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Europe’s Denial of Islamic Terrorism Threat Perplexes Security Specialists

Age Islam News Bureau

24 May 2017

The two young gay men, aged 20 and 23, were caned 85 times each in the Indonesian province of Aceh during a public ceremony CREDIT: GETTY



 Europe’s Denial of Islamic Terrorism Threat Perplexes Security Specialists

 ‘We Must Build Bridges Not Walls,’ Abbas Says As Trump Visits Bethlehem

 Two Men Publicly Caned In Indonesia for Having Gay Sex

 US President Vows to ‘Do Everything’ For Mideast Peace

 Indian Muslims' Forefathers Weren't Babur or Aurangzeb: Yogi Adityanath



 Europe’s Denial of Islamic Terrorism Threat Perplexes Security Specialists

 British Public Defends Muslims amid Series of Islamophobic Comments Online

 Manchester Arena attack: What is known about suspected suicide bomber Salman Abedi

 Britain defiant as IS claims Manchester massacre

 Merkel’s Muslim Refugees Terrorize Britain and Europe



 ‘We Must Build Bridges Not Walls,’ Abbas Says As Trump Visits Bethlehem

 Trump Wants ME Peace ‘Compromise’ But Admits Won’t Be Easy

 Thousands of Gazans protest Trump visit to occupied territories

 Spokesman Dismisses Media Reports on Stop of Kazakh Uranium Supplies to Iran

 Ould Cheikh: Our discussions will focus on avoiding military actions in Hudaydah

 Trump should engage in talks with Iran: Kofi Annan

 Trump 'cozying up' to despots behind Bahrain crackdown: Iran FM

 Yemeni tribal fighters kill US troops in Ma’rib: Report


Southeast Asia

 Two Men Publicly Caned In Indonesia for Having Gay Sex

 Stop Investigating Koh, Start Finding Him, Group Tells Police

 Police turn to Rizieq’s family to persuade him to return to Indonesia


North America

 US President Vows to ‘Do Everything’ For Mideast Peace

 What Pope Francis Believes Makes America Great

 US forces kill seven Qaeda militants in Yemen ground raid

 Inside the Secret World of Ex-Muslims

 Milo erupts on Ariana as ‘too stupid,’ too ‘pro-Islam’

 India considering punitive actions against Pakistan: US official



 Indian Muslims' Forefathers Weren't Babur or Aurangzeb: Yogi Adityanath

 Muslim Law Board Recommends Social Boycott of Those Who Resort To Triple Talaq

 Haj Panel Looks At Malaysian Model to End Pilgrimage Subsidy

 Shooter Tara Sahdev's Husband, Mother-In-Law Charged For Forcing Her To Convert To Islam

 Triple Talaq: Muslim Law Board's Affidavit An 'Eyewash', Says Attorney General

 Mumbai man arrested in Pakistan: ‘I hope he will come home soon’



 Iran Bombs Pakistani Territory as PM Attends Trump Saudi Summit

 Govt Plans To Draw ‘Red Lines’ For Social Media in Pakistan

 IHC accepts Indian national's request to return home

 Balochistan govt claims arrest of 'mastermind' behind high-profile terrorist incidents

 Trump proposes to convert military aid to Pakistan into loans



 Photo Emerges Of Manchester Arena Libyan Attacker Salman Abedi

 Sudan’s President Accuses Egypt of Supporting Rebels

 2 UN peacekeepers killed in Mali

 Nigeria: Muslim Group Rejects NYSC, Military Camping During Ramadan

 Somalia: 5 killed in suicide bombing in Bossaso

 Tensions grow over protester's death in Tunisia

 South Africa: Are Isis Returnees a Risk for South Africa?


