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Islamic World News ( 9 March 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Centuries-Old Islamic Provisions Cannot Be Implemented Today: Erdoğan













Hafiz Saeed



Centuries-Old Islamic Provisions Cannot Be Implemented Today: Erdoğan

Islam Preaches Love and Peace, Not Hatred: Mufti of the Holy Mosque of Madina

Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Every Enemy: Imam-e-Ka’aba

Muslims Trapped In Central African Republic Church

Hafiz Saeed Challenges Ordinance Banning JuD

At Least 60 Taliban Militants Killed In Kandahar Airstrike



Centuries-Old Islamic Provisions Cannot Be Implemented Today: Erdoğan

Yemen: At least 70 Houthis killed in Hajjah

Erdogan-Affiliated Turkish Newspaper Calls for ‘Army of Islam’ to Defeat Israel within 10 Days

Iran strongly condemns attack on its embassy in London

Turkish troops will enter Syria’s Afrin ‘at any moment’: President Erdogan

Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian in West Bank

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 243 over affiliation to Gulen network



Islam Preaches Love and Peace, Not Hatred: Mufti of the Holy Mosque of Madina

Attempt By Pakistan To Mainstream Hafiz Saeed: India

Bhim Army Supporters Threaten To Convert To Islam

Complaint against Sri Sri For ‘Syria Like Situation’ Remark

Islam Preaches Love and Peace, Not Hatred: Ahle Hadees Hind

Islam Is Religion of Love, Madaris Are Centres of Humanity: Ex-CM Babulal Gaur

Status of Muslims in Hyderabad city slums deplorable: Council for Social Development

Pakistan raises Kashmir issue at UN for 2nd day, India dubs it a ‘failed state’ where terrorists thrive


Arab World

Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Every Enemy: Imam-e-Ka’aba

How a Friar Saved Religious Manuscripts from ISIS Wrath in Iraq

Saudi Crown Prince, Archbishop View Fragments Of One of Oldest Qur’an Manuscripts

Jihadists to be evacuated from Syria’s Ghouta: rebel group

Iraqis trained to preserve ‘treasures’ rescued from IS

Syria: Terrorists Open Fire at 300 Families Fleeing Eastern Ghouta

Syria: Army Captures More Regions in Eastern Damascus

Syrian Army Sets up New Humanitarian Corridor in Eastern Ghouta

Terror backers use chemical attack claims to block Syria army gains: Ja’afari

First group of militants leaves Eastern Ghouta near Syrian capital Damascus

Saudi Arabia, UK agree to finalize warplane deal despite protests

Senior Daesh figures still hiding in Mosul tunnels, Iraqi officials



Muslims Trapped In Central African Republic Church

Al Shabaab Runs Rings around Special Anti-Terror Unit

Ethiopian-Israelis decry family separation as discriminatory

US sanctions two al-Shabaab militants as global terrorists

Retrieve arms from Boko Haram, herdsmen, vigilance groups tell IGP



Hafiz Saeed Challenges Ordinance Banning JuD

Pakistani Minister Thanks KSA for Support of Global Islamic Issues

Lack of Knowledge Tarnishing Islam’s Image: IIU

Four suspected terrorists killed in Pasni search operation

Pakistan fought ‘made in America jihad’, Asif tells NA

Musharraf may return to Pakistan if security is provided, says aide


South Asia

At Least 60 Taliban Militants Killed In Kandahar Airstrike

Muslims Pray Under Military Protection in Sri Lanka after Riots

Hazaras Protest after an ISIS Attack Kills 10 in Kabul

Taliban launch assault on outpost, kill 10 policemen

Officials: 16 security personnel martyred in Takhar attack

Suicide attack in Kabul leaves 9 dead, 18 wounded

Political instigation stokes deep-rooted Sri Lanka conflict

Ultra-nationalist Myanmar monk walks free from prison

At the border's cloudy edge, Rohingya insist they will stay

Ultra-nationalist Myanmar monk walks free from prison


Southeast Asia

Trial of 2016 Jakarta Terror Attack Ideologue Hears How His Sermons, Blog Radicalised Others

The Impending Dangers of Religious War in Indonesia

Philippines says eight jihadists killed in the south

Muslim Rebels Retrench in Philippines After Losing 5-Month War

Emulate the Chinese by joining community policing, DPM tells Malays, Indians

Attack on Chinese Billionaire Exposes Growing Racial Divide in Malaysia

Telkom Renovates Places of Worship and Cultural Heritage in East Nusa Tenggara


North America

Leaked Memo: GOP Fundraiser Pitched Trump On International Muslim Army To Fight America's Wars

US State Department OKs weapons sales to UAE, Qatar



Russia Considering Course Change after New Challenges in Syria

Britain to Sell Jets to Saudis despite Conduct of Yemen War

German government condemns far-right MPs' Syria visit

Saudi Crown Prince discusses anti-terror efforts with UK Defense Secretary

Turkey warns against growing Islamophobia in Europe

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Centuries-Old Islamic Provisions Cannot Be Implemented Today: Erdoğan

March 09 2018

The commandments of Islam can and will never change, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, amid criticism over his earlier comments on the necessity for an “update” of Islamic regulations.

“It is wrong for some individuals, who have no relation to the realities of life, to utter some words and confuse people. Nobody has the right to accuse our religion,” Erdoğan said at an event in Ankara on March 9.

He had criticized specific preachers on March 8, following Social Fabric Foundation head Nureddin Yıldız’s controversial comments about violence against women. “Women should be grateful to God because God allowed men to beat women and be relaxed,” Yıldız said on March 3 in a video posted online, stirring outrage.

Erdoğan also blasted Yıldız as “illiterate” on March 8, without directly citing his name.

“You cannot implement provisions dating back 14 or 15 centuries … Carrying out the regulations and traditions of a specific society at a specific date can only spoil them,” he said.

One day later, he underlined the importance of “adapting” religious practices to current historical and social conditions.

“We do not seek reform in religion, which is beyond our capability … Our holy Quran has and will always have words to say. Its commandments will never change. But the independent reasoning derived from them, the developed rules and their implementation will surely change according to the time, the conditions and the possibilities,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan also reiterated his call for the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) to take a more active role in addressing the issue.

“I do not have the authority to speak on such matters. But as a president, as a Muslim, and as a person who has responsibility, I cannot tolerate such discord brought to my religion,” he said.

“We cannot ignore the stain and the shadow that such people’s random words about women and youths have brought to Islam. Nobody has the right to cause such confusion and caricature our religion as such,” he added.

“The understanding that tries to depict Islam as a religion closed off to change and the understanding that attributes deviancies that have nothing to do with Islam to our religion only serve the same aim,” Erdoğan said.



Islam Preaches Love and Peace, Not Hatred: Mufti of the Holy Mosque of Madina

March 10, 2018

New Delhi, Mar 9 (PTI) Members of the Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind, in their national conference, denounced terrorism and asserted that Islam preaches peace and love of mankind.

Islamic scholars from different parts of the country are attending the two-day conference of the outfit at Ramleela Grounds here.

“Islam is a religion of peace. It is not a religion of hatred and terrorism. It not only propagates the safety of mankind, but also guarantees the safety of all the creatures, a statement from the organisation quoted Mufti of the Holy Mosque of Madina, Sheikh Ibrahim bin Ibrahim Al Turki as saying.

“The greatest challenge of the present time is propagation of world peace and safety of mankind, said Asghar Ali Imam, head of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind.

The youth should work as messengers of peace and should not be enticed by the anti-social elements, he said, adding that they should work for humanity and brotherhood.



Islamic military alliance to fight every enemy: Imam-e-Ka’aba

March 10, 2018

LAHORE: Imam-e-Ka’aba Dr Saleh Bin Mohammad Aal-e-Talib on Friday termed terrorism and anarchy unacceptable, and said the military alliance of Muslim countries would fight every enemy.

He was addressing a reception hosted by Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Friday. Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Saeed Al Maaliki, Maulana Saeed Inayatullah, Maulana Asad Zakaria, Maulana Shafi Qasmi and Maulana Asadullah Farooq were also present.

He said those committing acts of violence against innocent human beings have nothing to do with Islam.

The Imam of Ka’aba stressed complete unity among the Muslim Ummah and said it would be the only way to find solution to all problems faced by the Muslim world. He said Harmain Sharifain has been the centre of the unity of entire Muslim Ummah and core of love for entire Muslim population. He warned that enemies created rumours and mistrust among the Muslims in an effort to create divisions among Muslim nations and people, especially on the lines of sects, and added that those creating rumours among Muslims were not friends of Muslims. He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had always been bound into strong relations of brotherhood and friendship, and no power on the earth could eliminate the love between the two countries.

Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi praised the valiant struggle and sacrifices of Pakistan’s army and people for eliminating terrorism from the country. He said efforts for elimination of terrorism and extremism from the entire Muslim world would be continued in future with the collaboration of Saudi government and ulema. He warned the enemies of Saudi Arabia, saying the entire Muslim Ummah was united to safeguard the Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, the Imam of Ka’aba, delivering Friday sermon at Markaz Ahle Hadith at Kala Shah Kaku, urged the Ummah to forge complete unity among their ranks to counter the dangers and conspiracies posed by the enemies. He warned that enemies of Muslims had succeeded in breaking into the defence lines of Muslim unity only because Muslim leadership and people had shunned the teachings of Holy Quran and path of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He urged upon the people to make the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) a standard to resolve their differences and shun such practices that created deviations from the Islamic Shariah and hurt the feelings of fellow Muslims. He said it should be the duty of Muslim governments, teachers and scholars to make unified efforts for bringing about reforms in Muslim societies, and hold activities for improving education syllabi and moral standards of the people in general and the youth in particular. He said strong measures were needed to counter the flood of obscenity, immorality and violations of Islamic codes at the public level. The Imam of Ka’aba said the duty of Daawah was a duty of every Muslim individual.



Muslims trapped in Central African Republic church

6 Mar 2018

There are hundreds of Muslims trapped inside a Catholic Church compound in Bangassou after the town was overrun by members of a Christian armed group last May.

They took shelter in the church and risk being killed if they leave the protection of UN peacekeepers.



Hafiz Saeed challenges ordinance banning JuD

March 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Hearing a petition filed by Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed challenging the presidential ordinance under which his group has been banned for being on the watchlist of the United Nations, Justice Aamer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday issued notices to the principal secretary to the president and the secretaries of law, Cabinet Division and Establishment Division.

President Mamnoon Hussain last month promulgated an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 with regards to proscription of terrorist individuals and organisations to include entities listed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) — in a move to declare Hafiz Saeed-linked JuD and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) as proscribed groups.

The ordinance amends Sections 11-B and 11-EE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (XXVII of 1997). Section 11-B sets parameters for proscription of groups, whereas 11-EE describes the grounds for listing of individuals.

Both sections would now include Sub-Section ‘aa’, according to which organisations and individuals “listed under the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1948 (XIV of 1948), or” will be included in the First Schedule (for organisations) and Fourth Schedule (for individuals), respectively, on an ex-parte basis.

Under Section 11-EE, the requirements were: “(a) concerned in terrorism; (b) an activist, office-bearer or an associate of an organisation kept under observation under section 11D or proscribed under section 11B; and (c) in any way concerned or suspected to be concerned with such organisation or affiliated with any group or organisation suspected to be involved in terrorism or sectarianism or acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, any person or organisation proscribed under this Act.”

Hafiz Saeed contended in the petition that he established JuD in 2002 and cut off all ties with the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) but India continued to malign JuD for its past association with the banned outfit.

The petitioner said he was twice — in 2009 and 2017 — kept in detention due to India’s pressure. He added that the UNSC passed a resolution against JuD after which the government of Pakistan kept it in the watchlist.

The JuD chief termed it against the sovereignty of Pakistan that an ordinance was issued to ban his organisation.

The petition contends that Pakistan is a sovereign state, but through this ordinance, its sovereignty has been jeopardised.

It claims that the promulgation of the ordinance and addition of Section 11-EE is not only prejudicial to the sovereignty but also contradictory to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan. It adds that any law which is violative of constitutional provisions is liable to be struck down.

The petition suggests that under Article 199 of the Constitution is competent to strike down any legislation which is beyond the scope of constitution or ultra vires.

It requested the court that the vires of ordinance and consequent amendment in section 11 B and 11-EE of ATA may be declared illegal.

Justice Farooq after initial hearing issued notices to respondents and adjourned further hearing till the third week of March.



At least 60 Taliban militants killed in Kandahar airstrike

Mar 09 2018

At least sixty Taliban militants have been killed in the latest airstrike conducted by the US forces in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the latest airstrike was carried out late on Wednesday night in the vicinity of Maiwand district.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Qudrullah Khoshbashkht confirmed that the US forces based in Afghanistan carried out airstrikes in support of the Afghan security forces.

Khoshbakht further added that the airstrikes were carried out in response to a coordinated attack by the Taliban insurgents.

He said at least sixty militants have been killed and twenty others have been wounded during the airstrikes.

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

This comes as the Taliban insurgents have stepped up their insurgency activities in Kandahar province where the security situation had relatively improved during the recent years.

A group of Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated attack on Spin Boldak security compound late on Wednesday night which sparked clashes that lasted for several hours before the assailants were all shot dead.

According to the officials, at least three policemen and four insurgents were killed in the attack.





Yemen: At least 70 Houthis killed in Hajjah

9 March 2018

During the past two days, the Houthi militias suffered heavy losses following battles carried out by Yemen’s army with the support of the Arab coalition forces in south of the Midi Front in the province of Hajjah.

A military source in the fifth zone, reported that at least 70 Houthis were killed and others wounded including Houthi leader Abu al-Leith Al Zakari, during the past two days.

The source pointed out that the coalition aircrafts and the Yemen’s army artillery accurately targeted the trenches and the latest movements of the militias, which caused heavy losses to Houthis’ equipment and fighters.

During the past 48 hours, the coalition has carried out more than nine air raids on the Haradh and Midi fronts in the same province.

Dozens of bodies belonging to the killed and wounded members of the militias arrived at Hajjah hospitals in the district of Abas and Jamhuri Al Madina.

Most of these elements were from the districts of Shehah, Kushar, Al Mahabsha, Abas, Qafl and Shamar.



Erdogan-Affiliated Turkish Newspaper Calls For ‘Army of Islam’ to Defeat Israel Within 10 Days

9 Mar 2018

TEL AVIV – An Istanbul-based newspaper affiliated with Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan recently published an article calling for the formation of an “Army of Islam” to fight Israel.

The main points of the article were borrowed from a Turkey-based defense consulting firm that was accused by Israel last month of aiding terror group Hamas with the creation of a “Palestine Army” with the aim of destroying the Jewish state, Israeli security authorities said.

The article, entitled “What If an Army of Islam Was Formed against Israel?” was published in Turkish daily Yeni Şafak in December ahead of an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul convened in response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The article called on the 57 member states of the OIC to form a joint “Army of Islam” to attack Israel, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which translated the article, said. It noted that such an army will exceed the IDF in terms of manpower, equipment and budget. It also stated that Pakistan, as the only country with nuclear capability, has “a special status” among the OIC countries. An interactive map published on the website also provided information on where the army bases could be and the role they would play in a potential attack on Israel.

“If the OIC member states unite and form a joint military force, it will be the largest army in the world. These countries’ total population is 1,674,526,931. The number of soldiers in active service in these countries is at least 5,206,100. Their [overall] military defense budget of $174,728,420 is also worthy of emphasis,” the article read.

“500 tanks and armored vehicles, 100 war planes, 500 attack helicopters and 50 warships and submarines can be mobilized,” it added.

According to MEMRI, the article sourced a series of essays published on the website of the Turkish SADAT International Defense and Consulting Company, which, in addition to warfare-related consultancy services, provides training and military gear. The essays were authored by SADAT’s director and founder, Erdoğan’s senior advisor on military affairs, retired general Adnan Tanrıverdi.

