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Canada Lawmakers Pass Anti-Islamophobia Motion

Age Islam News Bureau

24 March 2017

The motion was tabled by Mississauga-Erin Mills Liberal MP Iqra Khalid


 Canada Lawmakers Pass Anti-Islamophobia Motion

 I’ll Keep Up ‘Nazi’ Taunts If I’m Called ‘Dictator’, Says Turkish President

 British Muslims raise over £12,000 for Westminster attack victims in less than 15 hours

 Kalash, Swastika Adorn Muslim Wedding Invite in Ballia Village



North America

 US Lawmakers Urge the Need to Stand Up Against Hate Crimes

 Pakistan, Afghanistan working for regional stability, says US

 Trump faces Presidency-defining vote on health care amid conservative revolt

 Trump speaks to May after UK terror attack, offers support

 UN report: Sanctions disrupt humanitarian aid to North Korea

 US Senate votes to kill privacy rules guarding your online info

 Washington talks end without agreement on Israeli settlements

 Washington: Police shoot, critically wound armed man



 Turkey Refuses To Join US-Led Offensive on ISIS-Held Raqqa If Kurds Involved

 Israel arrests hacker linked to threats on US Jewish centres

 Swiss foreign minister warns Turkey against illegal spying

 US urges Turkey, Europe to tone down rhetoric amid row

 Don’t act like sole owner of Cyprus in energy search, Turkey tells Greek Cyprus

 Laptop ban aims to hinder business as Turkish Airlines flies high: Minister



 World leaders stand with Britain after London attack

 ISIS claims terror attack near UK Parliament; 8 arrested in raids

 Terror attacks like London easy to organize, hard to prevent

 Attack foiled in Belgium: Police arrest man trying to drive into crowd in Antwerp

 London attacker Khalid Masood was a criminal with militant links

 Islamic State claims responsibility for London attack: Reports



 Will Not Let Babri Masjid Come Up Anywhere In India: VHP

 Pakistan envoy's remarks interference in our internal affairs: India

 Ajmer Dargah Blast: Convict Sunil Joshi Met Yogi Adityanath, Suspect Told NIA



 Pakistan Hosts Afghan Taliban Leaders for Peace Talks

 Document Reveals Gillani Authorised Haqqani to Issue Visas to Americans

 FIA arrests three in social media blasphemy case

 Zardari calls rulers ‘arrogant like Saddam’

 PPP hits back after letter empowering Hussain Haqqani 'leaked' to media


Arab World

 Muslim World Condemns Wednesday’s Terror Attack in London

 Aleppo: Syrian Army Establishes Military Control over Deir Hafer

 Damascus: Army Cripples Al-Nusra Front's Moves towards Jobar

 Syrian Army Reinvigorates Defence Lines in Northern Hama

 Army Destroys Al-Nusra's Command Centre in Northern Homs

 ISIL Bases Destroyed in Army Operations to Break Deir Ezzur Airbase Siege

 ‘Punishing her will not bring my daughter back:’ Saudi forgives Indonesian who killed his child


South Asia

 Bangladesh Wants UN to Recognise 1971 Genocide

 Defence Ministry and Local Govt rejects fall of Sangin to Taliban

 US turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference


Southeast Asia

 Police Fire Tear Gas on Muslims Protesting Church in Bekasi

 What’s wrong with Southeast Asia?



 Egypt’s Former President Mubarak Walks Free for First Time in Six Years

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Canada lawmakers pass anti-Islamophobia motion

March 24, 2017

canada, justin trudeau, islamophobia, canada islamophobia, canada anti islamobia law, canada house of commons, canada muslim law, canada news, world news, justin trudeau latest news

In recent months, several mosques and synagogues have been vandalized in towns across Canada.

Lawmakers in Canada’s House of Commons, with strong encouragement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, passed a motion paving the way for future measures to combat Islamophobia.

The motion, which passed easily Thursday, asks the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

In the wake of the January attack on a Quebec mosque that left six Muslim men dead, Trudeau’s government has come under pressure to denounce all forms of religious discrimination.

In recent months, several mosques and synagogues have been vandalized in towns across Canada.

Nearly all of the deputies from Trudeau’s Liberal party and the leftist New Democratic Party approved the measure, which is non-binding, while Conservative Party lawmakers voted against it.

It tasks a parliamentary committee to launch a study on how the government could address the issue, with recommendations due in mid-November.

The study should look at how to “develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia,” the motion says.

The measure was put forth by Iqra Khalid, a deputy from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, a city of 700,000 people with a major concentration of immigrants.

The motion has divided public opinion: a poll from the Angus Reid Institute published Thursday showed that 42 per cent of respondents would have voted against the measure and just 29 per cent would have approved it.



I’ll keep up ‘Nazi’ taunts if I’m called ‘dictator’, says Turkish President

March 24, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will keep up his ‘Nazi” taunts targeting European leaders as long as they keep on calling him a “dictator”. “How does that work, you have the right to call Erdogan a ‘dictator’ but Erdogan doesn’t have the right to call you ‘fascist’ and ‘Nazi’?” he said during an interview yesterday with the CNN-Turk and Kanal D television channels. Relations between Turkey and Europe have been severely strained since Turkish ministers were thwarted from campaigning on the continent for a ‘yes’ vote in next month’s referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers.

Ankara has said such behaviour was reminiscent of Nazi Germany and also raised alarm over what it sees as rising racism and Islamophobia. Germany on Monday branded as “unacceptable” Erdogan’s charge that Chancellor Angela Merkel was using “Nazi measures”, but signalled it wanted to avoid escalating the feud.

Erdogan, who has also taken similar aim at the Netherlands, didn’t sound conciliatory.

“They accuse me then they speak of Erdogan as a ‘dictator,” he continued, still referring to himself in the third person.

“So I’ll continue to address them in these terms,” he added. Erdogan again denounced the cancellation of his ministers’ trips to European countries with a large Turkish diaspora ahead of the referendum.

On Wednesday he warned that Europeans risk being unsafe on the world’s streets, as the crisis between Ankara and the EU showed no signs of abating. The same day Germany’s new President Frank-Walter Steinmeier again urged the Turkish leader to “stop these appalling comparisons with Nazism, do not cut the ties with those who want a partnership with Turkey.”

Erdogan said he was “good friends” with Steinmeier and “deplored” his comments. He added that there could be a “period of review” of Turkey relations with the European Union, while stressing the importance of economic ties with the bloc, his country’s biggest trading partner.

Turkey is officially an EU-candidate nation but its accession process has been practically blocked for years. He said that an EU-Turkey agreement on migrants, aimed at reducing the numbers reaching Europe from Africa and the Middle East, would be part of an “A to Z” review of government policy to begin after the April 16 referendum.

Turning to the issue of Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Syria, the Erdogan said he was “saddened” by links which Russia and the US have with Kurdish militias. While he is a regular critic of Washington over its support for the Kurdish YPG militia operating in Syria it was the first time he had expressed his unhappiness with Moscow’s stance

Turkey summoned the Russian charge d’affaires on Wednesday and sent him another message Thursday to convey “deep unease” over two incidents in Kurdish militia-controlled Syria, Ankara said.



British Muslims raise over £12,000 for Westminster attack victims in less than 15 hours

March 23, 2017

A Muslim-led campaign has raised over £12,000 in less than 24 hours for the families of the victims of the terrorist attack that took place in Westminster on the 22nd March.

On Wednesday the world watched on in horror as an attacker used his car to ram civilians on Westminster bridge, before running to the Houses of Parliament and fatally stabbing an officer. In the aftermath, 4 people were left dead, including police officer Keith Palmer.

Of course, while Muslim and non-Muslim Londoners alike watched on in horror, a voice in the back of all Muslim minds begged and prayed for the attacker to not be Muslim. These fears seem to have been realised, with ISIL claiming responsibility for the attack, and the attacker named as Khalid Masood earlier today.

The fundraiser was launched by Muddassar Ahmed, a businessman who was trapped in a Westminster building during the attack.

“I felt frightened, terrorised and upset, and couldn’t imagine what the victims and their families were feeling,” he said. He told Middle East Eye that he had watched the incident unfold, and been trapped for four to five hours as police and emergency services responded to the incident.

A statement on the fundraising page reads, “While no amount of money will bring back lives lost or take away from the pain the victims and their families are going through, we hope to lessen their burden in some way”.

Naz Shah and Yasmin Qureshi, two members of Parliament, have backed the fundraiser. “Looking after people is very much part of Islamic philosophy, to help your fellow citizens,” said Shah to Middle East Eye. “Although it won’t bring anyone back, or heal the physical and mental injures, it will hopefully help those affected.”

At the time of writing this article, £11,752 has been raised, with a target of £20,000. 100% of funds collected through this campaign will go to the victims and the families of the victims most affected by the tragic events that unfolded on March 22, 2017.



Kalash, Swastika adorn Muslim wedding invite in Ballia village

Mar 24, 2017

VARANASI: Amid rising menace of intolerance, a rural Muslim family in Ballia district has set a new precedent by sending invites to its relatives and friends that carry Hindu religious markings.

Containing typical Hindu religious wordings like 'Shri Ganeshaya Namaha' and some religious verses, the invitation has been sent out by one Nasrullah of Pindari village in Ballia to his relatives and friends for the reception feast of his younger brother Serazuddin's wedding with Rizwana. The reception was held on Thursday, a day before the wedding ceremony.

The card also has Hindu religious scriptures like 'Mangalam Bhagwan Vishnu Mangalam Garuda Dhwaja, Managalam Pundarikaksha Mangalaye Tano Hari' and symbols like 'Kalash' and 'Swastika'.

"Is mein galat kya hai? Hum apne Hindu mitron ki suvidha ke liye hi is terah ka card diye hain. Ismein kuchh naya nahi hai. Humlog sub mil-jul kar shaadi ya tyohar manate hain (What is wrong in it? For the convenience of our Hindu friends, we give such cards to them)," Nasrullah told TOI over phone from Ballia.

"We all (Hindus and Muslims) collectively celebrate wedding ceremonies and festivals," Nasrullah said.

Prodded further about Hindu religious symbols and texts on the invitation card, Nasrullah said, "We are simple rural people and know the language of love and 'bhai-chara' (brotherhood) only. When printed cards were not in fashion in our village, we used to invite people by sending handwritten letters carrying 'haldi' (considered auspicious by Hindus) mark."

"We had arranged for cards with Islamic tradition for our relatives. But invites carrying Hindu markings were also sent to many of them. Almost all know Hindi and they are comfortable with such cards. My other family members like Qayamuddin and Kalimullah too had sent similar cards for various events in their families," he added.

when muslims are in small minorty they live peacefully ....... once their prolific breeding creates substantial minority of around 10%+ they staet causing problem ......... if you dont believe do your research

Pindari village is numerically dominated by Hindus and has only seven Muslim families. Nasrullah belongs to a law income group family. He and his two other brothers work is rolling mills in Gujarat, while the youngest Serazuddin lives in the village. A matriculate, Serazuddin is learning AC repair work.

"It can be seen as a fine example of the cultural amalgamation the two communities. Every religion has its own style of wedding invitations. In an Islamic wedding card, religious symbols and prayers are crucial, while the Hindu wedding cards too carry religious texts and symbols. The wording of this particular card begins in praise of the first worshipped Hindu deity, Shri Ganesha, though normally such invitation card of Muslim families begins with text like "In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful," said Mohsin Raza, a marketing professional.



North America


US lawmakers urge the need to stand up against hate crimes

March 23, 2017

US lawmakers, US hate crimes, hate crime, Ami bera, condemn hate crime, racial attacks, world news, indian express news Congressman Ami Bera speaking at a Congressional briefing to address the rising tide of hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in the US including Indian Americans, in Washington DC on Thursday. (Source: PTI)

Amid a series of hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities, including Indian-Americans, there is need for these communities to be united and speak up against such an increasing rhetoric, several Democratic lawmakers and human rights groups said on Thursday. “We have to step up against any incident of discrimination against the community or any others community or religion. This is just the starting point,” Congressman Dr Ami Bera, the senior most Indian-American lawmaker from California, said during a Congressional hearing.

Bera, the past co-Chair of Indian Caucus in the US House of Representatives, said that it is time that the community rise up to this challenge. “It would be incumbent upon all of us, if we see rise of Islamophobia or attack against the Sikh community, we have to stand up, we have to speak up,” Bera said.