South Asia

 Myanmar Top Buddhist Body Bans Hardline Group amid Rising Islamophobia

 Afghan Army Suffer Heavy Casualties in Taliban Attack in Kandahar

 ISIS leaders among 10 killed in East of Afghanistan

 Taliban engineer among 3 killed while manufacturing mines in Kandahar

 Maithripala Sirisena orders stern action against those attacking Muslims in Sri Lanka


Arab World

 Saudi Arabia: Bahrain's Security an Integral Part of Saudi and Gulf Security

 Syria: Countdown Starts for Full Collapse of ISIL in Aleppo Province

 Qatari Emir: Doha has ‘tensions’ with the Trump administration

 Bahrain king responsible for any harm on Sheikh Qassim: Amal party

 Syria: Hundreds of Militants Receive Gov't Amnesty in Western Damascus

 Tens of Terrorists Killed, Injured in Heavy Clashes between Rival Groups in Northern Syria

 Syrian Army Downs ISIL Drones in Lattakia

 Syrian Soldiers Make Fresh Gains against ISIL in Eastern Aleppo

 Russian Forces Deploy near Syria's Border with Jordan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Europe’s denial of Islamic terrorism threat perplexes security specialists

May 23, 2017

The Manchester massacre underscores complaints from counterterrorism analysts that Europe has fallen into denial about the threat of Islamic terrorism.

For instance, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is on record as saying terrorism is “part and parcel” of urban life.

Furthermore, London police said in March that they could not assign a motive to a vehicle attack in which a Muslim British citizen followed the Islamic State tactical playbook by driving an SUV over pedestrians on crowded Westminster Bridge.

After the Brussels airport/subway bomb attacks in March 2016, U.S. officials said the Belgian capital was behind the times in basic intelligence-sharing.

Manchester Arena, with the largest capacity of any venue in Great Britain, exercised little security in the areas where people gathered before entering the concert Monday night. The foyer is where 22 concertgoers were killed and 59 others were injured by a suicide bomber. Fans said there was virtually no physical inspection of bags and knapsacks at the gates.

All the while, Europe has become home to thousands of migrants from Islamic State-infested Syria and other Muslim-majority countries. Social media messaging indicates that the terrorist group has nurtured its leaders right under the noses of European intelligence agencies.

“The state of denial permeating the political class still hobbles the ability of security professionals to address the radicalism of home-grown recruits,” said Michael Rubin, a foreign policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. “Returning Islamic State fighters are just going to throw fuel on the fire, if not today then down the road, because European leaders are too gutless to throw them in prison and toss away the key. Europe is a petri dish primed for radicalism to take root.”

The European Union did not create its own counterterrorism center at The Hague until January 2016, after years of Islamic terrorist attacks. It has a staff of 49. By contrast, the U.S. set up the National Counterterrorism Center in 2005. It has 750 staffers.

Steven Stalinsky, who directs the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), estimates that thousands of Islamic State supporters are in Europe. He bases the estimate on the large number of social media conversations.

“I think that European counterterrorism efforts could be improved, as there have been many attacks throughout the continent the past two years,” Mr. Stalinsky said. “On the other hand, those involved in counterterrorism efforts have been successful in stopping many attacks and are most likely very stretched in monitoring the thousands of jihadis who are operating there freely, which should be expected to get worse in the future.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who raised the nation’s terrorism threat level to critical on Tuesday, went out of her way after the March 22 Westminster Bridge attack to avoid talking about a motive.

Robert Spencer, a scholar who operates Jihad Watch, said her lack of explanation is symptomatic of Europe’s denial.

“Theresa May said after the Manchester jihad massacre that Britain would confront the ideology that leads to such attacks,” Mr. Spencer said. “But she doesn’t even know what it is and wouldn’t admit it if she did, since it is rooted in Islam. This denial prevails all over Europe. They keep bringing in massive numbers of Muslims and pretending that they aren’t thereby importing jihad and chaos and bloodshed for themselves and their children. But they are.”

Larry Johnson, a consultant and former State Department counterterrorism official, was in London last year to teach a course on how to conduct surveillance.

A basic deterrent is police presence. Mr. Johnson said he was struck by how few uniformed police he saw on the streets. The British government, he said, is relying on informants within Muslim neighborhoods and surveillance by MI5 internal security to head off attacks.

Press reports said Salman Abedi, whom authorities identified Tuesday as the Manchester suicide bomber, was known to the government as a potential radical.

“They don’t keep much police presence on the streets, so if you’re out walking on the streets there’s no such thing as really neighborhood policing anymore,” Mr. Johnson said. “I think I saw a grand total of three uniformed cops during that time period.

“In their desire to be so open and accepting, they’ve really created a problem where they’ve got a massive foreign culture in London. The Islamic culture and values are not English values. They try to pretend that they are the same, but they’re not,” he said.

Of the major European targets of the Islamic State — Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France — it is France that has taken the Islamic threat the most seriously.

