Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
At least 63 killed in co-ordinated Baghdad attacks
22 December, 2011
A wave of apparently co-ordinated bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, has killed at least 63 people and injured around 185, say officials.
The interior ministry told the BBC 14 blasts hit various locations, including al-Amil in the south and Halawi and Karrada closer to the centre.
The bombings are the worst in months - and follow the withdrawal of US troops.
They come amid fears of rising sectarian tensions as the unity government faces internal divisions.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks.
This was a whole rash of co-ordinated bomb attacks of the sort that we saw during the worst of the insurgency.
One would assume that Sunni-based insurgents are behind it.
The problem is the current extremely heated political climate. The vice president - Iraq's senior Sunni politician - is hiding out in Iraqi Kurdistan with a warrant on his head on charges of involvement in terrorism.
A lot of Shias, including the prime minister, will no doubt conclude that this is his revenge - that he or people close to him will have unleashed this as revenge against the Shias.
It is a very critical, very tense situation and these bombs will make it more so.
However, analysts say the level of co-ordination suggests a planning capability only available to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is a mainly Sunni insurgent group.
The bombs exploded as many people were travelling to work during the morning rush-hour.
Four car-bombs and 10 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were detonated, officials told the BBC.
A security spokesman in Baghdad, Maj Gen Qassim Atta, said the attacks had not been aimed at security targets.
"They targeted children's schools, day workers and the anti-corruption agency," he told AFP news agency.
Raghad Khalid, a teacher at a kindergarten in Karrada, said "the children were scared and crying".
"Some parts of the car bomb are inside our building."
Smoke was seen rising over Karrada district, with ambulances rushing to the scene.
Another woman said her baby had been covered in glass.
"She is now scared in the next room. All countries are stable. Why don't we have security and stability?" said Um Hanin.
One Baghdad resident, Abu Ali, expressed anger at Iraq's leaders.
"These blasts occurred because of conflicts among politicians," he said.
"We call upon all politicians to resolve their problems and leave people to live in security."
Iraq's year-old power-sharing government is in turmoil after an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges.
The entire al-Iraqiyya group, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, is boycotting the assembly in protest. It accuses Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of monopolising power.
Mr Hashemi denies the charges. He is currently in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government, but Mr Maliki has demanded that they give him up.
The BBC's Jim Muir says most Shias will conclude that Iraq's disaffected Sunni leadership was behind the latest attacks.
There is a strong possibility, he says, that insurgents on the Sunni side were just waiting for the most tense moment to unleash attacks they had been planning.
The leader of one of Iraq's largest Sunni tribes, Ali Hatem Suleiman, told the BBC that Prime Minister Maliki was becoming like Iraq's former ruler, Saddam Hussein.
"Maliki will drive Iraq towards separation and will create a new dictatorship and take on Saddam's mantle."
"Unfortunately this was all agreed upon by America - to hand over Iraq to a new dictator, and so Iraq will implode again," he said.
The last American troops departed from Iraq on Sunday, nearly nine years after the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
President Barack Obama acknowledged that the situation was not perfect, but said the US forces were leaving behind "a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government elected by its people".
US expert claims A Q Khan network supplied nuke technology to India
WASHINGTON, Dec 22, 2011: A US arms control expert has made the astonishing claim that Pakistan's notorious nuclear engineer AQ Khan may have proliferated nuclear technology to India.
The source of the article is as surprising as the assertion is fantastic. In a commentary in the adults magazine Playboy, Joshua Pollack, a US policy wonk who has done work on nuclear proliferation, says India may have been the secret, unnamed "fourth country" -- after Iran, Libya and North Korea -- to which AQ Khan "provided the shortcut to a nuclear weapon."
Pollack offers little credible evidence to back the contention, other than to point similarities between the centrifuges India uses in its uranium-enrichment program and Pakistan's own centrifuges engineered by Khan. He also cites South African court documents claiming that a member of the so-called "Khan network" supplied India's centrifuge program with specialized equipment (mainly flow meters), starting in the late 1980s.
According to Pollack, although India went nuclear several years before Pakistan, it was done through the plutonium route (in 1972). But New Delhi's ability to enrich uranium remained limited, and it was not until 1986 -- by which time Pakistan had been churning out weapons-grade uranium for three years -- that India was ready to break ground on its uranium-enrichment facility.
"India's enrichment program progressed slowly...In 2006 the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security revealed that the Indian government had used news-paper ads to solicit bids for centrifuge parts. The details of these advertisements, along with documents the Indians gave potential suppliers, provide strong clues about where New Delhi's supercritical centrifuge technology came from," Pollack says, adding, "Despite some changes, the design is recognizable to the trained eye: It almost mirrors the G-2 centrifuge, a design that Khan stole from URENCO in the 1970s and later reproduced as Pakistan's P-2 centrifuge."
Pollack also says an engineering firm belonging to Gerhard Wisser, a German living in South Africa, in collaboration with Gotthard Lerch in Switzerland, supplied specialized equipment to both Pakistan and its proliferation partners, and starting in the late 1980s, to India too. Khan, he suggests, may have known about this.
"Could Khan have been ignorant about Wisser's dealings with India? His own guilty conscience says otherwise," Pollack conjectures, writing that though Khan has never acknowledged having a fourth customer, he gave his Pakistani interrogators at least two contradictory cover stories that may explain how Pakistan's enrichment technology could have ended up in "enemy hands." The full transcript of Khan's interrogation, said to run hundreds of pages, has never been made public, he says, but Musharraf 's 2006 memoir provides important details, he says.
At first, Khan seems to have suggested his overseas network (Lerch, Wisser et al.) was autonomous enough to supply both India and Pakistan without either side knowing. But Khan later alleged he had been exploited by an Indian connection who was hidden inside Farooq's Dubai operation. "Ironically," he cites Musharraf writing in his biography, "the network based in Dubai had employed several Indians, some of whom have since vanished. There is a strong probability that the Indian uranium enrichment program may also have its roots in the Dubai-based network and could be a copy of the Pakistani centrifuge design."
