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Deoband Campus Now Off Limits for Tablighi Jamaat

New Age Islam News Bureau

11 Aug 2017

The Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has banned Tablighi Jamaat, the global Sunni Muslim movement, from its campus.



 Deoband Campus Now Off Limits for Tablighi Jamaat

 2005 Hyderabad Bombing: Court Acquits All 10 Arrested

 Islam Allows Sharing Of Utensils, Mufti Says Amid ‘Muslim’ Cup Uproar

 Saudi Arabia Boosting Extremism in Europe, Says Former Ambassador

 Taliban Commander Reveals New Info Regarding the Ex-Leader Mullah Mansoor’s Death



 Deoband Campus Now Off Limits for Tablighi Jamaat

 2005 Hyderabad Bombing: Court Acquits All 10 Arrested

 Some Mumbai Muslim Clerics Want National Flag to Be Flown From Masjids, Madrasas on Aug 15

 Chief Justice of India Urged To End Quickfire Muslim Divorce Law

 Apex Court Wants NIA to Probe ‘Love Jihad’ Case

 Shia Board Moves SC Challenging Rejection of Claim Over Babri Masjid

 BJP leaders slam Hamid Ansari for 'Muslim unease' comment

 7,620 Indian nationals lodged in foreign jails, highest in Saudi Arabia

 Deported from Saudi, ‘AQIS suspect’ Syed Mohammad Zishan Ali in custody

 Bhopal: Hindu-Muslim inmates at Central Jail make Ganesha idols


Southeast Asia

 Islam Allows Sharing Of Utensils, Mufti Says Amid ‘Muslim’ Cup Uproar

 Ahmadis, Hizbut Tahrir Slam Sabah for Choosing Ban over Dialogue

 Chinese God Statue Covered In Sheet after Muslims Protest in Indonesian City

 Wasatiyyah Institute of Malaysia holds third intellectual discourse on human rights

 Passing of marriage bill sans clause ‘a tragedy for Muslims’



 Saudi Arabia Boosting Extremism in Europe, Says Former Ambassador

 UN Finally Breaks Silence On Saudi Razing Of Shia Town

 How France ransomed itself to Qatar's money and 'soft power'

 Efforts toward Creating a Palestinian State Must Go On: Russian FM

 French security forces now top targets of Islamic radicals

 Daesh threat remains despite military blows: UN report

 Turkey detains Russian Islamic State suspect, accused of planning attack on US base


South Asia

 Taliban Commander Reveals New Info Regarding the Ex-Leader Mullah Mansoor’s Death

 Teenage Boys Arrested Before Joining ISIS Ranks In East Of Afghanistan

 Afghan forces conducted 45 ground operations, 10 airstrikes, leaving 51 militants dead

 Ghani Faces Backlash after Mass Killing in Sar-e-Pul

 UN warns aid workers of rising Buddhist hostility in Rakhine

 Afghan forces foil a deadly attack plot on a university in Kapisa province



 Israel Moves Ahead On Underground Wall around Gaza

 Turkey Seeks Arrest of 35 Media Workers over Alleged Gulen Links

 Israeli settler runs over four Palestinian kids

 55 Presumed Dead off Yemen as Smugglers Deliberately Drown Refugees: UN Agency

 Turkey closes Syria border crossing



 Tehmina’s Tweets Set Tongues Wagging

 Former Pakistan PM Sharif Rallies Crowds on Road to Lahore

 Anti-judiciary pamphlets distributed in ex-PM’s rally: PTI

 Rajgal valley cleared of terrorists: DG ISPR

 NAP implementation continues to eliminate terrorism: Ahsan


Arab World

 Bahrain FM Links Awamiya Backers to Terrorism Funders in Region

 Controversy in Egypt after a Copt Announces Converting To Islam via Facebook

 Saudi Arabia sentences senior Shia clergyman to 13 years in prison

 Syrian Army Continues to Advance in Eastern Damascus

 Several Terrorists Killed, Wounded in Clashes with Kurds in Northern Aleppo

 Syrian Army Nearing Full Capture of Southeastern Raqqa

 Tens of Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes against Syria

 3 ISIL Bases Smashed in Syrian Army Operations in Deir Ezzur

 Dozens dead in central Syria as ISIS battles regime push

 Lebanese army hits Daesh targets



 How ‘Self-Serving’ Sharia could’ve Become Disaster for Nigeria — Obasanjo

 Somalia: Hundreds Gather to Show Solidarity at Fire-bombed Minnesota Mosque

 Freed al Qaeda hostage says becoming Muslim helped him in ordeal

 Car bomb blast in Somali capital kills 1


North America

 Imam Offers Insight on Being a Muslim during Stratford Talk

 Muslim chaplain lives to 'perform or provide'

 Trump says doesn't think Iran is in compliance with nuclear deal

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Deoband Campus Now Off Limits for Tablighi Jamaat

Mohammed Wajihuddin

Aug 11, 2017

MUMBAI: The Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband has banned Tablighi Jamaat, the global Sunni Muslim movement, from its campus. Restricting the group from conducting any activities inside the "four walls" of the sprawling madrassa in Deoband (UP), the seminary's administration announced on August 9 that any student found involved in Tablighi activity would face punitive action. The ban will be lifted, said the seminary's administrators, only after the Jamaat's two factions warring over the title of Ameer (leader) end their dispute .

This is the first time in the seminary's over-100-years-old history that it has shut its doors on the Tablighi Jamaat, its own ideological offshoot. The action, said the seminary's rector Mufti Abul Qasim Noamani, was needed to prevent a clash among Deoband students who were getting divided into two camps. "We are not against Tablighi Jamaat or its works but were only worried that our students might get sucked into the fight between the two factions. We tried to mediate between the groups to help them sort out their differences but failed. The ban will be lifted only after the two factions bury their differences," Mufti Noamani told TOI on Thursday.



2005 Hyderabad bombing: Court acquits all 10 arrested

Aug 11, 2017

HYDERABAD: Ten terror suspects with alleged links to Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) were acquitted by a local court on Thursday, nearly 12 years after a suicide bomber blew himself up on October 12, 2005 in front of the police task force office in Hyderabad. While nine of the accused have spent nearly 12 years in jail, the tenth has been out on bail.

Apart from the suicide bomber, a home guard posted outside the office died in the explosion.

The judgment said the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy charges. Also, the material seized from the accused did not amount to clinching evidence in the case, the judge added. The verdict came as a huge blow to Hyderabad police's Special Investigation Team (SIT) and drew sharp reactions from various quarters, including political parties, which accused police of framing innocents.

Seven of the nine accused lodged in the Chanchalguda jail were released late Thursday. Two of those acquitted are also accused in 2005 Jaunpur Shramajeevi Express blast case. They will be transferred to Jaunpur prison in Uttar Pradesh.

On October 12, 2005, Dalin alias Mohtasim Billal, a HuJI member and native of Bangladesh, walked into the police office with a backpack stuffed with explosives, including ammonium nitrate, and blew himself up.



Islam allows sharing of utensils, mufti says amid ‘Muslim’ cup uproar

August 11, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has condemned a Selangor school that placed separate drinking cups for its Muslim and non-Muslim students.

The Perak mufti said the practice was discriminatory and could lead to hatred of Islam, news portal Free Malaysia Today reported.

“This should not have happened. We should know the ruling. Don’t be too rigid that others would begin despising us. Islam pays importance to human relations,” he was quoted saying.

He called for an end to the practice, saying there was no basis to separate the utensils even if Islam prohibits its followers from consuming certain kinds of food.

“Even if one consumes pork, that does not mean his lips are unclean.

“We can use cups used by non-Muslims. We can use cooking utensils used by non-Muslims.

“This practice is an insult. Don’t do it,” the mufti was quoted saying.

Pictures of two cups, one labelled in Malay as for ‘Muslim students’ and the other for ‘non-Muslim students’ next to a water fountain in a school was posted on the Internet earlier this week, sparking public uproar.

The school has been reported to be in Hulu Langat, Selangor.

Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon has been reported saying his ministry will ask the state Education Department for an explanation.



Saudi Arabia boosting extremism in Europe, says former ambassador

 13 July 2017

Patrick Wintour

Saudi Arabia has been funding mosques throughout Europe that have become hotbeds of extremism, the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir William Patey has said.

His remarks come a day after the government published a brief summary of a Home Office-commissioned report into the funding of extremism in the UK. The full report is not being published for security reasons.

Patey said he did not believe Saudi Arabia was directly funding terrorist groups, but rather an ideology that leads to extremism, and suggested that its leaders might not be aware of the consequences. “It is unhealthy and we need to do something about it,” he said.

“The Saudis [have] not quite appreciated the impact their funding of a certain brand of Islam is having in the countries in which they do it – it is not just Britain and Europe.

“That is a dialogue we need to have. They are not funding terrorism. They are funding something else, which may down the road lead to individuals being radicalised and becoming fodder for terrorism.”

Patey said the Saudis “find it every easy to back off the idea that they are funding terrorism because they are not.

“What the World Association [sic] of Muslim Youth and the Muslim World League are doing is funding mosques and promoting an ideology – the Salifist Wahhabist ideology.”

He called for clarity on the definition of funding terrorism and “a grownup dialogue with the Gulf about what we think”. There were also “individual Gulf citizens that defied their governments to fund terrorism,” Patey added.

Patey, who was the UK ambassador to Riyadh from 2006 to 2010 and previously head of the Foreign Office Middle East desk, also questioned whether Saudi Arabia and its allies had worked out the implications of their bitter dispute with Qatar.

Three Gulf States – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – along with Egypt, have sought to isolate Qatar diplomatically and economically, citing its support for terrorism and groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

“This has all the hallmarks of a policy that has not been thought through. It does not smack of a considered strategy,” Patey said at roundtable discussion in London organised by the Conservative Middle East Council.

“It is not a smart move even if you are sympathetic to their vision. It is a short cut to achieve something quickly and I think they miscalculated and I think they did think that with Trump behind them, Qatar would back down. They raised these stakes because they thought Qatar would back down in the end, so I think they were a bit surprised.”

The boycott had backfired, he argued and far from leading to a coup in Qatar, a cult had developed around the newly popular emir. “The Qataris are rallying round their leadership,” Patey said.

He said he believed the true motive for the dispute was not Qatar’s funding of terrorism, but a wider difference in political vision. “This is about the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a battle for the future of the Middle East,” he said.

Patey also questioned whether all the emirates within the UAE were united behind the boycott. “This is about Abu Dhabi asserting its dominance in foreign policy issues, because this is not in Dubai’s interest,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Michael Stephens, the head of the Royal United Services Institute Qatar desk, said the Gulf row may lead to an intractable dispute that could prompt investors to think seriously about disinvesting across the Gulf.

“We are now facing five weeks of the conflict when most people thought it would last 72 hours,” he said, calling for a series of de-escalatory measures leading to a joint agreement to fight extremism.



Taliban commander reveals new info regarding the ex-leader Mullah Mansoor’s death

Aug 10 2017

A senior Taliban commander has made new revelations regarding the death of the former commander of the group Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

The commander who has wished not to be named has told The New York Times that Mullah Mansoor ‘knew something was happen’ before the drone strike claimed his life.

He said “Pakistan was making very strong demands.”

Without providing further information regarding the demands, the former commander said “Mansour was saying you cannot force me on everything. I am running the insurgency, doing the fighting and taking casualties and you cannot force us.”

Mullah Mansoor was killed in an airstrike on 21st May last year as he was travelling in a vehicle with a Pakistani passport.

He was believed to be more adept at managing money and was on his way back from a visit to Iran when he was targeted by the US forces in Afghanistan with an aerial strike.

According to reports, Mullah Mansoor had visited Iran to discuss with the country’s authorities regarding the growing issue of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan.





Some Mumbai Muslim Clerics Want National Flag to Be Flown From Masjids, Madrasas on Aug 15

Aug 10, 2017

Muslim clerics in Mumbai have asked young members of the community to celebrate Independence Day by hoisting the national flag at masjids and madrasas (religious schools).

“Muslims played a pivotal role in the battle for independent India. The youth should not forget their contribution,” said Maulana Syed Moinuddin Ashraf, popularly called Moin Miya, from Sunni Jama Masjid and founder of Maharashtra Muslim Front.

A meeting of Ulemas (Muslim scholars) was held to discuss preparations for Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday. Religious leaders urged the Ulemas to spread the message of patriotism among young Muslims. “The reason for holding such a meeting was to ensure that more people join and celebrate Independence Day with great enthusiasm. The young crowd should remember the martyrs and pass on these values to their children,” the Maulana added.

Other Muslim organisations welcomed the decision, but said they wondered whether such a decision was made to thwart allegations of being ‘unpatriotic’. “It is a positive decision, but could also have been a response to Hindus who have been pressuring us. However, the day is celebrated by people of all faiths,” said Feroze Mithiborewala, national co-convener, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy.

All-India Ulema, a body of Muslim community scholars, refused to comment on the move.