France remains in a state of emergency that was imposed in 2015 after Islamic State terrorists in Paris struck cafes, a soccer stadium and the Bataclan Theater, where 89 people were killed. The state of emergency has been extended three times. It gives the president power to suspend constitutional rights in counterterrorism cases.

France has put restrictions on ancient Muslim dress and massive public prayers. It carries out the most intrusive intelligence collection of any European state, analysts say.

Internal security has blunted a number attacks since Bataclan. In February, French police arrested four Islamic State followers and seized partially assembled improvised explosive devices, the Interior Ministry announced.

The EU counterterrorism center’s latest report said it has had success in weeding out possible terrorist infiltrators by photographing refugees and comparing them to images of Islamic State fighters in the Middle East. The report said the Islamic State has dozens of active terrorists in Europe.

“The EU is currently witnessing an upward trend in the scale, frequency and impact of terrorist attacks in the jurisdictions of member states,” the report stated. “France in particular has recently been hit hard by a series of terrorist attacks, perpetrated both by groups of terrorists and lone actors. IS is actively propagating terrorist acts on EU soil by any means available, increasingly inspiring radicalized individuals to act. IS has proven to be very effective in both moving people to commit terrorist acts and to set these actions in motion themselves.”



‘We must build bridges not walls,’ Abbas says as Trump visits Bethlehem

23 May 2017

US President Donald Trump arrived for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday as they seek ways to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

In a joint press conference between the two leaders, Abbas said it was crucial that "bridges, not walls are built in our lands."

Trump said he was looking forward to cooperate with the Palestinian president and provide economic support. He said that achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace would achieve stability across the Middle East.

Earlier in the week, Trump had been visiting Saudi Arabia. In his meeting with Abbas, Trump said that Saudi Arabia's King Salman was "very wise" in discussions to fight terrorism and extremism.

Trump arrived at the presidential palace in the West Bank city, located only about a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem but across Israel's controversial separation wall.

Trump also used the conference to condemn a terrorist attack in the British city Manchester on Monday which killed 22 people, including children. The president called the perpetrators of the attack "evil losers."

On Monday, Trump held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Trump greeted Abbas outside the presidential palace and the two men walked along a red carpet onto its grounds.

He has spoken of reviving long-stalled peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians, but few specifics have emerged of how he intends to do so.

"I've heard it's one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we're going to get there eventually, I hope," Trump said on Monday night.

Later Tuesday, Trump will return to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and give a speech at the Israel Museum before wrapping up his two-day stop and flying on to Europe.



Two Men Publicly Caned In Indonesia for Having Gay Sex

May 24, 2017

Religious police in Indonesia caned two men for gay sex on Tuesday, with hooded men inflicting 82 lashes on each of them as hundreds of people watched the punishment ordered by an Islamic court.

Cheers and applause went up from a crowd gathered outside a mosque in the city of Banda Aceh, capital of the conservative province of Aceh, as the masked men took turns to flog the pair on a raised platform.

The men stood quietly, their heads down, as spectators heckled them and shouted insults.

The punishment, condemned by rights groups, marked the first application of anti-homosexuality laws introduced in the province in 2014.

Aceh has long had a reputation as Indonesia's most conservative region. It is the only province that criminalises same-sex relations and that uses Islamic law as its legal code in addition to the national criminal code.

Up to 1,000 people, many filming with smartphones, watched as the two men received 82 lashes each. Many others watched the punishment being meted out on a livestream video.

Some in the crowd carried banners rejecting the presence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Aceh.

"I hope there won't be any more such cases of homosexuality, it is shocking," said Eni Tri Retnaningsih, a 20-year-old student who said she had watched others caned before for other offences such as adultery.

At least eight other men and women were caned for other offences ahead of the punishment of the two found guilty of having gay sex.

Police separated men and women in the crowd as proceedings began, with 10 men in brown robes and hoods preparing a bundle of canes in case any broke during the flogging.


The beatings were delivered on the clothed backs of the men and women, some of whom cried out in pain with each stroke. In some cases, the caning was suspended briefly if the offender signalled they were in too much pain.

At the end of the lashing, the two men were helped off the platform. They were free to return to their families, authorities said.

Aceh is Indonesia's most westerly province, on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, where Islam first took hold in the archipelago.

The province caned 339 people in 2016 for a range of crimes, according to Human Rights Watch.

Indonesia has the world's largest population of Muslims but is officially a secular country. Most Muslims practice a moderate form of the religion.

Religious police in Aceh have also been known to rebuke Muslim women without headscarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.

Aceh is the only province allowed to implement sharia Islamic law under a special agreement that was signed in 2005 to bring an end to a bloody separatist movement.

Homosexuality is not illegal under Indonesian national law, but the LGBT community has come under pressure since government officials expressed reservations last year about activism by its members.

Police in the capital, Jakarta, detained more than 140 men in a raid on a gay club on Sunday on suspicion of violating pornography laws.

Rights groups and activists have raised concern over the persecution of minorities, moral policing and violations of privacy and expression.

A presidential spokesman declined to comment on the caning.



US president vows to ‘do everything’ for Mideast peace

23 May 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed “to do everything” to help the Palestinians and Israelis to achieve peace.

"I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians," Trump said during a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday.

“Abbas and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu promised to do all they can and I look forward to working on lasting peace with these leaders,” he said.

Abbas, for his part, reiterated his commitment to the principle of the two-state solution.

“I assure you of our commitment to the two-state solution and to live together with our neighbors in security and peace," Abbas said.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel collapsed in 2014 over the latter's refusal to halt settlement activity in the occupied territories.

Abbas stressed that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not between religions.

“Respect of all religions is an inherent part of our beliefs," he said. “The problem is with the occupation and settlements, as well as the non-recognition of the state of Palestine.”

The Palestinian leader affirmed his willingness to cooperate with the U.S. administration to conclude a historic peace agreement with Israel.

"We hope history will record that President Trump is the one who has achieved peace," he said.

Abbas also raised the issue of the Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli jails for 37 days to demand better prison conditions.

“The cause of [the hunger strikers] is humane and just,” he said, “I call on the Israeli government to meet their humane and legitimate demands,” he added.



Indian Muslims' Forefathers Weren't Babur or Aurangzeb: Yogi Adityanath

May 24, 2017

Lucknow: Calling for construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya within the realm of the Constitution of India, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday said “historic mistakes” must be corrected for lasting peace in India.

During a question and answer session at News18 Network’s gala event UP Rising in Lucknow, Adityanath said, “Indian Muslims’ ancestors were neither Babur nor Aurangzeb… I appeal to all Muslims to welcome good things… Historic wrongs must be corrected for a united and better India.”

Yogi said while Uttar Pradesh government was not a party to the Ram temple case in the court, a solution should be arrived at through dialogue.

“If both sides sit together and find a way out to build the Ram temple, my government will support it in every possible manner.”

Asked about the crimes happening in the name of cow protection, Yogi said, “No one should take law into his or her hands. If that happens, the law will take its own course.”

However, he was quick to add that all Gau Rakshaks should not be seen through the same lens.

“Just like all Muslims should not be looked at through the same prism, all Gau Rakshaks shouldn’t be seen as anti-social elements. A lot of great work in the area of cow protection is being done. We should appreciate that. If people see any incident of cow smuggling, they should inform the police or administration about it.”

When asked if he saw his image as an ‘anti-Muslim leader’ a construct of the opponents, Yogi said, “I will do what I have do. People can keep their notions about me. My mission is to provide good governance to 22 crore citizens of Uttar Pradesh without any discrimination.”

Quoting a line from Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas, Yogi said, “जाकी रही भावना जैसी, प्रभु मूरत देखी तिन तैसी.” He said those who saw riots and conflicts during their regime as mute spectators had no right to call him anti-Muslim.

Citing example of the day when last rites of former President APJ Abdul Kalam and 1993 Bombay blast convict Yakub Memon were conducted around the same time, Yogi said, “While one man is respected by the entire country, the other is not. It has nothing to do with religion. We all respect martyr Abdul Hamid and we will continue to do so.”

On the question of triple Talaq, he said orthodox and outdated practices which were ruining lives of Muslim women must go.

Women empowerment must be looked at sincerely and this orthodox and outdated practice must be stopped. Every day I meet 25-30 Muslim women who are victims of triple Talaq. My government is with Muslim women on this issue.”