From most accounts, the idea that Khan would have willfully proliferated knowingly to India is far-fetched considering he had a pathological hatred of the country of his origin (he migrated to Pakistan from Bhopal). Both Musharraf and Khan have been repeatedly exposed as bare-faced liars, but Pakistani nationalists, in a bid to obfuscate the proliferation charge against Islamabad, have long alleged that India too has been a beneficiary of nuclear smuggling rings.
But the flip side to the story is that if Khan knowingly allowed nuclear technology to India, as alleged by Pollack, he would stand diminished in the eyes of his ultranationalist worshippers.
Honor Killings on the Rise In Pakistan
By Abubakar Siddique
December 21, 2011
Pakistan has taken steps to counter the troubling rise of "honor killings," but recently enacted laws were not enough to save 675 women.
That is the number of women who died in honor killings in the first nine months of 2011, according to Pakistan's leading human-rights watchdog, putting the county on track to exceed the record number of such killings recorded in 2010.
The troubling figures were released on December 20 by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which documented 791 honor killings in 2010 and 600 in 2009.
Zaman Khan, a senior HRCP monitor speaking from the eastern city of Lahore, claims the numbers indicate that violence against women is increasing.
"The [new] unfortunate trend is that the traditions that used to exist in conservative rural areas or feudal and tribal communities have now slowly made inroads into the cities," he says. "Despite the [public] awareness and women's role in public life, the atrocities and violence against them have increased."
Just this month, Pakistan took steps to counter the trend. New laws were passed that establish severe punishments for perpetrators of violence against women, and discriminatory practices such as forced marriage or depriving women of inheritance were banned.
Human rights activists have welcomed the moves, but still maintain that compliance with these laws is a long way off.
Some Positive Developments
The HRCP's Khan notes some positive developments. He believes the media's reporting of such cases has increased, adding to public awareness of the issue.
And police, he suggests, appear to be increasingly documenting and investigating cases of violence against women -- a break from past practice when such cases were brushed aside in the name of protecting a family's honor.
Nonetheless, Khan also notes that as startling as the current figures are, they may be low.
This is because many cases never come to light as HRCP monitors and journalists cannot access remote regions in the country of 180 million people.
Khan claims conservative societal norms still favor the concealment of such incidents.
"The first thing is the culture here," he says People have a mindset and they are against women and even do not recognize their rights inside their home or outside in society. Then there are the attitudes: that of the police, the courts; and even individual attitudes inside our homes.
"We have [favored] treatment for boys compared to girls. In addition, religious extremism definitely plays a role."
HRCP's research shows that, out of the 675 women who died in honor killings this year, 71 were younger than 18.
More than half of the 791 victims in 2010 were killed over allegations of illicit sexual relations. Another 129 were killed because they had married without their family's consent.
California woman charged with sending money to Pakistan to help fund attacks on US military
By Associated Press,
LOS ANGELES, December 22, A California woman was indicted on federal charges alleging she sent money to Pakistan to help fund terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel, authorities said.
Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma, was named Wednesday in a four-count indictment. She faces three counts of providing material support to terrorists and one count of making a false statement. Mihalik could face up to 53 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Mihalik funneled about $2,000 to a person in Pakistan over a three-week period beginning late last year, knowing the money would be used to prepare for and carry out attacks against the U.S. military and others overseas, federal prosecutors said.
Mihalik, who worked as a pharmacist, has been in federal custody since she was arrested in August after she attempted to board a flight to Turkey, her native country.
She previously pleaded not guilty to the false statement charge.
Mihalik lied to federal agents during an interview at Los Angeles International Airport following a six-month trip to Turkey by telling them she never used an alias to wire money overseas and she had only sent funds once, authorities said.
She told investigators the money was meant for a family friend who was having financial problems, according to an affidavit. Authorities wouldn’t elaborate about how they know the money Mihalik wired overseas was going to be used for terrorist attacks.
However, court documents reveal Mihalik’s arrest is “related to national security investigations in other areas of the United States.” As of August, Mihalik had been cooperating with investigators, records show.
“The charges are based on the defendant’s intent to cause harm to U.S. military personnel,” said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. “We have not alleged any attacks that may have resulted from the funding because the legal issue is the defendant’s intent as to what the money would be used for.”
Defense attorney Alan Eisner said no new evidence has been offered up by prosecutors since his client’s arrest four months ago, and the money sent overseas was donated to charity.
“The evidence will show she’s not funding a terrorist organization,” Eisner said.
A trial on the false statement charge was set for February. Mihalik will be arraigned on the new charges at a later date.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Scholar calls for new women-only floors in Grand Mosque
By ARAB NEWS
Mar 18, 2010
JEDDAH: A professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh has called for the construction of extra floors just for women at the Grand Mosque in Makkah in order to prevent them from mingling with men during tawaf (circling of the Holy Kaaba) and prayers.
"Mingling of sexes is not allowed in the Grand Mosque and outside the mosque according to the Shariah," Dr. Yousuf Al-Ahmed told Arab News.
"There are two types of mingling of sexes; mingling that takes place casually in the passages and at the Jamrat in Mina; and permanent mingling that takes place during tawaf causing congestion and harm to women," Al-Ahmed told Arab News.
Al-Ahmed called for the building of separate floors for women after demolishing the expansions carried out during the Ottoman era and the rule of King Saud, adding that it would create more room for the increasing number of pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah.
"This engineering solution will give women privacy and keep them away from cameras that project them and show them on satellite channels. Is it not the right of women not to battle with men during tawaf? Is it not their right to have one or two floors to perform tawaf and what is wrong in reconstructing the mosque for this purpose," he asked.
