, local people and Afghans have illegally constructed the houses on the green belt.


Full report at:


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\12\16\story_16-12-2013_pg11_4


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Political administration not prepared to replace army in Fata


ZULFIQAR ALI


2013-12-16


PESHAWAR, Dec 15: Though the state writ has been largely restored to the militancy-stricken tribal areas through military operations, the question perturbing the major stakeholders is that how the void would be filled in case the army pulls out of the region.


A senior officer looked pensive and breathed heavily after taking the question whether the political administration in the respective tribal agencies have the capacity and capability to handle post-conflict situation if the security forces are sent back to peace time position.


“Not at all, the government has no such plan,” the officer replied in a compassionate mood. “The president, prime minister and other relevant quarters have been briefed on this subject, but nobody bothers about it.”


A senior security officer during an informal interaction with a group of journalists recently expressed similar concerns. “Administratively, Fata is totally dysfunctional and its system has collapsed. Security forces (Army and Frontiers Corps) will have to go back to barracks sooner or later. Militancy can be wiped out within months, but the question is whether the administration is ready to govern the area,” he questioned.


“Despite risk factor the seats of political agent and assistant political agents are the most sought after because of the financial powers and money involved,” he said. Just imagine, the political agent of Khyber Agency had visited Landi Kotal sub-division after one and a half years which was very shameful while political tehsildar or his subordinates had never ever gone to Tirah valley, he added.


Top functionaries in the bureaucracy blame the commanders and lukewarm response of the federal government for mess in Fata. They said that Shakai agreement was the turning point when military commanders directly struck a peace deal with Taliban in South Waziristan in 2004 and bypassed the administration.


An officer dealing with the affairs in Fata said that the century-old administrative system suffered setback when the then corps commander ignored political agent and governor and brokered deal with Taliban at that time.


“No doubt, before militancy the political administration was corrupt but it ran the system by hook or by crook. Now the administration is corrupt as well as toothless since commanders have been sitting in the driving seat,” he observed, adding it would be difficult to restore the old mechanism.


It is learnt that top officials have proposed two options to the federal government for the future of Fata; one is the introduction of local bodies system in the area with maximum participation of local people and second, integration of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


“Unfortunately, the federal government has adopted complete silence over these two proposals,” the official said.


The security forces have eliminated militancy from larger part of Fata except North Waziristan Agency which has become a political issue. But, overall situation in Fata has become very complex.


Over 1.5 million tribal people are still living as displaced persons. Fata Disaster Management Authority said that over 60,000 private houses have been demolished partially or completely. Reconstruction of damaged infrastructure requires funds in billions. Mehsuds’ dominated area has been turned into virtual no man’s land.


Full report at:


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074269/political-administration-not-prepared-to-replace-army-in-fata


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India progress impresses Shahbaz


December 16, 2013


LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stated on Sunday he was leaving India with many hopes and expectations and he was confident that his visit would pave the way for cooperation between India and Punjab in the energy, agriculture, livestock and other sectors.


Interacting with newsmen before his departure for Pakistan, the chief minister said the basic purpose of his visit was to benefit from experience of India in the sector of power generation and acquire its cooperation.


According to an official handout released here Sunday, Shahbaz visited several coal and solar energy power generation plants in various Indian cities, and said there was no doubt that India had made extraordinary progress in the energy sector and had abundant electricity. He also said there was no reason why Pakistan could not benefit from experience of India to give the people relief from power loadshedding.


Similarly, he said, Pakistan should import such agricultural machinery from India instead of overseas countries as was not produced in Pakistan.


The chief minister said he met with Indian prime minister as well as commerce minister and delivered a message of peace and goodwill from the prime minister of Pakistan. He also said it was hoped that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would soon visit Pakistan.


He said although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had some reservations but he was assured by him that Pakistan was ready to remove all his doubts as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had already made an offer of an independent investigation by a third party into the incidents at the Line of Control.  He said India should accept this offer so that facts could be brought to the light.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/national/16-Dec-2013/india-progress-impresses-shahbaz


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BDU expert, two others killed in Peshawar explosion


2013-12-16


PESHAWAR: A roadside remote-controlled bomb blast in Peshawar Monday killed three personnel of the bomb disposal unit (BDU) who were on their way to defuse another bomb elsewhere in the city, DawnNews reported.


Police officer Shahid Khan says the attack took place in the Sheikh Mohammadi area of Badhber and targeted the vehicle of the BDU.


