New Age Islam
Sun Sep 24 2023, 11:09 PM

Islamic World News ( 8 Nov 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

‘Don’t Call Them Islamic State, They Are Anti-Islam’: Shia Scholar

New Age Islam News Bureau

8 Nov 2017 

Judges found last month that Al-Hijrah school had caused unlawful discrimination by segregating children from the age of nine. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo



 ‘Don’t Call Them Islamic State, They Are Anti-Islam’: Shia Scholar

 Jodhpur: Hounded, Faiez And Payal Hope To Live Happily Ever After

 Only State Can Declare Jihad, Says ISPR Chief In Iran

 Kula: VVIP Treatment Of Zakir Naik Hurts Nation’s Moderate Image

 Some Islamic Schools In England Still Segregating Children



 ‘Don’t Call Them Islamic State, They Are Anti-Islam’: Shia Scholar

 Jodhpur: Hounded, Faiez And Payal Hope To Live Happily Ever After

 Kerala Village Fights To Erase Caliphate Stamp

 Karnataka High Court Rejects Plea To Stay Tipu Sultan Jayanti Celebrations

 In Shielding Zakir Naik, Malaysia Risks Losing Moderate Muslim Tag

 Ulama Council demands BJP, Congress to earmark 18 seats for Muslims

 Jammu-Srinagar Diocese joins Islamic groups in making Kashmir alcohol free

 Lashkar making way for Jaish in Kashmir

 Masood Azhar's nephew, two aides killed in J&K

 J&K terror-funding probe: NIA seizes Rs 36cr in demonetised notes, arrests 9

 Gujarat ATS questions Madhya Pradesh man on suspicion of supplying arms to ISIS terror module



 Only State Can Declare Jihad, Says ISPR Chief In Iran

 Unity Accelerates Struggle For Sharia Enforcement: JUP

 ‘King Salman’s Anti-Corruption Drive Good Example For Muslim Countries’

 Nato sees Taliban bases in Pakistan 'big challenge'

 Speakers stress following in Allama Iqbal’s footsteps

 Pak FM admits remnants of terror may still operate in Pakistan

 How ‘Telegram’ app lead to arrests of ISIS members in Pakistan

 Pakistan protests over killing of Pakistani diplomat in Afghanistan


Southeast Asia

 Kula: VVIP Treatment Of Zakir Naik Hurts Nation’s Moderate Image

 Indonesian Court Recognizes Native Religions In Landmark Ruling

 DPM: We will send Zakir Naik back if India asks

 US Islamic expert cancels Malaysia trip after learning about Akyol episode

 Rights group welcomes landmark court ruling on native faiths



 Some Islamic Schools In England Still Segregating Children

 Charlie Hebdo Gets Death Threats Over Islamic Scholar Cartoon

 10 held in Swiss, French anti-terror operation

 Religious code of conduct adopted at German university after complaints about Muslim students

 Pope meets Egypt's Muslim leader Ahmed al-Tayeb


Arab World

 High-Profile Saudi Corruption Probe Detainees To Face Trial

 Al-Azhar Keen On Delivering Islamic Message In English

 Human Rights Watch: Houthi attack on Saudi airport, ‘likely a war crime’

 Saudi Crown Prince: Iran missile supply to Houthis ‘direct military aggression’

 Saudi reopens Lebanon front in struggle with Iran

 At U.N., Russia slams inquiry into toxic gas attacks in Syria

 Syrian Army Repels ISIL's Heavy Attack in Deir Ezzur

 Saudi Arabia repeats claim of Iran arming Yemen’s Houthis

 US ‘will not turn blind eye’ as Iran supplies missiles



 Al-Qaradawi Calls For Islamic Awakening

 Yemen Rebels Threaten To Attack Saudi, UAE Airports

 US accuses Iran of supplying Houthi missile to attack Saudi Arabia

 Assad's aide: US, Turkish troops presence on Syrian soil illegal

 Yemen's Houthis threaten to hit ports, airports in Saudi Arabia, UAE

 Saudi Arabia bars former Yemeni president from returning home: Officials

 Iran: Saudi anti-Tehran allegations ‘baseless, unfounded’

 Syria war not to end after recapture of Dayr al-Zawr: Assad

 Turkish PM hails US visa move, calls for Gulen’s extradition

 Turkey and Germany take steps to restore ties


South Asia

 Attacks On Mosques, Worshippers Soar In Afghanistan

 Myanmar Says UN Move Could Harm Talks With Bangladesh

 Islamic State forces attack TV station in heart of Kabul, leaving 2 dead

 26 people including 5 foreigners held from Ukhiya Rohingya camps

 Deadly car bombing plot foiled in Kandahar city of Afghanistan

 ISIS military in charge killed in US drone strike in Nangarhar

 UN reports sharp increase in attacks on Shia mosques in Afghanistan

 UNSC strongly condemns violence against Muslims in Myanmar



 Nigeria Police Stage Deadly Attack On Shia Mourners During Arba’een Rituals

 Trade, Politics, Religion Draw Turkey to Sub-Saharan Africa

 Tunisia’s Republican Party quits coalition government

 President declares state of emergency in central Sudan

 Senegal: Road accident claims 25 Muslim pilgrims


North America

 Trump Says Saudi Purge Targets Were ‘Milking’ Country

 Britain's 'Jihadi Jack' Could End Up In Canadian Hands After Months In The Custody Of Kurdish Militias

 Muslim mortgage kingpin led investigators on 'treasure hunt' for missing gold: Crown

' No evidence' of civilian casualties in Afghan op: US

 NATO to agree to send more troops to Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




‘Don’t Call Them Islamic State, They Are Anti-Islam’: Shia Scholar

Mohammed Wajihuddin

Nov 8, 2017

MUMBAI: Tall and handsome, his beard smartly trimmed, Sayed Ammar Nakshawani entered a prayer hall to loud recitation of salwat or the sacred invocation Shias use for Prophet Muhammad and his family.

The crowded hall, Mehfil-e-Mustafa, at Kapaswadi in Andheri (West), listens quietly as Nakshawani (36) passionately speaks in fluent English. For an hour, till close to midnight, he keeps the audience interested with the oratory punctuated with references to heart-wrenching stories of torment the Prophet's grandson Imam Hussain and his family members suffered at Karbala (Iraq) on Ashura (the 10th day of Muharram when Imam Hussain was martyred) and later. Among the gathering were Khoja Shia Ishna Ashari Jamat (Mumbai) president Safdar Karmali and former president Mohib Nasser.

Commemoration of the Karbala tragedy is part of Shia faith but many from the community are not aware of what happened to its survivors at Kufa, another town in Iraq and Damascus in Syria where the family members of Imam Hussain, including his sister Zainab and minor son Zain-ul-Abideen, were taken as prisoners in chains. Hussain's family members missed his first Arbaeen or Chehlom (40th day after martyrdom) and marked it only a year after the tragedy. To commemorate this visit to Hussain's shrine by his family members, millions of Shias pay it a visit, mostly walking on foot from far-off places. This year, Chehlom falls on November 10.

Nakshawani chose to talk about the ordeal the Prophet's progeny faced post-Imam Hussain's martyrdom. Recalling the words of defiance Zainab delivered at the court of Yazid , the Ummayid king who had ordered massacre at the Karbala, the young scholar told believers to stand up to oppressive rulers everywhere. "Truth is what Imam Hussain and survivors of Karbala stood for. Truth is what as Muslims you must stand for," says Iraq-born and England-bred Nakshawani, professor and Imam Ali chair of Shia Studies at Hartford Seminary, Connecticut, US. Among the many other hats the passionate preacher and a face of moderate Islam wears include representative to the United Nations for Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) to engage in interfaith dialogues and a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. And standing up to ISIS is part of his preaching. "Don't call them Islamic State or ISIS as they are anti-Islamic forces who defame Islam. These brutes are intolerant and deserves denouncement," he told TOI.

"Nakhshawani speaks in the language of the youth who relate to his sermons. His appeal is immense," says Ali Shroff, Khoja Shia Ishna Ashari Jamat's vice-president who was instrumental in inviting him to Mumbai. Nakshawani praised India's "beauty which lies in co-existence despite diversity". To a question whether he supports the recently founded Hadith Complex in Medina, a Centre to vet the Prophet's traditions, he said: "Let Saudi royals first break their bonds with Wahhabism (puritanical form of Islam Saudis practice)."



Jodhpur: Hounded, Faiez And Payal Hope To Live Happily Ever After

by Mohammad Hamza Khan

November 8, 2017

They first became friends almost a decade ago, when he was in Class VII and she in Class VIII at the Sardar Children Senior Secondary School in Jodhpur. In the years that followed, their “casual friendship” developed into a relationship.

Faiez Modi, now 23, and Payal Singhvi, now 22, say their friends, classmates, school-teachers and anyone else who knew them outside of their homes were aware of their relationship. In April, they got married secretly, and on October 25, Payal left her home to be with Faiez.

Her family filed a habeas corpus petition, claiming that she had been “brainwashed” and was a victim of “love jihad”. On November 1, the Rajasthan High Court directed the police to file an FIR, and sent Payal to Nari Niketan for a week.

But on Tuesday, the court ordered that she be set free. “The corpus Payal Singhvi stated before us that she is a major, and she was not in illegal detention of any person, therefore, she may be set free,” said a bench of Justices G K Vyas and M K Garg.

And Payal, now Aarifa, chose to go with Faiez.

Speaking to The Indian Express after the court order, the couple said they never really concerned themselves with the religion of their families. Payal said her father, a pujari, was a Sai Baba devotee and followed his teaching to embrace all religions. She said they have a temple on the ground floor of their house, where she used to sing bhajans and kirtan with her father. “He also made arrangements for Namaz inside the temple on a couple of occasions during Ramzan to send a message of harmony… until he came to know about us,” she said.

When Faiez was in Class X, Payal’s family first came to know about their relationship. Her family members allegedly assaulted Faiez and took away his cellphone and SIM card.

“We have known each other since childhood,” said Payal. “Anyone can claim anything, but I am with him as per my will.”

After they completed school, they weighed their options. But even then, religion was not on the table. “In college, we realised that love won’t fill our stomachs, so I set up a garments business in my second year as an undergraduate,” said Faiez.

While they were in college, her father spotted them together. “He spoke to me. I told him, ‘Sir, you know we have been together for so many years’. He threatened me, but since he is my elder, I listened to him quietly. It is understandable, any parent would have reacted in that manner,” said Faiez.

“We are all educated, and I never brought up conversion or religion with her, until we decided to get married. Because then she may not want to be here, she may feel suffocated,” he said, adding that he too never felt out of place as the only Muslim in a class of 50.

So, he said, he was “shocked” to read about the allegations of “love jihad”.

“I told him to be sure about his decision, because it is an inter-religion marriage. They shouldn’t call it off, after, say, two years, and end up ruining each other’s lives,” said his father, Aijaz Modi.

Payal’s father, Narpat Chand Singhvi, meanwhile, alleged that she was under a spell. “Tantra-mantra aur sab kuch kiya hua hai uspe, mujhe ab is court pe koi umeed nahi lagti. Jab Hindu hi Hindu ke paksh me nahi hai, toh doosro se kya umeed karen (She is under a spell, I have no hope from the court. When a Hindu won’t support another Hindu, what can we expect from others),” he said.

“No other parent should face this. There should be a law whereby one cannot change his/ her religion without the consent of parents,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hindu organisations held protests outside the court on Tuesday, targeting senior advocate Mahesh Bora, who represented Faiez. “Whenever there is an inter-religion case, there are a few people, few groups in our society who want to give it a communal colour… So they made me the target,” said Bora.

“I request our Prime Minister to enforce a strict law against love jihad in Rajasthan so that our Hindu sisters and daughters can get justice and be protected from men with ill intentions,” said Ranjeet Bafna, Jodhpur Mahanagar convenor of Hindu Jagran Manch.

The matter comes in the backdrop of the controversial Kerala case involving Hadiya, a Hindu girl who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, Shefin Jahan. The Kerala High Court had annulled the marriage and given her custody to her father. The case is now in the Supreme Court.



Only state can declare jihad, says ISPR chief in Iran

November 07, 2017

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor apprised Iranian media about Pakistan’s efforts, achievements and sacrifices in war against terror and towards regional peace.

Addressing a joint press conference with the Gen Staff Officer Iranian Army here on Tuesday, he said Pakistan wishes peace in Afghanistan and supports all initiatives towards this end.

“We have done everything on Pakistan side of the border. There are no terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan,” he added.

He said ISIS is growing in Afghanistan as a threat to region. He said a regional approach is required to defeat the threat. He said Pakistan has taken effective measures on Pak-Afghan border.

The ISPR chief reiterated that Pakistan's soil would not be used against any country including Iran.

He thanked the Iranian supreme leader for his supportive statement on Kashmir, adding Kashmir is a long pending dispute between India and Pakistan. He said regional peace and security remains at stake till its settlement according to the aspirations of Kashmiri people in line with the UN resolutions.

“We greatly value our relations with Iran which have a positive history bonded by history, culture and religion.”

He also thanked Iranian military and government for hospitality extended by Iran during the visit on behalf of the COAS.

Pakistan Armed Forces are capable to thwart any challenge with support of Pakistani nation. In Pakistan we say that prerogative of declaring jihad rests only with state and armed forces are state instrument for its application against anti state elements,” he added.

Earlier, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his second day in Iran called on the Islamic republic to work on border management mechanism between the two countries.

General Bajwa met Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami and visited Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) HQ where he interacted with their senior leadership, said Inter-Services Public Relations .

"Iranian defence minister thanked COAS for his visit, acknowledged achievements of Pakistan Army in war against terrorism and expressed his country’s willingness to enhance defence cooperation," added the statement.

General Hatami said his country's policy is based on developing relations with neighbours, adding that Pakistan has a special place in Iranian foreign policy.

"COAS highlighted that with improved special measures by Pakistan on Pak-Afghan border, terrorists are likely to exploit Pak-Iran friendly border and both countries need to put in efforts to deny it’s use by them," said ISPR.

"Both sides agreed to ensure that their soil is not used by any third party against any of the two countries. In this regard steps including establishment of hotline communication between the field commanders along Pak-Iran border, fencing by Iran on their side of the border, coordinated border patrolling, intelligence sharing and more frequent interactions were agreed to."



Kula: VVIP treatment of Zakir Naik hurts nation’s moderate image

November 7, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran has warned that the federal government’s apparent special treatment of fugitive Indian preacher Zakir Naik threatens to shatter the image of Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation.

He said Putrajaya would be put in an uncomfortable and embarrassing position if India issues a non-bailable warrant against Naik and gets an Interpol red corner notice on him which would require the country harbouring him to hand him over to India.

“If all this comes to pass, Malaysia will be put on the spot. Prime Minister Najib’s standing as a Muslim moderate and his creation of a lobby for global moderation will be in tatters,” he said.

“Malaysia cannot run with the hare of global moderation and simultaneously hunt with the hounds of Muslim extremism,” he added in his speech in the Dewan Rakyat today while debating Budget 2017, tabled by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The DAP vice-chairman said a video showing Naik receiving “VVIP” treatment in Malaysia had gone viral.

The video shows Naik, who has been given permanent resident (PR) status in Malaysia, being driven in an official car escorted by police outriders.

“He is alleged to be linked to terrorism in India. Interpol may soon issue a red flag on him,” Kulasegaran said.

“Why then is he given special treatment in Malaysia? Is the government willing to cooperate with the Indian government and deport Zakir?”

Kulasegaran said investigative agencies in India wanted to examine cases related to 50 individuals who were allegedly drawn to violent extremism after listening to Naik’s sermons.

He said Indian agencies were also probing the source of funds received by Naik’s organisations from different countries.

Naik was seen on Sept 29 participating in Friday prayers at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Putrajaya. Photos of him in the congregation were uploaded on Facebook and spread via social media.

According to reports, he also resides in Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the government was finalising the internal legal process for an extradition request to Malaysia.

On Oct 31, the home ministry said Naik was not receiving “special treatment” although he enjoyed PR status in Malaysia.

In a written answer to DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, it said there was no reason to arrest him for alleged terrorism as he had not violated any Malaysian laws.

“Besides, the government has not received any official request from the Indian government in relation to allegations that he was involved in terrorist activities,” it said.

Naik fled India in 2016, after a suspect in a terror attack on a Dhaka cafe in Bangladesh said he had been influenced by Naik’s speeches. Bangladesh banned his Peace TV channel.

The Times of India reported on Oct 21 that India’s National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) probe had revealed that Naik had radicalised and influenced several Muslim youngsters to be involved in jihadi activities through his speeches.

The youngsters had then joined violent extremist organisations and planned terror attacks in India, it added.