Al-Ahmed asked Arab News not to publish his statement before sending him the report by email. But he did not provide an email address through SMS and switched his mobile phone off. Arab News has a recording of his statement.
The university professor had earlier expressed the same views during a talk show aired by Al-Bidaya satellite channel. His statement is also now available on Youtube.
Dr. Muhammad Al-Sahli, imam and khateeb at Al-Jowhara Mosque in Makkah, did not support the idea saying it would not be practical. "Preventing the reason is one of the principles of Islam and here comes the issue of mingling that causes temptations. But we should be realistic as allocating separate places for women comes close to our imagination but would not serve the interest," he said.
Al-Sahli said the number of women coming to the Grand Mosque is much less than that of men. "If we create a separate area for women in the mataf (circling area) it would reduce the mosque's space. The present status is much better," he said, adding that women can now pray at places far away from men.
Saleh Al-Shamrani, another scholar, refused to comment on the issue and left the matter to the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars to decide.
Raising Money for "Lady Al-Qaida"
December 19, 2011
A Northeastern University Muslim chaplain, who also is a Roxbury, Mass. imam, hailed a terrorist convicted of attempting to murder Americans in Afghanistan as "brave," while painting the United States as an oppressive nation of infidels.
"They say that she took up a machine gun while they held her captive in the other room and was ready to attack her captives. What a brave woman she is," Abdullah Faaruuq said at a Dec. 8 fundraiser for Aafia Siddiqui.
Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist also known as "Lady al-Qaida," is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted of attempting to assault and murder American officers in Afghanistan. Prosecutors say she grabbed an Army officer's M-4 rifle and fired it at another officer and other members of a U.S. interview team at an Afghan police compound in July 2008. She was originally detained by Afghan officials who found in her possession notes about a "mass casualty attack" in the United States, along with a list of New York landmarks.
The fundraiser, "In Support of our Sister, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui," was held at the Islamic Center of Worcester. Speakers repeatedly cast her prosecution and conviction as unjust.
"What a brave woman she continues to be, and how much her bravery and her faith and her belief warrants our support at this time," said Faaruuq, an imam at Roxbury's Mosque for the Praising of Allah. "It is said that we're trying to raise $30,000 tonight. I would say it's better that we've raised your awareness and raised your ire, as your anger against a government who would level the charges that they have against this woman and they say she is guilty. I would say she's only guilty of defending herself."
Full Report at:
Fatwa issued against Veena Malik in India
New Delhi, December 22, 2011, It's raining controversies for Veena Malik. After the nude photo shoot row, the actor is also in trouble over her Swayamvar stint.
The All India Muslim Tyohar (Festivals) Committee in Bhopal has issued a fatwa against the Paksitani actor for showing disrespect towards the sacred
institution of nikaah (marriage) by signing a contract with a channel for her wedding on National TV.
The fatwa was reportedly issued following complaints against the actor that urged to take action against her, reports a daily.
“We were getting complaints from concerned community members who said that the activities of this Pakistani female actor was sending a wrong message to our teenagers, especially girls,” Ausaf Shahmiri Khurram, chairman of the Majlis-e-Shura told the paper.
“The complaints said that there were offensive photographs of this woman all over the internet and that she was going to have a `Swayamvar` on television. Islam has a certain procedure for a `Nikaah`. We do not have `Swayamvar`,” he added.
From Left: A promotional still from Veena Ka Swayamvar, Veena getting cosy with Ashmit Patel in Bigg Boss 4 and FHM's nude cover
In the meanwhile a channel reported two days back that Imagine TV had withdrawn the promos of Swayamvar. The premise for the channel to do so is still not clear.
This isn't the first time that the starlet has found a fatwa issued against herself. Thanks to her bold persona in the reality show Bigg Boss 4, she was issued a fatwa in Pakistan in 2010.
Veena Malik is hogging newsprint in India and Pakistan over her nude photo shoot for FHM magazine. The actor also made news after she went missing from a film shoot, only to re-appear later in a hotel room in Mumbai.
Veena has also been disowned by her father following the nude controversy.
Aceh Muslims Speak Out in Support Of Punks’ Treatment
Arientha Primanita & Antara
December 22, 2011
Muslims students and clerics in staunchly Islamic Aceh on Wednesday came to the defense of the local authorities, saying that punks were trying to undermine Islamic law in the province, as officials claim.
Authorities in Aceh, especially the administration of the Banda Aceh municipality, have come under a barrage of criticism at home and abroad, with accusations of human rights violations being made following their move to arrest 65 punks in Aceh and send them for several days of “re-education” at a police camp.
“The existence of punks in Aceh is weakening the implementation of Islamic Shariah [law] in Aceh that is now being promoted, by damaging the moral of the youths in Aceh,” said Tengku Mukhtar Syafari, the head of the Rabithath Muta’allin Pidie association of clerics.
The Aceh chapter of Indonesian Muslim Student Action Unity (Kammi) aired its full support for the authorities’ actions, saying that the life they were living was not in line with the culture and customs of Aceh.
“In a number of Western countries, Muslims are not allowed to wear the veil. Is that not a human rights violation?” said Muhammad Muaz Munawar, who heads the chapter.
He said that everyone should respect the policies of other countries.
“Each country must have its own wisdom, so everyone else should respect it.”
Mukhtar said the accusations of human rights violations by rights activists were “unbalanced” and that activists were doing nothing.
“So far, these human rights defenders have come up with unbalanced statements on the way punks are provided with guidance although they themselves do not do anything,” Mukhtar said.
Full Report at:
Maldives: Amnesty declares imprisoned blogger a prisoner of conscience
By JJ Robinson
December 22nd, 2011
Amnesty International has declared imprisoned blogger Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed a prisoner of conscience, and called for his “immediate and unconditional” release.