Three personnel — BDU in-charge and sub-inspector Abdul Haq, constable Imtiaz and the driver of the vehicle Kashif — were killed in the blast.


Two people, including BDU official Aminul Haq and a pedestrian, were injured in the explosion.


The injured persons were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital. According to the hospital administration, Aminul Haq's condition was critical.


Shafqat Malik, bomb disposal chief for the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, praised Haq as one of his best and most professional operatives.


“We are losing our best officers. More than 10 officers of BDS (bomb disposal squad) have lost their lives while serving their motherland,” Malik said.


Haq was made bomb disposal chief for Peshawar after his predecessor Hukam Khan was killed while defusing two bombs in the same area in September 2012.


Police and other security personnel have cordoned off the Sheikh Mohammadi area and another bomb, containing four kilograms of explosive materials, was defused after a search operation that identified it went underway.


Full report at:


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074290/bdu-expert-two-others-killed-in-peshawar-explosion


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Bomb disposal officer among three killed in Peshawar blast


December 16, 2013


A roadside bomb on Monday killed a senior bomb disposal officer along with two other policemen in Peshawar, police said.


Abdul Haq, 43, who had defused more than 60 bombs in his career, was headed to the suburb of Badhaber in the city of Peshawar after being called out to deal with a device.


"He was on his way to defuse a bomb when his vehicle was hit by another bomb. Abdul Haq and a police driver were killed on spot," Najeebur Rehman, a senior police official, told AFP, adding that a police constable wounded in the attack later died in hospital.


TV channels later showed other bomb disposal officers defusing the device.


Shafqat Malik, bomb disposal chief for the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, praised Haq as one of his best and most professional operatives.


"We are losing our best officers. More than 10 officers of BDS (bomb disposal squad) have lost their lives while serving their motherland," Malik said.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/national/16-Dec-2013/bomb-disposal-officer-among-three-killed-in-peshawar-blast


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Bomb kills Afghan police chief, three others


December 16, 2013


ALALABAD: A roadside bomb ripped through a police vehicle in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing a district police chief and three policemen, an official said. The police chief of Pachir Wa Agam district of Nangarhar province had escaped an ambush by militants and was on the way to his office when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb, provincial spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai told AFP.


“The police chief of Pachir Wa Agam along with three policemen were killed and seven police were wounded,” he said. He blamed the “enemies of Afghanistan”, a term used by Afghan officials to refer to Taliban, for the attack. The Taliban, who are waging an insurgency against the US-backed Afghan government, were not immediately available to comment.  Roadside bombs are the Taliban’s weapon of choice in the 12-year war against foreign and Afghan forces, but the civilian toll is increasing.


In the neighbouring Kunar province on Sunday, a roadside bomb hit a passenger van in the province’s Shegal district.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/international/16-Dec-2013/bomb-kills-afghan-police-chief-three-others


-----------


 


Abdul Qadir Molla paid tribute


December 16, 2013


LAHORE - Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and senior journalists on Sunday paid tributes to Abdul Qadir Molla, a Bangladeshi Islamist leader who was executed on December 12 in the name of so-called war crimes.


A memorial reference, organised by the JI at Mansoora, was attended by CPNE president Mujibur Rehman Shami, Altaf Hassan Qureshi, Maulana Abdul Maalik, Ataur Rehman, Sajjad Mir, Irshad Ahmed Arif, Liaqat Baloch, Dr Farid Ahmed Paracha and Hafiz Muhammad Idrees.


Speaking on the occasion, senior journalists and JI leaders said that the Bangladeshi government executed Abdul Qadir Molla for his unflinching loyalty to Pakistan. They also condemned the Pakistani government for showing indifferent attitude over the victimisation of the JI leaders in Bangladesh who had risked their lives to save Pakistan from dismemberment. They remarked that New Delhi considered itself to be the architect of Bangladesh and would never tolerate Islamic movements to grab power in Dhaka. They maintained that the 10-party opposition alliance had been defeated through mass rigging in Bangladesh. They further maintained that the people of Bangladesh are protesting against the policies of Haseena Wajid-led government, while the so-called war crime tribunal was against the UN Charter and international laws.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/lahore/16-Dec-2013/abdul-qadir-molla-paid-tribute


-----------


 


Mideast


 


Syrian Islamic Front rebels to meet with U.S. in Turkey


December 15th, 2013


Syrian rebel commanders from the Islamic Front which seized control of bases belonging to Western-backed rebels last week are due to hold talks with US officials in Turkey in coming days, rebel and opposition sources said on Saturday.