It cited several terror suspects, including Indian Mujahideen member Qateel Ahmed Siddiqui, alleged Islamic State (IS) online recruiter Afsha Jabeen, and IS recruits Mudabbir Sheikh, Mohammed Obaidullah Khan, Abu Anas and Mohammed Nafees Khan, as claiming that they were influenced by Naik’s speeches.



Some Islamic Schools In England Still Segregating Children

7 November 2017

At least 10 Islamic schools in England are still segregating boys and girls in co-educational schools, while others are likely to be separating the genders for certain activities, despite a recent court ruling outlawing the practice.

Details emerged in an appeal court judgment on Tuesday, which turned down an attempt by the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) to join a legal action to seek leave to appeal to the supreme court for a review of the segregation ruling.

The request followed a judgment last month when three court of appeal judges found that Al-Hijrah Islamic school in Birmingham had caused unlawful discrimination by formally segregating girls and boys from the age of nine.

The court heard that boys and girls were taught in different classrooms and were made to use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy also applied to clubs and school trips.

The judgment overturned an earlier high court ruling which found that Ofsted inspectors were wrong to penalise the school on the basis of an “erroneous” view that the segregation amounted to discrimination. In its successful appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act.

The AMS, which represents 133 Muslim faith schools including Al-Hijrah, said 10 of its members and probably other non-members still had formal segregation policies in place, while other schools segregated children for particular activities. Other faith schools were also likely to be implicated, it said.

The written judgment said the AMS chairman, Ashfaque Alichowdhury, told the court the association’s role was to ensure member schools complied with their legal obligations and acted in a way that was consistent with Islamic teachings and practices.

“The court of appeal’s judgment may have created a conflict between these two fundamental requirements which compromises the association’s ability to fulfil what it understands are its purposes,” Alichowdhury said.

“The judgment also puts the segregating schools at immediate risk of challenge from statutory bodies and other interested parties. Clearly where there is a conflict, the schools and the association must obey the law. However, the association believes that this is an important issue and would welcome a review of the court of appeal decision by the supreme court.”

The AMS also said the ruling had created uncertainty over future Ofsted inspections at affected schools, and complained of a lack of guidance from Ofsted or the Department for Education over segregation.

An Ofsted spokesperson said on Tuesday that any school potentially affected by the judgment could seek legal advice if required.

“In each case, the school’s individual circumstances would need to be assessed. And the DfE, as the registration body for schools, will support it to make any necessary changes.

“We are discussing the implications of the judgment, and what they mean for future inspections, with the DfE.”

Refusing the AMS application to join the legal action, the judges said Al-Hijrah school, which was the subject and claimant in the proceedings, accepted the decision and was working with the council to implement it.

“The school does not encourage or support the desire of AMS to obtain permission to appeal in order to overturn the decision.”





Kerala village fights to erase Caliphate stamp

Nov 08, 2017

The Sunday sahora, or congregation, is almost a must for the men, women and adolescents of an affluent, wind-swept coastal village in northern Kerala’s touristy backwaters. Mehfils, cultural programmes, book readings and discussions on current issues are activities they dabble in general.

But authorities suspect the villagers, many of them flush with cash sent by relatives working in oil-rich West Asian countries, are preoccupied with more than simple amusement to forget their daily drudgery.

That’s because nine of the 21 people who slipped out of Kerala and believed to have joined the Islamic State terrorist group last summer are natives of Padanna in Kasargode district, around 500km north of state capital Thiruvananthapuram and close to the Karnataka border.

The IS tag hangs like a millstone around the necks of almost everyone in the village, where 80% of the 21,000 inhabitants are Muslim. The terrorist outfit’s so-called caliphate is crumbling under sustained military assaults and its base in Syria and Iraq has shrunk, but it continues to haunt Padanna.

The stamp of terrorism was recently acquired. The village was an example of amity and brotherhood, not so long ago. People still speak of Muslims standing guard to protect an ancient temple in the village when communal hatred singed the country after Hindu radicals demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.

Padanna slowly, but not quietly, lost its secular credentials.

Salafi preachers swarmed the area and ear-splitting religious discourses were heard from every corner of the village. Outsiders were viewed suspiciously.

Visible Changes

A year-and a half after the disappearance of Padanna’s terrorism suspects, changes are visible. Loudspeakers fixed to imposing minarets are silent.

At Peace International School in neighbouring Thrikkaripur, there were strict gender divisions for students, and Islamic history and Arabic were compulsory subjects. Now girls and boys study together. It’s a co-education school and has switched to the CBSE syllabus.

And nobody likes to talk about the “missing” people.

In one of the many oversized houses in the village, 64-year-old Parambhath Abdul Rehman is lounging on a sofa and reading a newspaper.

He gets nervous and irritated when strangers come to his house. He suffered the most. His two sons, their wives, a grandchild, and a nephew and his wife are among those who disappeared in July last year.

“I disowned my two children when I came to know they are on the IS front. But I was very close to the grandchild. I wish they had spared him.” Tears roll down the Mumbai hotelier’s face as he recalls his two-year-old grandchild.

Education a Window?

Rehman seldom visits Mumbai these days. He has lost interest in business.

“I never had access to education. So I gave my children good education,” he said. Eldest son Ijaz Rehman, aged 32, is a doctor. Shiyas Rehman, who is 26, is a business graduate.

“I feel their education was a window to their evil designs,” the father lamented.

Daughters-in-law Rafeela, a dentist, and Ajmala, who has a postgraduate degree, were not aware of their husbands’ ill-doings. He said his sons took them along pretending to go on a pilgrimage in Sri Lanka and Iran. The man said the law awaits them if they ever return, not his house.

“Chances are bleak. I was told they destroyed their passports. They brought much disrepute to the community and country. I will accept them only after they go through the law of the land,” he said.

A block away from Rehman’s house stands the home of 24-year-old Hafisuddin, another suspected IS recruit who reportedly died in a US drone attack last year.

“His father Hakkim was a car mechanic in Qatar and had a heart attack recently. The family refused to do the last rites (of his son),” said his uncle, TK Abdul Raheem, a Moppila singer.

Hafisuddin was the eldest of four children and dropped out of college. He tried to take his newly-wed wife, but she refused.

He was the least educated as most of those who allegedly went to join the IS were from prosperous families with good educational qualifications — doctors, engineers, management professionals and postgraduates. Some of them left highly paid jobs in West Asia and India.

Trouble Began 3 Years Ago

The bungalows and minarets of Padanna reflect the prosperity from backwaters tourism at home and petro-dollars from West Asia. Every household has someone working in West Asia.

Family members said the first sign of trouble was visible three years ago when youngsters started growing beards and wearing long white gowns. Some of them even cut the cable TV connection to their homes, saying it was not Islamic. They remained aloof and started going for long religious trips.

Parents blame Salafi ideals and radical online literature for their indoctrination. “In early 2000, an extremist Salafi ideal emerged from the Arab region. It also took roots here. Religious heads and others failed to notice this,” said PC Ashraf, a college teacher.

But there isn’t any evidence to blame the Salafis. A Salafi centre in Malappuram used to train people in rearing sheep and camels.

When police raided Salafi centres, they couldn’t get anything substantial to prove their links with the “missing” people of Kerala.

Some of the so-called terrorists have contacted their families back home through Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. They apparently say they are happy and won’t return.

Relatives and intelligence agencies believe they are in the tribal-dominated Nangahar province of eastern Afghanistan, working for the IS’ back office.

“For affluent youth there was a spiritual vacuum. There were two extremes and a middle-path was missing. Sad, some fringe elements exploited this and pushed them to the extreme,” said P Hashim, a Padanna native who runs a small business in Qatar.

Police suspect at least 100 youth from northern Kerala may have slipped out through various countries. “We have definite information about two-dozen youth are fighting in Syria and Afghanistan,” said Kannur deputy superintendent of police PP Sadanandan.

The recent arrest of five people, who were deported from Turkey, reaffirms Kerala police’s suspicion that many people working in West Asia might have joined the IS and gone to fight in the war-ravaged region.



Karnataka High Court rejects plea to stay Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations

November 8, 2017

A division bench of Karnataka High Court on Tuesday rejected a plea against celebration of the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of Mysore, by the Karnataka government on November 10.

A resident of the Kodagu region of Karnataka, K P Manjunath, had filed the plea for a stay on the celebration of Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary by the Congress government, citing incidents of violence that occurred in Kodagu in 2015 during Tipu Jayanti celebrations and the historical animosity among the people of the region towards the 18th century ruler.

A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice H G Ramesh and Justice P S Dinesh Kumar rejected the plea for imposing a stay on the celebrations of Tipu Jayanti in the Kodagu region. The court had earlier asked the petitioner to find out whether the expenditure towards the celebration is formally budgeted by the state government.

The Congress government in Karnataka has been celebrating Tipu Jayanti over the past three years to honour him as a freedom fighter. In 2015, right-wing Hindu groups opposed to the celebrations clashed with Muslim groups that took out a rally to Madikeri town in Kodagu district.

Petitioner Manjunath argued that Tipu Sultan killed thousands of Kodavas through treachery while fighting the British.

While rejecting the interim plea for a stay on this year’s celebrations, the high court has adjourned the hearing into the main prayer against the celebration of Tipu Jayanti by four weeks and has asked the Karnataka government to file its response.

Full report at:



In shielding Zakir Naik, Malaysia risks losing moderate Muslim tag

By: Vicky Nanjappa

November 8, 2017

India is in touch with Malaysia to secure the extradition of Dr Zakir Naik, the radical Islamic preacher. A recent video of Naik enjoying VVIP treatment in Malaysia went viral. The video shows Naik, who has been given permanent resident (PR) status in Malaysia, being driven in an official car escorted by police outriders.

Malaysia which is considered to be a moderate Muslim nation runs the risk of losing that tag if continues to protect Naik. Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran has warned that the federal government's apparent special treatment of fugitive Indian preacher Zakir Naik threatens to shatter the image of Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation. He said Putrajaya would be put in an uncomfortable and embarrassing position if India issues a non-bailable warrant against Naik and gets an Interpol red corner notice on him which would require the country harbouring him to hand him over to India, the freemalaysiatoday reported. "If all this comes to pass, Malaysia will be put on the spot. Prime Minister Najib's standing as a Muslim moderate and his creation of a lobby for global moderation will be in tatters," he said. "Malaysia cannot run with the hare of global moderation and simultaneously hunt with the hounds of Muslim extremism," he added in his speech in the Dewan Rakyat today while debating Budget 2017, tabled by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the report also stated.



Ulama Council demands BJP, Congress to earmark 18 seats for Muslims

November 8, 2017

The Rashtriya Ulama Council (RUC), an Uttar Pradesh-based political party, on Tuesday demanded that at least 18 seats be earmarked for the Muslims in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections. Its national president Aamir Rashadi Madni said either the Congress or the BJP should meet this demand.

Asked if both parties failed to oblige, Madni said his own party, the RUC, would field candidates. However, he did not respond when asked which party would benefit at whose cost, if the Muslim vote breaks up.

“The electioneering is revolving round three persons — Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, and no one is talking about the Muslims,” he said.

“But, the Muslims are not ready to become scapegoats anymore. They will go with the BJP if it gives them 18 seats,” he said. On the other hand, Madni said the Congress had been doing political exploitation and victimisation of the Muslims for 70 years under a “well-planned conspiracy” for their use as a vote bank. “Why did Rahul Gandhi not go to see Zakia Jafri, the wife of Ahsan Jafri (who was killed in the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre)?,” he asked.

Full report at:



Jammu-Srinagar Diocese joins Islamic groups in making Kashmir alcohol free

November 7, 2017

Jammu-Srinagar Diocese has joined Islamic groups to demand a ban on alcohol in India's only Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The state's chief Islamic jurist Mufti Nasirul Islam, along with prominent civil society activists, Nov. 4 called on the state government to ban liquor in the state within three months.

"If the government fails to meet this deadline, there will be large scale protests and agitation," Mufti said at the press meet.

Jammu-Srinagar Diocese that covers the entire state also wants the government to ban liquor.

Diocesan spokesperson Father Saiju Chacko told that local church people support the ban. They also want the government "to educate and make people aware of the hazardous effects of liquor consumption," said Father Chacko who added that alcohol has been breaking up families and making poor people poorer.

Their demand came after the government last week shelved a plan to set up a liquor shop at the state's main airport. The government withdrew the plan following widespread protests from Islamic parties.

Several Indian states have legally banned alcohol in the past but repealed it later. Prohibition now exists in only three states — Gujarat, Bihar and Nagaland. But prohibition without proper awareness programs and strict monitoring was not helpful in "eradicating the menace" because of rampant bootlegging, Father Chacko said.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Kashmir's chief cleric, told that the government "should know that Kashmir is a Muslim-majority state and it should not take any decision that hurts the religious sentiments of Muslims."

Farooq argued that the attempt to open alcohol outlets was a part of a government attempt to "vandalize the society of Kashmir, which is based on the religious and ethical values" of Islam.

Jammu and Kashmir state has some 12.5 million people, 68 percent of whom are Muslims and 28 percent Hindus.

Many Islamic groups have been spearheading an armed struggle to end Indian rule in the state or to join with neighboring Islamic Pakistan. They see alcohol consumption as anti-Islamic.

Full report at:



Lashkar making way for Jaish in Kashmir

Nov 8, 2017

NEW DELHI: Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba's ambition to enter mainstream politics has made way for the resurgence of fidayeen-oriented (suicide attacks) Jaish-e-Muhammed as the frontrunner terror group in Kashmir, sources close to developments in the state have told TOI.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with China's support that has repeatedly blocked India's bid to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar a terrorist under the al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, is spending more resources on the terrorist group. Consequently, Azhar has been holding rallies exhorting people to join jihad in Kashmir, going by audio recording of his speech accessed by the TOI.

In his 105-minute speech inside a mosque in Pakistan, Azhar admitted that Jaish was behind the BSF camp attack in Srinagar — belying China's claim that there isn't enough evidence against him.

Azhar threatened that JeM, which has been involved in suicide attacks in Kashmir since its launch in 2000, will continue to train terrorists for missions. The evidence of his claim emerged again on Monday when his nephew, Talha Rashid, who'd volunteered to infiltrate into Kashmir for such a mission, was killed with two others in Pulwama.

The space for JeM has been created by Lashkar's front, Jamat-ud-Dawah (run by Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed) that aims to enter Pakistan's politics by contesting the 2018 general elections as Milli Muslim League (MML). A candidate backed by MML finished third in Lahore by-poll from where ex-PM Nawaz Sharif's wife Kulum Nawaz was elected in August this year.

Though the Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected MML's application for registration as a political party, it's common knowledge there that even if it's not permitted to contest, candidates backed by it will be up and running by the time of elections a year from now.

The last three months of terror-related data, according to security agencies, reveals that JeM has been at the top compared to other groups. On level one threat, which includes attacks against security forces, Jaish has hit ferociously with three fidayeen attacks, one each against BSF, CRPF and Army. JeM has also been at the forefront of killing civilians and grenade throwing.

A senior counter-insurgency officer in Srinagar said all these events were "indicators that Jaish has renewed its efforts at gaining supremacy over other groups in the valley."

Though IGP Kashmir Munir Khan said on Tuesday that around 16 to 20 JeM terrorists are still active in the valley, intelligence sources said there are over 50, split across south and north Kashmir. Intelligence profiling of JeM cadres active in Kashmir shows that most of them are in the age group of 30s and above, unlike Hizbul and Lashkar which have men in their 20s and even teenage.

A senior officer who specialises on Pakistan-based terror groups said, "Most of them are battle-hardened from Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In Kashmir, they usually stay in the upper reaches and don't descend in local habitations of the valley. They've been using the Mughal road in Poonch to infiltrate into the valley during heavy ceasefire violations through the summer. The Balakot to Poonch route is easier than Tangdar route."

He added, "Unlike Lashkar and Hizbul, which issue press statements from Kashmir, Jaish believes only in action. They are committed to 'jihad' and prepared for 'shahadat' (martyrdom)."

Jaish, the officer said, also has a different organisational structure from the other two groups. "They don't have as many commanders as Lashkar or Hizbul have. The most important men in the organization are Azhar's two brothers. Usually, there's only one commander at the very top, based in Pakistan and those who are active in Kashmir have equal status."

Full report at:



Masood Azhar's nephew, two aides killed in J&K

Neeraj Chauhan and M Saleem Pandit

Nov 8, 2017

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: Security forces scored a major success on Tuesday, killing Jaish-e-Muhammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar's nephew, Talha Rasheed, along with Pakistani national Mehmood Bhai and local JeM cadre Wasim Ahmed Ganai, in Pulwama's Aglar village. Talha's death is seen as significant as he was involved in several terrorist attacks, including those at the Pulwama police lines and Srinagar airport recently. Sham Sunder, a soldier of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), was also killed in the gunbattle. The killing of Talha is also seen as evidence of the "next phase of militancy" in the Valley with Jaish members from Pakistan taking the lead.