The controversial blogger was arrested on December 14 following his participation in a ‘silent protest’ on Human Rights Day, calling for religious tolerance in the Maldives.
A group of men attacked the protesters with stones, and Rasheed was taken to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) with a fractured skull. He was subsequently arrested for questioning over his involvement in the silent gathering, and the Criminal Court granted police a 10 day extension of detention for the investigation.
“The continued detention of Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed is in breach of international treaties on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Maldives is a state party,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“Amnesty International is dismayed that instead of defending Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed, who has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of the expression, the government of Maldives has detained him. Moreover, the government has taken no action to bring to justice those who attacked the ‘silent’ demonstrators, even though there is credible photographic evidence of the attack.”
Full Report at:
Saudi Arab Hafiz program: Women are major beneficiaries
By DIANA AL-JASSEM
JEDDAH, Dec 22, 2011: With the implementation of the first phase of the Hafiz unemployment program on Dec. 31, 700,000 Saudis will start receiving their monthly allowance.
Reports issued by the Ministry of Labor confirm that the list consists of 560,000 Saudi women against 140,000 Saudi men, a discrepancy that has sparked the debates on unemployment among Saudi women. Some Saudi men accuse women of registering in Hafiz without ever having looked for a job.
Arab News raised the question whether women registered in Hafiz are involuntarily unemployed or if they simply prefer not to work. Do women participate in Hafiz because they are in need of a job or did they find Hafiz a golden opportunity to earn money for doing nothing?
Aisah Natto, a Saudi businesswomen and board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), confirmed there were two important reasons for the large number of unemployed Saudi women benefitting from Hafiz.
“The first is that there are not many work opportunities available for women in Saudi Arabia. It is well known and statistics prove that unemployment is widespread among Saudi women, because they are only allowed to work in the education and medical sectors,” she said.
“However,” she continued, “the second reason is that some women prefer not to work. They decide to stay home to take care of children, especially given that most salaries provided for them are estimated between SR2,000 and SR3,000. Hafiz encouraged them to register and receive a monthly payment from the government without doing any effort. It is expected that those women have never searched for a job opportunity.”
According to Natto, the second group of women will be exposed when the Ministry of Labor finds job opportunities for them and they refuse these.
“For these cases, the Ministry of Labor created a number of punishments, like cutting SR200 or more from the monthly salary,” she said.
Natto stressed that such mistakes were expected to accrue from Hafiz and that women would snatch many opportunities from men, but the salary would be given for only one year. After the year finishes, more men can profit from the allowance and get job opportunities.
Full Report at:
Iraq Prime Minister hardens stand on V-P
Baghdad, Dec 21: Iraq’s government marked its first anniversary on Wednesday in turmoil as its premier urged Kurd officials to hand over Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi on terror charges, in a row that has raised communal tensions.
Washington has urged calm, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to replace ministers belonging to the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc if they did not end a Cabinet boycott, while vice-president Hashemi, currently holed up in the autonomous
Kurdish region, rejected claims he ran a death squad.
Legislators are also due to consider a call from Mr Maliki to sack Sunni deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlak, who has decried the Shia-led national unity government as a “dictatorship”.
All this comes just days after US troops completed their withdrawal from the country, leaving behind what US President Barack Obama described as a “sovereign, stable, and selfreliant Iraq.” “We call for the govern
ment of the Kurdistan region to... hand over Hashemi to the justice system,” Mr Maliki told a news conference in Baghdad.
“We do not accept any
interference in Iraqi justice.” Mr Maliki also rejected Mr Hashemi’s calls for Arab League representatives to observe the investigation and any questioning, telling reporters, “We gave Saddam a fair trial, and we will give Hashemi a fair trial too,” referring to now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
He also warned Mr Hashemi and Mr Mutlak’s Iraqiya bloc that he would replace the group’s nine Cabinet ministers if they continued to boycott government sessions. — AFP
Attacks on Egyptian women protesters spark uproar
December 22, 2011
CAIRO: Egyptian activist Ghada Kamal was grabbed, slapped and beaten by an army officer this week during five days of violent demonstrations demanding an end to military rule.
Battered and bruised, the 28-year-old was released hours later, after she said she was threatened and told “tonight, you’re mine”. But instead of going home, she walked right into a television studio.
“How can the same person who attacks an unarmed woman protect the nation? I was dragged and pulled from my hair. They hit me with batons in my stomach and my chest,” Kamal, a member of the youth group April 6, told viewers of a popular chat show.
Images of women often in a lead role during the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February resonated across the Arab world. Now women say they are being targeted; pictures of them being molested have fuelled anger at home and abroad.
In one video that has in the days since it was shot come to symbolise the abuse, army officers were shown dragging a woman by her black robe, worn by conservative Muslims, as she lay on the ground. Then she was repeatedly kicked and clubbed. The image has gone viral on the Internet.
In response, thousands of women surrounded by men pledging to protect them demonstrated in Tahrir on Tuesday. “The women of Egypt are a red line!” they chanted, vowing to return this Friday for a mass demonstration.
Ordinary Egyptians and commentators have been outraged, piling pressure on the army and encouraging calls for it to hand power to an elected president sooner than June, when it has now pledged to hold the vote.
Full Report at:
Gadhafi’s jailed son Seif al-Islam tells Human Rights Watch he hasn’t seen lawyer, family
By Associated Press,
CAIRO, December 21, 2011 Moammar Gadhafi’s captured son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, is being treated well but has not had access to a lawyer, an international rights group said Wednesday after visiting the prisoner in a mountain stronghold of Libya’s ex-rebel fighters.
Seif al-Islam, who has been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, was captured in November by fighters from the town of Zintan in Libya’s western mountains, one of the key centers of the rebellion against Gadhafi. The Zintan fighters continue to hold him, and Libya’s national leadership in Tripoli is insisting on trying him at home, though they have yet to establish a functional court system.