The expected contacts between Washington and the jihadist fighters reflect the extent to which the Islamic Front alliance has eclipsed the more moderate Free Syrian Army brigades – which Western and Arab powers tried in vain to build into a force able to topple President Bashar al-Assad.


The talks could also decide the future direction of the Islamic Front, which is engaged in a standoff with yet more radical takfiri fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).


A rebel fighter with the Islamic Front said he expected the talks in Turkey to discuss whether the United States would help arm the front and assign to it responsibility for maintaining order in the rebel-held areas of northern Syria.


He declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks, and gave no further details. Diplomatic sources in Turkey said that America's Syria envoy Robert Ford was expected in Istanbul soon but his schedule was not yet confirmed.


The Islamic Front, formed by the unification of six major Islamist groups last month, seized control a week ago of weapons stores nominally under the control of the Free Syrian Army's Supreme Military Command (SMC).


It has since said it was asked to take over the base by the SMC to protect it from attack by ISIL fighters. Whether or not the move was requested, it demonstrated how little power the Western-backed SMC wields in rebel-held Syria.


An SMC rebel commander also said he had been told the Islamic Front would hold talks with US officials in Turkey in the coming days.


The infighting and rivalries among the rebels have undermined their fight against Assad in Syria's 2-1/2 year civil war.


The conflict has also reduced whole city districts across Syria to rubble, causing tens of billions of dollars of damage, driven 2 million refugees to seek safety abroad and made millions more homeless and vulnerable to a winter storm which has covered the region in snow and biting rain.


The Islamic Front rebel told Reuters that rivalry with the ISIL had already led to a spate of hostage-taking between the two sides, and that the Front's decision to talk to the Americans had further escalated tension.


Although he described the two Islamist forces as ideologically close, he said ISIL appeared set on confrontation, perhaps encouraged by some of their backers in Saudi Arabia.


"The front has to talk to ISIL via messengers because of the tense situation," he said. "ISIL sees things in black and white. They are very stubborn."


"So far the Islamic Front has been restraining itself, having some sort of dialogue with ISIL," the rebel said. But he said that unless the hostages were released soon "there will be more discussions and a different decision will be taken."


Contacts with the United States will not be undertaken lightly by the Islamic Front, which includes Salafi groups such as Ahrar al-Sham brigades which are mainly hostile to the West and have rejected US-Russian backed UN peace talks for Syria, due to be held in Switzerland next month.


But their leaders have compared engaging with Washington to the Prophet Mohammad's temporary and tactical truces with enemy tribes as he built up his power.


The US State Department, asked earlier this month whether it was in contact with Islamist rebels in Syria, said it wanted to work with a range of groups to try to persuade them to be part of the peace negotiations.


Full report at:


http://www.albawaba.com/news/syria-rebels-us-turkey-540535


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Iranian cleric’s fatwa adds fuel to Syria fire


16 December 2013


BAGHDAD: A leading Shiite cleric widely followed by Iraqi militants has issued the first public religious edict permitting Shiites to fight in Syria’s civil war alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.


The fatwa by Iran-based Grand Ayatollah Kazim Al-Haeri, one of the mentors of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, comes as thousands of Shiite fighters mostly from Iraq and Lebanon play a major role in the battles.


The call likely will increase the sectarian tones of the war, which pits Sunni rebels against members of Assad’s Alawite sect.


Al-Haeri is based in Qom, Iran’s religious capital. Among his followers are many fighters with the feared Shiite militia, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, or Band of the Righteous, an Iranian-backed group that repeatedly attacked US forces in Iraq and says it is sending fighters to Syria.


That militia is headed by white-turbaned Shiite cleric Qais Al-Khazali, who spent years in US detention but was released after he was handed over to the Iraqi government.


Full report at:


http://www.arabnews.com/news/493386


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Yemen parliament bans drone attacks: news agency


2013-12-16


SANAA: Yemen's parliament passed on Sunday a law banning drone strikes, Saba news agency said, days after one such attack reportedly hit a wedding motorcade and killed civilians.