Talha's death is seen as significant as he was involved in several terrorist at tacks, including those at the Pulwama police lines and Srinagar airport recently. Sham Sunder, a soldier of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), was also killed in the gunbattle. The killing of Talha is also seen as evidence of the "next phase of militancy" in the Valley with Jaish members from Pakistan taking the lead. Instead of local cadres, Jaish-e-Muhammed from Pakistan carried out attacks on security forces in J&K. There were reports that Talha might be the son of Abdul Rauf, a brother of Masood Azhar, who was involved in the IC-814 hijacking. Officials said terrorist groups were being forced to respond to continuous Indian Army , CRPF and J&K police operations eliminating their leaders, and that this had led to JeM sending trained fighters to India in large groups.

These terrorist groups, along with local cadres, are scouting for opportunities like last year's spectacular attack on the Pathankot IAF base. In the last few months, several top Hizbul Mujahideen commanders have been killed in security operations.

Briefing the media, Maj Gen B S Raju, commander of the Rashtriya Rifles' Victor Force, said the recovery of US-made M4 carbines was significant. "This carbine is at present with a lot of armies within Nato. This is used by the special forces of the Pakistan Army so we have a reason to believe that this weapon was given by the Pakistan Army to JeM cadres."

There could be at least 25 JeM cadres from Pakistan still present in the Valley, said a top source. The JeM terrorists have been hiding in caves in Nooristan forest area of Tral where local cadres provide information about security forces. "The number of local militants has come down, which has compelled JeM to take centre stage in the Kashmir insurgency once again," said J&K IGP Muneer Khan.

About Talha, sources said that he and Waseem were part of the same JeM 11-member "Afzal Guru squad" that had entered India in the intervening night of August 16-17. Six of them were killed in the Pulwama police lines and BSF camp (Srinagar airport) attacks before Talha was killed on Tuesday. The new JeM fighters, sources say, are being equipped with sophisticated weapons. Apart from M4 carbines, security forces found an AK-74 rifle and a binocular that resembles the one recovered after the January 2016 Pathankot attack.

Full report at:



J&K terror-funding probe: NIA seizes Rs 36cr in demonetised notes, arrests 9

Nov 8, 2017

NEW DELHI: In the biggest haul of demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday afternoon recovered Rs 36.34 crore in old notes and arrested nine persons in connection with its probe into Jammu and Kashmir terror funding.

Sources said nine persons arrested are "agents" who were collecting money at reduced rates from various persons and were converting the money into new notes with the help of some bank officials.

A pan-India network, which also had connections with separatists seeking to convert old notes, was active and still collecting old notes.

The arrested persons have been identified as Delhi-residents Pradeep Chauhan, Bhagwan Singh and Vinod Shreedhar Shetty, Mumbai-based Deepak Toprani, Ejajul Hassan of Amroha, Jaswinder Singh of Nagpur, and Jam mu and Kashmir-residents Umar Mushtaq Dar (Pulwama), Shahnawaz Mir (Srinagar) and Majid Yousuf Sofi (Anantnag). Sources say that they all had decided to meet on Monday afternoon near YM CA on Jai Singh Road.

Seven of them were intercepted by an NIA team when they were carrying 28 cartons filled with demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in four vehicles -BMW X3, Hyundai Creta SX, Ford EcoSport and BMW X1, NIA spokesperson inspector general Alok Mittal said. Three others were caught later in the evening. An NIA official said counting machines were used till Tuesday morning to count the notes. He said that total seized demonetised currency is worth Rs 36,34,78,500.

During the probe, Mittal said, it emerged that people and entities linked to separatists and terrorists were still in possession of a significant amount of demonetised currency notes that could not be converted into new ones.

Recovery of US-made carbine proof of Pak's support to terror: Army chief

Full report at:



Gujarat ATS questions Madhya Pradesh man on suspicion of supplying arms to ISIS terror module

Nov 7, 2017

INDORE: The Gujarat ATS has taken into custody a man from Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain on suspicion of supplying weapons to a suspected ISIS terror module that is believed to be planning terror attacks during the coming assembly elections in the state.

The ATS team picked up one Uruj Khan, 32, a resident of Hamarpura in Ujjain on Sunday, additional SP Manish Khatri told TOI.

The officer claimed that Uruj was not arrested as of now, but was being interrogated in connection to a case on which Gujarat ATS was working.

Sources said Uruj's name had cropped during interrogation Ubaid Mirza, of the two alleged Islamic State (ISIS) operatives arrested from Surat and Ankleshwar on October 25. Ubaid, a lawyer in Surat, had known Uruj since 2007. They had come in contact when they stayed in Delhi. Both remained in touch over phone, sources said.

Ubaid had sought Uruj's help in procuring arms and ammunition. They struck deals for procuring pistols for Rs 3 lakh each. Ubaid had paid an advance of Rs 20,000 for the same, they said adding Uruj is also suspected to be working on procuring material for lone wolf attacks planned by Ubaid and his aide, an echo-cardiogram technician, Mohd Kasim Timberwala.

The Gujarat ATS had recovered cell phones, pen drive, laptops from the duo that are expected to reveal details about their handlers and contacts. Sources said both these operatives are believed to have been in contact with Shafi Armar alias Zahed-al-Hindi, an Indian ISIS handler based in Afghanistan.

Full report at:





Unity accelerates struggle for Sharia enforcement: JUP

November 08, 2017

SADIQABAD -It is unity among the groups representing Ahle Sunnat school of thought which has not only strengthened but also accelerated struggle for the enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan.

It was stated by Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) Provincial President Maulana Noor Ahmed Sial during a meeting with the party office-bearers here at Madrasa Raza-e-Mustafa the other day. “Unity among all the Ahle Sunnat groups aims at struggling for the progress of Islam and Pakistan,” he claimed. All-out efforts would be made for the success of Sunni vote in the next general election, he added. He criticised the United States (US) for blaming Pakistan for her diplomatic and military failure in Afghanistan. . He said the US intends to empower India to counter the rising threat of China which, he added, is expected to be the next superpower. “India’s dream of establishing her hegemony in the region would never be materialised,” he asserted. Its time for Pakistan to part ways with the US, he said.

Maulana Noor Sial vehemently condemned the rulers for being lenient towards Qadianis. He said that the country cannot afford confrontation between the state institutions. It would be a good notion for democratic stability if the incumbent government completes its tenure, he noted. He termed corruption mother of all problems in Pakistan, especially the poverty.

Allama Ghulam Yasin Shamsi, Khalifa Ghulam Mohiyuddin Qadri, Sharif Ahmad Faridi, Ibrahim Qadri, Abdul Aziz Naqshbandi and others attended the meeting.



‘King Salman’s anti-corruption drive good example for Muslim countries’

Nov 8, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Hailing King Salman’s anti-corruption drive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), former information minister Muhammad Ali Durrani on Tuesday said that the initiative to act against corruption was a good omen for the Muslim world.

Talking to reporters, Durrani said, “The Saudi leadership has proved through their actions that no one is above the law anymore, and expressed their unfettered commitment to root-out the menace of corruption from society.”

He welcomed Saudi Arabia’s newly formed anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and said that ruthless action at the top level in KSA had set a precise example to be followed by other Islamic countries while combating corruption.

Durrani said that it was heartening to note that the Muslim world had also joined the international alliance against corruption and stashing plundered money in shady accounts abroad. The recent crackdown by the Saudi government was a clear manifestation of its resolve not to tolerate corruption and to treat it at par with terrorism, he added.

He further said that a positive, progressive and pro-people Saudi Arabia had emerged on the world scene due to recent bold and courageous action taken by young Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Moreover, Durrani said that, “Masses in majority Muslim countries, unfortunately, have been suffering long due to loot and plunder started by the rulers. Bad governance and siphoning of public money was the root cause of all problems confronted by Muslim societies. Role of Saudi clerics is also commendable in this regard, who not only supported but also endorsed the anti-graft move in KSA, especially by declaring terrorism and corruption as equal threats.”

Full report at:



Nato sees Taliban bases in Pakistan 'big challenge'

November 08, 2017

BRUSSELS -  NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Taliban bases in Pakistan pose a “big challenge” to efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels that he regularly raises the issue in meetings with Pakistani leaders and will continue to do so. “We have to address the big challenge that Taliban are working also out of bases in Pakistan . And we have raised that several times. It is extremely important that all countries in the region support efforts of the Afghan national unity government and that no country provide any kind of sanctuary for the terrorists,” said the NATO chief.

Stoltenberg insisted if regional countries deny sanctuaries to insurgents the fight against the Taliban and terrorist groups in Afghanistan “will gain so much.” Responding to a question, he said NATO will boost its training mission in Afghanistan by around 3,000 troops.

The overall size of NATO 's training and support mission in the unrest-hit country will increase from roughly 13,000 to roughly 16,000, he said.

Stoltenberg said the alliance would boost its presence "to help the Afghans break the stalemate, to send a clear message to Taliban to the insurgents that they will not win on the battleground". "There will be more troops. Current level is around 13,000, the new level will be around 16,000," he added.

But Stoltenberg insisted there would be no return to combat operations. "We are focusing on training the Afghan special operations forces, which have proven so key in the fight against the insurgents," he said.

Full report at:



Speakers stress following in Allama Iqbal’s footsteps

November 08, 2017

SIALKOT-Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Zahid Latif Malik cut the cake of 140th birth day of Allama Iqbal during a special ceremony held at the Iqbal Manzil, the birth place of Allama Iqbal , here on Tuesday.

SCCI Vice President Abid Ahmed Khawaja, SCCI’s PRO Tajammal Hussain, Inchare/caretaker of Iqbal manzil Riaz Hussain Naqvi, SCCI Executive Committee members and business and export tycoons also attended the ceremony.

After the cake-cutting ceremony, the Iqbal Day celebrations were kicked off in Sialkot. On the occasion, they paid homage to the great poet.

The SCCI president said that Allama Iqbal was one of great men of Islam and Pakistan, who dreamt of Pakistan. “We must create a society according to the vision of the great poet who gave the idea of separate homeland for the Muslims of the Subcontinent to practice Islamic values and culture,” they said. Iqbal’s philosophical and human approach to save the Muslims from degradation and deprivation is still a source of strength and guidance for us, they maintained.

The SCCI vice president said that the teachings of Allama Iqbal are like beacon to maintain tolerance, peace and stability in the society.

The Sialkot-based exporters said that Pakistan can only be redeemed through emulation of Iqbal’s vision on human excellence and self-recognition as perpetual rule of dictators weakened the national institutions.

The PRO said that Iqbal’s philosophical and human approach was still a source of strength and guidance. On the occasion, Shamim Khan Lodhi, the president Bazm-e-Iqbal, said that the nation owed freedom to the vision of Allama Iqbal . He said the best way to pay tributes to Iqbal was to understand his message and imbibe his teachings. The need for understanding Iqbal’s concept of the message of Islam and the need for self-realisation was never as great as it is today.

Syed Riaz Hussain said that Allama Iqbal was one of the great men who dreamt of Pakistan “We must create a society according to the vision of the great poet, who gave the idea of separate homeland for the Muslims of the Subcontinent.

The people paid homage to Allama Iqbal , and said that it was unfortunate that in the country envisioned by Iqbal, Islam has been exploited by extremists to impose their narrow agendas on the people.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ch Tauheed Akhtar visited Iqbal Manzil (the birthplace of Allama Iqbal) Sialkot. He reviewed its renovation works briskly underway under the supervision of Sialkot Municipal Corporation.

On the occasion, the mayor paid homage to Allama Iqbal , saying that the land of Sialkot had become invincible after giving birth to Allama Iqbal .

The mayor announced illumination of the Iqbal Manzil and Allama Iqbal Chowk Sialkot under the supervision of Sialkot Municipal Corporation announcing to take out a big rally in Sialkot on Nov 09, 2017 in connection with birth anniversary of Allama Iqbal in his native city.

Full report at:



Pak FM admits remnants of terror may still operate in Pakistan

Nov 07 2017

The foreign minister of Pakistan Khwaja Mohammad Asif has admitted that the remnants of the terror groups may still operate in Pakistan.

Speaking during the 4th bilateral dialogue between Pakistan and the United States, Asif said “Pakistan, after great sacrifices, has been able to dismantle terrorist networks and establish the writ of the government across the length and breadth of the country. We can now claim with a degree of certainty that there is no organized presence of terrorists within Pakistan.”

However, he said considering the porous border and millions of refugees, there may still be remnants of these groups, and the only way to deal with them is more intelligence cooperation.

He also added that “Today, I can say with some confidence that the pathway to cooperation is quite clear. There exists broad agreement on major issues related to border management, return of refugees, safe havens in Afghanistan and how to deal with so called safe havens in Pakistan.”

This comes as pressures are on the rise on Islamabad to take actions against the terror groups having safe havens in the country.

According to reports, the United States last month shared a list of at least twenty terrorist groups with Islamabad which Washington insists use the Pakistani soil for the terrorist activities in Afghanistan and elsewhere, it has been reported.

Diplomatic sources have confirmed to the local news outlet Dawn News that the White House retains a list of 20 terrorist groups that the Trump administration claims are operating in Pakistan.

It is believed that the Haqqani terrorist network is on the top of the list shared with Islamabad as the US officials are saying that the network has safe havens in Fata and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan.

Full report at:



How ‘Telegram’ app lead to arrests of ISIS members in Pakistan

7 November 2017

Security services in Pakistan have found a new means to target ISIS militants - the Russian app Telegram.

They have succeeded in arresting and killing a number of ISIS militants in Peshawar after members of the group were found chatting on Telegram where a selfie uncovered the location of the plot.

Muhammad Farid, a 23-year-old ISIS militant, was arrested on June 24 during a security raid on a flour mill in the outskirts of Peshawar where the group was planning a massive attack.

Farid confessed to interrogators after arrest that he had killed 32 people including 15 policemen and five sex workers Express Tribune reported.

However, it was the Afghan citizen’s phone revealed to security officials ISIS’s preferred method of communication.

Tracking communication

“Almost all communication was through the Telegram app,” said a Counter Terrorism Department official. “The aliases they used were common names which they changed often. They were mostly communicating with their group in Afghanistan.”

Telegram, a Russian chat app, has approximately 100 million users and has been giving law enforcement headaches the world over as it has end-to-end encryption, is difficult to crack, and has messages that self-destruct.

Furthermore, Telegram has group chat options where ISIS members were sharing potential target information.

“We found a list of 12 people who the group [in the flour mill] had identified when it was busted,” said an intelligence official who asked to remain unnamed as he is not authorized to speak to the media. “Most of these targets were randomly chosen from Facebook and Twitter on sectarian grounds.”

Vanity kills

In Farid’s cell phone, investigators found a selfie. And while his face did not say much, it was the nine-pane window in the background that they picked up on, the report said.

The window panel in the background was a targeted location and security personnel found, 10 days later, after an extensive search,

Encrypted data

Data for three months from the cell phones found in the flour mill operation showed that the men had made no calls but their combined internet usage exceeded 18 gigabytes, confirming to investigators the way IS was communicating.

The men were trained to use the app in Afghanistan. Once they learnt that it was being tracked, they tried to shift to another encrypted app called Signal. “They were more advanced than some countries in their communications,” remarked one official.

Full report at:



Pakistan protests over killing of Pakistani diplomat in Afghanistan

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan strongly condemned the killing of its diplomatic official Nayyar Iqbal Rana serving at the Consulate General of Pakistan at Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The diplomatic official was shot by two unknown assailants on a motor bike at a shop near his residence.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in separate messages strongly condemned this heinous act and extended their deepest condolences and sympathies to the bereaved family.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif in his message also condoled with the aggrieved family and denounced this tragic act of violence.

He urged the Afghan government to take urgent steps to apprehend the perpetrators and ensure the safety and security of Pakistan’s diplomatic personnel and its missions in Afghanistan.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Indonesian court recognizes native religions in landmark ruling

NOVEMBER 7, 2017

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday affirmed the rights of devotees of faiths outside the country’s officially recognized religions, in a move activists welcomed as a “new chapter for religious freedom”.Against a backdrop of rising intolerance toward minorities in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, the court said Indonesians would not be required to identify as either Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian on their national identification cards.The ruling reviewed by Reuters followed a legal challenge by followers of some of Indonesia’s indigenous faiths.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos from the Setara Institute, a group that advocates for religious harmony, said Indonesians who refused to embrace one of the regulated religions on their identity cards had limited access to education, restricted employment opportunities and were denied legal marriage.