Seif al-Islam “had no complaints about the physical conditions of his detention” but “his main concern was the lack of access to family and to a lawyer,” said Fred Abrahams, a special adviser with the rights group who visited the prisoner on Sunday.
The group urged Libya’s new leaders to ensure Gadhafi’s son gets legal representation.
Seif al-Islam, who for months helped his father lead the fight against Libyan rebels, was charged in June with crimes against humanity by the ICC for alleged atrocities committed during the civil war. The elder Gadhafi was killed while in rebel hands in October in his hometown of Sirte.
Libya’s general prosecutor, Abdelaziz al-Hasadi, told Human Rights Watch that his office had opened an investigation into Seif al-Islam related to corruption allegations from before the war and would also investigate alleged crimes committed by him during this year’s fighting.
To try him at home on the same charges contained in the international court’s indictment, Libya would have to challenge the ICC’s jurisdiction through a legal submission to the Netherlands-based court and would have to show it is genuinely able and willing to prosecute his case in fair and credible proceedings, Human Rights Watch said.
Al-Hasadi, who is investigating Seif al-Islam’s case, told HRW that he would allow Gadhafi’s son “access to a lawyer when the government prepared a secure detention facility in Tripoli.”
Full Report at:
Pakistan, Bangladesh asked to resolve Bihari issue
By ARAB NEWS
Dec 20, 2011
JEDDAH: The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) has called upon the government of Pakistan to repatriate Pakistanis languishing in camps across Bangladesh for four decades.
At a function organized here over the weekend to mark the fall of Dhaka, speakers urged Islamabad to reactivate the Rabita Trust in order to begin the repatriation of Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh. Pakistan lost its eastern wing during the 1971 war with India that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
The meeting adopted resolutions asking Islamabad to assign its high commissioner in Dhaka to look after the quarter of a million Pakistanis living in Bangladesh camps. It also urged OIC to include in its agenda the issue of stranded Pakistanis.
Speaking on the occasion, Urdu Markaz President Athar Nafees Abbasi said the fall of East Pakistan was the result of a conspiracy that succeeded due to our dishonest leaders. He said those who resisted the fall of Dhaka and gave sacrifices for the country were unfortunately left behind in Bangladesh in a miserable condition.
The quarter of a million Pakistanis living in squalid camps in Bangladesh even after four decades shows how much we care for our citizens.
Syed Riaz Bukhari, president of Pakistan People’s Community, said the event of 1971 was the greatest tragedy of our history but unfortunately we have not learned any lesson from our mistakes. He suggested the creation of an action committee comprising different overseas Pakistani groups to help the PRC in pushing for their repatriation.
Shahid Nayeem, President of Pakistan Journalists Forum, said the issue warranted immediate attention of Pakistani government, NGOs, media and charitable organizations. He urged President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to initiate the repatriation of the stranded Pakistanis without further delay.
PRC Convener Syed Ehsanul Haque said it was an irony that over a million Bengalis are living in Pakistan as bona fide citizens whereas those patriot Pakistanis who rendered all kinds of sacrifices for their country have been left to live a miserable life in a hostile country.
He asked the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh to seriously take up the issue and involve the Muslim World League, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Development Bank to resolve it at the earliest.
Other speakers were Dr. Irfan Hashmi, Iftikhar Choudhry, Shaikh Mohammad Luqman, Tariq Mahmood, Gulab Khan, Riaz Ghuman and Syed Shahabuddin. Abdul Qayyum Waseq conducted the function.
Peace in Afghanistan must for peace in Pakistan: Chairman Senate
ISLAMABAD, Dec 21 (APP): Stability and peace in Afghanistan are important for stability and peace in Pakistan and non interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs is fundamental to Pakistan’s policy.This was stated by the Chairman Senate, Farooq H Naek, while talking to visiting Afghan Parliamentary delegation who called on him at the Parliament House here on Wednesday evening.“Pakistan wants to have friendly relations with all ethnic and political groups of Afghanistan. We have made consistent and sincere efforts to improve our relations with Afghanistan.” The Chairman said Pakistan has all along supported President Karzai’s peace efforts, said a press release issued here.
“We continue to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation. Pakistan does not aspire to determine the political dispensation in Kabul. At Afghanistan’s request we established a two-tier joint commission to support the reconciliation process”.
Naek underscored the need for enhanced exchange of Parliamentary delegations between the two countries to promote people-to-people contacts.
Such visits will help promote greater cooperation between the two parliaments.He said terrorism was a menace that has affected our two countries. Pakistan has suffered a lot and paid huge price in fighting this menace.
Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism.“We have lost our great leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto by an act of terrorism. We have lost about 30,000 innocent civilians and about 5000 brave personnel of armed and security forces.”
He said Prof Rabbani was a friend of Pakistan. His tragic assassination is a great loss for Pakistan and also a set back to the reconciliation process.
“We have offered our full support to the Afghani government in the investigation of this heinous crime”.
Mr. Abdul Latif Pedram, leader of the Afghan delegation/Meshrano Jirga,while reciprocating the gesture said they are too pleased to visit brotherly country Pakistan and especially Senate of Pakistan.
He also thanked the Chairman and honourable Members of the Senate for their hospitality.
Expressing their strong desire and commitment to further enhance the brotherly relations with Pakistan, the members of the delegation said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are brothers and neighbors.
They will make every possible effort to further enhance the brotherly relations between the two countries.
The meeting was also attended by Leader of the House in the Senate, Syed Nayyer Hussain. Bokhari, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri besides Senators Salim Kalsoom Parveen Haji Muhammad Adeel,Rehana Yahya Balcoh, Muhammad Ghufran Khan, Sabir Ali Baloch and Secretary Senate, Raja Muhammad Amin & Special Secretary Senate, Mr. Iftikharullah Babar.