“Lawmakers have voted to ban drone strikes in Yemen,” Saba reported after a parliamentary meeting. The US military operates all unmanned aircraft flying over Yemen in support of Sana's campaign against Al Qaeda, and has killed dozens of militants in an intensified campaign this year.


Saba said lawmakers Sunday stressed “the importance of protecting all citizens from any aggression” and “the importance of preserving the sovereignty of Yemeni air space.”


On Thursday a drone attack in Rada, in the central province of Bayda, killed 17 people, mostly civilians, in a wedding motorcade, triggering protests in the impoverished Arabian peninsula country.


The Supreme Security Committee, headed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, issued a statement on Friday insisting that the strike had targeted a car belonging to a leader of Al Qaeda.


In the car “were top leaders who plotted several terrorist attacks against the armed forces, police, civilians and vital government installations,” it said.


The statement did not give a death toll for the strike, nor refer to any civilian casualties or acknowledge that the attack was launched by a US drone.


Security sources and witnesses said two missiles were fired, and that mostly civilians had died.


Full report at:


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074289/yemen-parliament-bans-drone-attacks-news-agency


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Iran says nuclear talks continue despite US blacklist


December 16, 2013


TEHRAN - Tehran said Sunday it will keep talking with world powers on its disputed nuclear programme despite a US move to blacklist Iranian companies for evading sanctions. “We are pursuing the negotiations seriously and of course we will give a well-considered, purposeful, smart and proper reaction to any inappropriate and unconstructive move,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Facebook page.


This was despite the Americans having made “inappropriate moves to which we gave the appropriate response by considering all aspects of the issue”. “The negotiations and achieving a result are a difficult task and will definitely have a lot of ups and downs. We have predicted that from the very beginning.” He later told CBS television in the United States: “The process has been derailed, the process has not died.”


Zaris also told the network’s Face the Nation programme that Iran is committed to the Geneva accord, adding however: “It takes two to tango.” The United States blacklisted a dozen overseas companies and individuals on Thursday for evading its sanctions imposed on Iran to halt what the West sees as its bid to build a nuclear bomb. Senior US officials argued the move was taken under an existing sanctions regime.


 which had forced Tehran to negotiations that led to an interim deal under which it agreed last month to freeze parts of its nuclear programme.


The measures, which angered Iran and prompted its negotiating team to withdraw from the talks in Vienna, have drawn strong criticism in the Islamic republic. Since Saturday, conservative newspapers have condemned the “violation of the Geneva deal” by the American administration. Some hardline students from the Islamist militia (Basij) have written an open letter to Zarif urging him to “defend the dignity” of Iran “by giving a firm response.” In the letter, published Sunday by Iranian newspapers, they also backed the decision of the negotiating team to quit the Vienna talks. Zarif vowed to answer at the right time domestic critics who were using his “necessary silence” to voice their displeasure at the nuclear deal reached with the six world powers in Geneva on November 24.


“Some friends who were not happy with the Geneva joint action programme have already announced its premature death, which is more the expression of their desire rather than the truth,” he said on Facebook. “The negotiating team has a more important responsibility... and is ready to remain silent against unjust and unfair accusations for the sake of national interests, but will answer to all the criticism and ambiguity at the right time.” Sadegh Zibakalam, a reformist political analyst, said anti-American slogans were part of the political strategy of the conservatives. “If we pull the rug of anti-Americanism from under the feet of the conservatives, they would have nothing left to say,” Ilna news agency quoted him as saying.


Full report at:


http://www.nation.com.pk/international/16-Dec-2013/iran-says-nuclear-talks-continue-despite-us-blacklist


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Qatari-funded oil eases crisis in Gaza


16 December 2013


GAZA: Israel allowed the entry of 450,000 liters of fuel, paid for by Qatar, into the Gaza Strip on Sunday to enable the Palestinian territory’s sole power plant to resume operations.


Gaza’s 1.8 million people have been enduring daily blackouts of around 12 hours since the power plant was switched off 43 days ago due to a fuel shortage caused by neighboring Egypt’s closure of smuggling tunnels.


“Hopefully, the power plant will gradually resume full operation during the day. The fuel we are receiving from Qatar will allow us only to return to the old schedule of eight hours of cuts followed by eight hours of power,” said Ahmed Abu Al-Amrain of the Gaza energy authority.


Qatar answered an appeal by Gaza’s government, led by the Hamas group, after four days of torrential rains that killed two people and forced the evacuation of more than 5,000 residents from flooded homes, some accessible only by boat.