According to its mission statement, the company seeks “to establish defense collaboration and defense industry cooperation among Islamic countries, to help the Islamic world take its rightful place among the superpowers by providing … strategic consultancy and training services to the militaries and homeland security forces of Islamic countries.”

In February, Israel security sources said that SADAT was involved in aiding Gaza-based terror group Hamas with the purchase of weapons in order to form a “Palestine Army” to fight Israel.

Tanrıverdi’s essays describe Israel as “a dagger in the heart of Islam” and outline his vision of establishing pan-Islamic military bases for the purpose of liberating “Palestine.”

Tanrıverdi also espouses the notion of arming a Palestinian army with tanks and heavy artillery, saying that such a military force, together with a united Army of Islam, can defeat the IDF within 10 days.

Full report at:



Iran strongly condemns attack on its embassy in London

Mar 9, 2018

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has strongly condemned an attack on the Islamic Republic's embassy in London, urging swift action to counter the attackers.

Immediately after receiving news of the assault on Friday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi voiced Tehran's strong protest to Britain's ambassador to Tehran, he added.

Araqchi called on British police to fully protect the Iranian diplomats in London, the spokesperson said.

The British ambassador, for his part, offered the British government's apology for the incident and said anti-riot police is present in the embassy compound and has brought the situation under control, Qassemi added.

He emphasized that all necessary measures have been adopted to protect the Iranian diplomats and prevent the assailants' entry into the embassy building.

A number of attackers scaled the wall of Iran's embassy building in London and took down the Iranian flag, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.

The report added that British police carried out no measure to protect the compound during the attack.

In a post on his official Twitter account on Friday, Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad confirmed the assault.

He said the assailants were carrying knives and sticks and chanted slogans against Iranian officials.

Embassy attackers arrested: Qassemi

Full report at:



Turkish troops will enter Syria’s Afrin ‘at any moment’: President Erdogan

Mar 10, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country’s troops will enter Syria’s northern city of Afrin “at any moment,” less than two months after Ankara launched a full-scale cross-border offensive into the Arab country in a declared bid to eliminate the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militants.

“Now our objective is Afrin... As of now, we have Afrin encircled. We can enter Afrin at any moment, God willing,” the Turkish leader told his ruling Justice and Development Party in the capital Ankara on Friday, a day after Turkish army soldiers took control of the strategic town of Jandairis west of Afrin.

“The operations in Afrin will continue until this swamp of terror is dried,” Erdogan warned.

The Turkish president's comments depict the country's increasing confidence to press its military operation against the Kurdish militants in the Afrin region to a successful conclusion after some 50 days of intense fighting.

Ankara, which has been waging the so-called Operation Olive Branch against the YPG forces in flashpoint region since January 20, has already said the offensive could extend to Manbij and beyond.

The military intervention came after the US said it would set up a 30,000-strong militant border force at Turkish doorstep. Ankara is wary of the presence of Kurdish militants close to its borders in Syria, and has been opposed to Washington's efforts to train and arm them in the Arab country.

Earlier this month, Erdogan accused US President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama of failing to tell the truth over US support for the YPG. The Turkish leader had earlier alleged that the YPG is trying to establish a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border, linking Syria’s northern city of Afrin with a large Kurdish-controlled area to the east.

“The entire [area] is 2,000 square kilometer. We will take the entire area under control in the first phase and send our brothers from Afrin back to their lands,” Erdogan further said, adding that the Turkish troops had already “made safe” an area extending to 815 square kilometers.

The Turkish leader also stated that 3,171 YPG militants had been “neutralized” since the beginning of the operation. Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.

The Syrian government has already condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.

Operation Olive Branch is Turkey's second major military intervention in Syria during the unprecedented foreign-backed militancy that broke out in 2011.

In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral military intervention in northern Syria, code-named Operation Euphrates Shield, sending tanks and warplanes across the border. Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish militia, who were themselves fighting Daesh.

Full report at:



Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian in West Bank

Mar 9, 2018

Israeli soldiers have killed a Palestinian man during clashes in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry says.

The ministry said the victim, identified as Mohammed al-Jabari, 24, was shot during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on Friday. He later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said the man had disabilities, without elaborating.

The Israeli military claimed that the slain man intended to hurl a firebomb at the soldiers.

Rights groups have denounced Tel Aviv’s extrajudicial killings in situations where they say alleged assailants could have been detained in a non-lethal manner. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in similar circumstances.

According to the Palestinian human rights group Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Israel is currently holding the bodies of 19 Palestinians killed in the past two years, along with 260 bodies of those killed since 1967.

The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed a new wave of tension ever since US President Donald Trump announced his decision on December 6 last year to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s "capital" and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

Full report at:



Turkey issues arrest warrants for 243 over affiliation to Gulen network

Mar 9, 2018

Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 243 people, including 92 teachers, on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the failed July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Judicial sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices in the central province of Konya issued warrants for 84 people on Friday, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported.

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in the capital Ankara also ordered another 92 people detained suspected of similar ties.

Separately, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutors Office issued arrest warrants for 57 Gulenist suspects.

The teachers, targeted in an operation in 20 provinces, had worked in schools previously closed for affiliation to Gulen movement.

Earlier, gendarmerie forces had apprehended eight people for alleged links to Gulen in operations across five provinces, while police arrested a school teacher in the northwestern province of Balikesir.

During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Additionally, the Ankara government has outlawed his movement, and has branded it as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders,” he said in a statement.

The 76-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he said is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Full report at:





Attempt by Pakistan to mainstream Hafiz Saeed: India

March 10, 2018

India on Friday slammed Pakistan’s efforts to allow registration of Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed’s political party Milli Muslim League ahead of the elections this year. Addressing reporters here, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Pakistan is under global obligation to initiate action against the terror accused. “Pakistan is mandated under the United Nations’ law to take action against Hafiz Saeed. However, instant developments coming out of Pakistan seem to be an attempt by the establishment to mainstream him and his system as a political party. It is a way of shielding what he used to do earlier,” he said.

“The true face of Hafiz Saeed and Pakistan is for all to see. Not only India, but also the entire international community feels that the action which should be taken against Saeed is not being taken.” India’s response came a day after the Islamabad High Court set aside a decision by the Election Commission of Pakistan to reject the application of  MML for registration as a political party.



Bhim Army Supporters Threaten To Convert To Islam

Mar 10, 2018

MUZAFFARNAGAR: Hundreds of Bhim Army supporters gathered at Muzaffarnagar collectorate on Friday demanding the release of their jailed leader Chandrashekhar Azad.

The agitators said they were not afraid of being arrested and will convert to Islam in case their demand was not met by March 19. On Thursday, scores of Bhim Army members had protested in Haridwar, Shamli and Saharanpur. On Friday morning, over 200 supporters of Bhim Army and Shaheed Udham Singh Sena, a lesser known Dalit outfit, reached Muzaffarnagar collectorate and raised slogans against the government and UP police.



Complaint against Sri Sri for ‘Syria like situation’ remark

Mar 09, 2018

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s statement warning Syria-like situation in India if Ram Mandir is not constructed in Ayodhya has kicked off a row.

Local leaders of the Telangana based All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) not only lodged a police complaint against the Art of Living founder but also warned of agitation against the spiritual guru for his alleged controversial statement.

In the complaint, Lucknow district president of AIMIM Mohd Tauheeed Siddiqui alias Najmi said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar made a statement in the media that the situation in India would become like that in Syria if the Ayodhya issue was not resolved now. He said Muslims were being killed in Syria and the statement suggested that the spiritual leader was hatching a conspiracy to kill Muslims.

Najmi submitted the complaint to additional superintendent of police (ASP), West, Vikas Chandra Tripathi and circle officer of Bazarkhala Anil Kumar Yadav, requesting them to register an FIR against the spiritual leader under appropriate IPC sections.

ASP Tripathi said he had received the complaint and facts were being investigated before registering an FIR in the matter. He said the complainant, however, had not submitted any video clip related to the spiritual leader’s statement.

To note, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is trying to broker an out of court settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi –Babri Masjid issue and talking to all those concerned. Recently, he issued a statement that if Ayodhya issue was not resolved amicably, Syria-like situation could prevail in India also.

It may be pointed out that a civil war is going on in Syria and thousands of people have died till date.

“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s statement is unwarranted. He is not even a party to the ongoing Ram Mandir –Babri Masjid case in the Supreme Court. His statement has vitiated the atmosphere,” said Mohammad Tauheed Siddiqui, district president of AIMIM.

“If such statements are issued, the Ayodhya issue will never be resolved amicably. We are planning a protest demanding action against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,” added Siddiqui.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has already demanded action against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for this remark.

The AIMIM chief has clarified that his party would abide by the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Ayodhya issue.

Full report at:



Islam preaches love and peace, not hatred: Ahle Hadees Hind

March 10, 2018

Members of the Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind, in their national conference, denounced terrorism and asserted that Islam preaches peace and love of mankind.

Islamic scholars from different parts of the country are attending the two-day conference of the outfit at Ramleela Grounds here.

"Islam is a religion of peace.

It is not a religion of hatred and terrorism. It not only propagates the safety of mankind, but also guarantees the safety of all the creatures, a statement from the organisation quoted Mufti of the Holy Mosque of Madina, Sheikh Ibrahim bin Ibrahim Al Turki as saying.

"The greatest challenge of the present time is propagation of world peace and safety of mankind, said Asghar Ali Imam, head of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind.

Full report at:



Islam Is Religion of Love, Madaris Are Centres of Humanity: Ex-CM Babulal Gaur

March 9, 2018

Bhopal: Islam is the religion of love and compassion and “a Madrasa is the centre of humanity and ideal living”. But some people indulge in spreading canard and baseless allegations and blame some communities. These views were expressed by Babulal Gaur, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Gaur was speaking at the annual function of Madrasa Tanweerul Quran, run under Banat Education & Welfare Society, here at Shaheen Colony on Sunday, 25 February, 2018.

At a gathering that comprised mostly of Muslims, the senior BJP leader said, “You are owners of this country”. India is the country of Indians irrespective of the path or religion they follow – whether they believe in the Bible, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Vedas, the Quran or anything else.

Islam is an ideal religion and Madaris prepare ideal persons, he said. Islam is a religion; a religion of the Creator who is Lord of all. It is the religion for all, because a religion is a religion. It has no other identity.

To emphasize the goodness of Islam Mr Gaur cited the famous story of Prophet Muhammad who went to inquire about a woman who used to throw dirt on him when one day he found that the woman did not throw waste on him. On inquiry the Prophet learnt that she had fallen ill. The treatment of the Prophet changed her heart. The message sent across by this gesture was that evil, when returned with goodness, breeds goodness.

In his presidential address Hafiz Peer Siraj Miyan Mujaddidi stressed on the need for imparting education to students keeping in mind the prevailing social conditions. He said that students should be taught with love and affection and beating them must be avoided at any cost.

Speaking earlier Syed Sharafat Ali Nadwi, teacher of Hadith at Darul Uloom Taj-ul-Masajid, Bhopal said that human relations should be respected and that a Muslim’s role in society was to establish peace and justice. He further said, “madrasas are places where human beings are trained in goodness”.

Journalist Manzar Imam said that Madaris are needed to keep updating their syllabus to suit to the demands of changed situations so that their graduates are well equipped to answer questions that are raised from time to time against Islam and also against other religions. He appealed to Muslims and especially to ulama to resolve both inter-religious and intra-religious conflicts because these conflicts were causing great damage to the entire nation and community.

Abdul Hafeez, Nazim, Darul Uloom Zeenatul Quran, Mumammad Yusuf Nadwi and others also spoke on this occasion. Mufti Jawed Anwar Mazahiri, nazim of Madrasa Tanweerul Quran presented a budgetary overview of the madrasa. The programme was coordinated by Mohammad Maqsood Qasmi.

It should be remembered that this programme was organized to felicitate the first batch of Huffaz (plural of Hafiz i.e. someone who memorises the whole Quran by heart) who competed memorization of the Holy Quran at the madrasa. Established on 22 November, 2008, the Madrasa, within a span of 9 years, has achieved remarkable success in terms of enrollment of students as well as quality of education especially for Quranic teaching.

A number of ulama and intellectuals including children and ladies participated in the programme. Zahida Khanam, President of Banat Education & Welfare Society, Samreen Alam, an officer working with Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission, Saba Tasneem (Jharkhand), Nikhat Praween (Purnea), Shaista (Kishanganj) and others were present.

Full report at:



Status of Muslims in Hyderabad city slums deplorable: Council for Social Development

10th March 2018

HYDERABAD: The standard living conditions of Muslims in slums of Hyderabad is worse than other communities, says a new study conducted by Southern Regional Center, Council for Social Development.

The comparative analysis, based on information collected from residents of 2,354 households from 19 slums in the city, found significant gaps in various parameters like literacy levels, age of marriage and pregnancy, job opportunities and housing.

For instance, substantial difference was noticed in the number of Muslims employed in salaried jobs in the public and private sectors vis-a-vis Hindus. The study reports that only 6.1 per cent Muslims surveyed in these slums had salaried jobs compared to 28 per cent Hindus.

Interestingly, the study also noticed that most members of the Muslim community were involved in a few occupations —mostly low-income activities like hawking, domestic labour, rag picking, rickshaw pulling and auto driving.

Muslim respondents also cited a variety of barriers in pursuing livelihood in the formal sector, like suspicion against them by potential employers and accusations of theft. The employment barrier probably stems from their access to education.

According to the report, illiteracy among Muslims in the 6-14 age group was found to be around 22.1 per cent while the same among Hindus was around 9.6 per cent. In the 15-21 age group, illiteracy was around 46 per cent among Muslims and 22 per cent among Hindus.

Interestingly, the community fared better in literacy rate among girls.

In the 6-14 age group, 83 per cent Muslim girls were attending school compared to 76 per cent Hindus.

However, the benefit does not seem to last long as 69.5 pre cent of Muslim women surveyed said that they had only studied up to Class V to X. A meagre 5 per cent had completed their intermediate or PG indicating high dropout rates. The reasons cited by many women for this was poverty, early marriage and family responsibilities. A few of them also said that lack of proper infrastructure like safe roads and transport were reasons.

Early marriage is a serious concern among Muslims as well as Hindus in the slums. The average age of marriage as reported by the surveyed women was shocking, 15.8 years for Muslim women and 15.9 for Hindu women. With early marriage, many women in both communities undergo pregnancy very early.

A whopping 44 percent of Muslim women reported pregnancy before reaching the legal age of marriage—18 years.

The study also found that 43.1 per cent of Muslims from the 19 slums were found to be living in Kuchha houses as against 26.4 per cent Hindus. Muslims also had higher average family size(5) than Hindus(4).

Full report at:



Pakistan raises Kashmir issue at UN for 2nd day, India dubs it a ‘failed state’ where terrorists thrive

Mar 10, 2018

Responding to Islamabad’s bid to raise the Kashmir issue for a second day on Friday at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, India denounced Pakistan as a “failed state” where terrorists thrive and Osama Bin Laden received protection, and demanded that it bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot and Uri attacks to justice.

“Even as terrorists thrive in Pakistan and roam its streets with impunity, we have heard it lecture about the protection of human rights in India,” Mini Devi Kumam, a Second Secretary at the India’s UN Mission in Geneva, said.

“We await credible action by the Government of Pakistan to bring all those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack and the 2016 Pathankot and Uri attacks to justice,” she said.

“The world does not need lessons on democracy and human rights from a country whose own situation is charitably described as a failed state,” she added.

Kumam was responding to Tahir Andrabi, Pakistan’s UN Deputy Permanent Representative in Geneva, who earlier on Friday invoked Jawaharlal Nehru to make his case for a plebiscite in Kashmir.

Andrabi said that at the heart of the Kashmir problem is the right to self-determination which was conceded by “the first Prime Minister of India, one of the founding fathers of India” and by the UN Security Council through a plebiscite.