Ulema organisations will meet once more to plan further arrangements next week.



Chief Justice of India Urged To End Quickfire Muslim Divorce Law

Nita Bhalla

AUGUST 10, 2017

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India's top judge was urged on Thursday to scrap a civil law that permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by simply stating their intention three times, a practice that has even left some wives dumped by text.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) is expected to decide on a petition filed by victims and activists who want the so-called triple talaq law to be abolished. Not only is it unconstitutional, they say, it is misused for instant divorces.

In a letter to CJI Jagdish Singh Khehar, activists said thousands of Indian Muslim women were eager for a judgment which would end a practice where men can divorce their wives without warning - sometimes even via Skype, WhatsApp and text message.

"Triple talaq happens despite there being no Quranic sanction for it," said the letter, which was signed by members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), or the India Muslim Women's Movement.

"Absence of any legal protection leaves Muslim women vulnerable to this practice of arbitrary and unjust divorce. She is rendered homeless and destitute in an instant. She is left without any support for herself and her children."

Triple talaq - where a man says 'I divorce you' three times - is banned in most Muslim countries.

It is permitted in India, however, as the constitution allows most religions, including Muslims - the biggest religious minority group - to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

A supreme court bench, made up of five multi-faith judges, in May reserved judgment on whether to abolish the law, and the matter now lies in the hands of the CJI.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a non-governmental body which oversees the application of Muslim personal law, opposes any ban on triple talaq and argues this is a religious matter and not for the courts.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi disagrees and last year waded into a controversy by saying he believed it was destroying women's lives, with Muslims making up about 13 percent of the country's almost 1.3 billion people.

The BMMA said that victims fighting for justice had faced death threats for speaking up for their rights, but they remained hopeful the CJI's verdict would justify their efforts.

Full report at:



Apex court wants NIA to probe ‘love jihad’ case

11th August 2017

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Kerala police to hand over records pertaining to an alleged ‘Love Jihad’ case to National Investigation Agency (NIA) for unbiased investigation.

The case relates to the alleged conversion and radicalization of a Hindu girl and her marriage to a Muslim. A bench led by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar made it clear that “it wants to get the whole picture for assessing the ramifications of the case.” “If there are issues going beyond the purview of Kerala or is part of a radicalisation trend in the southern states which is threatening national security, they (NIA) should be able to assist us,” the bench said.

The order came on a plea filed by husband Shafin Jahan, who had moved the Supreme Court last month against the Kerala High Court order, saying it was an insult to the independence of women in India. Jahan had also requested the court to order the girl’s father to produce her in court.

According to Jahan, the girl converted from Hinduism to Islam on her own will before marriage. However, the bench refused to acknowledge the protest raised by advocate Haris Beeran appearing on behalf of the husband to engage the NIA. It said, “The impression gathered by his opposition was that the petitioner did not want the correct picture to come up.

Why should you oppose sharing records with the NIA? We want them to be here. If NIA says there are no issues of national importance, we will deal with this as an individual case, but let the entire picture come before this court.”

Beeran also told the court about the use of the term ‘love jihad’ to describe the case and said, “Love jihad’ in common parlance, is some kind of love trap into which girls fall. This is a simple case, which has been blown out of proportion.”

Justice Chandrachud, however, noted that the court has not used any such term and those are catch phrases used by the media and said, “We are not going by such catch phrases used on social media etc.”

NIA had moved an application saying it was open to investigate the case, provided the top court issued a specific order. The case will now come up for hearing next on August 16.

Full report at:



Shia Board moves SC challenging rejection of claim over Babri Masjid

August 11, 2017

The Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Board of Waqf has moved Supreme Court, challenging a 1946 Faizabad civil court order rejecting its claim over Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid.

“(The) trial court committed error in not appreciating that it is the Wakif who creates Wakf. Even if someone (king) orders for building a mosque, the Wakif is the one who actually creates the Wakf by dedicating it to the God,’’ the petition said. “In the instant case admittedly the mosque was built by Abdul Mir Baqi presumably out of his funds since Babar stayed near Ayodhya only for 5-6 days whereas construction of mosque took much more time (demolition of temple and building of mosque)…’’

The plea has sought the apex court’s leave to appeal. “The trial court failed to appreciate that merely ‘ordering’ to build mosque does not make that person as Wakif. Someone has to build it and having title, may be in the edifice, can dedicate it to the God. Maybe that Babar ordered Abdul Mir Baqi to build mosque. Mir Baqi (Shia) chose the site and having demolished the temple got the mosque built and dedicated it to the God, thereby creating a Shia Wakf.’’

The petition has cited Faizabad court’s ruling on the Board’s claim that Babri Masjid was a Shia Waqf. “The trial court looked into the Gazetteer of this district which contains references to this mosque at P 173-174. It shows that according to local affirmations, Babar came to Ajodhia in 1528 AD. And halted here only for a week and it was during his regime the Janmasthan temple was destroyed and on its site a mosque was built using largely the materials of the old structure.”

Full report at:



BJP leaders slam Hamid Ansari for 'Muslim unease' comment

Aug 10, 2017

NEW DELHI: Some BJP leaders have taken exception to outgoing vice-president Hamid Ansari's comment that "a feeling of unease, a sense of insecurity is creeping in" among the country's Muslims.

"(There is) no better country than India for Muslims and no better friend than Hindus," said BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain.

Hussain was reacting to comments Ansari made during an interview with Rajya Sabha TV. Ansari was asked if the recent spate of lynching and violence by cow vigilantes was making the country's Muslim community apprehensive.

"Yes, it is a correct assessment. From all I hear from different quarters, the country. I heard the same thing in Bengaluru, I have heard from other parts of the country, I hear more about in north India. There is a feeling of unease, a sense of insecurity is creeping in," answered Ansari, according to IANS.

That comment didn't go down well with another BJP leader either. Priti Gandhi, who's a national executive member of the party, in a tweet, asked Ansari if he feels uneasy despite her "Hindu majority nation" placing him "at the pinnacle of power" for 10 years.

The 80-year-old vice president also had advice for the Muslim community. He said it has to move with the times and live with the requirements of the occasion.

"Do not create for one self or one's fellow beings an imaginary situation which is centuries back, when things were very different. I mean the whole idea was that what are the challenges today... The challenges today are challenges of development, what are the requirements for development; you keep up with the times, educate yourself, and compete..." he said.

During the interview, Ansari talked about a range of issues, including the attacks on Africans in India, the functioning of the Rajya Sabha and his relationship with two Presidents -- Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee -- and Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.

When he was asked if he conveyed his apprehensions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said he had but didn't divulge any details.

Full report at:



7,620 Indian nationals lodged in foreign jails, highest in Saudi Arabia

Ekatha Ann John

Aug 10, 2017

CHENNAI: As many as 7,620 Indian nationals are lodged in foreign jails, with the highest number in Saudi Arabia.

In response to a question raised in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, minister of state for external affairs M J Akbar said due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information.

Of the 7,620 prisoners lodged in 86 jails, at least 50 are women, shows data available with the government. Most of these women are in prisons in south-east Asia, neighbouring Sri Lanka, China and Nepal, the Gulf countries, the US and UK.

The Gulf countries account for 56% of all Indian nationals in foreign jails. The prisons in Saudi Arabia have the highest number of Indian nationals, with 2,084 of them confined on charges of financial fraud, burglary and bribery.

A number of them have also been arrested for drinking and selling alcohol in the country. It is illegal to produce, import or consume alcohol in Saudi Arabia.

In countries in south-east Asia - Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia - most of the 500 immured Indian nationals were charged with offences related to drug and human trafficking and immigration and visa violation.

In Pakistan, according to a list handed over by the government to the India envoy in Islamabad, at least 546 Indian nationals, including nearly 500 fishermen, are in Pakistani jails.

Fishermen in the southern parts of India have also entered troubled waters and landed in jails in alien soil, especially in Sri Lankan jails. Tamil Nadu prisoners were tracked in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei and Ethiopia too.

In Australia and Canada, countries that see high migration from India, 115 prisoners are Indian nationals. Most of their offences relate to murder, sexual assault, money laundering and road accidents.

Most European countries like Germany, Italy, Greece and France did not furnish details of Indian nationals in their prisons.

The minister said since the enactment of the repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003, 170 applications for repatriation had been received and 61 Indian prisoners had been repatriated from foreign prisons.

Full report at:



Deported from Saudi, ‘AQIS suspect’ Syed Mohammad Zishan Ali in custody

by Abhishek Angad , Anand Mohan J        

August 11, 2017

An Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) suspect, who was arrested by Delhi Police on Wednesday after being deported from Saudi Arabia for visa violations, was remanded in 14-day police custody on Thursday. The police told Additional Sessions Judge Siddhartha Sharma that the suspect, Syed Zishan Ali, was an active member of the AQIS. They said that Ali needed to be interrogated to ascertain the location of his brother Syed Mohammad Arshiyan and brother-in-law Sabeel Ahmed, who is the brother of alleged Glasgow airport attack mastermind Kafil Ahmed. The Delhi Police Special Cell sought Ali’s custody “to identify the logistics/finance aid to his terrorist outfit from India and abroad and confront the evidences collected so far”.

The Special Cell had claimed to have busted the AQIS module with the arrests of five persons in 2015. They reportedly disclosed the involvement of 12 others, including Ali. A total of 17 people were chargesheeted under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, but only six persons including Ali have been arrested so far. According to the Special Cell, the accused were planning an “untoward terrorist incident” in Delhi and NCR. Sources said Ali was allegedly in charge of recruitment of youths from India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries.

The police said that Ali’s name came up after the arrest of Mohammad Asif on December 14, 2015. Asif is allegedly a founding member of AQIS and in charge of the recruitment, motivation and training wing. His interrogation helped identify several members of the terror outfit and led to four more arrests, including that of Abdur Rehman, who the police chargesheet claims “delivered jihadi speeches” in Jamshedpur and visited Pakistan and met Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists.

Full report at:



Bhopal: Hindu-Muslim inmates at Central Jail make Ganesha idols

By Smita

Aug 11, 2017

Bhopal: In an eco-friendly measure, around 25 Hindu and Muslim woman prisoners of Bhopal Central Jail prepared eco-friendly idols of Ganesha for the first time. The clay idols of lord Ganesha of 10 inch, made by them will be displayed in the five-day exhibition-cum-sale at DB Mall on Friday.

Neena Shrivastava, instructor at Bhopal Central jail who is imparting the training to the prisoners for making the clay idol told Free Press, “We got directives from jail authority to make eco-friendly idols of lord Ganesha to save environment. We have been working on it for last 20 days. As many as 25 female prisoners including Hindus and Muslims have prepared 140 eco-friendly idols of Ganesha till now by using chalk clay and gum. The size of the idols is eight to 10 inches. The price range is from Rs 40 to Rs 50 per idol.”

Shrivastava said, “It is for the first time that we got chance to prepare eco-friendly Ganesha in normal pattern in which lord Ganesha is sitting on throne. If we get good response from customers, we will make more of them.” Besides, eco-friendly idols of lord Ganesha, a wide variety of handloom and handicraft items including dolls, paintings, doormats, towel, leather bags, wooden toys, furniture, bangles and idols, produced by inmates of six central jails of MP including Bhopal, Indore Gwalior, Rewa, Ujjain and Jabalpur will also be showcased in the expo.

Bhopal Central Jail superintendent Dinesh Nargave said, “To create awareness among people towards eco-friendly idols, we organised the training for the first time in jail. Still our target is to prepare around 200 eco-friendly idols of lord Ganesha. Not only this, we are displaying some other items in the exhibition, produced by inmates including men and women of six central jails of MP at DB Mall for the first time.”

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Ahmadis, Hizbut Tahrir slam Sabah for choosing ban over dialogue


August 10, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Banned by Sabah, several Muslim groups questioned the state government’s drastic measure as a first resort when they were not a terror threat.

Representatives of Malaysia’s Islamic minority Ahmadiyyah and pro-caliphate group Hizbut Tahrir (HTM) asserted that they were peaceful groups that have also contributed to the charity and welfare of the local community, especially in Sabah.

“The question is, has the state government held any open dialogue with the Jemaat Ahmadiyah before they banned us? Never,” Ainul Yakin M Zin, a spokesman for the Malaysian Ahmadiyyah community, told Malay Mail Online.

“The next question they have to answer: has Jemaat Ahmadiyah threatened the security of the country and Sabah, until Sabah has to ban our existence there? Banning us is not the solution, but would only confuse our peace-loving society.”

Similarly, HTM said neither the state government nor the state fatwa committee had ever attempted to inquire about its ideology and teachings.

“So on what basis was Hizbut Tahrir declared astray and has deviated from the Sunni faith?” HTM spokesman Abdul Hakim Othman told Malay Mail Online in a statement.

On Tuesday, Sabah state fatwa council reportedly banned 16 “deviant teachings”, including hardliners Hizbut Tahrir and Muslim minorities Shiites and Ahmadis as well as concepts like “liberalism” and “pluralism” in a sweeping move.

