New Age Islam News Bureau
24 Oct 2018
Photo: The Council of Europe has asked the Islamist government of Turkey to stop funding Islam overseas for political purposes.
• US-led airstrikes killed 3,222 civilians in Syria since 2014: Monitoring group
• Johor proposes pre-marriage course for non-Muslims under new minimum age ruling, says exco
• Modern challenges for Bangladesh Catholics
• Council of Europe Wants Turkey to Stop ‘Foreign Funding of Islam’ to Expand Political Influence
• France must halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia: Amnesty International
• British Sikhs fear "Islamophobia on Sikhs" being ignored
• London imam's conviction for supporting terror is upheld
• UK court refers top Islamophobic figure to attorney general
• Only Saudis have answers to Khashoggi case: UK
• France plans to repatriate children of extremist fighters in Syria
• Belgium calls for cancelling arms sales to Saudi Arabia
• 'EU reaction on Khashoggi depends on Saudi steps'
• US-led airstrikes killed 3,222 civilians in Syria since 2014: Monitoring group
• Saudi king, crown prince meet Khashoggi family
• Senior Politician: PM Determined to Expel US Military Men from Iraq
• Syrian Army Preparing for Idlib Operation as Terrorists Refuse to Leave Demilitarized Zone
• FII delegates pay tribute to Khashoggi, say ‘terrible act not part of our DNA’
• Six killed by car bomb near Iraq's Mosul
• Johor proposes pre-marriage course for non-Muslims under new minimum age ruling, says exco
• The Khashoggi murder and Malaysia’s foreign policy
• It’s geography, prominent Indonesian Muslim leader tells Zahid over quake-LGBT remark
• After Guan Eng shows Kelantan sought aid, PAS says that’s federalism
• MUI calls for flag burners to apologize to 'the faithful'
• Video showing burning of hardline Islamist group HTI's flag sparks controversy in Indonesia
• Japanese journalist Yasuda released from militant captivity in Syria: Govt. spokesman
• Modern challenges for Bangladesh Catholics
• Australia slaps sanctions on Myanmar officers over Rohingya
• Proposed Reception to PM: Rift in Hefajat
• Taliban IED expert’s wife, children killed by own bomb in Faryab
• NATO soldiers suffer casualties in apparent insider attack in West of Afghanistan
• One lakh delegates to attend World Sunni meet
• The lack of upward mobility among Muslims is our democracy’s failure
• ISIS case: NIA arrests Tamil Nadu man
• Muslims look after this 300-year-old Lord Shiva temple in Murshidabad
• India lodges strong protest with Pakistan over killing of 3 soldiers along LoC
• China still elusive on backing India’s request on listing Azhar as global terrorist
• Pakistan PM Imran Khan hopes ties with India will improve after 2019 elections
• Saudi Arabia pledges $6bn package to Pakistan
• Respect Imran gets in Saudi shows Pakistan’s prestige in Muslim Ummah: Fawad
• Video: PM Khan moves to tears at Prophet’s Mosque in Medina
• PM Imran Khan among Top 50 ‘Most Influential Muslims’
• Six top MQM-P leaders indicted in 21 cases of hate speech, conspiracy, terrorism
• Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India
• How Turkey says the Khashoggi murder unfolded
• Erdogan: Saudi Arabia took ‘important step’ in revealing Khashoggi’s killing
• Saudi Arabia, Bahrain designate Revolutionary Guards and Soleimani as terrorists
• Yemen minister: Houthis have destroyed 70 percent of Yemen’s sports facilities
• Iran busts three terror groups in Khuzestan Province
• Palestine urges China to support Abbas Mideast ‘peace’ intitiative
• Palestinian teenage boy succumbs to wounds sustained in Gaza border clashes
• Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?
• Turkey’s nationalists cut alliance with Erdogan’s party
• Holy See reiterates Israel-Palestine two-state solution, Jerusalem status quo
• Boko Haram: Norwegian Refugee Council horrified by killing of farmers
• Jordan’s king urged to bolster UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem
• Family and officials at odds over Muslim boy's beard at Christian school
• France offers to provide Libya with logistical support
• Fayemi’s appointments characterized by high level of religious discrimination – MSSN tackles Ekiti governor
• US to revoke visas for Saudis implicated in Khashoggi’s killing
• Gulf states join US in designating nine Taliban as terrorists
• New US-led sanctions target Iran-Taliban ties
• Pompeo: We will maintain strategic interests with Saudi Arabia
• Trump calls Saudi killing of Khashoggi 'worst cover-up ever'
• Power in numbers on display as Ahmadi Muslim spiritual leader tours US
• Fire at Bucks Muslim school blamed on students there
• Pence vows US response to Khashoggi's 'brutal murder'
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Council of Europe Wants Turkey to Stop ‘Foreign Funding of Islam’ to Expand Political Influence
23 Oct 2018
The Council of Europe has asked the Islamist government of Turkey to stop funding Islam overseas for political purposes.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organisation which predates the European Union, has called on its members to “put an end to any foreign funding of Islam which is used for the purpose of national political expansion into other States under the guise of Islam,” according to the Stockholm Center for Freedom.
Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, known as the Diyanet, funds and administers a huge number of mosques in Europe — almost 1,000 in Germany alone, where Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally opened a gigantic ‘mega mosque’ in Cologne on a recent visit.
While many European politicians feel challenging the Islamist politician would be politically incorrect, there are increasing concerns about how Turkish-funded Islamic institutions are being used to extend Erdoğan’s influence in the continent, particularly over the increasingly large Turkish diaspora in Western Europe and the Balkans.
There is some evidence that the Diyanet’s mosques are effectively arms of the Turkish state, with the German authorities uncovering evidence that their clerics were spying for Ankara in 2016, with a particular focus on diaspora Turkish nationals opposed to the Erdoğan regime.
Austria, under its new conservative-nationalist coalition, has been one of the few countries to take robust action against Erdoğan’s religious networks, shutting down seven Diyanet mosques and deporting around 60 imams and their families as part of a promised “fight against political Islam”.
The response of the Turkish government to Austria’s move against its religious institutions was apocalyptic in tone, with Erdoğan warning that Vienna was “leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent”.
“They say they’re going to kick our religious men out of Austria. Do you think we will not react if you do such a thing?” he added.
An Asiatic country with only a small foothold in Europe geographically — a legacy of the Ottoman conquests — Turkey nevertheless enjoys representation in the Council of Europe, and tried to sabotage the Parliamentary Assembly’s resolution against the Diyanet.
Their efforts were unsuccessful, however, with French representative André Vallini expressing the concerns of many in Europe about Turkey’s activities, which have been described as “Islamo-nationalist” in character.
“You have an organisation with 100,000 people under your president, Mr Erdoğan,” Vallini said to the Islamist leader’s representative.
“Please understand that many [Council of Europe members] are frightened about what is said in our countries. We do not even understand the language.”
US-led airstrikes killed 3,222 civilians in Syria since 2014: Monitoring group
Oct 24, 2018
A so-called monitoring group says more than 3,200 civilians have lost their lives ever since the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group launched its aerial bombardment campaign in the conflict-plagued Arab country more than four years ago.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that as many as 3,222 civilians have been killed in the air raids.
There were 768 people under the age of 18 among the fatalities in addition to 562 female victims.
The US-led air raids also resulted in the injury of hundreds of civilians, some of whom suffered permanent disabilities and had to have their limbs amputated.
The monitoring group noted that the civilians were killed by US-led warplanes in Syria’s northern province of Raqqah, northeastern province of Hasakah, northwestern Aleppo and Idlib provinces as well as Dayr al-Zawr province in the country's east.
Local sources, requesting not to be named, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Saturday that the death toll from separate aerial assaults conducted by the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr had reached 62.
The sources said an airstrike targeted the village of al-Susah on the outskirts of Abu Kamal city, leaving at least 15 civilians, including women and children, dead and many more wounded.
Thirty-seven civilians were also killed and tens of others injured when a US-led aerial attack pounded Osman ibn Affan Mosque.
Separately, at least 10 civilians were killed and many more wounded as US-led military aircraft struck Ammar bin Yasser Mosque in al-Bubadran village.
The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.
Addressing world leaders at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 29, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said the US-led coalition had been doing everything it could since the onset of its airstrikes but combat terrorism and militant outfits wreaking havoc in the Arab country.
Muallem described the military alliance as “illegitimate” and censured the “hegemonic policies” pursued by certain countries against the Damascus government.
Johor proposes pre-marriage course for non-Muslims under new minimum age ruling, says exco
23 October 2018
JOHOR BARU, Oct 23 — The Johor government aims to introduce pre-marriage courses for non-Muslim couples in line with its move to raise the minimum marriage age to 18, said a state executive councillor in charge of woman affairs today.
Women development and tourism committee chairman Liow Cai Tung said the pre-marriage course for non-Muslims was among the proposals expected to be raised during a state executive committee meeting in Kota Iskandar tomorrow.
“For Muslim, Catholic and some Christian couples, this isn’t an issue as their faith requires them to undergo a mandatory pre-marriage course first before they can tie the knot.
“However, for other non-Muslim couples the state government will promote a pre-marriage course for them which will not be compulsory,” she told Malay Mail when contacted today.
Liow explained that the course would be designed to assist the new couples on their new roles and responsibilities after marriage.
At present, she said there are existing pre-matrimony courses, but the proposed state government course will be a general one catering to all non-Muslim couples, covering all age groups.
Tomorrow’s meeting, chaired by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian, will look into issues, concerns and proposals on the new ruling for couples as the new regulations will cover both Muslims and non-Muslims in the state.
Liow, who is also the Johor Jaya assemblyman, said that she was eager to bring-up the issue of parental consent for non-Muslim couples relating to the new ruling.
“Those aged below 21 needed parental consent if they are to marry. We need to know if this requirement is still needed,” she said, adding that the executive committee will discuss if the measure should be retained.
Liow added that tomorrow’s meeting would also touch on the differences between Muslim and non-Muslim couples in following the new directive.
She hopes that the meeting can make clear issues such as the exemption by the Johor Mentri Besar on reasonable grounds for couples below 18 who wanted to marry.
“Basically, we are still unclear if the exemption covers all couples or Muslim couples only,” she said, adding that the executive committee will also gather input from the Johor Islamic authorities.
Liow said she wholly supports the Federal government and also state government directive to raise the marriage age to 18 and above.
“I am for such a move and it’s a positive step for Johor and Malaysia,” she said.
Last week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad issued a directive ordering all state governments in Malaysia to raise the legal minimum marriage age to 18 years for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
On October 21, Osman said Johor will abide by Dr Mahathir’s directive.
He said previously the marriage age in the state had been fixed at 18 years for males and 16 years for females.
Modern challenges for Bangladesh Catholics
October 24, 2018
Sixty-year-old Catholic Peter* has a well-earned reputation in the southern Bangladesh port and industrial city of Khulna for being a man of good faith and action.
Peter recently retired from his long-time job with a local non-governmental organization.
His only daughter, and two of his four sons, have married.
As well as regularly attending church liturgies, Peter leads evening prayers at home.
But despite there being much to be happy about in his life, there is also a measure of disappointment.
Peter's first two sons took up three years of priestly formation in a seminary more than 12 years ago.
He wanted to see at least one of them become a priest, but neither lived up their father's dream.
After returning from their seminary, the duo didn't complete their graduation, despite Peter being a college graduate.
Peter's eldest son fell in love with a Muslim girl and got married in court, despite both families disapproving.
"A few years later, their marriage was solemnized in the Catholic Church," Peter told ucanews.com.
Catholic neighbors for several years teased Peter's family over the marriage.
"My son and daughter-in-law have been living with us since then and we have a 12-year-old granddaughter," Peter said.
The other son who went off to the seminary, upon returning to the family home, did not continue his studies, failed to find a stable job and stopped attending church services.
"We have tried to change his ways, but he has been reluctant," Peter said about his son drifting away from faith and family to carouse at night with friends.
Another of Peter's adult sons is a college graduate and has a job with a marketing company in the capital, Dhaka. The youngest son is also in Dhaka, where he is studying for his high school graduation.
But they are also no longer interested in church life and activities.
During holidays, when they come home, the sons get upset when he asks them to join church programs and Sunday liturgies.
Peter's third son, who works for the marketing company, is 28 years old. He says having a busy life, including a six-day working week, mitigates against church attendance.
"During weekends I have many important things to do, so I don't have time to go to church," he told ucanews.com, adding that this did not necessarily make him a bad Catholic.
"I don't commit any wrongdoing and I have a value-based life — I don't steal, tell lies or do harm to others."
Nonetheless, Peter feels frustrated about his male offspring moving away from religiosity and the church.
Peter blames bad companions, a desire for money and modern technology for what he describes as a "decline of faith" among his sons.
However, Peter has been always happy about his daughter, both before and after her marriage.
"My daughter is a perfect girl," he said, adding that she was successful in her studies, attends church regularly and has a happy family life.
Father Mintu L. Palma, a family counselor and judicial vicar of the inter-diocesan matrimonial tribunal based in Dhaka, cites a trend towards alienation of young Catholics from a life of faith.
However, most Catholics still go to church, especially on Sundays, he said.
Between 50 and 60 percent of the more than 15,000 parishioners of his Holy Rosary Church in central Dhaka "actively practiced" their religion.
In urban areas, where life is busier and more modern, Catholics tended to be less adherent to their faith, whereas rural Catholics were more inclined towards the church and religious life, the priest told ucanews.com.
Sometimes people wanted to attend church but were "squeezed" by modern family and work pressures.
Father Palma said the church has conducted seminars on using modern communications technologies to help keep Catholics, especially young people, close to their religious beliefs.
However, a Jesuit priest and youth motivator, Father Pradeep Perez, said church programs for the young were often monotonous and did not reflect modern challenges.
Often, church leaders told young people what "to do and not to do" without explaining why, the priest noted.
"There is a philosophical base for church rules and laws," Father Perez said.
For example, the church opposed "artificial family planning" because it limited natural love between men and women.
"The same goes for mixed marriages," the priest said in relation to difficulties encountered when couples were not of the same religious faith.
Father Perez added that youth constitute the future of the church.
"But young people don't have much say in the decision-making processes of the church," he said.
"It must change, or we might end up losing our next generation of Catholics."
*Peter and his family have asked not to use their real names.
France must halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia: Amnesty International
Oct 23, 2018
Amnesty International has once again called on France to suspend its arms sales to Saudi Arabia, due to Riyadh's war crimes in Yemen and the display of its disrespect for human rights, following the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Director of Amnesty International France's Program for Responsibility, Yves Prigent, said on Tuesday that a number of serious human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, have been observed since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen in 2015.
Amnesty International France has long been calling on France to halt arms sales to the Saudis, on account of Paris being a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, which regulates the international trade in conventional arms.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said her country exported 11 billion euros ($12.6 billion) to Saudi Arabia between 2008 to 2017, a figure which was crucial for French jobs.
"These arms exports are extremely supervised and analyzed very meticulously. They are authorized by an inter-ministerial commission placed under the authority of the prime minister, which follows a case-by-case evaluation which takes into account numerous criteria, among which is the nature of exported materials, the respect of human rights, and the preservation of peace and regional stability," Parly told a senate foreign policy commission hearing.