Addressing the Congressional hearing organised by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) in association with several other rights bodies and advocacy groups, Congresswoman Judy Chu said the communities should collectively “push back” against the rising tide of hate crimes.

In recent weeks, three Indian men and one Sikh were victim of hate crimes across the US, she said, alleging that the US President Donald Trump continued with his pre-election rhetoric that has worsened the atmosphere in the country.

Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona said to single up and to victimize and demonize people because of their religion, country of origin and skin colour is Un-American. “We have to be honest about the situation that we are dealing with today. We cannot allow racial identity and religion a dividing issue in this country. We need to stand firm. We need to defend the nation that we are part of,” he said.

Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi called for a joint effort to fight a common threat. “We need to get to the root cause of what is going on. We may have come on different ships in the history of our country but we are on the same the boat now,” he said.

“The most important values are treating each other with dignity with respect regardless of race and religion and empathetic to increased visibility,” said Congressman Ro Khanna from California.

As per a SAALT report ‘Power, Pain, Potential,’ which documents 207 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities, there is a 34 per cent increase in less than a third of the time covered in its 2014 report.

“This breaks down further into 140 incidents of hate violence and 67 instances of xenophobic political rhetoric of which 196 or an astounding 95 per cent were motivated by anti Muslim sentiment. Additionally, one in five instances of xenophobic political rhetoric we documented came from presidential nominee and now President-elect Trump,” the report said.

“SAALT stands ready to work with Congressional leaders to fight hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric impacting our communities nationwide,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT.

“Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies explicitly targeting our communities continue to destroy the ideals of our quintessential nation of immigrants. We are committed to policies at all levels that reinforce the place our communities have in our nation now and as we continue to grow,” she said.



Pakistan, Afghanistan working for regional stability, says US


March 24th, 2017

WASHINGTON: In its first reaction to the situation in the Pak-Afghan region, the Trump administration said on Thursday that Islamabad and Kabul were both working cooperatively towards increased stability in the region.

A spokesperson for the State Department pointed to recent efforts for decreasing tensions between the two countries when asked for comments on Pakistan’s decision to reopen the border crossings.

“We welcome the reopening of the border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and credit both governments for their continuing efforts to work cooperatively towards increased stability in the region,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary appreciated the US response to the reopening of the border and stressed the need for bilateral efforts to stop cross-border terrorist attacks.

“A border that is managed effectively is in the interest of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bilateral cooperation in this regard can help stop the cross-border movement of terrorists,” Mr Chaudhary said.

Pakistan closed crossings at the 2,600km-long porous border immediately after the Sehwan shrine bombing last month.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered reopening of the crossings as a goodwill gesture and hoped that Kabul would address Pakistan’s concerns about terrorist sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border.

The prime minister’s order followed an ice-breaking meeting between Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar in London last week. Britain hosted the meeting between the two neighbouring countries.

The United Nations welcomed the border reopening soon after it was announced and urged both governments to facilitate trouble-free movement of their citizens across the border.

The Trump administration, however, issued a delayed and cautious welcome as it has not yet announced its policy for the Pak-Afghan region. Although now in its third month, the new administration has not yet filled the two key posts at the State Department that deal directly with the region, that of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia and the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The United States routinely condemns terrorist attacks on both sides of the border but usually avoids commenting on disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan other than urging both to reduce tensions.

Also, US drones continue to target the Taliban militants on both sides of the border.

Their latest victim was Qari Mohammed Yasin, a ‘commander’ of the so-called Punjabi Taliban who was involved in several high-profile terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

Ambassador Chaudhary, while talking to the media in Washington, said that Pakistan wanted better border management to end attacks.

“We need to ensure that cross-border movement is restricted to citizens only,” he said. “Terrorists must be stopped.” To achieve this target, he suggested regular contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mr Chaudhary said Pakistan was always willing to facilitate transit trade for Afghanistan but it also wanted to make sure that this facility was not exploited by terrorists. “No country has been more generous than Pakistan in facilitating transit trade,” he added.



Trump faces Presidency-defining vote on health care amid conservative revolt

Chidanand Rajghatta

Mar 23, 2017

US President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about healthcare at the White House in Washington, U.S. on March 13, 2017 (Reuters photo)

US President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about healthcare at the White House in Washington, U.S. on ... Read More

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump faces one of the most consequential days of his young administration with a crucial vote on a White House-backed healthcare bill that is opposed by many conservative Republicans.

The high-wire Thursday evening vote comes amid unrelenting pressure on Trump for his perceived softness for or closeness towards Russia, including financial ties linking some for his former aides and close supporters to Moscow.

The Russian roulette- unrelated to the healthcare vote- is nowhere near settling, but the Obamacare bullet has left the chamber and there is no knowing where it is going to hit.

Trump needs to win the vote to not only fulfill a key campaign promise to repeal Obamacare, but also show that he is in full control of the party and can carry through many campaign pledges that need to be legislated. An early revolt by party conservatives to defeat a Trump-backed legislation (dubbed Ryancare after House Speaker Paul Ryan) will shake his presidency.

As of Thursday morning, Trump was still short of the required majority in the House despite threatening some defiant Republican lawmakers that they would lose their re-election in the 2018 mid-term polls (the House goes to polls every two years) if they shafted the leadership-sponsored RyanCare bill. The party's conservative wing, operating under the rubric "House Freedom Caucus," is pressing for repealing some of Trump-backed Ryancare act's insurance mandates to truly lower premiums.

In effect they want people to be able to buy low-cost, bare-bones insurance if they so desire, whereas the proposed Ryancare law (as with Obamacare) mandates 'essential heath benefits' (such as emergency room visits, mental health, maternity coverage etc.) which not everyone uses, but which drives up premiums for all.

Trump is meeting the House Freedom Caucus members - number around three dozen - in the White House at the time of writing to persuade them to change their vote. Some of the lawmakers have indicated they are open to a compromise but warned that if the Trump-backed legislation goes through he will end up being a one-term President.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to take hits on the Russia front with a steady drip of leaks pointing to some his supporters having close ties with Moscow. Every move by the Trump administration that goes beyond the establishment template - such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's decision to visit Moscow instead of a NATO engagement - is seen by critics as a vindication of Trump aides being Russian stooges.

On Wednesday, Washington's already murky politics got muddier when the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes declared that members of Trump's transition team, and possibly Trump himself, may have been subjected to inadvertent surveillance by US agencies under the outgoing Obama administration.

President should make amendments to Obamacare to suit and be affordable for all The disclosure enabled Trump to claim he was vindicated in his charge that Obama had 'wiretapped' him, even as Nunes came under fire from Democrats for giving cover to the White House and acting as a Trump surrogate, when he was tasked with heading a committee to look into Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

Trump meanwhile continued to fume with what he apparently sees at the media's unjustified obsession with the Russia connection aimed at undermining his legitimacy. "Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!" he tweeted in the middle of fervid action on the health care front.



Trump speaks to May after UK terror attack, offers support

Mar 23, 2017

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump today spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May after a terror attack outside UK Parliament complex and pledged his administration's full support in bringing those responsible to justice.

"President Trump pledged the full cooperation and support of the United States Government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice," the White House said in a readout of the call.

During the call, Trump praised the effective response of British security forces.

"We obviously condemn today's attack in Westminster, which the United Kingdom is treating as an act of terrorism and we applaud the quick response that the British police and their first responders made to the situation," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at his daily press briefing.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned the terror attack at the British Parliament in London describing it as horrific act of violence.

"On behalf of the US, I express my condolences to the victims and their families. The American people send their thoughts and prayers to the people of the United Kingdom," he said.

"We condemn these horrific acts of violence, and whether they were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference," Tillerson said in a statement.

The Department of Homeland Security said it stands in solidarity alongside its friends in the United Kingdom in condemning the terrible attack at Parliament.

Unless and untill the claimants of destruction force, the IS is not eliminated totally, there is bound to be repetance of such hienus crime in the name their

"With our partners in federal law enforcement, we are in close contact with our British counterparts to monitor the tragic events and to support the ongoing investigation. At this time our domestic security posture remains unchanged," the statement said.

At least three people were killed and 20 injured as terror struck the British capital when a man mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers.



UN report: Sanctions disrupt humanitarian aid to North Korea

March 24, 2017

International sanctions on North Korea are taking a serious toll on humanitarian aid activities, according to a United Nations-led report. The report issued this week by the U.N.’s senior resident official in Pyongyang said sanctions are inadvertently hindering legitimate operations on the ground and have indirectly contributed to a “radical decline” in donations it said are badly needed by millions of North Korean women and children.

It said “chronic food insecurity, early childhood malnutrition and nutrition insecurity” continue to be widespread in the North, which it noted ranked 98th out of 118 countries in the 2016 Global Hunger Index.

More than 10 million people or about 41 percent of the North Korean population are undernourished, it said.



US Senate votes to kill privacy rules guarding your online info

March 24, 2017

The Senate voted to kill Obama-era online privacy regulations , a first step toward allowing internet providers to sell your browsing habits and other personal information (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The Senate voted to kill Obama-era online privacy regulations, a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell your browsing habits and other personal information as they expand their own online ad businesses.

Those rules, not yet in effect, would have required internet providers to ask your permission before sharing your personal information. That’s a much stronger privacy-protection weapon than letting them use your data until you tell them to stop. As anyone who has ever tried to stop getting targeted ads on the internet knows, opting out is hard.

Without those protections, consumer advocates fear that broadband providers will be able to do what they like with people’s data.

“Advertisers and marketers are lining up to get access to all the information that’s now available about us,” said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, which advocates for tougher internet privacy measures.”


Of course, Google and Facebook already track you. But proponents of the privacy measure argued that the company that sells you your internet connection can see even more about you: every website you visit, every app that sends or receives data, everyone you email and many that you message. Telecom companies argue that companies like Google know far more about users than they do.

Consumer advocates also point out that it can be hard, in many areas of the country, to dump your cable or phone company for another one if you don’t like its practices. Of course, it’s also hard to stop using Google or Facebook.

Undoing the Federal Communications Commission’s regulation leaves people’s online information in a murky area. Today, you can tell a broadband provider not to use your data. Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect customer information _ but it doesn’t spell out how or what companies must do.

That’s what the now endangered rules from the Federal Communications Commission aimed to do. “There’s kind of a void,” said Perkins Coie telecom attorney Marc Martin.


Cable companies, cellphone carriers and the advertising industry attacked the FCC rules as an overreach. Having to get permission from customers to use their browsing and app histories would likely make it more difficult to build stronger ad businesses, as telecomcompanies want to do.

Internet companies like Google operate under laxer requirements and don’t have to ask users’ permission before tracking what sites they visit. Republicans and industry groups have blasted that discrepancy, saying it was unfair and confusing for consumers.


If the just-passed measure also clears the House and is signed by President Donald Trump, no future FCC could pass the broadband privacy rules again without further change to U.S. law.

The Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a critic of the broadband privacy rules and has said he wants to roll them back , along with other Obama-era policies meant to protect consumers and promote competition.

He and other Republicans want a different federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to police privacy for both broadband companies like AT&T and internet companies like Google. But broadband providers don’t currently fall under FTC jurisdiction, and advocates say the FTC has historically been a weaker agency than the FCC.

“At the FCC, consumers are much more protected with strong privacy rules that give (internet service providers) clear rules as to what’s fair and what’s foul,” Dallas Harris, a policy fellow with consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said last month. “The FCC is a stronger entity with a bit more teeth to hold ISPs’ feet to the fire.”



Washington talks end without agreement on Israeli settlements

March 24, 2017

israel, donald trump, trump administration, israeli settlement america, united states, washington, us president, palestine, israel palestine conflict, gaza strip, west bank, jerusalem, two states, world news This Oct. 22, 2016 file photo, shows a general view of housing in the Israeli settlement of Revava, near the West Bank city of Nablus. (Source: AP)

The Trump administration reiterated its concerns about Israeli settlement activity, the two sides said on Thursday, as a round of talks ended without agreement over limiting future construction on land the Palestinians want for a state.

The four days of high-level meetings in Washington marked the latest step by President Donald Trump’s aides aimed at opening the way to renewed peace diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians, despite deep skepticism in the United States and Middle East over the chances for success.

Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, who recently returned from a visit to the region, led the US delegation in what were described as “intensive discussions” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.