Ainul said through its Sabah and Labuan charity arm Pekesan, the Ahmadis have organised blood donation drives, beach cleanups, and donated to fire victims in Kota Marudu and quake victims in Ranau and Kundasang. He said they have also received awards recognising their efforts as among the most active Sabah charities in organising humanitarian campaigns.

“We as Malaysian Muslim Ahmadis feel responsible in bringing peace through our ‘love for all, hatred for none’ approach, not by violence, riots, attacks and hatred,” Ainul said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Hakim said HTM has long established itself in Sabah and received warm welcome from the locals, whom he claimed had praised it for their Islamic missionary activities.

“HTM has succeeded in attracting many youths who before this were unaware of Islam, wild, with no direction in life, freely mingling, thugs and so on to become Islamic warriors who are close to the Quran and mosques, pleasant with friends and neighbours, and liked by the society,” he said.

Both groups also pointed out that Islam’s Prophet Muhammad himself had cautioned Muslims against declaring others who shared the same faith infidels, and to choose dialogues, discussions and debates when it comes to conflicts in opinions.

The Ahmadis, who are derogatorily called Qadianis here, adhere to the same beliefs as the Sunni branch of Islam, but also believe that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Imam Mahdi, Islam’s prophesied redeemer.

HTM aims to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia and a worldwide caliphate as part of its global network, and has similarly been declared “deviant” by the Selangor fatwa committee for its political ideology.

In Malaysia, only the Sunni denomination of Islam and its Shafie school of jurisprudence are considered official.

A recent study by the Pew Research Centre showed Malaysia continues to strictly control religious practices, with an annual study grouping it together with other Muslim-majority countries practising “very high” restrictions, such as Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Turkey.



Chinese god statue covered in sheet after Muslims protest in Indonesian city

Aug 11, 2017

Amid concern of growing religious conservatism across Indonesia and an increase in anti-Chinese sentiment, a massive statue in East Java has been covered after protests from local Muslims.

The Kwan Sing Bio Chinese temple had existed without issue in the city of Tuban for generations, but the Muslim locals could not stand a 30-metre statue recently erected there.

The brightly coloured statue of a Chinese god is thought to be the highest in South-East Asia and was difficult to cover even with the large white sheeting it now hides under.

Islamic groups are demanding the statue be destroyed because it does not reflect the nationalism of Indonesia and is a betrayal of Indonesian identity.

The Muslim protestors also say the statue does not reflect the official religion of Indonesians.

Tuban's deputy police chief, Fadly Samad, said the statue was covered to maintain security and order.

"I coordinated with the temple to calm the situation down, not because of pressures from any group but to maintain security," he said.

There is concern among the Indonesian Chinese community about growing discrimination, fuelled in part by the blasphemy charges laid against the Christian former governor Basuki Tjahja Purnama, who is also known as Ahok.

Full report at:



Wasatiyyah Institute of Malaysia holds third intellectual discourse on human rights


August 10, 2017

PUTRAJAYA: The Wasatiyyah Institute of Malaysia under the Prime Minister's Department today held its third intellectual discourse on human rights issues in Malaysia, based on the Islamic perspective.

Helmed by the Islamic affairs advisor to the prime minister, Tan Sri Dr Abdullah Md Zin, who is also the chairman of the institute, the closed-door intellectual debate featured 30 Muslim intellects from top local universities as well as Institut Integriti Malaysia.

Dr Murni Wan Mohd Nor, the senior lecturer of the Nation and Civilisation Department in the faculty of Human Ecology, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), presented her research papers on "Western Human Rights: Agenda and Hypocrisy" which the participants deliberated on.

The two-and-a-half hour session was moderated by the director of Wasatiyyah Institute, Datuk Mohd Yusof Din.

The Muslim scholars dissected current human rights issues in Malaysia that could be contradictory to Islamic values, such as public nudity and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) movement.

They also proposed upholding the Charter of Medina and Human Rights Universal Declaration as a more holistic approach in tackling the current humanitarian crisis in the Muslim world.

All the participants unanimously agreed that the Middle East conflict could be resolved if the Arab nations are more united and Muslim brotherhood could be fostered among all Muslim countries in the world.

"We discussed current issues that are directly impacting the Muslims in this country as well as around the world," said Abdullah.

"We will publish a book as a follow-up to our Wasatiyyah talk series and share it with the PM and the cabinet ministers."

Abdullah said the institute, set up four years ago, aimed at humanising the wasatiyyah (moderation) approach in the lives of Malaysian Muslims.

The National Wasatiyyah Policy serves as the main reference in implementing the policy to the local Muslim communities.

Full report at:



Passing of marriage bill sans clause ‘a tragedy for Muslims’

11 Aug 2017

THE passing of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017 without the clause that would define the religion of children after the conversion of one parent to Islam is a tragedy for Muslims in Malaysia, said a PAS leader.

Party central committee member Dr Riduan Mohd Nor said the passing of the bill was a "huge defeat to Muslim interests and a moral victory for Islam haters in the country".

"One by one, the rights of Muslims will be stripped, withdrawn and altered by giving all sorts of advantages to apostates  ," he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the bill should be withdrawn as it contravened federal laws like Article 121 1A of the Federal Constitution and Section 46(2) of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory).

Article 121 1A states that civil courts have no jurisdiction over matters under the purview of shariah courts, while Section 46(2) of the Islamic Family Law states that the conversion to Islam by either party to a non-Muslim marriage shall not dissolve the marriage unless and until confirmed by the court.

"The bill endangers the interests of Muslims. One of the dangers is, a child born to Muslim parents will not be directly compelled to be Muslim,” said Riduan.

"The bill also provides that non-Muslims do not have to embrace Islam if they want to marry a Muslim.

“On the contrary, a Muslim must be allowed to renounce Islam if he or she wants to marry a non-Muslim, without facing any legal action.

"The bill takes away the rights of a Muslim when one parent, who has converted to Islam, is not given custody of his or her child.

“A non-Muslim with family ties with a Muslim must also be given rights to claim inheritance.”

The debate over the bill began at 8.30pm on Wednesday and ended nearly five hours later, with 20-odd MPs taking turns to discuss the clauses and amendments, including the all-important Clause 88A, which was withdrawn on Monday.

Among those who took part in the debate were 13 PAS MPs, Riduan said, adding that it showed that the Islamist party practised no favouritism or sided with the Barisan Nasional government.

Without naming them, he said opposition MPs from other parties were disunited on the matter, and blamed them for not opposing the bill and allowing it to be passed easily.

"There were 141 Muslim MPs in the House from both sides, but none opposed the bill.

“It is strange that Muslims MPs from Amanah and PKR, who say they fight for Islam, did not take part in debating the bill.

"The Speaker easily dismissed PAS MPs' objections without taking a vote due to insufficient quorum.”

Riduan said this "tragedy" showed the people that the ruling government could not be counted on to defend Islam and that other opposition parties were also not true defenders of Islam, only using the religion to "sell their products".

Full report at:

 “Imagine the fate of Muslims if these people rule the country.” – August 11, 2017.





UN finally breaks silence on Saudi razing of Shia town

Aug 11, 2017

The UN has reacted to media reports about a deadly and destructive Saudi military crackdown against an eastern Shia town, urging the regime in Riyadh to respect human rights.

Speaking at a press conference in New York, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said the world body could not independently verify the reports coming out of Awamiyah, but that all Riyadh’s actions should be in line with its commitments to human rights.

The UN wants Saudi Arabia to take human rights and international regulations into consideration before taking any action, the official was quoted as saying by the London-based New Arab media outlet.

Awamiyah is located in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Shia-populated Eastern Province. The small town of 30,000 that has, since 2011, been the center of anti-regime rallies, with the protesters calling for end to the kingdom’s discriminatory policies against the Shia minority.

The region has witnessed sporadic deaths of Saudi forces at the hands of unknown gunmen. Riyadh blames the Shia population for such assaults.

Since May, Riyadh has imposed a siege on Awamiyah in what it calls a “security campaign” against the gunmen there, launching almost daily attacks against the town, destroying residential areas and setting fire to buildings.

The al-Musawara neighborhood, Awamiyah’s old quarter, has been the hardest hit area in the crackdown.

The  regime has subjected the neighborhood to a so-called renovation project, which has featured wholesale destruction of age-old structures, rampant raids against various targets, and reported threats against Shia residents to either leave or face potentially deadly swoops.

UN experts in April voiced concerns over the demolition of the 400-year-old neighborhood, saying the move threatens Awamiya’s cultural heritage.

Dujarric said last week that the UN “could not” enter conflict zones in the kingdom to examine the situation on the ground for itself.

His latest comments came after Reuters released footage of destruction in Awamiyah, which has been almost razed to the ground.

Reuters reported that a number of journalists had been allowed into the city as the first outside witnesses of the damage caused by the Saudi military operation there.

On the lamp posts and walls, portraits of the victims, including a 16 one, could be seen, with graffti along one rubble-strewn street reading, “The land which is mixed with the blood of martyrs gets sufficiently watered by God's light to defeat the mighty.”

New videos circulating on social media on Wednesday showed Saudi forces celebrating by linking arms and dancing in a circle, with their automatic weapons raised in the air, while bulldozers continued to destroy more buildings in the town.

Full report at:



How France ransomed itself to Qatar's money and 'soft power'

Carla Mirza

August 10, 2017

Qatar has long fancied itself as a major player in the politics of the Middle East, an intermediary between the Arab World and the West.

The country has used its immense wealth to buy influence as well as material symbols of power.

In 2011, the anti-Qaddafi movement in Libya drew Qatar into an external conflict for the first time and marked its entry into the big boys’ club of foreign policy, alongside France, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Doha supplied weapons and money to the rebels. And though it was the first Arab country to recognise the National Transition Council (NTC) in Libya, the substantial aid Qatar sent to Libya was soon bypassing the NTC and heading straight to extremist rebels, such as Ali Al Sallabi.

Qatar had given asylum to the Libyan radical during the Qaddafi years and it was in Qatar that Al Sallabi  came under the influence of Yusuf Al Qaradawi, spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Doha’s ambitions extended beyond the Middle East. In their book, Our Dearest Emirs, French journalists Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot  lay bare the links between the French establishment and the rulers of Qatar.

Speaking exclusively to The National, Georges Malbrunot, an expert in Middle East Affairs, explained, “Our intention is not to depict Qatar in a systematically negative way, but there are several grey areas that must be addressed.”

Among the greyest areas are Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup and the purchase by the Qatari investment firm Oryx Qatar Sports Investments in 2010 of football club Paris St-Germain (PSG) — the very same club that has just acquired Brazilian star Neymar for the world record fee of 222 million euros (Dh955 million).

Investigators in France are currently probing the possible role of former president Nicolas Sarkozy in those two sporting triumphs for the Qataris

France emerged as one of the key backers of Qatar’s World Cup bid during Mr Sarkozy’s presidency. The allegations swirling around the ex-president are that he received funds, profited from multi-million-dollar business deals and even that the emir of Qatar paid for Mr Sarkozy’s divorce.

The problem with Qatar, said  Malbrunot, is not only the institutional support for unsavoury radical groups such as Jabhat Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria, but also  “the private funding of terrorism by individuals” who use so-called charitable organisations as cover.

“The problem currently at the heart of the crisis [between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain], is that it has been financing dubious charity works around the world, and particularly in Europe,” he said.

While little involved militarily, Doha nonetheless exercises considerable “soft power” in the various conflicts plaguing the Gulf region and beyond. One of its methods is paying ransoms.

“The soft power of Qatar is embodied by this capacity to balance things out by doing favours: they have helped with the release of hostages and paid ‘ransoms’. They paid the ransom for the release of the Bulgarian nurses in Libya, and for the release of journalists in Iraq.”

In 2007, five Bulgarian nurses were released from prison in Libya where they had languished for eight years after being convicted of infecting Libyan children with HIV. Cecilia Sarkozy, then still the wife of the French president, helped negotiate their release.

Malbrunot and his colleague Christian Chesnot are themselves among a number of French journalists who have been kidnapped and held hostage in Iraq over the years. They were freed in December 2004 after five months in captivity. The French government denied paying a ransom.

But there is no doubt that such incidents point to a certain ambiguity in the West’s relations with Qatar.

“From the perspective of Western countries, things are somewhat complicated because Qatar did help them. At the same time, they are embarrassed because they did turn a blind eye to several activities that simply should not go on”, said Malbrunot..

And, he points out, that even if individuals, rather than the Qatari leadership, paid the ransoms, “Is it possible for these individuals to act without the knowledge of the authorities?

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — dubbed the quartet — cut off diplomatic, economic and transport links with Qatar. Soon after they released a comprehensive list of individuals and organisations deemed to be financing terrorism. One of them is Abd Al Rahman bin Umayr Al Nuaimi, who calls himself a human rights advocate but also  allegedly finances al Qaeda in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Christian Chesnot told The National he had met Al Nuaimi in Qatar, adding, “He still lives in Doha.” 