Kumum said, “Pakistan keeps referring to UN Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. However, it very conveniently forgets its own obligation under these resolutions to first vacate the illegal occupation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. It has also blatantly disregarded its other commitments, be it under the 1972 Simla Agreement or Lahore Declaration of February 1999.”

Instead, “they continue to support cross-border terrorism in India,” she said.

In the Simla Agreement signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then-Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the two countries agreed that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral issue that has to be resolved without third party involvement.

The Lahore Declaration by Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan commits the two nations to avoid a nuclear arms race.

“It is extraordinary that the state which protected Osama Bin Laden and sheltered Mullah Omar should have the gumption to play the victim,” she said.

In “gross violation” of a Council, the UN-designated terrorists like Hafiz Mohammed Saeed are “freely operating with State support, and the UN designated entities are being politically mainstreamed in Pakistan,” she added.

Andrabi also accused India of “crimes against humanity” in Kashmir and of escalating ceasefire violations along the line of control and the border with his country as a diversionary tactic.

On Thursday, he said that the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner “must not falter in documenting human rights abuses by India and recognise that root of the problem is illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.”

But “the real problem in the State of Jammu and Kashmir is terrorism, which has constantly received sustenance from Pakistan and territories under its control,” Kumam said in reply. “We urge the Council to call on Pakistan to end cross border infiltration; to dismantle special terrorist zones, safe havens and sanctuaries.”

“Terrorism is the grossest violation of human rights,” Kumam added.

She listed the various human rights violations against minorities in Pakistan and demanded remedies for them.

Full report at:



Arab World


How a friar saved religious manuscripts from ISIS wrath in Iraq

10 March 2018

As ISIS militants swept across Iraq three years ago, he rescued a treasure trove of ancient religious manuscripts from near-certain destruction. Father Najeeb Michaeel is now training fellow Iraqis to preserve their heritage.

“My duty is to save our heritage, a significant treasure,” the Dominican friar told AFP in a telephone interview from his office in the city of Arbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We can’t save a tree if we don’t save its roots, and a man without culture is a dead man.”

In August 2014, as ISIS charged towards Qaraqosh, once Iraq’s largest Christian city, Father Najeeb filled his car with rare manuscripts, 16th century books and irreplaceable records.

Founded in 1990, the center works in partnership with Benedictine monks to preserve and restore documents. It also scans damaged manuscripts recovered from churches and villages across northern Iraq.

In all, some 8,000 Chaldean, Syrian, Armenian and Nestorian manuscripts have been digitally copied.

Today, the OMDC has about 10 employees, “displaced people who have turned into professionals” who host researchers from France, Italy or Canada, the friar said.

The new recruits are all academics who lost their jobs after fleeing their homes during the ISIS militant takeover.

“They are working for the future and they know it. They put their whole heart into it,” said Father Najeeb, whose team includes Christians and Muslims.

Thousands of religious relics and sites, both Christian and Muslim, were destroyed by ISIS before Iraqi security forces finally declared victory against the extremists in December.

“I’ve trained four or five different teams,” said Father Najeeb, explaining that as Iraqi troops advanced against ISIS, many trainees returned home, forcing him to take on fresh recruits.

The center now makes several copies of each document to guarantee its preservation. Originals are returned to the owners, one copy is kept on file and another posted on its online digital database.

Until 2007, these documents were kept in the convent of Al-Saa church, also known as Our Lady of the Hour, in the city of Mosul, which became the major battleground of Iraq’s war against ISIS.

The archives contain nearly 850 ancient manuscripts in Aramaic, Arabic and other languages, letters dating back three centuries and some 50,000 books.

Al-Saa church takes its name from its clock, which was a gift from France in 1880, given to the Dominicans in recognition of their social and cultural work.

The Dominican order had opened 25 schools across Mosul and its surrounding province, and - on the backs of camels trekking across the desert - brought Iraq its first printing house in 1857.

But attacks against churches in Mosul were on the rise even before ISIS seized control of the city in 2014.

At least five priests and a bishop had been murdered since 2004. “I was on the list of religious figures to kill,” said Father Najeeb. In 2007, he moved the archives to Qaraqosh, some 30 kilometers away.

Thanks to “a premonition” in late July 2014, the Dominicans relocated the archives once again, this time to Iraqi Kurdistan.

When ISIS pushed into the Christian city less than two weeks later, the friars filled their cars with the remaining documents and followed suit.

Cultural treasures

ISIS militants tried to stop them at the Kalak crossroads into Iraqi Kurdistan but Kurdish Peshmerga fighters intervened. The friars were left without a car and forced to continue on foot.

“As soon as I saw anyone with their hands empty, I handed them some of the cultural treasures and asked them to return them once they entered Kurdistan,” said the friar. “I got everything back.”

When he returned to Mosul last year to attend the first post-ISIS Christmas mass, Friar Najeeb found his church in ruins.

The tower that housed the clock had vanished, the convent had been converted into a jail, rooms transformed into workshops for bombs and explosive belts, and gallows had replaced the church altar.

But Father Najeeb, who plays organ and electric guitar, remains hopeful. “I’m optimistic. The last word will be one of peace, not the sword,” he said.



Saudi Crown Prince, Archbishop view fragments of one of oldest Qur’an manuscripts

9 March 2018

LONDON: Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Archbishop of Canterbury viewed fragments of a Qur’an manuscript found in a Birmingham University library in 2015 on Thursday, the second full day of his landmark visit to the UK.

The Qur’an manuscript, thought to be among the world’s oldest, dates back to the seventh century.

Consisting of two parchment leaves, the Qur’an manuscript is part of the University’s Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts which is held in the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham.

Funded by Quaker philanthropist Edward Cadbury, the collection was acquired to raise the status of Birmingham as an intellectual centre for religious studies and attract prominent theological scholars.

The manuscript contains parts of chapters 18 to 20 of the Qur’an known as Surah Al-Kahf, Surah Maryam and Surah Taha, written with ink in Hijazi, an early form of Arabic script.

The manuscript was found by an academic and had been misbound with leaves of a more recent Qur’an manuscript. It remained undiscovered in the library for almost a century.

According to BBC News, radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

The tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Quran.

According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Qur’an between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death. At the time, the divine message was not compiled into the book form in which it appears today. Instead, early Muslims memorized the revelations and parts of it had also been written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and animal bones.

The final written form of the Qur’an was completed and fixed under the direction of the third Caliph Uthman, in about 650.

Full report at:



Jihadists to be evacuated from Syria’s Ghouta: rebel group

March 10, 2018

Beirut, Mar 9 (AFP) A first group of jihadists is to be evacuated from the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the target of a devastating regime assault, a powerful Islamist rebel group announced today.

he fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group made up mostly of Al-Qaeda’s ex-affiliate Al-Nusra Front, is to be evacuated to the northern province of Idlib, Jaish al-Islam said in a statement.

It said the initiative was “based on consultations between Jaish al-Islam and the United Nations, and a number of international actors…

“It has been agreed that the first group of HTS members be released from the prisons of Jaish al-Islam … It has been agreed that they be moved to Idlib at their request,” Jaish al-Islam said.

Despite two weeks of air strikes and artillery bombardment that have killed almost 950 civilians, the main rebel groups have so far rejected Russian-brokered offers to evacuate civilians or any of their own fighters.

The main groups had said on February 27 they would be willing to expel jihadist fighters from the enclave as soon as a UN ceasefire took effect.

Full report at:



Iraqis trained to preserve ‘treasures’ rescued from IS

March 10, 2018

Sammy Ketz - As militants swept across Iraq three years ago, he rescued a treasure trove of ancient religious manuscripts from near-certain destruction. Father Najeeb Michaeel is now training fellow Iraqis to preserve their heritage.

“My duty is to save our heritage, a significant treasure,” the Dominican friar told AFP in a telephone interview from his office in the city of Arbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. “We can’t save a tree if we don’t save its roots, and a man without culture is a dead man.”

In August 2014, as the Islamic State (IS) group charged towards Qaraqosh, once Iraq’s largest Christian city, Father Najeeb filled his car with rare manuscripts, 16th century books and irreplaceable records.

He fled towards the relative safety of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. With two other friars from his Dominican order, he also moved the Oriental Manuscript Digitisation Centre (OMDC).

Founded in 1990, the centre works in partnership with Benedictine monks to preserve and restore documents. It also scans damaged manuscripts recovered from churches and villages across northern Iraq.

In all, some 8,000 Chaldean, Syrian, Armenian and Nestorian manuscripts have been digitally copied.

Today, the OMDC has about 10 employees, “displaced people who have turned into professionals” who host researchers from France, Italy or Canada, the friar said.

‘Whole heart into it’

The new recruits are all academics who lost their jobs after fleeing their homes during the militant takeover. “They are working for the future and they know it. They put their whole heart into it,” said Father Najeeb, whose team includes Christians and Muslims.

Thousands of religious relics and sites, both Christian and Muslim, were destroyed by IS before Iraqi security forces finally declared victory against the extremists in December.

“I’ve trained four or five different teams,” said Father Najeeb, explaining that as Iraqi troops advanced against IS, many trainees returned home, forcing him to take on fresh recruits.

The centre now makes several copies of each document to guarantee its preservation. Originals are returned to the owners, one copy is kept on file and another posted on its online digital database.

Until 2007, these documents were kept in the convent of Al-Saa church, also known as Our Lady of the Hour, in the city of Mosul, which became the major battleground of Iraq’s war against IS.

The archives contain nearly 850 ancient manuscripts in Aramaic, Arabic and other languages, letters dating back three centuries and some 50,000 books.

Al-Saa church takes its name from its clock, which was a gift from France in 1880, given to the Dominicans in recognition of their social and cultural work.

The Dominican order had opened 25 schools across Mosul and its surrounding province, and - on the backs of camels trekking across the desert - brought Iraq its first printing house in 1857.

‘Peace, not the sword’

But attacks against churches in Mosul were on the rise even before IS seized control of the city in 2014. At least five priests and a bishop had been murdered since 2004. “I was on the list of religious figures to kill,” said Father Najeeb.

In 2007, he moved the archives to Qaraqosh, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.

Thanks to “a premonition” in late July 2014, the Dominicans relocated the archives once again, this time to Iraqi Kurdistan.

When IS pushed into the Christian city less than two weeks later, the friars filled their cars with the remaining documents and followed suit.

Militants tried to stop them at the Kalak crossroads into Iraqi Kurdistan but Kurdish peshmerga fighters intervened. The friars were left without a car and forced to continue on foot.

“As soon as I saw anyone with their hands empty, I handed them some of the cultural treasures and asked them to return them once they entered Kurdistan,” said the friar. “I got everything back.”

When he returned to Mosul last year to attend the first post-IS Christmas mass, Friar Najeeb found his church in ruins.

The tower that housed the clock had vanished, the convent had been converted into a jail, rooms transformed into workshops for bombs and explosive belts, and gallows had replaced the church altar.

Full report at:



Syria: Terrorists Open Fire at 300 Families Fleeing Eastern Ghouta

Mar 09, 2018

Brigadier General Vladimir Zolotokhin, a spokesman for the Russian center, said that terrorists targeted a convoy of civilians, including 300 families, only 1 km South of the humanitarian corridor in the village of al-Maliha in Eastern Ghouta, setting fire at three vehicles.

Zolotokhin further said that terrorists hit the families with numerous mortar rounds in the presence of journalists, inflicting large casualties on them.

Head of the Russian Centers Major General Yuri Yevtushenko said a number of civilians were killed or wounded in Faylaq al-Rahman's attack in the village of al-Maliheh.

He further said that the terrorists intensified their attacks on al-Wafedeen camp humanitarian corridor during the hours of the daily ceasefire to punish the fleeing civilians and block their exit path. 

In a relevant development on Thursday a large number of terrorists left their positions in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and fled to safer areas after the Syrian army intensified military operations in the region.

The Syrian army could regain control of al-Ash'ari farms West of the town of Hawsh al-Ash'ari while field reports said that the town would be liberated soon.

Also, local sources from inside the town reported that the terrorists lost their morale and fled towards the town of Aftaris.

The terrorists first attacked the army positions in al-Mohammadiyeh and Hawsh al-Asha'ari farms but army soldiers warded off their offensive and forced them to flee.

The army units then continued the operations in Eastern Ghouta, regaining control of a number of farms South-East of the town of al-Reihan and East of Hawsh al-Ash'ari region.

Meantime, the Syrian army forces could win back control of a large part of the strategic town of al-Reihan, further advancing in other areas after driving the terrorists out.

They also advanced in a limited area near the town of Mesraba, inching closer to the town of Douma.

A military source who called for anonymity said that the army troops stationed in Mesraba farms could take back control of al-Masjed al-Ahmar region after clashes with the terrorists.

Full report at:



Syria: Army Captures More Regions in Eastern Damascus

Mar 09, 2018

The army men stormed terrorists' positions last night and managed to impose control over al-Aftaris air defense battalion base Southeast of al-Aftarin settlement.

Also, the army men deployed in al-Mohammadiyeh settlement managed to advance one kilometer toward Jesrin settlement and captured the nearby farms.

The army soldiers tightened the noose of the terrorists in al-Aftarin and inched closer to anther key settlement, namely Hamouriyeh.

A military source reported that the army units reinvigorated security to the strategic al-Mohammadiyeh that was the scene of terrorists' heavy attacks after the government forces' control over Hawsh al-Ash'ari and Hawsh Qabibat.   

Hundreds of forces called "ISIL Hunters", trained by Russia, were sent on Thursday to Eastern Ghouta of Damascus to continue military operation in the region along with the Syrian army.

At least 700 Special Forces were sent to the frontlines of clashes against the ISIL in Eastern Ghouta. Damascus has also dispatched new military equipment to be used in military operations in the region.

The ISIL Hunters, trained by Russia, had earlier participated in operations against the terrorists in Palmyra and Deir Ezzur and helped the army in the liberation of many regions.

A military source said that the Syrian army was attempting to split Ghouta into two parts in coming days.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Sets up New Humanitarian Corridor in Eastern Ghouta

Mar 09, 2018

The Syrian Army, with help from locals, established a humanitarian corridor along the Jisreen-Maliha Road in the Southern direction of Eastern Ghouta.

The terrorists have been blocking the exit path of the civilians to use them as human shield in Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian Army and Russia have announced that the militants and their family members can leave Eastern Ghouta carrying their personal weapons for other militant-held regions. 

A large number of people residing in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus poured into the streets on Thursday, calling for the withdrawal of terrorists and deployment of government forces.

The residents of al-Hamouriyah neighborhood carried the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic in the streets of the town, while chanting in support of the government and army.

The residents of al-Hamouriyah also called on the militants inside the town to leave in order to avoid any clashes in this part of Eastern Ghouta.

Meantime, efforts by the Damascus government to negotiate with the terrorists to leave Eastern Ghouta have failed for the latter's defiance to hold talks. Damascus has even specified a safe corridor for the terrorists to leave Eastern Ghouta but none of them has accepted to retreat.

Full report at:



Terror backers use chemical attack claims to block Syria army gains: Ja’afari

Mar 10, 2018

Damascus says the accusations leveled by the US and its allies against the Syrian government regarding the use of chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta region are meant to protect the terrorist groups and block the army’s advance against foreign-backed militants.

In an interview with Russia's Sputnik news agency released on Friday, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja’afari said the parties supporting terrorism in Syria have “consistently” used the “false” allegations of chemical weapons use as a pretext to increase political pressure on the Syrian government.

In over 140 letters addressed to the UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Damascus has documented information on the possession of chemical materials by the countries that support terrorists, but the data was deliberately ignored, he pointed out.

Recently, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is sympathetic to the anti-Damsacus militants, claimed a suspected chlorine attack had taken place in the militant-held al-Shifuniyah village of Eastern Ghouta on February 25.