The Court recommended that a seventh, catch-all category be created - “Believers of the Faith” - for ID cards.“This is a new chapter for religious freedom in Indonesia for both government and followers of indigenous religions,” Naipospos said. “This is a door for the government to recognize their rights.”A spokesman for Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo could not immediately be reached for comment.Indonesia’s founding constitution says the state is based on the belief in the “One and Only God” but guarantees “each and every citizen the freedom of religion and worship”.However, blasphemy laws passed in 1965 stipulated only six religions would be protected. Subsequent regulations and laws effectively enshrined those as the only religions recognized by the state.“The ruling (on Tuesday) means the end of Indonesia recognizing only six religions,” said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch.In the 2000 census, about 400,000 people identified as holding beliefs outside the six main religions, although Harsono said this probably underestimated the extent of believers in non-recognized faiths.Across Indonesia’s vast chain of islands, more than 200 distinctive native faiths, such as the Sundanese people’s Wiwitan, the Dayak’s Kaharingan and the Torajan’s Aluk To Dolo survived even as Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam dominated during different eras.Its people also blended elements of the major religions over time and infused them with animist and mystical beliefs.

The court ruling should also apply to followers of non-indigenous religions such as Baha‘i and Judaism that are not formally recognized in Indonesia, said Nia Sjarifudin of the Unity in Diversity Alliance.

In recent decades, Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance has been tarnished as its unique syncretic form of Islam has been challenged by more fundamentalist interpretations imported from the Middle East.In the past year, an alliance of Islamist hardliners pushed successfully for the imprisonment of then Governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, for insulting Islam under the 1965 blasphemy laws.Atheism is not legal in Indonesia, and non-believers have also been charged with blasphemy.



DPM: We will send Zakir Naik back if India asks


November 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 ― Controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik will be sent back to India if its government requests that he be extradited, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Despite that, the home minister told the Dewan Rakyat that there has been no such requests made as yet, but Putrajaya will go ahead with deportation if requested via the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) programme between governments.

“Until now, there is no application [from Dr Zakir] to become a citizen,” Zahid said.

“If India requests that he be extradited via Mutual Legal Asistance, we will send him. To date, there has been no such request.”



US Islamic expert cancels Malaysia trip after learning about Akyol episode

Abdar Rahman Koya

November 8, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Vocal Muslim group Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) is worried that prominent academics abroad are now shunning Malaysia from their programmes, more than a month after Islamic authorities arrested US-based author Mustafa Akyol before he was freed following royal pressure.

This comes after a planned book launch to feature prominent American academic Prof Asma Afsaruddin from the Indiana University in the US had to be called off, after she learnt about Akyol’s experience.

“He (Akyol) informed me about what had happened to him in Malaysia recently after he gave talks there and about his book being banned. If the circumstances were more reassuring I would have been honored to be your guest,” Afsaruddin wrote in an email to IRF sighted by FMT today.

“Given the current atmosphere, however, I regretfully will not be able to respond positively to your very kind invitation,” said the professor who is an expert on Islamic political thought, Islamic texts and gender studies, who had previously taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

Afsaruddin, an expert in Arabic who was a consultant for Oxford’s authoritative Dictionary of Islam, was scheduled to speak on the subject of her book, “The First Muslims: History and Memory”.

The book, which is being translated into Malay by IRF to be published in time for her visit in March 2018, takes a fresh look at the early history of Islam, a topic close to her field of work.

Afsaruddin’s works have been published by top academic publishing houses including E.J. Brill in Leiden, Oxford University and Harvard University.

In 2015, she was honoured by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for her work, “Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought”, which earned her Iran’s prestigious book prize, “Jayezeh Jahani”.

IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who was also summoned by the Federal Territory Islamic Department (Jawi) over his role in hosting Akyol’s lecture tour in September, said Afsaruddin’s decision to cancel her trip showed the negative perception among prominent intellectuals about Malaysia.

“The extreme actions by these state-sponsored religious zealots have made some Muslim intellectuals to have the impression that this country is being governed by some of God’s modern agents in the form of Jawi’s religious police,” he told FMT.

“And this is bad for a country that wanted to portray herself as a moderate and progressive country.”

Jawi had accused Akyol and Farouk of violating a local shariah law requiring a person teaching Islam to have the official credentials or “tauliah” from religious authorities.

But Akyol had said he was not speaking as a religious authority.

“I don’t claim to be a mufti or imam with religious authority,” Akyol told FMT hours after his release on Sept 26. “I just had referred to the more liberal views in Islamic tradition, from an academic perspective, and the fact that even this raises alarm is puzzling to me.”

Days after he left, the government announced a ban on Akyol’s book, “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty”, and its Malay translation published by IRF. The home ministry said the book was likely to “alarm the public” and could be “prejudicial to public interest”.

Farouk, who is contemplating taking the government to court over the ban, said it was normal for IRF to invite foreign academics on a lecture tour.

“It has been our culture to normally invite the author to launch the translated book and deliver a few talks and engage in a forum,” said the former surgeon who lectures at Monash University Malaysia.

In her email, Afsaruddin said she regretted her decision, but hoped the Malay translation of her work could still be published in the face of recent book bannings by the Malaysian government.

Full report at:



Rights group welcomes landmark court ruling on native faiths

November 7, 2017

Jakarta-based rights group Setara Institute has lauded a Constitutional Court ruling that paves the way for native faith followers to declare their faiths on their ID cards, saying the ruling could end long-standing discrimination against minority groups. Setara said in a statement that the court's ruling, issued on Tuesday, should be followed by efforts to acknowledge the rights of all citizens.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday in favor of native faith followers who had challenged provisions on religion within the 2006 Law on population administration that prevented them from obtaining ID cards.

The court concluded the provisions were discriminatory and unconstitutional, thus allowing the country's native belief followers to state their native faith on civil documents, instead of leaving them blank as stipulated by the law. 

The 1965 blasphemy law only recognizes six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.

"Ideally the state would not discriminate against its citizens when they declare their religious identity on the population administration register," Setara said.

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, who manages population administration, said on Tuesday that the ministry would abide by the ruling, adding it would coordinate with related agencies to compile data on native faiths in Indonesia.

Full report at:





Charlie Hebdo gets death threats over Islamic scholar cartoon

8 Nov, 2017

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo said on Monday it was pressing charges after receiving fresh death threats against staffers over a cartoon of the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan who faces rape allegations.

The provocative magazine, which suffered a deadly attack in 2015 after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), showed Ramadan in a compromising state in its edition last Wednesday while referencing to his religion.

The Swiss academic, an Oxford professor and conservative Islamic intellectual in France, has been accused of rape by two women after the Harvey Weinstein scandal unleashed a wave of sexual abuse accusations worldwide.

Ramadan, 55, has furiously denied the accusations as a “campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.

“Rape,” reads the caption on Charlie Hebdo’s cover. “The defence of Tariq Ramadan.”

Later on Monday, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened a police enquiry into the death threat claim, a judicial source said.

That enquiry will look into “written death threats” and “public glorification of an act of terrorism,” the source said.

Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, the magazine’s editor, said the threats and hate mail had “never really stopped” after the January 2015 attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices.

“Sometimes there are peaks when we receive explicit death threats on social media this has been the case once again,” he told Europe 1radio.

“It’s always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges.”

The shooting at Charlie Hebdo was claimed by al Qaeda, with the militants notably seeking to punish the staunchly atheist magazine for printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), forbidden in Islam.

The attack was the first in a wave of militant attacks in France over the past two years that have left more than 240 people dead.

Charlie Hebdo has continued to court controversy since the attack, notably with cartoons after the Barcelona attack and others that made light of an Italian earthquake that killed nearly 300 people.



10 held in Swiss, French anti-terror operation

November 08, 2017

PARIS - Ten people were arrested in an anti-terror operation in France and Switzerland on Tuesday including a Swiss man linked to a foiled knife attack by a French teenager, sources close to the probe said. A 27-year-old Swiss man arrested in France was in contact with a 14-year-old French boy who was "about to carry out the attack," one of the sources said. The teenager was arrested in the Paris region on June 20 and charged by an anti-terror judge, the sources said. A photo of the boy holding a paper vowing his allegiance to the Islamic State group was found on social media, they added.



Religious code of conduct adopted at German university after complaints about Muslim students

7 Nov, 2017

The University of Hamburg has imposed a new religious code of conduct for its students. It reportedly comes after numerous complaints about Muslim students praying loudly in the library and crowding the bathrooms to wash their feet.

The new code was drawn up by a philosopher and a group of religious scholars at the university, according to Inside Higher Ed (IHE). The rules were implemented in mid-October.

According to Hamburg University President Dieter Lenzen, the move came after a number of complaints about religious students “disturbing university life.” He added that “external Salafists” had been pressuring female Muslim students to wear traditional Islamic garb, including the face veil.

When asked which faith had been the subject of the most complaints, Lenzen said with emphasis that the answer was Muslim students. “To date, there have been no complaints about Buddhist students, just a few about Christian students, but a great many about Muslim students," he said, as quoted by IHE.

One of the subjects of the new code is prayer. It bans “loud and demonstrative expressions of faith,” but notes that “quiet prayer may be acceptable in the library.”

It states that “ritual activities” must be “non-disruptive or carried out in rooms assigned for that purpose.” It cites an area known as the ‘Room of Contemplation,’ while warning that students are not allowed to segregate that area by gender.

The code warns that the unauthorized use of university facilities and resources could result in guilty parties being banned or expelled from campus. “This authority may be delegated,” it states.

The code also bans foot baths in sanitary facilities, noting that such actions could make other students “feel imposed upon.” It warns that “religiously motivated pressure” upon others to behave in a certain way constitutes “coercion.”

The text also deals with dietary restrictions at campus eateries. It states that canteens “reserve the right to decide whether or not to offer dishes in line with religious dietary guidelines and restrictions,” while noting that it would be “desirable” if the university’s student organization could “include dishes that accommodate the dietary rules of the various religions.”

It also stresses that students who miss class due to religious festivities will have to “bear the consequences,” adding that “teachers may request that the student in question compensate for missed work.”

When it comes to religious apparel, the code stresses that students are permitted to wear items including the Muslim face veil. However, that is only if they are not deemed to “impede communication required for academic exchange, instruction, or exams...” Speaking to Ruptly about the new religious code, a Muslim student by the name of Akbar stressed that it is important for everyone – not just Muslims – to have the freedom to wear what they please. “If someone stood naked in front of me, I wouldn’t like that, but if they want to be naked… it doesn’t matter to me.”

A student named Daniel noted that the topic of Islamic apparel “is different from case to case,” stressing that women are sometimes forced to wear such clothing by their husband or father. “It should be possible for everyone [to wear full covering] but not from being forced. And that’s difficult to establish, whether they are forced or not,” he told Ruptly.

Full report at:



Pope meets Egypt's Muslim leader Ahmed al-Tayeb


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Tuesday with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Muhammad al-Tayeb who is in Rome to attend a conference organised by the St Egidio community.

No details of the private encounter were released, but the meeting marked the second trip to the Vatican in two years by Egypt’s top Muslim leader. His first meeting with the pope in May 2016 marked an important step forward after five years of suspended dialogue between the Holy See and the prestigious Al-Azhar university.

Pope's visit to Cairo

In April this year, Pope Francis travelled to Cairo to visit the headquarters of Sunni Muslim scholarship and attend an international peace conference there. During his two day visit to Egypt, the pope urged religious leaders to denounce violations of human rights and expose attempts to justify violence and hatred in the name of God.

Respecful interreligious dialogue

Full report at:



Arab World


High-profile Saudi corruption probe detainees to face trial

7 November 2017

Dozens of high-profile Saudi political and business figures arrested in an anti-corruption sweep will face trial, the attorney general said Monday.

Princes and ministers were targeted at the weekend in a move led by a newly formed anti-graft commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"All those suspected... will have full access to legal resources, and the trials will be held in a timely and open manner," Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement.

"A great deal of evidence has already been gathered, and detailed questioning has taken place."

Mojeb said the authorities were forced to pursue their investigations "discreetly" in order to ensure that "there was no flight from justice".

The anti-graft commission has uncovered evidence pointing at "widespread corruption", its president Khalid bin Abdulmohsen al-Mehaisen said in a separate statement.

"Saudi anti-corruption authorities... have worked painstakingly for three years to investigate the crimes in question," he added.

The information ministry on Sunday said the bank accounts of those arrested will be "frozen" and any assets related to the corruption cases will be registered as state property.



Al-Azhar keen on delivering Islamic message in English

Nov. 7, 2017

CAIRO – 7 November 2017: “The British Council in Egypt is keen on teaching Azharite students how to deliver a positive message on Islamic ideology to the world in a common language like English, and how to communicate and talk in a better way,” British Council in Egypt (BCE) chairman Christopher Rodrigues said on Tuesday.

During a signing ceremony of a cooperation protocol between Al-Azhar and the BCE, Rodrigues added that the BCE is seeking to enhance cooperation with Al-Azhar, which is always seeking support for the peace process worldwide.

He clarified that the protocol is to extend cooperation for ten more years, and he stressed the importance of learning the English language.

Rodrigues noted that the cooperation between the two institutions will be implemented through three ways: by offering scholarships to Alfa Azharite students abroad, teaching Azharites the English language through BCE’s methods and giving training courses to Al-Azhar’s English instructors.

Full report at:



Human Rights Watch: Houthi attack on Saudi airport, ‘likely a war crime’

7 November 2017

The ballistic missile strike by Houthi-Saleh forces in Yemen on Riyadh’s main international airport on November 4, 2017, is most likely a war crime, Human Rights Watch said today.

Saudi Arabia responded to the attack by claiming Iran, which it accuses of aiding the Houthi rebels who control much of northern Yemen, smuggled the missile to Yemen and announcing a “temporary” closure of all Yemeni land, sea, and air ports.

Saudi claims about the missile’s origin could not be verified and, according to media reports, Iranian officials denied the allegation.

Houthi-Saleh-aligned media reported that the armed group fired a Burkan H2 ballistic missile at King Khalid International Airport, northeast of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Saudi media reported that its missile defenses intercepted the missile in flight, but that some missile fragments fell inside the airport area. No casualties were reported.

On November 6, the Saudi government said it was “temporarily” closing all Yemeni ports in response to the attack, but that humanitarian aid could continue to enter Yemen under strict coalition vetting procedures.

“The Houthis’ launching of an indiscriminate ballistic missile at a predominantly civilian airport is an apparent war crime,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Attack on Riyadh

Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, told the governmental Saudi Press Agency on November 4 that Houthi-Saleh forces fired the missile at 8:07 p.m. from Yemen toward Riyadh, but that the Saudi Patriot air and missile defense system intercepted the missile on the eastern side of the airport.

King Khalid International Airport is about 35 kilometers northeast of the densely populated areas of Riyadh. The airport compound includes a company that services and maintains military aircraft. While the site where Houthi-Saleh forces launched the missile is unclear, the airport is approximately 850 kilometers from the Yemeni border.

An attack with an unguided ballistic missile such as the Burkan H2 from this range is indiscriminate since these weapons are not capable of the necessary accuracy to target military objectives.

When deliberately or indiscriminately directed toward populated areas or civilian objects, such attacks violate the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes.

Series of attacks

The attack on Riyadh’s international airport is the latest in a series of indiscriminate Houthi-Saleh ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, though it was the first to reach the capital.

In October 2016, Saudi Arabia accused Houthi-Saleh forces of targeting the holy city of Mecca with a missile, which they claimed Saudi defenses intercepted 65 kilometers south of the city.

Houthi forces admitted they had launched a ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia, which they described as a Burkan 1, but claimed the target was Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport.

In another attack, on July 22, 2017, Houthi-Saleh forces struck an oil refinery near the port city Yanbu, 300 kilometers northwest of Jeddah, with a Burkan H2 ballistic missile.

Human Rights Watch has documented the Houthi-Saleh forces’ indiscriminate launching of short-range unguided artillery rockets from northern Yemen into populated areas of southern Saudi Arabia since May 2015. Some of these attacks killed civilians.

After the attack, on November 5, Saudi authorities published a wanted list of 40 Houthi officials, offering financial rewards of between US$5 million and US$30 million for anyone who provides information leading to their arrests.

The next day the coalition announced it would close all sea, land, and air ports to Yemen temporarily, while declaring that humanitarian aid would continue to be allowed in after strict vetting procedures.

Yemen is experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with more than seven million people on the brink of famine and hundreds of thousands suffering from cholera.

Full report at:



Saudi Crown Prince: Iran missile supply to Houthis ‘direct military aggression’

7 November 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday that Iran’s supply of missiles to the Houthi militia in Yemen was a “direct military aggression.”

On Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi militia in Yemen accused them of “dangerous escalation (that) came because of Iranian support” after Saudi air defenses intercepted the ballistic missile heading toward Riyadh.

It was brought down near Riyadh airport without causing casualties.

Prince Mohammed received a phone call from British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson who condemned the Houthi missile launch.

Johnson condemned the Houthis for intentionally targeting civilians and said Britain stands with the Saudi kingdom in confronting security threats, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Full report at:



Saudi reopens Lebanon front in struggle with Iran

November 08, 2017

Saudi Arabia has opened a new front in its regional proxy war with Iran , threatening Tehran’s powerful ally Hezbollah and its home country Lebanon to try to regain the upper hand.

With Iranian power winning out in Iraq and Syria, and Riyadh bogged down in a war with Iran-allied groups in Yemen, the new Saudi approach could bring lasting political and economic turmoil to a country where Tehran had appeared ascendant.

The resignation on Saturday of the Saudi-allied Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, announced from Riyadh and blamed on Iran and Hezbollah, is seen by many as the first step in an unprecedented Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics.

“The Saudis appear to have decided that the best way to confront Iran is to start in Lebanon ,” a European diplomat said.

Riyadh is blaming Hezbollah for the resignation of Lebanon’s preeminent Sunni politician, accusing it of “hijacking” Lebanese politics. But Saudi Arabia is also widening blame to Lebanon as a whole, saying it too has declared war on the Kingdom.

A Saudi minister has made the near impossible demand that Lebanese act against a group that is a major part of Lebanon’s political fabric and far more powerful than the weak state, with a guerrilla army that out guns the national military.

Coinciding with a major anti-corruption purge of top Saudis, Hariri’s shock announcement has given rise to suggestions from Hezbollah and others that his Saudi business interests had embroiled him in the probe and he was forced to resigning.

Saudi Arabia and Hariri’s allies deny that, and assertions that Hariri is under house arrest. They say his hand was forced by Hezbollah interventions in Arab countries in service of Iran .


Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said Hezbollah had been “calling the shots” in the Hariri government, which included two Hezbollah ministers and was formed last year in a political deal that made Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, head of state.

Hezbollah and its allies will struggle to form a government without Hariri or his blessing, leaving Lebanon in a protracted crisis that could eventually stir Sunni-Shi‘ite tensions, though there is no sign of this yet as all sides urge calm.

Announcing his resignation, Hariri cited an assassination plot against him and slammed Iran and Hezbollah for sowing strife and trying to “kidnap” Lebanon away from the Arab world. The declaration came as a surprise even to Hariri’s aides.

It is not clear what comes next: Saudi-backed efforts to weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon failed badly a decade ago, ending with a bout of Sunni-Shi‘ite fighting on the streets of Beirut that only underlined Hezbollah’s military dominance.

The regional struggle moved elsewhere in recent years, notably neighboring Syria where years of Saudi investment in rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad failed to withstand direct military intervention by Iran and Hezbollah.

In Iraq, Tehran-backed militias and Iranian commanders have often seemed as powerful as the U.S.-backed Iraqi military, most recently in an operation to retake Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.

So emboldened was Iran that top Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati trumpeted his regional alliance’s success from Beirut last Friday, declaring victories in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon . His statement to the media after a meeting with Hariri was seen as a major provocation to regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia .

Hariri left for Saudi Arabia immediately afterwards, cancelling previously scheduled engagements and catching even his closest advisors off guard the next day with a declaration first broadcast by Saudi-owned media.

The regional standoff flared in the Gulf hours later, with Iran-allied groups firing a ballistic missile at Riyadh from Yemen. Saudi Arabia says it was launched by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has not responded to the accusation.

Neither Hezbollah nor the Lebanese government responded on Tuesday to the Saudi accusation, voiced by Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan, a top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that both Lebanon and Hezbollah had declared war.

“The Lebanese government will be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia , and all Lebanese must realize these dangers and work to resolve the issues before we reach the point of no return,” he said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV.

Crown Prince Mohammed told Reuters last month the war in Yemen would continue to prevent the Iran-allied Houthi movement from becoming another Hezbollah at Saudi’s border.


Hezbollah was established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982 to fight Israeli troops in Lebanon . Its last major war with Israel was in 2006, since when Hezbollah has grown stronger.

While Sabhan vowed that Hezbollah would be forced back into “its caves” in southern Lebanon , any Saudi military action in Lebanon - such as air strikes - would come as a major surprise.

Political paralysis and tension is however a big threat to an already stagnant economy, and could derail next year’s parliamentary elections - Lebanon’s first since 2009.

Policymakers have scrambled to calm concern over the financial stability of the heavily indebted state. They say the Lebanese pound - pegged against the dollar at the same rate for 20 years - is stable.

Hariri was spearheading efforts to garner international aid to help Lebanon deal with the strain of hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees, or a quarter of the population.

Leaders on all sides say there should be no further escalation. Both Hezbollah and Hariri’s Future Movement have worked to contain Sunni-Shi‘ite tensions during the war in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called for calm and patience in the face of Hariri’s resignation. Okab Sakr, a member of Hariri’s Future Movement, noted that protests in solidarity with Hariri had been canceled to avoid trouble.

Sabhan, the Saudi minister, has called for “real sanctions” and alliances “to find a fundamental solution to this cancerous disease”, saying Hezbollah should be disarmed and kept out of government.

Hariri, who was thrust into politics by the 2005 assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, led years of political struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon . But his Saudi-backed “March 14” coalition failed to make any progress toward Hezbollah’s disarmament as demanded by U.N. resolutions.

Full report at:



At U.N., Russia slams inquiry into toxic gas attacks in Syria

November 08, 2017

Russia rejected on Tuesday a report by an international inquiry blaming the Syrian government for a deadly toxic gas attack, casting doubt on whether the U.N. Security Council can agree to extend the investigation’s mandate before it expires next week.

Russia vetoed an initial U.S. bid to renew the joint inquiry by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Oct. 24, saying it wanted to wait for the release of the investigation’s report two days later.

It has since proposed its own rival draft resolution, which deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said on Tuesday aimed to enhance the effectiveness of the inquiry and correct “errors and systemic problems.”

“Without a comprehensive change it will become a tool to settle accounts with the Syrian authorities,” Safronkov told the 15-member Security Council on Tuesday during a meeting on the report by the U.N./OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).

The report found the Syrian government was responsible for an April 4 attack using the banned nerve agent sarin in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing dozens of people. The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons.

The chemical weapons attack prompted a U.S. missile strike just days later against a Syrian air base.

“Russia is trying to shoot the messenger to cover up for the crimes of the Syrian regime,” Deputy British U.N. Ambassador Jonathan Allen told the Security Council.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said there could be no higher priority for the Security Council than renewing the JIM mandate. Diplomats said the United States had amended its draft resolution in a bid to win Russian support.

“Anyone who prevents us from achieving this goal is aiding and abetting those who have been using chemical weapons,” Haley said. “They are helping to ensure, not just that more women and children will die, but that those women and children will die in one of the cruelest, most painful ways possible.”

A resolution must get nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia , China, the United States, Britain and France to pass.

Allen told reporters the Russian draft resolution “has very little if any support in the council and no realistic prospects of success.”

The JIM had previously found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that Islamic State militants used mustard gas.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Repels ISIL's Heavy Attack in Deir Ezzur

Nov 07, 2017

The army men warded off ISIL's heavy offensive in Western Deir Ezzur to break through the army positions South of the town of al-Shoula along the highway that connects Deir Ezzur to the town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs.

A military source confirmed that the army men repelled the attack, killing a large number of terrorists, including non-Syrians.

In the meantime, the army units beat back another attack of the ISIL terrorists South of the town of al-Mayadeen.

Relevant reports said on Monday that the army men deployed on the Eastern side of T2 Oil Pumping Station in Southwestern Deir Ezzur advanced against ISIL and reached regions near Akash oilfield, deploying 30 km away from Albu Kamal.

The sources further said that the army soldiers shook hands with Iraqi government forces in Southwest of Albu Kamal at common borders.

They added that the army units started fortifying their positions in the newly-captured region, preparing to march towards Albu Kamal.

It is expected that the Syrian army men utilize their Iraqi counterparts' ground and aerial back up.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia repeats claim of Iran arming Yemen’s Houthis

Nov 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia has repeated an accusation that Iran is supplying Houthi fighters in Yemen with weapons, days after Iranian officials denied any transfer of arms to the Arab country, which has been under a Saudi-led invasion and blockade.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman alleged on Tuesday that Iran was involved in supplying weapons to the Houthis, which he said “is a direct military aggression” by Iran against Saudi Arabia.

He made the claim in a telephone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Bin Salman also said the alleged provision of weapons to the Houthis could constitute “an act of war” against Saudi Arabia.

The Houthi movement, which has been fighting back a Saudi-led coalition with allied army troops and tribal fighters, fired a missile at the King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh on Saturday. Saudi Arabia said it intercepted the missile mid-air.

In a statement on Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition, claimed the Houthis were under Iran’s “direct command.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the coalition’s “destructive, irresponsible, provocative and baseless” allegation, saying Yemenis had shown an “independent” reaction to the Saudi military attacks on their country.

Iranian defense officials, too, denied the allegations, saying Iran had no means of transferring arms to Yemen.

Separately, in an interview with the US news network CNN on Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir repeated the accusation against Iran.

“It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah, from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen,” he claimed, adding that Saudi Arabia reserved the right to “respond in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time.”

That belligerent rhetoric has sparked speculation that Saudi Arabia may take military action against Iran.

Speaking in Damascus on Monday, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, advised Saudi authorities not to venture into crisis.

“Saudi Arabia’s government and its officials had better think of their interests more and not get themselves entangled in incidents of their own making,” Velayati said.

Israel teams up with Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, the Israeli regime, which has recently been jumping at opportunities to side with Arab countries against Iran, has reportedly instructed its embassies in other countries to lobby with their hosts against Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Monday that following Saad Hariri’s announcement of resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister, the Israeli foreign ministry had sent a directive to all of the regime’s embassies to appeal to their host countries to oppose the alleged involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon’s domestic politics.

Hariri, a long-time Riyadh ally, announced his resignation on Saturday in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia, in a move largely seen as made under Saudi influence. Hariri accused Iran and Hezbollah of meddling in Arab countries’ affairs. The Lebanese government has refused to consider his resignation, suggesting that a sovereign decision like that has to be made voluntarily.

The Israeli foreign ministry directive also urged Israeli ambassadors to convey a message of support for Saudi Arabia amid its war on Yemen, which has killed upward of 12,000 civilians and spread cholera and famine in the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

Full report at:



US ‘will not turn blind eye’ as Iran supplies missiles

8 November 2017

JEDDAH: The US accused Iran on Tuesday of breaking international law by supplying ballistic missiles fired at Saudi Arabia, and said the US would “not turn a blind eye to these serious violations.”

“By providing these types of weapons to the Houthi militias in Yemen, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is violating two UN resolutions simultaneously,” said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.

“We encourage the UN and international partners to take the necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable.”

Iran supplied missiles fired at Makkah in July, and most recently at Riyadh last Saturday. Both were launched from Yemen. The Houthis boasted on Tuesday that they had ballistic missiles with a range of 1,500km and threatened to attack more cities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Col. Aziz Rashed, an army spokesman with a Houthi-allied unit, warned travelers to stay away from Saudi and UAE airports. “All airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be a direct target of our weapons,” a Houthi spokesman told reporters in Sanaa, according to The Associated Press.

Haley has accused Iran in the past of illegal arms deals and military support in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, and has repeatedly called on the UN Security Council to take a tougher stance.

Under the UN Security Council resolution that enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country unless approved in advance by the Security Council.

A separate UN resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to militia chief Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, two Houthi commanders, Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his son, and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.”

Washington’s options now are to ask the Security Council’s 15-member Yemen sanctions committee to blacklist individuals or groups, or to seek a new Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Iran. The latter is likely to be vetoed by Russia, according to a Reuters report.

In a phone conversation on Monday night, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that the involvement of the Iranian regime in supplying Houthi militias with missiles “is considered a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime and may be considered an act of war against the Kingdom.”

Johnson condemned the missile launch against Riyadh last Saturday and the deliberate targeting of civilians, and said Britain stood with Saudi Arabia in confronting security threats.

The missile launch was “most likely a war crime,” Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, and was carried out by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said. “It was an Iranian missile launched by Hezbollah from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen,” Al-Jubeir said in an interview with CNN on Monday.

In the US, Pentagon spokesman Marine Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said Saudi Arabia had exposed Iran’s “malign role in Yemen” and its provision of dangerous missile systems to Houthi militants. “We continue to maintain strong defense ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and work together on common security priorities to include combat operations against violent extremist organizations, and neutralizing Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East region,” he said.

In Riyadh, Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak condemned the missile attack on the city. “This attack constitutes a serious escalation in the conflict and poses a growing risk to regional stability and security,” he said in a written statement to Arab News.

“The intentional targeting of civilians cannot be tolerated and Canada calls on the Houthi rebels and their supporters to refrain from such indiscriminate attacks against civilians in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said: “It is clear that the leadership in Tehran is shipping more advanced missiles to Houthi militias with the specific aim of targeting major Saudi cities, such as Riyadh.

“Iran is already banned from proliferating advanced missiles to regional terrorist organizations like Lebanese Hezbollah, but they continue to move these deadly weapon systems which are ultimately used as a terror weapon to target civilians. The Houthi militias are copying Hezbollah’s playbook. The only real solution is to neutralize the problem at its source — the missile shipping and manufacturing centers in Iran.”

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani “care little about UN Security Council Resolutions where they can count on the Russian veto,” Shahbandar said.

Full report at:





Al-Qaradawi calls for Islamic awakening

Nov 8, 2017

Muslim scholars should work to make the Muslim community strong again, says Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, in a scientific conference titled: "The pledge of the learned in the constants of Islam" in Istanbul on Monday.

"Islam has spread from the Arabian Peninsula to China, from the Samarkand to the Indian peninsula, Asia and Europe" in a short time. Now "it is our duty to restore the glory of the nation of Islam (Ummah) back to the level of those days, back to the days where the Muslims were rulers of the world. This is our promise to the Ummah" said al-Qaradawi.

The 5th Meeting of IUMS' Board of Trustees was attended by al-Qaradawi as well as Deputy Chairman of the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, Selim Argun, and other scholars from across the globe.

The scholars discussed the conflicts in the Islamic world and the role of Muslim scholars in solving these problems, calling for an awakening of the Muslim community.

Al-Qaradawi said the scholars had to work to make the Muslim community strong again.

"If we would summarize the message of Prophet Muhammad in one word, we would say it is 'mercy'. Mercy for all creation," he said, adding scholars who bear the message of Islam should pave the way for the Ummah and move it forward.

In the closing declaration, the union expressed its appreciation of the progress since its inception, calling for the continuation of the academic, scientific, awareness-raising and innovative message for the Islamic community.



Yemen rebels threaten to attack Saudi, UAE airports

November 07, 2017

Shiite rebels in Yemen threatened on Tuesday to attack ports and airports in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, raising the stakes in a flare-up between Riyadh and Tehran.

The threat came hours after Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince accused Iran of "direct military aggression" through its support for the rebels -- a claim Tehran rejected as "contrary to reality".

The soaring tensions between the key oil producers saw crude trading at close to two-year highs on Tuesday and spooked Gulf markets.

The rebels already showed on Saturday that despite a more than two-year Saudi-led bombing campaign, they retain missiles capable of striking targets deep inside the kingdom.

A rebel missile was intercepted and destroyed near Riyadh international airport -- the first to reach the Saudi capital -- with smouldering debris inside the perimeter underscoring the growing fallout for Saudi Arabia from its involvement in neighbouring Yemen.

"All airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be a direct target of our weapons, which is a legitimate right," the rebels' political office said in statement.

"We will not stand idly by -- we will seek more radical means to prevent both the tightening of the blockade and all acts aimed at starving and humiliating the people of Yemen."

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the two major powers in a coalition that has been fighting against the Yemeni rebels since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government.

Since Saturday's missile attack , the coalition has tightened its blockade of rebel-held areas of Yemen, blocking even UN-supervised relief supplies despite urgent appeals from the world body.

The coalition said its action was aimed at filling the gaps in inspection procedures that enable "smuggling of missiles and military equipment" to the rebels.

'Catastrophic' blockade

But the blocking of all relief supplies further threatens some seven million people already on the brink of famine and the UN urged the coalition to lift it as soon as possible.

"If these channels, these lifelines, are not kept open it is catastrophic for people who are already in what we have already called the world's worst humanitarian crisis," said Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) in Geneva.

