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Islamic World News ( 30 March 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Ban Verbal, Unilateral and Triple Talaq: Central Government Panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The report backs the demand for the ban on the grounds that such talaq renders “wives extremely vulnerable and insecure regarding their marital status”.

 

Key Taliban Leader among 48 Killed In Afghan Clearance Operations

Malian 'Jihadist' To Go On Trial over Destruction of Ancient Timbuktu Shrines

Security Agencies Fears Islamic State Will Use Guerrilla Tactics in Europe

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India

Ban Verbal, Unilateral and Triple Talaq: Central Government Panel

In Brussels, PM Modi Asks UN to Address Challenge Posed By Terrorism

Indian Muslim students assaulted for not chanting nationalist slogan

Man who ‘escaped Islamic State’ arrested in Punjab

Indian American Funds Management Complex at Aligarh Muslim University

US, India Discuss Pakistan and the 'Pink Flamingo' Scenario

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South Asia

Key Taliban Leader among 48 Killed In Afghan Clearance Operations

Afghan Reconciliation: Hizb-e-Islami Wants Removal of Restrictions

Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Kapisa military operation

Afghanistan opposes deportation of Afghans in large number from Europe

Ata Mohammad Noor rejects allegations of nepotism in Balkh leadership

Ghani Confers High State Medal on MMA Star Baz Mohammad Mubariz

Ghani says he has no sympathy for citizens fleeing the country

Several injured as hundreds of Afghan and Syrian refugees clash in Greece

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Africa

Malian 'Jihadist' To Go On Trial over Destruction of Ancient Timbuktu Shrines

Somalia: Gunmen Launch Deadly Attack on School Vehicle, Many Killed

From Senegal to Libya: an African student joins Islamic State

Relief as Egypt frees SA Islamic scholar

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Europe

Security Agencies Fears Islamic State Will Use Guerrilla Tactics in Europe

Frenchman Plotting ‘Imminent’ Attack Is Charged With Terrorism

Around 20 Islamic State Recruiters Arrested In Moscow: RIA

European elites have a “youth revolt” on their hands

Europe versus the Islamic State

Islamic State urges attacks on German chancellery, Bonn airport: SITE group

Islamic State Praises Brussels Suicide Bombers

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Arab World

Army, Kurdish Forces Continue Advances in Different Battlefields, Kill More Terrorists

Iraqi Forces Advance towards Western Town Held By Islamic State

Yemeni Army Kills over 370 Saudi-Led Forces in Midi Desert in 2 Days

Syrian President Calls on Int'l Organizations to Help Restore Palmyra

West Blocks Palmyra Resolution, Reveals Disinterest in Syrian Peace Process

Bashar al-Assad says he can form new Syria government with opposition

Syrian Army Starts Reconstruction of Palmyra Military Airport

1000s Hold Funeral for Activist Killed by Saudi Forces

Syrian Army Inches Closer to Salamiyah in Hama Province

Deir Ezzur: ISIL's Strategic Tunnel Razed Down by Syrian Army

Iraqi Forces Start Special Military Operations to Win Back Heet Region

Yemen Strikes Saudi Coalition Forces with another Ballistic Missile

Syrian Army Wins Back Key Areas near Salamiyah Town in Hama Province

Kurdish Forces Inching Close to Strategic Village in Hasaka Province

Syrian Army Recaptures Key Region in Hama Province

Russia: Iran Missile Tests No Violation of UN Resolution

Rouhani: Islamic Republic Day Manifests Iranian Democracy

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Pakistan

Red Zone Sit-In by Pro-Qadri Demonstrators Ends after Successful Negotiations

Iran Slams Pak Media for 'Undignified Rumours' On Indian Spy Arrest

Ancient Sikh Temple Reopened In Pakistan

Pakistan asks Tehran to investigate, share details of Indian spy's time in Iran

Afghan Loya Jirga member wanted for rape of Peshawar dancer

A case for reforming anti-terror laws?

Lahore bombing: Police arrest 17 during raids

Pak's Edhi Foundation seeks permission to perform last rites of two India fishermen

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Mideast

Erdoğan Urges Cooperation with US Jewish Leaders against Islamophobia

Turkey leads resolution in favour of peaceful protest in Geneva

Only 30 pct of Turkey’s Syrian children have access to education: Disaster agency head

Turkish army ‘ready’ to shell YPG positions if it crosses Azaz-Jarablus line

Delay in ops caused slow progress in Nusaybin, officials claim

Turkey military base in Qatar 'completed' in two years

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/ban-verbal,-unilateral-and-triple-talaq--central-government-panel/d/106825

 

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Ban verbal, unilateral and triple talaq: Central government panel

On Monday, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea on the divorce norms, directed the Centre to produce the report within six weeks. The apex court was hearing a plea by a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand against her triple talaq.

March 31, 2016

 Muslim women, Talaq, Oral talaq, Triple talaq, unilateral divorce, muslim women survey, Muslim Divorce procedure, Muslim divorce, Muslim clerics, polygamy, Multiple wives, Muslim men, Islam, Quran, india news The report backs the demand for the ban on the grounds that such talaq renders “wives extremely vulnerable and insecure regarding their marital status”.

A HIGH-LEVEL committee set up by the Central government to review the status of women in India has sought a ban on the practice of oral, unilateral and triple talaq or divorce, as well as polygamy.

The assessment of family laws, examined by The Indian Express, is part of a voluminous report submitted last year by the panel appointed by the previous UPA government. The report has not been released in the public domain.

On Monday, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea on the divorce norms, directed the Centre to produce the report within six weeks. The apex court was hearing a plea by a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand against her triple talaq.

The report backs the demand for the ban on the grounds that such talaq renders “wives extremely vulnerable and insecure regarding their marital status”.

Supreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal lawsFor Justice’s SakeA postcard from Dr Niaz: Muslim women should get equal rights as citizensPanel seeks more rights for women in family lawsMarriage & divorce: Does ‘mutual consent’ matter?Listen,MisterSupreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal lawsFor Justice’s SakeA postcard from Dr Niaz: Muslim women should get equal rights as citizensPanel seeks more rights for women in family lawsMarriage & divorce: Does ‘mutual consent’ matter?Listen,MisterSupreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal lawsFor Justice’s SakeA postcard from Dr Niaz: Muslim women should get equal rights as citizensPanel seeks more rights for women in family lawsMarriage & divorce: Does ‘mutual consent’ matter?Listen,Mister

The panel has not only recommended specific amendments to the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 but also suggested introducing provisions to provide for interim maintenance.

The report states that payment of maintenance to the wife and children must be made mandatory in the event of separation or divorce.

While the landmark Supreme Court Judgment of 1985 in the Shah Bano case recognised the Muslim woman’s right to maintenance, it was never codified in the Muslim personal law.

The report states: “All judges should be made aware of the manner in which the SC has interpreted the Muslim Law and has safeguarded the rights of Muslim women.”

It cites the examples of Shamin Ara vs State of UP where the apex court laid down strict Quranic injunctions for pronouncing talaq and the Shabana Bano vs Imran Khan case where it upheld the right to receive maintenance under section 125 of CRPC until the husband pays his wife lump-sum maintenance.

“Such progressive judgments are not known to all judges and magistrates adjudicating over the rights of Muslim women, hence due to ignorance of law many Muslim women are denied of their rights,” states the report. It also suggests changing many of the gender-discriminatory provisions under the Hindu and Christian laws.

“I have not seen the report, but any suggestion to ban triple talaq or polygamy is not acceptable to us. This will mean direct interference of the government in religious affairs as Sharia (Islamic law) is based on the Quran and Hadith, and its jurisprudence is strong as far as Islam is concerned. This would be against the Constitutional right to freedom of religion,” said Kamal Faruqui, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board that has been made a party to the Supreme Court petition.

The petition was filed by Shayara Bano who claimed that her husband gave her triple talaq after subjecting her to cruelty during the course of their marriage.

The petition states that instantaneous triple talaq has no foundation in the Quran and many Islamic nations such as Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have banned or restricted such practices. It also points out that the personal laws of Hindus, Christians and Parsis have evolved over the years so as to prohibit the practice while Muslim women continue to be denied equal protection under law and from discrimination on the basis of their gender and religion.

The 14-member committee was constituted by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development under the UPA government in February 2012. It was reconstituted in May 2013 under its present chairperson Pam Rajput, founder director of Centre for Women’s Studies, Panjab University.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/muslims-divorce-ban-verbal-unilateral-and-triple-talaq-central-government-panel/

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Key Taliban leader among 48 killed in Afghan clearance operations

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

Taliban insurgents AfghanistanA key leader of the Taliban group involved in recruitment of militants for the group has been killed along with 47 others in the latest counter-terrorism operations.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Mawlavi Abdul Wahab was killed along with 9 others and 16 more were wounded during a raid in Marjah district of Helmand.

According to a statement by MoD, at least 39 others were killed in separate operations conducted in Kunduz, Takhar, Ghani and Khost provinces.

The statement further added that 7 militants were killed in the outskirts of Kunduz city and 3 others were wounded, while 5 militants were killed in Eshkamish district of Takhar and 3 more were wounded.

MoD further added in its statement that 5 militants were killed in separate raids in Moqor district of Ghazni and Nader Shah Kot district of Khost province.

According to MoD, at least 2 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces also lost their lives during the same military operations.

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

khaama.com/key-taliban-leader-among-48-killed-in-afghan-clearance-operations-0496

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Malian 'jihadist' to go on trial over destruction of ancient Timbuktu shrines

2016-03-24Judges at the International Criminal Court on Thursday agreed there was enough evidence to put an alleged Malian jihadist on trial for the destruction of the centuries-old world heritage site of Timbuktu.

The judges ruled they would "commit" Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi to trial for "the war crime of attacking buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments" in 2012, when many of the ancient shrines were destroyed.

Faqi, aged about 40, is the first jihadist suspect to appear before the ICC and the first person to face a war crimes charge for an attack on a global historic and cultural monument.

Prosecution for the attack on the ancient Malian shrines comes amid a global outcry over the razing by the so-called Islamic State group of sites in Iraq and Syria that bear testament to the world's collective history.

A member of an Islamic court set up by the Malian jihadists to enforce strict sharia law, Faqi is said to have jointly ordered or carried out the destruction of nine mausoleums and Timbuktu's famous Sidi Yahia mosque, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

The judges confirmed a charge against Faqi which alleges he is "criminally responsible as a direct perpetrator... for physically taking part in the attack against at least half of the targeted buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments."

Prosecutors allege the jihadists set upon the shrines with pick-axes and iron bars, as well as vehicles, in what ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has called a "callous assault on the dignity of an entire population and their cultural identity."

Founded between the 11th and 12th centuries by Tuareg tribes, Timbuktu, located about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from Mali's capital Bamako, has been dubbed "the city of 333 saints" and the "Pearl of the Desert."

It was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in 1988.

Despite having been a centre of Islamic learning during its golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries, it is considered idolatrous by the jihadists.

ICC prosecutors say Faqi was a leader of Ansar Dine, a mainly Tuareg group, which held sway over Mali's northern desert together with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and a third local group from early 2012 until being routed in a French-led intervention in January 2013.

france24.com/en/20160324-mali-icc-accepts-trial-jihadist-timbuktu-shrines

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Security Agencies Fears Islamic State Will Use Guerrilla Tactics In Europe

Jeff Seldin

March 30, 2016

Security agencies racing to break the web of Islamic State (IS) terror cells that have spread across the European continent are also bracing for another worrisome possibility - that the group will use guerrilla tactics honed in Syria and Iraq to carry out attacks on critical targets or infrastructure.

Concerns have been heightened in recent days, most notably with the revelation that a laptop found during a raid connected to the suspects in the Brussels terror bombings contained images and floor plans of the office of Belgium’s prime minister.

That, along with evidence that two of the Brussels bombers, Khalid and Ibrahim el Bakraoui, conducted video surveillance of a scientist at Belgium’s Tihange nuclear complex, could suggest some terror cells are prepared to abandon the group's hallmark attacks on so-called “soft targets” like train stations or cafes, in favour of bigger, more symbolic venues.

“They’re very invested in the pageantry of it all so I wouldn’t be surprised,” said one U.S. official familiar with the intelligence on IS. “They’re unambiguous about seeing Europe as a battlefield.”

European officials are equally worried, especially given that the ability to detect and disrupt potential plots varies greatly country to country.

“We still have a very high level of concern for new terror attacks,” a Western diplomat told VOA, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The level of engagement and commitment to discover potential attacks is very high.”

Adding to the concerns is IS’s growing ability to use the Internet to share intelligence between its core leadership and provinces and cells around the world.

“ISIS now has mastered online dissemination of all their combat lessons learned,” said Malcolm Nance, a former counterterrorism and intelligence officer who now heads the Terror Asymmetrics Project (TAPSTRI).

“We’re seeing vehicle designs of these technical vehicles with armor plating that we see in combat in Ramadi showing up in Benghazi, showing up in Somalia,” he said. “And all of their intelligence sharing is happening at a very rudimentary level, and it’s very hard to intercept."

European network

Initially, intelligence concerns about additional attacks centered on IS terrorists using November’s attacks in Paris as a blueprint, hitting multiple “soft targets” simultaneously, maximizing civilian casualties. But the Brussels attacks that killed 32 people suggest the terror group is growing bolder.

“What it says is that our enemy has a network that seems to be active and thriving in the heart of Europe,” former CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden told VOA. “The level of sophistication, kind of continuing on that same arc, we have seen ISIS as it — so to speak — ups its game.”

Making the situation more dangerous is that U.S. officials believe IS is now “deeply rooted” in Europe, using perhaps hundreds of jihadists who have returned home from Syria and Iraq to mold thousands more into a guerrilla units, capable striking even after sustaining losses.

“A number of terrorist plots have been disrupted,” a second U.S. official told VOA, cautioning the numbers may be in IS’s favour.

“ISIL’s access to thousands of foreign fighters and its willingness to trade risk for headlines underscores the ongoing threat the group poses to the West,” the official added.

And former counterterrorism officials, like Malcolm Nance, warn the surveillance of the Belgian nuclear scientist and the laptop with plans of the prime minister’s office indicate it is only a matter of time before IS foreign fighters unleash their combat experience on high value targets.

 “You absolutely should just assume that they are all ready to attack,” Nance warned.

“Just way too much effort has gone into this, even if they didn’t get past the planning stage,” he said. “Maybe the Belgian reactor was just the model… It could be carried out anywhere.”

Nance believes such an operation would closely mirror attacks the group has carried out in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. After extensive intelligence gathering, Islamic State fighters would move into position, using Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), or truck bombs, to breach the perimeter, with a follow on truck bomb to sow additional confusion before fighters move in.

In the case of a nuclear facility, Nance said the goal would be to cause a meltdown, turning the complex itself into a dirty bomb.

For now, some Belgian officials have downplayed the concerns, saying there is little to indicate such attacks are imminent. Yet officials in France say a cell there did appear to be on the verge of taking action.

Prosecutors filed preliminary terror charges against 34-year-old Frenchman Reda Kriket Wednesday, calling the cache of explosives and arms found in his apartment an indication an imminent act of “extreme violence” was in the works.

Kriket is suspected of having traveled to Syria in late 2014 or early 2105 and had already been convicted in absentia by authorities in Belgium this past July on terror charges.

voanews.com/content/fears-islamic-state-will-use-guerrilla-tactics-in-europe/3261795.html

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India

Ban verbal, unilateral and triple talaq: Central government panel

On Monday, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea on the divorce norms, directed the Centre to produce the report within six weeks. The apex court was hearing a plea by a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand against her triple talaq.

March 31, 2016

 Muslim women, Talaq, Oral talaq, Triple talaq, unilateral divorce, muslim women survey, Muslim Divorce procedure, Muslim divorce, Muslim clerics, polygamy, Multiple wives, Muslim men, Islam, Quran, india news The report backs the demand for the ban on the grounds that such talaq renders “wives extremely vulnerable and insecure regarding their marital status”.

A HIGH-LEVEL committee set up by the Central government to review the status of women in India has sought a ban on the practice of oral, unilateral and triple talaq or divorce, as well as polygamy.

The assessment of family laws, examined by The Indian Express, is part of a voluminous report submitted last year by the panel appointed by the previous UPA government. The report has not been released in the public domain.

On Monday, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea on the divorce norms, directed the Centre to produce the report within six weeks. The apex court was hearing a plea by a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand against her triple talaq.