In July the quartet added 18 more individuals and organisations to the terror blacklist. Barely a day later, two men were arrested in Yemen on Qatar-related terror charges.

And then there is Al Jazeera. Chesnot and Malbrunot pinpoint the outbreak of the war in Iraq as marking the TV network’s transformation from news channel to platform for the likes of Hamas and sundry radicals and rebels in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, under the leadership of the newly-appointed director Wadah Khanfar, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Until 2003, the sermons of [Muslim Brotherhood leader] Al Qaradawi had seemed to be strictly religious, and were broadcast on Al Jazeera to tens of thousands of viewers in the Arab World. Within a decade, his radical ideology was reaching Europe and the United States, luring foreigners to fight with the extremists in the region’s theatres of war, and Al Jazeera had lost its credibility.

“The West, and France in particular, did not want to acknowledge these activities, because Qatar has helped western countries many times,” said Malbrunot.

Full report at:



Efforts Toward Creating a Palestinian State Must Go On: Russian FM

Aug 11, 2017

Jakarta. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday (09/08) said efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be continued and that Russia remains committed to helping resolve the dispute in accordance with international law, free from external pressure and interference.

"We should not weaken efforts to solve problems in creating a Palestinian state, ensuring Palestinian unity," Lavrov said in a joint press statement following a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta.

Lavrov expressed concerns about the current political situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the spread of terrorism and the increasing international threats from the Islamic State.

"[…] We, like Indonesia, proceed from the premise that any crisis and conflict must be resolved on the solid basis of international law, respect for the norms and principles of the United Nations Charter, through political dialogue, negotiations, the search for compromises and consensus, without outside interference," Lavrov said.

Russia wants to improve coordination with Indonesia to combat terrorism, both through bilateral channels with Indonesia and within the framework of a cooperation between Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Russia and Asean agreed to boost cooperation in counterterrorism during their meeting in Manila on Sunday, issuing travel restrictions to the Middle East and curbing terrorist financing.

Lavrov pointed out similarities between Indonesia's and Russia's efforts to help resolve conflicts in the Middle East, especially by focusing on delivering peace and security in the region.

Full report at:



French security forces now top targets of Islamic radicals

August 10, 2017

PARIS — French soldiers taking part in Operation Sentinelle are the highest profile symbols of the fight against Islamic extremism — but along with other security forces patrolling French streets are increasingly the main targets of attacks.

Operation Sentinelle was created to guard prominent French sites after a string of deadly attacks in 2015. The soldiers' status as representatives, and defenders, of the state, has put security forces in the line of fire. But experts offer other reasons, too, for why attacks in France have recently focused on heavily armed protectors.

No civilians have been attacked this year — although intelligence services have foiled seven planned attacks, France's interior minister said recently. More than 230 people, many of them out for a night of fun, were killed in 2015 and 2016.

Islamic radicals may seek extra media visibility presumably afforded by going after emblematic targets or be tempted by the wish to die as a "martyr," several experts said. Or they may want to up assurance of redemption with an especially "heroic" act in the ultimate stage of a life spent mainly in delinquency in which security forces were the top enemy, the experts added.

Knives, machetes, hammers and vehicles have been used in the seven attacks this year — in each case against security forces — despite France's state of emergency. In the latest, on Wednesday, a BMW slammed into six soldiers as they left their barracks outside Paris for duty in what authorities said was a "deliberate" attack. The suspect, an Algerian living legally in France, was arrested after a highway manhunt and hospitalized with bullet wounds.

"We need to finally suppress the idea that there is a common profile for terrorists," said Alain Bauer, a leading criminologist and security expert. But, he added, attacking security forces is "a la mode" now in France.

In 2015 and 2016, soft targets were more common, after a Syrian who served the Islamic State as its high-profile spokesman and strategist before being killed urged sympathizers in Europe and the U.S. to launch attacks against civilians — "especially the spiteful and filthy French." High-level attacks, from the November 2015 massacres in Paris to last year's Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, followed, with 216 dead.

This year, one person, a police officer on the crowded Champs-Elysees Avenue, has been killed. One attacker died in a second incident on the avenue after his car laden with weapons caught fire after he rammed it into a convoy of gendarmes.

Not all the attacks were claimed by ISIS, and like the attacker who plowed his car into the soldiers, not all were French. Except for Wednesday's car attack, the attackers chose tourist haunts — going after security forces, not the crowds.

A study released in March by the Center for Terrorism Analysis, or CAT, showed that France isn't alone. Attacks on security forces have been a constant in the West. Between 2013 and 2016, a majority — 53 percent — of 72 targeted attacks, either carried out, attempted or planned, were aimed at society's protectors. The study also showed that France, with the highest number of Western jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and largest Muslim population in Western Europe, was the most targeted Western country.

ISIS cites France's participation in the U.S.-led coalition when claiming attacks in the country.

"They want to die as martyrs," said Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the CAT center.

In November 2015, when teams of extremists stormed into Paris from Brussels and killed 130 people enjoying a weekend on the town, they "waited for intervention forces to arrive to die with weapons in their hands facing apostate forces," Brisard claimed.

For another expert, Alain Rodier, a former intelligence officer, many French Islamic extremists who go after symbols of the state had spent much of their lives doing just that as small-time delinquents. In France, police and youth in tough neighborhoods have notoriously bad relations with authorities in uniform and some delinquents who radicalize repeat old habits, he said.

"In reality, they've transferred what they did before," Rodier said. They are people who haven't traveled to combat zones and take action "on their own initiative," he said, adding that the notion of redemption also can also motivate the choice of targets. They are often fed by extremist preachers whose message is "the more heroic the action the more their sins are pardoned."

Wednesday's attack threw the spotlight on the Sentinelle force, currently 7,000-strong with half of its members posted in the Paris region. Some have questioned why soldiers are patrolling sensitive sights from train stations and airports to places of worship — when they have never stopped an assault since their deployment after attacks in January 2015 on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a Kosher grocery.

The soldiers are "a presence that reassures, protects," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday, but also symbols "and therefore direct targets."

They are also magnets for attacks, Bauer said.

The force's real purpose, Bauer said, is "just trying to convince your population that you're safe ... (and) let everybody go to work every day."

Full report at:



Daesh threat remains despite military blows: UN report

11 August 2017

The Daesh group continues to “motivate and enable” global attacks and funnel funds to supporters despite military blows to its so-called Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, according to a UN report Thursday.

The 24-page text, prepared by a panel of experts for the Security Council, noted that remittances sent abroad — often in small sums, making them difficult to detect — comes as Daesh steps up its international efforts “as demonstrated by the higher pace of attacks in Europe.”

Funding sources are still based on oil profits and the imposition of taxes on local populations in the areas under its control.

Beyond Europe, Daesh is seeking to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia, the report said, citing the southern Philippines where a bloody urban siege has killed almost 700 people in more than two months fighting.

It noted that the number “of foreign terrorist fighters” traveling to Iraq and Syria “has continued to fall. In addition, the financial situation of the (Daesh) core continues to deteriorate,” mainly due to military pressure against the group.

Special care however should be given to radicalized minors returning home after undergoing advanced Daesh training. This group requires “specific attention and strategies that take into account the legal protections afforded to minors.”

The report added that stiff resistance in Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city which was declared “liberated” by the government in July — shows that the IDaeshS command and control structure “has not broken down completely,” and remains “a significant military threat.”

In addition, Daesh has learned to modify commercially available drones and even build its own drones for reconnaissance and bombing missions.

Fellow jihadist group Al-Qaeda meanwhile maintains powerful networks in West Africa, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Yemen, with localized alliances allowing the movement of fighters between the two rival outfits.

Full report at:



Turkey detains Russian Islamic State suspect, accused of planning attack on US base

Ishita Dave

Aug, 10 2017

Istanbul: Turkish authorities have detained a Russian national suspected to be a member of the Islamic State group and accused of planning to attack a US base in southern Turkey, a report said on Thursday.

Dogan news agency said Renat Bakiev is accused of seeking to "stage a bomb attack aiming to bring down a US plane using a drone" at Incirlik airbase.

He is suspected of carrying out reconnaissance work for the plot, the report said, without giving further details.

The United States uses Incirlik, in Adana province, as a key base for operations against the Islamic State jihadist group in neighbouring Syria.

Bakiev also carried out preparations for a plot to attack a centre of the Alevi religious minority — an offshoot of the Shia sect of Islam — in Adana city, Dogan said.

Bakiev was detained in Adana, it said. A court will rule on whether he should be remanded in custody.

Turkey was hit in 2016 by a succession of attacks that left hundreds dead in the bloodiest year of terror strikes in its history.

The attacks were blamed on Islamic State jihadists who had taken swathes of territory in neighbouring Syria and Iraq as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who have battled the Turkish state in an over three decade insurgency.

Thirty-nine people were killed, mainly foreigners in a gun attack by an jihadist gunman on an elite nightclub in Istanbul just 75 minutes into New Year's Day in 2017.

Full report at:



South Asia


Teenage boys arrested before joining ISIS ranks in East of Afghanistan

Aug 10 2017

At least four teenage boys were arrested by the Afghan security forces before joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group ranks as they were apparently lured by the fighters of the terror group.

The provincial government media office in Nangarhar province in a statement the teen boys were arrested from the vicinity of Haska Mina district.

The statement further added that the boys aged between 14 to 16 years old and had travelled from Kunar province to join the ISIS ranks.

The arrested teenage boys have admitted that they were travelling in Nangarhar to join the ranks of the terror group, the statement said, adding that the boys are currently in custody of the security forces for further investigations.

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

This comes as a young boy who was recruited by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group has been arrested by the Afghan intelligence operatives last month.

According to the local government officials in Nangarhar, the young boys who is sixteen year old was arrested during an operation in Chaparhar district.

The officials further added that the young boy has confessed that he was conducting insurgency activities after joining the terror group six months ago.



Afghan forces conducted 45 ground operations, 10 airstrikes, leaving 51 militants dead

Aug 10 2017

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) personnel conducted at least 45 ground operations and 10 airstrikes in the past 24 hours, leaving at least 51 militants dead.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in its latest operational update said the operations were conducted in various provinces of the country with an aim to suppress the growing insurgency of the anti-government armed militant groups.

MoD further added that out of the militants killed during the period, at least 26 of them were killed in Posht-e-Rod district of Farah, 24 of them were wounded, and a vehicle along with a motorcycle were destroyed.

In another operation conducted in Band-e-Taimor area of Maiwand district of Kandahar province, at least 18 militants were killed and 18 improvised explosive devices were discovered and destroyed.

The Afghan forces also conducted an operation in Qarabagh, Andar, and Geru districts in southeastern Ghazni province, leaving at least 2 militants dead and 5 others wounded.

At least two militants were killed and another one was wounded during the other operations conducted in Alisheng district of Laghman province, while in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, at least one insurgent was killed and two others were wounded. The Afghan forces also killed two insurgents during an operation conducted in Bala Morghab district of Badghis province.

Full report at:



Ghani Faces Backlash After Mass Killing in Sar-e-Pul

Aug 11, 2017

President Ashraf Ghani’s recent remarks that the Afghan government will take revenge on insurgent groups for the blood of civilians, have sparked strong condemnation from the members of the public and civil society institutions, reported Tolo News.

Their reaction follows just five days after the insurgents seized control of a small valley in the volatile Sar-e-Pul province in northern Afghanistan, killing over 50 civilians.

The killing of civilians in Mirza Olang valley marks one of the worst attacks in the country by the militants over the recent weeks in which scores of Afghan civilians were killed, and hundreds wounded and others abducted.

On Wednesday Afghan citizens and civil society activists said that the president, over the past two years after every terror attack, has sent the same message. However, no practical step has been taken by the government to deliver on its promises made to the nation, people say.

“The government makes promises, but does not act upon them,” said Tamim, a resident of Kabul.

“These incidents all indicate the failure of the government. This causes divisions between the people and the government,” said university student Mohammad Shoaib.

“The attack on the hospital was an attack on the entire people of Afghanistan and all women in Afghanistan,” said Ghani following a deadly attack on a military hospital in Kabul some months ago.

But, Ghani’s messages seem to be a mixture of peace and war.

“There is no a single day we do not send a message of peace. At the same time, this could be the will of God, if you were attacked, then we stay bold against the attackers,” Ghani said two years ago after an incident in Kabul.

“I promise that our brave sons in the ranks of the security and defense forces will take revenge of them,” Ghani said on Tuesday following carnage in Sar-e-Pul.

In recent remarks, the president categorically said that the government will take revenge on the militants in the wake of last week’s massacre in Sar-e-Pul province which left scores of civilians dead and hundreds more taken hostage.

“The president wants to deceive the people and there is no a clear program for good governance inside the national unity government,” said civil society activist Abdullah Ahmadi.

“We talk about the reality that his government has done nothing worth only 2 Afs. It has made only fake promises and moves in the wrong direction,” said Mohammad Salim, a resident of Sorubi district of Kabul.