OCHA said the coalition had also asked it to clear ships from the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida, the backbone of its humanitarian operations in Yemen.

It said it was in talks with the coalition to restore access as soon as possible.

Laerke said that in the immediate aftermath of the blockade, fuel prices in rebel-held areas had jumped by up to 60 percent and cooking gas prices had doubled.

Saturday's missile attack sparked a bitter war of words between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and predominantly Shiite Iran.

"The involvement of Iran in supplying missiles to the Huthis is a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime," the official Saudi Press Agency quoted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying.

This "could be considered an act of war," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif retorted that "the allegations by Saudi officials were contrary to reality", a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The rebels' threat of more missile attacks like that on Riyadh airport threatens to escalate the proxy conflict between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing sides in wars and power struggles from Yemen to Syria.

On Monday, the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen said it reserved the "right to respond" to the missile attack , calling it a blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which might amount to an act of war.

Oil was trading close to two-year highs on Tuesday as tensions soared between the key producers.

Six Gulf Arab bourses ended lower on the tensions and the Saudi market was down 2.9 percent in afternoon trade at levels last seen more than five months ago.

'Milking their country'

The tensions come as Saudi Arabia remains embroiled in the biggest purge of the kingdom's elite in its modern history.

Dozens of high-profile figures including princes, ministers as well as billionaire tycoon Al-Waleed bin Talal were swept up in the weekend purge -- just after an anti-graft commission headed by Prince Mohammed was formed.

US President Donald Trump voiced support for the crackdown late on Monday, saying that some of those arrested had been "milking their country for years".

The purge underscores an unprecedented restructuring of the kingdom as Prince Mohammed steps up a dramatic reform drive for a post-oil era while consolidating power before his eventual succession as king.

Full report at:



US accuses Iran of supplying Houthi missile to attack Saudi Arabia

8 November 2017

The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi militia with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two UN Security Council resolutions.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said information released by Saudi Arabia showed the missile fired in July was an Iranian Qiam, which she described as “a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict.”

Saudi-led forces, which back the government in neighboring Yemen, have been targeting the Iran-allied Houthis in a more than two-year war. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Tuesday described Iran’s supply of rockets to the Houthis as “direct military aggression” that could be an act of war.

Haley said that by providing weapons to the Houthis, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had violated two UN resolutions on Yemen and Iran. She said a missile shot down over Saudi Arabia on Saturday “may also be of Iranian origin.”

“We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations,” Haley said. It was not immediately clear what action the United States was calling for.

Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi echoed Haley’s call for UN action against Iran in a letter to the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres later on Tuesday, seen by Reuters.

He said the missile fired on Saturday “may amount to a war crime” and that Saudi Arabia was “taking appropriate measures to respond to these terrorist acts.”

Iran’s UN Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo also wrote to the Security Council and Guterres on Tuesday, rejecting the accusations by Saudi Arabia as “baseless and unfounded.”

“Iran calls for self-restraint and wisdom instead of provocation and threat that may bring further instability to this already volatile region,” Khoshroo wrote in the letter, seen by Reuters.

Under a UN resolution that enshrines the Iran nuclear deal with world powers, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country unless approved in advance by the UN Security Council.

A separate UN resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, two Houthi commanders, Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his son, and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.”

The United States could propose people or entities to be blacklisted by the Security Council’s Yemen sanctions committee, a move that would need consensus approval by the 15-members.

Full report at:



Assad's aide: US, Turkish troops presence on Syrian soil illegal

Nov 7, 2017

President Bashar al-Assad’s top aide has stressed that the presence of US and Turkish troops on Syrian soil is illegal and that will be dealt with invaders.

Bouthaina Shaaban, who made the remarks during a televised interview on Tuesday, also noted that the Syrian government would never give up on the city of Raqqah.

On October 17, the US-backed Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that it had defeated Daesh in Raqqah and three days later said that it had fully recaptured the city from the terror group, following a military operation, which was launched in July without Damascus’ approval.   

At the time, the US-backed SDF also said in a provocative statement that the city would be part of a system of “federal government” in the country’s north.

The Syrian military has not so far engaged the SDF, which has reportedly shelled the positions of government troops on several occasions in recent weeks.

Shaaban noted that the SDF should take what happened recently in Iraqi Kurdistan as  “a lesson."

On September 25, a referendum on secession of the Kurdistan region was held despite strong opposition from Iraqi authorities, the international community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Following the vote, Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

Full report at:



Yemen's Houthis threaten to hit ports, airports in Saudi Arabia, UAE

Nov 7, 2017

Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement, which aids the country's army in its fight against Saudi Arabia’s deadly military campaign, has threatened to launch more missile attacks on ports and airports in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in retaliation for the massacre of thousands of Yemenis.

“All airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be a direct target of our weapons, which is a legitimate right,” the Houthi political office said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We will not stand idly by, we will seek more radical means to prevent both the tightening of the blockade and all acts aimed at starving and humiliating the people of Yemen,” the statement added.

The development came a day after the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen announced that it had “decided to temporarily close all Yemeni air, sea and land ports.”

On Saturday, Yemeni forces, backed by popular Houthi fighters, had launched a Borkan H2 long-range missile at King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh, the first to reach the Saudi capital.

Saudi military authorities said at the time that the missile had been fired at an international airport by Houthi fighters, who have been on the forefront of fighting against the Saudi war machine since 2015, but was intercepted and destroyed.

The Houthi forces have launched a number of long-range missiles across the border in recent years. However, Saturday's strike appeared to be the deepest yet within Saudi territory.

In response to the unexpected Yemeni retaliatory missile attack, the Riyadh-led coalition announced on Monday that it would further tighten an already imposed blockade on the war-ravaged country by closing all land, air and sea ports in Yemen. The blockade even includes the United Nations-supervised relief supplies despite urgent appeals from the world body.

Saudi Arabia has also imposed a total embargo on Yemen, causing severe shortages of food and medicine. A recent cholera epidemic has been blamed on those shortages.

“If these channels, these lifelines, are not kept open it is catastrophic for people who are already in what we have already called the world's worst humanitarian crisis,” said Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office, OCHA, in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

Saudi war machine massacres people in Hajjah

Yemen’s al-Masirah television network reported that earlier on Tuesday Saudi warplanes had conducted nearly 20 airstrikes against residential areas in Haran district in Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah.

Initial reports said that at least 50 people, including women and children, were either killed or injured in the aerial aggression. Local sources also said that all members of a family lost their lives in the strikes.

Meanwhile, al-Masirah said in a separate report that at least 10 of the victims were medics who had gone to aid the wounded from the first airstrikes. Medical authorities in the area said the death toll would likely rise due to the severity of some of the injuries and the fact that there were people who might have lost their lives but whose bodies have not yet been recovered from the rubble.

Since March 2015, the Saudi regime has been heavily bombarding Yemen as part of a brutal campaign against its impoverished southern neighbor in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and crush Ansarullah, which is in control of large parts of Yemen, including the capital. The Saudi campaign, however, has failed to achieve its goals.

Over the past two years, Houthis have been running state affairs and defending Yemeni people against the Saudi aggression.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia bars former Yemeni president from returning home: Officials

Nov 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia has barred former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, along with his sons, aides and military officials, from returning to Yemen for months, informed Yemeni officials says.

On Saturday, The Associated Press cited the Yemeni officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that the ban was put in place as a result of the growing hostility between Hadi and the UAE, which has invaded southern Yemen as a key member of the so-called Saudi-led coalition in the ongoing war against the country.

The coalition has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

Thousands of people have been killed since the onset of the Saudi military campaign more than two and a half years ago, and most of the country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

For most of the war, Hadi and much of his government, which exerts control over Yemen’s southern areas, have been in the Saudi capital Riyadh. However, since the last time he left Yemen for Saudi Arabia in February, he has sent several written requests to Saudi King Salman to ask for permission to return, without receiving any response, a Yemeni security commander said.

According to the commander, Hadi even went to Riyadh airport in August to return to his self-declared capital, Aden, in southern Yemen, but he was turned back from the airport.

"The Saudis have imposed a form of house arrest on them," the unnamed commander said, adding, "When Hadi asks to go, they respond it's not safe for him to return as there are plotters who want to take his life and Saudis fear for his life."

Hadi is reluctant to defy Saudi Arabia, because he "does not want to lose the Saudis," the commander pointed out.

The passports of several of Hadi's officials were initially seized. Though they were later given their passports back, they still cannot leave Saudi Arabia, the commander said.

The report added that Saudi-led coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malaki, had referred any questions to officials in Riyadh while Hadi's cabinet officials were not accessible. 

Analysts maintain that Hadi’s authority is weakening amid the UAE’s growing power in southern Yemen, where it has been training, financing and arming militants who only answer to it. The Persian Gulf sheikhdom has also set up prisons and security apparatus parallel to Hadi’s government.

An earlier investigation by the AP in the summer documented 18 secret prisons in southern Yemen run by the UAE and its allies, which were notorious for widespread torture.

The UAE denied the allegations, saying all security forces were under Hadi's authority.

According to the informed Yemeni officials, the UAE distrusts Hadi, accusing him of corruption and opposing his alliance with the Islah Party, Yemen's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Full report at:



Iran: Saudi anti-Tehran allegations ‘baseless, unfounded’

Nov 8, 2017

Iran’s UN envoy has said that Saudi Arabia’s anti-Tehran allegations are “baseless and unfounded”, while calling on the global body to pressure Riyadh to stop threatening other countries with the military action.

Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Gholamali Khoshroo made the remarks on Tuesday in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the President of the Security Council.

“These provocative measures made by Saudi authorities have no propose but to divert public opinion away from Saudi Arabia’s criminal actions against Yemen,” he stressed.  

He added that Riyadh’s threats to use military force against a UN member is in clear defiance of the UN Charter.

Earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman alleged that Iran was involved in supplying weapons to the Houthis, which he said “is a direct military aggression” by Iran against Saudi Arabia.

The Houthi movement, which has been fighting back a Saudi-led coalition with allied army troops and tribal fighters, fired a missile at the King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh on Saturday. Saudi Arabia said it intercepted the missile mid-air.

In a statement on Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition, claimed the Houthis were under Iran’s “direct command.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry rejected the coalition’s “destructive, irresponsible, provocative and baseless” allegation, saying Yemenis had shown an “independent” reaction to the Saudi military attacks on their country.

Khoshroo further stressed that the Saudi are directly responsible for the deteriorating situation in Yemen due to their closing of all air, sea and land ports.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced that it was shutting down Yemen’s air, sea, and land border, after Yemeni fighters targeted the King Khalid International Airport.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have urged the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen to reopen the aid lifeline to bring imported food and medicine into the impoverished Arab country.

"We call for all air and sea ports to remain open to ensure food, fuel and medicines can enter the country," said Jens Laerke of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime. The kingdom has failed to achieve its objectives.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

Full report at:



Syria war not to end after recapture of Dayr al-Zawr: Assad

Nov 7, 2017

Syrian army soldiers and allied fighters will keep fighting terrorist groups in the country after the end of the battle in the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr, President Bashar al-Assad says.

“The victories against terrorist organizations, which started in [the northwestern province of] Aleppo and will not end in Dayr al-Zawr, have foiled plans to partition the country and prevented terrorists from achieving their goals," Assad said in a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in Damascus on Tuesday.

The Syrian army and allied fighters managed to retake full control over city of Dayr al-Zawr on November 3 in their latest push against Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

Damascus began the liberation operation two months ago and broke Daesh’s three-year-long siege of the government-held part of the city in September. Army troops have in recent days stepped up their gains in the city, going neighborhood to neighborhood after the remaining terrorists.

The recapture of Dayr al-Zawr from Daesh is yet another key defeat for the Takfiri outfit, which has lost most of the territory it seized during its rapid advances across Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad said the Syrian forces would target those who sought to “divide and weaken [regional] states.”

He emphasized that the Syrian army and allied forces were not engaged merely in a fight against terrorism, but also against the attempts to invest in and exploit terrorism with the purpose of dismembering and debilitating regional countries.

Assad affirmed that the hostile measures taken by some regional and Western countries “will not dissuade Damascus and Tehran from continuing cooperation to bolster stability in the region and defend the interests of its people.”

Syrians’ resistance crucial to security, political stability: Velayati

The senior Iranian official, for his part, said the Syrian people’s resistance and sacrifices during seven years of war have played a key role in restoring security and political stability to the Arab country.

“Today, the enemies of the resistance front are at their weakest compared to the past,” Velayati added.

He emphasized that the recent victories achieved by Lebanon and Syria against Daesh terrorists heralded greater achievements for the resistance front.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Damascus on Monday, Velayati said Iran and Syria had “fundamental” commonalities vis-à-vis the resistance front and shared the objective of safeguarding it in the Middle East.

“Iran and Syria aim to maintain the resistance front in the region and stand up against Zionism and its allies,” he said.

Full report at:



Turkish PM hails US visa move, calls for Gulen’s extradition

8 November 2017

ANKARA/ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday described the US’ move to partially resume issuing visas in Turkey as a positive step, but said Washington should extradite a cleric blamed for last year’s failed military coup in Turkey.

“The limited reissuing of visas between the United States and Turkey... prior to our visit can be seen as a positive development,” Yildirim told reporters before leaving for the US, where he is due to meet US Vice President Mike Pence.

The US said on Monday it would resume “limited visa services” in Turkey after getting what it said were assurances about the safety of its local staff. Washington halted issuing visas at its missions in Turkey last month, citing the detention of two local employees.

Turkey said it would match the move, relaxing a visa ban of its own that was instituted last month in retaliation against Washington. However, Yildirim reiterated Turkey’s stance that it had not offered assurances to Washington.

“Both countries are states of law, and procedures are being carried out in accordance with the law. Negotiations regarding the offering of assurances to the United States or vice-versa would breach the principles of laws of state,” he said.

In May, a translator at the US consulate in the southern province of Adana was arrested and, more recently, a US Drug Enforcement Administration worker was detained in Istanbul. Both are accused of links to last year’s coup attempt. The US Embassy has said the accusations are baseless.

Turkey has been angered by what it sees as US reluctance to hand over the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the coup. US officials have said courts require sufficient evidence to order his extradition.

Yildirim said Gulen’s extradition would be discussed during his visit, as well as the fate of some Turkish citizens arrested in the US — a reference to the wealthy gold trader who was arrested over Iran sanctions evasion last year and an executive at a state-owned bank arrested this year.

“We have strong evidence that Gulen was behind the July 15 coup attempt and we want his extradition. We want the concerns we have regarding the cases of our citizens arrested in the United States to be eased,” Yildirim said.

“They also have similar requests, and diplomatic channels are being used for discussions, we are both seeking a way out.”

Arrest warrants

A Turkish prosecutor has issued detention warrants for 53 active sergeants over alleged links to Gulen, state media said on Tuesday.

Twenty of the suspects have so far been detained in the operation across 12 provinces, state-run Anadolu Agency said. Thirty-three other soldiers were currently being sought, it said.

The Interior Ministry said on Monday that nearly 700 people had been detained over the previous week on allegations of ties to what Ankara calls the “Gulenist Terror Group.”

Full report at:



Turkey and Germany take steps to restore ties

8 November 2017

ANKARA: With relations between their countries at an all-time low in the run-up to Germany’s September elections, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel held a long-awaited one-to-one meeting on Nov. 4 in Turkey’s southern resort province of Antalya.

“I met my colleague Sigmar Gabriel informally to discuss bilateral relations; including the difficult issues and mutual expectations,” Cavusoglu tweeted after the meeting.

On Sunday, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told Turkish news channel NTV that Turkey is seeking good relations with Germany because “it is one of the most important countries of the EU.”

Kalin added that the arrests made Saturday during a pro-PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) rally in Dusseldorf were “a good but insufficient step. The German government needs to take more steps on counterterrorism.”

The outlawed PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU, has also been banned in Germany since 1993.

The main disagreements between Turkey and Germany center on Ankara’s accusing Berlin of tolerating the outlawed PKK members and their activities in its territories and of granting asylum to the Gulenists following the failed coup attempt last year.

Instead, Germany criticizes Turkey for arresting German nationals, including journalists and rights activists, without offering legitimate reasons.

Turkey recently released a German national, Peter Steudtner, who was accused of terror charges, as well as another German whose name has not been disclosed, and these have widely been seen as positive steps taken by Ankara to restore ties and dampen the crisis.

“Many were expecting that the German modus operandi toward Turkey would change after the elections — if Ankara would meet some of Berlin’s most pressing demands,” Magdalena Kirchner, Mercator-IPC fellow at the Istanbul Policy Center, told Arab News.

“The visit is a clear signal that the German government appreciated that, as Gabriel had said himself, ‘the Turkish government has kept all its promises’ regarding the release of Peter Steudtner in late October,” she added.