Prior to the report, the Russian Defense Ministry had warned that militant groups in Eastern Ghouta were preparing a false flag attack in a bid to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against civilians.

Russia rejected the allegations against the Syrian government as “unfounded,” stressing that only an international body can rule on the issue based on an “impartial” probe.

On March 5, The Washington Post quoted US officials as saying that the government was considering new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of suspected chemical weapons use.

Britain and France have also said they would attack Syria if such claims are proven.

This is while Syria turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013.

Elsewhere in his interview, Ja’aafari accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as a number of Persian Gulf regimes of having worked to finance terrorist organizations in Syria and fuel the crisis in the Arab country.

He also said that the Turkish government has facilitated the entry of tens of thousands of terrorists via its border to Syria and armed and financed them.

Turkey also set up training camps on its territory for terrorists and facilitated their access to toxic chemicals, he added.

Referring to Turkey’s military campaign on the Syrian district of Afrin, Ja’afari said, “Syria will not hesitate in defending every inch of its territory, whether against armed terrorist groups or the invading Turkish, US or Israeli forces.”

Full report at:



First group of militants leaves Eastern Ghouta near Syrian capital Damascus

Mar 10, 2018

The first batch of foreign-backed militants, along with their families, has left Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, a day after the Syrian government opened a second safe corridor out of the militant-held enclave near the capital Damascus.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported late on Friday that 13 militants and their family members had left the flashpoint Eastern Ghouta by a bus through the al-Wafideen Camp safe corridor on the outskirts of the capital a few hours earlier.

The Nusra Front militants, who had been in prisons run by the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri outfit, a rival terror group, will finally be relocated to Idlib province in northeastern Syria.

The report added that the terror groups in Eastern Ghouta were still trying to prevent civilians from leaving the enclave as they constantly target the safe passages of al-Wafideen and Jisreen “with shells and explosive bullets.”  

In a statement on Twitter on Friday, the Jaish al-Islam Takfiri outfit, one of the main terror factions in Eastern Ghouta, said the decision to release some Nusra Front inmates had been made in consultation with the UN, a number of international parties and civil society representatives from the enclave.

Last week, army troops secured a safe corridor set up for the evacuation of civilians via the al-Wafideen checkpoint, through which a UN aid convoy, consisting 46 truckloads of health, food and nutrition supplies, crossed into Eastern Ghouta and headed for the main town of Douma.

Despite two weeks of intense fighting with the government troops, the main militant groups active in the enclave have so far rejected Russian-brokered offers to evacuate desperate civilians. Russia has designated four safe passage routes in Eastern Ghouta after a ceasefire was declared across Syria by the UN Security Council.

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus with some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, as Takfiri terrorist outfits have launched mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat, killing around 20 civilians in two weeks.

The Syrian army is making steady advances in the enclave, but it is facing a hostile West, which is threatening airstrikes to stop the push. President Bashar al-Assad vowed last week that Syrian forces would continue the campaign until the whole area is retaken.

On Thursday, a pro-Damascus commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that army troops were poised to slice the militant-held shrinking enclave in two as forces advancing from the east linked up with soldiers at its western edge.

Furthermore, Syria’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Hussam Aala, told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday that military operations in Eastern Ghouta targeted “terrorist organizations in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

He added that the terrorists “continue to indiscriminately shell” the capital.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia, UK agree to finalize warplane deal despite protests

Mar 9, 2018

Saudi Arabia and Britain have decided to finalize a multi-billion-dollar deal for the sale of 48 Typhoon aircraft to Riyadh, despite massive protests against London's arms supply to the Arab kingdom during its deadly war against Yemen.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Friday, military equipment maker BAE Systems said it signed the preliminary order from Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, without providing any financial details.

"The UK government has signed a Memorandum of Intent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aim to finalize discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon Aircraft," the statement said.

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson hailed the development, saying, “The Crown Prince’s visit has opened a new chapter in our two countries' historic relationship."

"We have taken a vital step towards finalizing another order for Typhoon jets that will increase security in the Middle East and boost British industry and jobs in our unrivalled aerospace sector,” he said.

The deal for the sale of Typhoon warplanes has been under discussion for years, but the two sides could not reach any agreement as they disagreed over the place of production of the jets, with Saudi Arabia urging to have some parts of the process on Saudi soil.

Adding fuel to humanitarian fire

Amnesty International UK’s Director Kate Allen slammed the agreement, saying, “Selling more fighter planes to a country leading a military coalition that is already laying waste to homes, hospitals and schools in Yemen, is just adding fuel to a humanitarian fire."

“If agreed, this shameful deal will be celebrated in the palaces of Riyadh and by the arms companies who will profit from it, but it will mean even greater destruction for the people of Yemen," said Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Britain and Saudi Arabia have agreed to raise their bilateral trade and investment to $65 billion for the coming years, but the bulk of their business ties focuses on defense and security.

Britain credits Saudi intelligence sharing with saving British lives and has licensed billions of pounds of weapons and ammunition sales to Saudi Arabia.

In a fiery exchange with opposition lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May defended the country's military links to Saudi Arabia, saying Saudi intelligence sharing has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of British lives.

Although May noted that she would raise humanitarian concerns about Yemen in his meeting with bin Salman, she stressed that all arms sales to Saudi Arabia were strictly regulated.

She underlined her government’s support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, noting that the campaign has been supported by the UN Security Council.

Bin Salman arrived in London late Tuesday amid massive outcry and protests against Riyadh’s human rights violations and its deadly war on Yemen.

While the British government was trying to welcome the Saudi crown prince with an unusual advertising blitz, anti-war activists and human rights campaigners were touring London with buses and vans for days, carrying banners accusing bin Salman of war crimes. On Wednesday, hundreds turned out in London to protest arms sales and Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen war.

Bin Salman's itinerary merely included private meetings with bankers, executives and lawmakers, and he did not speak publicly at any point during the visit.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 to reinstall its former Riyadh-allied government. The military aggression has so far killed over 13,600 Yemenis.

The war is being led by bin Salman, also Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, with the help of the US and the UK.

May’s government has remained defiant in the face of growing pressure to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, defending the sales amid evidence of war crimes and civilian deaths in Yemen.

The British prime minister was expected to address the humanitarian issues of the Yemen war with the Saudi crown prince at a private dinner inside her country residence on Thursday. After the meeting, however, May awarded bin Salman a family tree showing the descent of the Al Saud dynasty created by Queen Victoria's consul general in Jeddah in 1880.

The UK has increased its weapons sales by around 500 percent since the onset of the Saudi invasion, according to a report by The Independent. The UK has, so far, sold more than six billion pounds of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:



Senior Daesh figures still hiding in Mosul tunnels, Iraqi officials

Mar 9, 2018

Iraqi security officials have warned that the high-ranking members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups are still hiding in tunnels dug beneath the country’s strategic northern city of Mosul roughly a year after government troopers and allied fighters retook the area from the extremists.

Hossam al-Abbar, a member of the Nineveh Province Council, said in a statement on Friday that senior Daesh members are still hiding in underground tunnels in the western flank of the city, located some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, stressing that the tunnels are difficult to detect due to the tough geography of the area.

Abbar further noted that the banks of Tigris River have turned into a hideout for Daesh militants, who have taken refuge in tunnels that go through nearby jungles.

On December 9, 2017, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against the Daesh terrorist group in the Arab country.

On July 10, Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Full report at:





Al Shabaab runs rings around special anti-terror unit

March 10, 2018

Terrorists seem to be making mincemeat of an elite police unit deployed along the porous Kenya-Somalia border.

The highly trained Special Warfare Force was supposed to counter terrorism in parts of northern Kenya and come to the rescue of other security agencies operating along the volatile borderline.

Officers attached to the elite unit were picked from Administration Police (AP). They underwent specialised training, including attending intelligence and military classes before deployment two years ago.

Though fellow officers claim the anti-terror force has been instrumental in suppressing Al Shabaab insurgence, the latest attacks at Fino Police Station and AP camp in Mandera County raise questions of preparedness of the Special Warfare Force. Systematic Al Shabaab attacks along the border remain frequent.

“Many Kenyans don’t know that the special force has been behind many foiled Al Shabaab attacks, like what happened in January following the raid at a KDF camp in Kolbiyow. Our officers responded and rescued some of the soldiers under intense attack,” said an officer privy to the operations.

The officer said the elite force was kilometres away when Al Shabaab carried the Fino raid, killing five officers and injuring 12 others. The militants stole a cache of firearms and bullets from the armoury.

“The special force could not be reached immediately since the militia first destroyed a communication mast in the area. By the time the distress call reached them, the militants had long fled,” explained the officer.

A senior cop who did not wish to be identified said the Special Warfare Force is stationed far from Fino. “They are based in Kutolo, Hulugho and Nyangiro. But they are trying their best despite prevailing obstacles,” stated the officer.



Ethiopian-Israelis decry family separation as discriminatory

10 March 2018

JERUSALEM: Zemenech Bililin has not seen her sisters in more than a decade, since she immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with part of her family. Now a 19-year-old infantry soldier in Israel’s military, Bililin says she is outraged that she is fulfilling her duties as a citizen but the state is shirking its responsibility to bring her relatives to Israel.

Bililin’s family is one of hundreds that have been split between Israel and Ethiopia over what they say is an inconsistent immigration policy, and whose fate hinges on an Israeli government decision over whether to allow for their reunification. Ethiopians in Israel say the bitter public feud to unite with long-lost relatives has exacerbated a feeling that the state discriminates against its Ethiopian minority.

“It’s shocking in my opinion. They only do this to us, to our ethnicity,” said Bililin. “The state should take responsibility and stop abandoning the Jews.”

The issue faces a critical juncture next week, when the government is tentatively scheduled to decide whether to allocate funding to bring as many as 8,000 Ethiopians to Israel to reunite with their families.

Israel clandestinely airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews from the country in the 1980s and 90s, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring the ancient community to the Jewish state and help them integrate. About 140,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel today, a small minority in a country of over 8 million. But their assimilation hasn’t been smooth, with many arriving without a modern education and then falling into unemployment and poverty.

As far as Israel is concerned, the drive to bring over Ethiopia’s Jewish community officially ended in the 90s, but amid pressure from lawmakers and family members, successive Israeli governments have opened the door to immigration by a community of descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity under duress about a century ago.

Although many of them are practicing Jews, Israel doesn’t consider them Jewish, meaning they are not automatically eligible to immigrate under its “law of return,” which grants automatic citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent. Instead, the government must OK their arrival.

Community members have been permitted to immigrate over the last two decades in limited bursts that have left hundreds of families torn apart.

Nearly 8,000 people in Ethiopia are hoping to immigrate, among them Bililin’s sisters, who as married women applied to immigrate separately.

In 2015, Israel agreed in principle to bring over the remaining Ethiopians who have Israeli relatives, vowing that it would be the last round of Ethiopian immigration and clearing the way for the arrival of 1,300 people last year.

Israel says it has continued to greenlight the community’s immigration on humanitarian grounds but it also has set a slew of requirements on those waiting in Ethiopia, in part to prevent what could be an endless loop of immigration claims.

Avraham Neguise, an Ethiopian-Israeli lawmaker in the ruling Likud party who chairs the Israeli parliament’s Absorption and Diaspora Committee, accused the government of dragging its feet and in turn damaging the Ethiopian community’s already brittle relationship with the state.

“The government is pursuing a discriminatory policy by not having the remaining Ethiopian Jews immigrate,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it harms the community’s trust.”

While Ethiopians have made strides in certain fields and have reached the halls of Israel’s parliament, many complain of racism, lack of opportunity, endemic poverty and routine police harassment.

Those frustrations boiled over into violent protests three years ago after footage emerged of an Ethiopian-Israeli in an army uniform being beaten by police. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews and their supporters blocked main highways and clashed with police in a bid to draw attention to their plight, including what they say is unchecked police brutality against their community members.

Activists have been lobbying the government to approve the immigration, penning letters to Israeli officials and sharing their poignant stories of separation in parliamentary committees. They see the issue as an easily solvable one that has needlessly shattered families and marooned people in a troubled country.

“Daughters are getting married in Israel without their mothers at their side. Sons are going to war and not returning without having their fathers there to bury them. We’re talking about human lives here,” said Alisa Bodner, a spokeswoman for Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah, an activist group.

The community expected to see funding for immigration in the proposed budget, which is expected to come up for a vote as early as next week. But they were stunned when it was absent from preliminary versions of the budget.

The anticipated estimated cost of flying all 8,000 people to Israel along with housing and social services is roughly 1.4 billion shekels, or about $400 million, a sizeable figure but a tiny fraction of a nearly 500 billion shekel ($143 billion) national budget, according to an official from the finance ministry. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss a budget that has not yet been passed.

Neguise and the activists are engaged in a last-minute push to have the families’ plight included in the upcoming budget and to do so the Israeli government must vote on the issue, which could happen on Sunday. However, it is unclear whether the government would agree to bring all of the Ethiopians to Israel, or just limited numbers as in the past.

Regardless of the outcome, hundreds of people are expected to protest outside parliament the following day demanding action.

Israel’s Finance Ministry said it was up to the government to decide on the issue. There was no immediate comment from Israel’s prime minister’s office.

Full report at:



US sanctions two al-Shabaab militants as global terrorists


WASHINGTON, March 9 (KUNA) -- The United States late Thursday issued sanctions against two high-level al-Shabaab militants linked to attacks in Kenya and Somalia.

In a statement released by the State Department, Ahmad Iman Ali and Abdifatah Abubakar Abdi were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) for their involvement in terrorist attacks in Somalia and Kenya. The move blocks all property and interests in property within the US and prohibits transactions with them.

According to the State Department, Ali is a prominent al-Shabaab commander who has directed of the group's Kenyan operations, which has targeted Kenyan African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Somalia. He is also responsible for al-Shabaab propaganda targeting the Kenyan government and civilians.

Full report at:



Retrieve arms from Boko Haram, herdsmen, vigilance groups tell IGP

March 10, 2018

Vigilance groups in Rivers State have called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to retrieve all arms used by Boko Haram members and herdsmen to terrorise and kill innocent Nigerians.

The vigilance groups were reacting to an order from the State Police Command that they (vigilance groups) should surrender all the weapons in their possession within 21 days or risk arrest and prosecution.

But the vigilance groups maintained that rather than ask them to surrender their arms, the police IGP should work towards retrieving arms from Boko Haram members and herdsmen.

Speaking on behalf of the vigilance groups, the leader of Diobu Vigilante Group, Mr. Victor Ohaji, stated that some communities facing cult-related issues would be adversely affected due to the IGP’s directive.

Describing the directive as anti-security, Ohaji pointed out that the vigilance groups were assisting the police and other security agencies to fight insecurity within the communities.

“It is not good for the vigilance groups to submit arms when we know that criminals in the state are armed with sophisticated weapons. It will affect security because we cannot go after criminal who have guns with sticks.

“They that are giving this order have guns and security. It (surrendering of guns) will affect common people who do not have money to provide security for themselves. They should also retrieve arms from herdsmen, Boko Haram and other criminal elements for us to have a crime-free nation.”

State Police Command had earlier in a statement ordered that vigilance groups in the state should submit their weapons within 21 days.

The statement signed by the State PPRO, Nnamdi Omoni, read, “Any person or group of persons bearing prohibited firearm or any locally fabricated firearm, pump action, double/single-barrelled guns or any modified weapon fashioned to kill or cause harm, panic or breach of the peace or threat to law and order in the state, should as a matter of urgency surrender same to the Task Force set up by the Commissioner of Police within the next 21days, which started running from 22nd February, 2018.

“Members of the public, individuals or groups such as vigilantes, neighbourhood watch group, watch night men, hunters or any group or association under any capacity or guise other than statutory security agencies recognised and gazetted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to bear firearms of specified category, who are currently possessing and having prohibited/illegal firearm such as pump action and the likes for whatever purpose, are hereby warned to surrender same to the Task Force before the expiration of the 21 days notice.