Full report at:



UN warns aid workers of rising Buddhist hostility in Rakhine

August 10, 2017

Protests were planned across Rakhine on Sunday to demand that foreign agencies leave immediately and that the government quickly verify the citizenship credentials of Muslims in the state

The United Nations has warned aid workers in western Myanmar of rising hostility and imminent protests from troubled Rakhine state’s majority Buddhists, some of whom say humanitarian agencies are giving support to Rohingya Muslim militants.

The text of a “precautionary security notification” distributed to the 300 or so UN staff and to international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in Rakhine on Wednesday.

It notes the “increased likelihood of civil unrest” and the possibility of demonstrations at aid agency offices in the state already racked by violence.

The Office of the UN’s resident coordinator in Myanmar confirmed it had issued the notification as part of routine safety and security practice.

The perception that UN agencies were supporting Muslim militants, and even their support to the broader Muslim community, the note said, “fuelled renewed social media rhetoric and incidents of expressed hostility by some more hardline elements”.

“Rumour and misinformation will continue to be used to fuel anti-UN and INGO sentiment and hostility and elevate anxieties,” it said. “As usual heightened vigilance and the immediate reporting of any security-related information are recommended.”

About 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims live in Rakhine, but are denied citizenship and face restrictions on their movements and access to basic services. About 120,000 remain in camps set up after deadly violence swept the state in 2012, where they rely on aid agencies for basic provisions.

Told to leave Rakhine

Rakhine Buddhist leaders have long bemoaned the presence of foreign agencies, who they accuse of favouring the Rohingya with aid. Aid offices were sacked during 2014 riots in the state capital, Sittwe.

But the discovery at a suspected militant camp on July 30 of World Food Programme-branded biscuits intended for malnourished children had further angered Buddhists, said Than Tun, a Rakhine community elder in Sittwe.

Rakhine monks and community leaders met on Sunday in Sittwe and called for the government to ensure the security of non-Muslim citizens, who are the minority in the northern part of Rakhine dominated by the Rohingya.

Protests were planned across Rakhine on Sunday to demand that foreign agencies leave immediately and that the government quickly verify the citizenship credentials of Muslims in the state, Than Tun said.

Rakhine state government spokesman Min Aung said he believed locals “had learned from previous mistakes” and would not initiate violence against aid agencies.

At least four humanitarian workers have been confronted by Rakhine people telling them to leave the state in recent days in incidents reported to the UN, two INGO staff said.

Full report at:



Afghan forces foil a deadly attack plot on a university in Kapisa province

Aug 10 2017

The Afghan security forces have foiled a deadly attack plot to target a university in northeastern Kapisa province of Afghanistan.

The local security officials are saying that the militants were looking to carry out an attack on Al-Beruni university in the vicinity of the Hesa-e-Awal district of the province.

Provincial security chief Mohammad Masood Chahardara told reporters that the Afghan security forces have arrested a group of three suspects in connection to the attack plot.

He said the militants were attempting to detonate Improvised Explosive Device made out of 100 kilograms of Ammonium Nitrate along with two mortar shells and some of its detonators.

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

Kapisa has been among the relatively calm provinces in northeastern parts of the country but the security situation in some remote parts of the province has started to deteriorate during the recent years.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces officials said Monday that two suicide bombers who were attempting to target the convoy of the Afghan security forces riding motorcycles were shot dead after they were identified by the security forces and before they manage to target the convoy of the security forces.

Full report at:





Israel moves ahead on underground wall around Gaza

Aug 11, 2017

JERUSALEM - Israel is pushing ahead with a project to build a giant underground wall around the Gaza Strip to block tunnels that could be used for attacks, the army said on Thursday.

The project comes after the government faced heavy criticism over Hamas's use of tunnels in the 2014 Gaza war, with a state inquiry earlier this year accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and army top brass of having been unprepared for the threat.

"In the coming months, we are going to accelerate the construction of the barrier," Major General Eyal Zamir told journalists.

"We hope that construction will be complete in two years."

Army radio reported that the wall, comprising concrete planks and sensors, will stretch some 64 kilometres (40 miles). It is expected to be some six metres (20 feet) high and 40 metres (130 feet) deep, and cost around three billion shekels (710 million euros, $834 million).

It will also include an offshore barrier intended to stop sea-based commando attacks.

Construction Minister Yoav Galant, also a former military commander, said the wall will be built in Israeli territory parallel to the border fence sealing off the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas.

"The fact that the work will be located in our sovereign territory rules out any justification for attacks against those working there," Galant told army radio.

A military official made similar comments to AFP on condition of anonymity, saying "the barrier's purpose is defensive only."

The army also distributed photographs of what it said were two civilian buildings in the north of the Gaza Strip with tunnel entrances within.

Zamir said that "Hamas is digging tunnels under civilian homes in the Gaza Strip and will be held responsible if we are forced to attack targets," he said. "Residents must understand that we consider those buildings as legitimate targets and that those who live there are putting their lives in danger."

Attack tunnels were a key weapon for Hamas during the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas also built a vast network of tunnels under Gaza's border with Egypt to smuggle goods and allegedly weapons.

The Israeli army found and destroyed several tunnels during the 2014 war, while Egypt has also destroyed smuggling tunnels.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the Gaza Strip since the group wrested control of the territory from the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in 2007.

Destroying the tunnels and stopping Gaza-based Palestinian militants, particularly Hamas, from launching rockets into Israel were the key declared goals of Israel's 2014 offensive.

The war killed 2,251 Palestinians and left 100,000 homeless, according to the United Nations.

On the Israeli side, 74 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers.

Israel demolishes homes of Palestinian attackers

Israeli authorities have demolished three homes and sealed off a fourth of Palestinians who carried out attacks that killed a soldier and a policewoman, the army said on Thursday.

Israel regularly carries out such demolitions, which it says act as a deterrent, but human rights groups and Palestinians say they punish families for the actions of relatives.

Two houses were demolished in Deir Abu Mashaal, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, and a third was sealed off, an army spokeswoman said.

Village mayor Emad Zahran told AFP Israeli soldiers entered the area around 2:00 am (2300 GMT Wednesday) with bulldozers.

On June 16, three villagers carried out an attack outside Jerusalem's Old City that killed a policewoman.

According to police, two of the assailants opened fire at a group of officers who returned fire, and a third stabbed the border policewoman a short distance away before being shot.

All three attackers were killed.

A home in the West Bank town of Silwad was also demolished in response to an April 6 car-ramming attack near the Jewish settlement of Ofra that killed an Israeli soldier.

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has killed 293 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 47 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll.

Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

The violence had greatly subsided but tension around the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem saw a spike in July.



Turkey seeks arrest of 35 media workers over alleged Gulen links

Aug 11, 2017

ISTANBUL - Turkish authorities on Thursday issued arrest warrants for 35 employees of media groups on suspicion of links to the alleged mastermind of the failed 2016 coup Fethullah Gulen, the state-run news agency said.

Nine people have been detained so far, Anadolu news agency said, adding that the suspects were accused of using a messaging app allegedly used by Gulen to mobilise followers in Turkey and of belonging to a “terror” group.

Thousands of people have already been arrested in Turkey for using the Bylock messaging app, which the authorities say was used by Gulen supporters to coordinate actions ahead of the plot.

The latest arrests come amid growing alarm over press freedom in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in particular under the state of emergency imposed in the wake of the failed July 2016 coup and which remains in place.

Gulen, an Islamic preacher who lives in the US state of Pennsylvania, denies any link to the botched putsch. Those detained include a former columnist for the Turkiye daily Ahmet Sagirli and the current website editor at the leftist opposition Birgun daily Burak Ekici. Turkey ranks 155 on the latest Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) world press freedom index, below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the latest figures from the P24 press freedom website, there are 164 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were detained under the state of emergency.

In one of the highest profile cases, 17 staff from the Cumhuriyet daily - one of the few voices in the media in Turkey to oppose Erdogan - last month went on trial for aiding “terror” groups.

While most of the suspects in that case have been released from pre-trial detention, four Cumhuriyet journalists, most of whom have been held for eight months, remain behind bars.

Full report at:



Israeli settler runs over four Palestinian kids

Aug 11, 2017

An Israeli settler has deliberately smashed his car into a group of Palestinian children in the occupied territories, injuring four of them.

The incident took place on Thursday evening in Silwan town, south of the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

According to reports, the children, including two brothers, were hospitalized. The settler fled the scene.

Hit-and-run incidents targeting Palestinians have been prevalent in different parts of the occupied West Bank, with most of them usually ignored by Israeli authorities. Some of such events have even resulted in fatalities.

On May 3, an Israeli settler deliberately ran over an eight-year-old Palestinian child, identified as Laith Yousif Shatat, as he was standing outside his school in the eastern part of Yatta city, located approximately eight kilometers south of al-Khalil (Hebron).

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Five Palestinians shot in Ramallah

Meanwhile, undercover Israeli troops shot at least five Palestinians during clashes in the central West Bank town of Beit Rima.

Palestine’s Health Ministry said the injured were taken to hospital after being targeted with live bullets in the lower parts of their bodies.

One of the protesters needed extra medical care at another hospital as his condition deteriorated.

Israeli forces also stormed a Palestinian home during the ongoing protests and used excessive amounts of tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators.

The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since Israeli forces introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

Full report at:



55 presumed dead off Yemen as smugglers deliberately drown refugees: UN agency

Aug 10, 2017

At least 55 refugees are feared dead due to “deliberate” drowning by smugglers off the southern coast of Yemen in the second incident in two days, the United Nations migration agency says.

“We have seen five bodies and can confirm five dead ... Fifty are still missing from this incident, so 55 are presumed dead,” said Olivia Headon, a spokeswoman of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on Thursday about the incident, which took place earlier in the day off Yemen’s Shabwah province.

Report said some 180 young Ethiopian and Somali refugees were on Thursday forced from a boat into rough seas off Yemen by smugglers.

This came just a day after a similar incident in which a smuggler forced 120 passengers off his boat. The IOM said 50 teenage African refugees were “deliberately drowned” in the Wednesday incident.

Headon said that the refugees who had made it to the shore were physically very weak as many of them were from drought-stricken countries of Africa. She said many of the 25 survivors interviewed by the IOM officials were in need of medical assistance and counseling support.

“These people are really thin. There is an ongoing drought situation in Somalia and Ethiopia. Some may not have had much strength to make it alive to the shore,” Headon said. 

Yemen’s lawless southern regions, which are mostly controlled by militants loyal to Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have become a fertile ground for smugglers who vow to transfer refugees from the region to wealthier Arab states in the Persian Gulf.

However, most of those smugglers leave refugees at sea as they fear being arrested by militants or Saudi Arabia’s military forces.

The IOM says around 55,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa have arrived in Yemen this year for a better life in the Persian Gulf region.

Full report at:



Turkey closes Syria border crossing

11 August 2017

ANKARA: Turkey closed a vital border crossing with Syria to all but humanitarian aid on Thursday because terrorists control the area on the Syrian side.

The Bab Al-Hawa crossing on the main road between Iskenderun and Aleppo is a key route for smuggling fuel and weapons. It links Reyhaniye in Turkey with Atarib in western Aleppo, which is dominated by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an opposition alliance led by the former Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham.

Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham has also gained control of a significant part of Idlib province after days of heavy fighting with Ahrar Al-Sham, its main rival.

“Until that group’s control ends, or at least weakens, there will be tight control and slowing down of the passage of all products other than humanitarian aid and food,” Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci told Turkish TV.

“We have no imports from Syria, we only export there, so we don’t have any issues in that regard.”

Ankara expects the issue to be resolved within two weeks, he said.

Mete Sohtaoglu, a researcher in Istanbul who studies militant groups, said Turkey had been stopping construction materials crossing the border for some time. “With the decrease in the conflict in Idlib, the construction of buildings is on the rise, which strengthens the military headquarters of the armed groups there,” he said.

Sohtaoglu said closing the border was probably a precautionary measure, but it might also indicate an imminent aerial bombardment in the region. He predicted “new surprising developments in Syria” next month.

Ahmet K. Han, international relations professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, said two routes were open to the militants: “Northwest to Turkey, or north to Afrin, creating disturbances in both Afrin and the Azez-Jarablus-Al-Bab triangle,” he said.

“An uncontrolled refugee flow to Turkey’s border would be worse than closing the border. From a purely strategic/security perspective, humanitarian considerations aside, the flight of groups in Idlib, including Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, toward Afrin would be the most manageable result for Turkey.”

However, he said, much depended on who won the internal conflict in Idlib. “The Idlib factions might overrun the Syrian Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia in Afrin, and this might be considered in Turkey’s interests.”

Full report at:





Tehmina’s tweets set tongues wagging

Zulqernain Tahir

August 11, 2017

LAHORE: The fulmination of Tehmina Durrani, wife of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, lends credence to the perception about rift in the Sharif family.