Despite setting a more positive tone toward Israel than his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump urged Netanyahu during a White House visit last month to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.” The two then agreed that their aides would seek an accommodation on how much Israel can build and where.

“The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement,” according to a joint statement released by the White House.

“The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration,” it said. “The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.”

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since 2014 and settlements are one of the most heated issues. Palestinians want the West Bank and East Jerusalem for their own state, along with the Gaza Strip.

Most countries consider Israeli settlements, built on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war, to be illegal. Israel disagrees, citing historical and political links to the land, as well as security interests.

Trump has expressed some ambivalence about a two-state solution, the mainstay of US policy for the past two decades. But he recently invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit.

Trump has not publicly detailed what kind of agreement he wants with Israel on settlements. But many supporters of a two-state solution have urged a formula that restricts construction to the large settlement blocs that Israel is expected to retain under any final peace accord.

In the talks, officials discussed measures for improving the climate for peace, according to the joint readout. It said a key focus was on steps that “could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza,” and specifically a desire to advance efforts toward “self-sustainability” in electricity and water.



Washington: Police shoot, critically wound armed man

March 24, 2017

Authorities say police in Washington, DC, shot and critically wounded an armed man who confronted them. Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference Wednesday night that officers responding to a call about a shooting that evening confronted the man with a gun in an apartment building. He says there was a struggle and an officer fired shots.

The department said in a news release yesterday afternoon that the man, 32-year-old Michael Leach, is in critical condition at a local hospital. Police say he has been charged with assault on a police officer and other offenses. Detectives say a gun was recovered at the scene, and the officers’ body camera footage is being reviewed. Police did not release the races of either the officer or wounded man.





Turkey refuses to join US-led offensive on ISIS-held Raqqa if Kurds involved

23 Mar, 2017

A rift has opened up between NATO allies US and Turkey over the part Syrian Kurdish forces should play in the liberation of Raqqa from Islamic State terrorists as Ankara has openly rejected taking part in any operation that would involve the Kurds.

Turkey has "set out a model" for successfully fighting against jihadists in Syria, which it suggested should be further implemented to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the region, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said, as cited by Turkish media on Thursday.

Citing the liberation of the cities of al-Bab and Jarabulus in the Aleppo Governorate, which was carried out with the support of the Turkish military, the minister said Ankara was willing to support the anti-terrorist operation to free the IS stronghold of Raqqa in a US-led offensive.

However, Turkey would only fight alongside "moderate opposition" forces in Syria, he added, saying that the participation of Kurdish militants in the international coalition's operation to defeat IS is out of the question for Ankara.

"Turkey will also support such an operation... But if you are saying ‘We will bring in the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party] while taking Daesh [IS] away,' Turkey will never allow it. We will not be involved in such an operation," Kurtulmus told the Anadolu news agency.

Saying that the anti-terrorist operation in Syria is a question of both Turkey's border protection and national security, Kurtulmus added that the issue of the Kurds' participation had been discussed with both the US and Russia.

"If peace is not established in Syria, there will be no regional peace. And if there is no regional peace, there will be no global peace," the official warned.

Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militant wing, YPG, which has been a key force fighting Islamic State militants in northern Syria, as linked to the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which operates in Turkey and Iraq. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist organization and blames it for being behind the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkish regions. The US has designated PKK as a terrorist group, while supporting the YPG in Syria. Russia considers neither of the groups to be terrorist.

The Pentagon on Wednesday confirmed that US aircraft airlifted some fighters from Syrian Democratic Forces, a multinational Kurdish-dominated group, in a bid to retake the Tabqa Dam from Islamic State. US forces also provided fire support.

Earlier Wednesday, US Senator John McCain, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the Kurdish issue was an "enormous challenge" for Washington in regard to its relations with Ankara.

Saying that the Trump administration is weighing the issue of providing the Kurdish fighters with heavy arms for the anti-IS offensive, the American official admitted the US faces "tough decisions," and should be careful not to cross its NATO ally.

"The conundrum is that if you don't use the Kurds, [the battle against IS] takes a lot longer... But if you do, you have an enormous challenge as far as relations with Turkey are concerned, including things like the use of Incirlik [military base]," McCain told reporters as cited by AFP. The Turkish air base of Incirlik is heavily used by NATO and the US-led coalition to fight Islamic State in the region.

Washington has been long involved in discussions with Ankara on how they "might contribute to the liberation of the city" of Raqqa, but apparently no agreement has yet been reached.

"We haven't come to an agreement about what that role will be or if there will be one, but we talk to Turkey through military channels and I believe at diplomatic levels every day. So, we'll have to let that continue to be worked out," a US Department of Defense spokesperson told the media.



Israel arrests hacker linked to threats on US Jewish centers

24 March 2017

A 19-year-old American-Israeli Jew was arrested Thursday as the prime suspect in a wave of bomb threats against US Jewish community centers, a startling turn in a case that had stoked fears of rising anti-Semitism in the United States.

The surprising arrest of the man, a hacker who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, came after a trans-Atlantic investigation with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. US Jewish groups welcomed the breakthrough in the case, which had drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump. Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear.

“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to the scores of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the US over the past two months. Police banned publication of his name, but said he was a dual citizen and would remain in custody until at least March 30. During the arrest raid, they said he tried to grab an officer’s gun but was stopped by another officer.

The young man appeared briefly in court in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion. He wore khaki pants and a blue sweater that he used to cover his face as he walked past reporters. He made no comment.

‘Very serious medical condition’

His lawyer, Galit Bash, said her client had a “very serious medical condition” that might have affected his behavior. She said the condition had prevented him from attending elementary school, high school or enlisting in the army, which is compulsory for most Jewish men.

“That’s why the medical condition can actually affect the investigation,” she said. “This is one of the things the judge told the police to check, to talk to his doctors, to get more documents and to investigate him according to his medical situation.”

Channel 10 TV said the condition was a brain tumor. It also showed images of a large antenna outside the suspect’s house in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. Police said the suspect’s father was also detained, apparently because of the equipment. Late Thursday, police said the father’s detention had been extended by eight days.

In Washington, the FBI confirmed the arrest of the main suspect. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department “will not tolerate the targeting of any community in the country on the basis of their religious beliefs.” He called work by the FBI and Israeli police “outstanding.”

Bomb threats

Since Jan. 9, there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 US states and two Canadian provinces, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that battles anti-Semitism. The threats led to evacuations, sent a chill through local Jewish communities and raised fears of rising anti-Semitism. Acts of vandalism on Jewish targets, including cemeteries, have added to those concerns.

As the number of threats grew, Trump was criticized for not speaking out. Then, late last month, he opened a speech to Congress by denouncing anti-Semitism. There was no immediate reaction from the White House to Thursday’s arrest. The ADL, JCC Association of America and Jewish Federations of North America all welcomed news of the arrest.

But Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the ADL, said anti-Semitism in the US remains a “very serious concern.” “JCCs and other institutions should not relax security measures or become less vigilant,” he said. Karen Dombey, whose child attends the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Florida, which was evacuated when it received threats Feb. 27 and March 7, said she was surprised that the suspect is an Israeli-American. About 500 students from kindergarten through high school attend classes at the center, where armed guards stood at its entrances on Thursday.

“I hope it doesn’t happen again. I hope it stops. But the fact that it happened raises awareness that we are targeted even when we think we are not,” Dombey said. US authorities have also arrested a former journalist from St. Louis, Juan Thompson, for allegedly threatening Jewish organizations and charged him with one count of cyberstalking.

‘Camouflage technologies’

But Israeli police described the local man as the primary suspect in the wave of threats. Police said he used sophisticated “camouflage technologies” to disguise his voice and mask his location. They said a search of the teen’s home uncovered antennas and satellite equipment.

“In sophisticated cyber activity that I cannot detail, we obtained what we obtained and of course exposed him and his equipment,” national police chief Roni Alsheich told reporters. “This does not bring honor to the state of Israel of course. But I think it does bring respect to Israel’s police.” Police said the threats had caused panic, “significant economic damage” and disrupted public order at locations around the world.

The man is also suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and within Israel. They also said he had disrupted a Delta Airlines flight at New York’s JFK airport in early 2015.

Not too complicated

Harel Menashri, a former cyber expert with Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, said it was not “too complicated” for the suspect to do what he did. He said it appeared the suspect had penetrated neighbors’ Wi-Fi systems to create multiple computer addresses.

“One of the things that helped him evade capture was he apparently took control over additional computers on the way and created a kind of computer chain,” he said. Nimrod Vax, a co-founder of the US-Israeli cybersecurity firm BigID, said catching the suspect was a more complicated task.

He said authorities would have had to sift through “billions, if not trillions” of pieces of data, including phone records, routing logs and IP connections. Ron Hosko, a retired FBI assistant director, said such investigations require massive manpower to solve.

Investigating a bomb threat by phone normally means getting a subpoena for a phone company and getting subscriber information to identify the incoming call. But the suspect used computer software, such as Tor, to obfuscate his whereabouts.

The software “puts you in a cloud of IP addresses” that link to different computers and make it extremely difficult to trace, he said.



Swiss foreign minister warns Turkey against illegal spying


Switzerland’s foreign minister told his Turkish counterpart on March 23 that his country would “rigorously investigate” any illegal spying by Ankara on expatriate Turks before the April 16 referendum that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be replaced by an executive presidency.

During a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Switzerland’s Didier Burkhalter underscored Swiss concerns that Turkey may have been using its intelligence network to monitor the activities of Turkish citizens in Switzerland in the run-up to the vote, according to a Swiss foreign ministry statement.

“Freedom of expression is a universal value recognized by Switzerland, which hopes that this freedom will also hold true for Turkish citizens whether they cast their votes in Switzerland or in their own country,” said Burkhalter, as he “underscored the validity of Swiss law on Swiss soil” and urged Turkey “to comply with it.”

The statement said Switzerland would “rigorously investigate illegal intelligence activities.”

Efforts to reach the Turkish embassy late March 23 were unsuccessful.

For weeks, Burkhalter has been trying to keep his neutral country from becoming too deeply entangled in a bitter dispute between Ankara and other European nations over campaigning by Turkish politicians to drum up support for a “yes” vote in the referendum among Turks living abroad.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Germany and the Netherlands of behaving like Nazis for halting some rallies by Turkish ministers, comments that both countries have called unacceptable. 

While the Swiss government has been pressured by cities including Zurich to block visits by Turkish officials, Bern has refused on the grounds there was nothing to justify curbs on freedom of speech.

Çavuşoğlu had been scheduled to visit Switzerland for an event earlier this month, but that was canceled for lack of a venue.

During the visit on March 23, Burkhalter also told Çavuşoğlu that he was aware of Turkey’s “difficult situation” following the July 2016 failed coup attempt, the Swiss statement said.

Still, Burkhalter remained concerned about mass dismissals and arrests of people Ankara has linked to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed to have been behind the thwarted coup.

“The declaration of a state of emergency does not exempt Turkey from its international human rights obligations,” the statement said, adding Burkhalter “stressed the importance of freedom of expression and the freedom to speak out for democracy.”

Swiss government statistics show 68,000 Turkish citizens live in Switzerland. The Turkish embassy’s website refers to 130,000 Turkish citizens.



US urges Turkey, Europe to tone down rhetoric amid row


The United States has called on Turkey and European countries to “tone down the rhetoric,” amid tension between Ankara and the continent that kindled with the barring of Turkish officials to campaign for the upcoming constitutional referendum. with later heating up with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Nazism remarks on the European countries.

“I think what we’ve said about some of the back and forth that we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks – that we want to see everyone get along and to tone down the rhetoric,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told a press briefing on March 23.

Ankara and the EU have recently engaged in a tense diplomatic row sparked after Germany and the Netherlands barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies for the April 16 referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused both countries of using “Nazi era practices,” which instantly drew an angry reaction from many EU officials.

Toner also noted that Washington encourages Ankara’s aspiration to integrate with the Euro-Atlantic community.

“Turkey is an ally, a strong partner with respect to ISIL, and a friend. We support Turkey’s aspirations to engage with Europe. I’m not going to speak to what is an issue between Turkey and Europe. That’s for them to work out. But as much as Turkey wants to pursue that integration with the Euro-Atlantic community on an economic level, we’d encourage that,” he said, in response to a question on the Trump administration’s support for Ankara’s EU membership bid.

Regarding U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s potential visit to Turkey at the end of March, Toner said there is “nothing to announce yet.”