The Gulf state, which is spending $450 million in construction projects in Gaza, will pay $10 million to Hamas’ West Bank-based rival, President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, which ordered the fuel for the enclave from Israel.


Full report at:


http://www.arabnews.com/news/493396


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Israel fires into Lebanon in retaliation


16 Dec 2013


The Israeli army has said it fired across the Lebanese border in retaliation after accusing Lebanese troops of gunning down one of its soldiers as he drove near the frontier.


The incident jarred the relatively stable standoff between the two neighbours, which last saw major hostilities in the 2006 war between Israel and the armed Lebanese Shia group, Hezbollah.


The Israeli soldier, Shlomi Cohen, 31, was fatally shot late on Sunday near Rosh Hanikra, by a Lebanese army sniper, the Israeli military said.


Lebanon's National News Agency reported late on Sunday that a member of the Lebanese army had opened fire at "an Israeli army unit" near the Naqoura border post but it was not clear why the sniper had opened fire.


There was no official reaction from the Lebanese army to the incident, although it issued a statement on Monday saying an Israeli drone had violated Lebanese airspace in the same area.


"At 10:15 pm (2015 GMT) yesterday, a drone belonging to the Israeli enemy violated Lebanese airspace over Naqoura, and performed a fly-over of the southern area, then left at 12:40 am," it said.


Hezbollah too did not comment on Sunday's killing.


"Whether the soldier involved in the initial shooting was a lone wolf perhaps with Hezbollah sympathies, is unknown," Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Jerusalem, said.


"But there are no accusations of that kind at this point. In this case, it appears to be an army on army clash," he said.


UN urges restraint


The Israeli army said the soldier was shot by Lebanese troops as he was driving a civilian vehicle along a section of the border close to the Mediterranean coast.


"After the incident, we reached the area to conduct searches as part of the investigation, and saw two suspects on the other side of the border," army spokesman Major Arye Shalicar told AFP news agency.


Full report at:


http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/12/israel-fires-into-lebanon-retaliation-2013121685511839450.html


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Yemen: Arabian Al-Qaeda struggles for influence


December 15, 2013


The deadly attacks on Yemen’s defence ministry that killed 52 people in early December have renewed speculation about the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, is thought to be the organisation’s leading operational wing.


AQAP claimed the Yemeni defence ministry complex had been targeted because US unmanned drones were being operated from it. These latest incidents come only months after AQAP leaked plans for another attack, prompting the closure of US and other foreign embassies in Yemen and beyond. But it is easy to overlook the fact that this was a local target, not an international one. In fact, the attack is an example an old Islamist tactic, “think global, act local”, which is increasingly replacing Osama bin Laden’s model of remote struggle.


The way AQAP is pursuing this strategy makes Yemen a microcosm of the global state of al-Qaeda: while lip service is still paid to a vision of attacking the international, global enemy, the actual battleground is increasingly domestic. For a meaningful assessment of AQAP, it is important to place the group’s activities into the complex and unstable politics of Yemen. In this contested state, AQAP has become increasingly involved in the local struggle for political legitimacy – and it is competing for influence against a range of actors on a number of fronts.


Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni rivals


Recent headlines have heralded AQAP’s violent struggle with the Shia Houthi rebels, a group that seeks the establishment of an imamate in Yemen but has not so far advanced a coherent political program. The same can be said for AQAP, which has little to offer in terms of a political strategy beyond the espousal of violent jihad. But despite their shared enmity with the Yemeni government, there is little love lost between AQAP and the young Houthi rebels, or “Believing Youth”, whose ideologies are poles apart.


At a time when sectarian differences are becoming ever more stark, it remains unlikely that AQAP and the Houthi rebels will look for common ground – especially since both specialise in violence, rather than the art of organised political bargaining. Indeed, the recently confirmed killing of more than 120 Sunni Muslim jihadists in fighting with the Houthi rebels seems to confirm AQAP’s commitment to violence over anything resembling diplomacy.


Another influential political force is the Southern secessionist movement. The unification of 1990 is still resented in the south of the country, where prosperity and standard of living have long been in decline, and a loose movement of populist anti-government protest has arisen in response. But this is not a jihadist movement; on the contrary, the government has previously used jihadi militias to put down these “socialist unbelievers”. It is therefore highly unlikely that the Southern Movement will have sympathy for AQAP or its particular brand of Islam.