The report backs the demand for the ban on the grounds that such talaq renders “wives extremely vulnerable and insecure regarding their marital status”.

Supreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal lawsFor Justice’s SakeA postcard from Dr Niaz: Muslim women should get equal rights as citizensPanel seeks more rights for women in family lawsMarriage & divorce: Does ‘mutual consent’ matter?Listen,MisterSupreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal lawsFor Justice’s SakeA postcard from Dr Niaz: Muslim women should get equal rights as citizensPanel seeks more rights for women in family lawsMarriage & divorce: Does ‘mutual consent’ matter?Listen,MisterSupreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal lawsFor Justice’s SakeA postcard from Dr Niaz: Muslim women should get equal rights as citizensPanel seeks more rights for women in family lawsMarriage & divorce: Does ‘mutual consent’ matter?Listen,Mister

The panel has not only recommended specific amendments to the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 but also suggested introducing provisions to provide for interim maintenance.

The report states that payment of maintenance to the wife and children must be made mandatory in the event of separation or divorce.

While the landmark Supreme Court Judgment of 1985 in the Shah Bano case recognised the Muslim woman’s right to maintenance, it was never codified in the Muslim personal law.

The report states: “All judges should be made aware of the manner in which the SC has interpreted the Muslim Law and has safeguarded the rights of Muslim women.”

It cites the examples of Shamin Ara vs State of UP where the apex court laid down strict Quranic injunctions for pronouncing talaq and the Shabana Bano vs Imran Khan case where it upheld the right to receive maintenance under section 125 of CRPC until the husband pays his wife lump-sum maintenance.

“Such progressive judgments are not known to all judges and magistrates adjudicating over the rights of Muslim women, hence due to ignorance of law many Muslim women are denied of their rights,” states the report. It also suggests changing many of the gender-discriminatory provisions under the Hindu and Christian laws.

“I have not seen the report, but any suggestion to ban triple talaq or polygamy is not acceptable to us. This will mean direct interference of the government in religious affairs as Sharia (Islamic law) is based on the Quran and Hadith, and its jurisprudence is strong as far as Islam is concerned. This would be against the Constitutional right to freedom of religion,” said Kamal Faruqui, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board that has been made a party to the Supreme Court petition.

The petition was filed by Shayara Bano who claimed that her husband gave her triple talaq after subjecting her to cruelty during the course of their marriage.

The petition states that instantaneous triple talaq has no foundation in the Quran and many Islamic nations such as Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have banned or restricted such practices. It also points out that the personal laws of Hindus, Christians and Parsis have evolved over the years so as to prohibit the practice while Muslim women continue to be denied equal protection under law and from discrimination on the basis of their gender and religion.

The 14-member committee was constituted by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development under the UPA government in February 2012. It was reconstituted in May 2013 under its present chairperson Pam Rajput, founder director of Centre for Women’s Studies, Panjab University.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/muslims-divorce-ban-verbal-unilateral-and-triple-talaq-central-government-panel/

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In Brussels, PM Modi asks UN to address challenge posed by terrorism

He said it was unfortunate that the UN was still unable to define terrorism and act on a resolution which prescribes action against the countries which support or give shelter to terrorism.

March 31, 2016

 Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel, right, and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects the troops prior to a meeting at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. Modi is in Belgium for an EU India summit where discussions will focus on the EU-India agenda for action 2020 and the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, with an aim to instill some political impetus to the stalled talks. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert) Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel, right, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects

In the backdrop of terror attacks in Brussels last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday night highlighted the dangers posed by terrorism to the world and said the UN should address such major challenges failing which the global body could be rendered irrelevant.

Modi in Brussels: PM pitches for pacts to fight terrorTogether in BrusselsPM Modi at ASEAN Summit: Need global resolve, strategies to combat terrorismGlobal anti-terror compact: why India wants one, where it is stuckWe should reject any linkage between religion and terrorism: Narendra Modi tells East Asia SummitTerrorism in India is exported, not home-grown, world will have to speak in one voice against it: Narendra ModiModi in Brussels: PM pitches for pacts to fight terrorTogether in BrusselsPM Modi at ASEAN Summit: Need global resolve, strategies to combat terrorismGlobal anti-terror compact: why India wants one, where it is stuckWe should reject any linkage between religion and terrorism: Narendra Modi tells East Asia SummitTerrorism in India is exported, not home-grown, world will have to speak in one voice against it: Narendra ModiModi in Brussels: PM pitches for pacts to fight terrorTogether in BrusselsPM Modi at ASEAN Summit: Need global resolve, strategies to combat terrorismGlobal anti-terror compact: why India wants one, where it is stuckWe should reject any linkage between religion and terrorism: Narendra Modi tells East Asia SummitTerrorism in India is exported, not home-grown, world will have to speak in one voice against it: Narendra Modi

Addressing Indian diaspora, he said it was unfortunate that the UN was still unable to define terrorism and act on a resolution which prescribes action against the countries which support or give shelter to terrorism.

Underlining that terrorism needs to be delinked from religion, Modi said the menace posed challenge to humanity and those believing in humanity should collectively fight it.

He said that terrorism cannot be defeated only by guns, but an environment needs to be created in the society to ensure that the youth are not radicalised.

He said that while world was feeling the impact of terrorism only now, India has been facing this menace for over last 40 years.

“The world was jolted by 9/11. Till then the world powers did not understand what India was going through. But India never bowed to terrorism and there is no question of bowing before it,” the Prime Minister said.

Referring to the UN, Modi said it has all means and mechanism to deal with war. But unfortunately the UN does not know what the definition of terrorism is and how to address it.

“The UN could not perform its duty in this regard…if the UN does not address this problem, it will not be too far before the world body loses its relevance,” he said.

The leaders of the world will have to take the lead to curb terrorism failing which the world can see more destruction.

During his one hour address, he also highlighted the achievements of his government with regard to ending corruption, bringing transparency in the functioning of government while citing various programmes.

Before he commenced his speech, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the victims of the Brussels bombings.

Describing the recent attacks as a terrible act, he said “I express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. It is after long that people here had face such dastardly act.”

“During the last few years, 90 countries have faced terror attacks, with hundreds falling victims. In my talks here, the main topic was terrorism. They have told me you have been suffering for the last 40 years,” he said.

Referring to the progress made by the country in the last two years, Modi said India was today the fastest growing nation.

“This has not happened because of Naseeb or Modi, but because of people. During the last two consecutive years, there have been droughts in different parts of India, but the country still has made progress at fast rate. If our intentions are good, nobody can stop India from progressing,” he said.

The PM also announced relief from higher rates of TDS for NRIs who did not have Permanent Account Number (PAN).

“NRIs who did not have PAN earlier had to face higher rates of TDS. They will get relief (mukti)… We will also increase the free baggage limit for NRIs. For FDI investment, NRIs will get same incentives as other investors,” he said.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/modi-in-brussels-prime-minister-indian-diaspora-asks-un-to-address-challenge-posed-by-terrorism/

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Indian Muslim students assaulted for not chanting nationalist slogan

Five men have been booked on charges of assault and wrongful restraint

March 30, 2016

Karuna Madan, Correspondent

New Delhi: Three Muslim students of a Madrassa (Islamic seminary) in India’s capital have allegedly been assaulted for refusing to chant the nationalist slogan “Bharat Mata ki Jai” — a slogan that has been at the centre of a political controversy in India.

One of the students, 18-year-old Mohammad Dilkash, suffered a broken arm.

The youths told police they were taking a stroll in the park on March 26 when five men came and hit them from behind. They started abusing and ordered them to to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. When they refused to comply, the men started beating them up.

“We had gone to a park nearby. Some men came and slapped one of my friends and started hitting us. We do not know them but we can recognise them. They asked us to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ or they would kill us,” Dilkash told the Gulf News.

His friend Mohammad Ajmal, who was also allegedly beaten, said he was asked to take off his skull cap, slapped and hit repeatedly.

“They took my cap and stamped it with their feet. We were not even given a chance to say anything. We then called up our teacher who came and then called up the police,” Ajmal told the Gulf News.

All the five accused men have been booked on charges of assault and wrongful restraint.

The police, however, say there are inconsistencies in the Muslim students’ version. According to police, the students had said in their complaint they were asked to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” but later changed their version and claimed that they were asked to shout “Jai Mata Di.”

Reacting to the incident, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “Chanting Vande Mataram or Bharat Mata Ki Jai is not fashion, it is passion. It is a worrisome trend to debate about nationalism.”

The issue of chanting Bharat Mata ki Jai has been drawing attention for quite some time. A few days ago, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi had said he would not chant the slogan even if a knife was put to his throat.

His comment came after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat had suggested that the new generation needs to be taught to chant the slogan.

“I do not chant that slogan. What are you going to do, Mr Bhagwat,” Owaisi had said at a public rally in Maharashtra this month.

gulfnews.com/news/asia/india/indian-muslim-students-assaulted-for-not-chanting-nationalist-slogan-1.1700843

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Man who ‘escaped Islamic State’ arrested in Punjab

March 31, 2016

Harjit Masih, the Punjab man who claimed he had been taken hostage by the Islamic State but managed to escape in June 2014 and returned to India, was on Wednesday arrested on charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust, besides various other offences punishable under the Immigration Act. He will be produced in court on Thursday.

Masih’s uncle Rajbir Singh, who was booked as a co-accused in the same FIR, is still at large. Police said the request to lodge an FIR against the two had come from the External Affairs Ministry.

Masih had, in May 2015, contradicted the Centre’s claim that 39 Indians abducted by Islamic State alongside him were “alive and well”. “I pray and hope that somebody survived like I did. The chances are bleak,” he had said.

According to the FIR, Masih and Rajbir are accused of running a human trafficking racket which involved sending youth to Iraq. “A complaint was sent to the MEA by Gurpinder Kaur, the sister of Manjinder Singh, one of the 39 Indians still missing in Iraq. Referring to the same complaint, office of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj sent a letter to us. It reached my office on March 28. The MEA asked us to take suitable action against Masih and Rajbir under the Immigration Act. We called Gurpinder, recorded her statement and an FIR was registered under IPC Sections 420, 406, 370 and 34 of and Sections 10, 24 and 26 of the Immigration Act,” said Daljinder Singh, SSP, Batala.

The families of some of the missing men have in the past demanded action against the two.

In her statement, which forms the basis of the FIR, Gurpinder said: “My younger brother Manjinder had given Rs 2 lakh to travel agents Masih and Rajbir.” She said that after two failed attempts to take her brother to Iraq, “Masih told Manjinder he would accompany him and return only after he got him a job.”

She added, “Manjinder and other youths were left with no passports and other documents as Masih took all of these with him… I last spoke to my brother on the phone on June 15, 2014.”

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/man-who-escaped-islamic-state-arrested-in-punjab/

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Indian American Funds Management Complex at Aligarh Muslim University

March 30, 2016

Dr. Frank Islam and his wife Debbie, entrepreneurs from the Washington, D.C. area, laid the foundation stone last month for a business school at Aligarh Muslim University and are funding most of the project through their charitable foundation.

Islam is originally from Azamgarh District in Uttar Pradesh. The Indian American and his wife’s philanthropic foundation provides skills training to the less privileged in Azamgarh.

Islam was recently honored by AMU with an honorary doctorate recognizing his humanitarian contributions. He gave the keynote address at the university's convocation ceremony in February.

Islam said he and his wife chose to donate to and fund the university in Aligarh because it gave him his college education that has made him a successful businessman in America.

The business school is called Frank and Debbie Islam Management Complex. Islam said it was an honor for the management school to be named after him and his wife. He said the school will help to develop the best minds who will enable and empower future generations to take charge of their own destinies.”

Islam thanked Ameer Ahmad for providing seed money for the complex and expressed the hope that the management complex bearing his family name will make India and the world a better place.

The complex will contain an academic area; an administrative and faculty area; and a facilities area that will include activity rooms, a library and an open air theatre. The complex’s courtyard form will maximize formal and informal interaction between the faculty and students.

Islam and his wife have also instituted an endowed chair in their name. “The person in that chair will provide the essential intellectual and emotional capital to match the building’s bricks and mortar,” Islam said.

indiawest.com/news/business/indian-american-funds-management-complex-at-aligarh-muslim-university/article_7e3cbbf8-f6c1-11e5-9d29-c7c25e2245d5.html

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Muslim Man Accused of Killing 11-Y-O Student in India for Refusing to Join ISIS

BY ANUGRAH KUMAR , CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR

March 30, 2016

ISIS

Activists from a Muslim group pray for the victims of the attacks in Paris, in Kolkata, India, November 18, 2015.

A tutor in northern India allegedly killed his 11-year-old student for refusing to join the Islamic State terror group, according to the victim's family.

The victim, identified as Ravi Pal, a class 3 student from Kaserua Khurd village in Uttar Pradesh state's Allahabad district, was choked to death by his tutor, identified only as Irfan, according to Asia News International.

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The student's father said Irfan was pressuring his son to join IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and killed him after the victim refused to do so.

The victim's sister said Irfan called his brother promising to give a bicycle on March 19, and he went missing ever since.

Police found Ravi's body lying in a nearby field on Tuesday, and had a medical examiner perform an autopsy on the boy.

Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar was quoted as saying that the family didn't mention the boy was being pressured to join a terror group.

The victim was Hindu, and his tutor is apparently a Muslim.

IS isn't known to be active in India. Although home to the third largest Muslim population in the world, the Muslim minority in India is not seen as a fertile ground for recruitment by the terror group.

Muslims and Christians are persecuted in India by extreme Hindu nationalist groups.

Terrorist attacks in India have been blamed mostly on terror groups based in neighboring Pakistan.

However, IS has reportedly been looking to target India.

An internal recruitment document of IS, procured by the American Media Institute, revealed that the terror group is preparing to attack India to provoke an Armageddon-like confrontation with the U.S., USA Today reported last July.

"Even if the U.S. tries to attack with all its allies, which undoubtedly it will, the ummah (Muslims) will be united, resulting in the final battle," there document said.

Recently, seven Indian companies figured in a list of 51 commercial entities from 20 countries that have supplied, mostly unknowingly, components used by IS to construct improvised explosive devices, according to a study conducted by Conflict Armament Research.

The Indian firms were mostly found to be manufacturing detonators, detonating cords and safety fuses, the study said, noting that the components were all "legally exported" under government-issued licences from India to entities in Lebanon and Turkey, according to The Indian Express.

christianpost.com/news/muslim-tutor-killed-11-year-old-boy-india-refuse-to-join-isis-160472/

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US, India discuss Pakistan and the 'Pink Flamingo' scenario

Chidanand Rajghatta | TNN | Mar 31, 2016

WASHINGTON: The United States and India have begun conversations about Pakistan's runaway nuclear weapons program, including its development and deployment of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons, in the backdrop of the nuclear security summit that opens here on Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected in the US capital on Thursday morning, but ahead of his arrival, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his US counterparts and other senior American interlocutors have been discussing the progress in India's ties with Pakistan, including complications arising from the patronage of terrorist groups by sections of the Pakistani establishment, and its nuclear posture.

The Pakistani headache featuring in talks with Doval was revealed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, when he referred cryptically to Washington having "serious questions" about "some choices" being made in the region that "may accelerate possible arms construction."

"We've raised them with various partners in the region. So our hope is that this Nuclear Security Summit will contribute to everybody's understanding about our global responsibilities and choices,'' Kerry said, without directly naming Pakistan.

There was little doubt Kerry's remarks were directed at Pakistan, which has bailed out of the summit citing the terrorist attack in Lahore, one of dozens in the country over the past decade that has not persuaded its establishment to jettison a policy of fostering extremist groups.

''India has a very important role to play with respect to responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. India has a long record of being a leader, of being responsible, and it is particularly important right now at a time when we see in the region some choices being made that may accelerate possible arms construction, which we have serious questions about,'' Kerry, with Doval beside him, said in a vote-of-confidence in New Delhi.

Earlier, President Obama telephoned Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to condole the death of more than 70 persons n the Lahore bombing, while also "expressing his understanding of Sharif's decision to cancel his visit to the United States and remain in Pakistan following this terrorist attack," according to the White House.

''This callous and appalling attack against innocent civilians, many of them women and children, underscores the critical danger that terrorism poses inside Pakistan, throughout the region, and around the globe,'' a White House readout of the call quoted Obama as saying.