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said his U.S. counterpart would pay a visit to Turkey on March 30.



Don’t act like sole owner of Cyprus in energy search, Turkey tells Greek Cyprus


Turkey has condemned recent moves by Greek Cyprus to search for hydrocarbon reserves off the island and to hold talks with international energy companies on exploration, vowing to take all measures to protect the interests of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. 

“There have been reports in the press that during a visit to the U.S. on March 22, the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. [Nicos] Anastasiades, met representatives of one of the hydrocarbon companies that took part in the Greek Cypriot Administration’s third international tender within its so-called exclusive economic zone. These contacts clearly demonstrate yet again how the Greek Cypriot Administration disregards, in its unilateral pursuit of hydrocarbon-related activities, the inalienable rights to natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, the co-owners of the island,” Hüseyin Müftüoğlu, a spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in a written statement late on March 23.

Müftüoğlu said Greek Cyprus approved the signing of exploration and exploitation contracts for three separate areas with several companies at a cabinet meeting on March 17.

“This attitude shows that the Greek Cypriot Administration is still not able to grasp the win-win potential for economic cooperation that could ensue on the island and in the eastern Mediterranean from a comprehensive settlement, something for which the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey have been expending intensive efforts,” he said.

Turkey expects the Greek Cypriot side to refrain from acting as though it were the sole owner of the island’s natural resources and to cease its hydrocarbon-related activities, Müftüoğlu said.

“It will be recalled in this context that in previous years, such activities led to the failure of efforts aiming at a comprehensive settlement. We also take this opportunity to note once again that Turkey will take all necessary measures to protect its interests in the eastern Mediterranean as well as the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” he said.



Laptop ban aims to hinder business as Turkish Airlines flies high: Minister


New restrictions on in-cabin large electronic devices on flights from Turkey to the United States and Britain are aimed at stifling economic growth, Turkish Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkci said March 23.        

“We believe that the ban is not about security issues but commercial concerns, especially when we consider the recent development of Turkish Airlines,” he said.

“This ban is also an obstacle to the development of countries’ trade ties,” he said at an event in the eastern province of Malatya.   

As such, Turkish authorities plan to take the issue to international civil aviation authorities.

The U.S. and Britain on March 21 banned large electronic devices from the passenger cabin on flights from some airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

Extremists plan to target planes with bombs in electronic devices, the U.S. warned on March 21, adding that it was duly banning passengers from carrying them in the cabin on flights from a number of airports, including Istanbul Atatürk Airport.

Nine airlines have been given until March 25 to ban any device bigger than a cellphone or smartphone from the cabin.

The British ban only involves six countries, two of which – Lebanon and Tunisia – do not feature on the U.S. list. Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and United Arab Emirates are on the U.S. list, but not the British one.

Turkey’s transport minister, Ahmet Arslan, said on March 23 that Ankara would take the ban to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).       

“The number-one authority on the issue is the ICAO,” Arslan told reporters.    

“We [Turkey] are also a council member of ICAO. We will keep fighting against it at the ICAO. If you are afraid of terror, you should be afraid no matter where it comes from and take measures accordingly,” he added, as quoted by Anadolu Agency.     

ICAO, an agency of the United Nations, said on March 22 it was for each country to decide whether to take security measures.       

It said in a statement it supported “global uniformity” in regulations in order to facilitate international travel.       

Turkey in talks with US, UK

Turkey is in talks with the U.S. and Britain to exclude Turkish Airlines and Istanbul’s main Atatürk airport from the ban, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson said March 23.

 “Instead of punishing ordinary passengers, measures targeting those who pose threats will always be more effective. Our attempts to keep Turkish Airlines and Atatürk Airport, which is one of the most secure airports in the world, out of this will continue,” Hüseyin Müftüoğlu said at a press briefing.

These initiatives are being carried out not only with U.S. but also U.K. authorities, he added.

Shares in Turkish Airlines, budget airline Pegasus and airport operator TAV fell on March 22 after the ban was announced.

In the upcoming days, the ban could deal a blow to the big, fast-growing Gulf airlines and Turkish Airlines, which depend on business-class flyers stopping over in places like Dubai or Doha or Istanbul for far-flung destinations, according to experts.

U.S. airlines do not have direct flights from the airports affected by its new restrictions.

“American airlines are going to benefit simply because airlines make their business from business travelers, so on these long flights that are in excess of eight or 12 hours, time is money – but there are definitely more pressing considerations linked to security,” said aviation analyst Kyle Bailey, president of the U.S.-based consultancy KL Bailey Associates, as quoted by AFP on March 22.

Business travelers paying top prices for flat beds and other perks may balk at stowing their laptops on long trips.

According to the Washington-based Global Business Travel Association, which was quoted by Reuters, around 49 percent of business travelers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying. GBTA added that many companies advise staff travelling on business to keep their devices close because they may contain sensitive information.





World leaders stand with Britain after London attack

Mar 23, 2017

PARIS: World leaders unanimously condemned the attack in the heart of London by a man who was shot dead by armed police, with many saying they stand with Britain.

At least five people were killed and more than 40 injured in the attack outside parliament Wednesday when a man mowed down pedestrians with a car then leapt out and stabbed a police officer.

In an address outside her Downing Street office, Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as "sick and depraved" saying the assailant chose the site as an assault on Britain's democratic values.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany stood "firmly and resolutely alongside Britons in the struggle against all forms of terrorism" while President Frank-Walter Steinmeier added: "In these grave moments, we Germans feel very close to the British people."

President Francois Hollande sent a message of "solidarity" and "support to the British people" saying France could identify with their pain after the attack, in which three French high school students were also wounded.

"France, which has been hit so hard in recent times, knows what the British people are suffering today," he said.

And Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted: "Solidarity with our British friends, horribly attacked, full support for the injured French students, their families and their friends."

India PM Narendra Modi said that India "stands with (the) UK in the fight against terrorism." Modi said his thoughts are with the families of the killed

Deeply saddened by the terror attack in London. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

India stands by UK ; terrorism must be met through collective action by

The White House condemned the attack and pledged "the full support of the US government in responding to the attack and bringing those to justice who are responsible," spokesman Sean Spicer said at a briefing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "Our thoughts are with the victims of today's attack in London and their families. Canadians remain united with the people of the UK. "

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the attack left him "highly emotional".

In Brussels to commemorate the one-year anniversary of attacks on the main airport and a metro station, Juncker said "the fact that exactly on the same day something similar happened in London, and to London, is really putting me in the situation of someone who does not have... enough words to express how I am deeply feeling."

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: "My thoughts are with the victims of the Westminster attack. Europe stands firm with the UK against terror and ready to help".

Speaking on Russian television, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova sent Moscow's "condolences" and said Russia felt Britain's pain.

"We consider it an evil to which it is necessary to fight collectively. In this moment, as always, our hearts are with Britons and we share their pain".

Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Dutch television he was shocked by the "horrific" news and said: "The city is in our hearts. We are following the situation closely, and are in contact with the British authorities."

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who observed a moment of silence at the start of a meeting with Social Democratic lawmakers, expressed his "condolences" and said: "Italy and the United Kingdom remain side-by-side in our condemnation and firm response to all forms of terrorism".

"Our condolences are with those who mourn and all who are affected in London," Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted. "Belgium stands with U.K. in fight against terror."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasised that "Turkey feels and shares deeply in the United Kingdom's pain" and that it stood in "solidarity" with Britain "in the fight against terrorism".

Erdogan had earlier warned Europeans in a speech on Wednesday that "no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully," as a crisis between Ankara and the EU showed no signs of abating.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called terrorism "a global catastrophe" on Turkish television, adding: "All countries should come together on the terror issue and fight together against" it.

"We are shocked and angered at the terror attack that generated many deaths and injuries," Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters Thursday at a regular briefing.

"The government absolutely condemns the despicable terror attack. We express our heartfelt condolences to victims and bereaved families," he said, adding: "Japan expresses a keen sense of unity with the British people."

"We express our solidarity with the British people on today's indiscriminate attack," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted: "Spain stands with the British people. I condemn the attack in the vicinity of Westminster, London. Solidarity with the victims."

"This attack clearly shows the priorities on which Europe must concentrate. It's only when we are united that we have the capacity to face these threats," said Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the assault was an attack on "freedom and democracy everywhere".

"But we will never, ever let the terrorists win. We will defeat and destroy them on the battlefield, we will defeat and defy them at home," he said.

"We will never change the way we live. We will never let them divide us."

"We send our condolences to the prime minister of the UK and together we condemn terrorism and we stand against all forms of terrorism," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in Canberra, speaking alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Qatar stressed its rejection of violence "in all its forms" and its support for the UK government "in all the measures it takes to maintain the country's security."

Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro expressed "full support for the people of London and our absolute rejection of all forms of terrorism."

"Enough terrorism, enough war, enough violence. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and support the victims and their families," he said in televised



ISIS claims terror attack near UK Parliament; 8 arrested in raids

Mar 23, 2017

LONDON: Eight people were arrested in raids across London and Birmingham today after a terror attack near the UK Parliament+ in the heart of Westminster killed four people, including the ISIS attacker who was inspired by "Islamist ideology" and known to British secret services+ .

"We are not afraid...An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal," Prime Minister Theresa May told the packed House of Commons which reopened on Thursday with a minute's silence a day after the attack.

"What I can confirm is that the man was British born and that - some years ago - he was once investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure," she told sombre-looking lawmakers.

Three people were killed and 40 injured when the attacker mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed to death a police officer outside parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers yesterday.

"It is still believed that this attacker acted alone, and the police have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public. His identity is known to the police and MI5, and when operational considerations allow, he will be publicly identified. Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology," May said.

Meanwhile, the ISIS on its propaganda news agency 'Amaq' claimed responsibility, saying a "Soldier of the Caliphate" carried out the attack on the British Parliament.

"The operation was carried out in response to calls to target coalition countries," it said in a statement.

The Prime Minister confirmed that eight people have been arrested during raids across London and Birmingham following the attack on the Palace of Westminster in London, which houses Britain's Parliament and the iconic Big Ben.

In her message to the police, British Queen Elizabeth II said, "My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy are with all those who have been affected by yesterday's awful violence."

May said the threat level to the UK has been set at 'severe' - meaning an attack is highly likely - for some time. This is the second highest threat level. The highest level 'critical' means there is specific intelligence that an attack is imminent.

"As there is no such intelligence, the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has decided that the threat level will not change in the light of yesterday's attack," she said.

Giving details known about the attack, May said a single attacker drove his vehicle at speed+ into innocent pedestrians who were crossing Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring around 40 more, of which 29 were hospitalised.

The attacker then left the vehicle and approached a police officer at Carriage Gates of Parliament, attacking him with a large knife, before he was shot dead by an officer.

In addition to 12 Britons admitted to hospital, the injured include three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, one American and two Greeks.

"There was no prior intelligence of attacker's intent - or of the plot. Intensive investigations continue," May said.

She also paid tribute to the security services and the police officer who lost his life in the attack.

"Yesterday we saw the worst of humanity, but we will remember the best. We will remember the extraordinary efforts to save the life of Police Constable Keith Palmer. He was every inch a hero," she said.

Scotland Yard Acting Deputy Commissioner and Head of Counter Terrorism Mark Rowley said the investigation was at a critical stage and the identity of the attacker was not being released as the ongoing investigation tries to piece together the suspect's "motivations, his preparation and associates".

He urged the public to use their instincts and report anything suspicious, saying the Met Police will be working round the clock and all annual leave has been cancelled.

"We must not allow terrorists to create discord, distrust and fear. The police stand with all communities," Rowley said.

The flag at New Scotland Yard premises in London is flying at half-mast following the attack, which claimed the life of one of their officers who was on guard at Parliament.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today invited all Londoners and visitors to the capital to a candlelit vigil in Trafalgar Square to show solidarity with the victims of the attack.



Terror attacks like London easy to organize, hard to prevent

Mar 23, 2017

PARIS: Militants are increasingly turning to vehicle-ramming attacks, like the one staged near Britain's parliament+ on Wednesday, because they are cheap, easy to organize and hard to prevent.

Experts say the tactic of mowing people down avoids the need to obtain any explosives or weapons and can be carried out by a "lone-wolf" attacker without using a network of fellow militants - all lessening the risk of alerting security agencies.

"This kind of attack doesn't need special preparation, it is very low-cost, within anybody's reach," said Sebastien Pietrasanta, a French Socialist lawmaker and terrorism expert.