But, according to Kirchner, as about a dozen other German citizens are still detained in Turkey on terrorism-related and other charges, Cavusoglu and Gabriel might have looked at how to move on from this first successful step.

“Also for Ankara, maintaining a permanent dialogue despite ongoing coalition negotiations in Berlin and uncertainty over their exact outcome, is of high importance in terms of economic and security cooperation,” Kirchner noted.

“In order to revive at least a dialogue about the modernization of the EU customs union and reach a minimum of consensus on terrorism issues with Western partners, Berlin remains key for Ankara’s foreign policy. Therefore, it was also important that the meeting was aimed at reassessing bilateral relations beyond the case of German detainees.”

For Kirchner, the termination of election campaigning in Germany and the forthcoming end of Gabriel’s term as foreign minister — as soon as a new coalition government is formed in Berlin — have also helped to foster a better relationship between the two countries.

“Hence, he can take on to a certain extent the role of an ‘elder statesman,’ setting a more reconciliatory tone and preventing an all-too-bumpy start for the incoming government,” she noted.

During the election campaign, Gabriel had advocated against breaking off membership talks with Turkey, and reminded that Ankara was a key neighbor and a partner in the NATO alliance who could otherwise side with Russia.

Although denied by Ankara, Gabriel last month thanked former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who still maintains close contact with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for mediating for the release of German citizens detained in Turkey.

“While we certainly see a de-escalation of the tension between Germany and Turkey, this is not a sign of a return to the status quo ante as most of the problems that caused the crises are not addressed,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, who heads the German Marshall Fund in Ankara, told Arab News.

On the other hand, Unluhisarcikli says, Germany will probably refrain from doing everything it had talked about earlier primarily because some of these measures, such as suspending EU accession negotiations with Turkey, are not supported by a critical mass of EU member states.

Full report at:



South Asia


Attacks on mosques, worshippers soar in Afghanistan

November 08, 2017

KABUL - Religious attacks in Afghanistan have skyrocketed in the past two years with the Shia community the main target, the United Nations said Tuesday, days before a key event in the Muslim calendar.

Since January 2016 there have been 51 incidents resulting in 273 deaths and 577 wounded-nearly double the number of casualties for the previous seven years, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report.

The incidents involve attacks against mosques and worshippers as well as targeted killings, abductions and intimidation of religious leaders. “The unprincipled brutality of such attacks is reflected in the appalling human cost,” UNAMA said.

The extremist group Islamic State has claimed most of the attacks on Shia worshippers as it seeks to stir up sectarian violence in the country.

The UN called on the Afghan government to take “additional measures to protect all Afghans exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief, especially those vulnerable to sectarian attacks”.

“Attacks against Shi’a (Shia) Muslims and their places of worship may be expected to continue-or increase-if action is not taken,” the UN said.



Myanmar says UN move could harm talks with Bangladesh

8 November 2017

YANGON: Myanmar said on Wednesday that a UN Security Council statement on the Rohingya refugee crisis could “seriously harm” its talks with Bangladesh over repatriating more than 600,000 people who have fled there to escape a Myanmar military crackdown.

The Security Council had urged Myanmar, in a statement on Monday, to “ensure no further excessive use of military force” and had expressed “grave concern over reports of human rights violations and abuses in Rakhine State.”

Responding, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, whose less than two year-old civilian administration shares power with the military, said the issues facing Myanmar and Bangladesh could only be resolved bilaterally, a point she says was ignored in the Security Council statement.

“Furthermore, the (Security Council) Presidential Statement could potentially and seriously harm the bilateral negotiations between the two countries which have been proceeding smoothly and expeditiously,” Suu Kyi’s office said in a statement.

Negotiations with Bangladesh were ongoing it said, and the Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali had been invited to Myanmar from Nov. 16-17.

A sour note was struck over the talks last week, as Bangladesh officials voiced outrage over Suu Kyi’s spokesman casting suspicion that Bangladesh might drag its feet over agreeing to the repatriation process in order to first secure hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid money.

Speaking at a conference for Commonwealth countries parliamentarians in Dhaka on Sunday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for more international pressure on Myanmar.

“I would request all of you to discuss Rohingya issue with utmost priority and exert pressure on the Myanmar government to stop the persecution of its citizens and take them back at the earliest,” she said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to visit Myanmar on Nov. 15, with moves afoot in Washington to bring a bill calling for sanctions on Myanmar that specifically target the military and related business interests.

In a nod to China, the Myanmar statement said it appreciated the stand taken by some members of the Security Council who upheld the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries.

To appease council veto powers Russia and China, Britain and France dropped a push for the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the situation and the 15-member body instead unanimously agreed on a formal statement.

The United Nations has denounced the violence during the past 10 weeks as a classic example of ethnic cleansing to drive the Rohingya Muslims out of Buddhist majority Myanmar.

Rejecting that accusation, the military says its counter-insurgency clearance operation was provoked by Rohingya militants’ synchronized attacks on 30 security posts in the northern part of Rakhine State on Aug. 25.

Rohingya refugees say the military torched their villages, but the military say the arsonists were Rohingya militants. The refugees’ have given harrowing accounts of rape and murder. Myanmar says those accusations will have to be investigated.

Meantime, the exodus from Rakhine continues. Several thousand Rohingya reached Bangladesh last week, many of them wading through shallows on the Naf river on the boundary between the two countries, and some making a short, but perilous sea crossing in small boats.

On Tuesday, Bangladesh border guards told Reuters of at least two more boats reaching Cox’s Bazar, bringing 68 more Rohingya to join the hundreds of thousands who have taken shelter in refugee camps there.

Suu Kyi, a stateswoman lionized as a Nobel Peace Prize winner for defying the junta that ruled Myanmar for decades, has been pilloried abroad for not speaking out more forcefully to rein in the military.

Last week she went to Rakhine for the first time since the crisis erupted, and met with community leaders and saw what efforts were being made to deliver aid and return the region to some semblance of normality.

While she has spoken of plans to open repatriation processing centers, where the refugees will have to prove they were once resident in Rakhine before being allowed to return.

Having been classed as stateless by the military junta that ruled Myanmar for decades, Rohingya could struggle passing the repatriation test.

Full report at:



Islamic State forces attack TV station in heart of Kabul, leaving 2 dead

By Sayed Salahuddin

November 7, 2017

KABUL — A suicide attack by the Islamic State against one of Afghanistan’s most popular Pashto-language TV stations killed at least two people in the heart of the capital on Tuesday.

The bomber detonated his explosives at the gates of the building, killing one security guard, while one of the three assailants slipped into the compound and killed an employee. At least 20 people were injured in the attack.

The militants, who wore police uniforms, battled for three hours with security forces, forcing the station to halt its broadcast and filling Kabul with the sound of gunfire and explosions. Shamshad TV was back on the air within hours, however, with one presenter appearing with bandaged hands.

The Islamic State claimed the assault through its online Amaq News Agency.

It was the latest attack on Kabul, once largely untouched by the violence racking the rest of the country but now a frequent target. Attacks by the Taliban and the Islamic State have claimed 250 lives across Afghanistan in the past month alone.

“The majority of our colleagues managed to flee,” Shamshad TV director Abid Ehsas said in an interview with another station. “The number of wounded is high. Some were hurt by glass; some threw themselves off the building.”

He called it an attack on freedom of the press, adding that the station had not received any threats preceding the violence.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned the attack, calling it a “terroristic act against free press.”

Various media outlets — often accused by extremists of broadcasting racy music and other content they deem inappropriate — have come under attack by militants in recent years in Afghanistan.

The deadliest attack occurred two years ago when a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying employees of the popular Tolo TV, killing more than 12. The Taliban said the attack was intended to avenge accusations by the station that the group’s fighters had raped women during its assault on the northern city of Kunduz.

Like most local media, Shamshad TV airs anti-Taliban and anti-Islamic State public-service announcements.

The attack comes amid an escalation and expansion of violence in the country 16 years after Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes overthrew the Taliban government.

Separately on Tuesday, U.S. forces in the country announced that their investigation found no evidence that civilians were killed during airstrikes in Kunduz province last week.

Over the weekend, lawmakers from the region alleged that dozens of civilians, including women and children, had died in a joint U.S.-Afghan operation.

“The USFOR-A investigation was conducted independently and concluded that there were no civilian casualties. Specifically, no hospitals or clinics in the local area indicated treatment of people with wounds from armed conflict,” the U.S. forces said in a statement.

Full report at:



26 people including 5 foreigners held from Ukhiya Rohingya camps

November 07, 2017

Ukhiya police and local administration conducted a two-hour drive on Monday night

Police and local administration have detained 26 people, including five foreigners, from Rohingya camps in Ukhiya.

“They were nabbed on Monday when they were found roaming around the camps after 5pm, which is not allowed,” Ukhiya Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Nikar Uz Zaman said on Tuesday.

Five physicians – four British and a Chinese national – were released after signing bonds. “They were staying at the camp areas without taking permission from the concerned authorities,” the UNO said.

Ukhiya police and local administration conducted a two-hour drive at the camps on Monday night.

Eleven Bangladeshis and 10 Rohingya were also nabbed. Bangladeshi passports were found on six Rohingya men while four Bangladeshis were found illegally storing relief materials.

“Six Rohingya and four Bangladeshis were sentenced to various jail terms ranging from seven days to six months,” the UNO said.

The other 11 detainees were handed over to Ukhiya police station for further proceedings.

Full report at:



Deadly car bombing plot foiled in Kandahar city of Afghanistan

Nov 07 2017

A deadly car bombing plot was foiled by the Afghan security forces in Kandahar city in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said “Based on intelligence report, yesterday morning, General Command of Police Special Units carried out a security operation in Khosh Aab village, Daman district, southern Kandahar province.”

The statement further added “As a result, General Command of Police Special Units has seized a vehicle packed with explosives.”

According to MoI, the General Command of Police Special Units had prior information that a vehicle carrying explosives would enter the Kandahar city.

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

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

The growing insurgency in Kandahar comes amid deteriorating security situation in the key southern provinces including Helmand which lies close to Kandahar province.

Full report at:



ISIS military in charge killed in US drone strike in Nangarhar

Nov 07 2017

The military in charge of the ISIS terrorist group was killed in US drone strike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said the US forces conducted airstrike in Nazian district of Nangarhar on Monday, leaving at least two militants dead.

The statement further added that the military in charge of the terror group identified as Mawlavi Hashim Orakzai was also among those killed.

The airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Dowa Khola area of the district, the statement said, adding that no civilian or security personnel was harmed in the airstrike.

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

This comes as least seven militants affiliated with the terror group were killed in a similar operation in Nangarhar province on Sunday.

According to the local officials, the airstrikes were carried out in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of Achin district.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said Monday that the fighter planes targeted the ISIS hideouts in three different parts of the district on Sunday, leaving at least seven militants dead.

Full report at:



UN reports sharp increase in attacks on Shia mosques in Afghanistan

Nov 7, 2017

The United Nations says civilian casualties in sectarian attacks across Afghanistan, primarily against Shia mosques, have sharply risen over the past two years.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has documented 51 incidents of such attacks since January 2016. The attacks have claimed over 270 lives and left nearly 600 people injured. The figure is said to be nearly double the recorded figures for the previous seven years.

The latest deadly attacks were carried out three weeks ago at two Shia mosques, one in the capital Kabul and the other in the central province of Ghhor, killing at least 72 people.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against Shia Muslims, who accuse the government of ignoring their needs. The UN mission has recommended that the Kabul government take more serious measures in protecting people and places of worship from attacks.

Afghanistan is still suffering from insecurity and violence years after the US and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The military invasion removed the Taliban from power, but militancy still rages on in the country.

Full report at:



UNSC strongly condemns violence against Muslims in Myanmar

Nov 7, 2017

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has strongly condemned government-sanctioned violence against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority.

The UNSC expressed “grave concern” at the reports of human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State by the country’s security forces against the Rohingya in a unanimously-backed statement released Monday.

The statement cited “the systematic use of force and intimidation, killing of men, women and children, sexual violence and... the destruction and burning of homes and property,” as among those violations.

The UNSC also urged Myanmar’s government “to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine State” takes place. It called on Naypyidaw to protect the human rights of people “without discrimination and regardless of ethnicity or religion, including by allowing freedom of movement, equal access to basic services and equal access to full citizenship for all individuals.”

The statement is the strongest pronouncement by the Council on Myanmar in nearly 10 years. The UNSC, however, failed to adopt an enforceable resolution due to opposition by Myanmar ally China.

The statement also expressed “alarm at the significantly and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Rakhine State” and called on that the government to grant “immediate, safe and unhindered access to United Nations agencies and their partners” and other aid organizations.

Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Hau Do Suan, slammed the statement, saying, it had been “based on accusations and falsely claimed evidence.”

Myanmar’s government has been denying widespread reports and eyewitness accounts of horrific violence by government soldiers and Buddhist mobs against the Rohingya in Rakhine. That violence began late last year and intensified in August.

Myanmar brands the Rohingya Muslims in the country “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims, however, have had roots in the country that go back centuries. They are considered by the UN the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have so far fled the predominantly-Buddhist Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since August 25, when the crackdown on the Rohingya intensified in Rakhine.

The Monday statement by the UNSC also called on Myanmar’s government to work with Bangladesh and the UN “to allow the voluntary return of all refugees in conditions of safety and dignity to their homes in Myanmar.”

Full report at:





Nigeria police stage deadly attack on Shia mourners during Arba’een rituals

Nov 7, 2017

Nigerian security forces have opened fire on supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) during an annual religious procession in the country’s north, killing four people.

The attack took place on Sunday, when the IMN members were peacefully marking the Arba’een mourning rituals in the city of Kano.

Arba’een is the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), some 14 centuries ago.

Local residents and witnesses said that Nigerian police began firing tear gas followed by live bullets as supporters of the Shia Muslim group were marching from Kano to the city of Zaria in the neighboring Kaduna State, where their detained leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, has his headquarters.

Ten members of the movement were reportedly arrested following the Sunday procession.

Describing the incident as an “unprovoked attack,” IMN spokesman Yosuf Abdullahi said “a brother and two sisters” were among the victims who had been killed “by those constitutionally mandated to protect them.”

The spokesman said the deadly attack was “yet another atrocity against peaceful and defenseless citizens who used their fundamental freedom of religion and association violating no law.”

Kano police have strongly rejected using live bullets and killing any mourners.

In a similar attack last year, Nigerian armed forces opened fire on IMN’s followers, killing nearly 100 and injuring hundreds more in Kano, where Arba’een processions are annually held.

IMN’s followers have been subjected to a heavy-handed crackdown since two years ago when the army attacked a religious ceremony in their stronghold of Zaria in the north.

In December 2015, Nigerian forces raided the house of Sheikh Zakzaky and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him, including one of the movement’s senior leaders and its spokesman.

The Sheikh himself was shot seven times during the attacks and blinded in one eye and still remains in custody of the army with no charges filed against him.

The raid occurred a day after Nigerian soldiers attacked a group of Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city of Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to “assassinate” him, which the Shia Muslims strongly denied.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission released a report, saying the Nigerian army killed 348 Muslims during the attack on the religious ceremony.



Trade, Politics, Religion Draw Turkey to Sub-Saharan Africa

November 07, 2017

With more than three dozen embassies and billions of dollars in trade, Turkey has quietly built strong ties across Africa over the past decade. In September, the opening of a base in Somalia expanded that presence to include military power.

Turkey already had a long history of engagement with north African countries, said David Shinn, an adjunct professor at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. In 2016, Turkey conducted more than $10 billion in trade with Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.

What's new is the country's expansion into sub-Saharan Africa. Turkish Airlines now flies to more than 50 cities across the continent, and construction firm Yapi Merkezi is building a multibillion-dollar railway line across Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Turkey's connections to Africa focus mainly on economics, said Shinn, who believes Turkey is looking to expand its exports and increase direct investment through private companies.

Politics also figure prominently in the relationship. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made Africa a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

In an opinion piece published by Al-Jazeera last year, Erdogan said, "Many people in the world associate the African continent with extreme poverty, violent conflict and a general state of hopelessness. The people of Turkey have a different view. We believe Africa deserves better."

Shinn said that the new military base in Somalia —Turkey's first in Africa and the largest outside Turkish borders — shows an interest in projecting power and deepening strategic alliances.

Somali ties

Turkey's presence in Somalia dates back to the Ottoman Empire, when Turkish enclaves dotted the Somali coast.

Economics aren't driving Turkey's present interest — it's engaged in very little trade with the Horn of Africa nation, which has struggled with years of conflict, drought and food insecurity.

Instead, Somalia's proximity and overwhelmingly Muslim population make it an appealing partner, Shinn said. And Erdogan believes he can make a difference in Somalia.