Pakistan has sent a low-level representation to the summit, evidently apprehensive about having to explain its decision to build tactical battlefield nuclear weapons in a situation where its home grown terrorists and mutinous extremist military personnel have attacked several military installations in the country, including the army headquarters and navy and air force bases.

The possibility of a nuclear conflagration between India and Pakistan had been dubbed a ''pink flamingo'' scenario, from a term coined by security analyst Frank Hoffman to describe events that are predictable and fully visible, but almost entirely ignored by policymakers (as opposed to Black Swans, which are unpredictable and unforeseen).

Evidently, THIS pink flamingo is not something that will remain unnoticed or unaddressed.

The choice of Doval to play Sherpa to the Prime Ministerial visit rather than external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj suggests the New Delhi and Washington are developing a deep security relationship in addition to extensive military and diplomatic ties. Enigmatic comments and cryptic statements bear this out without shedding too much light on the depth of the engagement.

For instance, following Doval's meeting with US national security advisor Susan Rice, NSC spokesman Ned Price said the two sides discussed US-India counterterrorism cooperation, ''including against Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed,'' specifically highlighting the two terrorist groups that have long been fostered by the Pakistani military.

The statement at the end of Doval's meeting with Kerry was less specific, but still mentioned counter-terrorism amid a summit primarily centering on nuclear security.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/US-India-discuss-Pakistan-and-the-Pink-Flamingo-scenario/articleshow/51626940.cms

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South Asia

Key Taliban leader among 48 killed in Afghan clearance operations

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

Taliban insurgents AfghanistanA key leader of the Taliban group involved in recruitment of militants for the group has been killed along with 47 others in the latest counter-terrorism operations.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Mawlavi Abdul Wahab was killed along with 9 others and 16 more were wounded during a raid in Marjah district of Helmand.

According to a statement by MoD, at least 39 others were killed in separate operations conducted in Kunduz, Takhar, Ghani and Khost provinces.

The statement further added that 7 militants were killed in the outskirts of Kunduz city and 3 others were wounded, while 5 militants were killed in Eshkamish district of Takhar and 3 more were wounded.

MoD further added in its statement that 5 militants were killed in separate raids in Moqor district of Ghazni and Nader Shah Kot district of Khost province.

According to MoD, at least 2 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces also lost their lives during the same military operations.

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

khaama.com/key-taliban-leader-among-48-killed-in-afghan-clearance-operations-0496

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Afghan Reconciliation: Hizb-e-Islami wants removal of restrictions

ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL - Thu Mar 31 2016

HikmatyarThe Hizb-e-Islami party led by Gulbudin Hekmatyar put forward the removal of restrictions as a condition for joining peace process.

Sources in High Peace Council (HPC) say Hizb-e-Islami wants the United States and other countries to remove all restrictions imposed on it.

The demand was probably made by a delegation of Hizb-e-Islami that visited Kabul about 13 days before.

The delegation had also demanded a share in power by placing members of Hizb-e-Islami in civil and security institutions of the country.

“At this stage, Hezb-e Islami is seeking to become a government partner by seeking positions in civil and security institutions,” an Afghan official told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing talks.

He added that the government was “listening and evaluating the practicality of their demands,” but that a final decision had not been made.

Hizb-e-Islami is the first group among those in war with the government that sends its delegation to Kabul for peace talks.

The visit was made following a call by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, The United States and China.

The group urged all armed opponents of the government to lay down guns and join peace process.

However, Taliban rejected the call with setting the complete withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan as one of their pre-conditions.

khaama.com/afghan-reconciliation-hizb-e-islami-wants-removal-of-restrictions-4779

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Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Kapisa military operation

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

Afghan armyThe Taliban militants have suffered heavy casualties during a military operation in the eastern Kapisa province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the operations were conducted in Nejrab district to curb the activities of the anti-government armed militant groups.

An official of the Afghan national army serving with the 201st Silab Corps said around 30 Taliban militants were killed in the operation.

The official further added that the clearance operation is still underway to fully clear the areas from the militants.

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

Kapisa is among the relatively volatile provinces in northeastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are active in a number of its remote districts.

The militants continue to their insurgency activities in parts of this province occasionally which comes amid rampant Taliban-led insurgency across the country.

khaama.com/taliban-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-kapisa-military-operation-0494

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Ata Mohammad Noor rejects allegations of nepotism in Balkh leadership

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

Ata Mohd NoorThe acting provincial governor of northern Balkh province has once against started a lobby to reject allegations of nepotism in the leadership of northern Balkh province.

Noor issued an online statement earlier tonight rejecting the allegations which comes after days of massive protests which were triggered following the removal of Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum’s portraits from Mazar-e-Shari city, the provincial capital of Balkh province.

Noor released a photo which purportedly shows formation of the provincial leadership of Balkh province, comprising of shares of administration between different ethnic groups.

Other photographs purportedly showing the composition of leadership in Jawzjan and Faryab were also posted online by Noor which shows that the majority of the provincial leadership are in custody of Uzbeks, although the authenticity of the pictures could not be verified.

The latest lobby by Noor comes shortly after reports emerged from northern Faryab province suggesting the tensions among the the two prominent leaders have been resolved.

Noor is also leading the prominent Jamiat-e-Islami party while Vice President General Dostum is leading Junbish-e-Milli party.

The protests triggered by the removal of Gen. Dostum’s portraits from Mazar-e-Sharif city turned violent in its final stage, leaving one dead and at least five others wounded.

khaama.com/ata-mohammad-noor-rejects-allegations-of-nepotism-in-balkh-leadership-0493

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Afghanistan opposes deportation of Afghans in large number from Europe

ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL - Thu Mar 31 2016

refugees-to-europeAfghanistan has opposed deportation of Afghan asylum seekers and refugees in large number from Europe.

“For now the Afghan Government is opposite [sic] for the forcible deportation because the situation is not good in Afghanistan,” said Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, media advisor to the ministry.

“Most of the Afghans leave the country because of the insecurity, some districts are under the control of the Taliban, also Taliban and Daesh fighting against the Afghan police.”

The European Union (EU) has reportedly drafted confidential plans to deport about 80,000 Afghan asylum seekers and refugees to Afghanistan.

Besides other options, the confidential plans also include force deportation despite the surging violence in the warn-torn country.

According to ABC news, the idea has been leaked as new UN figures show a jump in the number of Afghans trying to reach Europe because of worsening security and economic situation.

Aproximately 176,000 Afghans claimed asylum in the EU last year, with around six in 10 eligible for refugee status.

khaama.com/eu-may-return-80000-afghan-asylum-seekers-and-refugees-5774

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Ghani Confers High State Medal on MMA Star Baz Mohammad Mubariz

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

Ghani confers medal on MubarizPresident Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has conferred high state medal on Mixed Martial Art (MMA) fighter Baz Mohammad Mubariz for his efforts and recent victory.

The Office of the President in a statement said Mubariz has also received cash reward along with Mir Masjidi Khan high state medal for his last victory against his Russia rival.

President Ghani hailed Mubariz and his team for their tireless efforts for hoisting the Afghan flag in a major international sports event.

He said the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sport has gained fame among the people following the major sports such as cricket and football, insisting that more work should be done in MMA field in the country to develop the sport.

Ghani also hailed the Afghan youths for the level of talent they have specifically in the field of sports and pledged further support of the government to help the Afghan athletes to have more achievements on international level.

Mubariz is one of Afghanistan’s brightest Mixed Martial Arts stars – in a country far removed from the glitz and glamour of America’s UFC series.

Also known as “the Eagle”, Mubariz started his pro career in India, where he went through a three-round battle with Kazakhstan prospect Kuat Khamitov.

Mubariz is the first Afghan athlete to be elected to participate in Russian Mixed Martial Art fights after securing first place in “Striking Eagles” fighting contest, organized by Absolute Championship Berkut last year.

khaama.com/ghani-confers-high-state-medal-on-mma-star-baz-mohammad-mubariz-0499

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Ghani says he has no sympathy for citizens fleeing the country

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

Ashraf GhaniAmid steep rise in the number of Afghan citizens abandoning the country mainly due to growing instability, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said he has no sympathy for the citizens for fleeing the country.

In an interview with BBC, President Ghani said “We have to make commitment, 549 young men and women graduated from the military academy, 13 of them women. They are making a commitment to defend this country, others on whom we have spent, tens of hundreds of millions of dollars want to leave under the slightest pressure.”

President Ghani questioned the perspective of the Afghan citizens leaving the country with an aim to find better place to take refuge.

He said he has no sympathy for the migrants leaving the country as they are breaking the social contract when leaving the country, insisting that countries can not survive by their best attempting to flee.

“My goal is to make sure that my people live with dignity with hope and with determination,” Ghani said, admitting that the country is facing instability as it has become a platform of war for regional and global war.

He said the war among the Afghan people is a small component of the ongoing instability in the country, emphasizing the country is not facing a civil war but it is the foreign terror networks destabilizing the country, including al-Qaeda network which President Ghani says is fully alive in Afghanistan.

In response to a question regarding the growing power of Taliban group in Afghanistan, President Ghani said the group’s strength is growing due to the regional support which is intact, without elaborating further from whom the group is receiving regional support.

The Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for supporting the Taliban group by providing them with shelters from where they coordinate and launch attacks in Afghanistan.

However, President Ghani said considerable developments have been made on paper with Pakistan in a bid to end the undeclared state of war and hostility between the two nations.

khaama.com/ghani-says-he-has-no-sympathy-for-citizens-fleeing-the-country-0498

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Several injured as hundreds of Afghan and Syrian refugees clash in Greece

KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Mar 31 2016

refugees clash in GreeceHundreds of Afghan and Syrian refugees entered into a violent clash in Greece amid ongoing refugee crisis in the Greek and Macedonian territories.

According to the officials in Greece quoted by local media, several people were injured in the clash that erupted on Wednesday night.

At least two of the refugees are in critical condition as over seven people were wounded and shifted to hospital for treatment.

Quoting eyewitnesses and port authorities, the local Thema newspaper reported that clashes started at the E2 port gate and quickly spread to the E1 gate, as police forces were absent.

The report further added that the fights erupted when some Afghani illegal immigrants attacked a Syrian woman for unknown reasons.

The migrants were hurling stones and using other objects to beat each as the skirmish continued for at least three hours, according to the report.

This comes as scores of Afghan refugees have been stranded along the Macedonia and Greece border after Macedonia closed its southern border with Greece to Afghan migrants late last month.

Hundreds of Afghans are leaving the country and are mainly heading towards Europe amid deteriorating security situation in the country, often risking their lives by passing through dangerous routes, specifically the Iranian territory and the Turkish coast.

Several people were injured in a similar clash between the Afghan and Syrian refugees in Croatia late in the month of September last year.

khaama.com/several-injured-as-hundreds-of-afghan-and-syrian-refugees-clash-in-greece-0497

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Africa

Malian 'jihadist' to go on trial over destruction of ancient Timbuktu shrines

2016-03-24Judges at the International Criminal Court on Thursday agreed there was enough evidence to put an alleged Malian jihadist on trial for the destruction of the centuries-old world heritage site of Timbuktu.

The judges ruled they would "commit" Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi to trial for "the war crime of attacking buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments" in 2012, when many of the ancient shrines were destroyed.

Faqi, aged about 40, is the first jihadist suspect to appear before the ICC and the first person to face a war crimes charge for an attack on a global historic and cultural monument.

Prosecution for the attack on the ancient Malian shrines comes amid a global outcry over the razing by the so-called Islamic State group of sites in Iraq and Syria that bear testament to the world's collective history.

A member of an Islamic court set up by the Malian jihadists to enforce strict sharia law, Faqi is said to have jointly ordered or carried out the destruction of nine mausoleums and Timbuktu's famous Sidi Yahia mosque, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

The judges confirmed a charge against Faqi which alleges he is "criminally responsible as a direct perpetrator... for physically taking part in the attack against at least half of the targeted buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments."

Prosecutors allege the jihadists set upon the shrines with pick-axes and iron bars, as well as vehicles, in what ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has called a "callous assault on the dignity of an entire population and their cultural identity."

Founded between the 11th and 12th centuries by Tuareg tribes, Timbuktu, located about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from Mali's capital Bamako, has been dubbed "the city of 333 saints" and the "Pearl of the Desert."

It was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in 1988.

Despite having been a centre of Islamic learning during its golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries, it is considered idolatrous by the jihadists.

ICC prosecutors say Faqi was a leader of Ansar Dine, a mainly Tuareg group, which held sway over Mali's northern desert together with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and a third local group from early 2012 until being routed in a French-led intervention in January 2013.

france24.com/en/20160324-mali-icc-accepts-trial-jihadist-timbuktu-shrines

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Somalia: Gunmen launch deadly attack on school vehicle, many killed

31st Mar 2016

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish, Somali and Azeri nationals were killed Wednesday when unidentified assailants targeted a school vehicle in the Somali capital.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the “vicious” attack in Mogadishu in a statement, saying its embassy is monitoring the conditions of a number of Turkish citizens who were also in the vehicle.

In earlier reports, Somali police sources said that gunmen attacked a school minibus that was carrying Turkish children living in Somalia.

The same sources added that the Somali driver and a translator were killed in the attack while other Turks were injured and taken to hospital.

muslimnews.co.uk/news/campaign-on-terror/somalia-gunmen-launch-deadly-attack-school-vehicle-many-killed/

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From Senegal to Libya: an African student joins Islamic State

Reuters By Emma Farge

March 30, 2016

ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal (Reuters) - When Sadio Gassama decided to go into medicine, he started by giving free check-ups at his mosque in Senegal's poor southern region of Casamance. Now, the 25-year-old medical student says he is treating Islamic State fighters in Libya.

Until recently, many thought the peaceful, tolerant Sufi brotherhoods in countries such as Senegal could prevent more conservative and radical versions of Islam from taking hold in poorer parts of West Africa, like Mali and Niger.

But security experts say Gassama's story shows how the penetration of hardline Islamic Salafism, coupled with Gulf money and militant propaganda, is aiding recruitment, even from stable and democratic Senegal.

In particular, in their appeals to Africans, Islamic State propagandists are calling on doctors to make "hijrah", or pilgrimage, to their African stronghold of Sirte in Libya.

Pictures posted on Gassama's Facebook page before he joined Islamic State show him hugging his young niece. Now, he is brandishing a machine gun, his name stitched on to his military uniform.

Friends and family say Gassama's decision to join thousands of militants in Libya in December during the fifth year of his medical studies was sudden and unexpected.

His shocked father described him as a 'humanist' motivated by a desire to help others. A former professor called him a "brilliant student, incapable of hurting anyone".

But an interview with Gassama showed a darker side. Speaking from Sirte, he said he had been planning an attack in Dakar.

"Senegal is lucky. I was planning to commit an attack there in the name of the Islamic State before one of their contacts helped me go to Libya," he told Reuters last month via the internet. He could not be reached subsequently.

Friends said he took trucks to Libya via Mali and Niger, accompanied by another Senegalese man and paying his way with his student grant.

"I left Senegal a year after embracing the ideology of the Islamic State," Gassama said. "Joining ISIS in Libya was relatively easy and accessible. I wanted to contribute to the establishment of a caliphate in Libya."

Asked what he was doing there, he replied: "I am a jihadist doctor."

Islamic State propaganda and security sources confirm fighters from countries including Chad, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria are already in Libya, where the group is consolidating its presence.

View galleryChildren walk in front of a Kuwait-funded mosque near …

Children walk in front of a Kuwait-funded mosque near the home of a student who left to join the Isl …

The number of sub-Saharan Africans is not known but they are thought to represent a minority of the 3,000-6,000 Islamic State fighters there, with most from North Africa and the Middle East.

However, there are concerns more will travel there along the same desert routes migrants use to reach Europe, as Gassama did.

"Libya is closer and easier to reach for some African fighters than Syria, and the political disarray there opens space for fighters to enter and operate," said Andrew Lebovich, a visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations who focuses on North Africa and the Sahel.

GULF DONATIONS

Across Africa's arid Sahel region, Western diplomats note an increase in conservatism, alongside tens of millions of dollars a year in charity donations from Gulf states.

In Niger, some religious leaders are calling for a "re-Islamisation" against the secularism imposed by former colonial power France.

This is already underway in the capital, Niamey, where some women wear the full veil and pay higher fares to avoid sharing taxis with men.

Gulf-financed bodies deny links to radical groups and say their money is for charity, but local sources say it can go astray.

"Contributions are intended for the poor and to build mosques but are often diverted in the wrong direction," said Bakary Sambe, director of the Timbuktu Institute and a coordinator for the Observatory on Religious Radicalism and Conflicts in Africa.

This foreign money and the migration of Senegal's youth to the cities has undermined the country's Mouride brotherhood, an old-established Islamic Sufi order which preaches tolerance.

In Gassama's home town of Ziguinchor, the mosque he attended in the HLM neighborhood is funded by a Kuwaiti NGO called Africa Muslims Agency.

AMA director Almany Badji said it was one of more than 100 mosques it has financed in Casamance. The mosque Gassama attended at Dakar's Cheikh Anta Diop University also has Salafist leanings, Sambe said.

Gassama did not say who helped him join Islamic State more than a year ago, referring only to 'guidance' in Senegal.

"Through meetings with local scholars it became clear that jihad was my Muslim duty," he told Reuters.

His friends and family said the only change they noticed before he left was to a more Salafist dress code.

"His pants were shorter and did not reach all the way to the floor," said his father, Boucar Gassama, a retired civil servant, surrounded by Gassama's siblings in the shady courtyard of his house. "But I could not know he had been radicalized."

CALLS FOR REFORM

There is growing concern in West Africa about recruitment into Islamic State and other militant groups after attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

Modou Faye, Gassama's professor, says students need more guidance in reading the Koran, which is often rote-learnt at religious schools similar to one Gassama attended.

Mauritania has closed several Koranic schools for security reasons, officials said.

In Mali, where an Islamist insurgency is intensifying, some are calling for checks on mosques and NGOs.

"We must take stock of the potential risks of collusion between civil society and terrorists, better monitor places where radicalization occurs, keep tabs on all suspect individuals like radical preachers and trace their funds," former Prime Minister Moussa Mara said.

But others say labeling peaceful Islamic groups as jihadists is risky. Depriving poor communities of services such as orphanages and free study trips to Saudi Arabia could provoke a backlash.

"A politician who attempts to regulate this risks losing his electorate," said Moulaye Hassane, researcher at the Institute of Research and Human Sciences and Niger's former ambassador to Saudi Arabia. "I think they are afraid."

news.yahoo.com/senegal-libya-african-student-joins-islamic-state-060947052.html

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Relief as Egypt frees SA Islamic scholar

30 March 2016

THABISO THAKALI

Johannesburg - A frail and exhausted South African Islamic scholar released after 16 months of detention in Egypt was overcome by emotions and in a state of disbelief during a brief chat with his family in South Africa via Skype on Tuesday.

Now, the family of Sheikh Abdus Salaam Bassiouni, 65, who holds both Egyptian and South African citizenships, are anxiously waiting for his return home from Egypt, according to his son Bilal.

Bassiouni’s exhaustion cut the first real direct conversation, via a video link, he has had with his family in Lenasia since 2014.

“He was in extreme shock, exhausted and in a state of disbelief after he was released at 1am on Tuesday,” said Bilal.

“We spoke for a minute, then there was just silence. We were both extremely emotional. We are happy he is at home in Egypt with my mom and elder brother.”

Bilal said the family were relieved at his father’s release as it would enable him to recuperate.

He added the family were surprised at his lengthy detention without charge.

Bassiouni travelled to Egypt with his family to attend his daughter Al-Zahra’s engagement in 2014. Shortly after arriving at Cairo International Airport, he and Bilal were taken into custody by the Egyptian authorities.

They interrogated them about their political affiliations, asking if they were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bilal was released after 20 hours but his father was held in a prison outside Cairo.

Bassiouni’s detention sparked an outcry among South Africa’s Muslim population, who demanded that the SA government take urgent measures to secure his release.

He was freed from prison in the early hours of yesterday, but International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Nelson Kgwete could not confirm this, saying Egyptian authorities had insisted Bassiouni was their national.

Bilal said his father had lived in South Africa for 26 years and three of his children were born here. He expressed gratitude to the South African embassy for keeping in touch with his father.

Bassouni’s family here were still unsure if he would be able to travel to South Africa but were hopeful the government would assist in his return.

According to Media Review Network chairman Zaakir Mayet, Bassiouni had lost some weight and was frail following his harrowing experience at the hands of the Egyptian authorities.

Bassiouni’s health had deteriorated as a result of his being denied access to medical care, Mayet said.

Bilal said prison life had taken its toll on his father’s health and he had to sleep on the floor of the notorious Tora prison.

He said no reason has been provided as to why his father was detained, or for his release.

“For now we are extremely ecstatic with joy and relief.

iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/relief-as-egypt-frees-sa-islamic-scholar-2002734

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Europe

Security Agencies Fears Islamic State Will Use Guerrilla Tactics In Europe

Jeff Seldin

March 30, 2016

Security agencies racing to break the web of Islamic State (IS) terror cells that have spread across the European continent are also bracing for another worrisome possibility - that the group will use guerrilla tactics honed in Syria and Iraq to carry out attacks on critical targets or infrastructure.

Concerns have been heightened in recent days, most notably with the revelation that a laptop found during a raid connected to the suspects in the Brussels terror bombings contained images and floor plans of the office of Belgium’s prime minister.

That, along with evidence that two of the Brussels bombers, Khalid and Ibrahim el Bakraoui, conducted video surveillance of a scientist at Belgium’s Tihange nuclear complex, could suggest some terror cells are prepared to abandon the group's hallmark attacks on so-called “soft targets” like train stations or cafes, in favour of bigger, more symbolic venues.

“They’re very invested in the pageantry of it all so I wouldn’t be surprised,” said one U.S. official familiar with the intelligence on IS. “They’re unambiguous about seeing Europe as a battlefield.”

European officials are equally worried, especially given that the ability to detect and disrupt potential plots varies greatly country to country.

“We still have a very high level of concern for new terror attacks,” a Western diplomat told VOA, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The level of engagement and commitment to discover potential attacks is very high.”

Adding to the concerns is IS’s growing ability to use the Internet to share intelligence between its core leadership and provinces and cells around the world.

“ISIS now has mastered online dissemination of all their combat lessons learned,” said Malcolm Nance, a former counterterrorism and intelligence officer who now heads the Terror Asymmetrics Project (TAPSTRI).

“We’re seeing vehicle designs of these technical vehicles with armor plating that we see in combat in Ramadi showing up in Benghazi, showing up in Somalia,” he said. “And all of their intelligence sharing is happening at a very rudimentary level, and it’s very hard to intercept."

European network

Initially, intelligence concerns about additional attacks centered on IS terrorists using November’s attacks in Paris as a blueprint, hitting multiple “soft targets” simultaneously, maximizing civilian casualties. But the Brussels attacks that killed 32 people suggest the terror group is growing bolder.

“What it says is that our enemy has a network that seems to be active and thriving in the heart of Europe,” former CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden told VOA. “The level of sophistication, kind of continuing on that same arc, we have seen ISIS as it — so to speak — ups its game.”

Making the situation more dangerous is that U.S. officials believe IS is now “deeply rooted” in Europe, using perhaps hundreds of jihadists who have returned home from Syria and Iraq to mold thousands more into a guerrilla units, capable striking even after sustaining losses.

“A number of terrorist plots have been disrupted,” a second U.S. official told VOA, cautioning the numbers may be in IS’s favour.

“ISIL’s access to thousands of foreign fighters and its willingness to trade risk for headlines underscores the ongoing threat the group poses to the West,” the official added.

And former counterterrorism officials, like Malcolm Nance, warn the surveillance of the Belgian nuclear scientist and the laptop with plans of the prime minister’s office indicate it is only a matter of time before IS foreign fighters unleash their combat experience on high value targets.

 “You absolutely should just assume that they are all ready to attack,” Nance warned.

“Just way too much effort has gone into this, even if they didn’t get past the planning stage,” he said. “Maybe the Belgian reactor was just the model… It could be carried out anywhere.”

Nance believes such an operation would closely mirror attacks the group has carried out in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. After extensive intelligence gathering, Islamic State fighters would move into position, using Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), or truck bombs, to breach the perimeter, with a follow on truck bomb to sow additional confusion before fighters move in.

In the case of a nuclear facility, Nance said the goal would be to cause a meltdown, turning the complex itself into a dirty bomb.

For now, some Belgian officials have downplayed the concerns, saying there is little to indicate such attacks are imminent. Yet officials in France say a cell there did appear to be on the verge of taking action.

Prosecutors filed preliminary terror charges against 34-year-old Frenchman Reda Kriket Wednesday, calling the cache of explosives and arms found in his apartment an indication an imminent act of “extreme violence” was in the works.

Kriket is suspected of having traveled to Syria in late 2014 or early 2105 and had already been convicted in absentia by authorities in Belgium this past July on terror charges.

voanews.com/content/fears-islamic-state-will-use-guerrilla-tactics-in-europe/3261795.html

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Frenchman Plotting ‘Imminent’ Attack Is Charged With Terrorism

By AURELIEN BREEDEN and LILIA BLAISE

MARCH 30, 2016

The corner of Rue Max Roos and Rue Maurice Ombiaux in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels on March 22 after the attacks at an airport and a subway station. Credit Bart Vanderkelen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

PARIS — A suspected Islamic State operative who was arrested last week had amassed a trove of guns and bomb-making equipment, including the type of explosive used in terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the French authorities announced on Wednesday, reinforcing fears that militants are planning additional assaults on Europe.

The suspect, Reda Kriket, a 34-year-old Frenchman, was arrested on Thursday afternoon in Boulogne-Billancourt, a western suburb of Paris. That evening, the authorities raided a fourth-floor apartment Mr. Kriket had rented under a fake name in Argenteuil, a northwestern suburb that was once a popular weekend getaway and a subject for Impressionist painters.

Inside the apartment, the authorities found “an arsenal of weapons and explosives of an unprecedented size,” which led them to believe Mr. Kriket had been planning an “imminent attack,” the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said at a news conference on Wednesday evening, describing for the first time the scope of the plot.

The arsenal included explosive materials — among them TATP, which was used in suicide bombs that were set off in Paris on Nov. 13 and in Brussels on March 22 — along with Kalashnikov assault rifles, a submachine gun, pistols, ammunition, four boxes containing thousands of small steel balls, stolen French passports, brand-new cellphones, a tear-gas canister and two computers with instructions to make explosives.

A judge who focuses on terrorism cases charged Mr. Kriket on Wednesday with terrorist conspiracy, possession of weapons and explosives, and falsification of documents, among other offenses, Mr. Molins said.

Mr. Kriket had an extensive criminal record, with multiple convictions for robbery, possession of stolen goods and acts of violence, Mr. Molins added.

More recently, according to court records, Mr. Kriket raised money for a network of militants in 2012 and 2013. He and an accomplice, Anis Bahri, 32, are believed to have visited Syria between late 2014 and early 2015, Mr. Molins said. After returning to Europe, he said, they traveled back and forth among France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

On July 29, a Belgian court convicted Mr. Kriket in absentia of financing a jihadist recruitment network with proceeds from robberies and other crimes. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, believed to have been the chief on-the-ground planner of the Paris attacks, was named in the same proceeding.

Members of the Belgian military and police forces blocked the road outside the prime minister’s office in Brussels after the March 22 attacks. Credit James Arthur Gekiere/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Molins said that investigators had not uncovered a specific target or date for the planned attack and were trying to identify other accomplices. Under questioning, he said, Mr. Kriket denied being a terrorist, said he had rented the Argenteuil apartment on behalf of someone whom he would not name, and said the unidentified man and an accomplice were the bomb makers.

Three men have been held in other countries on suspicion of working with Mr. Kriket. One is Mr. Bahri, whom the Dutch police arrested in the port city of Rotterdam on Sunday at the request of the French authorities. The other two are Algerians who were arrested in Brussels on Friday: Abderahmane Ameroud, 38, and a man identified only as Rabah M., 34. (He was previously identified as Rabah N. and Salah A.)

Mr. Ameroud had been convicted of providing logistical support to two Tunisian suicide bombers who assassinated Ahmed Shah Massoud, an Afghan opposition leader, two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. In 2005, Mr. Ameroud was found guilty of complicity in the murder.

Mr. Ameroud was also linked to an Afghan and Pakistani network suspected of training would-be jihadists in a forest near Paris and in the French Alps. He was convicted of participation in a terrorist enterprise in 2007 and was thought to have been deported to Algeria after serving his sentence.

On Wednesday, a court in Brussels delayed proceedings against him and Rabah M. to April 7, at the request of their lawyers.

Also on Wednesday, a government official said that a file with the floor plan and photographs of the office of the Belgian prime minister had been found on a laptop computer discarded in a garbage can last week by one of the terrorists linked to the Brussels attacks. It was found during a raid in the Schaerbeek neighborhood hours after the attacks.

Several Belgian newspapers, including L’Echo, De Tijd and De Morgen, reported that the information about the prime minister’s office, the site of regular meetings of cabinet ministers, had been found on the laptop.

On the same computer, investigators found a statement, described by the authorities as a will, by Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, one of three suicide bombers in the attacks. In that statement, Mr. Bakraoui described himself as increasingly desperate and fearful of ending up in prison.

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He and another man, Najim Laachraoui, blew themselves up at Brussels Airport, and Mr. Bakraoui’s younger brother, Khalid, detonated a suicide bomb at the Maelbeek subway station. The attacks killed 32 people, a lower toll than previously reported, having been revised downward on Tuesday as the authorities finished identifying victims.

Officials are seeking a third airport attacker and, according to Belgian reports, another person involved in the subway blast.

Local news reports said the discarded computer also contained precise information about the prime minister’s residence on the Rue de la Loi, steps from the United States Embassy. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Charles Michel at the residence on Friday.

European nations have come under increasing scrutiny for their response to terrorism. On Wednesday, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, Lisa O. Monaco, criticized allies, including France and Belgium, for failing to reduce barriers to the sharing of intelligence among agencies, as the United States did after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ms. Monaco’s remarks, at a security conference at the University of Texas at Austin, were one of the Obama administration’s sternest rebukes of its European partners since the Paris and Brussels attacks.

“It’s fair to say that they have not had the same reaction that we did after we had 9/11,” which was “to share information amongst ourselves and to get into a position to share it very rapidly with our international partners,” Ms. Monaco said.

Hours before Ms. Monaco spoke, Ard van der Steur, the Dutch minister for security and justice, said it had been the intelligence division of the New York Police Department, not the F.B.I., that warned the Netherlands on March 16 that the Bakraoui brothers had links to terrorism.

Mr. van der Steur had previously testified before Dutch lawmakers that the warning came from the F.B.I., but in a statement on Wednesday, he said he had misspoken. It was not clear how the police in New York had become aware of the brothers.

The Turkish government arrested Ibrahim el-Bakraoui near the Turkish border with Syria in June. Officials there alerted the Belgian government and then deported Mr. Bakraoui to the Netherlands at his request.

nytimes.com/2016/03/31/world/europe/brussels-attacks-prime-minister-office.html

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Around 20 Islamic State Recruiters Arrested In Moscow: RIA

March 30, 2016

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Around 20 Islamic State followers were arrested in Moscow trying to recruit new fighters for the group, Russia's RIA news agency cited a security source as saying on Wednesday.

"During a joint operation of the FSB (Federal Security Service) and the police, around twenty people suspected of connections to ISIS (Islamic State) were arrested," RIA quoted the source as saying.

The FSB could not immediately be reached for comment; the police declined to discuss the matter.

"According to preliminary information, they were searching for and recruiting new members in Moscow," RIA said, citing the source.

RIA said the majority of those arrested were citizens of the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. They had fake documents, including false Turkish driving licenses, it said.

Russia is helping the Syrian army fight Islamic State in Syria providing air support, weapons, and advice. The group, which is outlawed in Russia, has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Russia, mostly in the Caucasus region.

news.yahoo.com/around-20-islamic-state-recruiters-arrested-moscow-ria-140110743.html

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Europe versus the Islamic State

31st March 2016

By Dominique Moisi

After the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, I wrote a commentary entitled “We Are At War” – and faced considerable criticism from readers, Europeans and non-Europeans alike. How dare I use the word “war” to describe the attacks! Words are weapons, and misusing them is irresponsible, even dangerous. Had I not learned anything from George W. Bush’s jingoism?