"It is often a case of individual action," he told Reuters. "They can be quite spontaneous."

Three people were killed+ and about 40 injured in London on Wednesday after a car ploughed into pedestrians and a suspected Islamist-inspired attacker stabbed a policeman close to Britain's parliament.

The dead, in what police called a "marauding terrorist attack," included the assailant and the policeman he stabbed. The other three victims were among those hit by the car as it sped across Westminster Bridge before crashing into railings just outside parliament.

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack as "sick and depraved".

World leaders stand with Britain after London attack

Armed police raided a house in Birmingham overnight. Police made several seven arrests so far in connection with the attack.

Berlin and Nice attacks

Trucks were used to devastating effect last year against crowds in Berlin and Nice, in contrast to more organized attacks that have already hit Paris and Madrid - as well as London in 2005 - using teams of bombers or gunmen.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for both the Nice attack last July, when a truck killed 86 people+ celebrating Bastille Day, and for the Berlin attack in December, when a truck smashed through a Christmas market, killing 12 people.

While no group has yet claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attacks, Islamic State is under intense pressure in Syria and in Iraq, where one of its last strongholds, Mosul, is under assault from Iraqi forces backed by a coalition that Britain is part of.

Islamic State encouraged readers of its online magazine Rumiyah in 2016 to use vehicles to kill and injure.

Israel attacks

Vehicle attacks are not a new tactic in the Middle East.

In 2008, a Palestinian rammed a bulldozer into vehicles on a Jerusalem street before a visit by then U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, wounding at least 16 people.

Another Palestinian drove his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem in January this year, killing four of them in an attack that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was likely to have been inspired by Islamic State.

Former senior CIA analyst Paul Pillar said that, while concern had long focused on "sophisticated or high-tech methods of terrorist attack, the most readily available methods for killing a lot of innocent people have always been simple and require no sophistication or training.

"This includes mowing people down with a vehicle on any crowded city street. Locations might be chosen that have some other political or religious significance - such as a Christmas market, or the vicinity of a national parliament - but there always are vulnerable public places with lots of people," he said.

Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, a European thinktank, said Wednesday's attack seemed to be "rudimentary in its conception".

Using a car as a battering-ram was a tactic that was highly rated by militants because it was lethal, he said. "With a vehicle, they cause a lot more deaths than with a knife or a machete."

"Attacks today are increasingly unpredictable, with rudimentary weapons, handguns, knives, vehicles," he said.

Anne Giudicelli, head of security consultancy Terr(o)risc in Paris, said the extra vigilance over large cities had helped to spawn a change in the militants' approach.

"Every time you put in place a new measure after an attack or a thwarted attack, the assailants adapt to get around the measures in place and find the gaps," she said.

Tyson Barker, program director with the Aspen Institute thinktank in Germany, said the London attack underscored the difficulty of protecting "soft" targets, and the trade-offs between security and liberty in open Western societies.

"You can never eliminate the possibility of an attack. The intent is to close down that openness so the response has to be smart analytics, resilience, vigilance, but not anything that would close down that openness, which is the exact thing that we're trying to preserve," Barker said.

Barker said it was too early to predict the consequences of Wednesday's events but an attack by Islamic State sympathizers in San Bernardino, California, in 2015 had triggered a campaign pledge by now-President Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

The Berlin Christmas market attack in December triggered significant changes in German policies on video surveillance and the ability to hold and detain asylum seekers deemed suspicious.

Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki, part of a delegation in Paris for talks with French officials on counter-terrorism, said the defeat of groups like Islamic State and al Qaeda could lead to a splintering of the threat, creating new problems for governments.

"When they are defeated in Syria and Iraq we are all going to face difficulties and nobody knows where the ISIS (Islamic State) fighters will go to," he told reporters.

"I think we will be entering the next phase of terrorism which is through social media and lone wolves," he said.



Attack foiled in Belgium: Police arrest man trying to drive into crowd in Antwerp

Mar 23, 2017

BRUSSELS: Belgian police arrested a man on Thursday after he tried to drive into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp, a police chief said.

The man was of north African origin and used a car with French registration plates, Antwerp police chief Serge Muyters said.

Belgian security forces found a rifle as well as bladed weapons in the car.

"Different arms were found in the boot -- bladed weapons, a riot gun (rifle) and a container of liquid that is still unidentified," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"The suspect is Mohamed R., born on May 8, 1977, of French nationality and a resident of France," the statement said.

The incident came a day after an attack on the British parliament+ killed three people plus the attacker, as well as after the first anniversary of the Brussels attacks in which 32 people died. ISIS claimed responsibility+ for the attack.

"A vehicle with French plates has tried to drive at high speed into the Meir (shopping street). A man in camouflage was taken away," Muyters told a news conference.

"The pedestrians had to jump aside," he said.

"My gratitude on behalf of all Antwerp to the soldiers who have intervened, the police services and the special intervention force," Antwerp mayor Bart de Wever tweeted.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said the government was "following this situation as it develops" in the Flemish- speaking northern city.

"We continue to be vigilant. Our security services did an excellent job in Antwerp, thanks," he tweeted.

Meir is the main shopping street in Antwerp's historic centre and is mostly pedestrianised. It is one of the most important shopping areas in the country.

With soldiers deployed at key sites, Belgium has been on high alert since March 22 last year when suicide bombers attacked Zaventem airport and Maalbeek metro station that left 32 people dead and more than 320 wounded.

Belgium suffered a further shock in August when a machete- wielding man attacked two policewomen in the industrial town of Charleroi.

He badly injured one in the face, before a third officer shot him dead.

Islamic State Jihadists have claimed responsibility for a number of attacks using vehicles in Europe in recent months, including yesterday's carnage in London.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon told AFP in the runup to the anniversary that tighter security had made Belgium safer safer than it was a year ago.

However he said it faced the threat of continuing radicalisation at home and from battle-hardened fighters returning from Middle East battle fields.



London attacker Khalid Masood was a criminal with militant links

March 24, 2017

Before he killed at least four people in Britain’s deadliest attack since the 2005 London bombings, Khalid Masood was considered by intelligence officers to be a criminal who posed little serious threat. A British-born former teacher and Muslim convert, Masood had shown up on the periphery of previous terrorism investigations that brought him to the attention of Britain’s MI5 spy agency.

But he was not under investigation when he sped across Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, ploughing down pedestrians with a hired car before running into the parliamentary grounds and fatally stabbing an unarmed policeman. He was shot dead by police.

Although some of those he was involved with included people suspected of being keen to travel to join jihadi groups overseas, Masood “himself never did so,” said a U.S. government source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack,” London police said in a statement. “However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH (grievous bodily harm), possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Masood’s attack, although it was unclear what links – if any – he had with the militant group.


The 52-year-old was born in Kent to the southeast of London and moved though several addresses in England, although he was known to have lived recently in Birmingham in central England. Known by a number of other aliases, he racked up a string of convictions, but none for terrorism-related offences. His occupation was unclear. It was as long ago as November 1983 that he first came to the attention of authorities when he was found guilty of causing criminal damage, while his last conviction came 14 years ago in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

Little detail has officially been given about the man and what might have led him to carry out Wednesday’s attack, the deadliest in Britain since the London suicide bombings of 2005 by four young British Islamists, which killed 52.

“Our working assumption is that he was inspired by international terrorism,” said Britain’s most senior counterterrorism police officer, Mark Rowley, adding: “Islamist-related terrorism is our assumption.”

One of his former neighbours in Birmingham said: “When I saw the pictures on TV and in the papers of the man who carried out the attack, I recognised him as the man who used to live next door.”

“He had a young child, who I’d think was about 5 or 6 years old. There was a woman living there with him, an Asian woman. He seemed to be quite nice, he would be taking care of his garden and the weeds,” Iwona Romek, 45, told reporters at her home. In December, she said, he suddenly moved out.

The Daily Mail newspaper said Masood had been born Adrian Elms and was brought up by his single mother in the seaside town of Rye on England’s south coast, later converting to Islam and changing his name.

Other media reports said he was a married father of three and a former English teacher who was into bodybuilding.


Birmingham has been one of the hotbeds for British Islamists. According to a study by the Henry Jackson think tank earlier this month, 39 of 269 people convicted in Britain of terrorism offences from 1998 to 2015 came from the city.

Among those plots was one to kidnap and behead a British soldier. In December, two men were found guilty of planning to give 3,000 pounds ($3,750) to Brussels bombing suspect Mohamed Abrini – widely known as “the man in the hat”.

There are over 213,000 Muslims in Birmingham, making up over a fifth of the population, according to the 2011 census, and there has been growing concern about divisions in the diverse city.

The car Masood used in Wednesday’s attack had been hired from rental firm Enterprise’s Spring Hill branch in Birmingham, suggesting he still had connections to the area.

Since the attack in London, police have raided a number of addresses across the city, arresting five men and two women on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

Masood may have rented an apartment close to the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, not far from the Enterprise offices, and that was one of the properties raided by armed officers.

On the eve of the attack that Prime Minister Theresa May cast as an attack on democracy, Masood spent his last night in a budget hotel in Brighton on the south coast where he ate a takeaway kebab, the Sun newspaper said.

“An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy,” May told parliament. “He took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children.” ($1 = 0.7997 pounds)



Islamic State claims responsibility for London attack: Reports

March 23, 2017

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility today for an attack by a man who plowed an SUV into pedestrians on a crowded London bridge and then stabbed a police officer to death on the grounds of Britain's Parliament.

The attacker was born in Britain and known to authorities who had once investigated him for links to religious extremism, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday in a sweeping speech in which she also encouraged Britons to go about their lives.

The Islamic State group said through its Aamaq News Agency that the attacker was a soldier of the Islamic State who "carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of the coalition" of countries fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. In addition to the police officer and the attacker, who was shot by police, two people died on Westminster Bridge and at least 30 others were injured, seven critically.

British officials did not release the attacker's identity or confirm a link with the Islamic State group, though May did say it would be wrong to describe the attack as "Islamic" extremism.

"It is Islamist terrorism," she said. "It is a perversion of a great faith."

The IS group has been responsible for numerous bloody attacks around the globe and has specifically called for Western followers to carry out this kind of attack in their own countries, though the group has also claimed attacks later found to have no clear links to it.

May set an unyielding tone Thursday in a sweeping statement before the House of Commons. While she honored the police, she also saluted the actions of millions of people who went about their lives as normal, describing it as proof that the act of terror failed.

"As I speak millions will be boarding trains and airplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth," she told the House of Commons. "It is in these actions - millions of acts of normality - that we find the best response to terrorism -a response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in."

Parliament began its moment of silence at 9:33 am, honoring the shoulder number of the murdered officer, Keith Palmer, a 15-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police and a former soldier. Then Parliament, which was locked down after the attack, returned to business - a counter to those who had attacked British democracy.

"Those who carry out such wicked and depraved acts as we saw yesterday can never triumph in our country and we must ensure it is not violence, hatred or division but decency and tolerance that prevails in our country," Trade Secretary Liam Fox said.

"Hear, hear!" lawmakers from all parties responded in unison.

Police believe the attacker acted alone and there is no reason to believe "imminent further attacks" are planned, she said. He had been investigated before but police believed he was a peripheral figure, May said. At least eight people were arrested in raids, some in the city of Birmingham, in the central part of the country.

Mayor Sadiq Khan called for Londoners to attend a candlelit vigil at Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening in solidarity with the victims and their families and to show that London remains united.

London went on. Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge and several surrounding streets remain cordoned off by police. Scores of unarmed officers in bright yellow jackets were staffing the perimeter tape, guiding confused civil servants trying to get to work.

In Parliament's New Palace Yard, a blue police tent was erected over the spot where the stabbing and shooting occurred, and two forensic officers worked at a trestle table nearby.

Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Mark Rowley revised the death toll from five to four, including the attacker, the police officer and two civilians. He said that 29 people required hospitalization and seven of them were in critical condition. He also said that authorities were still working out the number of "walking wounded." Police had previously given the total number of injured as around 40.

One of those killed was Aysha Frade, a British national whose mother is Spanish, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said.

A doctor who treated the wounded from the bridge said some had "catastrophic" injuries. Three police officers returning from a ceremony to honor their bravery were among the injured.