In fact, AQAP supporters have gone out of their way to explain to the secessionists that their war is against the US and its allies, and not against the Yemeni army and fellow Muslims. As al-Qaeda’s leaders proclaimed at a 2009 rally: “We carry bombs for God’s enemies; soldiers, you must know that we do not want to fight you.” But to convince the socialist radicals that their claim to comradeship is genuine, AQAP would need to change its bloody means of pursuing its goals and moderate its harsh and narrow interpretation of Islam.


Full report at:


http://descrier.co.uk/world/2013/12/yemen-arabian-al-qaeda-struggles-influence/


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Muslim Finds Islam, Not Israel, Ruining Temple Mount


December 11, 2013


Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Palestinian academic Mudar Zahran discovers that it is local Islamic authorities, and not Israel, that are truly threatening the future of Jerusalem's Temple Mount.


Long have local Muslims accused Israel of trying to "Judaize", destroy and cleanse the Islamic presence from the Temple Mount, which today is occupied by two large mosques, one of which, the Al Aqsa Mosque, is now claimed as Islam's third holiest site.


But Zahran, who recently visited the Temple Mount, found evidence that it is not Israel harming the holy site, and that some Muslim staff even wonder how much better the situation could be if the Jews were actually running the show.


"Upon entering the silver-domed mosque, one can quickly notice how neglected [it] is, and badly in need of maintenance," wrote Zahran.


He decided to find out why, and spoke to Muslim grounds keepers, who, naturally, insisted on speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.


Full report at:


http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/24301/Default.aspx


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Southeast Asia


 


Clash in China's Xinjiang kills 16: state media


2013-12-16


BEIJING: Sixteen people were killed in a clash in China's Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, reports said Monday, less than two months after a fiery attack in Tiananmen Square.


Police attempting to detain criminal suspects in Shufu county near the Silk Road city of Kashgar, deep in far western China, were attacked by several “thugs” armed with explosive devices and knives, reported the tianshannet news portal, which is run by the Xinjiang government.


Two police officers were killed and 14 of the “thugs” shot dead on Sunday, it said, adding that two criminal suspects were detained.


The incident comes less than two months after an attack in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, when according to police, three Xinjiang Uighurs ploughed into crowds of tourists, killing two people and injuring 40, before crashing outside the Forbidden City and setting their vehicle ablaze.


The three attackers, named by authorities as Usmen Hasan, his wife and his mother, all died.


Beijing described the assault, the first blamed on Uighurs outside Xinjiang, as “terrorism” and said separatists backed by the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement were responsible.


But outside experts pointed to the unsophisticated nature of the attack and the lack of an established Islamist extremist foothold in China.


Xinjiang, a vast area bordering Pakistan and Central Asia beyond the furthest reaches of the Great Wall, has followed Islam for centuries.


For years it has seen sporadic unrest by Uighurs which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by China's Han majority, but Beijing attributes to religious extremists, terrorism and separatism.


In the worst outbreak of sectarian violence in recent years, around 200 people died and more than 1,600 were injured and hundreds arrested in riots in the regional capital Urumqi in 2009.


A total of 11 people, nine attackers and two auxiliary police officers, were killed in an attack on a police station in Serikbuya township near Kashgar last month, according to the official Xinhua news agency.


Another incident in June in the Turpan area left 35 people dead, and 139 people have been arrested in recent months for spreading jihadist ideology.


Information in the area is tightly controlled and difficult to independently verify.


In August, a Chinese policeman was killed in an incident in Yilkiqi described by state media as an “anti-terrorism” operation, but overseas media said 22 Uighurs were shot dead in the confrontation.


Authorities in Kashgar were not immediately available for comment on the latest incident when contacted by AFP on Monday.


More than 190 “terrorist” attacks were logged in Xinjiang last year, rising “by a significant margin” from 2011, state media reported last month.


Most of the attackers were in their early 30s or younger and increasingly act in small groups or individually as “a lone wolf”, they added.


Full report at:


http://www.dawn.com/news/1074292/clash-in-chinas-xinjiang-kills-16-state-media


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Prevention ‘backbone’ of Xmas, New Year security: Jokowi


December 16 2013


Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said security precautions taken ahead of and during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations would be largely focused on prevention


“Intelligence officers have been preparing for a while so that they can hopefully disrupt the roots of crime before anything bad happens,” he said at City Hall in Jakarta on Monday as quoted by Antara news agency.