GCC confederation ideal choice: Political analyst
By WALAA HAWARI
RIYADH, Dec 22, 2011 : Following Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s call for the GCC to transform into a single entity, a leading political analyst said fulfilling the king’s vision would depend on certain criteria being met.
Sadaka Fadel, professor of political science and Shoura Council member, said there is a huge difference between “unity” and a “single entity.” “To be able to understand the difference we need to understand what drives countries to form unity and cooperation,” said Fadel.
Four elements must be considered, including the geographical locations of the countries in relation to each other and social similarities, confirmed common interests, common threats, common values and ideologies.
King Abdullah called on leaders of the six-nation GCC to work on strengthening their alliance and work toward a united “single entity” at the opening ceremony of the GCC leaders' two-day summit meeting that ended on Tuesday.
When countries choose to be united, Fadel pointed out, they sign a framework agreement for cooperation, after which they work out how to form a union.
The GCC, founded in 1981 as an economic and political group, includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. They chose a confederation system, said Fadel. This allows countries and governments to form a comprehensive international Gulf organization to cooperate in the fields of politics, economics, social and security while maintaining their separate sovereignty.
Other formulas might prove to be stronger and more powerful, said Fadel, pointing to a federal system as an example. “This happens when two or three countries decide to use a system similar to that used in the United States and form one state with a central capital and represent the group of countries in the international community,” said Fadel.
The level of unity in these countries is to the point of complete fusion, he pointed out, adding that although the formula seems similar in the GCC, there is less integration.
“When King Abdullah called for a union, I believe he was calling for tightening up of the existing framework,” said Fadel, stressing that the economic union should be activated while maintaining each country's sovereignty. The GCC has its own constitution, pointed out Fadel, yet the level of unity has not increased as King Abdullah demanded.
The GCC leaders chose the confederation system for specific reasons, said Fadel, stressing that they need to work on implementing a united economic agreement, internal and external policies, freedom to export and import goods and services and eventually build a single army.
Weeks of clashes in northern Yemen kill 200, including 15 foreigners
By Associated Press,
SANAA, Yemen, December 21, 2011, Nearly 200 people, among them 15 foreigners, have been killed in clashes over the past few weeks between an ultraconservative Islamist group and former Shiite rebels in northern Yemen, a military official and the leader of the Islamist faction said Wednesday. In Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Minister said four Russian citizens were among those killed.
The tension between the Salafi Islamists, who are Sunni, and the former Hawthi rebels, who are Shiite, escalated just as Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed in late November a U.S.-backed proposal crafted by powerful Gulf Arab neighbors, under which he transfers power to his vice president in exchange for immunity from prosecution. He agreed to step down after a 10-month uprising against his 33-year authoritarian rule.
The Hawthis fought a bloody and costly six-year war with Saleh’s government in northern Saada province, along the Saudi border, until a cease-fire was reached early last year.
Salafi spokesman Surour al-Wadee said 71 Salafi fighters, among them an American and French, Russian, Algerian, Malaysian, Somalian, and Libyan citizens, have been killed in the clashes. A Yemeni military officials said more than 120 Hawthis have been killed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Many of the foreigners were studying in the Salafi Dar al-Hadith school in Saada, which has attracted students from around the world. It was set up more than 20 years ago as a learning center to counter Shiite Islam in the area. Its funds often flow from Yemen’s neighbor to the north, Saudi Arabia.
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30 militants killed in northwest Pakistan
Islamabad, Dec 21,2011, At least 30 militants were killed in a clash with security personnel in the restive Orakzai tribal region of northwest Pakistan today, officials said. The clash began when militants armed with automatic weapons ambushed security personnel at Goga Qamar area in Orakzai Agency. Troops backed by gunship helicopters retaliated, killing 30 militant and destroying five rebel hideouts. Eighteen security personnel were wounded in the fighting, officials said. Security forces cordoned off the area later and launched a search operation. In a separate development, militants blew up a medical store at Karikot in South Waziristan tribal region with a low intensity bomb. The store was destroyed though there were no casualties.
2 executed for killing Filipino truck driver
By ARAB NEWS
JEDDAH, Dec 22, 2011: Two Egyptian nationals convicted of murdering a Filipino truck driver were executed in Riyadh on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
The ministry identified the executed Egyptians as Wael Al-Sayed Fareed Al-Sayed and Rizq Eid Ali Rajab, who killed Alister Morong.
“The two Egyptians took the Filipino to a place far from residential areas after promising him that they would purchase his truck,” the ministry said.
“After reaching a desolated area, the two attacked the Filipino and strangled him and threw him along the road in order to take away his vehicle and share the booty,” it added.
Security officers later caught the two criminals who confessed to the crime. The Shariah Court sentenced the pair to death.
The verdict was later endorsed by the Court of Appeal as well as the Supreme Court.
The ministry reiterated that it would not allow anybody to undermine the Kingdom’s security and stability and would impose tough punishments on those criminals involved in murder and armed robbery.
Terrorists blow up medical store in S Waziristan
December 22, 2011
WANA: Unidentified terrorists, on Wednesday, blew up a private medical store at Karikot and fled from the scene. According to political administration, the terrorists had planted a low-intensity bomb at the medical store and detonated it with a remote control device. The shop was completely destroyed. Taking strong notice of the incident, South Waziristan Agency Political Agent Javed Khan called Ahmedzai Wazir tribal jirga and told him that such incidents were unacceptable for the government. He said law and order situation has improved due to great sacrifices by tribal elders and security forces, tribal elders will be held responsible if peace was again disturbed. The Agency top administrator urged them to play active role for maintenance of peace. Javed Khan said strict action would be taken against violators of Peace Agreement 2007. The tribal elders assured full cooperation to the government and political administration. Meanwhile, a pamphlet has been distributed by local peace committee requesting motorists and drivers to avoid using black tints on their vehicles glass, and warned that violators would be fined Rs 5000. app
Pakistan PM fears ouster, hits out at army
ISLAMABAD, Dec 22, 2011: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government, giving his most public indication yet that he fears being ousted from power.
He spoke as the Supreme Court met again to decide whether to order a formal inquiry into a secret memo, allegedly written with approval from the president, on seeking American help in curbing the powerful military.
Rampant speculation that President Asif Ali Zardari could be forced to step down over illness and the scandal has refused to die, despite his return this week from treatment in a Dubai hospital.
I want to make it clear today that conspiracies are being hatched here to pack up the elected government," Gilani told a gathering at the National Arts Gallery, without naming any names.
"But we will continue to fight for the rights of people of Pakistan whether or not we remain in the government," Gilani said.
Gilani and Zardari have fended off a series of scandals and calls for the government to resign since they took office after the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) won elections in February 2008.
Although elections are not due before February 2013, many observers expect polls some time in 2012. No civilian leader in Pakistan has ever completed a full term in office.
The military is considered the chief arbitor of power and has ruled the country for more than half its existence, seizing power in four coups although analysts rule out any prospect of another imminent takeover.
"They are a disciplined army and follow the constitution," Gilani said.
"They are under the government and will remain under the government."
The prime minister declared himself the country's longest serving premier, with 45 months on the job.
Pakistan's former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, this week compounded the pressure on the government by demanding elections within 90 days.
The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned until Friday a hearing on whether to investigate the memo allegedly written by one of Zardari's closest advisers to ask for American help over an allegedly feared military coup in May.
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington, was forced to resign over the scandal and flatly denies the accusations from a US businessman.
India and Pakistan to talk on Nuclear CBMs this month
ISLAMABAD, 22 DEC, 2011: Senior Indian and Pakistani officials will meet here during December 26-27 for talks on nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures as part of the bilateral dialogue process.
This will be the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on nuclear and conventional CBMs in over four years though other officials, including the two Foreign Secretaries, have discussed these issues in recent meetings in Islamabad and New Delhi, diplomatic sources told media.
Among the issues that are expected to be discussed at the upcoming meeting are CBMs related to Jammu and Kashmir and missile tests and steps to boost cross-LoC trade and travel, the sources said.
In an apparent bid to strengthen its case for access to civil nuclear technology, Pakistan has been pressing the issue of civil nuclear cooperation with India, including a proposal to discuss measures to cope with a Fukushima-like situation, the sources said.
This too is likely to come up at next week's meeting. The Indian side at the upcoming meeting will include diplomats who handle issues related to Pakistan and disarmament.
The Pakistani side will be led by an Additional Secretary of the Foreign Office. The Joint Working Group on nuclear and conventional CBMs had last met in October 2007.
India and Pakistan resumed their dialogue process early this year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that was carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Indian Foreign Minister to meet Abbas in Ramallah
NEW DELHI, Dec 22, 2011, Walking the tightrope between its burgeoning ties with Tel Aviv and its support for the Palestinian cause, foreign minister S.M. Krishna, who embarks on a three-day visit to Israel next month, will also be going to Ramallah in the West Bank where he is expected to meet Palestinian National Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and foreign minister Riyad Malki.
Incidentally, minister of state for external affairs E.
Ahamed too was in Palestine last month to participate in the handing over ceremony of the IBSA multi-purpose sports centre at Ramallah. During the visit, Mr Ahamed reiterated New Delhi’s “continued support to Palestine in their efforts to achieve a just solution to the Middle East conflict”.
The visit by Mr Krishna to Israel itself is of huge import given that an Indian foreign minister will be setting foot on Israeli soil for the first time in 11 years.
While in Tel Aviv, the foreign minister is expected to
sign at least two agreements with the Israeli government. While one concerns extradition, the other relates to the exchange of prisoners.
However, more than the inking of these agreements, the mere fact that an Indian foreign minister will be visiting Israel after such a long gap is being seen as a substantive and natural step forward in the growing bilateral relations between the two countries. Over the years, Israel has become the second largest supplier of defence systems to India with annual sales worth
around a billion dollars.
The two are also in negotiations for signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
It is learnt that it is New Delhi that had first come up with the suggestion that the foreign minister visit Israel over a year ago.
Incidentally, 2012 will also mark two decades of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The last visit by an Indian foreign minister to Israel was by Mr Jaswant Singh in 2000 during the tenure of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government.
NATO, Pakistan both to blame in border incident: probe
Brussels, December 22, 2011, A NATO investigation into an air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers concluded that both alliance and Pakistani forces made mistakes in the incident, NATO said Thursday.
NATO's military chain of command voiced its "sincerest, heartfelt condolences to the
families" of the victims, the alliance said in a statement following the November 25-26 incident which has severely strained US-Pakistani relations.
"The investigation has ascertained that a series of mistakes were made on both sides in failing to properly coordinate their locations and actions, both before the operation and during the resulting engagement," NATO said.
It said that Afghan and NATO-led forces "legitimately responded in self-defence" after being initially fired upon by "unidentified forces" that were not believed to be Pakistani military at the time, the alliance said.
"The combined force did not knowingly fire at the Pakistani forces," it said.
"The investigation has substantiated that close air support was employed in self-defence in response to intense, heavy machine gun and mortar fire initiated by what turned out to be Pakistan forces near the border in the vicinity of Salala."
Syria unrest: Arab League observers set to arrive
22 December, 2011
Monitors from the Arab League are due to arrive in Syria under an initiative aimed at ending the violent crackdown on anti-government protests.
The UN says some 5,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests began in March but right groups say the figure is much higher.
Damascus blames the unrest on "armed gangs" seeking to destabilise Syria.
Russia is coming under pressure to speed up work on its draft UN resolution condemning the violence.
Moscow surprised diplomats by submitting the draft last week but there has been little progress since.
On Thursday, the US issued fresh travel advice for Americans, urging "US citizens currently in Syria to depart immediately".
"US citizens should not travel to Syria due to ongoing violence and civil unrest," the advisory said.
'Playing for time'
An advance party of about 30 Arab League observers, accompanied by members of the media, will arrive in Syria on Thursday to prepare for the arrival of the full delegation, which will have a one-month mandate that can be extended by another month if both sides agree.
Another group of observers is due in Syria on Sunday, and the mission is expected to be 150-strong when complete.
They will oversee Syria's compliance with the Arab League initiative, which calls for attacks to stop, troops to withdraw from the streets and detained protesters to be freed.
Damascus's decision to admit them was announced on Monday, after weeks of delays.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said they would be allowed freedom of movement and be protected by the government.
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UK has 4 weeks to free Pakistani held in US: British judge
December 22, 2011
LONDON: British judges on Wednesday gave the government four weeks to obtain the release of a Pakistani man held in US custody in Afghanistan — a ruling that could make for prickly discussions between Britain and the US. Britain has until January 18 to free Yunus Rahmatullah from a US detention facility at the Bagram air base, according to the appeals court ruling. The ruling comes nearly a week after the UK legal charity Reprieve successfully won its habeas corpus petition claiming that Rahmatullah’s detention lacked sufficient cause or evidence, and that British forces violated international law when they handed him over to American troops nearly eight years ago. It is one of the few cases where lawyers have been successful in their appeals to free a detainee from the sprawling secretive base in Afghanistan where terror suspects and detainees lack access to lawyers. The appeals court order is final — meaning that Rahmatullah must be released, but the British government can appeal to the Supreme Court to debate the issue of habeas corpus. Rahmatullah was originally accused of being a member of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. But last year, US authorities cleared him for release after a review of his case. Britain’s Foreign Office declined to say whether it had specifically asked the United States to free Rahmatullah but said it was in discussions with the United States. US authorities are not bound by the foreign court ruling. ap
Latest developments in Arab political unrest stretching from North Africa to the Persian Gulf
By Associated Press, Thursday, December 22,
Government forces surround residents of a restive Syrian village and kill all those trapped inside — more than 100 people — in a barrage of rockets, tank shells, bombs and gunfire that lasts for hours, The attack pushes the death toll for two days of violence across Syria to more than 200, and is one of the deadliest single events of the entire nine-month uprising against President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian rule. The White House reacts by renewing its call for Assad to step down.
Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, leading in parliament elections, refuses to join calls by secular and liberal activists for the ruling military to move up its handover of power to civilians. Activists are seeking to capitalize on anger over the military’s heavy-handed crackdown on protesters in Cairo the past week to pressure the ruling generals to step down before the current target of the end of June.
Nearly 200 people, among them 15 foreigners, have been killed in clashes over the past few weeks between an ultraconservative Islamist group and former Shiite rebels in northern Yemen. Four Russian citizens are among the dead. The tension between the Salafi Islamists, who are Sunni, and the former Hawthi rebels, who are Shiite, escalated in late November just as Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a U.S.-backed proposal to transfer power to his vice president in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Saleh agreed to step down after a 10-month uprising.
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NIA gets nod to book Headley, his handlers for 26/11
Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 21, 2011
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is all set to charge David Coleman Headley, Pakistani-American ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative, and two ISI officers, Major Samir Ali and Major Iqbal, for the larger conspiracy of which the 26/11 Mumbai attack was a part.his handlers could execute only the Mumbai strike. But the larger conspiracy went beyond the 26/11 attack. We will charge sheet Headley and his handlers for the larger conspiracy,” said a source.
The government has given sanction mandated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to the NIA in this regard.
The NIA is likely to charge Jammat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, Headley’s accomplice Tahawur Rana, LeT commander Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi, Al Qaeda commander Illiyas Kashmiri and LeT operatives and former Pakistani army officers Sajid Majid and Abdur Rehman alias Pasha. Al Qaeda operative Kashmiri was killed in a drone attack in the tribal areas of Pakistan in June this year.
Headley had also done a recce of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai and many other places.
Jirga given 3-days to recover abducted Afghan national
LANDIKOTAL: Dec 22, 2011, Political administration of Landikotal gave three-day deadline to Sultankhel Jirga to recover the abducted Afghan-national.
The political administration convened the Jirga of the tribal elders of Sultankhel tribe here on Wednesday in connection of the abduction of the Afghan national by unknown militants.
Political Tehsildar of Landikotal Abdul Nabi asked the Jirga to strive for the safe recovery of the Afghan citizen who had been kidnapped few days ago.
The political administration in reaction had arrested eleven persons of Sultan Khel and Sheikhwal tribes under the collective territorial responsibilities clauses of FCR.
The elders of Sultan khel tribe criticized the administration for arresting innocent persons of Sultan Khel tribe and for terrifying the tribesmen to be arrested, which they said was not fair and a violation of the newly introduced FATA reforms in FCR.
Tehsildar Landikotal said that under the new reforms of FCR only children, women and aged persons were exempted from arrest, which the administration is fully aware of. He said that encroachments would be razed on the roadside, which is another issue not having any relation to the abduction of the Afghan national.
Separately, unknown militants have blown up a market in Jamrud on Ghundi Road in which one man suffered minor injuries, local sources said, adding that the market had earned a bad name for unfair businesses.
Similarly the Jamrud political administration arrested five suspected persons at Shakas Jamrud along with a car.
The unknown militants have reportedly set free the sixteen labourers who had been kidnapped from Shalman area some two weeks back, administration sources said. They have all reached their homes safe.