May said people from 11 countries were among the victims. They included: 12 Britons, 3 French, 2 Romanians, 4 South Koreans, 1 German, 1 Pole, 1 Irish, 1 Chinese, 1 Italian, 1 American and two Greeks required hospital treatment. Police earlier said that seven of the 29 who are hospitalized are in critical condition.

The threat level for international terrorism in the UK was already listed at severe, meaning an attack was "highly likely."

President Donald Trump was among world leaders offering condolences.

London has been a target for terrorism many times over past decades. Just this weekend, hundreds of armed police took part in an exercise simulating a "marauding" terrorist attack on the River Thames.

May underscored that the attack targeted "free people everywhere," and she said she had a response: "You will not defeat us."

"Let this be the message from this House and this nation today: our values will prevail," she said.




Will not let Babri masjid come up anywhere in India: VHP

Ishita Bhatia

Mar 24, 2017

MEERUT: Days after the Supreme Court suggested that the Ram mandir issue be solved out of court after deliberations among concerned parties, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said on Thursday that they will not let Babri masjid to be constructed anywhere in India.

"We will not let Babri masjid come up anywhere in India. Babur was no Muslim god that they want Babur's mosque to be constructed in this country. He had looted India and deliberately converted people to Islam, so we cannot let any mosque be constructed under his name. We are not against Muslims; they can construct a mosque anywhere outside the 84-kosi parikrama of Ayodhaya but no mosque will be constructed in the name of Babur," said Balraj Dungar, UP state convenor, Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of VHP, in Meerut.

Dungar said this even as the VHP began on Thursday the 'Ramotsava Sankalp Sabhas' that are set to take place in the entire country. The sabhas aim to spread awareness among Hindus and unite them for the cause of Ram mandir in Ayodhaya. The rallies and aartis will end on April 11.

Commenting on the Supreme Court's suggestion, Sheelendra Chauhan, VHP state media spokesperson, said, "We can sort out the matter outside court but the other side will not agree for the same. We cannot allow the construction of any Babri masjid. All we can allow is the construction of a mosque but outside the 84-kosi parikrama of Ayodhata. Now that we have a Hindu government at the centre as well as in the state, it is time that just like a bill in Parliament paved the way for the Somnath temple in Gujarat, the same should be is done for Ram mandir too."

My goddd... some much unnecessary problems and issues with our country... the people want jobs, proper food water and sanitation, decent security in out According to Hindu belief, the king of Ayodhya performed the "yagna" in the "treta period" at a place in Makhurha in Basti district of UP which included circumnavigating the six districts in the region. This boundary is known as 84-kosi parikrama.

Gopal Sharma, VHP Meerut mahanagar secretary, said, "We already have funds in place in the form of Rs 8 crore that was collected after Babri masjid was demolished. Now that BJP is in power in Delhi and Lucknow, it will be easy for a law to be passed in this regard. Once that is done, the temple will not take much time to be constructed."



Pakistan envoy's remarks interference in our internal affairs: India

Mar 23, 2017

NEW DELHI: India today upraided Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit for his remarks on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute+ , saying they contravened diplomatic protocol to the point of being considered an interference in the country's internal affairs.

"We have seen media reports about Pakistan High Commissioner's remarks today regarding the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. They are not in keeping with diplomatic niceties and are tantamount to interference in our internal affairs," the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in an official statement.

In an address on the occasion of Pakistan Day, Basit had said the Jammu and Kashmir issue must be resolved as per the "aspirations of Kashmiris".

"As far as the Jammu and Kashmir issue is concerned, it should be resolved as per the aspirations of Kashmiris and hopefully it will be. Struggle for freedom of Kashmiri people will one day succeed by the grace of god," Basit said.

There is really no purpose in having diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Pakistan does not look at diplomatic relation as a way to resolve issues

Baglay also advised Pakistan to address the challenge of terrorism emanating from Islamabad, which has adversely affected peace and stability in the entire neighbourhood.

Kashmir has remained a longstanding unresolved dispute between the two countries, causing acrimony on both sides.



Ajmer Dargah blast: Convict Sunil Joshi met Yogi Adityanath, suspect told NIA

Written by Rahul Tripathi

March 24, 2017

Over a year before the October 11, 2007 Ajmer dargah blast which killed three and injured 15, Yogi Adityanath, then BJP MP and now Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, met one of the main convicts in the case Sunil Joshi (now dead), as per a statement by one of Joshi’s former aides.

The meeting, according to an investigation by the Rajasthan ATS and the National Investigation Agency, took place at Adityanath’s residence in Gorakhpur in March-April 2006. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) later claimed to have found Yogi’s contact numbers in the pocket diary of Joshi, recovered after his (Joshi) murder in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, in December 2007.

When contacted, the CMO did not comment, that Yogi and Joshi meet was mentioned by Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, an aide of Swami Aseemanand. Rateshwar, named as an accused in the Ajmer blast case by the NIA, was acquitted by the special NIA court this month that convicted Joshi, a former RSS pracharak, and Bhavesh Patel and Devendra Gupta. Both got life term by the NIA court yesterday.

Yogi Adityanath Welcomes SC Observation On Ram Temple Dispute

In his statement recorded first before the NIA and then a judge, now part of court records, Rateshwar said he was tasked by Aseemanand in March 2006 to travel with Sunil Joshi alias Manoj. “…Manoj informed me over phone that Swami Aseemanand has directed him to visit Jharkhand, Agra, Gorakhpur and Nagpur for some special tasks and I also should go with him. I confirmed the same from Aseemanand ji…” it reads.

According to the chargesheet, Rateshwar and Joshi met at Indore and travelled to Chittaranjan where they were received by Devender Gupta, “a RSS Zila Pracharak of Jamtara and stayed with him at RSS Karyalaya Jamtara…After staying for two days in Jamtara, I along with Manoj reached Agra as per direction of Swami Aseemanand and met with Rajeshwar Singh who was associated with Agra Gramin Sangh.”

Rajeshwar was a key suspect identified behind conversion of more than 200 Muslims in Agra in 2015. “…Rajeshwar Singh took both of us to Gorakhpur in his vehicle. Next day we reached Gorakhpur and met with Shri Yogi Adityanath, MP in his Ashram. Rajeshwar Singh introduced us to Shri Yogi Adityanath with the reference of Swami Aseemanand. Manoj (Joshi) asked him to meet separately then Yogi Adityanath told him he is busy and will meet in the evening,” Rateshwar stated.

As per the statement, Rateshwar said, “We stayed in the guest house of Ashram and about 9 pm Manoj and myself went to meet Yogi Adityanath in his drawing room separately. On reaching, I remained present at some distance but Manoj went very close to Yogi Adityanath and sat near to his wooden bed on the knees and discussed something secretly and in low voice. Thereafter we came back to Valsad and Indore, respectively. After few days, I informed Aseemanand about the visit…”

Rateshwar’s counsel J S Rana said, “His statement was recorded as witness and later on he was made an accused so the statement has no sanctity.”

The case was initially probed by the Rajasthan ATS which arrested Lokesh Sharma, Devendra Gupta, among others and filed first chargesheet on October 22, 2010. In 2011, it was transferred to the NIA.





Pakistan hosts Afghan Taliban leaders for peace talks

March 24th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani officials have hosted seven Taliban leaders in Islamabad to try and press them into peace talks ahead of a multination meeting in April in Moscow, according to two Taliban officials.

Islamabad has been under international pressure to try and bring Taliban leaders, who have lived in Pakistan since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 US invasion, to some form of negotiations with Kabul.

However, successive attempts have faltered and failed. Last year Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States met to jumpstart the peace process but that effort faltered after a series of deadly Kabul attacks that Afghanistan blamed on militants hiding in Pakistan.

China, Russia and Pakistan are behind the initiative of the April meeting in Moscow. Afghanistan will attend the meeting as will Iran and India. Washington has not said whether it would attend.

The Two Taliban officials who talked to AP said the militant leaders used the Islamabad gathering, which took place last week, to press their own demands, including that Pakistan free Taliban figures from its jails.

The two officials, who were familiar with the Islamabad meeting, spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals by Pakistani authorities who have not confirmed the meeting.

The international community has stepped up efforts to find a peaceful solution to Afghanistan’s protracted war with the Taliban as security across Afghanistan deteriorates and the Islamic State group threatens to expand its foothold in the region.

Despite their refusal to talk to the Afghan government, Taliban officials have held meetings with many others travelling several times to China, opening talks with Russia and Iran, and also attended conferences in Japan and in Europe.

Apparently, the missions have had some success as both Moscow and Beijing have indicated they’d be willing to see names of the Taliban leaders removed from the United Nations’ terror list, a long-standing demand of the Taliban for participating in talks.

The Taliban attending the Islamabad meeting were led by Mullah Muhammed Abbas, who took part in direct talks with the Afghan government in July 2015 in Pakistan. Those talks abruptly ended as an announcement emerged that Taliban founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, had been dead for two years.

Others at the meeting included former Taliban higher education minister Amir Khan Muttaqi; former vice and virtue minister Mullah Muhammed Turabi; Mullah Saaduddin from the so-called Quetta shura or council, and Mullah Daud who represented the so-called Peshawar shura.

A figure known by only one name, Yahya, a senior member of the Haqqani network that is allied with the Taliban, also attended as did Latif Mansour, secretary of the Taliban leadership council.



Document reveals Gillani authorised Haqqani to issue visas to Americans

March 24th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Two days after Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz claimed that the interior ministry had in 2010 empowered the then ambassador of Pakistan in Washington, Hussain Haqqani, to directly issue diplomatic visas to Americans without clearance of relevant authorities, a document reveals the authorisation originated from the office of then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani.

“The prime minister has been pleased to decide that the Ambassador in Washington will be empowered, with immediate effect, to issue visas valid up to one year without Embassy having to refer each aforementioned visa applications to the concerned authorities in Pakistan. The Pakistan embassy in US would issue these visas under intimation to the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad,” a letter issued with the signatures of the then prime minister’s principal secretary Nargis Sethi reads.

The date of the issue of the letter is July 14, which had perhaps mistakenly mentioned by Mr Aziz as the date of a letter issued by the interior ministry.

Then interior minster Rehman Malik’s spokesman has already denied issuance of any such letter by the interior ministry that time.

The letter reads: “Under the existing visa policy for official US visitors to Pakistan, the Ambassador in Washin­gton is empowered to issue entry visas for restricted periods to US officials who have been recommended in writing by the concerned US authority i.e the department of state and whose duly completed application forms, it is clearly indicated for what purposes they intend to travel to Pakistan.”

Mr Aziz had informed the Senate on Tuesday that the change in the policy had led to a quantum jump in the number of visas and 2,487 Americans had been issued diplomatic visas in just six months. He, however, left many questions unanswered and did not reveal who reversed the policy and when and even did not mention if it had been done at all.



FIA arrests three in social media blasphemy case


March 24th, 2017

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday arrested three individuals in connection with a case pertaining to the publishing of blasphemous content on social media being heard by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The three were presented before an anti-terrorism court and handed over to the FIA for a seven-day remand.

The laptops of those arrested have also been seized for forensic analysis.

Justice Shaukut Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC has been hearing a petition seeking the removal of blasphemous content from social media.

Earlier this week, the interior ministry informed the court that one arrest had been made in connection with the case, while the names of several others have been put on the Exit Control List.

The case has generated considerable attention at the government level.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this month directed the state machinery to find those responsible for putting blasphemous content on social media and bring them to justice without delay.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said Pakistan will represent the global Muslim community on having blasphemous content removed from social media platforms and take the fight to "any extent necessary" in order to get the message across.

On March 16, the National Assembly also passed a resolution condemning blasphemous content posted on social media and unanimously agreed to the formation of a committee of parliamentary leaders to monitor such content.



Zardari calls rulers ‘arrogant like Saddam’

March 24, 2017

LAHORE: PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari used a Pakistan Day event on Thursday to fire a broadside at the ruling Sharif family calling them ‘arrogant and dictatorial’ in their demeanour. “I can notice arrogance in the rulers, the kind of arrogance displayed by dictators such as Saddam Hussein and others,” he said while referring to the former strongman of Iraq.

Speaking at the event organised at Bilawal House by his party, Zardari also cast doubts on the credibility of the 2013 election likening it to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a controversial law introduced by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007 to grant amnesty to politicians and bureaucrats accused of corruption, money laundering, murder, and terrorism.