In fact, I knew exactly what I was doing when I chose that word. And last week, when Brussels faced a terrorist attack on its airport and a metro station, the emergency services personnel chose the same word, calling for the treating of “war wounds.” So I will say it again: We are at war.

Of course, it is not a traditional war. No formal declaration of hostilities was made; but the attacks on Paris and Brussels were acts of war – deliberate and brutal maneuvers planned by a group of people controlling a large chunk of territory.

These acts targeted not just Europe’s people, but also its fundamental values, and they are part of a broader pattern of aggression that will not simply fade away. Indeed, though the Islamic State’s territory may be shrinking in Syria and Iraq, it is expanding in Libya. And who knows which countries ISIS may seize tomorrow? Parts of Algeria, for example, could be vulnerable.

It is time for the European Union to recognize the reality – it is at war, whether it likes it or not – and respond accordingly. If there was ever a moment since the end of World War II when Europe needed to take charge of its security, it is now. This means both managing the threat at home and taking a leading role in the fight against ISIS, not only because of Europe’s geographical proximity, but because of the past contributions some of its member states, such as France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, have made to destabilizing the region.

In this endeavor, it is critical that the terrorists are not conflated with the refugees flowing into Europe. The refugees, who are being driven out of their homes largely by the actions of ISIS and other violent actors, represent an important opportunity for Europe. Today’s surging European populists, who hold European values in contempt, cannot be allowed to cause us to miss that opportunity through bigotry and fear mongering.

Of course, terrorism is not the only security threat that the EU currently faces. With the United States focused on Asia and the Middle East (not to mention itself), it is up to EU leaders to grasp the nettle of limiting Russia’s ambitions in the eastern part of Europe.

At a time when the EU – which, if given the choice, would tend to focus its attention inward – must confront such daunting external challenges, the last thing it needs is a destabilizing internal challenge. Yet that is precisely what it is facing, thanks to Prime Minister David Cameron’s feckless attempt to appease the rabid anti-Europeans in his Conservative Party by planning a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member. When your shared house is in danger of burning down, you work with the other tenants to put out the fire; you don’t fuss over who should carry the hose.

The discrepancy between what Europe needs and what it is ready to do reflects a gap between reason and emotion. Rationally, the need for greater European cooperation on security and defense, as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has noted, is obvious. Emotionally, however, the reverse appears to be true, as illustrated by the EU’s failure to formulate a common policy toward the arriving refugees.

Like Renzi today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was alone in her plea for a humane response to the refugee crisis. For most Europeans, the situation seemed overwhelming, so they shrank from it. “Refugees, this is your problem,” Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis famously told Merkel in a European Council meeting last year. Terrorism, with its unpredictable tactics and nebulous borders, elicits a similar response.

The challenge is so overwhelming, in fact, that EU countries have been unable even to share information effectively. A similar problem arose after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US, which then withheld information even from its closest allies, Canada and the UK. I saw the frustration this caused first-hand in January 2002 at the World Economic Forum, where I co-chaired a private session among Western security chiefs.

Today, according to Europe’s self-determined pecking order, there are the French and British intelligence and security services, and then there are the rest. Belgium, poorly regarded in this area, given its weak state structures and complex linguistic and cultural identities, is not receiving the information that the French and British are collecting. But this is no time for arrogance, much less fear and concealment.

If terrorists are targeting Europe, it is because they believe Europe is the West’s weak link. For its own sake, Europe must prove them wrong. The only way to do that is to stop allowing the emotional desire to hide behind nationalist claims to overwhelm the rational recognition that united action is the only way to be safer.

newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1420928/europe-versus-islamic

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Islamic State claims bombing death of Russian policeman in Caucasus

Europe30.03.2016 

Moscow (dpa) - The UN-designated terrorist organization Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing a Russian policemen in a series of bombings in a Russian region of the Caucasus Mountains, according to a statement circulated on social media on Wednesday.

Three landmines in the southern Russian region of Dagestan exploded under a police convoy on Tuesday evening, killing one officer and wounding two others, state news agency TASS reported.

A law enforcement source told TASS that the local gang from the Novy Khushet suburb of Dagestan‘s capital, Makhachkala, were suspected of involvement in the bombings.

The source said police were confirming whether the so-called Khushet gang had sworn allegiance to Islamic State.

Meanwhile, about 20 suspected Islamic State militants were detained in Moscow, state news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

Earlier this month, authorities in Dagestan detained several Islamic State militants who were preparing a terrorist attack and revealed information about an abandoned house where they were keeping about a tonne of explosives, the Interfax news agency reported.

For decades, Russia has struggled with a homegrown Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus Mountain regions of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia.

However, that insurgency has quieted down in recent years as many of the militants went to Syria to join Islamic State and other extremist groups, according to a report released this month by the International Crisis Group, an anti-war organization.

During Russia‘s military operation in Syria, it eliminated more than 2,000 rebels who had come to Syria from Russia, including 17 rebel field commanders, Russia‘s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier this month.

en.europeonline-magazine.eu/islamic-state-claims-bombing-death-of-russian-policeman-in-caucasus_447298.html

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Islamic State urges attacks on German chancellery, Bonn airport: SITE group

BERLIN

REUTERS/WOLFGANG RATTAY

Islamic State posted pictures on the Internet calling on German Muslims to carry out Brussels-style attacks in Germany, singling out Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices and the Cologne-Bonn airport as targets, the SITE intelligence group reported.

Western Europe is on high security alert after last week's Islamic State suicide bombings in the Belgian capital that killed 32 people at its airport and in a metro station. On Wednesday, France said it was investigating a man on suspicion of planning an imminent act of "extreme violence".

The Islamic State images and graphics, widely published by German media on Thursday, included slogans in German inciting Muslims to commit violence against the "enemy of Allah."

Germany's BKA federal police, who monitor suspected militants with German passports returning from stints fighting in Syria and Iraq, said it knew of the images but that their publication did not necessitate extra security measures.

"We are aware of this material and our experts are checking it," a BKA spokeswoman said. "It is clear that Germany is the focus of international terrorism and that attacks could happen, but this material doesn't change our security assessment."

Federal police chief Holger Muench said after the March 22 attacks in Brussels that Islamic State appeared eager to carry out further "spectacular" attacks in Europe as it was suffering setbacks on battlefields in Iraq and Syria.

One of the disseminated Islamic State images features a militant in combat fatigues standing in a field and gazing at Cologne-Bonn airport with a caption reading: "What your brothers in Belgium were able to do, you can do too."

Another shows the German chancellery building in Berlin on fire with an Islamic State fighter and a tank standing outside the structure. The headline reads: "Germany is a battlefield."

Germany joined the U.S.-led air strike campaign against Islamic State in Syria last year, though limiting its role to reconnaissance and refueling missions, after the jihadist group killed 130 people in shooting and bombing attacks in Paris.

A third graphic featured a military jet, which German media identified as a Tornado used by the German air force, against the backdrop of a mountainous area juxtaposed with the bloodied faces of women and children - apparently meant to represent civilians who Islamic State says have been killed by air strikes on areas it controls.

The caption under this image says: "Will you continue to grieve or will you finally act?"

All five pictures circulated on social media on Wednesday bore the logo of Furat Media, an Islamic State affiliate, according to SITE.

German media also published an Islamic State video celebrating the attacks in Brussels that featured a three-second shot of Frankfurt Airport, apparently taken from German television news footage.

The BKA spokeswoman said police were aware of that video as well and current security measures were sufficient.

reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-germany-idUSKCN0WX0XJ

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Arab World

Army, Kurdish Forces Continue Advances in Different Battlefields, Kill More Terrorists

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and Kurdish forces continued their military operations against ISIL, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups across the country, destroying their weaponry and killing many of their members in the last 24 hours.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) took control of a strategic village in Hasaka province.

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured in tough battle with the Syrian army and Kurdish forces over past 24 hours.

Hasaka

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) continued their advances against the ISIL terrorists in Hasaka province, inching closer to winning back the key village.

The SDF and YPG forces are now on the verge of seizing back al-Maleha village which is located 30 kilometers to the Southwest of al-Shadadi region in Hasaka province.

The Kurdish forces are less than 4 kilometers from al-Maleha which is located between Abu Khashb in Raqqa province and Hasaka city.

Informed military sources said that vast areas in Hasaka, Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces are scenes of bloody clashes between Kurdish forces and the ISIL terrorists.

Kurdish parties are already in control of three administrations in Syria’s North near the Turkish border. The regions are known as Afrin and Kobani, both in Aleppo Province, as well as Jazira in Hasaka Province.

Aleppo

The Syrian army and popular forces foiled an attempt by the ISIL terrorist group to penetrate into the Syrian army's military positions near Hazm al-Gharbiat height from the direction of al-Hazm al-Awsat mountains in the Western part of Quaryatayn town.

The terrorists' attempt came just a day after the army units took full control of Hazm al-Gharbiat height by moving from Jabil mountain towards Hazm al-Awsat mountains.

Meantime, the Syrian government troops destroyed three bomb-laden vehicles of the terrorists near Hazm al-Gharbiat height.

The Kurdish fighters killed scores of Takfiri terrorists, including a notorious leader, in fierce clashes with them in the Northern province of Aleppo on Wednesday.

At least seven terrorists, including a senior Al-Nusra Front commander, were killed in fierce fighting in Aleppo province, an informed source announced.

"In the morning, a group of militants fired mortars and heavy weapons at several villages in the vicinity of the towns of Minaq and A’zaz and attacked the Kurdish militia there; fierce fighting is underway there," the source added.

He reiterated that the Kurdish fighters are fighting two other terrorist groups in Afrin canton located in Syria’s Aleppo province.

Damascus

The ISIL executed several terrorists of its rival Al-Nusra Front as the infighting further intensified between them in Damascus countryside on Wednesday.

At least 10 Al-Nusra Front terrorists were executed by the ISIL in al-Qalamoun region in Damascus countryside.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the infighting between the al-Nusra Front and the ISIL terrorists intensified in Damascus countryside.

One day after bloody clashes between the ISIL and the al-Nusra Front terrorists in Western Qalamoun, the Takfiri terrorists in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp also engaged in tough battle, field sources revealed.

Homs

The Syrian fighter jets hit hard and destroyed the military positions and gathering centers of the ISIL in Homs province, inflicting heavy losses on the Takfiri terrorists.

The army units destroyed the ISIL's military hardware, including machinegun-equipped and armored vehicles, in the Eastern part of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur).

The Syrian air raids also resulted in destroying fortifications of the ISIL in the Southern part of al-Tafha village near Jebb al-Jarrah area, some 80 Km to the East of Homs city.

Scores of the ISIL terrorists were killed and wounded in tough battle with the Syrian government forces.

Hama

The Syrian army and popular forces continued their advances against the ISIL terrorists in the Eastern part of Hama province, and took control of a strategic region after inflicting heavy losses on the Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian government troops seized back Tabara al-Diba region in Eastern Hama.

Scores of ISIL terrorists were killed and wounded in tough battle with the Syrian  army.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950112000064

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Iraqi forces advance towards western town held by Islamic State

Reuters

3/31/2016

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's counter-terrorism forces backed by army troops and U.S.-led coalition air strikes advanced towards the western town of Hit on Thursday in an attempt to

A senior officer from the counter-terrorism forces, the elite U.S.-trained units which led the recapture of nearby Ramadi three months ago, said his troops were one kilometer from the town center, 130 km (80 miles) west of the capital Baghdad.

The recapture of Hit, strategically located on the Euphrates River near Ain al-Asad air base where several hundred U.S. forces are training Iraqi army troops, would push Islamic State further west towards the Syrian border, cutting a connection to the northern town of Samarra and leaving Falluja their only stronghold near the capital.

Baghdad has had success in pushing back the militants in recent months and has pledged to retake the northern city of Mosul later this year, but progress has often been fitful.

Another officer, on a frontline less than 3 km from Hit, said the operation had begun at 0600 (0300 GMT) and was progressing swiftly.

"There are some IEDs along the movement but it's still good to go and we are moving," he said by phone.

In a statement announcing the advance, the military said the offensive was backed by airstrikes from the Iraqi army and air force as well as the international coalition fighting Islamic State in the areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria where the militants declared a "caliphate" in 2014.

The statement called on civilians in Hit, thought to number in the tens of thousands, to move away from Islamic State positions: "Those targets will be destroyed".

The jihadists have regularly used civilians as human shields, a tactic aimed at slowing the advance of Iraqi forces and complicating air strikes essential to the ground advance.

news.yahoo.com/iraqi-forces-advance-towards-western-town-held-islamic-090754376.html

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Yemeni Army Kills over 370 Saudi-Led Forces in Midi Desert in 2 Days

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces continued their military gains against the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen, killing hundreds of them in heavy clashes over the past 48 hours.

The army and popular units killed at least 378 Saudi forces in Midi desert in the past two days.

The Saudi forces were trying to penetrate into Midi desert in the past two days, but were pushed back after sustaining heavy losses.

At least 15 military vehicles of the Saudi forces were also destroyed.

In a relevant development in mid-March, a Yemeni intelligence source said that over 4,000 Saudi mercenaries, including 178 commanders, have been killed during the year-long Riyadh-led war against Yemen.

"At least, 4,000 Saudi mercenaries have been killed during the savage aggression of the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Yemen in the past one year," the source told FNA.

He said that tens of the Saudi mercenaries killed by the Yemeni army and popular forces have been Sudanese, Djiboutian, and even Chechen nationals, adding that 178 commanders are seen among the Saudi death toll in Yemen war, "a fact that has always been kept secret the Saudi media".

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950112000170

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Syrian President Calls on Int'l Organizations to Help Restore Palmyra

March 30, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday called for increasing international efforts to help reconstruct the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) ruined by the ISIL terrorist group.

"The UN and its agencies concerned with cultural heritage preservation should put efforts to support the Syrian government in the restoration of the ancient city of Palmyra being a cultural icon classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site," President Assad said in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.

The Syrian president, meantime, appreciated the UN secretary general for voicing his pleasure in Syrian army's recapturing Palmyra city.

"This could be the most appropriate moment to accelerate the collective war against terrorism," President Assad said.

On Sunday, Ban welcomed the liberation of Palmyra from the terrorists and called for its preservation for future generations.

In a news conference in Jordan, the UN secretary general said he was "encouraged that the UNESCO world heritage site is out of extremist hands and that the Syrian government is now able to preserve and protect this human common cultural asset".

On Sunday, the Syrian army and popular forces in a major conquest seized back Palmyra in the Eastern part of Homs province after several days of tough battle with the ISIL terrorists.

The Syrian government troops are now in full control of Palmyra city.

Palmyra was under ISIL control from May 2015. The terrorist group has since destroyed part of the city, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950111000600

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Bashar al-Assad says he can form new

West Blocks Palmyra Resolution, Reveals Disinterest in Syrian Peace Process

March 30, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Blocking a draft UNSC resolution on Palmyra liberation can be regarded as the absense of interest from the West in the Syrian peace process.

The decision to block a draft resolution on Palmyra liberation in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) shows that the West is not interested in the Syrian peace process, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday, Sputnik reported.

"This [decision to block the resolution] shows that they are not interested in the process of liberating Syria from terrorists or promoting the peace process… not even cultural values and other things they often claim. Geopolitical interest is exclusively behind all of this," Zakharova said.

She added that Russia has now decided to submit a draft resolution on Palmyra to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), calling for the reconstruction of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950111000587

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Syrian Army Starts Reconstruction of Palmyra Military Airport

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army's engineering units started repairing and reconstructing Palmyra (Tadmur) military airport in a bid to pave the way for it to resume its routine activities and operations.

The army's engineers are working hard to prepare the Palmyra military airport for the upcoming operations against the Takfiri terrorists.

Palmyra airport is regarded an important air base for the Syrian army's military choppers and fighter jets.

Tadmur which was under the ISIL control is an important center for the army's future military operations to win back strategic regions, specially in Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces.

The importance of Palmyra airport lies in the fact that it is located between al-Tal and al-Hayel mountains and to al-Sukhneh to the North and Quaryatayn to the South.

Palmyra military airport is close to Deir Ezzur and Raqqa cities which are high strategic importance.

The Syrian army is preparing for taking control of several oilfields in al-Sukhneh.

Other army units are moving Southward towards al-Quaryatayn which is an important economic hub because several oil and gas pipelines pass through it.