“This operation among others is aimed at the full enforcement of the Firearms Act, mopping up and recovery of all prohibited firearms and illegally acquired weapons and to enable the Police to deal decisively with herders and farmers clashes, kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, militancy and terrorism.

Full report at:





Pakistani minister thanks KSA for support of global Islamic issues

9 March 2018

JEDDAH: Pakistan Transport Minister Dr. Abdulkarim Bakhsh thanked the Kingdom’s leadership for its interest in Muslim affairs and services to Islamic issues at the opening of the 24th session of the International Conference of the Central People of Hadith Association at Lahore.

The minister expressed gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support.

“We thank the leadership of the Kingdom and its people for their absolute support for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, its solidarity with Pakistan in pursuit of a just resolution for the Kashmiri conflict ... in addition to the Kingdom’s generous humanitarian initiative after the devastating earthquake which hit Pakistan in 2005.”

He said the association valued Saudi Arabia’s role in expanding the Two Holy Mosques and other Hajj ritual sites facilities in the service of the pilgrims visiting the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

The minister said that the mission of the conference was to call Muslims to unite to reject extremism and violence, and convey the truthful face of Islam by highlighting the generosity and tolerance in the teachings of the Islamic faith.

He said that the association denounced the rocket attacks and hostile campaigns to which some regions of the Kingdom were subjected by Houthi militias, who did not respect international humanitarian norms.

The conference’s inaugural session was attended by Dr. Saleh Al-Taleb, imam of the Grand Mosque, Nawaf Al-Maliki, ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, as well as scholars, muftis and mosque preachers.



Lack of knowledge tarnishing Islam’s image: IIU

March 10, 2018

Islamabad: Lack of awareness of its true teachings is giving Islam a bad image, said International Islamic University president Prof. Dr. Ahmed Yousif Al Draiweesh on Friday.

"Islam has given respect and due rights to women in Islam and it gives them an important place to contribute in society," he told a workshop on 'Muslim women as agent of change' on the university's main campus here.

The workshop was organised by the IIU in collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to commemorate the International Women Day being observed around the globe. The IIU president said the women had the responsibility of helping counter terrorism and disseminate the message of peace. He said the role of women in nation building was pivotal and that the progress of nations depended on the progress of women.

"Islam has given respect and due rights to women. It gives them an important place to contribute in society," he said. He said family was a small unit of society, where a women played its role as daughter as mother and as wife.

"Her (women's) role in every shape is vital for building character of generations," he said regretting the unawareness of the true teachings of Islamic values is portraying the bad image of Islam.

IIU Director (Women Campus) Dr. Farkhanda Zia highlighted the varsity’s initiative of ‘Dukhtaran-e-Pakistan’ and said it discussed the role of women in bringing up their children and inculcate in their thinking an inclusive society who fought extremism collectively.

She urged women to teach their children on how to work together, live peacefully and shun extremism. Zubaida Khatoon, Head of Department, Shariah and Law, Lecturer IIU, Law department, Ghazala Ghalib and Dr. Khakashan Arooj also spoke on the occasion.

During the inauguration session, IIU reactor Prof Dr. Masoom Yasinzai asked teachers, staff members, and students to believe in themselves and utilise their power to bring change in the thinking of the youths.

Full report at:



Four suspected terrorists killed in Pasni search operation

March 10, 2018

GWADAR: Four suspected terrorists including an alleged commander of a banned organisation were killed during a search operation in Pasni on Friday night, security officials stated.

According to the officials, the militants opened fire on security personnel during the operation. As a result of the exchange of fire, four militants were killed.

“An important commander of the militant organisation was among the killed,” security officials said.

After receiving a tip-off regarding presence of militants in the area, security officials launched the operation in Kour and Paidarak areas of Kech district.

Full report at:



Pakistan fought ‘made in America jihad’, Asif tells NA

March 10, 2018


Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday that the United States wants to make Pakistan its proxy state, adding that Pakistan will never become a proxy of the US.

Addressing the National Assembly, he said, “The enemy has crossed the ocean and is fomenting conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and other states while leaders of the Muslim World facilitate the enemy,” said Asif.

“Pakistan is being targeted specifically since it enjoys a leadership status in the Muslim World,” he explained further. Talking about the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan, Asif said the terrorist outfit has not been wiped out but has only changed its address.

Despite the presence of the US with all its military might in Afghanistan, the production of heroin has increased from 200 tonnes to 9,000 tonnes, he complained.

“Unfortunately, Muslim countries are not united on even a single issue, nor are they ready to talk to each other,” he complained, adding that the Muslim Ummah does not seem to need an external enemy.

“The Ummah seeks our help during their time of hardship, so we [Pakistan] have become a target of anger [of some international powers],” he claimed.

The foreign minister said Pakistan did not take part in the Yemen war, adding that it wants Iran and Saudi Arabia to end their differences. “We will not protect any other power but safeguard our own interests,” he asserted.

With regard to the US-led war on terror, he claimed that Pakistan’s leaders sold off the country to safeguard their positions. “We fought a ‘made in America’ jihad and created jihadis, and added the whole world knows who is behind Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” said the minister. Asif also wished to see a peaceful Afghanistan.

Khawaja Asif alleged that the leaders signed agreement and sold the country for their own interests. He said that the ‘super power’ is in Afghanistan but “The Taliban are operating in 43 per cent of Afghanistan, and yet they blame us for facilitating the Haqqani Network.”

The Minister said that the situation on the Line of Control and Working Boundary has been rapidly deteriorating since 2017. He said heavy weapons, including mortars are frequently used by the Indian forces, on the civilian population on the Pakistani side of the LOC and the Working Boundary.

Asif continued since the beginning of this year, the Indian occupation forces carried out more than 400 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the martyrdom of 18 innocent Pakistani civilians. He said this escalation at the LoC and Working Boundary is an attempt to divert the attention of the international community from Indian atrocities in IOK.

Replying to a question, the minister said that the government will increase the number of community welfare officers in those foreign countries, where overseas Pakistanis were living in a large number to resolve their issues timely there. With the increase of these community welfare officers, the issues of overseas Pakistanis could be addressed in a better way, he added. He said that the government will make efforts for detained Pakistanis in Saudi Arab and Spain, continuing that the total number of Pakistanis imprisoned in the jails of Spain was 177 at present with the most common charges were drug trafficking, financial fraud, robbery or theft.

Full report at:



Musharraf may return to Pakistan if security is provided, says aide

9 March 2018

ISLAMABAD: Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former president and army chief, may return to Pakistan before March 21 to appear before a special court hearing the treason case against him, according to the leader of his party.

Dr. Mohammed Amjad, president of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, told Arab News on Friday that Musharraf’s return depends on whether they get government assurance of his security and there are no restrictions on foreign travel.

“Everybody knows that in Pakistan Musharraf faces a lot of security threats, from religious fanatics to militants, so we don’t want to compromise on his security,” Amjad added, but declined to elaborate on security threats from any specific outfit.

“All the cases against Musharraf are fabricated and politically motivated,” he said. “Musharraf has no hesitation in appearing before the courts, and we hope to get justice in all the cases.”

On prosecution lawyer Akram Shaikh’s request, a three-member bench of the special court headed by Justice Yahya Afridi on Thursday directed the government to initiate necessary measures to arrest and extradite Musharraf.

It also directed the government to confiscate all properties of the former president for not appearing before the court.

When Musharraf’s counsel Akhtar Shah raised the issue of his client’s security in Pakistan, Ministry of Interior officials assured the court on Thursday that Musharraf will be accorded foolproof security in the country.

Next hearing of the treason case against Musharraf is on March 21.

In March 2014, the former army chief was indicted in the case of imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007, though he had rejected the charges against him.

Musharraf went to Dubai in March 2014 for medical treatment after the federal government allowed him to travel abroad. A few months later, he was declared him an absconder by a court for failing to appear at a hearing.

The Ministry of Interior is now considering preparing a strong charge-sheet against Musharraf, before formally requesting Interpol for red warrant of the former president.

A Ministry of Interior official told Arab News: “We are consulting legal experts to implement the court orders for arrest and extradition of Pervez Musharraf.”

“We don’t want to get embarrassed, so we are trying to prepare a comprehensive charge-sheet against him for Interpol. The whole process can take two to three more days,” he added.

In August 2012, Interpol rejected Pakistan’s request to issue a red warrant against Musharraf in Benazir Bhutto assassination case citing insufficient evidence and documentation.

The Ministry of Interior has to prepare a case, then forward it to the Interpol section of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The FIA’s Interpol section then sends the information on to Interpol requesting the issuance of the red warrant.

“We have not received any written application so far for arrest warrants for Musharraf,” Shahid, a director at the FIA’s Interpol department, told Arab News.

Tahir Malik, a political analyst, told Arab News that Musharraf is using his personal security as a pretext not to return to Pakistan. “Being an ex-army chief and former president, he will automatically get foolproof security in Pakistan not only by the civilian government but also by his own institution,” he said.

Full report at:



South Asia


Muslims pray under military protection in Sri Lanka after riots

March 09, 2018

COLOMBO: Soldiers and police guarded mosques across Sri Lanka during Friday prayers amid fears of new anti-Muslim attacks after four days of riots that have left at least three dead.

Most Muslim-owned businesses in the island nation remained shut in protest at attacks by mainly Buddhist Sinhalese groups concentrated around the central city of Kandy.

Armed troops and constables patrolled outside mosques while in Kandy, prayers were said in open grounds in many places because mosques had been burnt or vandalised.

"There were no incidents during the Friday prayers," a police official in Colombo said, adding that investigators had stepped up the search for those who took part in the violence.

At least 140 people, including the main instigator, have been arrested over the unrest, police said. They named the main suspect as Amith Weerasinghe, a Sinhalese known for anti-Muslim activism and outspoken social media posts. He was held Thursday.

Internet blocked

The riots , which began Monday after a man from the Sinhalese majority died from injuries sustained in an attack by Muslims last week, have left nearly 200 Muslim businesses and homes destroyed. Eleven mosques were attacked.

Nine of the damaged mosques were in the picturesque tea-growing Kandy district, a draw for international tourists now suffering widespread cancellations.

Kandy residents said shops and offices were open on Friday and life was slowly returning to normal. Muslims were seen inspecting the damage to their burnt-out businesses.

Troops guarded every junction while security personnel carried out patrols on motorcycles and in armoured personnel carriers.

Internet services, which were blocked across Kandy, were restored on Friday, but access to social media sites such as Facebook remained blocked across Sri Lanka .

Police said Sinhalese extremists were using social media sites and messaging applications to spread hate speech and instigate attacks on the Muslim minority.

The government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as the unrest escalated when a Muslim man was found dead in a burnt out building.

Army chief Mahesh Senanayake visited Kandy on Thursday and promised an increased military presence near mosques.

Despite a security alert across the country, three boats belonging to a Muslim businessman just outside the Kandy district were torched early Friday, police said. There were no casualties.

The official Tourist Board said it was safe for foreign tourists to visit Kandy, but hotel operators say they have suffered large-scale cancellations.

"We had 80 percent occupancy, but it has now dropped to about 30 percent," a deluxe hotel operator in the town of Kandy said Friday, asking not to be named.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Thursday night that the riots had been a huge blow to Sri Lanka´s efforts to bolster tourism after ending a 37-year-old ethnic civil war.

Sri Lanka received about half a million tourists in 2009, but the numbers shot up to 2.1 million in 2017, with nearly half a million visiting the island in the first two months of this year.

There have been several communal clashes in recent years in Sri Lanka . Sinhalese Buddhists make up 75 percent of the country´s 21 million people, and 10 percent are Muslims .

Sinhalese and Muslim groups staged a demonstration outside the Colombo railway station on Thursday, demanding tougher action against the attackers.



Hazaras Protest After an ISIS Attack Kills 10 in Kabul


MARCH 9, 2018

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed 10 people when he set off explosives on Friday in a crowd of Shiite Muslims near a mosque complex in Kabul, the latest attack to target ethnic and religious minorities in the Afghan capital.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the strike, which also wounded 22 people, but a government spokesman blamed another terrorist group, the Haqqani network, a Pakistani-based organization affiliated with the Taliban.

The Hazaras are a long-oppressed minority in Afghanistan whose members tend to be Shiite, and the blast prompted a group to take to the street in protest of the security failures, marching and chanting near the site of the explosion before crews had finished cleaning up.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, saying Afghans would not be cowed by terrorism, but his words were likely to ring hollow with the Hazaras.

Several other attacks against the ethnic group in recent years have been attributed to the Islamic State, touching off large protests in Kabul by Hazaras, who say too little is done to protect them and destabilizing the government of Mr. Ghani.

“Suicide attacks are a part of our daily life that we see but can’t do anything about,” said Hayad, who uses only one name, and is a resident of the Hazara neighborhood where the explosion took place. “The situation is critical and the government sleeps.” The most lethal suicide bombing against Hazaras came in 2016, killing more than 80 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack and for subsequent strikes on Shiite mosques, including the one on Friday.

Nasrat Rahimi, a deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, attributed the attack on Friday to the Haqqani network, which has carried out several deadly attacks in Afghanistan over the years, although the Taliban denied it was responsible.

A security guard, Ali Reza, said he saw the suicide attacker walk into a line of Hazaras waiting to enter a mosque complex for a ceremony commemorating a revered leader, Abdul Ali Mazari, a veteran of the 1980s war against the Soviet Union.

The attacker set off his explosives before passing through a police screening post, suggesting that he may have triggered the bomb after a policeman spotted it. Mr. Rahim said that three policemen were killed.

In the aftermath of the blast, a chaotic scene formed on the street as police whistled at and kicked bystanders to turn them away from the site, although many refused to leave.

About an hour after the explosion, a hundred or so young Hazara men streamed out of the mosque complex and defiantly marched in the street, chanting, “God is great!”

Mohammad Salim Nazari, a member of the group, said participants decided to go ahead with a previously planned demonstration to honor the Hazara leader.

“I think the Afghan government is trying to provide security, but they cannot as the insurgents are very clever,” Mr. Nazari said. He said Hazaras were not the only ones who were threatened. “Every day they change their methods. All of Afghanistan is insecure.”

The protest went ahead even as police wearing blue surgical gloves were still retrieving human remains and carrying body bags to ambulances.

Full report at:



Taliban launch assault on outpost, kill 10 policemen

March 09, 2018

An Afghan official says the Taliban launched a deadly assault on an army outpost in a remote region of northern Takhar province, killing 10 local policemen and wounding nine.

Provincial police spokesman Khali Aseir said on Friday that a large number of Taliban fighters assaulted the outpost overnight.

He says the members of the local police were ambushed and killed while on their way to the outpost to assist the Afghan soldiers in the remote district of Khwaja Ghar.

The soldiers suffered no casualties.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault late Thursday and the police slayings. He claimed the Taliban had inflicted a far higher number of casualties but the insurgents often exaggerate their claims.

Full report at:



Officials: 16 security personnel martyred in Takhar attack

Mar 09 2018

The officials in northeastern Takhar province of Afghanistan are saying that sixteen security personnel have been martyred in militants attack.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Sanatullah Temor said the attack was carried out by a large number of militants in Khaja Ghar district.

Temor further added that seven army soldiers and nine members of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces were martyred in the attack.

He said at least 13 security personnel have also sustained injuries in the attack but did not elaborate further regarding their health condition.

In the meantime, the Chief Executive of the Unity Government Abdullah Abdullah said at least ten army soldiers and six police personnel were martyred in the attack.

However, the Takhar police spokesman Khalil Asir says at least ten policemen and seven army soldiers have lost their lives in the attack.

The Taliban militants group claimed responsibility behind the attack with the group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claiming that the police forces have suffered heavy casualties during the clashes.

Takhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in Northeastern parts of the country where the anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Full report at:



Suicide attack in Kabul leaves 9 dead, 18 wounded

Mar 09 2018

An explosion rocked Kabul city at around 11:30 am local time with the security officials saying a suicide bomber has detonated his explosives near a ceremony to mark the death anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari.

The incident took place in the vicinity of the 6th police district of the city after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the ceremony.

The Ministry of Interior confirms that at least nine people have been killed and eighteen others have been wounded in the attack.

The ministry of public health had earlier said at least four people have been killed and thirteen others have been wounded.

The deputy spokesman for the ministry of interior Nusrat Rahimi had also confirmed the killing of at least Seven people while twenty two others were wounded in the attack.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack.

This comes as at least three people were killed and a number of people including two Australians were wounded in a similar attack in Kabul city last Friday.

Full report at:



Political instigation stokes deep-rooted Sri Lanka conflict

March 9, 2018

The quelling of anti-Muslim violence in parts of Sri Lanka is taking longer than expected. The curfew in Kandy district, which began on March 5, is still in force. A state of emergency, which gives the government special powers and enables the military to take on police functions, has been in effect since March 6. But the threat of violence persists as sporadic attacks take place against mosques and Muslim businesses.

In a manner reminiscent of the prelude to the civil war involving the Tamil rebel movement, the sentiment among sections of the Sinhalese ethnic majority is that Muslims have become a threat to their own security. That war, from 1983 to 2009, devastated the north and east of the country and set back the economy by decades, allowing countries that had once been far behind Sri Lanka to forge ahead in the race for economic development.

Social scientists have for long noted that the Sinhalese ethnic majority (75 percent) sees itself as an insecure and vulnerable minority in the larger South Asian region. They see the Tamils as extending to the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, home to 80 million Tamils, and the Muslims as having access to the sympathies and support of the entire Islamic world. By contrast, the Sinhalese are only 15 million and confined to Sri Lanka.

A tragic feature of Sri Lankan history has been the exploitation of Sinhalese fears by politicians eager to win the votes of the ethnic majority as the certain way to political power. The arch proponent of Sinhalese nationalism and the fanning of Sinhalese fears is former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose newly formed Sri Lanka People's Front (SLPP) trounced the government parties led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last month.

At the tail end of Rajapaksa's period at the country's helm, a serious anti-Muslim riot broke out in Aluthgama in 2014 that claimed four lives and destroyed many Muslim businesses and houses. This was accompanied by a vicious campaign on social media that portrayed Muslims as plotting to take control of the country with the help of global Islam.

The immediate cause of the latest violence was a rumor about birth control pills being served in a Muslim restaurant in the eastern town of Ampara to unsuspecting Sinhalese customers. This fed into Sinhalese fears of a conspiracy on the part of the Muslim community to reduce the Sinhalese population and to emerge as the largest one. This is an impossibility as the Sinhalese are 75 percent of the population while the Muslims are only 10 percent.

But social media makes the impossible seem real. In addition to declaring a state of emergency, the government has also clamped down on Facebook and other social media to stop the spread of disinformation.

The eruption of anti-Muslim violence in Ampara and its spread to Kandy, where a Sinhalese was killed by Muslims, has dealt a big blow to post-war reconciliation in a country that the international community has been supporting. The instigated violence threatens to pit community against community. This can only mean a downward spiral in which mob attacks by one community will see mob attacks by the other. It looks like Sri Lankans are being pushed into a new civil war. 

In this context, the declaration of a state of emergency for a limited time can be taken as a positive signal that the government is serious about putting an end to mob action that is threatening the lives and property of a substantial section of the people. Unlike in the past, this declaration is widely seen as a necessity to ensure that innocent people are not attacked by rampaging mobs. There is no doubt that the vast majority of people do not want to see lawless mobs attack people and their properties. The most immediate need is to ensure that the rule of law prevails and that impunity for crimes will not be tolerated.

In the longer term, there is a need for trust building and community awareness programs. The government has a duty to reassure Muslim people that they are equally deserving of the protection of the state and will receive it. Government leaders must come out and talk to the people and reassure them. They must act and speak publicly and take the people with them. Over the past few years, there has been a deliberate and purposeful build-up of tension that is being done for political reasons. This has to be undone by enlightened leaders.

In addition, unregulated social media are spreading falsehoods that need to be professionally countered by those who value truth more than taking sides in an inter-community conflict. Civil society has its own role to play by educating people. Sri Lanka is still in a post-war phase in which the wounds and traumas of the past three decades of violence and war have still not been healed. Until the national political leadership takes firm and determined action, there is an increasing likelihood of Sri Lanka entering a new cycle of communal violence that will become uncontrollable. 

Full report at:



Ultra-nationalist Myanmar monk walks free from prison

March 09, 2018

An ultra-nationalist Myanmar monk was released from prison on Friday after serving time for inciting unrest in an anti-Rohingya protest in 2016, a rare punishment handed to one of the country's hardline Buddhist clergymen.

Parmaukkha, who was handed a three-month jail term, has helped peddle a fiery brand of Buddhist nationalism and Islamophobia in Myanmar, a country accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.

The monk was arrested in November over a rally he held outside the US Embassy in Yangon in April 2016 to protest against America's use of the word "Rohingya".

The Buddhist-majority nation refuses to recognise the Rohingya as citizens, referring pejoratively to the community as "Bengalis" and insisting they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

On Friday several dozen supporters cheered and scattered petals in front of Parmaukkha as he walked out of Yangon's notorious Insein prison at dawn before heading to pray at the city's iconic Shwedagon Pagoda.

"He has work to do...I love everything he does for religion and the nation," said Aye Lay, a 32-year-old supporter.

Anti-Muslim hate speech has been brewing in Myanmar for several years, often spilling over into bouts of bloodshed.

Religious hatred has surged in the wake of a ruthless military crackdown that has compelled 700,000 Rohingya to flee the country since August.

The UN says the campaign amounts to ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.

But many in the Buddhist majority support the crackdown, which the army says was needed to crush a Rohingya militant uprising.

Over the past year religious authorities have taken some steps to curb the influence of ultra-nationalist monks like Parmaukkha.

His release on Friday coincides with the end of a year-long public speaking ban on Wirathu -- another firebrand monk known as the face of Myanmar's Buddhist nationalist movement.

Wirathu, once dubbed the "Buddhist Bin Laden", was barred from giving public sermons last year by a council of senior monks who said he had "repeatedly delivered hate speech against religions to cause communal strife."

The monk was also recently kicked off Facebook, where he had amassed a huge following with incendiary anti-Muslim posts.

Full report at:



At the border's cloudy edge, Rohingya insist they will stay

Mar 9, 2018

From their home, a tent hastily erected in a grassy field, the young Muslim Rohingya couple can see the village they left behind last year, fleeing attacks by Buddhist mobs and Myanmar security forces.

They arrived in a no man's land, one of the small, ill-defined areas that exist at the cloudiest edges of the borderlands, places that seem to be neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh. While nearly every other Rohingya refugee who crossed the border has sought protection in the immense camps a few miles deeper into Bangladesh, these people say they will go no farther.

"My ancestors' graves are there," said Abdul Naser, gesturing toward his village, less than 100 meters (yards) away. "Sometimes, I walk close to the barbed wire fence and touch my land, and I cry in the dark."

But a few weeks ago things changed. Myanmar deployed more soldiers to the border, some of whom began coming to within 10 meters (yards) of the refugees' homes. They shout insults at the Rohingya, the refugees say, they throw empty whiskey bottles. They have set up speakers that blare announcements, insisting people go further into Bangladesh.

Because to Myanmar, no man's land doesn't exist at all.

"We cannot accept the term 'no man's land' because that is our land," said Nyan Myint Kyaw, Myanmar's deputy commander of the border police. Shifting rivers may have washed away some border markers, he says, and fences may not have been erected everywhere. But he insists the 6,000 or so Rohingya who think they live between the two countries are actually living inside Myanmar.

It is easy to get confused on the border, where many areas are not marked at all and where it's sometimes unclear if a fence marks someone's personal land, or if it demarcates the frontier. Making things more complicated, Myanmar places its border fences 150 feet from the actual boundary line.

While Myanmar insists all the hazy territory is their land, its security forces — as well as Bangladesh security forces — are also very careful to avoid entering places seen as a no man's land, presumably fearing accidental clashes and diplomatic trouble. Myanmar says the additional soldiers were deployed to stop possible cross-border attacks by Rohingya militants, though no such attacks are known to have occurred. When Bangladesh protested the deployments, Myanmar dismissed their complaints.

"This is not like we are trying to invade Bangladesh," Myanmar spokesman Zaw Htay said in early March. "These are only actions taken against the terrorist groups."

The Rohingya have long lived at the ragged fringes of life in Myanmar, denied citizenship and many of the most basic rights. They are derided as "Bengalis" and many in Myanmar believe they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Muslims in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, most live in poverty in Myanmar's Rakhine state, next to Bangladesh.

The most recent problems began in August, when Rohingya insurgents launched a series of unprecedented attacks on Myanmar security posts. Myanmar responded with overwhelming force, burning Muslim villages with the help of Buddhist mobs, raping women, looting homes and carrying out massacres. Some 700,000 Rohingya fled the attacks into Bangladesh. Aid groups say more than 6,700 people were killed.

The UN refugee agency has appealed for protection for the borderland Rohingya.

The agency "is concerned about the safety of a group of vulnerable Rohingya women, men and children from Myanmar, who have been living in a so-called 'no man's land,'" it said in a statement. "People who have fled violence in their country must be granted safety and protection."

But is the no man's land inside Myanmar? Even the Rohingya say some of it probably is, though there are plenty of places where even border guards aren't sure where to find the dividing line.

A Rohingya community leader says most of the 6,000 in the borderlands are from nearby villages.

"They do not want to leave the place or enter Bangladesh, hoping that they will go back one day and it will be easier to move from here," Dil Mohammed said.

The young Rohingya couple agreed with him. They want to keep their village in sight. Or at least what's left of it.

Full report at:



Ultra-nationalist Myanmar monk walks free from prison

March 09, 2018

The monk was arrested in November over a rally he held outside the US Embassy in Yangon in April 2016 to protest against America's use of the word 'Rohingya'

An ultra-nationalist Myanmar monk was released from prison on Friday after serving time for inciting unrest in an anti-Rohingya protest in 2016, a rare punishment handed to one of the country’s hardline Buddhist clergymen.

Parmaukkha, who was handed a three-month jail term, has helped peddle a fiery brand of Buddhist nationalism and Islamophobia in Myanmar, a country accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.

The monk was arrested in November over a rally he held outside the US Embassy in Yangon in April 2016 to protest against America’s use of the word “Rohingya.”

The Buddhist-majority nation refuses to recognize the Rohingya as citizens, referring pejoratively to the community as “Bengalis” and insisting they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

On Friday several dozen supporters cheered and scattered petals in front of Parmaukkha as he walked out of Yangon’s notorious Insein prison at dawn before heading to pray at the city’s iconic Shwedagon Pagoda.

“He has work to do…I love everything he does for religion and the nation,” said Aye Lay, a 32-year-old supporter.

Anti-Muslim hate speech has been brewing in Myanmar for several years, often spilling over into bouts of bloodshed.

Religious hatred has surged in the wake of a ruthless military crackdown that has compelled around 700,000 Rohingya to flee the country since August.

The UN says the campaign amounts to ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.

But many in the Buddhist majority support the crackdown, which the army says was needed to crush a Rohingya militant uprising.

Over the past year religious authorities have taken some steps to curb the influence of ultra-nationalist monks like Parmaukkha.

His release on Friday coincides with the end of a year-long public speaking ban on Wirathu – another firebrand monk known as the face of Myanmar’s Buddhist nationalist movement.

Wirathu, once dubbed the “Buddhist Bin Laden,” was barred from giving public sermons last year by a council of senior monks who said he had “repeatedly delivered hate speech against religions to cause communal strife.”

The monk was also recently kicked off Facebook, where he had amassed a huge following with incendiary anti-Muslim posts.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Trial of 2016 Jakarta terror attack ideologue hears how his sermons, blog radicalised others

MAR 9, 2018

JAKARTA - A militant who headed a terror organisation founded by influential radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman told a court on Friday (March 9) that he had read a book written by the cleric, looked up to him and considered him a religious teacher.

Zainal Anshori, 43, former head of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was testifying in the trial of Aman, who is facing the death penalty for inciting others to commit various terror acts in Indonesia.

JAD is an underground organisation which has been responsible for several terror incidents in Indonesia, including an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left four bystanders dead and the Samarinda church attack in Kalimantan that killed a toddler in the same year.

The book written by Aman entitled "Seri Materi Tauhid", which espouses an extremist interpretation of Islam, is a reference book for members of JAD, said Zainal, who admitted that Aman had appointed him as the organisation's head.

"Aman is not in the organisation structure of JAD but he is often consulted. He is above me," Zainal said.

He claimed Aman never told his followers to launch a terror attack.

Aman's book, among other things, denounces democracy as "syirik", or idolatry, and argues that Muslims have a duty to free themselves from such a system.

The court on Thursday also heard from two other witnesses whom prosecutors grilled to build a stronger case against the radical cleric.

Former terrorist bombmaker turned preacher, Kiki Muhammad Iqbal, 38, admitted that he attended sermons given by Aman, and supported his teachings. Kiki also said that Aman never incited others to commit terror acts.

Kiki has been accused of delivering a sermon in Bandung on May 19, 2017, that allegedly incited Ahmad Sukri and Ikhwan Nur Salam, the two men who were killed while mounting a suicide attack near a bus station in Jakarta on May 24, 2017. The attack left three police officers dead.

The third witness was Dodi Suridi, 23, who helped make the bomb used in the Jan 14, 2016 twin attacks on a police post and a Starbucks outlet in Jakarta that killed four innocent bystanders.

Dodi admitted that he had an enormous hatred for the Indonesian government because it had curbed people from leaving the country for Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Dodi also told he court he considered ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be his president.

He also disclosed that his hatred against the government grew stronger after reading a blog written by Aman.

Dodi had earlier told police investigators that the blog discussed how apostates and those who insulted God had to be killed.



The impending dangers of religious war in Indonesia

MARCH 9, 2018

By John Pennington

Christian churches should be safe places at the heart of a community. Indonesian terrorists have attacked these places of worship on several occasions.

In the latest attack, a 23-year-old Islamic student injured four people in Yogyakarta. So-called Islamic State (IS) or other radical groups reportedly influenced him. He used a sword to harm the priest, two worshippers and a police officer. He also destroyed statues.

The attack was not an isolated incident. Indonesia prides itself on its religious tolerance. However, people continue to disrupt religious houses and events. It is clear that this tolerance does not apply to all. These attacks are a worrying trend. Should Indonesia now brace itself for a religious war?

The attackers have links to radical groups, including IS

Counter-terrorism officials warned that an attack on the church was likely. Officials claimed militant groups urged people to carry out knife attacks on churches. Groups postponed planned attacks over the holiday period.

Counter-terrorism officials believe attacks will only increase. They are likely to rise because IS has switched focus. Instead of bringing together fighters in the Middle East, it wants them to wage war at home.

There is no evidence that the Yogyakarta attacker was part of any particular group. Police believe IS influenced him. He may also have links with Poso, an area where religious tensions run deep.

Police attributed another attack in Samarinda to a lone wolf. However, he had links with Jamaah Anshorud Daulah, a group affiliated with IS. Police believed the Yogyakarta attacker self-radicalised. He had attempted to join IS in Syria.

Indonesia’s reputation for religious tolerance is at risk

At a community level, the Yogyakarta attacker brought Christians and Muslims closer. The priest forgave his assailant. He urged fellow Christians to resist the temptation to avenge that attack.

Muslim leaders condemned the attack. Muslims helped the Christians clear up afterwards. Those actions showcased the religious tolerance on which Indonesia prides itself.