Nawaz ‘happy’ on Zardari’s return to Pakistan

“The ‘NRO election’ conducted by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the then chief justice of Pakistan, were of no political value but our party took part in it for the sake of democracy” he told the audience. “The PPP remains in mainstream politics for Pakistan’s sake.”

Zardari reminded the audience that he had raised the slogan of ‘Pakistan Khappay [Pakistan is here to stay] soon after the assassination of his wife and former PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto. “Cherishing love for Pakistan is my first and foremost priority and it is for political leaders like me to protect the younger generation.”

He also hit out at detractors who claim the PPP has lost its popularity, saying that “governments come and go, but the Pakistan Peoples Party is here to stay.”

Zardari also recalled how his party’s government had apologised to the people of Balochistan for the accesses done to them in the past. “At the time we were severely criticised for apologising to the people of Balochistan,” he recalled.

Eulogising the services of Benazir for parliamentary democracy, Zardari said she had put up a fight against the dictatorial regime of the then army chief Gen Ziaul Haq.

He dismissed the government’s claims that the country was making progress as a network of roads and motorways was being built. “The rulers are pursuing only those projects which offer them lucrative kickbacks,” he alleged.

PPP rubbishes claims Zardari will begin role as political analyst on BOL TV

He claimed that the rulers did not have the welfare of the poor, labourers and peasants at their heart. “They have no plans for [increasing the quantum of irrigation] water for farmers or [creating new] employment opportunities.”

Commenting on the situation in the Middle East, Zardari said he had tried to make the international community realise the consequences of the conflict in Syria. “I had warned at that time that thousands of people would die as a result of the conflict in Syria but the world did not realise.”

Stressing the need for safeguarding Pakistan, he said a safe Pakistan guaranteed everyone’s survival.



PPP hits back after letter empowering Hussain Haqqani 'leaked' to media


Mar 24, 2017

Clarifying the PPP's position on the controversy surrounding the issuance of over two thousand visas to US citizens, allegedly after bypassing proper channels, party spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar on Friday said there was "nothing new or wrong" in the letter sent by Prime Minister House to the Foreign Office in 2010 circulated in media today.

The letter, brought to the fore in media Thursday night, suggested that the prime minister's office had empowered the then ambassador of Pakistan in Washington, Hussain Haqqani, to directly issue diplomatic visas to Americans without requiring clearance from relevant authorities.

Babar, in a statement issued to media on Friday, said the timing of the letter 'leaking' to media was suspect.

"Its [the official letter's] regurgitation at this time is politically motivated and aimed at diverting attention from the real issue," he said.

Embassies in important capitals of the world have representatives of relevant government departments, including security agencies, he insisted.

"The ambassador was empowered by the prime minister to issue visas, but that does not mean that due process within the embassy, involving representatives of other departments, was allowed to be circumvented," he claimed.

The PPP leader said the ambassador had been empowered to issue visas only to those whose purpose of visit was clearly defined and duly recommended by the US State Department.

"The purpose was to expedite, not bypass, the process," he added.

"It [the letter] was also not an authorisation to issue visas to US Special Operation Forces," he elaborated.

Diverting attention to the US raid in Abbotabad which killed Osama Bin Laden, Babar instead asked how it was that Bin Laden lived in a cantonment for almost a decade directing global terrorism efforts.

"The central question is not who, following due process, gave visas to some Americans who may have eventually been able to hunt and take Laden out," he contended.

"No amount of verbal jugglery, media circus and mudslinging on the previous PPP government will erase this question from public mind," he stated.

He suggested that a thorough inquiry into Pakistan's visa issuance policies and procedures across the board should be initiated from 2001 onward, when the global hunt for Bin Laden started.

"Targeting some individuals or a political government for political purposes will not advance national security interests," he said.

"National security interests will be advanced only by a credible, non-poartisan probe in visa policies and procedures across the board and across time," he added.

"Investigations must also be made into how many Americans entered Pakistan through the Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan, with or without visas, during the days of Gen Pervez Musharraf," he said, targetting the former president and military chief.

"Such investigations cannot be made through selective leaks or public statements in the media. A starting point can be the Abbottabad Commission probing the Laden fiasco," read his statement.

"Hunting Bin Laden has always been the official narrative. Making the Abbottabad Commission report public will be in conformity with the narrative. Any other course will not be credible and will be seen as political witch hunting," he concluded.



Arab World


Muslim World Condemns Wednesday’s Terror Attack in London

Friday 24 March 2017

JEDDAH: Leaders and officials from across the Arab and Muslim world have strongly condemned Wednesday’s terror attack in London, in which an assailant killed three people before being shot dead by police.

King Salman sent a cable of condolences to UK Prime Minister Theresa May following the attack in front of the British Parliament building and a nearby bridge.

“We have received the news of the terrorist attack that took place in front of the British Parliament which resulted in deaths and injuries. As we strongly condemn this terrorist act, we, on behalf of the people and Government of Saudi Arabia, offer our deepest condolences to Your Excellency, the families of the victims and friendly British people,” the king said in the cable.

“We reconfirm the firm position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on rejecting such terrorist acts in all their forms and manifestations, re-emphasizing the importance of international efforts to confront and eradicate them.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent cables of condolences and condemned the attack.

Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a similar statement.

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, strongly condemned the attack, which left about 40 people injured.

Countering such acts will save the lives of many innocent people who are usually the victims of such actions, Aboul-Gheit said in a statement, according to the Kuwait news agency KUNA.

Aboul-Gheit emphasized the need to unify international efforts for the security and stability of communities around the world.



Aleppo: Syrian Army Establishes Military Control over Deir Hafer

Thu Mar 23, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued operations in Eastern Aleppo and gained military control over Deir Hafer city after winning back several towns and a strategic hill surrounding the city.

The Syrian army units engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists and seized control of Laleh Mohammad, al-Akouleh, al-Ahmadiyeh and al-Kabariyeh towns and the strategic Tal al-Sous hill.

The army troops also deployed along the Aleppo-Raqqa road after winning control over Um Adaseh, Jafireh and Jafar Mansoul towns and fully cut the supply routes towards Deir Hafer from Maskaneh and other nearby towns.

During the operations, tens of ISIL terrorists were killed, 5 bomb-laden vehicles were destroyed and several vehicles carrying weapons and ammunition were seized by the army.

A military source reported that the Syrian army forces will soon enter Deir Hafer and start cleansing operations after besieging the city.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the army troops regained control of the two towns of Abu Saleh and Kharayej Daham in the Eastern parts of al-Sharimeh village and al-Qusayer town near Deir Hafer after heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded ISIL's bases, military vehicles and moves in Um Adasa Khalileh, Maskaneh, Atshaneh Maskaneh and Laleh Mohammad in the Eastern parts of Aleppo province, inflicting tens of casualties on the terrorists.



Damascus: Army Cripples Al-Nusra Front's Moves towards Jobar

Fri Mar 24, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army forces intensified military operations against al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front in the Northern parts of Jobar and the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus, blocking their moves in the region.

The army units pounded the moves and supply routes of al-Nusra Front deep inside Eastern Ghouta towards Jobar district, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists and destroying several military vehicles.

Also, a military source said that the Syrian soldiers continue their military operations in several fronts in Jobar, and added that the army has inflicted tens of casualties and injuries on the militants in its attacks on their moves and supply routes in the region.

On Thursday, the Syrian army, supported by the air force, had repulsed terrorists' attacks in the Northern parts of Jobar, killing more than 150 militants.

A military source said that the Syrian army forces repelled the al-Nusra Front terrorists' repeated attacks to break the siege on militants stationed in al-Qazal plants region in Northern Jobar, adding that the army units have killed over 150 militants, including foreign commanders and members, and wounded hundreds of others during the operations.

Also, The Syrian troops smashed 3 tanks, 4 armored vehicles, 5 mortar-launchers, 3 artilleries and 15 machinegun-equipped vehicles of the terrorists in the battle.

According to the source, clashes continue between the army and terrorists in Northern Jobar and the army units are targeting the militants' gathering centers and moves in Jobar and the nearby areas by artillery and missile fire.

The source added that the Syrian air force has also launched heavy airstrikes on the terrorists' positions and supply routes from Eastern Ghouta to the North of Jobar region, inflicting heavy casualties and damage on the militants.



Syrian Army Reinvigorates Defense Lines in Northern Hama

Fri Mar 24, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army warded off an al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front offensive on several towns in Northern Hama and regained control of the recently-lost areas in a pursuing counterattack.

The army units launched a rapid counterattack on Al-Nusra gathering centers and moves in Northern Hama, killing a large number of militants and destroying 3 tanks and 5 armored vehicles.

The Syrian soldiers also, in special operations, targeted the terrorists' hideouts and moves near several towns in Northern Hama and destroyed their military convoys.

Meantime, they could liberate the two recently-lost towns of Khattab and Azreh from Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa terrorists.

The government troops also managed to fortify their defense lines against the terrorists' attacks.

Also, the Syrian and Russian fighter jets launched airstrikes against the al-Nusra terrorists' positions in Maardas and Souran.

Meanwhile, the army smashed the militants' weapons and ammunitions depot in Kafr Zita, causing a big explosion that killed tens of terrorists.

In a relevant development on Thursday, the Syrian army units fended off massive attacks of the al-Nusra Front on their positions in Souran and Khattab in Northern Hama, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

The army troops engaged in heavy clashes with al-Nusra terrorists who had attacked Souran city and Khattab town, and repulsed their offensive.

Meantime, the Syrian and Russian fighter jets launched fierce attacks on terrorists' bases in Kafr Zita, al-Latamineh, Khan Sheikhoun and Taybat al-Imam, killing tens of militants, including an Egyptian commander named Abul Ala Abd Rabbah.

A military source underlined that heavy clashes are still underway near Souran and Khattab, adding that the army has sent a large number of military convoys of its forces and allies to the villages and towns bordering the battleground in Hama to prevent the terrorists' advances and prepare for retaking the villages.



Army Destroys Al-Nusra's Command Center in Northern Homs

Fri Mar 24, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army forces targeted one of al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front command centers in al-Qantou village in Northern Homs, killing and wounding a large number of terrorists inside.

The army units also launched heavy attacks against the terrorists' positions in Um Sharsouhm, al-Qajar and al-Bayekeh villages and al-Taloul al-Hamar region in Northern Homs, inflicting losses on the militants and smashing their military equipment.

Meantime, the army soldiers repulsed the terrorists' offensive by bomb-laden cars against a military position in the Eastern parts of al-Mushrefeh village, and blew them up before they could reach their target.

Also, the government troops launched strikes against the ISIL positions and moves in the Eastern parts of Job al-Jarrah town in Eastern Homs, killing all members of a terrorist group and smashing their military vehicles.

On Thursday, the Syrian army and air force intensified operations in Eastern Homs to seize back the province's strategic oilfields, killing tens of ISIL terrorists and destroying their military vehicles and equipment.

The army units engaged in clashes with the ISIL in al-Talileh region close to Arak oilfield near Palmyra, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists and smashing their vehicles and arms.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets launched repeated airstrikes against the ISIL positions in al-Sukhnah town, Arak oilfield, Station 3 region and the hills in Northeastern Palmyra.

The attacks fully blew up the terrorists' bases in the region and inflicted a large number of casualties on them.

Also, in the Northern parts of Homs, the Syrian troops targeted the positions and gathering centers of al-Nusra Front in al-Qajar, Kissin and Um Sharshouh in Northern Homs, inflicting losses on the terrorists.

The Syrian army units also attacked the al-Nusra positions in al-Rastan and al-Sa'an al-Aswad regions and Aidoun village in Northern Homs, killing and wounding tens of militants and smashing a number of their military vehicles.



ISIL Bases Destroyed in Army Operations to Break Deir Ezzur Airbase Siege

Thu Mar 23, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army forces, supported by the air force, smashed ISIL's bases near al-Maqaber (cemetery) region South of Deir Ezzur Airbase.

The Syrian fighter jets and army's missile and artillery units also struck ISIL's positions and moves in al-Maqaber region in Deir Ezzur along with the military troops' ground assault.

The attacks which are aimed at breaking the militants' siege on Deir Ezzur airbase left scores of terrorists dead and wounded and blew up their bases.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army repulsed an attack launched by the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group near Deir Ezzur military airbase.

The army soldiers killed all members of a terrorist group affiliated to the ISIL after they attempted to open their way into a military post on the Eastern side of Deir Ezzur airbase.