The Syrian army is also planning to prevent the ISIL terrorist group from gaining access to al-Qalamoun mountainous regions in Damascus countryside.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi underlined that the recent victory of his country's army in winning back Palmyra will surely pave the upcoming advances in Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces.

"The military gains achieved by the Syrian army and the popular is of a great military and political significance which will open the doors for moving eastward and northward  towards the Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted al-Zoubi as saying.

He reiterated that the link between the military operation in Palmyra and continuing it towards Deir Ezzur and Raqqa has nothing to do with the cessation of hostilities.

"No one could ask the Syrian army to stop its fight against ISIL terrorist organization,” al-Zoubi said.

The Syrian information minister expressed doubt about the seriousness of the US-led international anti-ISIL, and said, "The coalition’s fight has not yielded any results on the ground."

On Sunday, the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces confirmed that Palmyra and the mountains and hills overlooking it have now come under the army’s full control.

"Security and stability has been restored to Palmyra following a series of precise and effective military operations that were carried out by the army units with the help of the popular defense groups, being backed by the Syrian and Russian Air Forces," the Army Command said in a statement.

The ISIL terrorist organization has been dealt quite a heavy blow with army's capture of Palmyra, said the Army Command, adding that the achievement has severely damaged the terrorists’ morale and pressed the start button for the organization’s collapse and defeat.

"This achievement proves that our brave army, aided by the friends, is the only effective force capable of fighting terrorism and eradicating it,” the statement said.

The Army Command clarified that the importance of today’s achievement stems from the significant strategic location of Palmyra city being a major link connecting the Central, Southern, Eastern and Northern areas, and from the historical and tourist status of the city as it stands witness to one of the most ancient human civilizations ever.

With Palmyra city under control, military operations against ISIL will expand starting from this springboard towards various axes and directions, on top being Deir Ezzur and Raqqa, especially that this victory helps in further tightening the noose around ISIL terrorists and cutting off their supply routes in areas under their control until having these areas fully freed, the statement explained.

The statement made it clear that the army, together with the popular defense groups and the Russian and Syrian Air Forces, will go ahead with military operations against ISIL and al-Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations.

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1000s Hold Funeral for Activist Killed by Saudi Forces

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Thousands of people in Eastern Saudi Arabia attended a funeral for a pro-democracy activist who was recently killed by the Riyadh regime forces.

Angry mourners took to the streets in the city of Awamiyah on Thursday to lay Maki al-Ariz's body to rest.

During the funeral procession, the mourners denounced Saudi Arabia for its violent crackdown on the peaceful activists and protesters across the kingdom.

The victim was killed under tortures of Saudi security forces in jail.

There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province since 2011, with the protestors calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination. Several people have been killed and many others have been injured or arrested during the demonstrations.

Similar demonstrations have also been held in the capital Riyadh and the holy city of Medina over the past few months.

In June, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered the country’s security forces to go on a state of high alert due to what he called a "turbulent situation" in the region.

The Persian Gulf monarchy has come under fire from international human rights organizations, which have criticized it for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. Critics say the country shows zero-tolerance toward dissent.

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Syrian Army Inches Closer to Salamiyah in Hama Province

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army continued advances in Southern Hama, inching closer to the strategic town of Salamiyah.

According to several military sources in Hama battlefields, the pro-government forces, including the Syrian army and popular forces kept on advancing against the terrorists' positions, forcing them to retreat from the their positions and establishing control over more lands in Southern Hama province.

The Syrian army's ground operation is supported by aerial attacks.

Scores of terrorists were killed and wounded in the army's attacks on their positions.

Salamiyah is of strategic importance because it is only 30 kilometers from Hama city and it is located to the North of Homs city.

In a relevant development on March 19, the Syrian army and its popular allies pushed back the al-Nusra terrorists in areas near Salamiyah and killed a number of militants.

"The al-Nusra militants in an attempt to capture the key points of al-Rabi'ah near Tal al-Dara village, on the Western outskirt of Salamiyah, attacked the army troop's positions in the region, but the army fended off the attack after killing several terrorists," the source said.

The source added that the army forces destroyed several militants' heavily-armed pick-up trucks and defused some explosive devices left by the militants in the region.

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Deir Ezzur: ISIL's Strategic Tunnel Razed Down by Syrian Army

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army discovered a key tunnel of the ISIL terrorist group in the old airport district in the Southern part of the city of Deir Ezzur.

The ISIL's 20-meter-long tunnel was razed down by the army units.

Scores of the Takfiri terrorists were killed and wounded in the Syrian army's attacks on their tunnel.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian army and popular forces continued their advances in two strategic regions in Deir Ezzur province in Eastern Syria, killing and wounding scores of the ISIL terrorists.

The army units attacked the ISIL's military positions in the towns of al-Mayadeen and al-Ashara in Deir Ezzur province.

The Syrian government troops killed at least four ISIL terrorists in Tebbiya region in al-Mayadeen town in the Southeastern part of Deir Ezzur.

The army units also hit hard the ISIL in al-Ashara town also located in the Southeastern part of Deir Ezzur. At least five ISIL terrorists, including three Saudi nationals, were killed in heavy clashes with the Syrian army.

Also on Monday, the Syrian army foiled an attempt by the ISIL terrorist group to penetrate into its military positions in the Eastern part of Deir Ezzur military airport, killing scores of Takfiri terrorists.

The ISIL terrorists tried to penetrate into al-Mura'yeh and Huweija fronts near Deir Ezzur military airport, but they were pushed back by the Syrian army.

"At least five terrorists were killed and many more were injured in heavy clashes with the government troops," army sources said

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Iraqi Forces Start Special Military Operations to Win Back Heet Region

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) started a series of special operations to seize back strategic Heet region in Anbar province.

The Iraqi volunteer forces purged the terrorists from Saqlaviya region and are now very close to liberating Heet area.

The Hash al-Shaabi forces are fortifying their military positions in Saqlaviya region in the Northwestern part of the city of Fallujah.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Iraqi joint forces repelled attempts by the ISIL terrorists to attack a strategic military base in Anbar province.

The Iraqi army and popular forces foiled ISIL's four potential suicide attacks to penetrate into Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province, Arab media outlets reported.

Scores of the ISIL terrorists were killed and wounded in the Iraqi army's counteroffensive against them near Ain al-Assad military base.

The Northern and Western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since the ISIL terrorists began an offensive through the Iraqi territory in June 2014.

Iraqi army soldiers and popular forces are now seeking to win back these occupied regions in joint operations.

On Tuesday, Nineveh Province Operations Commander Brigadier General Najm al-Jabouri announced that the ISIL positions in Mosul were under the army's heavy fire, underlining that his forces were waiting for an order to launch the final battle.

"The Central and Southern parts of Mosul which host the ISIL commanders' strongholds are under artillery fire and airstrikes," Jabouri told FNA.

He said that the Iraqi army and popular forces were all prepared for their commanders' order to launch a decisive battle against the ISIL in Mosul.

A source in Iraq's Ministry of Interior announced last Friday that the Iraqi Air Force's planes dropped thousands of leaflets on the city of Mosul (405 km North of Baghdad), calling on the residents to be prepared for the liberation operation of the city by the Iraqi army.

The source said in a statement that “today the Iraqi Air Force planes dropped thousands of leaflets on Tahrir neighborhood, as well as different parts in the left side of Mosul".

The source, who asked anonymity, added, “The leaflets called the citizens to be prepared for the expulsion of ISIL terrorist members.

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Yemen Strikes Saudi Coalition Forces with Another Ballistic Missile

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces destroyed the Saudi military positions and bases in Ma'rib province with a ballistic missile, killing tens of the kingdom's forces.

The Qaher-I ballistic missile hit Saudi Arabia's Nakhla military base in Ma'rib province in Yemen on Thursday, the Arabic-language media outlets reported.

Early reports indicate large casualties on the Saudi forces in the missile attack. The Saudi army and its coalition members have lost, at least, over a hundred troops each time they have come under a ballistic missile attack by Yemen.

The Yemeni forces have fired tens of missiles on the military positions and gathering centers of Saudi-led coalition so far, killing hundreds of Saudi forces and injuring many more.

In a relevant in early March, the Qaher-I missile hit al-Khanjar military base in al-Jawf province, destroying their military hardware and equipment.

The Saudi-led forces' armored vehicles were destroyed during the Yemeni missile attack.

Scores of Saudi forces were killed and injured in the Yemeni missile strikes.

In late February, a Yemeni Tochka missile hit the Saudi-led coalition's military base in Ma'rib province, killing tens of coalition servicemen, including 8 senior Saudi and UAE officers.

A Commander of Yemen's Ansarullah Movement confirmed firing of the ballistic missile at the Ma'as military base in Ma'rib in Central Yemen.

He noted that at least 48 Saudi forces were killed in Yemen's Tochka missile attack.

Also on February 3, the Yemeni forces rained down a barrage of missiles at the Saudi forces' military tower in Al-Dokhan region in Jizan province in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Al-Dokhan tower was reportedly destroyed in the Yemeni missile attacks in Jizan as eyewitnesses said that they had seen smoke rising from it.

The Yemeni army and popular forces regained control of Al-Khurma region in Asir province after they destroyed two arms depots and other military hardware of the Yemeni forces in the region.

Meantime, the Yemeni army's artillery units pounded Malhama military base in Jizan province. The Saudi troops started fleeing their base as soon as they came under the missile attack.

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Syrian Army Wins Back Key Areas Near Salamiyah Town in Hama Province

March 31, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army continued its advances in Hama province, and seized back more regions near the strategic town of Salamiyah.

The army units are now in full control of Tabara al-Diba heights alongside oil pipeline of Salamiyah in the Eastern part of Hama province.

The Syrian army destroyed different kinds of heavy machineguns and artillery of the ISIL terrorists.

Scores of the ISIL terrorists were killed and wounded in the Syrian army's attacks on their military positions and gathering centers.

Salamiyah is of strategic importance because it is only 30 kilometers from Hama city and it is located to the North of Homs city.

Meantime, the Russian fighter jets pounded the ISIL's positions in the Eastern part of Aqareb to the North of Salamiyah.

In a relevant development on March 19, the Syrian army and its popular allies pushed back the al-Nusra terrorists in areas near Salamiyah and killed a number of militants.

"The al-Nusra militants in an attempt to capture the key points of al-Rabi'ah near Tal al-Dara village, on the Western outskirt of Salamiyah, attacked the army troop's positions in the region, but the army fended off the attack after killing several terrorists," the source said.

The source added that the army forces destroyed several militants' heavily-armed pick-up trucks and defused some explosive devices left by the militants in the region.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950112000099

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Kurdish Forces Inching Close to Strategic Village in Hasaka Province

March 30, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) continued their advances against the ISIL terrorists in Hasaka province, inching closer to winning back the key village.

The SDF and YPG forces are now on the verge of seizing back al-Maleha village which is located 30 kilometers to the Southwest of al-Shadadi region in Hasaka province.

The Kurdish forces are less than 4 kilometers from al-Maleha which is located between Abu Khashb in Raqqa province and Hasaka city.

Informed military sources said that vast areas in Hasaka, Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces are scenes of bloody clashes between Kurdish forces and the ISIL terrorists.

Kurdish parties are already in control of three administrations in Syria’s North near the Turkish border. The regions are known as Afrin and Kobani, both in Aleppo Province, as well as Jazira in Hasaka Province.

Syria has been grappling with a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. More than 470,000 people have been killed in the turmoil, according to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950111000551

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Syrian Army Recaptures Key Region in Hama Province

March 30, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and popular forces continued their advances against the ISIL terrorists in the Eastern part of Hama province, and took control of a strategic region after inflicting heavy losses on the Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian government troops seized back Tabara al-Diba region in Eastern Hama.

Scores of ISIL terrorists were killed and wounded in tough battle with the Syrian army.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian army seized back more regions near the strategic city of Salamiyah.

The army units are now in full control of several key regions and heights near Salamiyah town.

Salamiyah is of strategic importance because it is only 30 kilometers from Hama city and it is located to the North of Homs city.

Meantime, the Russian fighter jets pounded the ISIL's positions in the Eastern part of Aqareb to the North of Salamiyah.

In a relevant development on March 19, the Syrian army and its popular allies pushed back the al-Nusra terrorists in areas near Salamiyah and killed a number of militants.

"The al-Nusra militants in an attempt to capture the key points of al-Rabi'ah near Tal al-Dara village, on the Western outskirt of Salamiyah, attacked the army troop's positions in the region, but the army fended off the attack after killing several terrorists," the source said.

The source added that the army forces destroyed several militants' heavily-armed pick-up trucks and defused some explosive devices left by the militants in the region.

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Russia: Iran Missile Tests No Violation of UN Resolution

March 30, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Mikhail Ulyanov once again affirmed that Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests were not in breach of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution adopted last July.

Ulyanov said on Wednesday that UNSC Resolution 2231 “does not ban (the tests).”

The Russian official also said Moscow sees no point in putting the issue of Iran’s ballistic missiles on UNSC agenda as the move has no basis.

In his Wednesday remarks, Ulyanov also said, “Any country, especially when it comes to a Security Council member, can raise these issues, any country can write to the Security Council. But in this case, we do not quite understand the reasons. Whether someone likes it or not, the fact that Iran is launching ballistic missiles is a separate case. The truth is that there are no constraints on such launches in Resolution 2231.”

His remarks come as the United States and some of its European allies are seeking a meeting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Iran’s recent missile tests, which they claim were carried out “in defiance of” the UNSC resolution.

Resolution 2231, which endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran-P5+1 agreement — provides for the termination of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions over the Iranian nuclear program.

On March 9, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps successfully fired two ballistic missiles as part of measures to assess its capabilities. The missiles were fired during large-scale drills.

Iran says its missiles are defensive and designed to carry conventional explosives only.

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Rouhani: Islamic Republic Day Manifests Iranian Democracy

March 30, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic Day established democratcy and Islamic features in Iran.

At the Cabinet session on Wednesday, President Rouhani said in modern Iran people easily attend elections to declare their opinions.

On Thursday, March 31, the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates its 37th anniversary by holding massive celebrations across the country.

In a two-day nationwide referendum held on 30 and 31 March 1979 and just a few months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of the late Imam Khomeini, 98.2% of Iranians showed that they wanted the monarchical system to change to an Islamic Republic.

As a result, on April 1, 1979, Iran was declared an Islamic Republic, and was given a new official name - the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This event was preceded by the Islamic Revolution, which resulted in the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran - Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in February, 1979.

In a special statement at the time, the Supervisory Board of the country said the event was "crucial for Iran and the entire world as it opened a new chapter in the history of our country and in the history of Islam."

Every year, Iran marks Islamic Republic Day (Farvardin 12 in the solar calendar year), which falls on March 31 this year .

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Pakistan

Red Zone Sit-In By Pro-Qadri Demonstrators Ends After Successful Negotiations

AFP | DAWN.COM — 31 March 2016

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday evening announced the end of the sit-in at Islamabad's D-Chowk by pro-Mumtaz Qadri protesters, following successful negotiations between the government and protesters.

Nisar also denied media reports that a deal had been struck, saying the demonstrators left “of their own accord”.

“In the future, no political or religious gatherings and demonstrations will be allowed at D-Chowk. This is a very sensitive area and we can not allow groups of people to hold the government hostage.”

Nisar added that changes will be brought through by passing legislation in the parliament, and it will also benefit the police forces in establishing their writ in a more effective manner.

The interior minister explained that the operation to remove the pro-Qadri demonstrators was not conducted earlier, as reinforcements were needed to shore up the federal capital’s police force. He also said,”We wanted to conduct the law enforcement action during daylight hours.”

The security czar said that the demonstrators involved in destroying or damaging public and private property, attacking government officials and involved in any other criminal acts will be brought to justice.

"From Lahore to Attock, we know who all was involved in breaking the law, and we will prosecute them under law," said Nisar.

Nisar also thanked 'notable personalities' for their role in bringing the stand-off to a peaceful conclusion.

Ultimatums not heeded

Earlier, the government had given the demonstrators an ultimatum to leave late Tuesday, but it went unheeded, prompting the government to issue a second call saying security forces would begin an operation to clear the area Wednesday morning.

There had been no fresh warning from the government despite the expiry of the Wednesday morning deadline.

Protest leader Asif Jalali had said the protesters would not move unless all 10 of their demands were accepted by the government.

A police source had stated that more than 7,000 security forces were poised to clear the sit-in, including the Rangers and Frontier Corps with reinforcements from the Punjab police. Army troops are already standing guard at government buildings near the protest camp.

Local media had reported the government was looking to resolve the situation amicably through dialogue. However, thousands of security forces personnel stood ready with riot gear to clear the area of protesters.

'Will not use force against those who surrender'

Superintendent Police Rizwan Gondal while speaking to DawnNews had stated that security forces will not use force against protesters who surrender to them, adding, "We are waiting for orders from our senior command. We are prepared."

Gondal, while briefing security forces on the operation said, "When any man surrenders to you, you cannot harm him."

He instructed the forces to ensure the operation is "the first and last. We cannot leave anything to chance. We must clear the area."

"We have anti-riot gear, everything has been checked. The men have been briefed. They know how to confront protesters hurling stones at them, they know how to use their shields. And our anti-riot squads who have teargas are under a DSP and will follow his instructions. If there is a need for it, they will use it. If there isn't a need, they will not use it. It will be a totally managed activity," Gondal told DawnNews.

'Don't want bloodshed'

Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar on Tuesday night had warned protesters that the government would clear the area "at any cost" if they refused to disperse on their own overnight.

However, protesters have pressed ahead with a list of 10 demands and continued their sit-in.

"We don’t want bloodshed and want this to end peacefully," Nisar had said, adding that the government "is trying its best to protect people’s lives, but will make sure that it ends tomorrow [on Wednesday] anyhow".

It is not difficult to conduct an operation but there are innocent people in there who have been mislead," he said.

Read: Pro-Qadri protesters given the night to disperse on their own: Nisar

Protesters' demands

A set of 10 demands issued by protesters under the banner of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool (SAW), include the unconditional release of all Sunni clerics and leaders booked on various charges, including terrorism and murder; the recognition of Mumtaz Qadri as a martyr and the conversion of his Adiala Jail cell into a national heritage site; assurances that the blasphemy laws will not be amended; and the removal of Ahmadis and other non-Muslims who had occupied key posts.

They also demanded the execution of blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi, the woman former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was killed for defending.

'Religious parties violated written commitments'

haudhry Nisar, while holding the Punjab government responsible for security lapses which allowed protesters to breach the Red Zone, said on Tuesday that religious parties had violated the written commitments they made earlier.

The parties were granted permission to mark the chehlum of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer's killer, Mumtaz Qadri, in Liaquatbagh on Sunday on "written assurance that the participants will disperse in the evening following the Asr prayers".

"But a section of the gathering violated the commitment and resorted to violence," Nisar had said, adding, "Some people are trying to do politics under the guise of a religious gathering."

On Sunday, at least a crowd of at least 25,000 attended the chehlum of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer's killer Mumtaz Qadri in Liaquatbagh, after which more than 10,000 charged protesters made their way into the federal capital, where they clashed with security forces, damaged buildings and setting fire to the metro station, containers and buses, before setting up camp outside key government buildings along the capital's main Constitution Avenue.

Qadri, an Elite Force commando, was executed at Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail on February 29. Qadri shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011.

In a primetime address on Monday night, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif warned radical Islamists that the leniency of the government and law enforcement agencies should not be mistaken as a sign of the helplessness.

"Protecting people's lives and property is the government's constitutional responsibility. Until now, the government has displayed patience so that those who try to incite innocent people's religious sentiments are unsuccessful. But let it be clear that those spreading outrage, fanning the fire of hatred, inciting sectarianism and creating problems for citizens will without a doubt be dealt with by means of law," the PM said.

With additional reporting by Irfan Haider.

dawn.com/news/1248875/red-zone-sit-in-by-pro-qadri-demonstrators-ends-after-successful-negotiations

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Iran slams Pak media for 'undignified rumours' on Indian spy arrest

MATEEN HAIDER

March 31, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Iranian Embassy in Islamabad on Thursday slammed “certain elements in Pakistan” for spreading “undignified and offensive” remarks, which it said were attributed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, regarding the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav.

“Elements unhappy over promotion of ties between the two Islamic countries of Iran and Pakistan are trying in various ways, including the spreading of undignified and sometimes offensive contents, to fade out the significant achievements during the visit of President Rouhani to Pakistan,” embassy spokesman Abbas Badrifar said.

The spokesman's statement comes just days after Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav's arrest was announced on March 25, while Rouhani was visiting Islamabad.

The spreading of such news items, said Badrifar, without clarifying what news report he was referring to, is the product of thinking which does not like further expansion of ties between the two countries and is against fruitful materialisation of agreements made during the visit of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But Badrifar said such tactics “will not impact the positive views of the two countries regarding each other.”

He said since independence, Pakistan had always proven itself a “trusted partner and neighbour”, adding that the “western borders of Pakistan have never been threatened”.

“Iran considers its borders with Pakistan those of peace and friendship,” the spokesman said.

dawn.com/news/1249073/iran-slams-pak-media-for-undignified-rumours-on-indian-spy-arrest

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Ancient Sikh Temple Reopened In Pakistan

March 31, 2016

Peshawar:  An ancient Sikh temple in Pakistan, which remained non-functional for over 70 years after migration of Sikhs to India during partition, was opened today for worship at a special ceremony.

Minority communities expressed happiness over opening of the historic temple, Bhai Beba Singh, located at Mohallah Jogiwara at Hashtnagri area.

Chairman of Evacuee Property Trust, Sidiq-ul-Farooq formally opened the temple by unveiling a plaque. Religious rituals were performed by Sikhs soon after its opening.

"Opening of historic Sikh temple has portrayed true soft image of Pakistan where minorities are getting equal right to live and worship," said Haroon Sarabdiyal, All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement Chairman.

"Government has provided due right to minorities by taking a difficult decision of opening a non-functional temple," said Sardar Suran Singh, Special Assistant to Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Member of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parband Committee (PSGPC), Sardar Bishan Singh said opening of temple is a "big favour of government in general and people of Peshawar in particular".

"It is also good gesture of Muslims that a closed temple remained safe and was not misused or occupied by anyone he said adding that minorities are true Pakistanis who opted for staying here at time of partition," he said.

Farooq said he allotted a land of 2000 yards at Hassan Abdal to Sikh community for using as Shamshan Ghat(cremation ground).

He also appreciated role of KP government in opening of Bhai Beba Singh Gurdwara. He said we have to create an atmosphere of fraternity and brotherhood in our country. Chairman Evacuee Property Trust Board also announced a donation of Rs. half a million for the temple and said his department is working on construction of 1,000 rooms in all the big temples of Pakistan.

Sardar Suran Sing, Special Assistant to Chief Minister KP on Minority Affairs on this occasion announced a donation of Rs. 3 million for the temple.

ndtv.com/world-news/ancient-sikh-temple-reopened-in-pakistan-1292384

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Pakistan asks Tehran to investigate, share details of Indian spy's time in Iran

DAWN.COM

March 31, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday asked Tehran to investigate and share details of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav's activities in Iran, along with those of his colleague, who was identified as Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Sub Inspector Rakesh alias Rizwan.

Jadhav, who was arrested in Balochistan earlier this month, confessed to being a serving officer in the Indian Navy and directing subversive activities in Karachi and Balochistan "at the behest of RAW".

In a confessional video aired by the Pakistani government, Jadhav said: "By 2002, I commenced intelligence operations. In 2003, I established a small business in Chabahar in Iran. As I was able to achieve undetected existence and visits to Karachi in 2003 and 2004."

Pakistan, in a letter addressed to Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost of the Iranian Embassy in Islamabad asks Iran to:

Immediately arrest and hand over an individual identified as Rakesh, alias Rizwan, for interrogation

Verify activities of Jadhav as stated above, along with records of visits to Iran

Provide a record of his stay in Iran including cities visited and the duration of these visits

Provide a record of people interacted with and purpose of these interactions

A copy of the letter obtained by Dawn.com, signed by Federal Interior Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan, says Pakistan "expects Iran to seriously look at Islamabad's assertions and take every step to stem incursion of Indian spies into Pakistani territory."

"Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar raised the issue of Indian saboteurs using Iranian soil with visiting Iranian dignitaries," the letter said, drawing attention to the issue of intrusions from Iran.

"Jadhav was covertly based in Chabahar, Iran, under the pretext of being a jeweller/businessman. He was assisted by RAW Sub Inspector Rakesh, alias Rizwan, a key operative who was also working undercover as a businessman dealing in jewellery."

"Jadhav had an Iranian visa along with an Indian passport," it said, "And he had crossed over to Balochistan's Mashkhel area from Saravan, Iran"

The letter said Jadhav's mission "included spying and sabotage, in addition to fomenting insecurity and instability in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan".

Iran's cooperation in this regard, the letter said, will not only improve relations between the two countries but also help reduce terrorism and unrest in the region.

"Pakistan has persistently maintained that the Indian state is sponsoring terrorism, sabotage and subversion in the country. The government has presented dossiers of such evidence to the United Nations on Indian involvement in Balochistan. However this evidence is unattended to as the world body has paid no attention to it."

dawn.com/news/1249093/pakistan-asks-tehran-to-investigate-share-details-of-indian-spys-time-in-iran

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Afghan Loya Jirga member wanted for rape of Peshawar dancer

ALI AKBAR

March 31, 2016

PESHAWAR: City police are hunting a man accused of raping an 18-year-old dancer after inviting her to perform at his residence in Peshawar. The man is believed to be a member of the Afghan Loya Jirga.

A Loya Jirga is a special type of assembly that is usually organised in Afghanistan, mainly for choosing a new head of state.

The Afghan constitution of 2003 gives the consultative body, made up of both houses of parliament and elected heads of regional administrations, the power to amend the constitution, impeach the president and decide matters of national sovereignty.

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered at Hayatabad Police Station on the victim's complaint.

The victim said in the FIR that she is a dancer by profession and a resident of Peshawar's Tehkal area.

She claimed that an Afghan national invited her to dance at an event at his residence.

When she reached his house, where a "party-like" function was taking place, the accused forcibly took her to a room and subjected her to rape, said Hayatabad Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Hassan Afzal.

Police raided the residence of the accused in Hayatababad area, who had already fled, Afzal said. The police took into custody a driver and a cook from his house.

During the raid, police recovered a passport and other documents which revealed that the accused is an Afghan national and a member of the Afghan Loya Jirga, said the ASP.

The police collected evidence from his house to be used in the probe. Results of the medical examination of the victim are awaited, he said.

dawn.com/news/1249090/afghan-loya-jirga-member-wanted-for-rape-of-peshawar-dancer

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A case for reforming anti-terror laws?

MALIK ASAD

March 31, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Flaws in the mechanism that provides for the surveillance of high-risk individuals have allowed several ‘fourth schedulers’ – or individuals whose names are included in the fourth schedule of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 – to march into the capital unannounced, with little or no clarity on who is responsible for keeping an eye on such violators.

In a press conference on Wednesday night, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan admitted that there may be some shortcomings in the law. But the law’s weaknesses, despite the protestations of demonstrators at D-Chowk, lie not in its framing, but its enforcement mechanisms.

Legal experts and police officers Dawn spoke to agree that expecting an individual who was on the watchlist to volunteer information about his/her own whereabouts was too much to expect.

Police officers, legal experts say lack of procedural definitions make enforcement of ATA fourth schedule problematic

Constitutional lawyer Ahsanuddin Sheikh told Dawn that the fourth schedule of the ATA did not describe the procedure for keeping a check on suspects’ activities.

Under the ATA’s fourth schedule, the government may notify a suspect as proscribed on an ex-parte basis if there are reasonable grounds to believe that he/she is involved in terrorism, has links with a proscribed organisation or is involved in promoting sectarianism.

Suspects are required to execute a bond with one or more sureties for good behaviour to the satisfaction of the relevant district police officer, and are required to seek permission from their respective police station house officer before leaving the limits of that police station.

Under the fourth schedule, a suspect’s movement is restricted and such an individual is not allowed to visit educational institutions, theatres, cinemas, fairs, amusement parks, hotels, clubs and other places of public entertainment. In addition, they are not allowed to proceed to resorts, airports, railway stations, bus stands, telephone exchanges, television and radio stations, public meetings or processions without prior permission.

The act provides that such suspects be monitored through police or any other government agency.

“The ATA defines the parameters for placing someone’s name in the fourth schedule, as well as the process of appeal against such an order and the process for removal of any name from list of suspects,” Mr Sheikh said, adding that the government needed to revise the law to bring it in line with current requirements.

Watching over suspects

According to the Interior Ministry’s official statistics, there are currently around 8,000 people whose names are listed in the ATA’s fourth schedule, across all four provinces. Punjab’s list is the bulkiest with 4,400 suspects listed. However, at least 109 of them are said to be missing from their given addresses.

One such fourth scheduler is Pir Mohammad Afzal Qadri, who was a part of the sit-in at D-Chowk. Moreover, local cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz is also a fourth scheduler, but there have been no significant restrictions on his movement in the city, except when civil society has come out against him.

The cleric has, however, challenged his inclusion in the fourth schedule and the matter is still pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Criminal law expert Raja Rizwan Abbasi told Dawn that law enforcement agencies seemed happy to enforce this law against “poor suspects”, while the powerful were free to move anywhere, despite being on the watch-list.

“This raises questions about the professionalism and capacity of the police, because it should not be difficult for a national force of 300,000 to monitor the activities of 8,000 people across the country,” he said.

The federal and provincial governments could also involve Rangers as well as plainclothes officials to monitor the activities of the suspects, he said.

“The executive authorities have the resources to keep these suspects under observation, but they can’t due to a lack of will and political influence,” he claimed.

Law enforcement’s limitations

Retired inspector general of police Saleemullah Khan, however, maintained that police did not have the technology or the resources to keep a check on the movement of every suspect. In some countries, such suspects were monitored through a tracking chip, placed on an ankle bracelet that could not be torn or broken, he explained. He also claimed that police did not even have access to suspects’ cell phone data or their locations.

Other police officers Dawn spoke to said that while police could recommend names to district administration for inclusion in the Fourth Schedule of ATA, they could not possibly monitor their activities all the time.

“Once someone’s name is included in the list, they are bond to inform police before leaving the city,” an official said, adding that such requests were referred to the district magistrate, who could either grant or deny permission.

Fourth schedulers are also bound to report their presence to the police station in the jurisdiction of their destination, as well as providing details on the duration of their stay, the name and address of their host or the place where they would be lodging, as well as their travel plans.

In case someone fails to meet these requirements, police can arrest such suspects and book them under the ATA. However, these rules are not followed in common practice, the officer claimed.

Initiating action against such individuals is not an easy task, he said, explaining that such people usually rile up their supporters to pressurise the police whenever legal action is initiated against them.

Due to the lack of a centralised database of fourth schedulers, most policemen in the city can’t even identify a proscribed individual, sources in the department told Dawn.

dawn.com/news/1249008/a-case-for-reforming-anti-terror-laws

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Lahore bombing: Police arrest 17 during raids

March 31, 2016

(CNN)Police in the Pakistani city of Lahore have arrested 17 people in a series of raids that started late Wednesday evening, police said.

Superintendent Mohammad Iqbal said the suspects are connected to the Easter bombing that targeted a park, killing at least 74 people and injuring 362 others. At least 24 children died, Punjab province police said.

Young lives lost in Lahore blast

The raids are ongoing and more arrests are expected, Iqbal said. Police and local intelligence agencies are working together in the raids.

A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat ul Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted Christians.

Sunday's attack came at a poignant time for Pakistan's Christians, some of whom were in the city's Gulshan Iqbal Park to celebrate Easter on Sunday evening.

The religious group makes up 2% of the population, and tensions are high between them and a hard-line Muslim core that wants to see a strict interpretation of Islamic law take precedence in Pakistan's legal system.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif canceled a planned visit to the United States after the violence, telling his nation Monday in a televised address that his government would not allow terrorists to "play with Pakistani lives."

"We are keeping count of every drop of the blood of our martyrs," he said. "We will not rest until the cost of this blood is avenged."

Newlyweds' family mourns loss after Lahore

Prior violence

In March of last year, suicide bombers attacked a Christian community, also in Lahore, setting off two blasts that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more, officials said.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for those attacks.

The explosions, which struck the Nishtar Colony area in the city of Lahore, wounded at least 78 people, a Lahore General Hospital official said at the time.

In 2013, suicide bombers struck a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing more than 80 people.

edition.cnn.com/2016/03/30/asia/pakistan-bombing-lahore/index.html

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PM’s silence over Indian agent’s arrest is deliberate: Sana

THE NEWSPAPER'S STAFF REPORTER — 31 March 2016

LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan claims that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is silent on the arrest of an Indian agency’s agent from Balochistan under a strategy.

He also declined to confirm arrest of two Indian engineers on sabotage charges from a factory owned by the Sharifs in a Punjab town.

“The government is working on a strategy to raise the issue of involvement of RAW in Pakistan,” Sana said when asked why the prime minister was not saying anything on the issue.

He was speaking to reporters outside the Punjab Assembly building here on Wednesday.

Asked about picking up of two Indian engineers by an agency from Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by the Sharifs for their alleged links with subversive activities here, he said absurd and wrong information was being disseminated as no agent or terrorist could have any link with a respectable and law-abiding citizen. When insisted to confirm or deny the report, he said no agency had so far given any report to the effect.

He explained that “sometimes a person is picked up but the report is not made public as other people (co-accused) are to be captured on the basis of the information divulged by him.”

He told a questioner that action against hate-mongers must not be confused with the one against “jet-black” terrorists.

Asked if Jaish-i-Muhammad and Jamaatud Dawa would be allowed to operate in the province under the notion of good and bad Taliban, the minister said the notion had died after the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. “Now no one will be allowed to use our soil for any kind of terrorism.”

Answering a question about the arrest of the facilitator(s) of Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park tragedy, he said certain areas in the provincial capital were being cordoned off to check bio-data of residents. He appealed to the citizens to bear the inconvenience with patience.

dawn.com/news/1248988/pms-silence-over-indian-agents-arrest-is-deliberate-sana

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Pak's Edhi Foundation seeks permission to perform last rites of two India fishermen

Yudhvir Rana | TNN | Mar 31, 2016

While talking to TOI over phone from Karachi on Thursday, Managing Trustee, Edhi Foundation, Faisal Edhi said that bodies of Rattan Das and Vaggan Chauhan, both Indian fishermen who had died while undergoing imprisonment in jail, were lying in Edhi Foundation’s morgue for nearly two-to-three months respectively.While talking to TOI over phone from Karachi on Thursday, Managing Trustee, Edhi Foundation, Faisal Edhi said ... Read More

AMRITSAR: While expressing concern over the inordinate delay in sending bodies of two Indian fishermen back to their country, Pakistan's prominent social welfare organization Edhi Foundation has sought permission from its Ministry of Interior to perform the last rites of two Indian Hindu fisherman or send their highly decomposed bodies back to India even. The Foundation had, in recent past, buried another Indian Muslim fishermen who had died in jail.

While talking to TOI over phone from Karachi on Thursday, Managing Trustee, Edhi Foundation, Faisal Edhi said that bodies of Rattan Das and Vaggan Chauhan, both Indian fishermen who had died while undergoing imprisonment in jail, were lying in Edhi Foundation's morgue for nearly two-to-three months respectively.

Faisal informed that the Foundation had received bodies of Rattan Das, Vajjan Chauhan and Abu Bakar on December 22, 2015, February 9, 2016 and November 18, 2015 respectively.

"Just a month ago we had buried body of an Indian fishermen Abu Bakar in a local graveyard but now the bodies of two Hindu fishermen were decomposing day by day so we have sought permission to perform their list rites or send their bodies back to India," he said adding that the Foundation was ready to bear the transportation expenses since the bodies belonged to their family members only.

Last year, Edhi Foundation had handed over Indian mute girl Geeta to Indian authorities. Geeta who had reportedly strayed into Pakistan had been living with Edhi Foundation.

Meanwhile, Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) has taken up the issue with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and has sought her intervention to bring back the decomposed bodies of hapless Indian fishermen.

PIPFPD General Secretary Jatin Desai said that the family members of both the fishermen were in pain and desperate to get the bodies so that they could perform their last rites. In a letter written to Swaraj, Desai has written "Madam, you will understand their pain and suffering. It is really shocking that whenever any Indian or Pakistani fisherman dies in the other country's custody, it takes a minimum of one month to send the body to his country. In the case of Chauhan, it has been more than three and a half months."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amritsar/Paks-Edhi-Foundation-seeks-permission-to-perform-last-rites-of-two-India-fishermen/articleshow/51628260.cms

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Mideast

Erdoğan urges cooperation with US Jewish leaders against Islamophobia

WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency

March 31, 2016

Jewish leaders must stand against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said March 30.     

Erdoğan, who is in the U.S. capital to attend a nuclear summit later this week, discussed a number of issues including the European refugee crisis, anti-refugee rhetoric, the rise of racism in the West, counterterrorism efforts, U.S., Israeli and Turkish relations and the Palestinian issue, according to presidential sources.

“Unfortunately anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and xenophobic movements have moved from the periphery to the center of politics,” Erdoğan reportedly said.

“We need to cooperate against these movements,” he said during the meeting, which was closed to the media. 

Jewish representatives paid their condolences to the Turkish president for recent attacks in Istanbul and Ankara and thanked him for Turkey’s care of Israeli tourists who were killed or wounded in an attack in Istanbul earlier this month.

Three Israeli tourists were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Istanbul and several others were wounded.    

The meeting comes at a time when Turkey and Israel are trying to repair a damaged relationship following a deadly assault in 2010 on a Turkish-flagged ship which was part of an aid flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip, also known as the Mavi Marmara incident.     

The meeting sought to strengthen relations between the Turkish and Jewish communities, despite their differences, according to the president’s office.

Jewish leaders told Erdoğan during the meeting that recent reports which claimed violence by Israeli forces against Palestinians in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were mostly part of a “disinformation” campaign. Erdoğan told the group he had heard accounts which were contrary to their claims.     

Among the Jewish leadership present were World Jewish Congress Vice President Robert Singer.

Also in attendance was Malcom Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“It was very positive. The president [Erdoğan] was very open to discussing issues we raised,” Hoenlein told Anadolu Agency.

“We expressed our appreciation for the support the president himself and the [Turkish] government gave to the Israeli victims in the last attack.”

He also voiced support for efforts to mend ties between the two countries.

hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-urges-cooperation-with-us-jewish-leaders-against-islamophobia-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97134&NewsCatID=338

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Turkey leads resolution in favor of peaceful protest in Geneva

Emine Kart - ANKARA/GENEVA

March 31, 2016

Amid growing global concerns over the deterioration of civil rights and freedoms, the Turkish government has led a resolution favoring people’s right to peaceful protest at the U.N. Human Rights Council (URC), prompting a leading human rights organization to call on Ankara to harmonize its national level of implementation with its acts in the international field.

The resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protest was adopted late last week by the HRC during their 31st session in Geneva. The resolution was the third adopted by the HRC in an initiative led by a core group of Switzerland, Turkey and Costa Rica. It is the “core group” of states which initiate, draft and table resolutions for adoption, thus Turkey was among those who initiated the resolution.

While speaking with Hürriyet Daily News, a civil society advocate group underlined that the Turkish government had been involved in the core group drafting the resolution back in June 2011, long before the anti-government Gezi Park protests in the summer of 2013.

“We welcome Turkey’s leadership at the U.N. to steer through this important resolution on human rights in protest, but this lies in stark contrast to the deterioration in respect for fundamental freedoms at the national level,” Thomas Hughes, the executive director of London-based free speech and human rights organization Article 19, told the Daily News on March 30.

“We would welcome Turkey now taking a leading role in implementing the U.N. guidance it commissioned by ensuring that its domestic laws and practices relating to protest are brought into compliance with international human rights law,” Hughes added.

The resolution enjoyed the co-sponsorship of 60 states and was adopted by a vote with increased support compared to two years ago.

“Crucially, the adopted resolution shows significant international support for efforts towards the domestic implementation of the special procedures’ report. Specifically, the resolution praises the special rapporteurs’ report as a useful tool for states fulfilling their international human rights law obligations and commitments, suggesting that the recommendations be operationalized in domestic laws, procedures and practices. It encourages the full and effective participation of all stakeholders, including civil society, in any follow-up to the report,” Article 19 said in a separate statement concerning the adoption of the resolution, which it welcomed.

Turkey is currently not a member of the HRC council of 47 member states, which are elected by the majority of members of the U.N. General Assembly through a direct and secret ballot. However, it is involved in the work of the HRC via different mechanisms such as the co-sponsorship of draft resolutions or by being a member of core groups tabling resolutions, despite not being able to vote.

Rights groups and the West have regularly criticized Ankara for its track record on human rights, yet the 28-member EU still sealed a deal with Ankara on March 18 to return all migrants and refugees reaching European shores from the Turkish coast.

The EU hopes the migration agreement, badly criticized by rights groups, would give it breathing space as it struggles to control an influx of people fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East and beyond.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-leads-resolution-in-favor-of-peaceful-protest-in-geneva.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97118&NewsCatID=510

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Only 30 pct of Turkey’s Syrian children have access to education: Disaster agency head

WASHINGTON

March 31, 2016

Only some 30 percent of Syrian migrant children in Turkey have access to education, the head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has announced, underlining the country’s aim to enroll all school-age children by 2017.

Speaking at a March 30 conference on Syrian refugees organized by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) in Washington D.C., AFAD head Fuat Oktay said Turkey currently hosts some 3 million Syrians across the country, some 30 percent of which are school-age children.

“Only 30 percent of these children have access to education,” Oktay admitted during his speech at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel, where Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also staying during his visit to attend a Nuclear Security Summit.

“We will provide access to education to some 450,000 children by the end of 2016 and to all 900,000 Syrian children by 2017,” Oktay told the audience, adding Turkey needs the support of international organizations in order to provide education to all refugee kids.

“Each Syrian child who we fail to reach and enroll in a school is a risk to Turkey and to the world,” he said, adding some 330,000 Syrian children were taken off the streets to be enrolled in state schools. 

Oktay also touched upon free health services provided to all Syrians by the Turkish state, saying some 13 million Syrian patients were treated so far in the country’s health institutions.

The other speaker at the conference, Ghassam Hitto, the former and first prime minister of the interim government formed by the Syrian opposition National Coalition, welcomed Turkish efforts in handling the refugee crisis, underlining the country has single-handedly met half the challenge. Hitto also slammed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, suggesting him as the sole person responsible for the war in Syria, while expressing disappointment with the United States’ Syrian policies.

“The USA’s Syrian policies are in conflict with the principles the country is built upon,” Hitto claimed, adding it should support the Syrian opposition in the manner “befitting a superpower,” and stop turning a blind eye to the regime’s human rights violations.

Turkey and the EU recently agreed on a plan to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of Syrian and non-Syrian refugees, which stipulates that Greece send back all irregular migrants reaching its Aegean islands from Turkey. In return, Turkey will send the same number of Syrians to EU countries as it accepts from Greek islands.

The EU also pledged another 3 billion euros in aid until the end of 2018 to help improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

hurriyetdailynews.com/only-30-pct-of-turkeys-syrian-children-have-access-to-education-disaster-agency-head.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97133&NewsCatID=341

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Turkish army ‘ready’ to shell YPG positions if it crosses Azaz-Jarablus line

Uğur Ergan - ANKARA

March 31, 2016

Ankara is closely following reports of a planned operation by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, held by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkish military officials have stated, expressing readiness to shell Syrian Kurdish forces in the event of a violation of “Turkey’s red line.”

Confirming recent moves in the region, military sources said Turkey would launch the “required response” from inside Turkish territory in the event of seizure of the so-called “Azaz-Jarablus line” by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the militia forces of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), both of which are regarded as off-shoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In such a case, Turkish artillery units deployed near the border would launch intense fire at the PYD forces, the sources said on March 30.

PYD-YPG mobility in the field, which is apparently aimed at moving towards the Azaz-Jarablus line after seizing Manbij from ISIL, has been closely followed by aerial and ground intelligence units, military sources said. They noted that they did not yet have information indicating that the U.S.-led coalition forces would lend support to this planned operation from the air.

“The required response would be given from inside Turkey without entering Syrian territory,” the sources said.

In such a situation, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) plans to use the South Korean-designed T-155 Fırtına howitzers, in retaliatory shelling of its southern neighbor.

Turkey had also used Fırtına howitzers in mid-February, while shelling YPG targets in the Azaz town of northern Syria, after the group seized the Menagh air base north of Aleppo.

A leading U.K. daily newspaper recently reported that Washington has been pushing Turkey to close “the last border exit” from Syria used by foreign ISIL fighters to gain access to Europe for terrorist attacks.

“Western intelligence agencies believe that some of the terrorists involved in the bombings in Paris and Brussels travelled along a 60-mile highway that runs through the [ISIL]-controlled town of Manbij, south of the Syrian-Turkish border, before making their way to France and Belgium,” The Times reported on March 28.

“The American plan is to back up Kurdish fighters who would seize the road leading out of Manbij and take control of the border,” it said

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-army-ready-to-shell-ypg-positions-if-it-crosses-azaz-jarablus-line.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97104&NewsCatID=352

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Delay in ops caused slow progress in Nusaybin, officials claim

Uğur Ergan – ANKARA

March 31, 2016

Operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Nusaybin district are progressing slower than expected because the local governor’s office disallowed operation requests in September 2015, delaying the necessary response to a PKK build-up, security officials have said.

Security units, led by the special operations police, had made six requests to the Mardin Governor’s Office to conduct anti-terror operations in September 2015, but all their appeals were denied, security sources told daily Hürriyet.

“If these permissions had been granted, [operations in] Nusaybin would not last as long,” sources said, claiming the concrete barricades and large trenches constructed by the PKK were prepared during that period of inaction.

“The organization [PKK] is well-settled in the region because no operations were conducted,” sources said. Hürriyet could not confirm these allegations, as Mardin Gov. Ömer Faruk Koçak, who was appointed to his post in February 2015, was unavailable to comment.

However, reports claimed the allegations of inaction were also discussed during a meeting between Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) deputies from the region, as Orhan Miroğlu, an AKP deputy from Mardin, had reportedly complained of a PKK build-up in Nusaybin.

Miroğlu allegedly informed Davutoğlu the PKK was easily able to dig trenches, construct concrete barricades and gather militants from both around the region and the Kandil Mountains, where the outlawed organization is based, to Nusaybin.

According to reports, the primary struggle of security personnel in the region is removing the concrete barricades, which prevent their progress. Sources indicated the barricades were strengthened with steel plates, improvised explosive devices and thousands of nails, further slowing the process.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced in early March that it would sue the AKP government for “supporting terrorism,” claiming it had ordered governors to refrain from conducting operations against the PKK.

“Turkey is now a lake of blood today. They ordered governors: ‘Do not touch terrorists.’ They made the east and the southeast warehouses of weapons. We hear news of soldiers’ deaths every day,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on March 4, stressing there was no terrorism when the AKP came to power in 2002.

Some 5,359 PKK militants have so far been killed, detained or wounded in anti-terror operations since July 22, 2015, while some 355 security personnel have lost their lives in terror attacks over the same period, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on March 28.  Meanwhile the total number of militants killed in Nusaybin, where operations began some two weeks ago, stood at around 123.

hurriyetdailynews.com/delay-in-ops-caused-slow-progress-in-nusaybin-officials-claim.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97109&NewsCatID=341

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Turkey military base in Qatar 'completed' in two years

DOHA – Agence France-Presse

March 31, 2016

A Turkish military base being built in Qatar will be ready within two years, Defense minister İsmet Yılmaz said in Doha on March 30.

It will be the first Turkish military facility in the region, İsmet Yılmaz told journalists on the sidelines of three-day Dimdex defense and security fair in Qatar.

"It [the base] will be completed within two years," said Yılmaz, adding the deal had been approved by the Turkish parliament.

The deal is part of a defense agreement concluded by Qatar and Turkey in late 2014, which allows for agreement in the fields of military training and the deployment of the Turkish armed forces on Qatar's territory.

"We want to achieve cooperation in the field of [military] training and exercises, and contribute to stability in the region," said Yılmaz.

The defense minister said the deal was reciprocal and said there were Qatari military personnel and aircraft currently stationed in Turkey.

Qatar is already home to the biggest air base in the Middle East, Al Udeid, where some 10,000 military personnel are stationed, and is the forward headquarters of United States Central Command.

Qatar and Turkey are increasingly close allies, and both have backed rebels trying to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-military-base-in-qatar-completed-in-two-years-------.aspx?pageID=238&nID=97125&NewsCatID=352

 

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