Unlike in previous years, extra public transportation would be readied at Dukuh Atas stop so that those from southern Jakarta celebrating New Year's Eve in the city center could easily get home from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, for instance, where the largest crowd gathers for the holiday.


For crowd management during New Year’s Eve celebrations, Jokowi said his administration would coordinate both with the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) on ways to ensure public order.


“With personnel deployed both from the city police and the Jakarta Military Command [Kodam Jaya], I think the situation will be better. We will detail it later,” said Jokowi.


Earlier, city police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Sudjarno said the police would work together with other stakeholders, including TNI, to secure Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations in the capital.


Full report at:


http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/12/16/prevention-backbone-xmas-new-year-security-jokowi.html


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Islamic finance education in Malaysia


16 December 2013


While there is no unique mix of qualifications, experience, training and skills, those who have the right and rigorous education nevertheless stand a better chance of succeeding in any career, including in Islamic banking and finance.


Malaysia has invested heavily in developing human resources for the Islamic financial services industry. Almost all the institutions of higher learning in the country offer at least some specialised modules if not full-fledged programmes in Islamic banking and finance.


A dedicated university — International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (commonly known as INCEIF) — was also set up in 2005, with an explicit objective “to produce world-class talent for the global Islamic finance industry.” In total, there are 50 course providers and 18 universities offering degrees in Islamic banking and finance.


This year’s Global Islamic Finance Awards, held at Dubai on Nov 26, picked up Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Bachelor of Islamic Finance and Banking (BIFB) as the Best Qualification in Islamic Finance, following the 2012’s winner of Certified Qualification in Islamic Finance (CQIF) offered by IBFIM.


There is no doubt that high quality education in Islamic banking and finance is a prerequisite for starting a successful career in this field. This was obviously not the case during the first phase of development of Islamic banking and finance, when any banker and finance practitioner who had interest and passion for Islamic banking and finance had opportunities to excel in the then newly emerging industry.


The situation has changed now, as Islamic financial institutions are required, particularly in Malaysia, to employ personnel with the right and relevant qualifications. However, it seems as if the gulf between academia and industry is playing a trick, as many of the graduates of universities (including INCEIF) get confused by their own professors who seem not to be fully convinced with the practice of Islamic banking and finance.


This is particularly true in the case of the departments of economics and finance (or business schools) offering programmes in Islamic banking and finance.


The story is different in the departments of law though, if some members of their staff happen to sit on Shariah advisory boards of Islamic banks and financial institutions. The Shariah and law professors happen to have greater and better understanding of the practice of Islamic banking and finance than the academic community at business schools and economics departments.


This may lead someone to conclude that for a successful career in Islamic banking and finance, strong Shariah and law background is helpful.


This view may be supported by the dominance of Shariah scholars and the central role of Shariah advisory in Islamic banking and finance.


A close scrutiny of the academic and professional qualifications of the top management of Islamic banks in Malaysia (eg CEOs) gives a completely different story, as most of them come from an economics or business and finance background. Almost all of them have a common denominator — a foreign degree. This might be seen as a prerequisite for success in Islamic banking and finance but then it cannot be a differentiating factor as most of the successful executives and businessmen in Malaysia are foreign qualified anyway.


Thus, strong education in economics and finance seems to be the most appropriate qualification to succeed in Islamic banking and finance. Ironically, a significant proportion of economists and finance professors involved in the teaching of Islamic banking and finance happen to be sceptics.


Full report at:


http://themalaysianreserve.com/main/columns/66-shariah-a-finance-by-dr-humayon-dar/5193-islamic-finance-education-in-malaysia


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Australia


 


Australia withdraws last combat troops from Afghanistan after 12-year involvement in conflict


December 15, 2013


The last remaining Australian combat troops in Afghanistan were headed home on Monday, as Australia's military involvement in the 12-year-old conflict draws to a close.


The final group of Australia's combat soldiers in Afghanistan pulled out on Sunday, coinciding with the closure of the international military base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province, Australia's main base in the country, Defense Minister David Johnston said.


Around 400 of the 1,550 Australian military personnel in Afghanistan will remain through next year to train the Afghan military in Kabul and Kandahar.


Full report at:


http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/15/australia-withdraws-last-combat-troops-from-afghanistan-after-12-year/


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UR: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/at-least-28-children-among-76-killed-by-syria--barrel-bombs-/d/34866



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