On October 14, Somalia suffered the worst terrorist attack since at least 1997 when a truck bomb exploded in Mogadishu, the capital. More than 350 people were killed.

Turkey responded with immediate support and solidarity, condemning the bombing and airlifting injured survivors to a hospital in its capital, Ankara.

Days later, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire flew to Ankara to meet his counterpart, Binali Yildirim, and visit the victims.

"Turkey's help and support will be written in our history books, and we will never forget that," Khaire said at a press conference.

Turkey's recent presence in Somalia dates to 2011, when it became involved in various humanitarian and development programs in the midst of one of the country's worst droughts.

With a new military base just south of the Somali capital, Turkey will train thousands of Somali soldiers ahead of a planned withdrawal of AMISOM, the international peacekeeping force.

That could have a significant effect on the fight against al-Shabab, the extremist group most experts consider to be behind last month's attack.

Al-Shabab garners some support from its claim that it's fighting foreign invaders — most AMISOM soldiers are Christians from Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi, Serhat Orakci, an Africa expert with the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, told VOA.

Most Turks, in contrast, are Muslims like Somalis.

Gulen movement

Since 2015, Erdogan has visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. Along the way, he has asked — if not demanded — that the governments shut down their Gulen schools. These Islamic schools are named after Fethullah Gulen, a preacher and the founder of the Gulen movement.

The call for the closures is personal. Erdogan believes Gulen, who lives in the United States in self-imposed exile, was behind a July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Gulen denies involvement. More than 250 people were killed as plotters used aircraft and tanks to bomb Turkish institutions.

So far, Erdogan's requests have worked. At least six governments in Africa have complied with his demands to shutter the schools, despite their popularity.

Shinn doesn't see Turkey continuing to expand its presence in Africa, particularly after Erdogan leaves office. "I'm not convinced that any successor to Erdogan will have as much interest in Africa as he has demonstrated," Shinn said.

Even to maintain its presence, Turkey's economy must remain strong, Shinn added.

Full report at:



Tunisia’s Republican Party quits coalition government

07 November 2017

Tunisia’s Republican Party on Monday announced its withdrawal from the country’s ruling coalition government.

At a press conference held in capital Tunis, Republican Party Secretary-General Essam al-Shabbi said the party had withdrawn from the ruling coalition government and accepted the resignation of one of its members, Iyad al-Dahmani, who had served as a spokesman for the government.

The Republican Party, which bills itself as a “centrist” party, holds a single seat in Tunisia’s 217-member parliament.

Al-Shabbi attributed his party’s decision to “difficulties associated with working within a government dominated by two parties” -- a reference to the Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda parties, the country’s two main ruling coalition partners.

Tunisia’s two most influential political parties, the secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes party and the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Ennahda movement together hold 68 seats in parliament.



President declares state of emergency in central Sudan

07 November 2017

Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir on Monday announced a state of emergency in the central state of Gezira, 100 kilometers from the capital Khartoum.

In a presidential decree published by the Sudanese state news agency SUNA, Bashir also dissolved the state’s legislative assembly following longstanding disputes between members of the local parliament the state’s governor, Mohammed Tahir Ella.

Disputes escalated recently between the two sides after Ella sacked the speaker of parliament and other 20 parliamentarians following a vote of no confidence by parliament against him.

“The President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omar Bashir, has issued a presidential decree dismissing the Gezira legislative council and instructing relevant government bodies to take the necessary measures for the implementation of the decree,” the state news agency reported.

“The decree is pursuant to stipulation of Article 211 of the Sudan Interim Constitution for the year 2005 and to the Republican Decree issued by the President of the Republic today, Monday, declaring the State of Emergency in Gezira State,” it said.

Full report at:



Senegal: Road accident claims 25 Muslim pilgrims

07 November 2017

A road accident on Monday morning claimed the lives of 25 Muslim pilgrims in northwest Senegal.

The accident occurred between the villages of Kebemer and Sagatta, 154 kilometers (96 miles) from the capital Dakar, after a minicab and a bus collided, according to local news portal APS.

The passengers were all en route to the holy city of Touba, where over 3 million Muslims will converge tomorrow for the Grand Magal of Touba, the annual pilgrimage of the Senegalese Mouride Brotherhood, one of Senegal’s four Islamic sects.

The bus was trying to overtake another bus before colliding with the minicar, an eyewitness told the local press.

Over a dozen others injured are receiving treatment at the Amadou Sakhir Mbaye regional hospital in Louga.

Amadou Sakhir Mbaye, the father of the bus driver, who died in the accident, told Dakar TV station TFM that ice packs were rushed to the hospital morgue, as it is unable to contain all the victims waiting to be identified by relatives.

On the 18th day of the second month of the Islamic calendar, Muslim pilgrims flock to the city of Touba to celebrate the life and teachings of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the founder of the brotherhood. It is the largest Muslim gathering in West Africa and attracts over 3 million pilgrims every year from across the sub-Saharan region.

Visiting the city last week, President Macky Sall urged the pilgrims to be law abiding and peaceful.

Full report at:



North America


Trump says Saudi purge targets were ‘milking’ country

November 08, 2017

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump said he had “great confidence” in an anti-corruption sweep by Saudi Arabia that has seen dozens of high-profile political and business figures arrested.

“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!” added the US president, whose marathon Asia tour moves Tuesday to South Korea.

Saudi authorities have hinted they could widen the crackdown after princes, ministers as well as billionaire tycoon Al-Waleed bin Talal were swept up in a weekend purge - hours after an anti-graft commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established.

The purge underscores an unprecedented restructuring of the kingdom as Prince Mohammed steps up a dramatic reform drive for a post-oil era while consolidating power before his eventual succession as king.

The US and Saudi Arabia have historically enjoyed close ties, which Trump re-affirmed in May when he visited the country in his first foreign trip since taking office.

Trump spoke with King Salman by phone on Saturday, according to a readout from his office, in which he lauded the monarch and his son’s “recent public statements regarding the need to build a moderate, peaceful, and tolerant region” and urged the kingdom to choose Wall Street as a venue for the IPO of oil giant Aramco.



Britain's 'Jihadi Jack' could end up in Canadian hands after months in the custody of Kurdish militias

November 7, 2017

For two years, his tale has captivated Britain, the press inevitably dubbing him “Jihadi Jack.”

Jack Letts, a teenage convert to Islam from Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, traveled to Syria in 2014, ended up in the de-facto ISIL capital of Raqqa and was accused of joining the extremist group.

In the meantime, his parents were subjected to a unique criminal prosecution, charged with aiding a terrorist organization for trying to send their son £1,723 they hoped would help him escape.

Now it is possible Letts – who actually came to vehemently oppose the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to his parents – could end up in the hands of Canadian authorities.

Though rarely mentioned in British media, the 20-year-old is a joint U.K.-Canadian citizen, and once even had a Canadian passport.

He has been in the custody of Kurdish militias for five months, and they have said that parents John Letts – a Canadian native – and Sally Lane, a joint British-Canadian citizen, have proposed he be released to officials from this country.

In an exchange of emails with the National Post Tuesday, the couple said they are sending letters to Canadian MPs to lobby for action by this country, saying their son’s case has been poisoned in the U.K. by inaccurate news reporting and intolerant politicians.

Global Affairs Canada said it was prevented by privacy legislation from saying much about the case, but has its eyes on the situation.

“We are aware of these reports and closely monitoring the situation,” said Brianne Maxwell, a Global Affairs spokeswoman.

In the meantime, there is disagreement about his role in the region, and current condition.

Letts’ parents fear he is being tortured in a Kurdish jail they suspect is a “Guantanamo-style” black site for accused terrorists, while British authorities refuse to intervene.

They have not heard from him since July.

“Jack himself stupidly went to ‘see for himself what was going on,’ ” they wrote on their Free Jack Letts Facebook page. “While he is guilty of stupidity, he is not actually guilty of violence or any other offence…. He worked against IS with friends and colleagues for two years inside Mosul and Raqqa.”

In a statement that was first reported by the BBC, though, officials in the self-declared Kurdish region of northern Syria said he had been charged with being a member of ISIL, and strongly refuted any suggestion that he is being mistreated. Meanwhile, Letts is being investigated by “local and global anti-terror units,” they said.

“Jack Letts is a dual British-Canadian national who traveled to areas under the Islamic State (ISIS) control in Iraq and Syria in 2014,” noted Sinam Mohamad, European representative of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. “Jack Letts has been captured … in war zone area as a prisoner of war.”

His parents are trying to manipulate “facts and reality,” the statement alleged.

John Letts, a graduate of Trent University In Peterborough, Ont., actually met his wife in Canada and eventually moved with her to England, working for a time at Oxford University. He is an organic farmer known for his heritage flour. Sally is a book editor.

Their slide toward the war on terror began with Letts’ conversion to Islam at age 16, as he dropped out of school after being diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aided by a photographic memory, he managed to become almost fluent in Arabic within six months, his parents say.

He set off for the Middle East in 2014, first visiting Jordan, then heading to Kuwait. Lane says she took a call from him that September, saying “I’m in Syria,” before the line cut off.

He also appears to have spent time in Iraq, but even British police have admitted in writing there is no evidence he joined ISIL or committed terrorist acts, his parents say.

“He is a religious and idealistic young man who was outraged that nothing was being done to counter Assad’s repression in Syria, and wanted to see first hand ‘what was going on,’ help Syrians if he could … and learn more about Islam.”

The jihadi nickname, they note bitterly, was coined by a British journalist who also falsely reported that Letts told his mother he had joined ISIL.

But it all was enough that in 2016 the parents were arrested for aiding a terrorist group — trying to send money that was supposed to pay a smuggler to get their son out of ISIL territory — and actually held in jail for five days before getting bail. John Letts called that experience “the dark night of my soul.” The couple are still awaiting trial.

As for Jack Letts’ life in Raqqa, they say he was in hiding and had been imprisoned on several occasions for speaking out against ISIL, having quickly become disenchanted with the group.

He finally escaped on his own this May, only to be captured by the Kurdish YPG militia.

As well as announcing that Letts had been charged, the Kurdish authorities insisted he is being treated well and according to human rights requirements. They released what they described as a letter from Letts’ parents, saying the couple accepted the Kurds had a right to question suspected ISIL sympathizers.

“We also accept that Jack will need to be transferred into Canadian custody for questioning and may be arrested when he arrives in Canada,” the note said. “If he has committed any crimes, we believe he should face justice and explain his actions.”

Full report at:



Muslim mortgage kingpin led investigators on 'treasure hunt' for missing gold: Crown

Nov 07, 2017

A Toronto businessman accused of pocketing millions in fraudulent mortgages marketed to Muslims, emptied his accounts and led investigators on "a treasure hunt" to find nearly $2 million in gold bars, a federal prosecutor told a jury Tuesday. Six years later, where the bars have gone remains a mystery for authorities.

Crown attorney Damien Frost made his opening statement at the trial of Omar Kalair, dubbed the "Muslim Madoff" by homeowners who bought into his "Shariah-compliant" mortgages that left them thousands of dollars in the hole.

Kalair, 42, holds a graduate diploma in business, was once admitted to PhD program in economics, and has spoken at a number of international conferences on Islamic finance — once at Harvard University.

"The case we will present to you is about theft, fraud and money laundering,"  Frost told the 12-member jury (five women, seven men) and two alternate members on the first day of the trial.

Gold bought with company's last dollars: Crown

Prosecutors told a virtually empty courtroom that just days before Kalair's company, UM Financial, went into receivership, Kalair and Yusuf Panchbhaya, 59, agreed to purchase over $2 million in gold and silver bullion, bought with the last of the company's money. Panchbhaya was the chairman of a board of religious advisers who issued fatwas sanctioning the businesses mortgages as Islamic.

Kalair arrived alone Tuesday, wearing mostly black with a brown traditional cap, a poppy on the lapel of his jacket. For most of the day, he sat listening intently as the judge instructed the jury, breaking his stoic expression for just a moment looking bemused when a hunched-over Panchbhaya had fallen asleep.

Kalair and Panchbhaya have both pleaded not guilty to the charges laid by the RCMP in 2014, which include theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime.

In his opening statement, Frost told the jury they would hear from a retired ScotiaBank manager at the branch where Kalair inquired about purchasing $1 million in gold bars, and a bank employee who authorized the gold to be released, among others.

Fraud charges laid in 2014

The case against the accused began in 2011, when some 180 homeowners were left in the lurch. That's when a superior court judge placed UM Financial into receivership after it emerged that mortgage payments that were supposed to be remitted to the Central 1 Credit Union were in arrears. Central 1 Credit Union had extended millions of dollars in loans to UM Financial since 2004.

In the years leading up to the scandal, UM Financial had built up an estimated $32 million-portfolio of what were billed as Shariah-compliant mortgages. Some Muslim scholars hold that it is not permissible to charge or receive interest on loans according to Islamic law.

At the time, the company boasted it was "Canada's premier Islamic Financial Institution," at one point working towards an application for a Canadian bank licence — and was profiled on the business pages of some of the country's major newspapers.

But while technically interest-free, UM Financial charged a fee to its clients for its religiously-sanctioned mortgages — at a sum higher than what borrowers would usually pay at market rates.

Fast-forward to 2014, three years after the fallout with Central 1 Credit Union, the RCMP would lay fraud charges against both Kalair and Panchbhaya for allegedly pocketing $4.3 million in mortgage payments, as well as the purchase and disappearance of 32 kg of gold bars.

Kalair would eventually disappear, leading police to launch a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest, according to an RCMP news release. He turned himself in in March 2014.

Precious metals to be paid to 'unnamed clerics'

In outlining his case, Frost said Kalair purchased nearly $2 million in gold bars and over $300,000 in silver coins purportedly to pay the professional fees of Shariah scholars, chaired by Panchbhaya. That's despite the fact that for six years, from 2005 to 2011, not a single invoice had ever been issued for the religious advice, Frost told the jury Tuesday.

Those precious metals would end up in the hands of an individual named Joseph Adam, the Crown said.

Panchbhaya designated Adam the Shariah board's manager of finance, authorizing him to take possession of the gold and silver to be paid to "unnamed clerics."

Full report at:



'No evidence' of civilian casualties in Afghan op: US

November 08, 2017

KUNDUZ - US Forces said Tuesday they had found no evidence of civilian casualties caused by an airstrike in Afghanistan during a joint operation last week, contradicting claims by officials and residents.

Kunduz provincial governor Asadullah Omarkhail told AFP on Tuesday that one civilian had been killed and six wounded in an airstrike in the northeastern province, reaffirming his earlier toll.

But US Forces said an independent investigation into the incident had found "no evidence of civilian casualties ".

"The USFOR-A investigation was conducted independently and concluded that there were no civilian casualties ," it said in a statement. "Specifically, no hospitals or clinics in the local area indicated treatment of people with wounds from armed conflict." US Forces confirmed it had conducted operations in the area and that "numerous enemy combatants were killed".

That contrasts with various accounts in Kunduz that several civilians had been killed or wounded in the attack.

A villager in Char Dara district, which was targeted by the airstrike, put the civilian death toll at 11.

A hospital in the provincial capital of Kunduz said six wounded had been brought to the facility for treatment.

Provincial council member Khosh Mohammad told AFP 13 civilians had died.

Civilian casualties from airstrikes - a politically sensitive issue in Afghanistan - have surged this year as the United States intensifies aerial bombardments and Afghanistan's fledgling air force carries out its own bombings.

US aircraft dropped 751 bombs and missiles on Taliban and Islamic State militants in September, up 50 percent from August and the highest since October 2010, according to US Air Forces Central Command data.

Full report at:



NATO to agree to send more troops to Afghanistan

November 07, 2017

NATO allies are set to agree on Thursday to increase by some 3,000 personnel the troop levels for the alliance’s Afghanistan training mission, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

About half the additional troops will come from the United States and the other half from non-US NATO allies and partner countries, Stoltenberg said.

“We have decided to increase the number of troops ... to help the Afghans break the stalemate,” Stoltenberg told a news conference on Tuesday before a meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers later this week.

Stoltenberg stressed the soldiers would not have combat roles but would be part of NATO’s train, advise and assist mission called Resolute Support.

US Army General John Nicholson, the commander of the Resolute Support mission and of US forces in Afghanistan , called for more troops in February, saying that a few thousand more troops would make a difference in weakening the Taliban and other Islamist militants.

The NATO contribution would take Resolute Support, which is building up Afghanistan’s army and air force, to around 16,000 troops , up from around 13,000 today, Stoltenberg said.

Under a new strategy announced by US President Donald Trump , US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in September that more than 3,000 additional US troops will be deployed to Afghanistan .

Full report at:




New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism