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Islamic World News ( 8 Sept 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Europe Should Brace For Flood of ‘Hardened’ ISIS Fighters, US Says


















FBI Director James Comey told a gathering of intelligence officials Thursday that the collapse of the Islamic State would send hundreds of its fighters to Europe. Jose Luis Magana AP

 

Violence Soars in Nigeria as Rival Boko Haram Gangs Go to War

Arab Unanimity against Iran’s Politicization of Hajj, Baghdad Stands out

Another Major Gathering of Muslim Leaders in Indonesia Denounces Extremism and Promotes Peace

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Europe

Europe Should Brace For Flood of ‘Hardened’ ISIS Fighters, US Says

Canada drops the name ISIS as it is not state or Islamic

IS Territory Loss Could Heighten Risk of Attacks in Europe

Dutch police and tax authorities raid Islamic cash-laundering network

Poland Arrests Four Russians for Links to ISIS

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Africa

Violence Soars in Nigeria as Rival Boko Haram Gangs Go to War

Christianity in Africa Threaten by Rise of Militant Islam

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Arab World

Arab Unanimity against Iran’s Politicization of Hajj, Baghdad Stands out

ISIS Video Shows Child Soldiers in Combat Training for Battle against US, Allied Forces

Iranian Kurdish fighters trained by US military against ISIS

Haj Pilgrims Get ID Bracelets After Deadly Stampede

Saudi foreign minister: We’ve good ties with Kurds in Iraq

Iran wants to see trouble at Haj, says minister

Eritrea junks Iran lies on Yemen war

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Southeast Asia

Another Major Gathering of Muslim Leaders in Indonesia Denounces Extremism and Promotes Peace

ISIS Aid Future Possibilities in Malaysia

De facto leader Suu Kyi gives cause for real hope

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South Asia

In Myanmar, Refugees from Muslim-Buddhist Conflict Remain In Limbo

8 Killed, 14 Wounded In Rocket Attack in North of Afghanistan

Ghani warns to close transit route for Pakistan to Central Asia

Gen. Raziq joins Afghan forces in the front line in Uruzgan province

Afghanistan-Iran railway construction kicks off near Herat

Asylum claim knocked back after Facebook check revealed 'inconsistency'

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India

India-ASEAN Committed To Combat Terrorism in All Its Forms

Muslims Join Hindus in Special Ganesha Puja

Muslim Cop Installs Idol at Mahatma Phule Police Station

Observe Rules of Goat Sacrifice: Muslim Leaders to Community

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North America

Clinton Claims ISIS Is Praying To Allah, Asking Him to Please 'Make Trump President of America'

Growing up Muslim in post 9/11 America inspired this Riverside man to help others

For many Muslim Americans, fitting in can be a struggle

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Pakistan

'1.8m Children Still Out Of School in Balochistan'

Partnership with India on Nuclear Safety Proposed

Pushing India into NSG at Pakistan’s expense counterproductive

Pakistan responds after Modi’s veiled attack; accuses India of financing terrorism on its soil

Up to 20 US Marine personnel face action in Pakistani-American recruit's death

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Mideast

Turkey, US Talk Raqqa, Mosul to Vanquish ISIL

No Syria Plan without Turkish Consent Possible After Jarablus Operation: Erdoğan

Turkish soldiers return fire on YPG militants: Military officers

Erdoğan, Putin agree to push for Aleppo cease-fire

Rocket projectile fired from Syria hits border province of Kilis

EU-Turkey discord continues over aid to Syrians

State fund takes control of Koza-İpek Holding’s 18 companies in failed coup attempt probe

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/europe-should-brace-for-flood-of-‘hardened’-isis-fighters,-us-says/d/108517

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Europe Should Brace For Flood of ‘Hardened’ ISIS Fighters, US Says

Friday, September 9, 2016

The likely collapse of the Islamic State caliphate in Iraq and Syria will deal a mighty blow to the terror group but may scatter “hundreds of hardened killers” into Western Europe, top Obama administration officials said Thursday.

The likely dispersal of the terrorists makes the sharing of intelligence between Western Europe and the United States ever more essential, the officials said.

Allied forces are “getting close” to launching an assault to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and an Islamic State stronghold, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent R. Stewart, a Marine Corps lieutenant general, told the 2016 Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington.

“I would imagine that the operation will unfold sometime in the next two, three months,” Stewart said, adding that “a long and difficult battle” may unfold in the city itself.

Ejecting Islamic State fighters from the largest population center they control in Iraq and Syria may have serious knock-on effects as their caliphate, or religious state, collapses.

 “The threat that I believe will dominate the next five years for the FBI will be the impact of the crushing of the caliphate, which will happen,” FBI Director James Comey said at the forum, which was sponsored by two associations of professional intelligence officials. “But through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of hardened killers who are not going to die on the battlefield.”

A huge number of them are going to flow to Western Europe, Comey said, where they will plot the types of terror attacks that hit central Paris last November, killing some 130 people, and in Brussels in January, leaving 35 dead and 300 or so wounded. Some will try to come to the United States, he predicted.

Full report at: miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article100733347.html--

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Violence Soars in Nigeria as Rival Boko Haram Gangs Go to War

SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

Boko Haram is at war with itself. Reports are surfacing from Nigeria’s remote northeast that rival factions of the Islamic State affiliate, one loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau and another loyal to newly-minted leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi, have begun engaging in fatal clashes in rural areas.

Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reports that villagers near the Lake Chad area of Borno state are reporting having to flee from their homes in fear as Boko Haram terrorists fight each other. According to Vanguard, “several fighters from Shekau’s camp were said to have been killed in two separate gun battles with IS-backed Barnawi gunmen in the Monguno area of Borno state near Lake Chad” on Thursday.

The newspaper cites a witness testimony taken by the Agence France-Presse. A man named Mele Kaka told the agency that the Barnawi loyalists were the ones to attack first, forcing civilians in the village of Yele to flee. “In Yele, the assailants killed three people from the Shekau camp, injured one and took one with them, while several were killed in Arafa,” he said. “The Barnawi fighters told villagers after each attack that they were fighting the other camp because they had derailed from the true jihad and were killing innocent people, looting their property and burning their homes.”

Full report at: breitbart.com/national-security/2016/09/08/violence-soars-nigeria-rival-boko-haram-gangs-go-war/

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Arab Unanimity against Iran’s Politicization Of Hajj, Baghdad Stands out

September 9, 2016

Cairo-An extraordinary consultative meeting held by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Thursday ended with a statement supported by all Arab countries, expect for Iraq, in which the ministers condemned Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s hostile verbal attack against Saudi Arabia and its leaders to politicize the Hajj pilgrimage.

The statement condemned the abusive and disgraceful statements uttered by an Islamic leader whose comments were not consistent with the reality on the ground and the great efforts being exerted by the Saudi government under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud towards Islam and Muslims as well as pilgrims.

The Arab ministers said Saudi Arabia’s projects should be “worthy of praise, appreciation and gratitude, not slander and discredit.”

The ministers reiterated that the Saudi government was the only competent authority to organize the Hajj, serve the pilgrims and ensure their comfort and security to perform their rituals with ease and tranquility without any outside interference.

The Arab Ministerial Council said it absolutely rejects the use of the ordinances of Islam to stir up sectarian strife to achieve political goals, especially during the Hajj season.

It added: “The accusations, allegations and tendentious campaigns being carried out by Iran fully contradict the values and principles of Islam… and don’t serve a constructive relationship among Islamic countries.”

A dispute emerged between Riyadh and Tehran after Iran’s supreme leader attacked Saudi Arabia’s management of the Hajj pilgrimage.

During the Arab meeting, Saudi Ambassador to Egypt and the Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Ahmed Abdulaziz Qattan described Khamenei’s statements as a “sectarian disgrace.”

The ambassador said that Saudi Arabia could have replied to the hostile comments of “the so-called supreme leader of Iran.” However, he said, the Kingdom respects the ethics of Islam and refuses to use such rhetoric.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the Arab Parliament Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Jarwan said Saudi Arabia had offered Iran several invitations but that Tehran decided to carry out its crabby sectarian plan.

Source: english.aawsat.com/2016/09/article55358048/arab-unanimity-irans-politicization-hajj-baghdad-stands

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Another Major Gathering of Muslim Leaders in Indonesia Denounces Extremism and Promotes Peace

Sep 9, 2016

For the second time in four months hundreds of Muslims leaders from around the globe have gathered to renounce extremism and promote Islamic notions of peace and tolerance. More than 300 leaders from 33 countries – including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia – met in Indonesia on 9-10 May at the invitation of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Islamic organization that claims 50 million members. The event was attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, as well as Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who said the purpose was to ‘correct the misinterpretation [of jihad and] … produce the solution to curb radicalism in the form of terrorism, wars and conflicts’. The summit resulted in a Jakarta Declaration that called for religious groups and heads of state across the globe to remove the perceived connection between religion and extremist ideologies leading to terrorism. Nahdlatul Ulama – a hybrid religious, political, and charitable organization – emphasizes Indonesia’s long tradition of religious pluralism and tolerance of local culture. Its leaders say this approach, which emphasizes a liberal and peaceful brand of Islam, could serve as a new paradigm for conflict areas around the world.

This past January about 200 Muslim religious leaders, politicians, activists, and scholars from over 120 nations met in Morocco for a conference on similar themes. The resulting Marrakesh Declaration renounced the ‘use of violence and armed struggle as a tool for settling conflicts…[and] all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denigration of what people hold sacred’. It also called upon all Muslim-majority countries to promote just treatment of religious minorities, including Christians, and to ‘fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World’. The declaration noted this was in line with the principles articulated in the Charter of Medina, a contract between the Prophet Muhammad and religious minorities 1,400 years ago that ‘guaranteed the religious liberty of all, regardless of faith’. Participants also affirmed that the framework presented by the Charter of Medina was in harmony with the national constitutions of many Muslim-majority countries, the United Nations Charter, and documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Source: nifcon.anglicancommunion.org/media/258222/NIFCON-Digest-3-2016.pdf

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Europe

Europe should brace for flood of ‘hardened’ ISIS fighters, US says

Friday, September 9, 2016

The likely collapse of the Islamic State caliphate in Iraq and Syria will deal a mighty blow to the terror group but may scatter “hundreds of hardened killers” into Western Europe, top Obama administration officials said Thursday.

The likely dispersal of the terrorists makes the sharing of intelligence between Western Europe and the United States ever more essential, the officials said.

Allied forces are “getting close” to launching an assault to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and an Islamic State stronghold, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent R. Stewart, a Marine Corps lieutenant general, told the 2016 Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington.

“I would imagine that the operation will unfold sometime in the next two, three months,” Stewart said, adding that “a long and difficult battle” may unfold in the city itself.

Ejecting Islamic State fighters from the largest population center they control in Iraq and Syria may have serious knock-on effects as their caliphate, or religious state, collapses.

BEING EQUIPPED FOR THE PARIS/BRUSSELS-TYPE ATTACKERS FLOODING TO WESTERN EUROPE . . . TO MAINTAIN ISIL’S CRED IN THE GLOBAL JIHAD WORLD IS GOING TO DOMINATE OUR LIVES.

James Comey, FBI director

“The threat that I believe will dominate the next five years for the FBI will be the impact of the crushing of the caliphate, which will happen,” FBI Director James Comey said at the forum, which was sponsored by two associations of professional intelligence officials. “But through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of hardened killers who are not going to die on the battlefield.”

Full report at:mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article100732417.html

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Canada drops the name ISIS as it is not state or Islamic

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Canadian government will no longer call the Islamic State (IS) militant group with its name but will opt to use the Arabic acronym Daesh, which is also considered to be a derogatory term, the state-owned The Canadian Press reported on Tuesday.

Daesh stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the militant group’s former name before launching its more supposed grandiose name the IS.

The change in name by Canada came into effect in a report on terrorism released last month by the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who said ISIL is neither Islamic nor a state and that the report would instead use Daesh.

Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defense also say they are both adopting Daesh to refer to the militant group.

Canada’s decision follows what other Western governments have also opted for. Both France and the United Kingdom are among those that have adopted Daesh in recent years.

In late 2014, the former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said : “This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.”

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/variety/2016/09/08/Canada-drops-the-name-ISIS-as-it-is-not-state-or-Islamic.html

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IS territory loss could heighten risk of attacks in Europe

Friday, September 9, 2016

Many fighters who don't die on the battlefield will seek to return to their home countries to launch IS-inspired attacks, CIA Director John Brennan said in Washington on Thursday. Meanwhile FBI Director James Comey said that if the IS caliphate is crushed, many surviving militants could flow into western Europe and aim to duplicate the Paris and Brussels attacks.

A breakup of the so-called Islamic State could send hundreds of sympathizers underground around the world, lying quietly in wait for years to build new networks and plot attacks, Brennan said."The threat that I believe will dominate the next five years for the FBI will be the impact of the crushing of the caliphate," or the IS group, said James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That will release "hundreds of hardened killers" into the general population, many of them going north to hide in Europe, he predicted. "We are facing this 'going dark' phenomenon where we cannot see these people," he said.

US anti-terror officials said on Thursday that the country has become hardened against well-developed plots but remains as vulnerable as ever to small and especially home-grown attacks.

The self-styled Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda are now hidden by less centralized networks and new communications technologies, they say.

"Our job is getting harder," said Nick Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The widening of ways extremists can communicate with each other, many of them via popular smartphone apps and easy access to powerful encryption, "gives them the edge" against the US intelligence community, he said.

 türkische Armee Soldat neben Panzer

IS has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, while Al-Qaeda still exists without former leader Osama bin Laden, via affiliates, spinoffs. Rivals of both groups operate from the Philippines to West Africa and posing a more complex threat, Rasmussen said.

"The reality is that it has metastasized" from the Iraq-Syria region, said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University. "The threat persists and is in some cases more complex."

A series of surprise attacks have placed "HVEs" - homegrown violent extremist - as much in the focus of intelligence agencies as threats from abroad.

The George Washington University Program on Extremism counts 102 people who have been charged in the United States with offenses related to the Islamic State group, many of them lured online.

A 29-year-old American of Afghan descent believed to hold radical Islamic sympathies shot dead 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub in June. In December, a US-born man and his wife, both with Pakistani roots, killed 14 at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.

Source: dw.com/en/is-territory-loss-could-heighten-risk-of-attacks-in-europe/a-19538124

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Dutch police and tax authorities raid Islamic cash-laundering network ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN

SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

Police and Tax investigators raided the al Fitrah mosque and eleven more buildings in Utrecht, Tilburg, Brabant, the Hague, Nieuwegein, and Zuid-Holland on Thursday in an anti-money laundering operation.

Prosecutors believe that a network of mosques, educational and charity institutions are a front for large scale money laundering.

Hundreds of thousands of in-cash contributions from the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern states are channeled through the network and part of the funds is remitted abroad. The operation is run by a family network led by Tilburg imam Ahmad Salam and his two sons; there is also a fourth suspect.

There is no statement from the public prosecution as yet.

Source: neweurope.eu/article/france-italy-france-spearhead-european-defense-community/

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POLAND ARRESTS FOUR RUSSIANS FOR LINKS TO ISIS

9/9/16

Poland has arrested four Russian nationals suspected of helping fund militant group Islamic State (ISIS) and entering Poland illegally, national public broadcaster Radio Poland reports.

The group, who were identified as residents of Russia’s predominantly Muslim Chechen Republic, were charged by a district court in Poland’s city of Bialystok, though all four deny the allegations.

The group, whose first name and surname initials were given as “Taus G., Zaur G., Alvy I. and Shamkhan A.” did not have Polish residencies or visas.

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They are alleged to have operated on Polish soil as fundraisers and sometime recruiters for criminal groups, including ISIS, since October 2014. Their network allegedly spanned several Polish cities, including Warsaw, and reached as far as Turkey. They are also alleged to have handled over 8,000 euros as part of their activities.

The group is also suspected of sending items such as backpacks and tactical scopes to groups in Syria and Iraq, as well as helping in treating a wounded member of a jihadist group. If found guilty,  the four men could face up to 12 years in jail.

Source: newsweek.com/poland-arrests-four-russians-links-isis-496850

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Africa

Violence Soars in Nigeria as Rival Boko Haram Gangs Go to War

SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

Boko Haram is at war with itself. Reports are surfacing from Nigeria’s remote northeast that rival factions of the Islamic State affiliate, one loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau and another loyal to newly-minted leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi, have begun engaging in fatal clashes in rural areas.

Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reports that villagers near the Lake Chad area of Borno state are reporting having to flee from their homes in fear as Boko Haram terrorists fight each other. According to Vanguard, “several fighters from Shekau’s camp were said to have been killed in two separate gun battles with IS-backed Barnawi gunmen in the Monguno area of Borno state near Lake Chad” on Thursday.

The newspaper cites a witness testimony taken by the Agence France-Presse. A man named Mele Kaka told the agency that the Barnawi loyalists were the ones to attack first, forcing civilians in the village of Yele to flee. “In Yele, the assailants killed three people from the Shekau camp, injured one and took one with them, while several were killed in Arafa,” he said. “The Barnawi fighters told villagers after each attack that they were fighting the other camp because they had derailed from the true jihad and were killing innocent people, looting their property and burning their homes.”

The in-fighting appears to have triggered a minor wave of surrenders. Bloomberg reports Thursday that Nigerian police made public the surrender of 18 Boko Haram terrorists. “They are under custody of Monguno command and we believe the dual battle between Albarnawi and Shekau’s camps may have compelled them to sneak out and surrender,” anti-Boko Haram vigilante Ali Mohammed confirmed. Vanguard also notes the surrender of a high-profile Boko Haram supporter, Muhammed Bulama, who worked raising cattle to sell to fund the terrorist group’s activities.

The conflict within the group appears to have arisen from an Islamic State publication. Boko Haram became an official wing of the Islamic State — renaming itself the Islamic State West Africa Province — in April 2015. Leader Abubakar Shekau had remained in captivity since then, making few recordings for the public, until August, when an official Islamic State publication referred to Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the “governor” of the West Africa Province. Some outlets have identified al-Barnawi as the son of Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram. Shekau took over when Yusuf was killed in 2009, turning Boko Haram into the internationally-recognized terror syndicate it is today.

In the publication referring to al-Barnawi as “governor,” the new leader argues against some of the terrorist tactics that made Shekau’s Boko Haram famous, particularly the indiscriminate use of suicide bombers to target mosques and marketplaces where Muslims can be killed. He made clear the new aim of Boko Haram would be “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that [they] are able to reach, and killing all of those who [they] find from the citizens of the Cross.”

Shekau responded to the interview by releasing an audio message in the Hausa language, in which he asserted that he was “still around” and that “We will never cause any discord among the people, we will live by the Koran.” He also said of those who worked to turn Boko Haram into an Islamic State wing, “they deceived me.” “And now I find myself being forced to follow another character who practices disbelief,” he laments, apparently referring to ISIS caliph Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi.

Source: breitbart.com/national-security/2016/09/08/violence-soars-nigeria-rival-boko-haram-gangs-go-war/

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Christianity in Africa Threaten by Rise of Militant Islam

Friday, September 9, 2016

As the world focusses on potential military advances against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it risks overlooking another vast region where militant Islam is a growing threat to the Church - in the continent where the Church is growing fastest: Africa.

Amongst other factors, the chaos in Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi – characterised by easy access to weapons of all sorts combined with the increasing presence of jihadists – has had a spill-over effect into Africa’s vast Sahel region. This spans the African continent from Senegal in the west to western Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east. (The ‘Sahel’ describes the ecological and geographic region between the Sahara Desert and the humid and fertile savannah belt north of Africa’s tropical rainforest).

The most dramatic example of this Islamist militancy is in northern Mali, where Islamist militants and foreign fighters made common cause with Tuareg rebels to take over a large portion of the country in 2012. For most of the year, until the French military were forced to intervene, armed Islamist groups ruled the region, banning the practice of other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship.

Source: worthynews.com/24561-christianity-africa-threaten-rise-militant-islam

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Arab World

Arab Unanimity against Iran’s Politicization Of Hajj, Baghdad Stands out

September 9, 2016

Cairo-An extraordinary consultative meeting held by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Thursday ended with a statement supported by all Arab countries, expect for Iraq, in which the ministers condemned Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s hostile verbal attack against Saudi Arabia and its leaders to politicize the Hajj pilgrimage.

The statement condemned the abusive and disgraceful statements uttered by an Islamic leader whose comments were not consistent with the reality on the ground and the great efforts being exerted by the Saudi government under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud towards Islam and Muslims as well as pilgrims.

The Arab ministers said Saudi Arabia’s projects should be “worthy of praise, appreciation and gratitude, not slander and discredit.”

The ministers reiterated that the Saudi government was the only competent authority to organize the Hajj, serve the pilgrims and ensure their comfort and security to perform their rituals with ease and tranquility without any outside interference.

The Arab Ministerial Council said it absolutely rejects the use of the ordinances of Islam to stir up sectarian strife to achieve political goals, especially during the Hajj season.

It added: “The accusations, allegations and tendentious campaigns being carried out by Iran fully contradict the values and principles of Islam… and don’t serve a constructive relationship among Islamic countries.”

A dispute emerged between Riyadh and Tehran after Iran’s supreme leader attacked Saudi Arabia’s management of the Hajj pilgrimage.

During the Arab meeting, Saudi Ambassador to Egypt and the Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Ahmed Abdulaziz Qattan described Khamenei’s statements as a “sectarian disgrace.”

The ambassador said that Saudi Arabia could have replied to the hostile comments of “the so-called supreme leader of Iran.” However, he said, the Kingdom respects the ethics of Islam and refuses to use such rhetoric.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the Arab Parliament Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Jarwan said Saudi Arabia had offered Iran several invitations but that Tehran decided to carry out its crabby sectarian plan.

Source: english.aawsat.com/2016/09/article55358048/arab-unanimity-irans-politicization-hajj-baghdad-stands

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ISIS Video Shows Child Soldiers in Combat Training for Battle Against US, Allied Forces

September 9, 2016

The Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria is increasing its use of child soldiers as more of its adult jihadis are killed off, a newly released video of the "cubs of the Caliphate" reveals.

In the video, which has been re-posted by The Mirror, children are seen in combat training at undisclosed locations.

Amid reports that IS is losing ground to allied forces in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group has released the video to display the influence they have over young boys who are being trained to serve as soldiers and suicide bombers.

Military experts have condemned IS' strategy on a number of occasions.

"There is nothing more despicable than hiding behind human shields of women and children and forcing children to fight for you," Colonel Richard Kemp, former head of British forces in Afghanistan, said according to The Mirror.

"Yet these are the standard cowardly tactics of Islamic State and their jihadist bedfellows," he added.

"We will see the Islamic State thrusting more and more children into the front line as their adult recruits are wiped out and Western governments become increasingly effective at stopping their citizens from traveling to join the jihad," Kemp said.

Other groups, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, have published several reports documenting the use of the so-called "Cubs of the Caliphate." The recruitment drive was especially strong in 2015, with as many as 400 children being recruited by IS in Syria between January and March alone.

Charlie Winter, researcher at the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, said it would not be correct to think of the children is willingly joining the jihadists, however.

"Even if they have the perception of choice, it's not choice. If you're a minor and being indoctrinated from a very young age, you don't have the power to make a serious choice. I think that it's certainly worth considering more robustly that people are being groomed," Winter said at the time.

IS has sought to justify its use of child soldiers by arguing that such practices are consistent with the Islamic prophet Muhammad's teachings and the Muslim way of life.

IS' Dabiq magazine has in the past acknowledged the West's horror at the terror group's use of child soldiers.

"The Islamic State has taken upon itself to fulfill the Ummah's [the global Muslim community] duty toward this generation by preparing it to face the crusaders and their allies in defense of Islam," the Dabiq article published in 2015 asserted. "It has established institutes for the lion cubs to train and hone their military skills."

Beside being used on the battle fronts in Iraq and Syria, children are also in danger of being radicalized by IS' message and carrying out lone attacks in Europe, German police warned last week.

Wolfgang Trusheim, head of the Frankfurt state police, said that the danger lies in radical Salafist schools that take in young Muslim boys and train them on the path to terrorism, and urged authorities to remove children from such schools and Salafist homes.

Source: christianpost.com/news/isis-video-shows-off-child-soldiers-combat-training-battle-against-us-allied-forces-169288/

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Iranian Kurdish fighters trained by US military against ISIS

September 9, 2016

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—American and European military advisers have trained members of the Iranian Kurdish group the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) alongside Peshmerga forces in weapons and explosives for their participation in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) on several occasions.

PAK leader Hussein Yazdanpana told the Associated Press: “They helped and trained us within the framework of the fight against Daesh,”

Members of the Iranian Kurdish group have been fighting ISIS on several fronts alongside the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region since the region went to war with the extremist group two years ago.

The Peshmerga have received ammunition and training from several coalition countries including the United States, UK, France, Canada and Germany.

The AP report describes the training of the PAK fighters as “a further twist in the complex web of alliances and enmities swirling around the wars in Iraq and Syria. Iran is a powerful backer of the Iraqi government and Iraqi Shiite militiasagainst the Islamic State group.”

Yazdanpana allays any fears that training his group was for their fight against the Iranian government, saying that it was merely for their role in combating ISIS in Iraq.

Full report at:rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/090920161

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Haj Pilgrims Get ID Bracelets After Deadly Stampede

Sep 9, 2016

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia has begun issuing Haj pilgrims with identification bracelets one year after a stampede killed around 2,300 people.

The bracelets are a reassurance to some pilgrims, though their distribution has been far from systematic ahead of the formal start of Haj on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia announced an investigation into last year's stampede which happened during the Haj stoning ritual, but no findings have ever been published.

Public statements and Saudi press reports show that changes have been made to prevent overcrowding even though no one was ever blamed for the tragedy.

After the disaster the worst ever in Haj history some foreign officials expressed concern about difficulties in identifying the dead.

Saudi officials have stuck with a death toll of 769 issued shortly after the stampede but data from authorities in more than 30 countries gave a figure almost three times higher.

Each plasticised paper bracelet carries a bar code readable by smartphone.

It indicates the pilgrim's identity, nationality and place of lodging in Makkah.

Additional data includes a contact in the pilgrim's delegation and details provided when his or her visa was issued, the vice secretary of the ministry of Haj and Umrah, Issa Rawas, told AFP.

Full report at:dawn.com/news/1283058/haj-pilgrims-get-id-bracelets-after-deadly-stampede

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Saudi foreign minister: We’ve good ties with Kurds in Iraq

September 9, 2016

Answering a Rudaw question about relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said: “We have good ties with Kurds in Iraq. With Mr. Barzani. We have good ties with the Sunnis in Iraq, we have good ties with the Shias in Iraq. And we have good ties with the Marjaiya in Iraq."

Al Jubeir was speaking at a panel in Ankara titled Turkish-Saudi Relations: A Cooperative Approach in an Increasingly Transforming Region organized by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA).

Al Jubeir hailed Iraq as an Arab and Islamic country for which every Arab and Muslim has a soft spot, warning in the meantime that that country has been hijacked by sectarianism and Iranian meddling.

“Iraq is an Arab country and Iraq is a neighboring country, and Iraq is an Islamic country,” Al Jubeir said. “Iraq was the capital of the Abbasyid empire. It was the center of science, and research and learning. Every Arab and every Muslim has a soft spot in his or her heart for Iraq. We want Iraq to flourish. We want Iraq to develop, but what has happened is Iraq has been high-jacked by sectarianism. And high-jacked by Iran's interference in Iraq, which has complicated matters, which has torn the country apart and caused Iraqi to fight Iraqi based on ethnicity. That is clearly wrong.”

The Saudi Foreign Minister said that Riyadh has urged Baghdad and the Iraqi government “to put an end to these policies and to be more inclusive and to bring the country together.”

He stressed in the meantime that the Kingdom stands by the unity of Iraq and rejects any attempt at its division.

“We believe in the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq,” he went on to say. “We reject any talk or any attempt at dividing Iraq. We believe that Iraq is much bigger than some of its parts. And we believe that in the long run, Iraqis will be able, God willing, to put aside those who push sectarian policies.”

Source: rudaw.net/english/middleeast/09092016

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Iran wants to see trouble at Haj, says minister

Friday 9 September 2016

JEDDAH: Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al-Asheikh said Iran is hostile toward Muslims and does not want to see the Haj season pass peacefully or without sectarian strife.

During an inspection tour of a mosque on the Makkah-Jeddah Expressway, he said the duty of Muslim scholars is to support the Kingdom and ensure the safety of the pilgrimage, adding that Haj and Umrah must only be performed for Allah, and not for slogans or political gains.

He said the ministry, by virtue of its relation with Islamic scholars, stands by the Saudi leadership.

“All Saudi people are united behind their leadership’s efforts to ensure the safety of pilgrims,” he said.

The ministry is proud of and appreciates the efforts of preachers and scholars inside and outside the Kingdom, he said, and works to protect the safety of all the pilgrims, including from Iran, he said.

Al-Asheikh said the Kingdom has always sought to ensure that the pilgrimage is free of hate-filled sloganeering, and believes that all Muslims are equal when performing the pilgrimage.

He said the Kingdom rejects enemies’ efforts to foment trouble, to spoil and politicize the pilgrimage and to incite hostility among Muslims.

Source: arabnews.com/node/982266/saudi-arabia

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Eritrea junks Iran lies on Yemen war

Friday 9 September 2016

RIYADH: The Eritrean Embassy in Riyadh has rejected a report by Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA) that 5,000 terrorists from organizations like Al-Qaeda were being trained in Eritrea to fight against the Houthi rebels.

“The FNA report that the militants, belonging to a number of terror organizations, were transferred from Aden port to Eritrea’s Assab port for military training is false,” the embassy said in a statement on Thursday.

Quoting its Foreign Ministry, the embassy said the allegation represents a “preposterous lie peddled for some ulterior motives.”

The FNA alleged that the terrorists, some of whom are from Al-Qaeda, would be dispatched to places like Najran and Jazan to fight against the Houthis and prevent their further advances into southern Saudi Arabia. The embassy said Eritrea has been at the forefront in the fight against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Source: arabnews.com/node/982271/saudi-arabia

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Southeast Asia

Another Major Gathering of Muslim Leaders in Indonesia Denounces Extremism and Promotes Peace

Sep 9, 2016

For the second time in four months hundreds of Muslims leaders from around the globe have gathered to renounce extremism and promote Islamic notions of peace and tolerance. More than 300 leaders from 33 countries – including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia – met in Indonesia on 9-10 May at the invitation of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Islamic organization that claims 50 million members. The event was attended by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, as well as Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who said the purpose was to ‘correct the misinterpretation [of jihad and] … produce the solution to curb radicalism in the form of terrorism, wars and conflicts’. The summit resulted in a Jakarta Declaration that called for religious groups and heads of state across the globe to remove the perceived connection between religion and extremist ideologies leading to terrorism. Nahdlatul Ulama – a hybrid religious, political, and charitable organization – emphasizes Indonesia’s long tradition of religious pluralism and tolerance of local culture. Its leaders say this approach, which emphasizes a liberal and peaceful brand of Islam, could serve as a new paradigm for conflict areas around the world.

This past January about 200 Muslim religious leaders, politicians, activists, and scholars from over 120 nations met in Morocco for a conference on similar themes. The resulting Marrakesh Declaration renounced the ‘use of violence and armed struggle as a tool for settling conflicts…[and] all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denigration of what people hold sacred’. It also called upon all Muslim-majority countries to promote just treatment of religious minorities, including Christians, and to ‘fortify relations and understanding among the various religious groups in the Muslim World’. The declaration noted this was in line with the principles articulated in the Charter of Medina, a contract between the Prophet Muhammad and religious minorities 1,400 years ago that ‘guaranteed the religious liberty of all, regardless of faith’. Participants also affirmed that the framework presented by the Charter of Medina was in harmony with the national constitutions of many Muslim-majority countries, the United Nations Charter, and documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Source: nifcon.anglicancommunion.org/media/258222/NIFCON-Digest-3-2016.pdf

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ISIS and future possibilities in Malaysia

Friday September 9, 2016

SEPTEMBER 9 — Early of this month, Davao City of Philippines was bombed by Abu Sayyaf. More than 10 people were killed and at least 60 people were injured. Meanwhile, a few days ago, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a senior ISIS, was killed in Syria. He is the spokesperson of ISIS and widely believed is the leader of EMNI.

A few weeks ago, two policemen were attacked by two suspected militants who were killed in Balashikha, near Moscow. Meantime four suspected militants were killed by Russian Special Forces (Spetsnaz) in St. Petersburg and three of the militants are known terrorists from the Kabardino-Balkharia region of the North Caucasus. The Spetsnaz found weapons and explosive devices in their apartment. 

Last month, Thailand was under attack. Within 24 hours in five provinces, 11 bombs were detonated. At least four people were killed and more than 36 people were injured. The Thai authorities had said it’s unclear whether it is local sabotage or global terrorism. The attacks are well coordinated and mainly targeted tourist hotspots frequented by foreigners.

In Charleroi, Belgium, two policewomen were attacked with machete by a suspected ISIS supporter/terrorist/sympathiser and was killed by police. In Canada, a known supporter of ISIS, Aaron Driver@ Harun Abdurahman, was shot dead by RCMP when he discharged an explosive device inside the taxi and harming the taxi driver. The RCMP believes he is in an advance stage to launch an attack using bomb in a Canadian city.

Both men in Belgium and Canada are to be considered as lone wolf inspired by ISIS. At this point in time, it is unclear whether both men received instructions or orders from ISIS’s handlers or radicalised by themselves using available materials posted by ISIS on the Internet.

Early this month, the Indonesian authority foiled a terrorist attack by arresting six suspected terrorists in Batam. The Indonesian police believed that this group is inspired and funded by Bahrun Naim, who is a well-known ISIS terrorist residing in Syria now. Their target was Marina Bay in Singapore. If the attack is successful, then, it will be one of the first transnational terrorist attack in this region which is similar with the Mumbai attack.

ISIS’s evolution

ISIS has evolved from Al-Qaeda. ISIS has started off a sprout of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) by a Jordanian terrorist who is known as Musab al-Zarqawi. After the US military departure and rising power of Shiites in Iraq’s government where Sunnis were targeted and exempted from power.

Full report at: themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/isis-and-future-possibilities-in-malaysia-r.-paneir-selvam

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De facto leader Suu Kyi gives cause for real hope

9 Sep 2016

About six months into power, Myanmar's de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi has proven that, with strong political will, she is able to handle daunting challenges, many inherited from the previous military regime.

Ms Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy which won the election last November, entered office in March. Among the problems that face her administration are the instigation of religious and racial conflicts, continued civil wars and the worsening situation in Rakhine State.

Many observers have doubted whether Ms Suu Kyi, who possesses no governing experience as she was under house arrest and was in the opposition camp for nearly two decades, would be able to solve these explosive issues. But she has proved, as state counsellor, that she is brave enough to confront them.

In resolving religious and racial conflicts, Ms Suu Kyi needs support at home and abroad to help her walk a fine line to weaken the extremists and strengthen the moderates.

The rise of ultra-nationalists and religious extremists in the country has been led by the Organisation to Protect Race and Religion, aka Mabatha, a group which comprises senior monks. Mabatha has had great influence over the general population with its hate campaign against Muslims. With the backing of the previous government, Mabatha has hundreds of thousands of followers nationwide. The group has further marginalised Muslim populations.

At the request of Ms Suu Kyi's government, the State Sangha Supreme Council, the official governing body of all Buddhist sects in the country, on July 12 issued a ruling against Mabatha, refusing to recognise it as an official Buddhist organisation and to support it. Mabatha later went quiet as millions of people expressed their support for the government and publicly denounced the group.

Continuing a peace process initiated by the previous government to end a decades-long civil war in Myanmar is also a major challenge for Ms Suu Kyi. During the three-years that it had been handled by the previous government, the process was full of flaws and fraud. It resulted in the realisation of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) in October 2015 -- the first step of the nationwide political dialogue. However, only eight ethnic armed organisations (EAO) signed the pact. The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of seven EAOs and two other EAOs based in northern Myanmar, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Mongla, refused to sign the agreement. Three armed groups, Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA) were not invited to be part of the initiative.

Full report at:bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1081696/de-facto-leader-suu-kyi-gives-cause-for-real-hope

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South Asia

In Myanmar, refugees from Muslim-Buddhist conflict remain in limbo

September 08, 2016

Four years after fleeing religious riots that emptied her Muslim Rohingya neighborhood in Myanmar's Rakhine State, Myee Shay yearns for the trappings of a normal life: a job, a school for her children and the chance to buy her own food.

But the 35-year-old, like tens of thousands of others displaced by the violence, remains stuck in a displacement camp, unable to return home in a region ruptured by the conflict between Muslims and a majority-Buddhist population.

"We eat when we get our quota," Myee Shay says, referring to monthly rations of food, mostly rice, that families receive from aid groups in the camps.

"If we do not get it, we cannot eat," the mother-of-four adds.

She spoke while preparing plant stalks collected from the outskirts of the Thet Kae Pyin camp — an attempt to enrich the meager meals and break the tedium of days spent waiting for change that never seems to come.

Flooded during the monsoon and dust-choked in the hot season, the camps are clustered on the outskirts of the state capital Sittwe.

They mostly hold Rohingya, a stateless group that became the target of riots after long-running discrimination against Muslims boiled over in 2012 — although several thousand ethnic Rakhine Buddhists also lost their homes in the violence.

That bloodshed left more than 100 people dead and saw thousands of homes torched by mobs.

Full report at: pri.org/stories/2016-09-08/myanmar-refugees-muslim-buddhist-conflict-remain-limbo

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8 killed, 14 wounded in rocket attack in North of Afghanistan

Fri Sep 09 2016

At least 8 people were killed and 14 others were wounded in a rocket attack in northern Baghlan province of Afghanistan, local officials said Friday.

The incident took place late on Thursday afternoon in the new city of Baghlan Markazi district after a mortar round landed in the area.

Provincial public health officials confirmed 8 civilians including a woman and two children were among those killed.

The officials further added that a number of injured civilians are in critical condition amid fears that the death toll could rise.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

In a statement released by Taliban earlier today, the group said they are not involved in the attack.

Baghlan is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where Taliban insugents are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

The group has staged numerous attacks in different parts of Baghlan province during the recent months with an aim to capture key districts as it struggles to expand insurgency in northern provinces of the country.

Source: khaama.com/8-killed-14-wounded-in-rocket-attack-in-north-of-afghanistan-01858

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Ghani warns to close transit route for Pakistan to Central Asia

Fri Sep 09 2016

The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has warned to close transit route for Pakistan to Central Asian countries as the Wagah port has been closed for the Afghan traders for import and export.

President Ghani made the remarks during a meeting with the UK’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Owen Jenkins in Kabul.

He said Afghanistan is no more a landlocked country as several other options and transit routes are available for Afghanistan for the import and export of commodities of the Afghan traders.

President Ghani further added that Pakistan usually closes transit routes during the fruits season which incurs millions in dollars loses to the Afghan traders.

According to President, India has agreed to exempt Afghanistan from financial tariff for the export of fruits to the country.

In other parts of remarks during the meeting, President Ghani focused on Afghan peace talks, fight against terrorism, and the issue of the Afghan refugees repatriation from Pakistan.

Jenkins said the situation and environment in Pakistan suggest that the return of Afghan refugees may expedite and more refugees may return during the current and next year to Afghanistan.

President Ghani said the Afghan refugees are tired of pressures and the ongoing situation in Pakistan as they are willing to repatriate to Afghanistan, emphasizing that the Afghan refugees have invested millions in the country and the government is committed to support them to shift their investments to Afghanistan.

He urged the international community to support Afghanistan in this process as the Afghan government has taken necessary steps to assist the returnees.

Source: khaama.com/ghani-warns-to-close-transit-route-for-pakistan-to-central-asia-01857

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Gen. Raziq joins Afghan forces in the front line in Uruzgan province

Thu Sep 08 2016

One of Afghanistan’s most prominent security officers has joined the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in southern Uruzgan province as Taliban intensified attacks on the provincial capital to seize its control.

General Abdul Raziq, the provincial police chief of Kandahar province, was spotted in Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of Uruzgan today amid intnsifying clashes.

The move by Gen. Raziq to join the ANDSF was apparently aimed at boosting the morale of the Afghan forces who are facing a resurgent Taliban amid deteriorating security situation during the past several months.

According to reports emerging from the area, the Afghan forces have successfully repulsed the Taliban offensive on Tarinkot as clearance opeations are still underway to push back the militants.

The Taliban militants immediately responded to General Raziq’s move for joining the Afghan forces in the front line.

“As Razziq sends forces to #Uruzgan, back in #Kandahar his gunmen abandon 10 CPs in Maiwand bringing large area under Mujahidin control,” a Taliban spokesman Abdul Qahar said in a Twitter message.

Gen. Raziq rose to prominence after 2001 when he was serving as the police chief of Spin Boldak district with his activities prompting dread among the Taliban fighters.

He has imposed an uneasy peace in Kandahar province which was the birth place of the Taliban group.

Being a prized target for the Taliban group, Gen. Raziq ordered the Afghan forces earlier in August last year to execute Taliban detainees who are arrested during the military operations.

Gen. Raziq has escaped a number of coordinated attacks planned by Taliban to assassinate him. He was slightly injured following a suicide attack nearly three years ago, while Taliban militants launched coordinated attack on his family home in Spin Boldak district back in July last year.

Source: khaama.com/gen-raziq-joins-afghan-forces-in-the-front-line-in-uruzgan-province-01856

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Afghanistan-Iran railway construction kicks off near Herat

Thu Sep 08 2016

The construction of a railway line between Afghanistan and Iran officially kicked off near the western Herat province of Afghanistan on Wednesday.

According to the local officials, the construction work of the railway line in Afghanistan launched as 90 percent of the railway work inside the Iranian soil has been completed.

The railway line will be established from Iran to Ghoryan district and will further go towards Zindjan district and Herat Airport.

The latest development for the establishment of the railway line between Afghanistan and Iran comes as Afghanistan has been attempting to expand its regional transit reach.

Earlier this year the leaders of Afghanistan, India and Iran signed the Chabahr port agreement in Tehran, the capital city of Iran.

Afghanistan is expected to have sea-land access through the strategic Chabahar port in Iran by the end of this year as the work on the port already begun by a joint venture of Kandla Port Trust (KPT) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) last year.

Access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway can be made from Chabahar port using the existing Iranian road network and the Zaranj-Delaram road, constructed by India in 2009.

The port will be also used to ship crude oil and urea, saving India transportation costs. It will also cut transport costs and freight time for India to Central Asia and the Gulf by about a third.

Source: khaama.com/afghanistan-iran-railway-construction-kicks-near-herat-province-01855

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Asylum claim knocked back after Facebook check revealed 'inconsistency'

9 SEP 2016

Abu Siddque, the solicitor for a 36-year-old Bangladesh national whose protection visa application was refused by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, says the decision breached procedural fairness.

“By attempting to ambush the applicant, [known as the pseudonym AEN16] with information drawn from his Facebook account, the tribunal breached some important safeguards,” Mr Siddque told SBS.

AEN16’s protection visa application, which stated he feared for his life if he returned to Bangladesh because he had converted to Christianity in that country, was declined by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in July 2014. He had arrived in Australia the year before on a visitor visa.

In August 2014, the man's case was heard by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. His application refusal was upheld in December 2015 on the grounds that there was a discrepancy between information in his visa and that which was on his Facebook profile.

However, Mr Siddque said that this breached a legal procedure set out in the 1958 Migration Act, and took the case to the Federal Circuit Court.

“The court held that there had been a denial of procedural fairness,” Mr Siddque told SBS.

“An applicant in the tribunal is entitled to have disclosed to it information which is adverse to their claim – and to understand how it is relevant to the review – so that they can comment on it.”

This is covered under sections 424A and 424AA of the Migration Act.

Once the applicant is aware, they are then invited to answer to it. However, AEN16 was given no chance to explain why his Facebook status might not show his true religion before the tribunal made its decision.

The tribunal told SBS that while it doesn’t comment on individual cases, following the Federal Circuit Court's decision it would redetermine the case.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed the case would go before the tribunal for reconsideration.

Source: sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/09/09/asylum-claim-knocked-back-after-facebook-check-revealed-inconsistency

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India

India-ASEAN committed to combat terrorism in all its forms

September 9, 2016

Vientiane : Recognising terrorism as a significant threat to peace and stability in the region, India and the 10-member ASEAN on Thursday made a strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

“We express our determination to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among our law enforcement and security agencies,” said a declaration at the end of the 14th ASEAN-India summit, stressing that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the leaders attending the summit that “In the face of growing traditional and non-traditional challenges political security cooperation is a key emerging feeler of our relationships.” Rising export of terror, growing radicalisation through ideology of hatred and spread of extreme violence defines landscape of common security threats to our societies, he said.

“The threat is local, regional and transitional at the same time. Our partnership with ASEAN seeks to craft a response that relies on coordination cooperation at multiple levels,” he noted. The countries recognised the need to counter and prevent the spread of violent extremism and radicalism that leads to acts of terrorism. ASEAN and India also supported the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, currently under negotiation at the United Nations.

“We agreed to cooperate towards addressing traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including in areas of deradicalization and prevention of violent extremism,” the declaration added. The 10-member ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Source: siasat.com/news/india-asean-committed-combat-terrorism-forms-1016002/

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Muslims Join Hindus in Special Ganesha Puja

Sep 9, 2016

HUBBALLI: In a first of its kind in the city, a sarvajanik ganeshotsava mandal has involved people from the Muslim community in a special Ganesha puja. Maruti Yuvak Seva Sangh of Shimpigalli has organized the unique event to spread communal harmony.

H S Vishwanath, president, Maruti Yuvak Seva Sangh, said that Simpigalli has a large of businessmen. "Earlier, it was common to celebrate each other's festivals. But this has been missing in the recent years. With intention to revive the practice of celebrating festivals together, we shared the thought with a few leaders of the Muslim community in Pinjar Oni and other areas. They agreed and joined the Puja," he said.

Lauding the initiative, corporator Mallikjan Balsingh said that both the communities have been living together for years without any differences.

"At the Ganesha pandal, we performed special prayers and prayed for communal harmony and resolution of the Mahadayi and Cauvery disputes," he said.

Mohammed Gous Kattimani, a wholesale vegetable merchant, said such initiatives are the need of the hour to send the message of peace and harmony. "People from the Hindu community join us to ensure the success of our community's activities like mass marriage. Involving people from other communities in the celebration of festivals should happen more and more," he added.

Mahendra Singhi, founder, Maruti Yuvak Seva Sangh, said that more such activities will not only help the overall development of the city, but also strengthen the country.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/Muslims-join-Hindus-in-special-Ganesha-puja/articleshow/54204932.cms

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Muslim Cop Installs Idol At Mahatma Phule Police Station

Sep 9, 2016

KALYAN: A Muslim police sub-inspector has set a worthy example of communal harmony. After getting permissions from Mahatma Phule police senior inspector and the Tehsildars office, PSI Aslam Khatib installed a Ganpati idol on the police station premises. On Wednesday, he also performed Satyanarayan Puja with wife Noorjahan.

Khatib, who has been in the force since six years, said he used to participate in all Hindu festivals at his hometown in Kolhapur. After being posted at Mahatma Phule police station this year, when he learnt that Ganeshotsav was not celebrated here, he decided to take the initiative. "We should respect all festivals and celebrate them together. This is why I decided to install an idol at the police station," Khatib said

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Muslim-cop-instals-idol-at-Mahatma-Phule-police-station/articleshow/54202156.cms

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Observe Rules of Goat Sacrifice: Muslim Leaders to Community

Sep 9, 2016

Mumbai: Less than a week ahead of Eidul Adha or Bakrid, Muslim leaders have advised community members to follow the rules and take precaution while they sacrifice goats in housing society buildings and complexes.

Last week, CM Devendra Fadnavis headed a meeting attended by senior officers of the police and civic body besides Muslim MLAs at which issues about peaceful observance of Bakrid were discussed.

Legislator Naseem Khan said, "The CM has directed the municipal and police officers to provide adequate arrangement for Bakrid but a lot depends on how the community conducts itself," said Khan.

The leaders said the community members should not inconvenience fellow citizens, especially non-Muslim neighbours who may be vegetarians when they sacrifice goats.

"In buildings with mixed population, care should be taken not to hurt sentiments of non-Muslims," said MLA Amin Patel. "...Your right to observe your festival should not be used as licence to hurt others' sentiments."

MIM legislator Waris Pathan said: "Community members must maintain restraint and show patience."

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Observe-rules-of-goat-sacrifice-Muslim-leaders-to-community/articleshow/54202076.cms

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North America

Clinton claims ISIS is praying to Allah, asking him to please 'make Trump president of America'

Sep 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton sought to assure Israelis that she would be a stronger ally than her rival Donald Trump by claiming the Islamic State militant group is praying to let Trump win the presidency.

'They are saying, 'Please Allah. Make Trump president of America,' she said in excerpts of an interview with Israeli Channel 2 today.

The Democratic nominee took aim at Trump's critical comments about Muslims, saying he has played into the hands of ISIS supporters.

She referred to an essay written by Matt Olsen, the former National Counterterrorism Center director, who has argued that by making the Muslim religion a campaign issue, Trump has given jihadists a great gift. 

'So, I am not interested in giving aid and comfort to their evil ambitions,' Clinton said in the interview, vowing to defeat the extremist group. 'I don't want them to feel as if though they can be getting more recruits because of our politics.'

House Speaker Paul Ryan accused Clinton of 'fear mongering.'

'That's demagogic scare tactics. I don't even know how you can credibly make the claim to begin with,' the Wisconsin Republican said during an interview on 'The Hugh Hewitt Show,' a conservative talk radio program.

Clinton said Thursday morning at a news conference that, 'Republicans are just in a terrible dilemma trying support a totally unqualified nominee.

'I have no sympathy for them. It's their nominee. But I'm not gonna tolerate them continuing to make misleading, inaccurate accusations and putting out misinformation about me,' she said.

The Democratic candidate invoked Olsen, who she said is a 'distinguished couterterrorism expert' and said the extremists 'hope that Allah delivers America to Trump.

'The have said that they hope that he is the president because it would give even more motivation to every jihadi,' Clinton contended.

Olsen 'knows more about this,' she said, 'than the Republicans trying to somehow muddy the waters.'

Full report at:dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3780319/Clinton-IS-extremists-hoping-Trump-victory.html

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Growing up Muslim in post 9/11 America inspired this Riverside man to help others

Sep 9, 2016

Arbazz Mohammed was only nine years old when 9/11 struck.

Fifteen years later, now a young adult, Mohammed understands why it’s so important to show the public and the local community who Muslims are.

“Post 9/11 Muslims weren’t very visible and the only way to define ourselves was by being engaged in our community,” said Mohammed, 24, of Lake Elsinore.

Mohammed said his parents encouraged a normal childhood after 9/11. They didn’t want to create fear. Just because the perpetrators claimed the Muslim faith, “it doesn’t really have to be our battle,” Mohammed recalled his parents saying.

But in high school, a negative experience attacking his faith, led him to action.

He and other youth founded the Sahaba Initiative that included members walking the streets of downtown Riverside and San Bernardino, passing out hygiene kits, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other supplies to the homeless.

The San Bernardino-based nonprofit is still active, providing rental assistance, parenting classes, drug and alcohol counseling, domestic violence and mental health resources. On top of that, it works to build bridges with other faith groups to dispel myths about Muslims.

When the Dec. 2 mass shooting occurred, “It reinforced our work,” he said.

“Something that happened so local in our area ... Now the whole world is associating San Bernardino with this, and the Muslim community.”

But to Mohammed, the main focus was not producing public relations for their organization; it was continuing their humanitarian mission. That’s what his faith is about.

The ties they’ve built with their neighborhoods since 9/11 is why the community rallied behind them after Dec. 2, he said.

“Everyone knew us and came around us and supported us,” he said.

Source: dailynews.com/events/20160908/growing-up-muslim-in-post-911-america-inspired-this-riverside-man-to-help-others

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For many Muslim Americans, fitting in can be a struggle

SEPTEMBER 09, 2016

Mary Lahaj was a high school cheerleader in 1964 when the first mosque in New England opened just outside Boston, in Quincy.

The mosque’s eight founding families, including three generations of hers, had roots in Lebanon. Its opening felt like immigrants making good, she said: Building a house of worship was synonymous with being American.

More than 50 years later, things have changed -- but not in the way those families must have anticipated. Although they strive and raise children like their neighbors, Muslim Americans live in the long shadow of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, carried out in the name of Islam.

The magnitude of the attack and resulting military operations have taken something from every American -- from our military and their families, including some who are Muslim; from people who view their neighbors and their world differently; and from people who have experienced anti-Muslim harassment or violence, or felt the cold shoulder of suspicion.

Now, at the 15-year mark since the attack, treatment of Muslims has taken center stage in the presidential race. Republican candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, and the parents of an American Muslim soldier killed in Iraq appeared at the Democratic National Convention to rebuke him.

Many Muslims in America constantly ask themselves: How to overcome all that mire without surrendering to homogenization? It can be a struggle to fit in without losing oneself.

“It takes time to find the middle way,” Lahaj said.

Her family’s goal was always to be part of America, not separate from it. Her parents were born in the United States and transmitted few foreign cultural practices to their children.

“Our marching orders were to assimilate, and that’s what we tried to do,” she said. “My parents just never looked back.”

Full report at:bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2016/09/09/for-many-muslim-americans-fitting-can-struggle/xaTMLQ5E6oN8H9G9Yib1XL/story.html

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Pakistan

'1.8m children still out of school in Balochistan'

Sep 9, 2016

QUETTA: Around 1.8 million children are out of school in Balochistan as efforts continue to ensure greater enrolment in school, a seminar on non-formal education was told on Friday.

Speakers at the seminar expressed concern about the low literacy rate and increasing drop out rate.

The provincial education minister, Rahim Ziaratwal while speaking at the seminar revealed that 60 per cent of children quit education by the time they reach the primary and middle school level, whereas 45pc of students leave schooling prior to completion of their Matriculation.

"The increasing drop out rate of children is a major problem for the education department," the minister lamented.

In Balochistan, more than 5,000 government-run primary schools are single-room and single-teacher schools.

The plight of these schools in rural Balochistan is miserable, with single room schools across the province shelter-less with no basic facilities such as clean drinking water and toilets for the children. "We have written a letter to the prime minister to support us in providing basic facilities to schools", Mr Ziaratwal said.

In an attempt to improve the literacy rate in the province, the government decided to establish literacy centres.

According to statistics provided by the non-formal section of the education department, 4,500 children will be enrolled at literacy centres being established at Ziarat, Sibi, Zhob, Bolan and other parts of Balochistan.

The American Refugee Committee (ARC), an international organisation, has also assured to establish 1,000 literacy centres for promotion of literacy rate in Balochistan. Out-of-school children would be enrolled in these centres, the document said.

"An educated society is our goal", Speaker Balochistan Assembly Raheela Durrani told the seminar.

She vowed to continue her efforts for provision of education to kids of marginalised and poor families in the province.

In Balochistan, the number of government-run primary, middle and high schools is greater than 13,000.

However, education department sources say that thousands of ghost teachers and schools remain in the province.

"A hundred schools have yet to be traced out in Quetta alone," Secretary Education Balochistan Dr Omar Babar said.

Source: dawn.com/news/1283056/18m-children-still-out-of-school-in-balochistan

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Partnership with India on nuclear safety proposed

Sep 9, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry proposed on Thursday partnership with India on nuclear safety and security.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of a conference, ‘Assessing South Asia’s Nuclear Security’, jointly organised by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and the Atlantic Council, an American think tank.

Pakistan and India already have an agreement on nuclear accidents and an expert group on nuclear confidence building measures, though it is currently dormant because of freeze in ties.

The two countries are also signatories to several international conventions, including those on nuclear safety, early notification of a nuclear accident, assistance in case of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency and physical protection of nuclear material and facilities.

Under the conventions and instruments, Mr Chaudhry said, the two countries could share best practices, experience and expertise.

The proposal comes from the realisation that despite problems in their ties, the two countries have a special responsibility to cooperate in the field of nuclear security.

Suggesting cooperation on development of an independent regulatory framework, Mr Chaudhry said Pakistan had extensive experience in maintaining an independent nuclear regulatory body.

India is one of the few nuclear armed countries without an independent nuclear regulator.

The latest proposal comes after Pakistan last month proposed a bilateral moratorium on testing of nuclear weapons.

The proposal for bilateral moratorium was related to Pakistan’s candidature for the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Other experts participating in the conference discussed different issues affecting strategic stability in South Asia — growing conventional imbalance, introduction of tactical nuclear weapons, nuclearisation of Indian Ocean region and Indian plans for ballistic missile defence — with a view to developing recommendations for policymakers. The conference also looked at the future trends.

The experts agreed that in the absence of an overarching restraint regime and institutionalised crisis management mechanisms, the strategic environment in the region remained fragile.

Introducing the conference theme, CISS Executive Director Ali Sarwar Naqvi said India’s acquisition of advanced weapons systems and sophisticated missile-defence systems, introduction of technologically advanced and sophisticated nuclear weapons and provocative war fighting doctrines under a nuclear overhang could only make strategic stability more fragile.

He pointed out that deepening Indo-US defence and strategic cooperation would disturb strategic balance in South Asia and might trigger an arms race in the region involving not only Pakistan and India but China also.

Bharat Gopalaswamy, Director South Asia at the Atlantic Council, said the two countries had to deal with similar challenges related to nuclear stability, safety and security.

Zahir Kazmi, a nuclear expert, said nuclearisation of Indian Ocean would affect security interests of all littoral states, in addition to impacting the regional and global security.

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Associate Professor at the Quaid-i-Azam University, said India’s massive military build-up was causing strategic stability-instability paradox in the South Asian strategic environment.

India was disinterested in Pakistani proposal for nuclear restraint regime due to its advantageous position in the sphere of conventional arms, he said.

Source: dawn.com/news/1283012

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Pushing India into NSG at Pakistan’s expense counterproductive

Sep 9, 2016

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s perspective on US efforts to help India join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), while shunning Islamabad, finally echoed in the US Congress on Thursday where the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee learned from witnesses that this policy could worsen the nuclear race in South Asia.

Witnesses, and some lawmakers, noted that sanctions imposed on Pakistan in the 1990s increased the country’s dependence on nuclear weapons and the same would happen again if those restrictions were reintroduced.

“The policy of the current US administration to support an unconditional and exceptional NSG membership path for India is problematic,” Toby Dalton, a co-director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the committee.

Mr Dalton, who heads the Nuclear Policy Programme at this key Washington think tank, pointed out that the Obama administration’s current policy required no commitments from India to bring its nuclear weapons practices in line with those of other nuclear states in return for membership of this 48-nation group.

“It also opens no pathway to membership for Pakistan that would incentivise it to consider nuclear restraints,” he added.

Both India and Pakistan had applied for NSG membership earlier this summer but were rejected. The group requires consensus of all member nations to admit a new member and both failed to meet this criterion, although the United States and several other powers strongly supported India. China, however, opposed India’s application, arguing that it was a mistake to leave Pakistan out.

Full report at:dawn.com/news/1283014

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Pakistan responds after Modi’s veiled attack; accuses India of financing terrorism on its soil

September 9, 2016

Islamabad :Pakistan on Thursday accused India of “destabilising” it by financing terrorism and supporting militancy, in a fresh rhetoric after Prime Minister Narendra Modi rapped Islamabad for producing and exporting terror.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria at a weekly briefing here said, “India is a country destabilising Pakistan through its support for militancy”.

Responding to Modi’s veiled reference towards Pakistan at international fora this week that “one single nation in South Asia is spreading agents of terror in countries of our region”, Zakaria said: “India is in fact that single nation”.

“Confessional statement by Kulbhushan (Jadav) is open evidence to show which country is involved in subversive activities in Pakistan,” he said, referring to an alleged Indian spy claimed by Pakistan to be arrested in Balochistan.

To a question whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would raise Kulbhushan issues at UN General Assembly session, he said that issue of Indian involvement and its “atrocities” in Kashmir would be highlighted.

“The issue (of Kulbhushan) will be raised because of its direct links with incidents of terrorism in Pakistan,” he said.

He expressed deep concern over the alleged human rights violations by Indian forces in Kashmir, saying several youths were killed and over 10,000 injured in the ongoing tension.

He said Pakistan started briefing the world about Kashmir issue as 22 parliamentarians started visiting various countries as Prime Minister’s envoys to highlight “barbarism and worst kind of human rights violations” in Kashmir.

Replying to a question regarding India’s stand that UN resolutions on Kashmir have become inapplicable after Shimla agreement, Zakaria said Shimla Agreement cannot overrule the UN resolutions.

He alleged that India violated UN resolutions and also the Shimla Agreement. He also said India launched Balochi language services to divert world attention from the Kashmir issue.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-responds-modis-veiled-attack-accuses-india-financing-terrorism-soil-1015975/

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Up to 20 US Marine personnel face action in Pakistani-American recruit's death

Sep 9, 2016

WASHINGTON: The US Marine Corps is weighing criminal or administrative charges against as many as 20 personnel at a recruit training depot following the death of a Pakistani-American trainee, officials said Thursday.

Investigators opened a probe into the March death of Raheel Siddiqui, 20, who reportedly fell three stories to his death at the recruitment depot in Parris Island, California.

The Marines have classed the death as a suicide but, according to the Wall Street Journal, investigations suggest Siddiqui leaped from a third-story balcony after a drill instructor slapped him in the face.

Citing anonymous Marine officials, the Journal said the drill instructor had referred to the Muslim recruit as a “terrorist.”

According to a Marine Corps statement, investigations revealed “departures” from the policies and procedures established for Marine Corps recruit training.

“Commanders and senior enlisted advisers at the series, company, battalion and regimental level were relieved in the wake of Recruit Siddiqui's death, and a number of drill instructors have been suspended,” the statement reads.

“Currently, 20 Recruit Training Regiment personnel have been identified for possible military justice or administrative action.”

Investigators uncovered a slew of allegations of physical and verbal abuse of recruits by drill instructors.

Commanders have implemented changes including the mandatory suspension of personnel who are being investigated for recruit abuse.

“I fully support and endorse these initial actions,” Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller said in a statement.

“When America's men and women commit to becoming Marines, we make a promise to them. We pledge to train them with firmness, fairness, dignity and compassion."

Source: dawn.com/news/1283048/up-to-20-us-marine-personnel-face-action-in-pakistani-american-recruits-death

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Mideast

Turkey, US talk Raqqa, Mosul to vanquish ISIL

Friday 9 September 2016

Turkey and the United States have discussed operations regarding Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) strongholds in Raqqa and Mosul in order to defeat the jihadist group, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.

“If we want to cleanse Syria and Iraq of Daesh [ISIL], it is important that we mount operations both in Mosul and in Raqqa,” he said Sept. 7.

“We have always said that if we do not support local forces on the ground, if there is no land operation, it will not be possible to eliminate or even stop Daesh exclusively from the air,” Çavuşoğlu said following a meeting in London with the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which represents Syrian opposition groups.

But the foreign minister said a ground operation could not be backed by Turkey alone and any operation against Raqqa must be carefully planned.

“It is not just us but other countries that must train and equip local forces, that must contribute and give direction,” he said.

Pentagon said Sept. 8 in a written statement that U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık talked about the importance of retaking Raqqa during a bilateral meeting at the U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial in London.

“The two [Carter and Işık] also discussed the importance of retaking Raqqa, and the need for local forces to play a central role. Both agreed to maintain frequent communication on the full range of mutual interests,” the statement on Sept. 8 read.

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield along its border inside Syria on Aug. 24 to rid the areas close to the border from ISIL and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey sees as a terror organization – something that has caused a rift between Turkey and the U.S.

Earlier in the day, Carter told BBC Radio in an interview that the U.S. and Turkey “certainly have joint action.”

“Right now we are working with Turkey to help it secure the last remaining part of the border between Turkey and Syria on both sides of the border, which has been one of the avenues, the arteries through which ISIL has supplied itself with foreign fighters, with equipment and so forth, and we are working with Turkey in that respect.”

Carter said the U.S. was also working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is made up of forces including the YPG.

“At the same time, we’re working with the Syrian Democratic Forces on a plan to envelop and [destroy] ISIL’s control of Raqqa,” Carter said.     

“We have worked with that group also in Manbij city, which was an important city, and we intend to work with both of these parties. They have their differences with one another; we understand that,” Carter said.

Meanwhile, the commander of Turkey’s gendarmerie forces, Yaşar Güler, said a joint operation with the U.S. on Raqqa “should be evaluated carefully.”

Çavuşoğlu said Sept. 8 during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adil al-Jubeir that the Manbij area “should be cleared of terrorists,” the minister also said, adding that Turkey would continue supporting the operation.

He said chaos in Syria would continue if al-Assad remains in power in the transition process, because he is responsible of “killing of 600,000 Syrians. Even yesterday he used chlorine gas.”

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-us-talk-raqqa-mosul-to-vanquish-isil.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103739&NewsCatID=352

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No Syria plan without Turkish consent possible after Jarablus operation: Erdoğan

Friday 9 September 2016

Turkey’s “successful and rapid” cross-border operation into Syria “to clear the border of jihadists has changed the world’s view of the region,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated, claiming that no longer can any plan in Syria be implemented without Turkish consent.

“The fact that Turkey carried out its operation into Syria successfully and very rapidly has changed the world’s view of the region. It is no longer possible to implement any scenario in the region that does not include Turkey or does not have Turkey’s consent,” Erdoğan said in his address to 81 provincial governors on Sept 8, adding that the balances “have drastically changed” since Turkey liberated Jarablus from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Turkey launched its Euphrates Shield operation on Aug 24 with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to push ISIL from its borders and was able to clear jihadists from the Jarablus-Azaz line within the first two weeks of the incursion.   

Erdoğan said Jarablus has been fully cleared of ISIL militants and Turkish troops will continue to pursue them in the surrounding area.

“We’ll continue. Until when? There is no need to reveal this, but we have our own plan for securing the Turkish borders,” he added.

Referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) efforts to link its cantons together, Erdoğan said Turkey cannot tolerate the establishment of a “terror corridor.”

“Instead, we’ll turn this border into a ‘peace corridor.’ We have no eye on taking any of Syria’s territory,” he added.

Responding to criticism from some quarters that the Euphrates Shield operation may have violated international law, Erdoğan referred to the “cruelty” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

“They say: ‘You can’t enter there if the host country does not invite you.’ Sorry but we can enter there upon the invitation of the people who are the real owners of this country. The leader of that country is cruel. Are we going to seek permission from someone who has killed 600,000 people?”  he said.

Erdoğan also criticized arguments that Turkey should not widen its fronts and fight against both ISIL and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at the same time.

“Expanding these fronts is a matter of faith,” he said, adding Turkey is currently conducting the “biggest operations in its history” against the PKK in southeast Anatolia.

“From now on we have to show that we exist in the region. We don’t have any option to step back at this point,” Erdoğan had said on Sept. 5 while returning from the G-20 Summit in China.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/no-syria-plan-without-turkish-consent-possible-after-jarablus-operation-erdogan-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103730&NewsCatID=352

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Turkish soldiers return fire on YPG militants: Military officers

Friday 9 September 2016

Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants opened fire on a Turkish border post on Sept. 7 and Turkish soldiers returned fire, Turkish military officials in the region said on Sept. 8.

Turkey last month launched its "Euphrates Shield" operation, aimed at securing its border in northern Syria from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and stopping the advance of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

Turkey sees the U.S.-backed YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).

Turkey denies shelling of YPG forces in Syria’s Afrin

Turkish military sources have denied a claim by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that Turkish artillery shells were fired across the border into Syria’s Afrin area and killed six YPG militants while also wounding several civilians.

There was no such situation where Syria’s northwestern Afrin region was shelled by the Turkish Air Forces or by artillery, the sources told daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity on Sept. 8.

The observatory said on Sept. 8 that Turkish artillery fire struck the Afrin area late on Sept. 7.

The majority-Kurdish Afrin area has been under the control of the YPG since government forces pulled out in 2012.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-soldiers-return-fire-on-ypg-militants-military-officers.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103706&NewsCatID=352

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Erdoğan, Putin agree to push for Aleppo cease-fire

Friday 9 September 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Sept. 8 agreed to intensify efforts to convince warring parties in Syria on a cease-fire in Aleppo, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.       

The two leaders discussed Turkish-Russia bilateral relations as well as the latest developments in Syria during a telephone call, according to a presidential source.

Erdoğan stressed the importance of implementing a cease-fire as soon as possible in the rebel-held northern city that is under a devastating siege.       

The pair also discussed Operation Euphrates Shield launched late last month by Turkey and agreed on the importance of eliminating Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other terror groups along the Turkish border -- the stated goal of the operation in northern Syria.   

Erdoğan said the original residents of Jarablus and al-Rai have already begun to return from Turkey.    

Economic ties between Turkey and Russia were also discussed, including energy sector cooperation, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and Turkish Stream projects, as well as the re-launch of charter flights between the two countries.       

Erdoğan and Putin conveyed that they are pleased with the pace of the normalization process between Turkey and Russia after a brief seven-month hiatus that began late last year and, the ability of the leaders to quickly sort out issues during meetings in St Petersburg and China, the source added.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-putin-agree-to-push-for-aleppo-cease-fire.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103744&NewsCatID=352

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Rocket projectile fired from Syria hits border province of Kilis

Friday 9 September 2016

A rocket projectile fired from an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-controlled region in Syria hit an olive orchard in the border province of Kilis early on Sept. 9, Doğan News Agency has reported.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the attack.

The Katyusha rocket projectile created a hole in the orchard located near a shrine after it exploded.

Security forces were immediately dispatched to the scene and conducted inspections in the area.

Meanwhile, Turkish artillery units deployed on the border retaliated to the attack by shelling the region from which the rocket projectile was fired.

In a separate incident on Sept. 8, a Syrian child who was wounded in another ISIL rocket attack in the province on Aug. 29, succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

Six people, five of whom were children, were wounded when three Katyusha rocket projectiles fired from an ISIL-held region hit a street in the Kazım Karabekir neighborhood.

However, Muhammed Nur Sefer succumbed to his injures at Kilis State Hospital 11 days after the attack. His remains were sent to Azaz to be laid to rest.

Sefer’s death brought the death toll in ISIL rocket attacks targeting the border province since early January to 22. Twelve of those who killed were Syrian citizens.

After a series of deadly attacks targeting the country, the Turkish military and the U.S.-led coalition forces launched a joint military operation in Syria on Aug. 24 to remove the jihadist group and other terrorist elements from the border.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/rocket-projectile-fired-from-syria-hits-border-province-of-kilis.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103747&NewsCatID=341

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EU-Turkey discord continues over aid to Syrians

Friday 9 September 2016

Disagreement between Turkey and the European Union continues over the bloc’s pledge to assist Syrian refugees, as a member of the Turkish cabinet has said Ankara was yet to receive any financial support, contrary to claims that the EU has sent 2 billion euros.

Talking to the press during his meetings in Lisbon, Turkey’s EU minister and chief negotiator with the bloc, Ömer Çelik, indicated they had not received any financial support from the EU as part of the refugee deal.

“Many countries have been resorting to fortifying their borders with barbed wire fences or armed guards to prevent migrants’ crossing, while Turkey embraced 3 million refugees purely for humanitarian reasons and has spent about $25 billion since then,” said Çelik.

Çelik expressed his concern about the channeling of funds transferred to UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations by the EU. “We do not regard any financial aid as legitimate unless the EU deposits the amount in a bank account belonging to the Health Ministry or AFAD [the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority].”

Meanwhile, the coup and its aftermath dominated Çelik’s talks in Lisbon.

“The meetings with the EU leaders have proved efficient so far,” said Çelik. “As of today, there is a consensus built in Europe that leaves no doubt that the failed coup was planned by FETÖ [the Fethullahist Terror Organization].”

When asked what had changed since July 15 in the minds of EU leaders, Çelik indicated that EU leaders had come to acknowledge that their failure to stand firmly by Turkey against the failed coup attempt was due to a clear lack of vision. According to Çelik, the essence of the problem lay in the rhetoric embraced by European countries, which have prioritized domestic political interests over common EU interests – something that undermined dialogue between Turkey and the EU.

“We have watched the rise of the far-right in Europe with concern. Especially when the elections are nearing, the mainstream parties have embraced an anti-Turkey rhetoric so as to appeal to the far-right constituency. Yet, their strategies are counterproductive,” he said.

Çelik also argued that Turkey was a critical ally against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), highlighting the ideological aspects of the fight. “What our European allies should come to notice is the fact that Turkey is a democratic country [in concert with] the European identity and has had a strong claim of representing Muslims throughout history. Thus, Turkey’s combating against Daesh [ISIL] – an organization which abuses Islam – sends a strong message to the Islamic world.”

As for the contentious topic of visa liberalization, no specific date was given to Turkey as to when or if the deal would be put into force. This week, German media claimed that a deal had been reached between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over postponing the visa-free deal until the end of 2016. When asked whether or not there was any truth to those claims, Çelik said: “The due date for the visa-free deal has already passed. It is a key issue for us, and therefore it should be realized at once.”

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/eu-turkey-discord-continues-over-aid-to-syrians.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103731&NewsCatID=510

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State fund takes control of Koza-İpek Holding’s 18 companies in failed coup attempt probe

Friday 9 September 2016

A total of 18 companies under Koza-İpek Holding have been brought under the control of Turkey’s state fund, in line with the investigation into the failed July 15 coup attempt, daily Habertürk reported on Sept. 9.

The holding companies, which are worth $10 billion, were transferred to the Saving Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF) in line with a decision by the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of Justice over alleged links with the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), said to be behind the failed coup attempt.

An Ankara court decided last October to appoint a trustee panel to Koza-İpek upon the request of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The Ankara 5th Court of Peace then justified the appointment, arguing that a trustee panel was “necessary to assign managers with full control to prevent crime and to protect evidence. Reports reveal that this company has helped and been involved in the activities of an organization titled FETÖ, which is said to have attempted to topple the government.”

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/state-fund-takes-control-of-koza-ipek-holdings-18-companies-in-failed-coup-attempt-probe.aspx?pageID=238&nID=103748&NewsCatID=345

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