The country’s moderate religious leaders promote harmony and religious tolerance. They say they do not recognise or condone the actions of religious radicals. At the same time, there is a growing urge for a more radical Islam to prevail. Moderate Muslims are finding it hard to speak out against intolerance. They may fear retribution from radicals. Intolerance is growing.

Politicians are campaigning against the backdrop of religious tension

Hard-line groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), want shariah law in Indonesia. FPI was once a small group with little influence. The group used social media to grow, and their impact is now clear. In Jakarta, FPI helped bring down then-governer Ahok.

Although the majority of the country is moderate, politicians cannot ignore the radicals. Younger people are embracing radical views. The country’s Muslim population is becoming more radical. Politicians are already campaigning against a religious backdrop.

Indonesia holds regional elections later this year and the presidential elections in 2019. Religious tension is at its highest during election campaigns. Officials predicted that more attacks would come as the nation goes to the polls.

Is Indonesia ready for them and what can it do to prevent them? It will be easier in some places than others. Yogyakarta, for example, is one of the most intolerant cities in the country.

President Widodo has urged a crackdown, but can he deliver?

Following the Yogyakarta attack, President Joko Widido called for harsh measures. “Our constitution guarantees religious freedom. Therefore, we will not give even the slightest amount of room to those who promote and spread intolerance in our country,” he urged.

He had already taken some actions. He banned some radical groups from operating. Indonesia is no longer a haven of tolerance and harmony. Its democracy index is falling as religious tension increases. The state’s constitution guarantees religious freedom. It cannot deliver that promise to every citizen.

Widodo and his government face a battle against religious intolerance. Those carrying out attacks are deepening tensions. Political stability is unlikely if more people adopt conservative or radical views.

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism operations face a severe test

One thing in Indonesia’s favour is that it runs effective counter-terrorism operations. The state identified the switch to lone-wolf attacks and mobilised accordingly. Detachment 88 was set up with the specific goal of combating this particular threat.

Full report at:



Philippines says eight jihadists killed in the south

March 9, 2018

MANILA: The Philippine military said Friday it had killed at least eight Islamic militants in an operation to stop jihadist efforts to set up base in the country’s south following the deadly five-month siege of Marawi city last year.

Armoured vehicles and artillery were used against about 50 gunmen from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Mindanao island on Thursday, local military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Gerry Bisana said in a report.

The military said last month that gunmen linked to the Islamic State group have renewed an armed campaign to set up a caliphate in the region, home to the Catholic nation’s Muslim minority.

A first attempt was put down last year after a US-backed military campaign that flattened Marawi and left more than 1,100 people dead.

Survivors of the Marawi siege have recruited a fresh force of about 200 gunmen, according to the military, with President Rodrigo Duterte warning they could attack other Mindanao cities.

Bisana said troops recovered the bodies of eight gunmen, although they believe the militants carried off 15 other dead comrades.

He added that a soldier was also wounded in the fighting near the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

“Soldiers have been vigilantly guarding the entire central Mindanao in order to constrict the firefight in specific... areas, and continue to pursue the remnants of the terror group,” regional military chief Major-General Arnel dela Vega said.

The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim guerrilla force that signed a peace treaty with Manila in 2014 after a decades-long armed campaign that claimed more than 100,000 lives by official estimates.

Full report at:



Muslim Rebels Retrench in Philippines After Losing 5-Month War

March 09, 2018


A group of Muslim rebels is retrenching in the Philippines for what could lead to another fight against the government after a five-month war last year.

Members of the Maute Group, an Islamic State-sympathetic, anti-government Muslim rebel front that sparked war in the southern city Marawi, have splintered into 10 smaller outposts since fighting ended in October, Philippine news website Rappler said this week. They number about 300 people.

The Philippine army is preparing in turn for more attacks. On January 30, the armed forces set up a camp in Marawi to “establish a strategic base in the city to prevent the reentry of Maute-ISIS-inspired terrorist groups,” the presidential office website says, using an alternate acronym for Islamic State.

Dedicated to ideology

The war last year killed core members the Maute family as well as its chief fighters - some 900 of the 1,127 dead - but left angry survivors, experts believe. Their reemergence shows that discontent over political control on the island of Mindanao, a historic Muslim tract in the majority Christian Philippines, festers despite decades of fighting. About 121,000 people have died from conflicts in Mindanao since the 1960s.

“The reality is that although the leaders have been decimated, there are still many sympathizers and remnants, the second and third liners, and it’s well known they’re dedicated to the ideology and they’re bound to the group,” said Eduardo Araral, associate professor in the National University of Singapore’s public policy school.

“And it’s just a matter of time, because there are many loose groups around Mindanao who could rally around the Maute-ISIS flags,” he said.

Regrouping after war

When the five-year-old Maute Group joined hands with the Abu Sayyaf, a rebel force known for kidnapping and beheading foreign tourists, the armed forces started a war in May 2017. At least 200,000 people fled their homes as fighting made the lakeside university town uninhabitable. IS had picked an Abu Sayyaf leader as its emir for Southeast Asia, raising the danger level for Philippine officials.

One of two suspected Maute sympathizers arrested over the weekend in Manila allegedly led an attack against a civilian security detachment last year in Lanao Del Sur, the province surrounding Marawi, domestic news website ABS-CBN reported.

The Maute holdouts will try for now to find new leadership, perhaps giving the role to a cousin of the slain founders, said Herman Kraft, political science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Metro Manila.

“There’s going to be some sort of struggle going on as to who’s going to take over the entire group,” Kraft said. “So everybody actually splintering might be something that’s going to go on for the next few months.”

Links to other rebels

With 19 other Muslim rebel groups active around Mindanao and the adjacent Sulu Sea, the revived Maute forces might pick some of them to resume their fight, analysts believe.

Rebels share the broad cause of securing Muslim autonomy in Mindanao, a farming and mining island of 21 million people, and more resources for relatively poor Muslim populations.

The New People’s Army, the armed unit of a communist insurgency, might help the Maute Group, said Enrico Cau, a Ph.D. student of international affairs and strategic studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

“I think they’re going to find a modus vivendi with the Moros, because they are very good friends,” Cau said, using a term for Philippine Muslims, often from minority ethnic groups. “If you apply socialist laws or regulations or principles to Islam, they work pretty well.”

Troops and national police are pushing members of the New People’s Army to surrender, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday in a statement on his web site. Duterte hopes the “armed forces can quash the rebel group soon,” he said.

Aiming at ‘soft targets’

Foreign sympathizers of IS, an international terrorist outfit that was weakened last year at its bases in Iraq and Syria, might also reenter the Philippines to help the rebels again, Cau said. Philippine officials suspected that Indonesians and Malaysians reached Marawi last year to support the Maute rebels.

"High levels of unsolved grievances maximize the opportunity of success," in the Philippines, he said.

Maute survivors may not have the strength to fight a full-scale war but would turn to terrorist acts against “soft targets” such as schools and shopping malls in larger Mindanao cities, Araral said.

The government must give concessions to Muslim groups to ease fighting long term, Cau said.

Full report at:



Emulate the Chinese by joining community policing, DPM tells Malays, Indians


March 10, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has called on the Malay and ethnic Indian communities nationwide to make an example out of the ethnic Chinese, whose participation in community policing is commendable.

In his speech at the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) 25th annual general meeting today, Ahmad Zahid said the task to curb crimes must not only be placed on the police as public participation has proven to be an effective tool in bringing down crime rates.

“I notice that community policing is practised more in Chinese-populated areas, compared to the Malay and Indian areas. This should not be the case,” he said in his speech at Maktab PDRM here.

“We should all embody the 1Malaysia spirit and take on responsibilities as Malaysians to help become the ‘eyes and ears’ to the police and report any criminal activities happening in our residential areas.

“The focus should not only be on organised or big-scale crimes but what really affects the public perception is the number of petty crimes,” he added.

“In order to bring petty crime cases to a minimum, we cannot just rely on cops. The effectiveness is higher when the rakyat becomes a part of community policing.”

Ahmad Zahid said he hopes MCPF would take on a more pro-active role this year by assisting with the establishments of community policing across the nation, including at longhouses in East Malaysia.

The Home Minister also applauded the anti-crime body which has successfully acted as the link between the authorities and the public since its inception in 1993.

“Over the years, MCPF has helped to reduce the crime index by a significant and good percentage.

“Bear in mind that all of its members do not receive any salaries or allowances and they do it out of love for the country. The efforts they put in is admirable,” he said.

Full report at:



Attack on Chinese Billionaire Exposes Growing Racial Divide in Malaysia

March 10, 2018

Kuala Lumpur. A volley of insults hurled by ruling party officials in Malaysia at 94-year-old ethnic-Chinese tycoon, Robert Kuok, has exposed a racial and religious divide ahead of elections due by August.

Leaders from UMNO targeted Hong Kong-based Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok in the last two weeks, accusing him of funding a majority-Chinese opposition party to overthrow Najib's government.

The attacks stopped after Kuok, Malaysia's richest man, threatened legal action against a website he said had cast aspersions on his commitment to democracy. Prime Minister Najib Razak also stepped in to calm the waters.

Many in Malaysia's economically powerful ethnic Chinese community saw the criticism against Kuok as racial dog-whistling ahead of a very close and hotly contested election.

A polarized electorate poses risks for Southeast Asia's third-largest economy.

Malaysia's ethnic minorities may end up with the short end of the stick if this year's electoral results remains racially split, warned Abdul Rahman Dahlan, strategic communications director for Najib's coalition.

"Of course we’ll be happy we win the election. But it will be better if the support comes from a broad base of support from the communities of all kinds, then everybody’s voice will be represented," said Abdul Rahman, who is also an UMNO member of parliament told Reuters.

Affirmative Action

Najib's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has increasingly relied on majority Malay Muslims to stay in power, after minorities deserted the ruling coalition the past two general elections.

An election won entirely with the support of ethnic Malays could stall reform of a decades-old race-based affirmative action policy favoring indigenous groups, officials and analysts warn.

The policy, which grew out of 1969 race riots, reserves a large share of government contracts for Malay businesses. It remains in effect, even after it was due to expire in 1990.

Najib proposed a new economic model soon after taking power in 2009, aimed at speeding Malaysia's transition to a higher-income, knowledge-based economy, but rolled back some of those plans after a backlash from the Malay-Muslim community.

Ethnic Malays and other indigenous groups account for about 69 percent of the population, with Chinese making up 23 percent, and ethnic Indians and other the remainder. Opinion surveys have found indigenous groups robustly support affirmative action policies.

UMNO has also been courting hardliners on the religious right, seeking support from the Islamist opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), which advocates a strict Islamic penal code that religious minorities fear could infringe their rights.

Divisions among ethnic and religious groups are intensifying in Malaysia, said the Eurasia Group, whose list of top risks for 2018 includes the growth of identity politics in Southeast Asia.

"There is a trend towards a more conservative interpretation of Islam and the key Islamic party PAS will play a significant role during the upcoming election," Eurasia Group said in a recent research note about Malaysia.

Sugar King

Dubbed the "Sugar King of Asia," Kuok became Malaysia’s richest man by expanding a commodities-based business to an international empire that includes the Shangri-la hotel chain, plantations, property development and entertainment.

He has iconic status in the Malaysian Chinese community.

"Kuok is a successful man, and a true Malaysian," said 52-year-old Eric Hun at a tea shop in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. "This kind of comment will win them [UMNO] the Malay votes in the kampung [village]. That's all they want ... they stopped caring about us a long time ago."

Ethnic Chinese voted heavily for the opposition camp in the last election in 2013, handing the UMNO-led coalition its first-ever loss of the popular vote. Najib called it a "Chinese tsunami."

Two years later, thousands of UMNO supporters marched through Chinatown to support Najib, and assert Malay political power threatening to burn down shops in a racially tinged rally that prompted blunt criticism from China's ambassador to Malaysia.

With national polls just months away, the attacks on Kuok has strained relations with the Chinese party in Najib's ruling coalition, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

The MCA has demanded an apology from Malay leaders who criticized Kuok.

"Right now we're on extreme ends, with the government on the extreme right and the opposition on the extreme left," said Kong Len Wei, youth leader at MCA, whose parliamentary seats halved to just seven in the last election.

Najib tried to calm tensions by saying later in the week that Kuok's success as an entrepreneur is an inspiration for other entrepreneurs to succeed. The government ordered the news blog that published reports on Kuok to pull down the stories.

Opposition parties, led by Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP), have also ramped up the racial rhetoric.

"The Robert Kuok incident is not an isolated incident," said DAP's national political education director Liew Chin Tong.

"It is just another example of the past decade or so in which UMNO survives on manufacturing fear among Malays towards others, in the hope to consolidate Malay support for UMNO."

Najib is still widely expected to win the elections on the back of a rebound in the economy and the support of rural Malay voters. Parliament is also expected to approve a periodic redrawing of electoral boundaries, which critics say would also favor the ruling coalition.

Brain Drain

Disillusioned ethnic Chinese have been voting with their feet over the past two decades, migrating to neighboring Singapore and Western countries in a troubling brain drain of talent and capital.

A total of 56,576 Malaysians gave up their citizenship between 2006 and 2016 with over 90 percent of them being ethnic-Chinese, Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister said in parliament in 2016, The Star newspaper reported.

Thirty-one year old Oh, who stayed back in Melbourne after her graduation there said she won't return to Malaysia unless meritocracy is restored.

Full report at:



Telkom Renovates Places of Worship and Cultural Heritage in East Nusa Tenggara

March 09, 2018

Jakarta. Telkom Indonesia helped renovate St. Martinus Hinga Church in Hinga, East Nusa Tenggara.

The inauguration ceremony on Wednesday (07/03) was attended by State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, Telkom president director Alex Sinaga and Telkom human resources director Herdy Harman.

Rini said the renovation was part of efforts by state-owned enterprises (SEOs) to be more present in the province.

"The Ministry of State Enterprises fully supports corporate responsibility efforts by SOEs, especially if they help isolated communities in East Nusa Tenggara."

The renovation was not only aimed at guaranteeing to local residents a place of worship, but also at preserving Indonesia's cultural heritage.

The church, built in 1938, was restored under Telkom's "Care for Culture" program.

"Last year, we designed the repairs to keep the church's original architecture," Herdy said.

Telkom also helped renovate two mosques in the sub-district of East Adonara, provided access to clean water in the sub-district of Ulu Mado, created Broadband Learning Center at the Nurul Iman Islamic boarding school in Kupang, and developed an app called i-Chat to help hearing-impaired students.

Full report at:



North America


Leaked Memo: GOP Fundraiser Pitched Trump On International Muslim Army To Fight America's Wars

March 10, 2018

WASHINGTON — A top GOP fundraiser pitched President Donald Trump last year on a plan to recruit a thousands-strong international Muslim army — to be advised by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal — that would help the United Arab Emirates battle the Taliban and the Islamic State in Afghanistan, according to a leaked memo the fundraiser wrote documenting his meeting with the president.

The army “would consist of two brigades (5,000 total troops) comprised of Muslim soldiers recruited from Arab and Islamic nations,” Elliott Broidy, a Republican National Committee deputy finance chair, wrote in the memo. The military force would be “fully funded and a completely unprecedented commitment from the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” he continued. It would be “an amazing win” for the Trump administration, Broidy wrote.

The idea was that the soldiers would be paid a stipend but the fighting force would not be a mercenary group, Broidy said in an interview with HuffPost.

“This is as if NATO countries participate in a coalition, this is the same thing. This would be a coalition task force made up of moderate Muslims from around the world,” he said. “They are already soldiers, they’re in uniform.”

The memo is part of a cache of his emails that were leaked to various news outlets including HuffPost. Broidy, who has hired computer forensics experts to investigate the breach, believes that the government of Qatar, the UAE’s regional rival, is behind the hack — an allegation the Qataris deny. (HuffPost has been unable to identify the people who leaked the emails or the motivation behind the operation.)

Last October, Broidy sent the three-page document — which memorializes his meeting with Trump at the White House — to George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who has advised the UAE’s government. According to the memo, Broidy told Trump that he had recently traveled to the UAE on behalf of Circinus, his private defense and intelligence firm. He met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ), the country’s de-facto leader, and with the UAE’s top military leaders. The purpose of the meeting with MBZ was to “discuss providing Train, Advise, and Assist support to the UAE military,” Broidy wrote.

Circinus has hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the UAE, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

Broidy’s lawyer Chris Clark told HuffPost that some of the leaked documents are forged and said he has warned reporters off stories based on forgeries. But Broidy and Clark did not dispute the authenticity of the Muslim army memo, the existence of which The New York Times first reported.

Officials at the Saudi and Emirate embassies did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the memo, Broidy told Trump that the team behind the Muslim army plan was led by McChrystal, a retired Army general who had previously commanded U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan. That appeared to boost the credibility of the proposal in the president’s eyes: Trump interrupted to say that he had offered McChrystal a job but the retired general declined, Broidy wrote.

McChrystal, whom President Barack Obama fired from the Afghanistan command in 2010, did not respond to requests for comment through multiple channels. Before Trump won the presidential election, McChrystal told CNN he would decline “any role” in a Trump administration.

In the memo, Broidy also named Bennet Sacolick, a retired Army lieutenant general, and Brian Losey, a former commander of the Navy SEALs, as members of the team. Sacolick did not respond to requests for comment. Losey directed questions to Circinus, which also did not respond to requests for comment.

Broidy left the meeting with Trump under the impression that he had support from the top levels of government for his idea, the memo shows. He told Trump that MBZ discussed the plan with Defense Secretary James Mattis and received his endorsement, Broidy wrote. Trump “was extremely enthusiastic” and asked about moving forward, he noted.

Broidy suggested that Trump and MBZ hold a quiet meeting in New York or New Jersey. According to the memo, the president agreed to the idea, but his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, indicated that such a meeting would typically occur in the White House. The Pentagon and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

In a departure from its predecessor’s practice, the Trump administration does not make records of visitors to the White House available to the public.

Broidy’s proposal isn’t entirely new. Saudi Arabia launched its own majority-Sunni counterterrorism coalition in 2015 with several dozen member countries, and the U.S. military already partners with Muslim allies abroad. For that matter, around 4,000 U.S. service members self-identify as Muslim, and many of them have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although Broidy insisted to HuffPost that the Gulf-funded brigades would not be a mercenary force, Trump has considered the idea of using mercenaries in Afghanistan in the past.

Last year, as Trump fumed at the Pentagon’s recommendation that he send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Blackwater founder Erik Prince — the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education — and DynCorp International head Stephen Feinberg floated the idea of using private military contractors instead. Like Broidy, Prince has deep ties in the UAE. In 2010, he sold his stake in Blackwater and moved to the UAE, where he helped its government assemble a private military battalion made up of foreign troops.

But Trump’s official military advisers shot down Prince’s proposal. In August, when the president announced a vague plan to continue the war effort in Afghanistan, he said the military would no longer make public the number of U.S. troops deployed to the battlefield. Broidy pitched the Muslim army idea to Trump less than two months later.

Circinus did not respond to questions about whether Broidy’s proposal for a Muslim fighting force had ever moved forward.

Broidy’s leaked memo was part of a 22-page email dump from a person or group that call themselves L.A. Confidential. It was one of several sets of documents leaked to reporters. “We expose people associated with hollywood,” the leaker wrote in an email sent to HuffPost.

Last week, Broidy wrote to Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the U.S., accusing the Qatari government of engaging in “hostile intelligence operations against United States citizens.” The letter was first reported by The New York Times.

“Your agents’ commission of espionage against U.S. citizens may have violated numerous federal and state statutes,” Broidy wrote to al-Thani in an apparent reference to his own leaked emails. He claimed that a “team of intelligence community and law enforcement personnel, experts, and attorneys” had gathered information implicating the Qatari government.

There is no public evidence that Qatar is responsible for the breach and Broidy declined to show HuffPost any evidence to support his claim.

When asked if Qatar is responsible for the hack, Clark hedged. “That’s certainly Elliott’s belief based on the work that’s been done so far,” he said.

A spokesman for Qatar’s government communications office denied that Qatar hacked Broidy or paid anyone else to steal his emails: “We believe that Mr. Broidy’s baseless accusations are simply a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the serious allegations against himself and his client the Government of the United Arab Emirates.”



US State Department OKs weapons sales to UAE, Qatar

09 March 2018

The U.S. State Department has approved a total of $467 million worth of potential weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the Pentagon said Thursday.

In a statement, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which works under the Pentagon, said the UAE was approved to purchase $270.4 million worth of weapons, including 300 Sidewinder missiles, training missiles, tactical guidance units, and spares and support.

"This potential sale will improve the UAE’s capability to meet current and future threats and provide an enhanced capability for its Air Force," the statement said, adding the UAE will use the enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense.

The agency said the proposed sale will also support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the U.S. by helping to improve the security of a "friendly country".

It said the sale of equipment and support does not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force was also approved for $197 million worth of equipment to upgrade its air operations center.

Full report at:





Russia considering course change after new challenges in Syria

March 9, 2018

MOSCOW — A Russian An-26 military transport plane crashed March 6 while approaching Khmeimim air base in Syria, killing everyone on board — six crew members and 33 passengers. A few hours after the catastrophe, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin the preliminary findings: The crash was believed to be caused either by pilot error or technical malfunction. The plane was built in 1980.

The incident — Russia's single-biggest military loss in Syria — claimed the lives of Russian Maj. Gen. Vladimir Yeremeyev, a colonel, six majors, two captains and 29 junior officers and sergeants.

Jaish al-Islam claimed responsibility for the incident, saying it fired on the plane when it was about to land. The attack supposedly came in retaliation for the Russia-supported Syrian army offensive in Eastern Ghouta. The Conflict Intelligence Team, a Moscow-based independent investigative group, suggested the statement was false given the limited presence of Jaish al-Islam in the area adjacent to the crash site. The team also pointed out that the statement was only released by the Lebanese Ad-Diyar newspaper and hadn't appeared on any of Jaish al-Islam’s social networks.

Shortly after the incident, Putin spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to a Kremlin press release, Erdogan expressed his condolences and informed the Russian leader of the ongoing Turkish operation in Afrin. The two also discussed the state of affairs in Eastern Ghouta.

The plane crash is the latest development in the recent streak of bad luck Moscow has faced in Syria, coming on top of mounting pressure over the situation in Eastern Ghouta and US considerations of a possible new strike on positions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over renewed charges he has used chemical weapons. With just nine days until the presidential election in Russia, such moves are largely perceived as a product of “American efforts to poke Putin in the eye,” but a bigger worry in Moscow is how far it can all go before endangering Russia's efforts in Syria.

A Kremlin official who spoke with Al-Monitor not for attribution said there’s “clear evidence” the United States seeks to make things more complicated for Russia.

The United States has "lost the military struggle in that the opposition groups they vetted failed to topple Assad militarily," the official said. "So they are now fully investing in all kinds of initiatives to bar us from any success we could have achieved in the political settlement. They themselves have proposed nothing constructive on how to navigate out of the crisis."

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced a similar concern, saying, "The United States and other Western countries would want to take the heat off" Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and other radical groups to keep using them against Assad.

Lavrov added that Moscow “receives more and more information from different sources that Americans formed a narrow, non-inclusive group that fosters plans on the dissolution of the Syrian state.”

There’s a mutually recognized need to maintain constant communication between Moscow and Washington on these issues. In his recent meetings with Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman stressed that “the low trust level” between the two countries calls for such communication to be intensified, not cut back. Yet, so far, such communications apparently haven't satisfied Moscow's concerns.

Russia once saw a return on its investments like the de-escalation zones, its use of private military companies (PMC) and engaging opposition groups. But these efforts are no longer producing the kind of results Moscow wants. Perhaps others have learned to adapt and deal with them. But Russia will not back down in the face of challenges, even if it means more political losses or physical expenditures. Instead, it will revise its course. Moscow already appears to be shifting its military and diplomatic strategies.

Russia's Defense Ministry plans to make use of the "gray zone," that Cold War-like area between peace and conventional warfare.

The day the plane crash occurred, Gerasimov was at Khmeimim air base. No details of his Syria visit are known and, were it not for the crash, his presence might not have been revealed at all. But his visit at this critical time shows that Moscow has been making necessary adjustments to its military; those will soon be evident in battlefield dynamics.

An investigative report by Russian media outlet Znak suggests more Wagner Group mercenaries — at least 150 fighters — are being prepared to deploy in Syria within the next couple of weeks. Reports on the Wagner PMC emerged shortly after Feb. 7, when the United States and US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces attacked pro-Assad units allegedly accompanied by Russian mercenaries. If true, this is definitely a newsworthy development, yet it represents only a tiny part of the potential military moves Moscow is mulling over.

The diplomatic track is also thickly layered. In recent weeks, Russia has continued to closely engage Turkey and Iran. On March 6, representatives of the three states held consultations in Russia with UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Sergey Vershinin, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department, led the talks on the Russian end. He lobbied to implement the decisions adopted in late January at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, which virtually implies kick-starting Geneva talks under Russia-brokered mechanisms.

With Tehran long staying its own course and wisely taking a low public profile on these matters, Ankara's position on these matters is critical. Erdogan has long been criticized for his failing strategy in Syria, but Turkey remains a key state to both Russia and the United States. After the session of the Turkey-US working group March 8-9 in Washington, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will go to Russia for the meeting of the Turkish-Russian joint strategic planning group scheduled for March 12-14. He will then proceed to Kazakhstan for a March 16 trilateral meeting of the “Astana guarantor states” with his counterparts, Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Turkey will understandably seek to play both Russia and the United States for its own interests, and Moscow and Washington will be working to persuade Ankara that each would make a better partner than the other. Therefore, the stakes are high and Erdogan's decisions in the next few weeks could define the major parameters of Turkey's position in Syria for the foreseeable future.

In the Syrian conflict, the tables have been turning quickly. The sense that things aren’t working out properly is strong in Moscow, with even staunch advocates of Russia’s Syria policies now wary and calling for policy updates. Moscow has been cautious not to take any radical steps before the March 18 election day to dodge possible risks. But Russia's plans to amend its strategy are underway and will have been implemented once Putin receives his fourth-term mandate.



Britain to Sell Jets to Saudis Despite Conduct of Yemen War


MARCH 9, 2018

LONDON — On the last day of a visit by the Saudi crown prince, Britain approved the sale of 48 highly advanced fighter jets to Saudi Arabia on Friday, brushing aside calls for an embargo over the kingdom’s role in Yemen’s civil war.

Human rights and arms control groups have mounted a publicity campaign and protests to stop the sale of British arms to Saudi Arabia, alleging that they are used in Yemen to kill innocent civilians. This week, the group Save the Children placed a statue of a child in a bombed-out building, looking fearfully up at the sky outside Parliament to protest the war.

But during the three-day visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the British government made clear that its agenda was to promote commerce and good relations, not to criticize the Saudi government. On Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May and the crown prince reached an agreement designed to generate $90 million in trade and investment between the two countries.

Announcement of the agreement to sell the Typhoon jets came from BAE Systems, the aerospace company set to produce the aircraft, and not from either government.

Full report at:



German government condemns far-right MPs' Syria visit


German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman condemned a visit this week by politicians of the far-right AfD party to the "inhumane" Syrian regime.

"People who court this regime disqualify themselves," said Steffen Seibert on the Damascus trip by six members of the Alternative for Germany party. "The Syrian regime demonstrates on a daily basis how inhumane its actions are," he said, noting that the suffering of civilians in Idlib, Aleppo and East Ghouta is "suffering that President (Bashar al) Assad ordered or condones".

The German foreign ministry was not informed about the AfD lawmakers' trip ahead of time, a spokeswoman said.

The group of six, comprised of four members from Germany's national parliament and two state lawmakers, arrived in Damascus on Monday for talks with pro-regime officials and a tour they said aimed at getting a real idea of the situation on the ground. They said they were "surprised" at scenes of normal life in Damascus as they push their bid for Berlin to start sending refugees back to the war-torn country.

The group is being led by Christian Blex, a member of North Rhine-Westphalia's regional parliament, who posted pictures on Facebook of his Monday meeting with Syria's pro-regime Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun. Hassoun often appears alongside Assad for religious occasions and has in the past warned against Western interference in his country, threatening terror attacks in Europe.

The anti-Islam, anti-immigrant AfD entered the Bundestag for the first time last year, capitalising on anger over an influx of more than a million asylum seekers in Germany since 2015.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that parts of the AfD may warrant surveillance by Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

"At least some groups within the AfD appear to have set themselves up to become a new political home for neo-Nazis," Maas told Der Spiegel weekly. "Parts of the AfD have long been on the path to becoming a case for the domestic intelligence service."

As one of its first acts in parliament, the party proposed striking a deal with Assad to repatriate Syrian refugees, who make up the largest number of newcomers in Germany. The motion was rejected.

Full report at:



Saudi Crown Prince discusses anti-terror efforts with UK Defense Secretary

9 March 2018

Saudi Crown Prince reviewed with the UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson the means of strategic cooperation and developing defense, military and anti-terrorism efforts on Friday at the North Holt Air Base.

Upon the arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the military base, Typhoon fighter jets performed a fly-past to welcome him, along with a guard of honor while the national anthems were played.

The meeting reviewed bilateral relations and areas of strategic cooperation between the two countries, and the means of developing them, especially in the defense and military arenas.

The two parties discussed as well the promising opportunities in accordance with the Saudi Vision 2030, the developments in the Middle East and the world, and the efforts to combat terrorism.

The two sides expressed their satisfaction with the mechanisms of their joint coordination thereon.

Prince Mohammed and the British Minister of Defense signed two memorandums and coordinated arrangements to strengthen defense capabilities and deepen cooperation and partnership through the transfer of technology, industrial partnership, training, research and development and technical consultation in accordance with Vision 2030.

The Crown Prince also inspected a number of BAE Systems’ products and the contribution of Saudi companies working in the military field and he was briefed on the company's future plans to further transfer and localize technology, train and employ Saudi citizens.

Full report at:



Turkey warns against growing Islamophobia in Europe


Turkey’s culture and tourism minister on Friday warned against growing Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiments in Europe.

“It is extremely worrying that in Europe, the rise of anti-refugee sentiments, xenophobia and Islamophobia are manifesting themselves in the form of hostility against Turkey and Turks,” Numan Kurtulmus said on Friday.

The Turkish minister visited Mevlana Mosque of Muslim-Turkish community in Berlin, which was badly damaged by an arson attack in 2014.

Kurtulmus said Muslims in Germany were worried over the rise of racism and growing number of xenophobic attacks in recent years.

He condemned a Molotov cocktail attack at a Turkish mosque in southern German city of Lauffen am Neckar on Thursday night, which caused a minor fire.

The Turkish minister said the rise of racists and anti-Muslim sentiments were undermining peaceful coexistence in the country.

“This is manifesting itself not only by the use of far-right rhetoric in politics. It is also a very dangerous development poisoning relations between the countries,” he said, referring to recent tensions between Ankara and Berlin.

Kurtulmus called on German politicians and civil society organizations to take a stronger stance against xenophobic and Islamophobic hate crimes.

Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia and hatred of migrants in recent years triggered by a propaganda from far-right and populist parties, which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis and terrorism.

Some 950 Muslims and Muslim institutions were attacked in 2017, according to the official figures.

At least 33 Muslims were injured in these attacks, which included assaults against Muslim women wearing headscarves and attacks against mosques and other Muslim institutions.

Germany, a country of 81.8 million people, has the second largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France.

Full report at:




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