Field sources said that 18 militants were killed and 3 military vehicles were destroyed in the clashes.

Also, on Monday, the Syrian army units engaged in clashes with the terrorist groups who sought to open their way into the neighborhoods of al-Rushdiyeh and al-Huweiqah in Deir Ezzur in an attempt to attack the locals and the military posts that protect the civilians.

The army units foiled the attack, killing a number of terrorists and injuring many others.

A fortified command post and a barricade of the terrorists were hit and destroyed in al-Rushdiyeh neighborhood, a field source said, stressing that all the militants inside were killed.

The Syrian army units also carried out special operations against the ISIL in Southern Deir Ezzur, advancing in the factories zone after inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers also foiled ISIL attacks in the direction of the regiment 137 Base in the Southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzur and Deir Ezzur military airbase, killing and wounding scores of Takfiri militants.



‘Punishing her will not bring my daughter back:’ Saudi forgives Indonesian who killed his child

24 March 2017

In a forgiving gesture, a Saudi citizen waived his right to retribution from an Indonesian domestic maid who murdered his 11-month- old daughter seven years ago.

Ghaleb Nasir al-Hamri al-Balawi dropped the charges at the public court before the verdict was made.

"I forgave the maid for several reasons. The most important is that God orders us to forgive, and I seek his blessings and love. Furthermore, my parents taught me to forgive others and they asked that I acquit the house cleaner. Third, seeing her punished will not get me my daughter back, besides I would have ruined her entire life especially that she is still young. Thankfully, after the death of my baby girl, the good God granted me 3 children, 2 boys and a girl,” he told Al Arabiya.Net.

Balawi added he is not seeking the pleasures and vanity of this life, he wants his place in paradise and the only way to do so is by doing good deeds. He said that he consulted his wife on the matter and she agrees on principle, but she is still hesitant about the pardon as she is worried about what her friends might say. Nevertheless, he is certain that she will come around.

Balawi explained that the issue is still ongoing, and the investigations continue, but he was fed up of repeating the past, so he decided to pardon her.

He said that he is married to three women and has 17 children, including 7 girls and 10 boys. The mother of the deceased child is his second wife with whom he has two sons and a daughter.

Details of the crime

The crime happened 7 years ago. Balawi said that he had a funeral at home when he was in Qurayyat while his wife was in Tabuk.

They were shocked by the death of their child. After the autopsy, they discovered bruises on her back and red marks on her face.

“We did not point fingers to anyone, but after a while the police came and asked to investigate the maid, which we brought seven months before the attack,” he said.

“She admitted that she muffled the child with a blanket and pressed her until she died. The maid was then referred to the investigation and prosecution services to carry on the inquiry.”

Ghaleb concluded by saying that he wishes the release of the maid and be allowed to keep his promise to her. The maid wishes to go to Hajj before traveling to Indonesia.

Balawi said that he did not hire any maid since the disastrous incident. He rather worked on bringing up his children with his wives together without any hired help.



South Asia


Bangladesh wants UN to recognise 1971 genocide

Mar 23, 2017

DHAKA: Bangladesh today said it would reach out to the UN to declare March 25 as Genocide Day globally, in remembrance of the atrocities carried out by the Pakistan Army on the same day in 1971.

"The letter is will be sent to the United Nations by this month," Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq told reporters.

"A delegation will go to the UN this month with a proposal to observe March 25 as Genocide Day globally while the foreign ministry, through the Bangladesh embassies and high commissions across the world, will campaign to get support from other countries in favour of our proposal."

The UN General Assembly in 2015 declared December 9 as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

The minister said no genocide took place on December 9 "but here in Bangladesh we witnessed one in March 25, 1971".

"So, we will propose the UN to shift the Genocide Day to March 25," Huq said.

Bangladesh Parliament earlier this month unanimously adopted a resolution declaring March 25 as the Genocide Day.

UN has not recognized 1971 genocide because 2 million that were killed came from Hindu community and UN basically considers only Christian-Muslims and Jews as humans. Rest of the humanity doesn't exists for UN.

The Pakistani army launched their infamous 'Operation Searchlight' on March 25 to suppress Bengali people's calls for self-determination, killing over 20,000 people alone in Dhaka.

Officially three million people were killed in the subsequent nine-month Liberation War.



Defense Ministry and Local Govt rejects fall of Sangin to Taliban

Thu Mar 23 2017

The Ministry of Defense and the Local Government in Helmand have rejected the control of Sangin district has fallen to Taliban.

According to a statement by MoD, the Taliban claims regarding the capture of a military base in Sangin and fall of the district are baseless.

The statement further added that the brigade of the 215th Maiwand Corps is still based in Sangin as the district is active and there are no major security concerns.

MoD said the militants are based in the outskirts of the district and the security forces are busy confronting the militants who are sporadically conducting insurgency.

However, the provincial military council in a statement said the security forces were forced to tactically retreat from the market of Sangin due to months of heavy fighting that incurred major losses to the local residents.

The source further added that nearly 300 militants have been killed during the clashes over the past months and the decision to tactically retreat to around 2 kilometers away from the market was taken to prevent further losses to the residents of the area.



US turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference

The United States won't attend a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan next month in Russia, a State Department official said Thursday.

The reasons: The US wasn't consulted before receiving the invitation and doesn't know Russia's objectives for the gathering.

The official said that Washington wants to work with Moscow on regional efforts to end the 16-year war, and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would bring up the matter when he visits Russia in April. The official wasn't authorised to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India and several Central Asian nations are among the invitees to the Moscow conference. Afghan and US officials say the Taliban aren't invited. The State Department hasn't publicly announced its position on the planned conference.

Last year, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States met to jump-start the peace process but that effort faltered.

The official said the US wants nations in the region, which have a shared interest in peace in Afghanistan, to increase pressure on the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.

Last week, Pakistani officials hosted seven Taliban leaders in Islamabad to try to press the insurgents into peace talks ahead of the Moscow meeting, two Taliban officials told the AP.

Islamabad has been under international pressure to try to bring Taliban leaders, who have lived in Pakistan since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 US invasion, into some form of negotiations with Kabul.

In Washington on Tuesday, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani called for the US to add to the 8,400 troops currently in Afghanistan where the Taliban have stepped up attacks and the Islamic State group also poses a threat.

He said the Afghan government remains open to peace talks but doubted the Taliban would participate unless Pakistan cracked down on “terrorist safe havens” on its soil a long-running source of bitterness between the neighbouring countries.



Southeast Asia


Police fire tear gas on Muslims protesting church in Bekasi

Achmad Ibrahim and Ali Kotarumalos

Fri, March 24, 2017

Indonesian police fired tear gas on Friday to disperse hard-line Muslims protesting against the construction of a Catholic church in Bekasi, West Java.

Several hundred protesters from a group called Forum for Bekasi Muslim Friendship staged a rowdy demonstration in front of the Santa Clara church in Kaliabang, a neighborhood of Bekasi city, after Friday prayers.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas as the protesters tried to force their way into the church, which has been under construction since November. Some also threw rocks and bottles into the site.

Raymundus Sianipar, a Catholic priest, said police asked him to leave the area for safety reasons.

Militant Islamic groups frequently protest against the minority faiths and police often do not intervene. Members of minority religions that aren't recognized by the state face persistent discrimination.

Ismail Ibrahim, a cleric and organizer of the protest, said they would not disperse until authorities cancel the church's construction permit.

The church in the northern part of Bekasi has been the target of protests by hard-line Muslims since it obtained its permit in June 2015. Some claim the church's leaders used false identity cards to get the permit.

In April last year a Muslim group sealed off the church, tore down its sign and demanded that the mayor cancel the permit.

The private Asian Human Rights Commission has started an appeal on the church's behalf, asking for supporters to send letters to 10 top Indonesian leaders, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

About 12,000 Catholics in the Bekasi region currently meet in store fronts or business premises that serve as informal places of worship.



What’s wrong with Southeast Asia?


Thirty years ago most of Southeast Asia was run by thuggish dictatorships. Then the Philippines showed the rest of the world how to get rid of dictators without violence, and its non-violent example was watched and copied around the world. But now the thugs are coming back to where it all started.

The democratic revolution in the Philippines in 1986 was quickly followed by the non-violent overthrow of the generals in Thailand in 1988 (though they continued to intervene every few years), and then by the fall of Suharto’s 30-year dictatorship in Indonesia in 1998. By then the example had also spread through the rest of Asia (democratic revolutions in Taiwan and South Korea and even an attempt at one in China).

The democratic wave swept across the rest of the world too: Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in 1989-91, South Africa in 1994, a large number of Latin American and African countries in the past quarter-century, and even a brave (but failed) attempt at democratization in several Arab countries. More people now live in democratic countries than in dictatorships.

But in the cradle of the non-violent revolutions, things are going backwards. Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, is a self-proclaimed murderer who boasts about how many people his death squads kill. “If you are corrupt, I will fetch you using a helicopter to Manila and I will throw you out,” he declared in December. “I have done this before, why would I not do it again?”

“Duterte Harry” (as he is called in homage to Clint Eastwood’s film portrayal of lawless cop “Dirty Harry”) was elected to the presidency with a massive majority last year, and he is still hugely popular with ordinary Filipinos. But this is not democracy; it is populist demagoguery of the most extreme kind.

About 8,000 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed by police and vigilantes, with Duterte’s warm approval and encouragement, since he was elected last June. And the fate of Thai democracy is equally disheartening, although the strongmen there wear military uniforms.

Thai democracy, deeply polarized by a long-running political battle between the urban middle class and the rural poor, fell to a military coup in 2014. Two years later, the Thais ratified a constitution that grants the army permanent power over the political system, including the right to appoint all 250 members of the Senate. And even so the military have now postponed the promised election from this year to 2018.

Indonesian democracy still survives, and the latest president, Joko Widodo, is a genuinely popular figure of unimpeachable honesty. In the 2014 election he saw off his opponent, a former general and ex-son-in-law of the old dictator Suharto, with ease. But there are signs of rising extremism in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

The hard-line Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), which demands a sharia state in a country where 15 percent of the population are not Muslim, has been leading violent demonstrations against Basuki Purnama, the ethnic Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta. He is facing spurious charges of “insulting Islam,” but the FPI’s real objection is that non-Muslims should not hold positions of authority over Muslims.

There is clearly support for this view among some of the capital’s Muslims – and to make matters worse many senior military and police officers have had close links with the extremist organization. Indonesian democracy is certainly the healthiest in the region, but it faces serious threats.

And then there is Burma, the latest convert to democracy in Southeast Asia. After half a century of almost continuous military rule, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize-winning leader of the democratic opposition, is finally the effective leader of an elected civilian government.

But she still operates under a military veto, and she has to close her eyes to the brutal attacks on the Rohingya, a Muslim minority that the army and other Burmese ultranationalists insist is not really Burmese at all. The army is using this conflict to burnish its own nationalist credentials and undermine the fledgling democratic government, and “The Lady,” as she is universally called, dares not defy it.

There is no country in Southeast Asia where democracy is really secure, and in most cases the main reason is the overweening power of self-serving military and police forces. Power struggles between the old political and economic elite and “new” politicians like Widodo in Indonesia and the brother and sister Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra in Thailand, both overthrown by military coups, play a large role too.

But there are many other new democracies with over-mighty militaries and privileged elites that do not want to let go, and yet the failure rate is significantly lower everywhere else except the Middle East. There may be some common cultural factor that unites the Southeast Asian countries, but it’s unlikely: they are variously Buddhist-, Christian-, or Muslim-majority.

So what’s the matter with them? Maybe it’s just bad luck. After all, they aren’t actually a statistical sample.





Egypt’s former president Mubarak walks free for first time in six years

24 March 2017

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president overthrown in 2011 and the first leader to face trial after the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region, was freed on Friday after six years in detention, his lawyer said.

He left the Maadi Military Hospital in Cairo where he had been detained, heading to his home in Heliopolis.

“Yes, he is now in his home in Heliopolis,” Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid El Deeb told Reuters when asked if Mubarak had left the hospital. Heliopolis is an upscale neighbourhood where the main presidential palace from which Mubarak once governed is located.

The 88-year-old was cleared of the final murder charges against him this month, after facing trial in a litany of cases ranging from corruption to the killing of protesters whose 18-day revolt stunned the world and ended his 30-year rule.

Mubarak was initially arrested in April 2011, two months after leaving office, and has since been held in prison and in

military hospitals under heavy guard.





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