"More and more, our industrial and defense sectors need these arms exports. And so we cannot ignore the impact that all of this has on our defense industry and our jobs," she added.
France is one of the five biggest arms exporters to Saudi Arabia in past years, Amnesty International said, in the same category as the United States and Britain. It sells firearms, parts, ammunitions, artillery and maintenance services.
In April, France managed to sign 20 major agreements with Saudi Arabia worth $18 billion, sources have revealed at the end of a trip by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Paris.
The French companies have always been among the main suppliers of modern weaponry to Saudi Arabia and Paris has already reached military deals worth around 20 billion with the Saudis.
Most of those weapons have been used in Saudi Arabia’s more than three years of war on its southern neighbor Yemen. Rights groups have repeatedly called on Paris to stop the provision of arms and instead impose pressure on Saudis to stop the carnage.
As part of the increasing arms sale, Riyadh has been procured with French tanks, armored vehicles, munitions and artillery and navy ships over the past years.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power and crushing the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The Legal Center for Rights and Developments in Yemen, in a statement released on October 15, announced that the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against the impoverished and conflict-plagued Arab country has resulted in the death of 15,185 civilians, including 3,527 children and 2,277 women.
France's arms sales control policy strict: Gauvin
French foreign ministry deputy spokesman Olivier Gauvin said on Monday that France's arms sales control policy was strict and based on case-by-case analysis by an inter-ministerial committee.
He made the remarks in response to a question whether Paris would heed Berlin's call to suspend weapons sales to Riyadh after Khashoggi's killing.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier on Monday that the killing of Washington Post journalist is a "monstrosity" and vowed that Berlin would not sell arms to Riyadh while the issue remains unclear.
After long insisting that Khashoggi had exited the consulate alive, Riyadh finally admitted on October 20th that he had been murdered inside the mission, blaming the killing on a “rogue operation.” Saudi officials alleged that “discussions” at the mission had turned into “a brawl,” resulting in the journalist's murder.
British Sikhs fear "Islamophobia on Sikhs" being ignored
October 23, 2018
British Sikhs have expressed concerns that the UK government's updated strategy to combat hate crime may be failing to fully acknowledge the problem of "Islamophobia on Sikhs", or attacks on the community members for being mistaken as Muslims.
The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), a representative body for gurdwaras and Sikh organisations across the UK, says that despite repeated interventions the government's new "refresh" of its Action Against Hate strategy to combat hate crimes fails to fully take into account attacks on the "Muslim looking other".
"The government is unwilling to address the wider ramifications of Islamophobia on Sikhs, or the 'Muslim looking other'," the NSO said in a statement.
"A simple acknowledgment that Sikhs face Islamophobia would have allayed concerns. Like us, many will be right to ask the government why ministerial 'round tables' are the preserve of Jews and Muslims," it notes.
The NSO intervention comes as the UK concluded its National Hate Crime Awareness Week over the weekend with an announcement of a review into whether additional offences such as misogyny and ageism should be brought into the ambit of hate crime.
The review coincided with the release of latest figures indicating that religious hate crime, or people being targeted for their religious beliefs, had registered a surge in Britain over the past few years.
But the NSO believes that the government's current focus on religious groups is "far too narrow", and all faiths should be treated with "parity" when it comes to tackling prejudice.
It believes that despite being subject to serious violence and hostility since the 9/11 attacks in the US, the UK government's National Hate Crime Plan "has managed to marginalise British Sikhs yet again".
"Many of the hate crimes described as Islamophobic are directed against Sikhs out of ignorance or mistaken identity," NSO Director and House of Lords peer Indarjit Singh said during a Parliamentary debate on the issue last week.
"Few Sikhs have not been called 'Bin Laden' at some time or other, and some have been violently attacked. We heard about the gurdwara in Leeds being defaced and partly burned and, only a couple of months ago, a gurdwara in Edinburgh that I had recently visited was firebombed," he said.
During the House of Lords debate on the motion 'This House takes note of the challenges posed by religious intolerance and prejudice in the United Kingdom', Lord Singh stressed that he did not "begrudge" the protection that Jews and Muslims receive against hate crime but that the government must be a "little more even-handed to non-Abrahamic faiths in both policies and resourcing".
Sikh and Hindu groups have been lobbying over the issue for some time and in January last year, the UK government responded with a specific policy to help these communities report hate crime via True Vision, a police-funded website designed to combat hate crime. However, the NSO claims the project is yet to be fully implemented.
The government's Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), which is leading on the initiatives against hate crime, said that funds had been allocated through the True Vision project and that police is working with a number of Sikh groups on a dedicated reporting page for the site, as well as awareness raising exercises.
The ministry added that it was committed to continuing its engagement with Sikh communities through roundtable discussions and is also considering other ways to encourage reporting and support victims of anti-Sikh hatred in its refreshed Hate Crime Action Plan.
"This government abhors all forms of hate crime, including that directed at Sikhs. The refreshed Hate Crime Action Plan to tackle race and religious crime applies equally to Sikhs as it does other religions and races," said UK Faith Minister Lord Nick Bourne.
"Our Anti-Muslim Hatred working group will be addressing the issue of Sikhs being mistaken for Muslims and being subjected to hate crimes. We are absolutely clear that no one, of any race or religion, should be subjected to hate crime," he said.
Full report at:
London imam's conviction for supporting terror is upheld
October 24, 2018
A US appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction and life prison sentence given to a London imam for supporting terrorism.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals said there was overwhelming evidence against Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 60. At trial, he was referred to by his alias, Abu Hamza Al Masri.
The court also ruled that Mustafa's 2012 extradition to the US from England did not come with conditions preventing his incarceration at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Mustafa is missing both hands. His lawyers said he belongs at a prison better suited to people with disabilities.
A lawyer for Mustafa did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Mustafa was convicted in 2014 of ensuring there were satellite communications for kidnappers during a 1998 attack that killed four tourists in Yemen, of supporting plans to open an Al Qaeda training camp in Bly, Oregon, and sending someone to an Afghanistan training camp.
In the 1990s, he led London's Finsbury Park Mosque, reportedly attended by September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Mustafa denied meeting them.
The 2nd Circuit said it found no reason to reject rulings made by the trial judge regarding evidence offered by prosecutors.
"First, audio and video recordings of Mustafa encouraging religious violence, justifying the kidnapping and enslavement of non-Muslims, praising Osama bin Laden, and applauding murderous Al Qaida attacks in and outside the United States were probative of Mustafa's culpable intent in engaging in the charged crimes," the three-judge appeals panel wrote.
"Second, evidence of terrorist literature and military equipment seized from Mustafa's London residence and the Finsbury Park Mosque that he led was also probative of Mustafa's intent to support terrorism and to do so through violence," they added.
The judges rejected Mustafa's argument that he should have been permitted to testify that years of solitary confinement explained his poor memory and difficulty at expressing himself from the witness stand.
They noted that the trial judge let him testify that he had not spoken to more than one person at a time during over a decade of confinement and that his imprisonment had negatively affected his memory.
The 2nd Circuit was also not particularly critical of the fact that jurors were told about his earlier convictions in England for soliciting murder. During oral arguments this year, two appeals judges were critical of the fact.
Full report at:
UK court refers top Islamophobic figure to attorney general
Oct 23, 2018
Britain's top far-right Islamophobe Tommy Robinson has walked free from the court at the Old Bailey after a judge referred his case to the Attorney General.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon, stood before Nicholas Hillard QC on Tuesday, having previously been jailed for committing contempt by filming individuals involved in a criminal trial before the trial had taken place.
In May 2017, Robinson had filmed four men outside of a court who were later convicted of raping a teenage girl.
Robinson, 35, was subsequently sentenced to thirteen months and ten months for contempt of court in May this year but has appealed both contempt rulings claiming that his live broadcasts outside of courts hearings contained information already in the public domain.
Three judges in an appeal court quashed the Leeds ruling, stating the judge in the initial court should not have commenced contempt proceedings resulting in Robinson’s release from prison. They also ordered that the case be reheard for allegations to be examined and, following a short appearance at the Old Bailey in September, the case had been adjourned until today.
However, at the Tuesday retrial, within minutes of Robinson’s appearance, Hillard referred the case to the Attorney General, Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox, claiming the case was too complicated.
“Cross-examination of Mr Yaxley-Lennon would be necessary for a proper examination of the allegations. All the evidence must be rigorously tested,” said Hillard.
“I think it necessary to look at quite a lot of the detail of what Mr Yaxley-Lennon said in the broadcast [featuring the alleged contempt] as to come to the overall picture as to what happened,” said the judge.
“I’m satisfied in the light of the issues as they now appear, as they emerged from the statement of yesterday, that cross-examination of Mr Yaxley-Lennon is necessary for a proper and thorough examination and resolution of the case that is in the public interest,” he added.
Robinson, who has been jailed in the past for fraud, was granted bail but could find himself back behind bars if he is found to have breached the rules of court proceedings and prejudiced trials with contempt by publishing details of court cases on social media platforms.
The maximum sentence for contempt is two years imprisonment plus a fine. Laws around contempt of court are designed to ensure that free trials take place, and to avoid media trials.
Scores of supporters gathered outside the Old Bailey in Central London while Robinson addressed the crowd claiming that he should never have been jailed in the first place.
Robinson first rose to prominence after founding the "English Defense League" while anointing himself the group’s de facto leader. Since leaving the group in 2013, Robinson claims to oppose ‘political Islam’ while his critics point out that Robinson frequently levels slurs at all Muslims and only focuses on grooming gangs and crimes where Muslims are perpetrators.
Recent figures show that far-right nationalism is the fastest growing threat to national security in the UK and that white people are the largest ethnic group of those committing terror offences.
Full report at:
Only Saudis have answers to Khashoggi case: UK
Oct 23, 2018
The British government has further pressed the Saudi government over the case of a dissident journalist who was killed earlier this month in Turkey, saying new allegations raised by Turkish authorities showed that it was only Riyadh that could clarify the issue.
Prime Minster Theresa May’s spokesman said Tuesday that a statement by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showed that Saudis has more facts to reveal about the mysterious case.
“President Erdogan’s statement this morning underscores the fact there remain questions which only the Saudis have the answers to,” said the spokesman.
In remarks to his ruling party members, Erdogan criticized Riyadh’s contradictory reports in the days following Khashoggi’s disappearance, saying Ankara will not stop its investigation until all major questions in the case are answered.
“Why don’t they still produce the body of the person after their admission? Who is the ‘local cooperator’ that a Saudi official pointed at as the person who took the body? You should reveal who this local cooperator is,” asked Erdogan.
The comments came days after Saudis finally admitted the death of Khashoggi in the Istanbul mission, although they stopped short of providing evidences on how he was killed.
Governments around the world have pressed the Saudis to come up with better explanations on the case. The same British government spokesman has said on Monday that Saudis were supposed to provide the world with “urgent clarification” on how Khashoggi was killed. The official said Riyadh’s account on Khashoggi’s murder entailed hypotheses.
“There remains an urgent need for clarification of what happened beyond the hypotheses raised so far in the Saudi investigation,” the spokesman told reports.
Full report at:
France plans to repatriate children of extremist fighters in Syria
October 24, 2018
PARIS: France is working to bring back children held by Syrian Kurdish forces and belonging to suspected French extremist militants, but will leave their mothers to be prosecuted by local authorities, French officials said.
France, like other European nations, has been wrestling with how to handle suspected militants and their families seeking to return from combat zones in Iraq and Syria, as well as those in detention, after Daesh surrendered huge swathes of territory under military pressure.
Daesh has suffered a series of deadly militant attacks over the past three years and is grappling with the threat of homegrown militancy as well as the risks posed by fighters slipping back across French borders.
While government policy has been to refuse to take back fighters and their wives, France has said it needed to determine the situation of minors.
“French authorities are now entering an active phase of evaluation on the possibility of repatriating minors,” one French official said.
Some 60 women, including 40 mothers with about 150 minors, have been reported in Syria by families in France. The large majority of the children are under the age of six.
After cross-checking information with Kurdish authorities and the International Red Cross, Paris has located a number of them in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria.
Preparations are being put into place to repatriate children on a case-by-case basis, including those born in Syria, the officials said. Their return would depend on mothers agreeing to be separated from their children.
“It is in the best interest of the children,” said one of the officials.
Paris is concerned that if these minors are left in Syria, they could eventually also become militants.
The first children could return by year’s end, although the complexity of the situation may push the timeline.
France in December 2017 repatriated three children belonging to a French woman who was sentenced in June by an Iraqi court to life imprisonment for her allegiance to Daesh.
She kept her youngest child with her in detention in Iraq.
That case was easier for France given Baghdad has a functioning legal system unlike in Kurdish northern Syria, which is outside the control of the Syrian government.
Figures for the number of French extremist fighters in the Levant region have varied between 500 and 700 over the years.
Full report at:
Belgium calls for canceling arms sales to Saudi Arabia
By Serife Cetin and S.Ahmet Aytac
Belgium should take Germany as an example and stop the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Tuesday.
Speaking to local VRT radio station, De Croo called on his country to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia over the gruesome killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“The arm export decision was taken by the regional parliaments, therefore, they don’t have authority other than to advise. We shouldn’t hide behind the EU. We should take Germany as an example and stop the arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” De Croo said.
"Stopping the arm exports would also contribute to prevent dozens of people from losing their lives in Yemen every day,” he added.
The Walonia region -- one of the three main regions of Belgium -- led the sales to Saudi Arabia with over $153 million euros last year.
Germany announced on Sunday that it would stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid doubts over Riyadh’s explanation on the killing of journalist Khashoggi.
Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded urgent clarification on Khashoggi’s killing, saying: “As far as arms exports are concerned, those can’t take place in the current conditions.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is expected to ban the arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite the opposition of President Donald Trump.
“Canada would cancel the defense agreement valued of $15 billion with Saudi Arabia,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at the parliament in capital Ottowa.
Khashoggi was last seen on Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
After days of denying to know his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia on Saturday claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed on Tuesday that all information and evidence that has been revealed so far showed that Khashoggi was the victim of a premeditated, "savage" murder.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
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'EU reaction on Khashoggi depends on Saudi steps'
By Sibel Ugurlu
The European Union’s reaction to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi will depend on the next steps that will be taken by the Saudi authorities, the EU foreign policy chief said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the EU Parliament, Federica Mogherini said the EU has "asked Saudi Arabia to shed light on the events of Oct. 2 through a full, credible, transparent and prompt investigation".
"We have also asked Saudi Arabia for full collaboration with the Turkish authorities.
"We hope that everyone will work towards the goal of establishing the facts. This is the starting point," Mogherini said, adding that the investigation must be driven by the search for truth and not by geopolitics.
Mogherini said the confirmation of Khashoggi's death was a first step towards the truth and towards accountability.
"But the explanations offered so far by the Saudi authorities leave many doubts and many questions unanswered.
Recalling the Foreign Affairs Council last week, Mogherini said all 28 Foreign Ministers of the EU member states agreed to demand a credible and transparent investigation.
"We are working on further steps and statements to be taken together," she added.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had gone missing since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After days of denying to know his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia last week claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
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Saudi king, crown prince meet Khashoggi family
October 24, 2018
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with family members of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh on Tuesday, state media said.
The Saudi rulers met with Khashoggi’s son Salah and brother Sahel at the royal palace, state-run news agency SPA reported.
The report said King Salman and Prince Mohammed offered their condolences to the family of the Saudi journalist.
Khashoggi — a Washington Post contributor and critic of the crown prince — was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.
After more than two weeks of vehemently denying Khashoggi was dead, the Saudi government on Saturday said he was killed in a fight inside the consulate and said the murder was not state-sanctioned.
Senior Politician: PM Determined to Expel US Military Men from Iraq
Oct 23, 2018
"Adel Abdul Mahdi is determined to expel the foreign military men, specially the Americans, from Iraq," Ali Al-Sonaid said on Tuesday.
He said that the Iraqi prime minister will be committed to security agreements with all countries based on Iraq's needs and security conditions.
Al-Sonaid said that protection of Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposition to the presence of foreign forces and assignment of a timetable to expel them are among Abdul Mahdi's priorities.
Newly elected Iraqi President Barham Salih named independent Shiite candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister-designate, ending months of deadlock after an inconclusive national election in May.
A former vice president, oil minister and finance minister, Abdul Mahdi had 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.
He faces the daunting tasks of rebuilding much of the country after four years of war with the ISIL and balancing foreign relations.
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Syrian Army Preparing for Idlib Operation as Terrorists Refuse to Leave Demilitarized Zone
Oct 23, 2018
The army detected terrorists' bases and positions, in which heavy weapons are deployed in Idlib province.
The army has specified the strongholds of heavy arms, tanks, cannons, missiles and mortar launchers in demilitarized zone mentioned in Sochi Agreement.
In the meantime, a field commander said that the terrorists are still reinvigorating their positions and are dispatching more military hardware to the demilitarized zone, adding the terrorists have continued targeting the Syrian army, and government forces are ready to counter them.
The commander said that a group of Ajnad al-Sham, deployed near a Turkish monitoring post in the small town of Sarman, pounded the Syrian Army positions in the town of Kafraya in Eastern Idlib, pursued by a heavy fight between the army and the terrorists. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Sunday that Turkey failed to convince terrorist groups to withdraw from the demilitarized zone mentioned in the Sochi Agreements that covers parts of Lattakia, Idlib, Hama and Aleppo provinces a week after the agreement's deadline of October 15.
In the meantime, al-Watan pointed to the failure of Turkey in expelling terrorists from the demilitarized zone, and said that the Syrian Army's artillery units pounded the movements of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at terrorists that tried to prevail over the army's positions in al-Latamina region in Northeastern Hama and in the village of al-Zarzour in Southeastern Idlib.
A number of Tahrir al-Sham terrorists were killed or wounded in the army's artillery attack.
Full report at:
FII delegates pay tribute to Khashoggi, say ‘terrible act not part of our DNA’
October 23, 2018
RIYADH: Speakers at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh did not shy away from addressing what could otherwise have been the elephant in the room: The death of Jamal Khashoggi.
Numerous speakers had pulled out of the event over the death of the Saudi journalist in the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Khashoggi’s death was the result of a “rogue operation” by people acting beyond the scope of Saudi authorities, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Sunday.
Many speakers due to attend the FII — mostly those from Western organizations — had pulled out due to allegations the Saudi government was complicit in Khashoggi’s death.
But speakers at the FII on Tuesday tackled the issue head-on, calling the death “abhorrent” and promising justice.
“These are difficult days for us in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are going through a crisis, of sorts, resulting from the very regrettable and abhorrent incident that took place in Turkey,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told the audience.
“Nobody in the Kingdom can justify it or explain it. From the leadership on down, we are very upset about what has happened,” he added.
“The king has made it clear that there will be an investigation, justice and retribution to those responsible.”
The prominent Saudi business executive Lubna Olayan also remarked on the case, saying that the “terrible acts reported in recent weeks are alien to our culture and DNA.”
Al-Falih said that, despite the ongoing “crisis” due to the case, the ambitious reforms that Saudi Arabia is undertaking would continue.
“The Kingdom is in the midst of a historic transformation of unprecedented proportions, and the train has moved, and it has moved deliberately toward a transformation journey that will not be stopped,” he said.
Full report at:
Six killed by car bomb near Iraq's Mosul
October 23, 2018
Al-QAYYARAH, Iraq: A car bomb attack Tuesday killed six people and wounded 26 more at a market in a town near Daesh's former Iraqi capital of Mosul, medics said.
Images of the scene posted on social media showed a devastated market in the town of Al Qayyarah, 60 kilometres (40 miles) south of Mosul, with wounded being evacuated as bystanders watched on.
"The attack killed six people and wounded 26," doctor Abdelmoneim Majid al-Tabu, who heads the town's health service, told AFP.
Al Qayyarah was held by Daesh after they swept through northern Iraq in 2014.
The militants were ousted from the town in 2016, almost a year before they were driven out of Mosul.
Full report at:
The Khashoggi murder and Malaysia’s foreign policy
October 24, 2018
Amid growing international outrage over the brutal and gruesome murder of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reiterated that “Malaysia’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia remain strong”, to quote one local report covering Putrajaya’s response to the killing. He was further quoted as saying that, “We are a friendly nation. We look at the big picture.” There was not even a hint of concern.
Many Malaysians, no doubt, found his comments deeply troubling.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, however, quickly set the record straight: not mincing any words, and dismissing all that “big picture” nonsense, he asserted that Khashoggi’s killing was “an extreme and unacceptable act of tyranny” that “cannot be condoned”. He added that it is not something that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government can accept.
Murder most foul
According to Turkish authorities, the murder of Khashoggi was carried out by a professional team of Saudi officials who lay in wait for him at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. After being overpowered, he was reportedly dismembered while still alive by a forensic specialist (part of the Saudi team) and his remains disposed of.
The official Saudi narrative of the murder has been anything but credible. After insisting for days that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, the Saudis, faced with mounting evidence of their complicity, now admit that Khashoggi was indeed killed in the consulate. However, they conveniently maintain that it was the work of rogue agents acting without official sanction.
Observers familiar with the way the Saudi kingdom operates insist that such an operation could not have been carried out without the knowledge of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (also known as MBS), the real power behind the throne. The prince has, in fact, a history of rash and reckless behaviour.
Whatever it is, Khashoggi’s murder has shocked the world. Even some of Jeddah’s strongest supporters were disturbed by the sheer barbarity of it all and are demanding a full and transparent investigation. In the meantime, many senior business and political leaders are boycotting the ongoing “Davos in the desert” conference (a key initiative of MBS) while both the German chancellor and the Canadian prime minister have called for a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
A foreign policy that reflects the new Malaysia
Under such circumstances, the foreign minister’s reiteration of business as usual with the Saudi government was clearly inappropriate.
More than that, it is an indication that the foreign ministry has yet to think through what the new Malaysia stands for and how best to reflect the values and hopes of a free and democratic society premised upon respect for the rule of law.
The prime minister’s UN speech and his pledge to ratify all outstanding UN human rights conventions should have been seen as an indication of Malaysia’s new commitment to human rights, among other matters. It is one thing for the foreign ministry to table the prime minister’s speech in Parliament and declare it to be our policy; it is quite another to give it full expression in the positions we take on international issues.
The limits of Islamic solidarity
Clearly, one of the things that needs to be addressed going forward is the lack of a consistent human rights dimension in our foreign policy. Out of a misguided sense of Islamic solidarity, we have, for example, tended to keep silent when Muslim despots target their own people.
Even now, we remain largely ambivalent to the carnage that Saudi Arabia (with US and UK support) is inflicting on Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 10,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed while millions are on the brink of what the UN warns might be the “largest famine the world has seen for many decades”. What the Saudis are doing to Yemen is nothing short of a crime against humanity; silence is simply not an option anymore.
With MBS now working with the hawks in Washington and Tel Aviv to plot regime change in Tehran, things are about to get a lot worse. Hasn’t the slaughter and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria been enough? Have we learned nothing of the horrendous consequences of regime change? How many more bombed-out cities, how much more death and destruction do we need to see before we demand that the Saudis and their backers in Washington stop this madness?
Before they came to power, many PH leaders expressed outrage against the carnage in Yemen and pressed for the withdrawal of all Malaysian armed forces support personnel from the Saudi-led coalition. There was no talk then about “big picture” diplomacy.
A principled foreign policy
With his remarks on the Khashoggi murder, Mahathir has sent a clear message that there are limits to Islamic solidarity, that a principled foreign policy obliges us to speak out against injustice and to actively promote the cause of peace in the world.
The days when we close our eyes to human rights abuses and war-mongering for the sake of political expediency are now over. The foreign ministry, like other ministries, must rise to the challenge of Malaysia Baru and give expression to the values that premise it. The people expect no less.
It’s geography, prominent Indonesian Muslim leader tells Zahid over quake-LGBT remark
October 24, 2018
PETALING JAYA: One of Indonesia’s most prominent Muslim leaders gave a brief lesson in geography to Ahmad Zahid Hamidi after the Umno president blamed the recent earthquake and tsunami in central Sulawesi, which left thousands dead, on the homosexual activities of the people there.
Ahmad Syafii Maarif, the former chief of the 30-million strong Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, also expressed surprise that such a statement could come from an “important person” like Zahid.
“There are people in Indonesia too who argue that way, but these are insignificant individuals. Yet here we have an important person in Malaysia saying this,” Syafii told FMT.
Zahid, who is also the parliamentary opposition leader, had asked Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, about efforts by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to counter the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lifestyle.
The former deputy prime minister said he feared that Malaysia would face the wrath of God if it tolerated the group, adding that what happened in Sulawesi was divine retribution for the increase in “LGBT activities”.
“As a result, the entire area was destroyed. This is Allah’s punishment,” Zahid told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
The 7.5-magnitude quake on Sept 28 triggered 11m-high tsunami waves that smashed into the coastal city of Palu. More than 2,000 bodies were recovered with 5,000 more believed to be buried in the ruins.
As of Sunday, Indonesian authorities said some 220,000 people had lost their homes, with an estimated loss of US$1 billion.
Syafii, 83, who has written extensively on Islam and is a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, reminded Zahid that Indonesia was located within the “ring of fire”, an area covering some 40,000km in the Pacific Ocean which is active with earthquakes and volcanos.
“There are geographical factors involved,” he said.
He also said it was not right for Zahid to conclude that the earthquake was a divine punishment, adding that it should instead be seen as an opportunity to help fellow humans by channelling aid and assisting the thousands of victims in rebuilding their lives.
“If we have sinned, we seek forgiveness from God. But never link it to the tsunami,” said Syafii.
Full report at:
After Guan Eng shows Kelantan sought aid, PAS says that’s federalism
24 October 2018
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang acknowledged today that Kelantan needed RM24.5 million in federal aid to pay civil service salaries this year, but insisted this was part of Malaysia’s federalism.
He said Kelantan was a member of the Federation of Malaysia, under which Putrajaya has specific duties towards the state governments from which it also derives economic benefits and value.
“No, we are not asking for charity.
“It is the responsibility and priority of the central government to repay the resources that been taken from the state,” he said to reporters at Parliament today.
MUI calls for flag burners to apologize to 'the faithful'
Karina M. Tehusijarana
October 23, 2018
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has called on the people who burned a black flag bearing an Islamic creed in Arabic to apologize for their action.
"The MUI is concerned and regrets the burning of the flag with the tauhid text, as it has caused an uproar among the Islamic faithful," MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas told a press conference at its Central Jakarta headquarters on Tuesday. "The MUI requests that the perpetrators apologize and openly admit their mistake to the Islamic faithful," he said.
The tauhid, or tawhid, is the core of the Islamic faith and expresses the belief in Allah as the one and only God.
The flag-burning incident occurred on Monday during the National Santri (Islamic students) Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, when an unidentified individual raised a black flag bearing the tauhid.
Read also: Suspected HTI flag burning sparks controversy among Muslims
Several men, alleged to be members of the Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser) youth wing of the largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), took down the flag and burned it, apparently because they thought it was the flag of the banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).
A video of the flag burning went viral and drew outrage from many Muslims, who deemed it an insult to Islam.
Police have detained and interrogated three people in connection with the incident, but none have been charged with a crime.
MUI deputy chairman Zainut Tauhid said the council would leave it to the police to determine whether the burned flag indeed represented the HTI.
Full report at:
Video showing burning of hardline Islamist group HTI's flag sparks controversy in Indonesia
Oct 24, 2018
JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A video depicting members of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation burning what is believed to be the flag of a hardline Islamist group has sparked controversy.
In the two-minute clip that went viral on Monday (Oct 22), individuals wearing uniforms of a civilian security unit under the youth wing (Banser) of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation are seen setting a black flag bearing the Islamic creed of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) on fire.
HTI is a banned Islamist group that calls for the establishment of a caliphate ruled by syariah law.
Dozens of other people wearing the same uniform were watching over the burning. When the fire started engulfing the flag, members started singing the Banser marching song.
The incident occurred during a National Santri Day rally in Garut, West Java, on Monday.
Indonesian netizens were outraged by the video, saying the flag burning was a blasphemous act. The flag had contained the text of the tauhid, which is the core of the Islamic faith and expresses the belief in Allah as the one and only God.
"Will Banser members that burned the tauhid flag utter La Illaha Illallah (Syahadah) upon their death, while they burned the sentence when alive?" Twitter user @CakKhum tweeted on Monday, while sharing the video.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil was among the first officials to respond to the video. The governor tweeted on his Twitter account @ridwankamil on Monday that he regretted the incident.
"They were supposed to burn the symbol of an organisation that had been banned by the government, but in my opinion, (the act) triggered a different interpretation. Let's express our views in an acceptable manner. Our nation needs that," he said.
Mr Ridwan's statement was echoed by Mr Zainut Tauhid Saad, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who said Banser should be more aware of what it was committing to avoid triggering conflict among Muslims.
He also urged people not be provoked by the video. "It shouldn't be exaggerated because it might trigger further misunderstanding," he said, as quoted by Antara.
Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has also weighed in, saying on Tuesday that the police were investigating the case.
The Garut Police have apprehended and questioned three people for their alleged involvement in the flag burning. Police chief Budi Satria Wiguna said the police were also looking for another individual who allegedly brought the flag to the rally.
"We suspect it was an HTI flag, although we need to investigate it further," he said, as quoted by kompas.com.
NU youth wing GP Ansor chairman Yaqut Cholil Coumas said he was collecting more information from officials of the wing's Garut chapter regarding the incident. He added that GP Ansor would punish the implicated members if they were found guilty.
Full report at:
Japanese journalist Yasuda released from militant captivity in Syria: Govt. spokesman
Oct 23, 2018
A high-ranking Japanese official says freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who was captured by members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria three years ago, is believed to have been released and is now in Turkey.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Tuesday night that Qatari authorities had informed Japan that Yasuda had been released.
He added that the 44-year-old Japanese journalist was at an immigration facility in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, and that Japanese Embassy workers were heading there.
Suga highlighted that Tokyo was making checks to confirm that the man was in fact Yasuda.
The Japanese government spokesman went on to say that the possibility that it was him was very high, adding that the government had already notified Yasuda’s wife of the release.
Yasuda’s wife voiced hope over the news.
“If the information is true, I want to tell him, ‘You did it, you’re free. Everyone has been waiting for you,'” she was quoted as saying by Japan’s official news agency Kyodo.
Yasuda went missing in June 2015 after he crossed into Syria’s Idlib province from neighboring Turkey to cover the foreign-sponsored militancy in the Arab country.
He was later taken hostage by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militants. The extremists reportedly sought a $10 million ransom for his release.
In March 2016, footage of a man believed to be Yasuda reading out an English message to his family and home country was posted online
Two months later, another video was uploaded. It showed a bearded man that appeared to be the missing journalist holding a sheet of paper with a handwritten message that said in Japanese, “Please help. This is my last chance.”
Last July, two videos were posted online in which a man believed to be Yasuda appealed for help.
In one of them, the man is seen clad in an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in front of a wall, as two black-clad militants wearing balaclava-like masks stand behind him wielding machine-guns.
On July 17, a Syrian journalist working for pro-government Sama television channel lost his life while covering territorial advances made by government forces and allied fighters from popular defense groups in battles against foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists near the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Mustafa Salamah was killed as army troops and their allies were moving deeper into Tal Mashara area in the eastern countryside of Syria’s strategic southwestern province of Quneitra.
Salamah was fatally shot as government troops and allied fighters were engaged in fierce exchanges of gunfire with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists.
Full report at:
Australia slaps sanctions on Myanmar officers over Rohingya
Oct 23, 2018
The Australian government has announced sanctions against five military officers in Myanmar who are accused of leading brutal atrocities against minority Rohingya Muslims in the Southeast Asian country.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne unveiled the sanctions on Tuesday, also saying that the army officers were “responsible for human rights violations committed by units under their command.”
She identified the five as Aung Kyaw Zaw, Maung Maung Soe, Aung Aung, Than Oo, and Khin Maung Soe.
The punitive measures include asset freezes and bans on their entry into Australia.
Some of the targeted officers are believed to have quit their positions since carrying out the cruel operation against the minority Muslims.
There has been no official reaction so far from Myanmar’s authorities to the measures announced by Canberra.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017, when many of the surviving members of the community started fleeing to Bangladesh en masse.
The United Nations (UN) has concluded that the atrocities constitute genocide.
Australia’s move came just over a week after Myanmar’s extremist Buddhists waged a rally in the city of Yangon to express support for the military’s state-sponsored crackdown campaign against Rohingya Muslims, vowing to “fight back” any international attempt to punish their top generals for the atrocities.
Several thousand anti-Muslim and pro-military Buddhists marched through Yangon on October 14, holding portraits of Myanmar’s military chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, who has been referred by the UN to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.
Also last week, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that mostly female Rohingya Muslim refugees are being sold into forced labor to make income for desperate families living in squalid border camps in Bangladesh.
IOM added that it had identified 99 cases of human trafficking since September 2017, warning that realistic figures are probably much higher.
Proposed Reception to PM: Rift in Hefajat
October 24, 2018
M Nurul Hayat Chowdhury
Cracks have surfaced within the Hefajat-e Islam over a proposed public reception to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, prompting the Islamist group's senior nayeb-e-ameer Mohibullah Babunagari to resign.
The proposal that threw Hefajat into the crisis came from none other than its undisputed supremo, Shah Ahmad Shafi.
On October 1, he announced the plan to accord a reception to Hasina as a gesture of gratitude for the passage of a bill recognising top Qawmi degree Dawra-e-Hadith as equivalent to master's in Islamic studies and Arabic.
A 15-member committee was also formed to organise the programme.
But, insiders say, several leaders are not supporting this because of the “government's role” on May 5, 2013, when Hefajat activists got involved in deadly clashes with law enforcers and ruling party men, turning Motijheel and Paltan areas into a battlefield.
On that day, Hefajat had organised a huge gathering at Motijheel Shapla Chattar to press home its 13-point demand, including a law ensuring capital punishment for “maligning Islam”.
Its activists went on the rampage setting fire to hundreds of shops, vehicles and police checkpoints, which led law enforcers to swing into action to flush them out in a raid after midnight.
After the incident, 83 cases were filed against 3,416 people, and most of its front leaders went undercover fearing arrest.
However, things would drastically change in the days to come. The Islamist group got close to the AL and the government, getting benefits, including land, according to a number of its leaders.
Hefajat now remains almost silent over its 13-point demand as, insiders say, the government has convinced it to refrain from taking to the streets pressing for those.
The leaders also no longer speak of what they earlier called “brutal action of May 5”. The organisation earlier even said the government had carried out "mass killing of its men” in the Shapla Chattar operation, a claim it has never been able to prove.
And Hefajat Ameer Shafi himself has started to praise the government.
Recently, addressing a programme in Chattogram, he said, "I am not an Awami League. People say I have become Awami League. It's wrong. Even if I become Awami League, I have no objection. Because there are people in the Awami League who love religion.”
Sources in the Qawmi madrasa-based organisation said Mohibullah Babunagari resigned from his post on October 3 amid feuds within the party high-ups.
Talking to The Daily Star on Friday, Mohibullah said the decision about the PM's reception was not taken in any meeting and nobody talked with him about the issue.
“Hefajat was formed to materialise its 13-point demand. Now the organisation has no activities to press for those,” he added.
Founding nayeb-e-ameer of Hefajat, Mufti Izharul Islam Chowdhury, told this paper on Friday that Mohibullah had resigned from his post protesting the decision to accord a public reception to the prime minister.
“He [Mohibullah] resigned in protest at the plan to accord a public reception to the PM. Many other leaders support him,” he said, mentioning that 150 Islamic scholars had submitted a memorandum to Shafi demanding cancellation of the decision.
“Hefajat has shifted from its 13-point demand, based on which the organisation was formed,” he again said, adding there was no protest after the “Shapla Chattar was stained with the blood of Hefajat men”.
Recently, unidentified people distributed several hundred leaflets at Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Muinul Islam in Chattogram's Hathazari, known as the Hefajat headquarters.
The leaflets denounced Shafi's son Anas Madani for using the Hefajat ameer to serve his purposes and questioned why the people who were earlier termed “enemies of Islam” are now being treated as friends.
A number of other leaders alleged that the government “managed” Hefajat, which was very much anti-Awami League at the time of its formation, to keep it from anti-government activities.
However, Mufti Fayzullah, joint secretary of Hefajat, said there was no internal conflict in Hefajat and they are on the right track.
Hefajat grabbed the spotlight as a force opposed to Gonojagoron Mancha, spearheading the 2013 Shahbagh movement for highest punishment to war criminals. It took the centre stage after the February 15 brutal murder of blogger Rajib Haider.
Talking to The Daily Star, a number of Hefajat leaders in Dhaka admitted the Hefajat became “bankrupt” by receiving undue benefits from the Awami League government.
“We have come to know that some top leaders, including Anas Madani, elder son of Hefajat Ameer Shah Ahmed Shafi, Organising Secretary Azizul Haq and Joint Secretary General Moinuddin Ruhee joined hands with the Hasina government after getting undue advantages,” said a Hefajat leader, also a central committee member of Khelafat Andolon, in May 2014.
He added that the government had completed all formalities regarding a lease of 33 acres of railway land to Hefajat.
Wishing anonymity, another Hefajat leader said he has come to know that those leaders even received money from the government as part of an understanding not to act against the administration.
“Due to the opposition of a section of top Hefajat leaders, including those three, we could not launch any major protest programme regarding the May 5 crackdown,” said a Hefajat leader.
Talking to this newspaper a few days back, a minister admitted that the government has succeeded to tame Hefajat by giving benefits to some of its top leaders and through negotiations since 2014.
Shafi himself admitted in a programme held on October 1 that some people of Awami League donated a huge amount of money for the development of their madrasa.
According to local sources, Anas Madani, who is a teacher at the Hathazari madrasa, got rich after the incident of Shapla Chattar.
He reportedly built five multi-storey buildings on 20 kathas of land in Eidgah and Chandraghona areas. Local sources say the price of one katha land in the areas was at least Tk 40 lakh during the construction of buildings in 2014.
A two-storey building has also been constructed and soil test has already been done for a 10-storey building on the madrasa campus, sources added.
Full report at:
Taliban IED expert’s wife, children killed by own bomb in Faryab
Oct 24 2018
At least three family members of a Taliban group member was killed in an explosion triggered by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan.
The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the incident took place inside the house of a famous Taliban IED expert identified as Sadruddin.
The statement further added that Sadruddin was busy in making an IED when it went off prematurely, leaving his wife and two children dead.
The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the incident so far.
The Taliban militants and other militants including ISIS often use improvised explosive device as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials.
However, in majority of such attacks the ordinary civilians are killed while in some cases the Taliban militants are themselves blown up in premature explosions.
Anti-government elements must immediately end the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of all improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in areas frequented by civilians, said UNAMA in a special human rights report released few days earlier.
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NATO soldiers suffer casualties in apparent insider attack in West of Afghanistan
Oct 23 2018
At least three NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in an apparent insider attack in western Herat province of Afghanistan.
The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in a statement said the incident took place on Monday.
“A Resolute Support service member was killed in Herat province today,” the statement said.
“Two other Resolute Support service members were wounded in the incident. Initial reports indicate the attack was committed by a member of the Afghan security forces,” NATO added in its statement.
No further details were given regarding the identities of the soldiers killed or wounded in the attack.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense of Czech Republic has confirmed that one of its soldiers has been killed and two others have sustained injuries in Herat province.
The statement further added that the incident has taken place in Shindand district of Herat province.
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One lakh delegates to attend World Sunni meet
Oct 24, 2018
Nagpur: Stage is set for a three-day World Islamic Sunni Iitimaa (WISI) being organized in the city from October 26 to 28. More than one lakh delegates from India and abroad are likely to attend this conference organized to mark the 100th Urs of Imaam Ahmed Raza Khan at KDK College ground, Wardhaman Nagar.
The event has been organized by Munazzamah Falaahiyyah, an organization which works for social, religious and academic welfare of the Sunni community. Giving details of the event, Shariq Sheikh Razavi, president of Munazzamah Falaahiyyah said, “Imaam Ahmed Raza Khan is highly revered in our community as he is known as a revivalist. People like him come once in a century and they are known as revivalist as they help in bringing back to the religion many of its practices which have got diluted or are forgotten over the years.”
About 150 scholars from India and abroad will attend the conference which will focus on subjects like spreading teachings and preaching of Sufism, inculcating patriotism in youth, loving the younger and respecting the elders, striving to declare Nagpur as a clean, green and peaceful city and most importantly, propagating the literary works of Imaam Raza Ahmed Khan.
The motto of the conference is ‘Follow Sufism, not terrorism’.
The highlight of the event will be release of a biography of Imaam Raza Ahmed Khan in various languages. “Sufism prescribes life which is beneficial to mankind, so the purpose of the conference is to reach these peaceful tenets laid down in Islam and propagated by the Imaam to all communities,” Razavi said.
The notable among the speakers will be Sheikh Noor Al Ain Qadri from Tanzania, Hazrat Dr Hasan Raza Khan from Patna, Hazrat Mannan Raza Khan from Bareilly Shareef who belongs to the family of the Imaam, Hazrat Sayyed Moin Ashraf Kachhauchha Sharief, Uttar Pradesh and Hazrat Sheikh Abu Bakar from Kerala. Representatives of famous dargahs of India will also be present.
On October 26, a special conference will be organized for women which will be attended by 50 women scholars from different cities.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and union transport minister Nitin Gadkari will be the chief guests at a special seminar on ‘Sufism and humanity’ and ‘Role of Muslim community in nation building’ to be held at Hotel Orient Taibah at 10am on October 27. Hazrat Dr Sayyed Fazlullah Chishti from New Delhi will address the seminar.
A 300x80 sq feet dome has been put up at the venue to accommodate the delegates for which no charges will be taken though food will be provided at a nominal rate, Razavi said.
The lack of upward mobility among Muslims is our democracy’s failure
Oct 23, 2018
Mobility has been a hall mark of growth and democracy. The myth of mobility is one of the moral myths of the growth century around the legend of Horatio Alger. Even Benjamin Franklin’s moral adages were tips for upward mobility. The study of mobility once caught in acts of storytelling has now become a methodological conscious exercise. The search for certified indices of mobility is acute, and a study by Sam Asher, Paul Novosad and Charlie Rafkin is a methodologically self-conscious about mobility. The research focuses on upward mobility of an inter-generation kind and the insights it offers are revealing. In fact, in its neutrality, the Asher study amplifies its political implications.
The study focusses not on the income, but educational mobility. The three findings must be stated explicitly. Firstly, if one separates Muslims and the SC/ST from the rest of the population, upward mobility for the rest of the population is happily comparable to the United States. Secondly, upward mobility has improved significantly for the SC/ST population. Almost all the mobility gains that have accrued are a result of political mobilisation. Oddly the upper classes have not suffered though they have mobilised against affirmative action. It is the third finding which is devastating to swallow. Intergenerational mobility has been negligible for Muslims. It is as if democracy in an electoral sense has worked more for OBCs and SC/STs but not for Muslims. Neither liberalisation nor democracy has offered much to Muslims in terms of opportunity. The Asher study is based on educational mobility because economic income data has been sparse. Educational mobility can be measured more precisely than income mobility. While parsing the data one also finds that mobility in urban areas is significantly higher than rural areas. The gap between urban and rural is equivalent to the gap between upper castes and SCs. The gap is also higher in the North rather than the South.
The study argues that the historical and political marginalisation of Muslims is significant. It emphasises that the political mobilisation around communities explicitly work against Muslims. The discrimination is overt. A paper in the Economic and Political weekly estimated that displacement from riots is the second biggest demographic displacement after dams. Studies of riots especially in Gujarat reveal that victims unlike earlier do not return to their homes. Violence not only breaks the mentality of hope but prevents a consolidation of income which mobility requires.
Social policy has been as relevant as violence. Group strategies have targeted people belonging to the SCs/STs. Asher states that he can cite no major policy which specifically works on the amelioration of Muslim disadvantages. This is a point that social critique has to recognise and discuss. Muslims in India face the stark fact of stagnation, if not downward mobility.
Full report at:
ISIS case: NIA arrests Tamil Nadu man
Oct 23, 2018
NEW DELHI: A man, who helped an ISIS sympathiser procure a passport on forged documents, has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday, the agency said.
Shafeek Ahamed (30), a resident of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, was arrested and produced before a special court Tuesday here, which subsequently gave his 7 days remand to the NIA, it said.
Ahamed is an alleged conspirator in the case and had facilitated procurement of an Indian passport for VK Shajahan alias Shajahan Velluva Kandy in the name of Mohammed Ismail Mohideen "on the basis of forged documents", the NIA said in a statement.
Shajahan, an alleged sympathiser of the terror group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), was arrested by the central agency in July last year after he was deported by Turkish authorities "in connection with his involvement in ISIS activities".
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Muslims look after this 300-year-old Lord Shiva temple in Murshidabad
Oct 23, 2018
KOLKATA: Communal harmony is the essence of Murshidabad’s Bhattabati village. The ancient 300-year-old terracotta Shiv Mandir is the place where all religious boundaries fade away. The temple of Lord Shiva, who is worshipped here as Baba Ratneswar, is being looked after by the Muslims of this village, who not only perform the daily tasks but also look after its upkeep.
Meet Azarul Sheikh and Sadek Sheik, who work in tandem with Ananta Hajra and Asim Das in seeking donations for the Shiv temple for different festivals and its restoration work. Religion for these men is not a barrier at all.
The distance of Bhattabati village is just 5 kms from Lalbag Sadar Ghat. When leaflets for donations are printed, names of Noor Selim, Azarul, Sadek find place alongside Ananta Hajra and other Hindu devotees.
It was in the year 1494 when Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah became the ruler of Bengal. During his time atleast 1200 Brahmin families came to settle in Bengal from Karnataka. It’s not known who exactly built this temple. But it’s assumed any family member of Second Kanungo Jaynarayan built this Shiv temple.
The present condition of the temple is not good. The exclusive terracotta craftsmanship has whithered away with time.
The original Shiv Linga which measured about five feet in height was once stolen. Later it was recovered by police of Nabagram. Citing security reasons that Shiv Linga is now in police custody.
Accounts keeper of Mandir Committee, Ananta Hajra said, "We are very poor people. Most of the Hindu families have left the village. Without the help and assistance of Muslim brothers of this area it wouldn’t have been possible to continue puja and other works of the temple.’
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India lodges strong protest with Pakistan over killing of 3 soldiers along LoC
October 24, 2018
India summoned a senior official of the Pakistan High Commission here Tuesday and lodged a strong protest over the loss of lives of three of its soldiers during an infiltration bid by Pakistani terrorists in the Sunderbani sector of Jammu and Kashmir two days ago.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a statement, said it also condemned in the strongest terms such a provocative action by Pakistan, which revealed the neighbouring country’s complicity in aiding and abetting terrorism and exposed the hollowness of its deceitful claims of promoting a constructive engagement with India and desire for peace.
The Pakistan High Commission official was summoned to the MEA and a demarche was made, lodging a strong protest over the loss of lives of Indian soldiers during the cross-border infiltration bid by Pakistani terrorists in the Sunderbani sector on October 21, the statement said.
“It was informed that two Pakistani armed intruders have been killed by the Indian security forces during the ensuing firefight and the government of Pakistan should take custody of the dead bodies of its nationals,” the MEA said.
Two heavily-armed Pakistani intruders and three Indian soldiers were killed in a gunfight Sunday after the Army foiled the infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Sunderbani sector.
The Army had also warned Pakistan Monday to restrain the terrorists operating from its soil.
India also conveyed to the Pakistani side Tuesday its grave concern over the continuing incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Pakistani forces along the LoC and the International Border (IB).
“Despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the ceasefire understanding of 2003 for maintaining peace and tranquillity, Pakistan forces have carried out 1,591 incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC and IB in 2018 so far,” the MEA said.
Pakistan was also asked to abide by its bilateral commitment not to allow any territory under its control to be used for supporting terrorism against India in any manner, it added.
Shutdown in parts of Valley
Srinagar: A shutdown was observed in Srinagar and several districts of south Kashmir on Tuesday to protest against deaths of seven civilians in an explosion at an unsanitised encounter site, and killing of three militants at Laroo in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, on Sunday.
The Joint Resistance Leadership, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, had announced that they will hold a protest sit-in on Tuesday at Lal Chowk in Srinagar against the killings.
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China still elusive on backing India’s request on listing Azhar as global terrorist
October 23, 2018
China on Tuesday made it clear that there is no change in its position on India’s request to list Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN and said it will decide on the issue on the “merits of the matter”.
India on Monday asked China to support the pending application in the UN to designate Azhar as a global terrorist during the first India-China high-level meeting on bilateral security cooperation which was co-chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Zhao Kezhi, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security, China, in New Delhi.
A veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India’s bid at the United Nations to list Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Azhar as a global terrorist. When asked to comment on India’s request, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said she has to check the specific details of the talks between the two ministers.
“As per to India’s request for the listing of Masood (Azhar) we already stated our position for many times,” she said. “On the counter terrorism issue, China has always actively participated in international anti-terrorist operations. We have always made our decisions and judgements on the merits of the matter itself,” she said.
“We will continue to step up the security cooperation to uphold the regional peace and stability with parties,” she said.
Azhar is accused of several deadly terrorist attacks in India, including one on the Uri military base in Kashmir in 2016 in which 17 security personnel were killed. China has blocked India’s efforts to designate Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council citing lack of consensus among the members of the Council.
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Pakistan PM Imran Khan hopes ties with India will improve after 2019 elections
October 23, 2018
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said he hoped to resume efforts to improve ties with India after next year’s general elections there.
“One thing Pakistan needs more than any other country right now is peace and security,” Khan was quoted by Reuters as saying. Khan said he had tried to make peace with India but his efforts were not reciprocated.
In September, India called off a meeting between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart which was to take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly the same month. The MEA cited the killing of security personnel in Jammu-Kashmir and Pakistan issuing a postage stamp “glorifying” slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Pakistan had said that India was just looking for excuses to avoid holding talks before next year’s Parliament elections.
On Monday, referring to incidents of violence in Kashmir, Khan, in a tweet, said that time has come for India to realise that it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
“Strongly condemn the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris….by Indian security forces,” he tweeted.
Responding to Khan’s remarks, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the Pakistan leadership should look inwards and address its own issues. He said Islamabad should stop supporting and glorifying terrorists and terror activities against India and its other neighbours.
“The remarks made by Pakistan’s Prime Minister in his tweet today are deeply regrettable. Instead of making comments on India’s internal affairs, Pakistan leadership should look inwards and address its own issues.
“Pakistan would serve the interest of the people of the region by taking credible action against all kind of support to terrorism and terror infrastructure from all territories under its control rather than supporting and glorifying terrorists and terror activities against India and its other neighbours,” Kumar said.
Khan is in Saudi Arabia to seek loans to reservice debt and shore up Pakistan’s economy. “What we are hoping is that we do a bit of both, get a loan from IMF and other loans from friendly governments,” Khan told an audience at an investment conference in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh.
Islamabad has already asked the IMF to open negotiations for the country’s second potential bailout in five years.
Khan, who took office in July, has also been seeking alternatives to the tough conditions the IMF is likely to impose for loans. Khan is in Saudi Arabia for the second time this month seeking to shore up financial aid as the country reels from a looming balance of payments crisis.
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Saudi Arabia pledges $6bn package to Pakistan
Baqir Sajjad Syed
October 24, 2018
ISLAMABAD: After weeks of speculation, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday stepped forward with a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan’s ailing economy.
The package includes $3bn balance of payments support and another $3bn in deferred payments on oil imports.
Agreements in this regard were signed on the sidelines of the second edition of the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) Conference in Riyadh. It showcases economic and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia as it pursues Vision 2030 for diversifying its economy. The Pakistani delegation was led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
This was the prime minister’s second visit to Saudi Arabia in five weeks. The primary objective of both trips was to seek financial assistance to deal with impending balance of payments crisis.
The Foreign Office in a statement said: “A MoU was signed between the Finance Minister Asad Umar and the Saudi Finance Minister Muhammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan. It was agreed Saudi Arabia will place a deposit of USD 3 Billion for a period of one year as balance of payment support.”
It was further “agreed that a one year deferred payment facility for import of oil, up to USD 3 Billion, will be provided by Saudi Arabia. This arrangement will be in place for three years, which will be reviewed thereafter”.
Pakistan imports 110,000 barrels of crude per day from Saudi Arabia. Taken at the current price, the oil imports from the kingdom amount to around $3bn in a year.
Pakistan, which is facing the current account deficit of $18bn, had earlier this month sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to deal with the aggravating balance of payments problem. An IMF mission is scheduled to visit Islamabad on Nov 7 for talks on the size of the loan facility that Pakistan could be requiring.
Imran Khan had in an interaction with the media recently said that the country could immediately need around $12bn to address with the problem.
Saudi Arabia has in the past also helped rescue Pakistan’s economy from dire situations on a number of occasions. The Kingdom had last time in 2014 gifted Pakistan $1.5bn to beef up its foreign exchange reserves.
The Saudi package may provide breathing space to the government for dealing with economic challenges, but would not be enough to avoid the IMF facility. It is believed that improved foreign exchange reserves would strengthen Pakistan’s negotiating position in talks with the Fund.
The situation could further improve if China also makes some commitments to rescue its ‘all-weather friend’. PM Khan is scheduled to travel to China on Nov 3.
During talks with Mr Khan, the Saudi government reaffirmed its interest in setting up an oil refinery in Pakistan. Talks on setting up of the refinery had started during the prime minister’s visit to the Kingdom last month. Later a Saudi delegation visited Pakistan for studying the prospects of the project.
“Saudi Arabia confirmed its interest in this project, and a MoU will be signed after obtaining cabinet approval,” the Foreign Office said.
An agreement for setting up of refinery near Gwadar is expected to be inked between the Pakistan State Oil and Saudi Aramco soon.
Speaking at the FII Conference, the prime minister while identifying lucrative investment opportunities in the tourism sector, minerals, coal and gas exploration, and Information Technology said Pakistan needed two oil refineries to meet demand.
Saudi officials and businessmen during their meetings with Mr Khan showed interest in mineral resources development. The prime minister pointed out the presence of vast reserves of untapped mineral wealth of Pakistan. He said the reserves could not be exploited in the past due to terrorism and corruption, but things were changing now.
A Saudi delegation would be invited to visit Pakistan for an exploratory trip after consultations between the federal and provincial government of Balochistan, the FO said.
Mr Khan held bilateral discussions with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The crown prince, the FO said, accepted Mr Khan’s suggestion for reduction of visa fee for Pakistani workers. It described the decision as “a significant step towards enhancing Pakistan’s workforce in Saudi Arabia, as well as facilitating travel of people from both countries”.
Mr Khan in his speech at the FII Conference said that his government would once again offer peace talks to India after the coming elections in the neighbouring country.
“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he said as he recalled that he had soon after coming to power offered dialogue to India. He said Pakistan’s offer was then rebuffed.
India had last month cancelled a meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries on the margins of UN General Assembly session barely 24 hours after agreeing to it.
Respect Imran gets in Saudi shows Pakistan’s prestige in Muslim Ummah: Fawad
Oct 24, 2018
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday stated that amount of respect Prime Minister Imran Khan gets in Saudi Arabia shows Pakistan’s prestige in Muslim Ummah and how much importance is being given to the premier by Ummah.
“A very busy day is ahead for the prime minister,” Fawad wrote.
In the second tweet, Chaudhry wrote that Imran Khan will attend a Question and Answer session at the conference and then will meet Saudi King Shah Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Saudi ministers.
“Prime minister will also meet the Saudi businessmen and investors,” Chaudhry stated.
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) in Riyadh, saying his country was going through the worst debt crisis of its history “so we are desperate at the moment”.
The prime minister arrived in Madina alongwith Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and PM’s Adviser on Commerce Razzak Dawood. The delegation was received by Madina’s Governor Prince Faisal bin Salman and Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Al Malki.
Full report at:
Video: PM Khan moves to tears at Prophet’s Mosque in Medina
Oct 24, 2018
A video that shows Prime Minister Imran Khan moving to tears while making dua at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina has gone viral.
PM Khan reached Saudi Arabia for the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Conference, being held in Riyadh from October 23-25.
On Monday, he offered prayers at Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Mosque along with his delegation, comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to PM on Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.
Other delegates can also be seen in the video posted on the premier’s official Instagram account.
The FII Conference is now an annual feature in Saudi Arabia. The first FII was held last year, with the participation of 3,800 people from 90 countries.
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PM Imran Khan among Top 50 ‘Most Influential Muslims’
October 23, 2018
KARACHI: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been included in the Top 50 of World’s Most Influential Muslims list of 2019.
PM Imran has bagged the 29th prestigious spot in the coveted list.
The list, ‘World's 500 Most Influential Muslims’ is prepared annually by the Jordan-based Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is ranked first place on the list, while Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud was ranked second in being the most influential Muslim, while Jordanian King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein was ranked third.
The book has been published annually by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan's capital Amman since 2009, and its 10th edition for the year 2019 was published this month.
It sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on the Ummah (worldwide Muslim community), or on behalf of the Ummah, according to the book.
Along with Imran Khan, there are three more Pakistanis on the influential list. Justice Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani (6); Haji Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab, Amir of Tablighi Jamaat (14); and Maulana Tariq Jameel, Scholar and Preacher (40).
PM’s profile in the book
In August 2018 Imran Khan was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. It had been a long journey.
A Long Journey: When the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the 2018 General Elections, it was the culmination of a 22-year journey for Imran Khan. He had founded the PTI in 1996 hoping to oust the ‘political mafias’ ruling Pakistan. He garnered national support over the next two decades and in 2013 had become the second largest in the country by popular vote, before eventually winning in 2018.
Challenges: A crackdown on corruption and bringing accountability to the forefront are his major pledges. He has already implemented cut-backs in extravagant government expenditure and is using his personal credibility to fundraise for a dam.
Pedigree: Imran Khan started fund-raising for a cancer hospital soon after his mother died from cancer. His appeal within Pakistan and to the dias-pora Pakistani community raised enough funds to open the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in 1994, in Lahore. It is a hugely successful project with 75% of patients receiving free treatment. He also spearheaded a successful project to build Nama University, which provides scholarship assistance to over 90% of its students.
A Sporting Legend: Imran Khan played professional cricket for 22 years and is recognised as one of the game’s finest all-rounders. His ability to lead and unite an often disparate team, culminated in Pakistan winning the 1992 world cup. It is this ability and success that many hope can be replicated in the political field.
Personal Life: His three marriages have all attracted considerable media attention. The first to Jemima Goldsmith, the second to Reham Khan, and the third to his current wife Bushra Maneka.
Top 50 Muslim Influentials
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (President of the Republic of Turkey)
King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al‑Saud (King of Saudi Arabia)
King Abdullah II Ibn Al‑Hussein (King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan)
Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei (Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
King Mohammed VI (King of Morocco)
Justice Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani (Religoius Scholar)
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani (Marja of the Hawza, Najaf, Iraq)
Sheikh Al‑Habib Umar bin Hafiz (Director of Dar Al Mustafa, Tarim, Yemen)
Professor Dr Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al‑Tayyeb Grand Sheikh of Al‑Azhar University, Grand Imam of Al‑Azhar Mosque)
Sheikh Salman Al‑Ouda (Saudi scholar and educator)
Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah (President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies)
Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Al‑Sa’id (Sultan of Oman)
Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman(Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia)
Hajji Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab (Amir of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan)
HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al‑Nahyan (Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi)
President Joko Widodo (President of Indonesia)
President Muhammadu Buhari (President of Nigeria)
Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa Former (Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt)
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al‑Thani (Emir of Qatar)
Professor Dr KH Said Aqil Siradj (Chairman of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama)
Amirul Mu’minin Sheikh As-Sultan Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III (Sultan of Sokoto)
Sheikh Ahmad Tijani bin Ali Cisse (Leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi Order)
Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah Secretary-General of Hezbollah
Sheikh Habib ‘Ali Zain Al Abideen Al‑Jifri (Director General of the Tabah Foundation)
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson (Teacher and Co-Founder of Zaytuna College)
Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Aal Al‑Sheikh (Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
Sheikha Munira Qubeysi (Leader of the Qubeysi)
Rached Ghannouchi (Tunisian Politician)
Imran Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan)
Sheikh Dr Yusuf Al‑Qaradawi (Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars)
Moez Masoud (Preacher and Televangelist)
Maulana Mahmood Madani (Leader and Executive Member of Jamiat Ule-ma-e-Hind, India)
Dr Amr Khaled (Preacher and Social Activist)
Mustafa Hosny (Preacher)
Sheikh Usama Al‑Sayyid (Al‑Azhari Scholar)
HH Shah Karim Al‑Hussayni, The Aga Khan IV (The Aga Khan)
Habib Luthfi bin Yahya (Preacher)
Sheikh Abdul-Malik Al‑Houthi (Leader of the Houthis)
Sheikh Mahmud Effendi (Turkish Scholar and Preacher)
Maulana Tariq Jameel (Pakistani Scholar and Preacher)
Halimah Yacob (President of Singapore)
Sheikh Muhammad Al‑Yaqoubi (Scholar)
Professor Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Philosopher and University Professor)
Mahathir Mohamad (Prime Minister of Malaysia)
Sheikh Uthman Taha (Calligrapher)
Mohammed Salah (Footballer)
Sheikh Muqtada Sadr (Scholar and Politician)
HE Dr Aref Ali Nayed (Scholar)
Ahed Tamimi (Palestinian Activist)
Mohamed Bechari (Political)
Six top MQM-P leaders indicted in 21 cases of hate speech, conspiracy, terrorism
October 24, 2018
KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Tuesday indicted six leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) in 21 cases pertaining to allegedly facilitating a hate speech of party founder Altaf Hussain, conspiracy against the state and law enforcers, terrorism and other charges.
Several senior leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, now Mayor of Karachi Wasim Akhtar, Rauf Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Qamar Mansoor, Rehan Hashmi, Amir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Gul Faraz Khattak, Salman Mujahid, Abdul Qadir Khanzada, Khushbakht Shujaat, Shahid Pasha, Qamar Mansoor and Kunwar Naveed, with nearly 200 party workers, have been booked in identical cases.
Perpetual arrest warrants for the MQM founder have been issued in some of these cases.
Around 26 identical FIRs were registered against them under sections 120-A (definition of criminal conspiracy), 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan), 122 (collecting arms, etc, with intention of waging war against Pakistan), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war), 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the state, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty), 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Section 25 of the Telegraph Act read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at different police stations in the city.
On Tuesday, the ATC-I judge was set to frame charges in 21 cases against around 20 MQM leaders, who had been named by the complainants. Six of them — Dr Farooq Sattar, Wasim Akhtar, Rauf Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Qamar Mansoor and Rehan Hashmi — were present.
The judge read out the charges against them. All of them pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges. The court summoned the witnesses on the next date to record their testimonies and fixed the case on Nov 13.
In the meanwhile, the court also confirmed interim pre-arrest bail of Dr Sattar, Rauf Siddiqui, Amir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hasan and Mayor Wasim Akhtar, who was on post-arrest bail, in these cases.
In the last hearing, the court had amalgamated 21 identical FIRs on the request of the defence since the same set of allegations was levelled against the party leaders. According to the prosecution, the MQM Rabita Committee leaders had allegedly facilitated and listened to highly provocative speech of the London-based MQM chief against the security establishment and sovereignty of the country, inciting the people to seek support and arms from India and its spy agency Research and Analysis Wing to wage war against the state and others.
The MQM chief had allegedly made such a speech at a function organised by the Rabita Committee at the party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, on July 12, 2015, it added. All the FIRs are said to have been registered three days after the speech.
Separately, the ATC-II judge once again deferred indictment of the MQM leaders and workers in two identical cases pertaining to allegedly listening to the provocative speech of the MQM chief on Aug 22, 2016 outside the Karachi Press Club that triggered a violent protest, arson attacks and ransacking of media houses.
On Tuesday the court was set to frame charges. MQM leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Kunwar Naveed, Qamar Mansoor and Khawaja Izharul Hasan, were present, but co-accused Ashraf Noor, Hasan Alam, Jahangir, Arshad and others were absent.
This visibly irked the judge, who cautioned that he would order arrest of all the suspects to ensure their presence before the court, in case they failed to show up on the next date of hearing.
Full report at:
Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India
October 23, 2018
RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighboring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”
Khan made the announcement during a speech at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh. The leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payments crisis.
“When I won the elections and came to power, the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the audience, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.
“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.
In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and its Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.
India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.
Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Khan also told the FII event that his country looks forward to a strong investment partnership with Saudi Arabia, including on energy projects.
Pakistan needs two oil refineries to meet demand, Khan said, and talks are underway with Saudi investors about the projects.
During the panel discussion Khan discussed investment, a corrupt-free Pakistan and “Naya Pakistan.” Naya Pakistan refers to a return to the principles of the country’s founding fathers: Truth, justice, meritocracy, the welfare state and, above all, the education of its people. He said it was particularly important to raise female literacy in Pakistan.
Khan has been in power for 60 days but has inherited a massive debt. “We need to increase our exports because we have a shortage of foreign reserves,” he said.
Khan is looking for mix of loans from the International Monetary Fund IMF and “friendly governments” to address the shortfall.
Key priorities were fighting corruption and creating jobs, Khan added, saying clamping down on money laundering was a major priority for the government.
“Corruption is what makes a country poor,” he said. “It’s the difference between the developing world and an underdeveloped country. Corruption does two things; it destroys institution and diverts money from human development.”
With 100 million people below the age of 35, Khan said unemployment and housing were big pressures on the government but that Pakistan has embarked on an ambitious program to build five million homes in the next five years. He said the information technology sector could be an area where Pakistan could improve its exports and provide new jobs.
“Pakistan is a country with potential. We have lost our way since the 60s but now Pakistan is ready and our biggest resource is the youth. And today is the best time to invest,” he said.
Minerals, gold, copper reserves, zinc, gas, unexplored gas and tourism were areas that investors would be interested in, Khan said.
“There is a vast amount of mineral wealth in Pakistan. We have some of the largest gold reserves in the world, as well as reserves of copper and zinc. Tourism is also a vital sector and has flourished in recent years.”
Khan said that Pakistan had now “controlled terrorism.”
“We need peace and stability and when Afghanistan’s situation settles, terrorism will end and the investments will grow to the central Asia region.”
Khan said he admired China for tackling two problems that were the main issues facing Pakistan — poverty and corruption.
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How Turkey says the Khashoggi murder unfolded
OCTOBER 24, 2018
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday described in detail for the first time how the “political murder” of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned and carried out by a team of 15 Saudis.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor living in the United States since 2017, was killed on October 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for paperwork ahead of his marriage to his Turkish fiancee.
Here is, according to Erdogan, how the murder plot unfolded leading up to and including the day of the murder.
Friday, September 28
11:50 AM (0850 GMT)
Khashoggi goes to the Saudi consulate for marriage-related paperwork. After this visit, the plan for Khashoggi’s murder is put into action. Some consulate employees urgently return to Saudi Arabia for “preparatory work”.
Monday, October 1
4:30 PM (1330 GMT)
A three-man Saudi team arrive in Istanbul on a scheduled plane and go to their hotel after which they go to the Saudi consulate.
On the same day, another team of Saudi officials from the consulate carry out a reconnaissance of Belgrade Forest in Istanbul and the northwestern province of Yalova.
Tuesday, October 2
1:45 AM (2245 GMT)
A second three-man team arrive on another scheduled plane in Istanbul and go to their hotel. The third team of nine men including generals arrive in Istanbul on a private plane on the same day and go to a different hotel.
9:50 to 11:00 AM (0650 to 0800 GMT)
The 15 men arrive at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul separately. They then destroy the consulate’s camera system’s hard disc, Erdogan says.
11:50 AM (0850 GMT)
Khashoggi receives a telephone call confirming his appointment to finalise the marriage paperwork that day.
1:08 PM (1008 GMT)
Khashoggi enters the consulate, arriving at the building with his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz who waits outside. He is never heard from by his friends or family again.
5:50 PM (1450 GMT)
Cengiz contacts Turkish officials to say that Khashoggi has been held or “something bad” has happened to him. A Turkish investigation is opened into the case.
At this point, based on security camera footage, Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi has not left the building.
6:20 PM (1520 GMT)
Six of the 15 Saudis leave Turkey on a private plane. The team of 15 includes security and intelligence officers as well as forensic experts.
10:50 PM (1950 GMT)
Seven more of the Saudis leave Turkey on another private plane.
One of the men, attempting to look like Khashoggi, and another individual leave on a scheduled plane for Riyadh.
Erdogan: Saudi Arabia took ‘important step’ in revealing Khashoggi’s killing
23 October 2018
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the 18 suspects should be tried in Istanbul over Khashoggi murder and called for independent commission to investigate the matter.
Erdogan, who was speaking to members of his AK Party in parliament, also said he is confident of King Salman’s cooperation in the probe and said he does not doubt Saudi King Salman’s sincerity.
The Turkish President confirmed the Saudi explanation in the incident of Jamal Khashoggi and described the arrest of the accused as an important step.
Erdogan confirmed that there were was a team of fifteen people that made up the Saudi negotiating team who came to Istanbul. They met Khashoggi at the consulate, killed him and then hid their crime from the Saudi leadership.
Erdogan asked in his speech about the location of the body, which was handed over to a local collaborator, and this was announced by Riyadh, and is working to uncover the circumstances.
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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain designate Revolutionary Guards and Soleimani as terrorists
23 October 2018
In multilateral action, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have designated four individuals and entities - previously designated by the US Treasury - on their terror list for providing sponsorship and financial and material support to the Iranian terrorist activities.
They were namedas follow:
1. Qasem Soleimani
2. Hamed Abdollahi
3. Abdul Reza Shahlai
4. Iranian Revolutionary Guard
Saudi Arabia’s State Security Presidency and the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center sanctioned and designated 9 individuals associated with the Taliban and their Iranian facilitators.
“In a collective effort to identify, tackle and share information related to terrorist financing networks and their activities of mutual concerns, including threats emerging from countries supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations, and in coordinating among Terrorist Financing Targeting Center Members to take actions including designating and other measures against the terrorists and their financial networks, TFTC co-chair (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United states of America) , as well as the other T FTC Members ( Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, and the State of Qatar), a statement on SPA read.
They labeled the following Taliban figures including Iranian facilitators as follow:
1- Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi
2-Esmail Razzavi Abdullah Samad Farugui
3-Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil
5-Mohammad Naim Barich
6- Abdulaziz Shah Zamani
7- Sadr Ibrahim
8- Hafiz Abdulmaj
This action is the third collective TFTC designation action since the center was announced on May 21, 2017. The TFTC is a bold and historic effort to expand and strengthen TFTC members cooperation to counter terrorist financing, coordination to disrupt funding of terrorism, sharing the information and capacity building to target the financing networks and the related activities that pose threats to the TFTC members national security.
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Yemen minister: Houthis have destroyed 70 percent of Yemen’s sports facilities
23 October 2018
The Houthi militia’s kidnapping of national football team player Walid al-Hubaishi has sparked wide anger among Yemenis. The terror group has committed several violations against sports and sport players. The incident of Hubaishi has shed light on the matter.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, Nayef al-Bakry, Yemen’s minister of youth and sports, said: “the Houthi militias commit several violations aimed at destroying the sports infrastructure in Yemen.”
“Al-Hubaishi’s incident is not their first attempt, there have been numerous abuses committed by militias against individual athletes or sports facilities since their coup against legitimacy,” he added.
The minister noted that there are about 11 players who have been killed by the Houthis, in addition to arresting several players, some of whom had been released and others are still under their detention. The militias even prevent the families of the detained players from seeing them.
Al-Bakry said “we condemn the arrest of players; sports are separate from politics.” He mentioned how sports facilities have been used by the militias for weapon storage, and as camps to train its fighters.
He said 70 percent of the sports facilities were partially or completely damaged, because of the war launched by the Houthis on the Yemeni cities.
The minister noted that there several challenges facing sports and athletes in Yemen, among them is exploiting the energies of youth in war.
“There are those who exploit young people in the northern and southern governorates. Unfortunately, the deaths among youth in Aden have increased due to this misuse, especially because they are unemployed.” But amid all of this, the good news is that sports are gradually returning to Yemen, the minister revealed.
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Iran busts three terror groups in Khuzestan Province
Oct 23, 2018
Iran says it has dismantled three terrorist groups, which were planning attacks on Muslims during the annual Arba’een pilgrimage, in southwestern Khuzestan Province.
Speaking during a visit to the Shalamcheh border with Iraq, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said that members of the terror outfits had been detained.
“In recent days, three terrorist teams were identified in Khuzestan and their members, numbering 15, were arrested,” he told reporters.
The detainees had said that they were planning to conduct bomb attacks, hurt and kill Arba'een pilgrims, Alavi added.
Every year, millions of people from across the world flock to Iraq’s holy city of Karbala to mark 40 days since the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam, at the hands of the tyrant of the time, Yazid I, back in the seventh century.
On September 22, a deadly terror attack targeted an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan’s provincial capital. Daesh, along with the al-Ahwazia terrorist outfit, claimed the assault.
In response, Iran later rained surface-to-surface ballistic missiles on positions of Daesh in eastern Syria.
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Palestine urges China to support Abbas Mideast ‘peace’ intitiative
Oct 24, 2018
Palestine has called on China to play an active role in the so-called Middle East peace process and back President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative for ending the conflict Israel, which seeks to replace the US with an international mechanism as the mediator in the decades-long conflict.
In a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that he had raised the issue in a meeting with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The talks, Hamdallah said, focused on “enhancing joint cooperation and the latest political developments, including the Israeli violations against our people and the US unilateral moves to support such violations.”
He also praised Beijing for its “continued” support for Palestine in several fields and the so-called two-state solution.
“I called China to support President Abbas’ peace initiative and to hold an international peace conference in which China will be a key sponsor,” he added.
Abbas presented his "peace" plan in an address to the United Nations Security Council back in February.
The initiative calls for holding an international peace conference with the participation of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides as well as the active regional and international parties. It further underlines the need for establishing a multilateral mechanism in line with international law in a bid to settle the Palestinian issue.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported that Hamdallah had complained during the meeting about efforts by Israel and the US to undermine Israeli-Palestinian talks and the so-called two-state solution, denouncing Tel Aviv’s illegal settlement construction activities in the occupied lands and Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”
He also urged China to exert pressure on Israel to “halt its violations and honor international laws and resolutions.”
Wang, for his part, stressed that China stands with the Palestinian people and their just cause.
Additionally on Tuesday, the Chinese official held talks with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. He is set to co-host the 4th meeting of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation together with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory and Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state
US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel last December and moved the American embassy to the ancient city in May.
The contentious move sparked angry reactions by the Palestinians and drew the criticism of the international community.
Abbas formally declared that the Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the conflict because Washington was “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.
Turning a deaf ear to Palestine’s objections, the Trump administration has been busy drawing up its own “peace” plan, which it calls “the deal of the century.” It is yet to unveil the proposal, which is reported to be hugely pro-Tel Aviv.
Palestinians have already rejected Trump’s plan, with Abbas calling it “the slap of the century.”
‘France gives ultimatum to US’
Separately on Tuesday, Israeli media reported that Alon Ushpiz, the foreign inistry’s political director, had told the parliament that if Trump does not present his plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, France’s President Emmanuel Macron will put forward a proposal of his own.
Ushpiz was further quoted as saying that Paris is waiting out November’s midterm elections in the US.
However, a spokesman for the French embassy in Tel Aviv rejected the reports, saying, “The embassy does not know what the reporter is talking about.”
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Palestinian teenage boy succumbs to wounds sustained in Gaza border clashes
Oct 23, 2018
A Palestinian teenager has died after succumbing to wounds he sustained at an anti-occupation protest near the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied territories.
Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said in a statement that 17-year-old Montaser Mohammed Ismail al-Baz succumbed to his Israeli-inflicted gunshot wounds at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday evening.
He had been shot and injured in the head during a “Great March of Return” demonstration east of Deir al-Balah city, located over 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) south of Gaza City.
Palestinian sources said Israeli snipers were targeting the Palestinian protesters, shooting five of them in the foot and abdomen.
The sources added that a series of explosions were also heard in the area.
The development came only a day after Israeli forces attacked hundreds of peaceful Palestinian protesters, who were taking part in a march in the Gaza Strip northern town of Beit Lahiya to protest the 12-year-long Israeli-imposed blockade on the coastal enclave. Dozens of people were struck with live bullets.
Nearly 210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 22,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
On June 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.
The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”
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Did lightning strike trigger Gaza rocket attack on Israel?
October 23, 2018
JERUSALEM: A theory that a lightning strike triggered Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza last week gained traction in Israel on Tuesday and might explain the Israeli military’s limited response.
Two rockets were launched from the Hamas-ruled enclave on Oct. 17. But the group took the unusual step of denying it had carried out an attack. Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said there was reason to believe that was true.
One of the rockets wrecked a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, causing no casualties, the other landed in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel responded with air strikes that killed a militant in Gaza.
Soon afterwards, video appeared on social media showing lightning illuminating the night sky in Gaza and then two flaming rockets streaking into the air.
Israel’s best-selling daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet now believed the lighting set off a launch mechanism.
Asked about the report, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the security cabinet, told Israel Radio: “I won’t discuss security cabinet meetings and I don’t know which ministers are chatting with journalists, but I can say that as far as we know, Hamas did not intend to fire those rockets.”
Hamas officials had no immediate comment.
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Turkey’s nationalists cut alliance with Erdogan’s party
October 23, 2018
ISTANBUL: The head of Turkey’s main nationalist party has announced it won’t go ahead with an electoral alliance it had forged with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party.
Speaking Tuesday in parliament, Devlet Bahceli of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, said it would field its own candidates in the March 2019 local elections.
The split with the ruling Justice and Development Party comes amid conflict over an amnesty for certain prisoners that the nationalists have proposed.
“We will now chart our own path. We do not plan to ally,” Bahceli said as his lawmakers cheered.
MHP was a key part of Erdogan’s electoral alliance in this summer’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Erdogan’s party failed to reach parliamentary majority and must rely on the nationalist lawmakers.
Holy See reiterates Israel-Palestine two-state solution, Jerusalem status quo
By Robin Gomes
Oct 24, 2018
The Holy See has reiterated its unwavering support for a fair, durable and early solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a Two-State solution, with Israel and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security within internationally-recognized borders.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York made the call in an address on Thursday to a UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
Legitimate aspirations of both peoples
While expressing grave concern over facts on the ground, the Vatican diplomat called on both sides to demonstrate wisdom, responsibility and the political will to reach a historic peace agreement that would meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples. “Persevering dialogue based on good will ,” he said, “must replace inflammatory rhetoric, violence and conflict.” “Innocent civilians must never be the target of terror or overwhelming military actions,” he stressed.
Noting that states in and outside the Middle East have exacerbated the Israeli-Palestinian discord and the intra-Palestinian divisions for their own interests, Arch. Auza urged these states to rather facilitate and sustain the peace process.
"Status quo" for Jerusalem status
The status of Jerusalem has been a painful issue between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its “united and eternal” capital.
At the UN, Arch. Auza reiterated the Holy See’s support for the historic “status quo” of Jerusalem, in line with UN resolutions, rejecting any unilateral measure aimed at changing it.
He asserted the Holy See’s stand that the Holy City be a place of convergence and peace and that the followers of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam be guaranteed free and unhindered access to the Holy Places.
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Boko Haram: Norwegian Refugee Council horrified by killing of farmers
October 23, 2018
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) says it is horrified by the killing of at least 12 farmers in Kalle village, Borno state, northeast Nigeria this weekend.
“The level of violence registered lately in Northeast Nigeria is alarming. Farmers have been easy targets. These attacks risk making people too afraid to cultivate their land and may worsen the existing food crisis,” said Anja Riiser, NRC’s Area Manager in Maiduguri.
“Farmers should be able to cultivate their land and return to their families alive,” she added.
The latest attack against farmers underscore the vulnerability of rural communities, even as the authorities are encouraging displaced people to return home to rebuild their lives.
“We were on the farms when about 15 armed men surrounded us,” Haruna, who escaped the attack, told NRC. “They took the men to a tree and started slaughtering them like animals. They repeatedly said they will not allow any of us harvest the crops we cultivated this year,” he added.
At least 1300 persons are reported to have fled after the attack and many have taken refuge at a displacement camp in Maiduguri. Families and friends of the slain farmers said they are too scared to return to their farms.
“My children and I stood by as they killed my husband. I cried and pleaded for their mercy but they didn’t listen. I will never return to the farm again,” Indagiju told NRC.
The attacks on farmers risk worsening the existing food crisis in Northeast Nigeria. It is estimated that 2.9 million people are facing acute food insecurity in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Yobe, and Borno where violence has been on the rise. Crops have been destroyed and food stores looted, while farmers have either been killed or forced to flee their fields.
Large parts of Borno State may experience emergency levels of food insecurity in the coming months, according to the latest forecast by Famine Early Warning Systems Network, with elevated risk of famine in several areas.
“There is an urgent need for measures to protect farmers against attacks and looting, so they can safely cultivate their lands and feed their families,” said Riiser. “However, these measures to protect farmers should not translate into a restriction of their movements.”
Facts and Figures:
– An estimated 7.7 million people in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe now depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival.
– Conflict will restrict the otherwise favourable main season production prospects, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
– NRC is currently providing life-saving assistance including food and livelihood support to help stabilize the living conditions of over 130,000 families displaced from their homes in northeast Nigeria.
– In 2018, NRC distributed seeds and farming implement to over 4,000 households in several farming communities in Borno State to help them rebuild their lives as farmers.
Jordan’s king urged to bolster UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem
October 24, 2018
AMMAN: Religious and political figures in Jerusalem urged Jordan’s king to coordinate with the Palestinian president and the UN to obligate Israel to implement resolutions passed by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding the city.
The call came in an open letter to King Abdullah in his capacity as custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites.
“If a UNESCO fact-finding mission arrives in Jerusalem too late, it may not find real facts to be documented,” the letter said.
“The mission will find only an altered status quo, faked history, and important monuments and archaeological layers would be removed or Judaized.”
Wasfi Kailani, director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Arab News: “The issue of Jerusalem is always a high priority for the king, and Jordan will be studying the appeal from all aspects before making a decision as to the next steps.”
Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim-Christian Committee and a signatory to the letter, told Arab News: “This appeal reflects clear Christian-Muslim unity in the face of continued and daily Israeli violations, especially in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He expressed hope that the issue will reach the International Criminal Court (ICC), but said: “Unfortunately, US hegemony has rendered many of these institutions totally impotent.”
The latest UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem — sponsored by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan — said: “The Old City of Jerusalem and its walls, a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
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Family and officials at odds over Muslim boy's beard at Christian school
A Benoni-based private Christian school has come under fire for refusing to allow a Muslim pupil to grow his beard in line with Islamic practices.
The Star reported on Tuesday that the boy's family believes the school, Ashton International College in Benoni, is "racist" and acting unconstitutionally.
Social activist Yusuf Abramjee recently tweeted on the alleged claims of Islamophobia at Ashton International College and Jeppe High School for Girls, according to IOL.
Abramjee is quoted as saying that the Grade 8 boy, 13, had reached puberty and wanted to grow his beard in line with the "Hanafi School of Islamic Jurisprudence, which obliges all males who have reached the age of puberty to grow a beard".
Abramjee reported the matter to the Gauteng education department.
But the school told The Star that it was "an independent Christian school" and that parents were aware of the school's ethos.
Schools Act provides for religious observance
Mark Brown, its executive director, said in a statement that the school was Christian and private and that parents signed and agreed to the school's ethos.
The parents reportedly tried to make an official submission to the school, but it was rejected.
"The school declined the application or request, and allegedly gave the parents an ultimatum that he either shaves off his beard or leaves the school," Abramjee told IOL.
The parents are reportedly not having this and have stated that they would take the matter to court.
In a legal opinion by advocate Charles Ledwaba, the department of basic education's director of legislative services, quoted by The Star, the South African Schools Act provides for religious observance in line with the Constitution. This applies to both public and private schools.
News24 earlier reported that legal action against Jeppe High School for Girls, over a controversial policy forbidding Muslim pupils from wearing hijab with their school uniforms, was on hold for now.
At issue is a complaint from seven Muslim pupils at the school, who say they are being discriminated against in the school's code of conduct.
While Muslim pupils are allowed to wear hijab to school, they have a separate school uniform from the one worn by other pupils.
Muslim girls are allowed to wear a black head scarf and cloak but these do not indicate that they represent the school or allow them to display their achievements in the way that their blazers do.
The girls want to be able to wear their uniforms, along with head scarves and black pants, for instance, or another combination of the uniform that would allow them to show that they represent the school while wearing hijab.
The school instituted disciplinary action against the girls when they wore their version of the uniform without permission.
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France offers to provide Libya with logistical support
By Walid Abdullah
French Ambassador to Libya Beatrice Le Fraper du Hellen has voiced her country’s readiness to provide the troubled North African country with security and logistical support, according to Libya's Tripoli-based Interior Ministry.
At a Tuesday meeting with Interior Minister Fatih Ali Bashagha (held at the ministry’s Tripoli headquarters), Du Hellen extended an offer of French logistical support, especially in the fields of border security and surveillance, the ministry said in a statement carried on its official Facebook page.
According to the same statement, Du Hellen also voiced France’s desire to enhance the two countries’ bilateral ties, particularly in terms of security.
Bashagha, for his part, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting, describing it as “the beginning of real security cooperation, especially in terms of upgrading the efficiency of Libyan police and security personnel”.
He also called for the activation of all agreements and MoUs signed between Libya and France, going on to ask for the latter’s assistance in reducing the flow of irregular migration from Africa to Europe via Libya.
Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
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Fayemi’s appointments characterized by high level of religious discrimination – MSSN tackles Ekiti governor
October 23, 2018
By Musliudeen Adebayo
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) B-Zone on Tuesday alleged that the first set of appointments by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State was with high level of religious discrimination against Muslims in the state.
MSSN in a statement signed by Barrister Qaasim Odedeji (Amir/Zonal Coordinator), Alh Abdul Jalil AbdurRasaq (Secretary) and Engr Bashir Momoh (Public Relations Officer), a copy of which was made available to DAILY POST in Ibadan described the appointed of Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff and Chief Press Secretary (all Christians) as “a breach of trust and clear departure from the principles of objective policy embedded in the 1999 constitution”.
The association said, “Fayemi is holding the position for the second term. In his first term in office, he appeared a bit fair to the Muslims in comparison to his predecessors in office.
“This attitude of Fayemi endeared him to Muslims in Ekiti State and beyond who saw in him a sense of fairness and a true demonstration of what a “Right Activist” and leader of civil society organization that he was before turning a politician should be.
“Therefore, Dr Fayemi got an overwhelming support of Ekiti Muslims who constitute about 40 per cent of the entire population of Ekiti state in his bid to return to office in 2014 and 2018 governorship elections.
“It is also important to state that the position of the Muslims as stated above was paid for when Ayodele Fayose won the 2014 election and did not hide his hatred for the Muslims in words and actions. Therefore, it was not surprising that Fayemi got the Muslims’ support in 2018 election despite various antics employed by Mr Fayose to secure the Muslim’s votes by hook and trickery.
“It is, therefore, a breach of trust and clear departure from the principles of objective policy embedded in 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when Dr John Kayode Fayemi named his Secretary to State Government, Chief of Staff and Chief Press Secretary with all of them Christians making Ekiti government now fully Christianized.
“The MSSN B-ZONE, covering the entire 17 States of Southern Nigeria including Ekiti State, rejects this appointments and considers them unfair, irresponsible, discriminatory and insensitive to the highest order. It is an attempt to paint Muslims as non-existent in the politics of Ekiti State. Is Fayemi claiming that there are no Muslims who are qualified to hold those positions within the fold of his party in Ekiti State? How come no such discrimination is seen in any other South West states where Muslims are a clear majority.
“We wonder if Fayemi is now initiated into the club of the people of his faith who find religious solace in the marginalization of Islam and the Muslims? Or perhaps he has an accord to subjugate and marginalize Muslims? With who he might have had such accord is also a thing of wonder. Could it be the Christian Association of Nigeria? Or is it just that Dr Fayemi has developed so much disregard for Muslims?
“Against the above background, we call on the leadership of APC in Nigeria and in particular Ekiti State to prevail on Dr Fayemi to, as a matter of urgency, reverse the recently-made appointments and reconstitute same in a fair and equitable manner.
MSSN, however, urged Fayemi to consider equity and fairness in his subsequent appointment of commissioners and advisers among others.
They said, “We also call on Dr Fayemi to consider equity and fairness in his subsequent appointment of Commissioners, Advisers, Chairmen and Members of Boards and Parastatals.
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US to revoke visas for Saudis implicated in Khashoggi’s killing
October 24, 2018
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that the Trump administration will be revoking visas for Saudi individuals who are suspected in being involved in the killing of prominent writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking at the State Department, Mr Pompeo said “we have identified at least some of the individuals responsible" for the killing. He did not name names but added that the US would be taking “appropriate actions” to make it clear that it "does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action”.
Mr Pompeo announced that the administration would start by “revoking visas” for those implicated in the killing and that they include members of the intelligence services, the foreign ministry, the royal court and other Saudi ministries where the US suspects involvement. Both former Saudi officials Saud Al Qahtani and General Ahmed Assiri had visited the United States before they were dismissed from their positions last Friday.
“Those penalties won’t be the last step,” Mr Pompeo said. The State Department is consulting with the Treasury on applying Magnitsky Act sanctions and targeting individuals involved with further sanctions. The US Senate foreign relations committee urged the White House two weeks ago to trigger the Magnitsky Act and authorise an investigation and later on sanctions in the Khashoggi case.
Mr Pompeo said the US has “identified at least some of the individuals responsible” and is still gathering information. The director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel held meetings in Turkey on Tuesday to assess Ankara’s intelligence in the case.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in Saudi Arabia and has met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This comes after Mr Pompeo visited Riyadh last week to consult with Saudi officials.
Separately, US President Donald Trump said he is waiting for "all the facts" about the case before announcing further action, reiterating that the killing of Khashoggi was a terrible thing.
Gulf states join US in designating nine Taliban as terrorists
October 24, 2018
WASHINGTON: The United States, Saudi Arabia and five other Gulf states sanctioned nine Taliban functionaries on Tuesday, claiming they were working with Iran to undermine the stability of Afghan government.
The targeted individuals, including two Pakistanis and four Afghans, were designated global terrorists by all seven member states of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC). The TFTC — which includes the US, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — was formed in May 2017.
The US Treasury Department said in Washington that the action allows the governments to freeze property or interest in property of these individuals under their jurisdiction.
The Treasury said that some of the targeted individuals were “facilitating Iranian support to bolster” the Taliban while others were “Iranian regime sponsors”.
“The TFTC has (been)… disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban.”
The official US statement said the designations support President Trump’s South Asia Strategy. The first on the list is Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi, an alleged officer of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), who allegedly concluded an agreement with the Taliban deputy shadow governor for Herat, Abdullah Samad Faroqui, for providing military and financial assistance in return for Samad’s forces attacking the Afghan government in Herat. Esma’il Razavi was designated for acting on behalf of the IRGC-QF and for providing financial, material, or technological support and other services to the Taliban.
Abdullah Samad Faroqui, Iran’s alleged Taliban partner, was also designated for accepting weapons and military aid from Iran. Samad allegedly also visited a training camp in Birjand, Iran, where the IRGC-QF was training Taliban fighters to attack a proposed pipeline in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, a former Taliban deputy shadow governor for Helmand, is now the shadow governor for Farah Province. In early 2017, Daoud was appointed a leader of the Taliban’s Quetta Military Commission.
Abdul Rahim Manan is the Taliban shadow governor for Helmand, who allegedly provided a large number of Taliban fighters to attack Afghan government forces.
Naim Barich is the Taliban shadow minister of foreign affairs and manages Taliban’s relations with Iran.
Abdul Aziz, an alleged Pakistan-based narcotics trafficker, provides funds to the Taliban Quetta Shura and travels to the Gulf to collect money for the Shura.
Sadr Ibrahim, a member the Taliban’s Military Commission, was a Defence Ministry official during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.
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New US-led sanctions target Iran-Taliban ties
October 24, 2018
WASHINGTON: The US Treasury and allies in the Gulf took aim at Iran’s support for the Taliban on Tuesday with new sanctions against nine individuals from both countries.
The Riyadh-based Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC) said the sanctions aimed to “expose and disrupt Taliban actors and their Iranian sponsors that seek to undermine the security of the Afghan Government.”
The list included two Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials identified as Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi and Esma’il Razavi.
According to a TFTC statement the two involved in providing training, financial and logistical support to the Taliban.
It said Owhadi arranged a deal in 2017 with a top Taliban official in Aghanistan’s Herat Province in which the Revolutionary Guard would provide military and financial support to the Taliban in return for them attacking government forces in Herat.
Razavi provided similar support to other Taliban groups across the Iran-Afghanistan border, the statement said.
Also named were the Taliban’s deputy shadow governor for Herat, Abdullah Samad Faroqui; Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil. who holds the same position in Helmand province, Naim Barich, who manages Taliban-Iran relations, and three other senior Taliban officials.
The blacklist also included Abdul Aziz, accused of paying the Taliban for protection for his narcotics trafficking and gemstones businesses.
“Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
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Pompeo: We will maintain strategic interests with Saudi Arabia
24 October 2018
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that his country will maintain strategic interests with Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo added at a press conference that there are anticipated US actions against the defendants in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. “We will hold accountable those involved in the murder of Khashoggi”, he said.
Pompeo said he was taking appropriate steps in the case of the death of Khashoggi, noting that the visas to the United States of those involved in the case will be canceled.
Trump calls Saudi killing of Khashoggi 'worst cover-up ever'
Oct 24, 2018
US President Donald Trump has blasted Saudi Arabia’s efforts to hide the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s diplomatic mission in Istanbul as the “worst cover-up ever,” but again indicated that he would not end arms sales to the Washington’s Middle East ally.
Khashoggi – a US resident, The Washington Post columnist, and a leading critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documents for his pending marriage, but he never left the mission. Saudi officials originally said Khashoggi had left the diplomatic mission unharmed, before announcing on October 19 that he had been killed inside the building in what they described as an altercation.
“They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly and the cover-up was the worst in the history of cover-ups,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “They had the worst cover-up ever.”
Trump said the killing and the subsequent cover-up by Saudi Arabia were "a total fiasco," adding, "There should have never been an execution or a cover-up, because it should have never happened, whoever thought of that idea, I think, is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble.”
The US president also expressed opposition to the idea of halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying that Washington would be "hurting ourselves" if it turned away from Riyadh and refrained from going forward with arms sales to the kingdom.
Trump said he still looked for all the facts before making a final decision on whether to punish the Saudis and that he would continue to work with Congress on the issue.
“In terms of what we ultimately do, I’m going to leave it very much — in conjunction with me — I’m going to leave it up to Congress,” Trump said, adding that he hoped a decision would be bipartisan.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have thrown their support behind sanctions on the Saudi government in response to Khashoggi's case.
After more than two weeks of lies and denials, Riyadh claimed on Saturday that Khashoggi had died during a "brawl" inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed on Tuesday the Saudis' account of Khashoggi's killing and said the 59-year-old had been murdered in a preplanned operation directed by top Saudi officials.
“The Saudi administration has taken an important step by admitting to the murder. From now on, we expect them to uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom and make them face the necessary punishments,” Erdogan said in a speech in parliament.
“From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account,” he added, stopping short of mentioning the Saudi crown prince who is suspected of having ordered the killing of the dissident journalist.
Earlier on Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said the Saudi killing of the Virginia-based journalist “will not go without an American response” and that Gina Haspel, the CIA director, was in Turkey to review evidence in the case.
“I want to assure the American people: we’re going to get to the bottom of it. This brutal murder of a journalist, of an innocent man, of a dissident will not go without an American response and, I expect, without an international response,” Pence said at an event hosted by The Washington Post.
Calling the killing “barbaric,” Pence stressed that the US president would ultimately decide whether to impose economic sanctions on Saudi Arabia once all the facts were available.
Asked if Washington would sanction members of Saudi Arabia's royal family if they were found to have been complicit in Khashoggi’s murder, the US vice president said that was a decision for the American head of state.
Pence, however, stressed that whatever the US response to the murder case, the president will keep in mind the importance of relations between Washington and Riyadh.
Saudi visas revoked
Trump's comments on Tuesday came shortly before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at a press conference that the US was revoking visas from Saudis involved in the Khashoggi's killing. He further noted that sanctions were also being considered.
The US State Department "will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult with Congress and work with other nations, and work to hold accountable those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi," Pompeo said.
The State Department is working with the Department of Treasury to "review the applicability of global Magnitsky sanctions to those individuals," the US secretary of state said, vowing that the penalties "will not be the last word on this matter from the United States; we will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable."
Under the Magnitsky Act, the assets of those individuals sanctioned by the US administration are frozen and they are barred from doing business with Americans or receiving US visas.
Pompeo called the murder of the Washington Post columnist "ruthless," and described it as the silencing of the press.
The US secretary of state also noted that his country would continue a "strong partnership" with Saudi Arabia.
Full report at:
Power in numbers on display as Ahmadi Muslim spiritual leader tours US
October 23, 2018
WASHINGTON (RNS) — It was nearly 10 on a weeknight, but a crowd of men, women and children numbering in the hundreds surrounded the Baitur Rehman Mosque in Silver Spring, Md., chattering loudly with excitement. The group had been gathering for hours outside the sprawling building on a bucolic road outside Washington to await the arrival of its spiritual leader, the khalifa, or caliph, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who traveled last week (Oct. 16) from the United Kingdom to pray with them.
Suddenly, a caravan of black SUVs pulled up. As a sharply dressed, turbaned man emerged from a vehicle flanked by several layers of security, the masses erupted: Men and women shouted slogans and “Allahu akbar!” as the khalifa, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, walked briskly past. Dozens of children belted songs in Urdu while frantically waving flags and signs of welcome.
After Masroor Ahmad led a few brief prayers inside the mosque and disappeared into the SUV, the euphoria was over. But attendees said the experience would stay with them for much longer.
“It was amazing, because usually I just see him on TV,” said Mansur, 11, as he gripped the tiny American flag he had waved during the ceremony. Asked to describe the experience of seeing Masroor Ahmad, often called His Holiness, in person for the first time, he said, “It just felt like a lot of blessings just came shooting into me.”
The scene repeated several times over the next few days as Masroor Ahmad continued his three-week whirlwind tour of the United States, visiting members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and meeting with political leaders to spread a message of peace and dialogue.
Masroor Ahmad’s followers are a small subset of Islam that claims around 10 million to 20 million devotees worldwide. The group’s theology closely resembles that of most Sunni Muslims, save for an important distinction: Ahmadi Muslims believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was the Mahdi of Islam, a Messiah figure prophesied to appear and usher in the end times and the peaceful triumph of Islam. Masroor Ahmad, the founder’s great-grandson, was elected in 2003 as the fifth caliph.
This belief has led to persecution from other Muslims in various parts of the world such as Pakistan, where many consider Ahmadis to be apostates — and where their current caliph, Masroor Ahmad, was raised. But the group’s centralized hierarchy under the caliph has allowed it to broadcast — literally, as the sect operates its own television stations — a unified message of peace and interfaith dialogue worldwide.
Asked by Religion News Service how Ahmadis should respond to violence or threats, from Muslims or others, Masroor Ahmad insisted that members of his community should hold fast to a message of peace that echoes the slogan plastered across many signs during his visit: “Love for all, hatred for none.”
“You see, we cannot force them,” he said during a news conference in Philadelphia, referencing those who wish violence on the Ahmadi. “We are only responsible for ourselves. … We can only try to make them understand, if they understand. But the true teaching of Islam is love, peace and harmony.”
Masroor Ahmad has visited the U.S. at least three times before, in 2008, 2012 and 2013, but this latest trip is his most extensive, including stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore, where he inaugurated new mosques in each city, and Houston. Everywhere he goes he has been greeted by adoring crowds of Ahmadis.
But the caliph’s tour has also included outreach to non-Muslims. After dedicating the Philadelphia mosque, he delivered remarks to a banquet that included many non-Muslim guests and luminaries, during which Mayor Jim Kenney offered Masroor Ahmad the key to the city. In Baltimore, at another massive banquet, he met with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, along with local elected officials.
“Your message of peace and love is desperately needed, now more than ever before,” Cardin told the banquet crowd at the Hilton Baltimore. “And you inspire us by your presence and your words here in Baltimore, that we all can do better.”
In his speeches, Masroor Ahmad stresses the need for interfaith dialogue and cooperation and rails against isolation and “meeting only with members of our own particular community.” At the banquet in Philadelphia, he talked about how Ahmadis assisted local Jews after their cemetery was desecrated by vandals in February 2017.
“The local members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community went to offer their support to the Jewish community, and to stand in solidarity with them after that despicable crime,” he said. He added that the assistance was Ahmadis “merely doing what our religion has taught us,” which is to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with others “in their time of need or distress.”
In the past few years, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has forged political relationships with members of both major U.S. political parties.
In 2014, then-U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican, and U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, who had both received awards from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the past, co-founded the congressional Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus and tasked it with focusing on the global persecution of Ahmadi Muslims and other religious minorities. Johnnie Moore, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, spoke at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s annual convention in the United Kingdom in August.
While the caliph’s visit comes just before U.S. midterm elections, a contentious political season that has seen a spike in anti-Muslim rhetoric from politicians, he took no sides, only urging his followers to elect people who are “humble” and prioritize serving others.
“It is a saying of the prophet of Islam that the leader of the nation is the servant of the nation,” he said. “So we only choose the person who can better serve, or at least if we feel he can better serve the nation.”
Indeed, humility was something of a theme during Ahmad’s visits to the Mid-Atlantic states and despite the fanfare Ahmadis were quick to put things in perspective. Basir Jamil, 25, who volunteered to provide security and other assistance in Baltimore, said that the caliph’s illustrious role didn’t distract from individual Ahmadis’ personal connection to the divine.
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Fire at Bucks Muslim school blamed on students there
October 23, 2018
by Robert Moran
Police on Tuesday said three boys who attend a Muslim school in Bucks County were responsible for a fire there Monday afternoon.
Bristol Township police said the fire at the United American Muslim Association school in the 5200 block of Emilie Road was caused by three boys, ages 10 to 14.
The fire, which started in a second-floor storage room filled with boxes of paper towels, was reported around 4:30 p.m. and required a response by several fire companies and the Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad.
No one was injured in the blaze, which was declared an arson by the Bristol Township Fire Marshal's Office. The Philadelphia office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said on Monday that it was joining the investigation.
Detectives determined that it was not a hate crime, nor was there any malicious intent against the school, Bristol Township police said in a statement.
The investigation was ongoing and the Bucks County District Attorney's Office was reviewing the case for possible charges.
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Pence vows US response to Khashoggi's 'brutal murder'
By Michael Hernandez
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence vowed Tuesday that Washington would take action in response to the "brutal murder" of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Pence called Khashoggi's disappearance and death "an assault on a free and independent press" while addressing a conference hosted by the Washington Post, the newspaper for whom Khashoggi wrote.
"Our administration is determined to use all means at our disposal to get to the bottom of it," Pence said.
After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for over two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said he was killed during a fight inside its Istanbul consulate.
His body has not been recovered, nor has Riyadh explained its shifting narrative on what transpired.
Pence confirmed CIA Director Gina Haspel is now in Turkey reviewing evidence in Khashoggi's case.
"We're going to follow the facts. We're going to demand that those responsible are held accountable," he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Tuesday laid out his country’s initial findings in its investigation, saying Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated."
Erdogan said all information and evidence that has been revealed showed Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal murder.
Saudi teams explored Istanbul's Belgrad Forest and the northwestern province of Yalova before murdering Khashoggi, Erdogan said.
Reacting to Erdogan's announcements, Pence said Turkey's assessment "flies in the face of earlier assertions that have been made by the Saudi regime, and again it underscores the determination of our administration to find out what happened here.
"The world is watching. The American people want answers, and we'll demand those answers are forthcoming," he said. "As we demand that those responsible for this barbaric act, we will also do so in the light, and in the context of America's vital national interests in the region."
When asked if he had seen any intelligence linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Khashoggi's disappearance, Pence said he did not "want to speak about any intelligence I've seen."
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