A day after requesting ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to “spare Shahbaz Sharif the responsibility of protecting and assisting his own party’s rally,” Ms Durrani went a step ahead and held Nawaz’s “immature advisers” responsible for his ouster. The comment set the tongues wagging whether she is speaking on her own or on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif.

In another series of tweets on Thursday, she asked Nawaz Sharif to fire his media team and “sycophants”.

“Please fire your ‘failed’ media team. Banish all sycophants from sight. They are responsible for your statesmanship becoming an ‘under 19’ game,” she tweeted.

Commenting on the tweet, a PML-N leader from Punjab told Dawn that Ms Durrani apparently referred to the media that was engaged by Maryam Nawaz to hit out at the party opponents and defend Nawaz and his children in the Panama Papers case.

Ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb, Talal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz (who was once a right-hand man of Gen Musharraf) and MNA Maiza Hamid are said to be members of Maryam’s media team. During the course of Panama Papers proceedings, they went the extra mile to defend Nawaz Sharif and his children and take on PTI chairman Imran Khan.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) says both Talal and Aziz have been “rewarded for their hard work” through induction in the cabinet of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Ms Durrani also took on the advisers to Nawaz whose “ill-advice” caused him unceremonious departure from the Prime Minister House.

“Nawaz Sharif Sahib you hired the most mediocre advisers. You rejected your most sincere, politically experienced and astute colleagues. Your advisers are immature, untutored in vision - your welfare and your role - they lost it for you. Pakistan is a complicated nation... they don’t know,” went another tweet.

It added, “Nawaz Sharif lost the opportunity of making Pakistan a social welfare state. I pray that Nawaz Sharif Sahib arrives home safely... and fires all his advisers.”

Chaudhry Nisar has already categorically said the Panama Papers case had been mishandled both legally and politically.

As for Nisar’s argument, the PML-N leader regretted: “The PML-N hawks like Pervaiz Rashid, Khawaja Asif, Saad Rafique, Mashidullah Khan and Abid Sher Ali are to be blamed for their advice to Nawaz to have aggressive approach in handling the Panama case and the PML-N opponents.”

Ms Durrani also spoke out for the people affected by the PML-N rally. “Who will pay for the profit and loss of hotels and shops - government? Instead of counting ‘heads’ on GT Road, provide for these and all other ‘heads’ across Pakistan. The government does not have authority to block a main road that belongs to the state and people for its own use. This is illegal order,” she said.

The social media was abuzz with comments as many asked whether she (Ms Durrani) was speaking the language of Shahbaz Sharif or venting out her frustration for not getting the chance of becoming the ‘first lady’.

Another PML-N leader has this to say: “Shahbaz Sharif has intellectual compatibility with Ms Durrani. It is not possible that Shahbaz would not have discussed the current situation with Ms Durrani and there is a possibility that he would have talked about his predicament....”



Former Pakistan PM Sharif rallies crowds on road to Lahore

11 Aug 2017

JHELUM: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif continued a slow, defiant procession down the ancient Grand Trunk Road on Thursday (Aug 10), inching closer to his eastern stronghold of Lahore in a bid to rally supporters after his ouster.

Sharif halted in the Punjabi city of Jhelum for the night, where he told the swelling crowd of around 10,000 people that the Supreme Court's decision to depose him last month after a corruption probe was an "insult" to Pakistanis.

Families crowded on rooftops in Jhelum and celebratory gunshots rang out while the crowd chanted "Look who is here, the tiger is here".

Sharif, also nicknamed the Lion of Punjab, addressed the crowd from a makeshift stage behind bulletproof glass, his voice hoarse but bold as he insisted his conscience was "clean".

Thousands also lined the road to catch a glimpse of the former leader as his convoy rolled down the Grand Trunk Road, a more than 2,000-year old trade route which leads from Chittagong in Bangladesh across India and Pakistan to the Afghan capital Kabul.

Sharif is travelling in a bomb-proof vehicle especially designed for the journey, meant as a show of strength after the Supreme Court's decision has left his ruling party scrambling to replace him.

The convoy was surrounded by heavy security, with fears lingering after a truck bomb exploded in Lahore Monday, killing one person and injuring dozens.


Many lining the route had Wednesday voiced frustration with Pakistan's political elite - but in Jhelum on Thursday, Sharif found support.

"The court decision was wrong," 24-year-old Malik Arsalan told AFP, voicing his hope that the rallies would propel Sharif to power once more.

"The public is with him and we'll stay with him forever. I will vote for him my whole life," agreed 55-year-old Niaz Ahmed, from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

The procession moved faster Thursday than it had Wednesday, when it took 12 hours to inch just 20 kilometres from the capital Islamabad to neighbouring Rawalpindi.

Jhelum, roughly another 100 kilometres down the road, is still less than a third of the way to Lahore, where Sharif hopes to bring tens of thousands onto the streets. It is not clear when he will finally arrive in the Punjab provincial capital.

Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan's 70-year history - roughly half of which has been spent under military rule - to be ousted before completing a full term.

The top court sacked him last month after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, briefly plunging the nuclear-armed nation into political uncertainty.

Within days Sharif's eponymous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had nominated former oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as a new prime minister, with the National Assembly rubber-stamping their choice.

But fresh questions have arisen over the PML-N's original plan to eventually replace Abbasi with Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz.

Full report at:



Anti-judiciary pamphlets distributed in ex-PM’s rally: PTI

August 11, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Teh­reek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday acc­used the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of attacking the judiciary and state institutions.

“By attacking the judiciary, Nawaz Sharif is targeting democracy,” PTI’s central information secretary Shafqat Mehmood told a press conference at the National Press Club.

The party spokesperson claimed that pamphlets containing anti-judiciary messages were distributed in the ex-prime minister’s rally as it passed through Rawalpindi.

See: The strangest moments from Nawaz Sharif's 'homecoming' rally

He said it was a matter of concern to see a three-time prime minister criticising the judiciary and insulting the Constitution and other institutions of the country. “When you lead an unconstitutional movement, in reality, you are attempting to sabotage the judiciary,” he added.

Mr Mehmood said a campaign was being launched against the judiciary, because the PML-N expected more disqualifications following National Accountability Bureau investigations. “They are sure that not only they will face disqualification, but they have to pay back the stashed money,” he said.

The PTI spokesperson alleged that the main objective of the GT Road rally was to target the armed forces of the country. “Their real target is the Pakistan Army; they are trying to prove to the people that Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified on the orders of the military. But the PML-N has a history of getting into confrontations with state institutions for their evil designs,” he said.

The PTI leader claimed that there was an ongoing feud within the house of Sharif following Nawaz’s disqualification. “Tehmina Durrani is accusing Nawaz Sharif of putting Shahbaz in an awkward position by exploiting the entire provincial state machinery for the rally,” he added.

Mr Mehmood said that Nawaz Sharif could do his politics in whatever manner he liked, but he must not use public money and state machinery to further his political interests.

He said it was extremely deplorable that taxpayer money was being plundered, adding that while Mr Sharif had every right to go on whichever road he wanted, the use of public money and state machinery was reprehensible.

The PTI leader criticised the blocking of roads and the forcible shutting down of people’s businesses. “No government has the authority to shut off a busy road that belongs to the common man,” he said.

Full report at:



Rajgal valley cleared of terrorists: DG ISPR


RAWALPINDI: Inter Services Public Relations Director General Asif Ghafoor said on Thursday Operation Khyber 4 in Rajgal valley is progressing successfully. In an interview, he said the operation was launched at around 12000-14000 feet altitude. The army could reach there for operation, but ensuring supply chain, including ammunition and ration, for it at such a height was not easy. He said the physical area has been cleared and now its sanitization is in progress.

He said he would announce the completion of the Operation Khyber 4 in a press conference in next two to three days.

He said the major feature of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad (RuF) is intelligence-based actions, which means this was against the terrorists, who were hiding at some place as well as against their facilitators and abettors all across Pakistan. Separately, Punjab Rangers along with police conducted intelligence-based operations (IBOs) in three major cities of the province and took nine suspects into custody, an ISPR statement read.



NAP implementation continues to eliminate terrorism: Ahsan

August 11, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Thursday said implementation on National Action Plan (NAP) was continuing successfully to eliminate terrorism and extremism from the country.

The minister said this during a meeting with ambassador of United States to Pakistan David Hale.

Both sides discussed mutual relations between the two countries, a statement issued here by the Ministry of Interior said. The minister said implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) was going successfully to eliminate terrorism and extremism from the country. Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan was desirous for peace in the region so that the masses could lead a prosperous life. The ambassador offered anti-terror training programmes to the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan. Both sides agreed that opportunities should have been created for the students of Pakistan in the top universities of United States of America.

Separately, the interior minister Thursday said peace and security was indispensable for economic progress of the country. He was presiding over a high-level meeting of civil armed forces officers here.  He said peace and development activity would ensure prosperity in thecountry. “Pakistan has to learn from the successful experiments of developed countries for improving its economy,” he added. He said the menace of terrorism put negative impacts on the economic progress of the country. He called for taking effective steps for stopping smuggling.

The minister said under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),

not only Pakistan but the whole region would benefit. “We will foil conspiracies against the CPEC. Nobody will be allowed to harm the projects associated with the future of Pakistan,” he added.

During the meeting, the officers briefed the interior minister about

performance of civil armed forces. The interior minister emphasised on formulating training programmes on modern lines to increase professional capacities of civil armed forces.

Full report at:



Arab World


Bahrain FM links Awamiya backers to terrorism funders in region

10 August 2017

Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa shared a tweet today, linking terrorist sympathizers to backers of terrorism.

He said: “That who sympathizes with the terrorists of Awamiya is the same who has sympathy for the terrorists in Bahrain, is the same who secured the payment of millions to terrorists in Iraq, and more is yet to be revealed.”

Saudi Security Forces cleared out more than 90 percent of the terrorists in Awamiya city in a sustained operation in the area where terrorists and wanted persons were holed up.



Controversy in Egypt after a Copt announces converting to Islam via Facebook

11 August 2017

Egyptian Copt Malak Samuel Habchi who recently announced he converted to Islam via Facebook has stirred controversy in Egypt as some welcomed the move or condemned it and others called him a fraud.

Habchi, who is the general manager of an environmental services companies and who is described by some on Facebook as a “conservative Christian,” surprised everyone at the beginning of August when he posted that he and his family converted to Islam.

“I did not consult anyone or get a fatwa (religious edict) from a cleric,” Habchi wrote, adding that he used the internet to learn the Shahada and prayer.

Habchi, who said in an interview that he is the only Christian to convert to Islam without any guidance or a preacher’s help, learnt about Islam by reading the Qur’an, Abu Bakr al-Jaziri’s book Minhaj al-Muslim (The Way of the Muslim), the companions’ books and the prophetic biography.

ANALYSIS: The new Azhar law and the battle over religious authority in Egypt

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia sentences senior Shia clergyman to 13 years in prison

Aug 10, 2017

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced distinguished Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Hussein al-Radhi to 13 years in prison as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on members of the religious community.

The Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh passed the ruling on the 66-year-old clergyman on Thursday, Arabic-language and independent Yemenat news website reported.

Sheikh Radhi’s relatives strongly condemned the court ruling, describing it as the application of the death penalty against the Shia cleric since he is already suffering from heart failure and cannot stand the harsh prison condition.

Sheikh Radhi was arrested on March 21, 2016, after being surrounded by a group of Saudi police officers and militiamen in the middle of a street in the city of al-Umran.

The prominent Shia clergyman had earlier been subjected to various forms of harassment and frequently summoned for questioning over his Friday sermons, which touched on a wide array of regional and domestic issues, including the execution of well-known Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr in early January 2016.

Sheikh al-Radhi has also condemned Saudi’s military aggression against Yemen and called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from the impoverished conflict-ridden country.

He has asked Saudi authorities to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and respond to demands for reform at home.

The Shia cleric has censured the classification of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement as a terrorist organization, describing its chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as the source of pride for Arabs and Muslims.

Sheikh al-Radhi's trial began on April 12, more than a year after his arrest. The cleric suffers from many diseases and is exposed to harsh prison conditions.

Since February 2011, Saudi Arabia has stepped up security measures in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which has been rocked by anti-regime demonstrations, with protesters demanding free speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Continues to Advance in Eastern Damascus

Aug 10, 2017

The Syrian army troops heavily pounded Faylaq Al-Rahman’s positions in Jobar in Eastern Damascus, inflicting significant damage to the militants' defense lines.

The pro-government forces also launched attacks on Faylaq al-Rahman’s positions around the strategic al-Manasher square in the Southern part of Jobar.

The Syrian soldiers have managed to win back control of about 20 blocks inside Jobar in the past few hours.

They also heavily attacked the Takfiri terrorists' positions in Ein Tarma, opening their path in the region.

Meantime, a well-informed source said on Wednesday that clashes among rival terrorist groups have intensified following the Syrian Army troops' advances in Ein Terma and Jobar regions in Eastern Damascus.

The source said that Faylaq al-Rahman stormed the positions of Ahrar al-Sham in Eastern Ghouta and imposed control over the village of Modira.

Also, Faylaq al-Rahman drove Ahrar al-Sham fighters out of the town of Arbin and attacked more positions of Ahrar in the towns of Kafr Batna and Saqba.

In the meantime, Faylaq al-Rahman stormed the positions of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in the towns of Kafr Batna and pushed them away from the town.

Faylaq al-Rahman has, in a statement, denied any agreement with Jeish al-Islam over driving the Al-Nusra out of Eastern Ghouta, and meantime called on Jeish al-Islam to halt attacking its positions.

Faylaq also announced in the statement that they drove Al-Nusra Front out of al-Ash'ari region.

Full report at:



Several Terrorists Killed, Wounded in Clashes with Kurds in Northern Aleppo

Aug 10, 2017

Hawar news reported that the terrorists first targeted the SDF positions in the villages of Sheikh Issa, Hasiyeh, Samouqeh and Harbal in Northern Aleppo with artillery and mortar fire.

According to the Kurdish website, heavy clashes then erupted between the two sides in the villages of Tal Jijan and Tal Maziq in Northern Aleppo.

The militants also targeted the village of Maranaz in Shara region and the village of Tal Baz in Jandariseh region near Afrin city in mortar attacks.

The Kurds responded to the terrorist's attacks, inflicting a number of tolls and injuries on them.

The Turkish Army troops and Ankara-backed militant groups launched a fresh round of mortar and missile attacks on the positions of the Kurdish fighters in Northern Aleppo on Wednesday.

Hawar news reported that mortar and missile units of the terrorists affiliated to the Turkish army pounded the Kurdish strongholds in the villages of Samouqeh, al-Shahaba dam, Tal Maziq, Sheikh Issa, Al-Qamiyeh, Hasin and Ein Daqneh in Northern Aleppo.

Hawar news added that the Turkish spy planes flew over most of the villages in al-Shahba region.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Nearing Full Capture of Southeastern Raqqa

Aug 10, 2017

A military source said on Thursday that the ISIL has started withdrawal from the strategic town of Ma'adan and transferred hundreds of its forces to Deir Ezzur province.

The source added that the Syrian army forces will be able to enter Deir Ezzur from the Northern pivot after a long period of time.

The Syrian army also announced establishment of security in several towns in Southeastern Raqqa, calling on the residents to resume normal life.

The Syrian army's general command also in a statement declared establishment of security in the three towns of Shanan, al-Sabkha and Jebeli in Southern Raqqa, urging the residents to return to their homes in the region.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army soldiers continued military operations South-East of Raqqa province towards Deir Ezzur on Wednesday, extending the range of their advances and tightening the noose on ISIL in the town of Ma'adan.

The army men stormed the defense lines of ISIL and drove them out of several villages, farms and residential units West of Ma'adan, laying siege on the town from the Southern and Western directions.

Field sources reported that fierce clashes are underway between the army men and the ISIL in near the town of Ma'adan, adding that the Syrian and Russian fighter jets and the army's artillery and missile units have been also targeting terrorists' positions in the region.

The sources further said that a tough battle in also underway between the army soldiers and ISIL along the Southern bank of the Euphrates River in Southeastern Raqqa.

The sources said that the army has gained military control over Ma'adan and will soon purge the region of terrorists.

Full report at:



Tens of Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes against Syria

Aug 10, 2017

The US warplanes targeted several regions in Raqqa, inflicting 11 casualties on civilians, including members of a family, and wounding 15 others, on Thursday.

Also, 20 civilians were killed and several others were wounded during the airstrikes on the two towns of al-Tayebeh and al-Mayadeen in the Southeastern parts of Deir Ezzur and the village of al-Tabni in Northwestern Deir Ezzur.

Meantime, the US-led coalition killed 2 members of a family in air assaults on the village of al-Dashisheh in Southern Hasaka.

Also, on Wednesday, over 70 civilians, including women and children, were killed or wounded in the US-led coalition airstrikes in the province of Deir Ezzur and Raqqa in the last 24 hours, field sources reported.

The sources said that the warplanes bombed several regions in Raqqa city in the last 24 hours, killing 29 civilians, including nine women and 14 children and wounding several more.

Full report at:



3 ISIL Bases Smashed in Syrian Army Operations in Deir Ezzur

Aug 10, 2017

During the operations on Wednesday, the Syrian army forces also blew up a position belonging to the ISIL's 'Islamic Police' in al-Khasarat district and another base in the Old Airport district.

Meantime, the army's artillery units pounded the ISIL positions in al-Sana'ah, al-Jabileh and cemetery districts, killing and wounding a number of terrorists.

The Syrian air force also targeted the ISIL positions in Panorama district and the village of al-Baqiliyeh in Western Deir Ezzur, inflicting heavy damage on the militants.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army troops stormed ISIL's positions in Deir Ezzur's neighborhoods and managed to destroy two command centers.

The army men, tipped off by intelligence agents, struck ISIL's defense lines in al-Khasarat neighborhood and destroyed two command centers, killing a large number of terrorists in the centers. 

In the meantime, the army troops, backed up by the country's Air Force, fended off ISIL's offensive in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in Panorama base in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur and repelled their attack.

Meanwhile, the army's artillery and missile units and fighter jets targeted ISIL's positions and supply lines in farms near Panorama, Wadi (desert) al-Thardah and in surrounding of Deir Ezzur base.

ISIL suffered heavy casualties and its military hardware sustained major damage in the failed attacks.

Full report at:



Dozens dead in central Syria as ISIS battles regime push

10 August 2017

Dozens of regime forces and militants have been killed in central Syria as the ISIS group strives to hold off a regime advance there, a monitor said Wednesday.

With Russian backing, Syria’s army has been waging a months-long offensive to recapture the vast desert region that stretches from the country’s center to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.

It has captured swathes of territory from ISIS in the central province of Homs, but the militants have ramped up their counter-offensives there.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said ISIS had dispatched at least five suicide car bombs and had laid mines throughout several frontline towns in Homs.

At least 39 government forces were killed and another 25 wounded since Tuesday, the Britain-based Observatory said.

“The regime has spread itself across a long frontline, and now ISIS is intensifying its counter-attacks,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

According to Abdel Rahman, 30 IS fighters were also killed over the past 24 hours in clashes with regime fighters and in Russian air strikes.

Syrian state news agency SANA confirmed Wednesday that air strikes had targeted IS positions, including an ammunitions depot, in Homs province.

The Syrian “Badiya” is a large stretch of desert that extends over some 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory.

Since 2015, much of the Badiya has been held by the militant group, but Syria’s army has been chipping away at it since May.

On Saturday, the Observatory said regime forces had ousted ISIS from Al-Sukhna, the last militant-held town in Homs province.

There has been no official confirmation of Al-Sukhna’s capture from Syria’s government.

Full report at:

It has since morphed into a complex war involving regional and international players.



Lebanese army hits Daesh targets


11 August 2017

BEIRUT: The Lebanese army targeted Daesh positions on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa in northeast Lebanon on Thursday with heavy artillery, rocket launchers and helicopters.

“Direct targets among terrorists were hit,” the Army Command said.

Hezbollah has called for coordination between themselves, the Lebanese army and the Syrian army to expel Daesh from the area. The suggestion was rejected by Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council.

“Lebanon is committed to the international coalition to fight terrorism and considers the Lebanese army the sole force capable of undertaking confrontations,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon has intervened in the controversy over invitations from the Syrian regime to Lebanese MPs to attend this month’s Damascus International Fair, an event to promote the reconstruction of Syria.

The invitations have exposed rifts in Lebanon’s new “national unity” government. Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri has banned ministers from official visits to Syria, but some will defy the ban and go to Damascus anyway. Agriculture Minister Ghazi Zaiter, Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan and Economy Minister Raed Khoury are all expected to attend the event.

Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim told the pro-Hezbollah Al-Ahd website: “There are agreements between Lebanon and Syria; there are embassies, and ongoing coordination despite the irresponsible and illogical statements that were recently made.

“Relations between Lebanon and Syria are still on, and it is in the interests of both countries for this coordination to be more effective.

Full report at:





How ‘self-serving’ Sharia could’ve become disaster for Nigeria — Obasanjo

AUGUST 11, 2017

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has given an insight into how his handling of the sharia law, introduced in some states of the north during his administration, averted a disaster for Nigeria. The insight is contained in a book entitled “Making Africa Work,” co-authored by the former president with three others.

he book, unveiled in Victoria Island, Lagos, on August 2, was co-authored by Greg Mills, Director of Brenthurst Foundation; Jeffrey Herbst, President of NEWSEUM and Dickie Davis, a retired major general. But Obasanjo revealed that one of his biggest challenges as President was the sharia controversy. The Islamic law was first introduced by a former Zamfara State governor, Sani Yerima, who is now a senator. “The second big challenge under my presidential watch was the issue of Sharia law,” Obasanjo wrote. “As a country shared almost 50:50 between Muslims and Christians, Sharia has always been part of the legal and judicial system in the north, but only at the customary, or so-called magisterial level. Even then, the Nigerian Constitution has provision for establishing a Sharia Court of Appeal if the need ever arises. Sharia was never an issue “Sharia was, therefore, never an issue because it dealt with personal issues such as marriage, inheritance, and minor and civil issues, such as debt, boundary disputes and land matters. “Only very occasionally did it deal with criminal issues, which, when necessary, were forwarded to the high court for confirmation. “The initiator of the Sharia controversy, the then Zamfara State governor, Sani Yerima, raised the issue, however, for self-serving and self-preservation reasons, not for genuine or authentic religious conviction.” Obasanjo explained that when Yerima stood for the governorship of his state under the banner of the then All Peoples’ Party, the man who later became the National Security Adviser, NSA, General Aliyu Mohammed, sponsored a candidate under the banner of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Obasanjo wrote: “The PDP candidate lost the election but it would appear that the NSA, intending to find fault against the governor, started surreptitiously to collect evidence of misconduct and corruption against the governor. Attempts to reconcile Yerima, Mohammed “Meanwhile, I made several attempts to reconcile them, but to no avail. I even took both of them on an official visit to China, an opportunity to bring them together. When it appeared that the NSA persisted, Governor Yerima decided to make himself untouchable. “He (Mr. Yerima) invited the Imams, Muslim leaders and priests in his state, and informed them that he was turning Zamfara into a full sharia state. He promulgated a law declaring Zamfara as a sharia state. And, true enough, he became untouchable. “Wanting not to be seen as acting in isolation, he instigated imams in other Islamic states in the north to agitate for a full sharia law declaration. In all, 12 states out of the 19 in the north promulgated full sharia law.” The former president claimed that Muslims in the country were, however, all watching closely to see what he would do, as a wrong statement or action could be seen as incendiary, “because an ‘infidel’, an anti-Muslim president would be seen as trampling on the holy religion of Islam.” But at the same time, Obasanjo argued further, Christian clergymen and leaders, both within and outside Nigeria, were calling on him to stamp out the new phenomenon of wholesale sharia in states where there was a Muslim majority but with substantial contingents of Christians too. They pointed out that Nigerian is a secular and multi-religious society, and not a Muslim state. “Throughout this controversy, the only statement I made was to the effect that if the sharia that the governor of Zamfara was touting was genuine, it would survive and thrive. If not, it would fizzle out,”  Obasanjo said. Sharia fervour started to fizzle out He alleged further that to justify his action and to prove his ‘sharianess’ to people he had recruited to his political sharia, Yerima cut off the hand of a thief – a traditional Islamic punishment. “After that,” Obasanjo wrote, “the sharia fervour started to fizzle out. “Muslims, who had expected me to kick against sharia, thereby giving them ammunition to cause mayhem, and Christians, who felt angry and disappointed that I did not roll out military tanks to crush the proponents of sharia, both felt winners and losers at the same time. But Nigeria was surely the unmistakable winner. “Eventually, Yerima weaned himself off the Muslim clergy and sharia crumbled in his state,” he explained. “A few months later, Yerima visited me in my official residence and, greeting my young female cousin, hugged her familiarly in my presence. I jokingly remarked to Yerima that this action was not sharia-compliant. Yerima retorted, ‘Didn’t you say sharia would fizzle out and has it not fizzled out?’ “At that point, the matter had turned into a joke,” Obasanjo wrote. The former president explained further that if mishandled, the sharia debacle would have become a serious disaster for Nigeria.



Somalia: Hundreds Gather to Show Solidarity at Fire-bombed Minnesota Mosque

10 AUGUST 2017

By Mohamed Olad Hassan AndAbdi Mohamud Mascade

In a show of solidarity, hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night at a Minnesota mosque that was fire-bombed over the weekend.

Mohamed Omar, executive director of the Islamic center, told VOA that the gathering, which included community and political leaders and congregants, was meant to send message to those behind the attack.

“The goal of the gathering was to show those targeting us because of what we believe that there are many other non-Muslim Minnesotans who oppose their ideology,” said Omar.

Since the bombing that targeted the mosque, many community members, mainly non-Muslims, have visited the mosque to show solidarity.

Aqil Ahmed, one of the congregants of the mosque said the community reaction was very encouraging.

“The last three days, the mosque has been receiving people from all aspects of the community, including politicians’ church leaders and ordinary citizens who left us healing notes, flowers, gift cards and other donations in show of their solidarity with us,” said Ahmed.

A VOA reporter who attended the Tuesday night event said the evening began with a readings from the Quran verses on how Islam is a peaceful religion. Politicians, community leaders and imams then took turns condemning Saturday's bombing.

“The number of people who showed up here today and their diversity will give a relief and confidence to our community, particularly, the mosque congregants who lived with fear and uncertainty since the attack,” said Osman Irro, a Somali American.

But Islamic center executive director Omar said such attacks would never deter the center's members from practicing their religion.

This Islamic center was fire-bombed on Saturday, an incident being investigated by the FBI.

The mosque administrator at the time said “a congregant saw a man driving a pickup truck, then heard a sound of a banging car door, before smoke came out and a huge explosion followed.”

Although no one was injured, the attack damaged the office of the Imam. About 20 worshipers were in the building at the time to perform their dawn prayers along with some students who go there for to study Islam.

Rowdo Bashir was getting ready to go to the mosque on Saturday when a fellow student texted her a message about bombing.

“You can imagine the shock when you receive a text message around five in the morning and you are told that the center you are coming has been bombed,” Bashir told VOA Somali. “It shocked me a lot.”

On Sunday, one day after the attack, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, leading a delegation of politicians, visited the mosque and met with about 100 community members to show solidarity.

He described the attack on the Islamic center as “an act of terrorism” and a "hate crime.”

Full report at:



Freed al Qaeda hostage says becoming Muslim helped him in ordeal

AUGUST 10, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - After nearly six years as a hostage of the Al Qaeda group in Mali, South African tourist Stephen McGowan said he would keep the beard that brushes his chest when he bows to speak into the microphone.

McGowan was released last month after being kidnapped, along with four other foreigners, while touring Mali on motorbikes. One, a German, was killed in the kidnapping. A Dutch hostage was freed in 2015 in a raid by French special forces and a Swede was released in June this year.

"I'll probably keep the beard. I see all of my friends are growing them. They've become funky," McGowan told a conference on Thursday.

Recently discharged from hospital after a week in observation and treatment for numerous minor ailments, McGowan, flanked by his widower father and his wife, shyly recalled details of ordeal.

"I don't believe they knew my nationality. It would have been first prize for them if I was British," McGowan said. "They kidnapped me just because I was non-Muslim."

He eventually converted to from Catholicism to Islam, and said that this made his stay easier.

South Africa's government said no ransom was paid to secure his release. Gift of the Givers, the organization that acted as intermediaries between Al Qaeda and government, said on Thursday McGowan had been released on compassionate grounds.

McGowan said he was driven across remote stretches of the Sahara in the back of utility truck with other hostages, and housed in a grass hut, handcuffed and blindfolded for long periods.

Full report at:



Car bomb blast in Somali capital kills 1

11 August 2017

A car bomb exploded in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing one person and injuring three others on Thursday evening, police said.

Abdukadir Adan, a police officer in Waberi District said that the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) in a car parked near a police station in Mogadishu.

Local media said two security officers were among those injured in the blast.

The al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last Friday, at least three people were killed and eight others wounded in a car bomb blast near Hotel Ambassador in Mogadishu.



North America


Imam offers insight on being a Muslim during Stratford talk

By Brad Durrell

August 10, 2017

When many Americans think of a Muslim, they too often envision one thing first: an Arab terrorist.

But most Muslims do not live in the Middle East and most do not speak Arabic, and only a very few ever turn to terrorism.

That was the message of Imam Sami Abdul Aziz during an Aug. 9 talk at Stratford’s Baldwin Center, attended by about 125 people.

Aziz said followers of Islam are negatively depicted by Hollywood, leading to “irrational fears” among the general public.

He said Muslims around the world practice their religion in very different ways, reflecting the cultures of where they live. He pointed out this also is true with other major religions, such as Christianity, with its many different and diverse denominations.

Saudi Arabia is only Muslim-majority nation that forbids women from driving, yet many people may presume that is a common law throughout the Islamic world.

“I don’t think that has anything to do with Islam,” Aziz said of of the Saudi driving rule. “That’s their interpretation of the Quran. The other Muslim-majority 14 countries came to a different interpretation.”

Aziz was born in India but spent his childhood in Texas and Pennsylvania. He is the religious leader — or imam — of the Bloomfield Muslim Community Center and the Muslim chaplain at Wesleyan University.

During his talk, Aziz discussed the five pillars of Islam, how Muslims pray, how a mosque operates, the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and misconceptions on how the religion treats women.

His wife, Vjosa Qerimi, also spoke and focused on women’s issues. She is from Kosovo.

Audience members were able to ask questions, and Aziz used a PowerPoint presentation that included some short videos during his talk. The event was sponsored by the Stratford Rotary Club, and co-hosted by the Stratford Library and Stratford Community Services.



Muslim chaplain lives to 'perform or provide'

By Don Wagner

August 10, 2017

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Army Islamic Chaplain Lt. Col. Ibraheem Raheem is one of five Islamic chaplains out of the 1,445 Army chaplains on active duty. As all chaplains do, he pledged to provide religious and spiritual support to all Soldiers and family members, regardless of their faith.

Raheem says some Soldiers have refused his support because of his Islamic faith, but it doesn't bother him. He lives by the chaplain's motto of "perform or provide."

Raheem also mentioned his "phenomenal relationships" with other chaplain colleagues of different faiths.

He fondly recalled that many years ago, while assigned to the 41st Signal Battalion at Camp Coiner in Yongsan, Korea, he was invited to the home of a Jewish colleague to observe Passover Seder dinner with his family.

"It was a very welcoming and educational experience," Raheem said. "All of the food was delicious and prepared with visual perfection, and each item held a traditional message. It reminded me of our Eid and Iftar celebrations that are centered around a meal and that are community oriented."


At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Raheem holds services in the JBLM chapel for a congregation of about 30 Muslims. He said Jummuah, or the Friday Prayer, is challenging for Muslims to attend because it falls in the middle of the duty day and often requires coordination and religious accommodation.

Raheem performs two Islamic official holidays, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting during daylight hours. Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim, also known as Abraham, to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son.


Raheem has been training fellow Army chaplains in Clinical Pastoral Education since late 2014. He began this training at Brooke Army Medical Center at San Antonio, Texas, and continues it now at Madigan Army Medical Center at JBLM.

Raheem said Clinical Pastoral Education focuses on pastoral formation, development, and reflection. He said that chaplains become more self-aware of how and why they function as individuals and in groups.

Raheem said the training prepares chaplains for clinical assignments such as combat ministry, correctional facilities, palliative care, oncology, intensive care, surgery, pediatrics, labor and delivery, behavioral health and emergency medicine for Soldiers and their families worldwide.

As a chaplain clinician, Raheem said, he ministers to both patients and their families. In the hospital setting, he has seen those who were dying due to motor vehicle accidents, still-born births, and terminal illness.

"These patients needed spiritual care that spoke to their pain, suffering, and understanding of death and afterlife," Raheem said.


A few years ago, Raheem provided spiritual care to a 26-year-old Army corporal, terminally ill with lung cancer, who was in pain and suffering at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.

The Soldier, a Christian, did not mind that Raheem was a Muslim. He was just happy to have someone with him throughout his suffering.

"During the time, we landed in a place of spiritual peace with his faith," Raheem said.

Raheem thought this experience was the highlight of his ministry as a chaplain. He was wrong. The highlight of his career was yet to come.

The cancer in the Soldier's lungs was growing, and was preventing his ability to breathe. Doctors eventually had to inform the patient that he had just days to live.

With that news, the Soldier requested two things from Raheem. The first was to see the ocean for one last time. The second was to marry his fiancé, to whom he had been engaged prior to the onset of his cancer.

"The medical staff was reluctant to grant his request to leave the hospital, concerned that he would not have enough oxygen during transit," Raheem said. "After a great deal of consulting and coordinating with staff and the multidisciplinary care team, we were able to grant the dying Soldier his wishes.

"I collaborated with a Christian chaplain colleague to perform his marriage. We conducted his wedding ceremony in his hospital room. Hours after he married his wife, he died. The Soldier's family was grateful that we were able to bring meaning and honor to the last moments of his life."

As a chaplain for more than 18 years, Raheem said he can't count the number of people he has been able to serve.


Raheem was raised a Baptist. He said that he was unaware that there was anything other than Christianity until he enlisted into the military and he met people from a multitude of faith backgrounds. His family was supportive and open-minded about his becoming Muslim.

His spiritual journey began while he was working in the intensive care unit in Landstuhl, Germany, in 1992.

Raheem said he was led to convert to Islam when he experienced a "miraculous recovery" of a patient on life support in the intensive care unit.

"What stood out during the Christian patient's recovery was the chaplain's role with the patient and family during a time when all medical expertise was exhausted and the doctors notified the family that there was nothing more that could be done," Raheem said. "The patient later recovered and walked out of the ICU. For me, that led to a period of soul searching and the studying of religions."

Raheem was eventually invited to attend a local mosque in Volgelweh, Germany, in 1993. He spent about a year reading the Qur'an and learning about Islam from an Air Force master sergeant, who served as a mentor to him. Afterward, he became convinced that Islam was a belief system he had always followed but that he had never recognized for what it was.

"I realized that though I was raised Baptist, it was the values [of Islam] that I had always believed," Raheem said.

Raheem converted to the Islamic faith and became Muslim at age 26.

He later sought training and endorsement from another mentor, retired chaplain Lt. Col. Abdul Rasheed Muhammad. He has the distinction of being the first Muslim chaplain in the armed forces. He now serves as a Muslim chaplain endorser.

In 1994, Raheem completed a pilgrimage or Hajj to Mecca, a requirement of Islam. He said the month-long trip also included an Umrah, or visit to Medina, the city of the prophet Muhammed.

"While visiting Mecca, I met people from all over the world that shared my faith," Raheem said. "I had always longed for this type of unity, having grown up in a segregated area of Kansas City."


After graduating from Washington High School in 1985, Raheem enlisted in the Army in 1986. He said he had a passion to serve that was driven in part by the fact that his father, grandfather and several uncles were already combat veterans.

He completed basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and later completed the Combat Medical Specialist Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1986.

Raheem said he has always been attracted to the "helping professions." He has always been intrigued with the human body and helping others in pain. In 1989, he completed the Army's Practical Nurse Course at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

In 1997, Raheem felt called to enter military ministry as an Army chaplain. He applied to the Chaplain Candidate Program in 1998 and was commissioned into the program that year. He entered active duty as a chaplain in 1999.

"For the most part, people treat you with the same amount of respect you show them," Raheem said. "I have been received well by most service members that I have served with. However, whenever there is negative media coverage and misinformation about my faith, I notice a greater need to increase dialogue and invite conversation about what Muslims believe."

Full report at:



Trump says doesn't think Iran is in compliance with nuclear deal

Aug 11, 2017

US President Donald Trump says he believes Iran is not in compliance with the international nuclear deal reached in 2015, accusing Tehran of not “living up to the spirit” of the "horrible agreement."

"I don't think Iran is in compliance," Trump told reporters on Thursday at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. "I don't they're living up to the spirit of the agreement."

“I think it’s a horrible agreement,” he said. "I think you'll see some very strong things taking place if they don't get themselves in compliance."

Trump’s comments come as the International Atomic Energy Agency has time and again reported that Iran has been abiding by the terms of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.

Despite the IAEA’s reports, Washington has recently approved a series of anti-Iran sanctions. The head of the Iranian task force to monitor the implementation of the deal says the US sanctions have broken the terms of the JCPOA.

Under the deal, which took effect in January last year, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the termination of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic.

The White House is bound by US law to notify Congress of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal every 90 days. Congress would then have to continue to withhold certain nuclear sanctions against Iran.

The Trump administration notified Congress of Iran’s compliance for the first time in April.

In July, Trump reluctantly agreed for the second time to verify that Iran was in compliance, based on the recommendation of his national security team and the intelligence community’s collection and analysis.

But the president then immediately commissioned a group of administration staffers who have no intelligence background to generate a rationale for declaring Iran to be in violation of the deal at the next 90-day review, Foreign Policy reported last month. Trump told The Wall Street Journal in late July that he expects the “detailed studies” he’s commissioned to validate his belief that Iran is “noncompliant.”

Experts say Trump’s actions risks “politicizing intelligence” and undermining the agreement.

“This is a dangerous place to go. At the most basic level, one would hope that foreign policy decisions with potentially dramatic consequences would be based on the best available facts, not political pretexts,” said David S. Cohen, who was also assistant secretary of the Treasury Department for terrorism and financial intelligence during the administration of President Barack Obama.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, says Tehran will keep all options on the table if the United States violates the deal.

Full report at:




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