When asked by a woman activist in the audience what his government was doing about the complaints received from Muslim women, Yogi said, “We are planning to put together all the complaints and approach the Supreme Court.”

On the recent Saharanpur riots and massive protest by Dalits in Delhi on Sunday, the UP CM blamed BSP supremo Mayawati.

She has been a CM thrice. In the past two elections UP has voted her out. Mayawati is desperately using caste politics. My government will not tolerate any violence in the name of caste or religion,” he said.

On the recent incidents of crime, Yogi said, “Crimes are being seen because criminals are getting desperate. Criminals are making attempts to ruin my image… but criminals are being nabbed and now we will go after their protectors.”

Talking about a case of kidnapping where the accused was caught within three hours, he said, “Crime became a culture in the previous government.”

On the challenge of winning UP for the third time in 2019 — after 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2017 Assembly polls — he said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s achievements are enough to win us polls. We are implementing Centre’s schemes in UP which were stalled by the erstwhile government.”

Taking a dig at the opposition, he said, “Samajwadi Party is busy infighting while Bahujan Samaj Party has been reduced to its old stature. There is no opposition. There is no space for caste and family politics. There is not space of appeasement. 2019 will be better for the BJP than 2017 in UP.”

Yogi said National Conference chief Omar Abdullah was smart in advising all Opposition leaders to start planning for 2024 as 2019 is a done deal for PM Modi.





British public defends Muslims amid series of Islamophobic comments online

23 May, 2017

Thousands of people took to social media to defend Britain’s Muslim community, after anti-Muslim comments began pouring in online that blame the terror attack at Manchester Arena on Islam.

Incendiary comments also came in from right-wing pundits like Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins, and Piers Morgan.

People were quick to respond to the seemingly Islamophobic opinions of some of Britain’s most famous social commentators.

Hopkins found herself in hot water on Tuesday morning after tweeting that the country needed a “final solution” – a term originally used by the Nazis for the Holocaust.

The LBC radio host was quick to delete the tweet after being told off by fellow social media users, but it is understood that complaints were also made about her to her employers at the station and Mail Online. She was reported to the Metropolitan Police for using hate speech as well.

Morgan also came off as tactless in commenting on the event when he told Muslim comedian Abdullah Afzal that more needs to be done “before another radicalized lunatic commits mass murder.”

“These extremists had nothing to do with Islam and Muslims.Terrorism has no religion, pass it on,” wrote a Twitter user named Ali.

“We must hunt down and deliver the crucible of justice to those responsible for #Manchester attack, not blame 1.59 billion moderate Muslims,” added Christopher Zullo.

The calls for people to stop blaming Muslims came just before leaders of Britain’s Muslim community confirmed that an Oldham mosque had been set alight on Monday evening, just hours after the attack. Another mosque in Glasgow was vandalized with a graffiti reading “ISIS.”

More reprisals are feared over the coming days.



Manchester Arena attack: What is known about suspected suicide bomber Salman Abedi

May 24, 2017

The suspected suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester, northern England, on Monday has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, British police said. Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994 to parents of Libyan birth, US security officials said, citing British intelligence officials. Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Abedi was born and brought up in Britain.

His parents emigrated from Libya to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester, where they have lived for at least 10 years, the US officials said. Police raided a house in Elsmore Road in Fallowfield earlier on Tuesday.

READ | Islamic State claims responsibility for terror attack

A US government source said investigators were looking into whether Abedi had travelled to Libya and whether he had been in touch with Islamic State militants there. The Times newspaper said Abedi was believed to have returned to Britain from Libya recently.

The University of Salford, based in Manchester, said in a statement that Abedi was one of its students and it was helping the police with their investigation.

READ | Manchester Arena terror attack: Police name 22-year-old Salman Abedi as suspect

A 23-year-old man arrested by police in a separate move in south Manchester in connection with the attack on Tuesday was believed to be Abedi’s brother, news reports said. Abedi had a sister named Jomana Abedi, the US security officials said. Abdalla Yousef, a spokesman for the Didsbury Mosque in Manchester, said Abedi’s father and brother had prayed there but Abedi had worshipped at another mosque.

Full report at:



Britain defiant as IS claims Manchester massacre

May 24, 2017

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed on Tuesday that “terrorists will not prevail” hours after 22 people, including an eight-year-old girl, were killed at a packed pop concert in a suicide bombing claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

Britain’s worst terrorist bloodshed for more than a decade came just over two weeks before it votes in general elections, and after a series of deadly militant attacks across Europe.

Witnesses described the horror when the suicide bomber blew himself up as youngsters streamed out of the concert by US star Ariana Grande at one of Europe’s largest indoor venues in Manchester. The audience was predominantly made up of young girls.

“There were fathers carrying their little girls in tears. People were pushing down the stairs. It was just... chaos,” Sebastian Diaz, 19, from Newcastle, told AFP.

Twenty-two killed, 59 injured as suicide explosion hits music concert

The prime minister said the bomber was believed to have acted alone. However, police arrested a 23-year-old man on Tuesday morning in connection with the attack.

Manchester police chief Ian Hopkins identified the suspected bomber as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, reportedly of Libyan descent. British election rolls listed him as living in a modest house in a mixed suburb of Manchester where police performed a controlled explosion in the afternoon.

“A single terrorist detonated his improvised explosive device near one of the exits of the venue, deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately,” Ms May said after an emergency ministerial meeting.

Threatening more attacks, the IS said in a statement published on its social media channels: “One of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs among the crowds.”

The British prime minister said during a visit to Manchester that police would look at the security of such venues, while the government would also review police resources.

But while campaigning for the June 8 election was suspended by the main parties after the attack, she insisted: “The terrorists will not prevail. We will not let the terrorists win, our values will prevail.”

Condemning the attack as horrific, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, said: “May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”

Panicked crowd

Screaming fans, many of them teenagers, fled the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena in panic after the explosion at the end of the concert by the 23-year-old Grande, a former child TV star who described herself as “broken” by the attack.

Imran Haq from Leeds described how he was outside the concert hall waiting for his partner and 12-year-old daughter when he saw screaming people running out of the hall. “I bought the tickets last November as a Christmas present for my daughter,” he said. “She has been so excited counting the days down… then some idiot comes and does what he has done.” Both his loved ones survived.

United States President Donald Trump and European leaders issued vows of defiance and stars from the worlds of music and football such as former Manchester United player David Beckham expressed their condolences.

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos and a teenager, Georgina Callander, were among the first of the 22 victims to be confirmed.

Another 59 people were wounded, many with life-threatening conditions.

Police said the blast occurred in the foyer of the arena, a covered area which links the auditorium to Victoria Station, a train and tram hub.

Witnesses reported seeing bodies on the floor after the blast at around 10.30pm on Monday, and some fans were trampled as panicked crowds tried to flee the venue.

Families were separated, with dozens of young people taken to nearby hotels overnight, and some parents were still desperately searching for their children on Tuesday.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding 700 more.

Full report at:



Merkel’s Muslim Refugees Terrorize Britain and Europe

By Shayne Heffernan

 May 24, 2017

Merkel’s Muslim Refugees Terrorize Britain and Europe

Prime Minister Theresa May said that according to the assessment of the UK security services, another “attack remains [not only] highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent.”

“It is now concluded on the basis of today’s investigations that the threat level should be increased for the time being from severe to critical,” she said in a televised statement. “It is a possibility we can’t ignore that there are a wider group of individuals linked to this attack.”

The following attacks were committed by Muslims in Europe and the UK, most involved directly or indirectly a network of terrorist cell that have been fueled by Merkel’s Muslim Refugees.

Charlie Hebdo attack: January 7 2015 killed 12 people and injured 11 others

Paris attacks: November 13 2015 killed 130 victims and injured hundreds of others

Brussels bombings: March 22 2016 killed 32 people and wounded more than 300

Nice terror attack: July 14 2016 killed 84 people and injured hundreds of others

Attacks in Germany: July 2016

Normandy church attack: Tuesday July 26 2016

Louvre knife attack: February 3 2017

Westminster attack: March 22 2017 2dead

Stockholm attack: April 7 4 dead

Paris shooting: April 20 1 dead

Manchester terror attack: May 22 22 dead 59 injured

Europe has always had a large Muslim population, but the start of the trouble can be directly linked to Merkel’s refugee policy that flooded Europe and Britain with Muslim deserters and terrorists.

The European migrant crisis, or the European refugee crisis, began in 2015 when rising numbers of people arrived illegally in the European Union, traveling across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe.

The trend was brought to the world’s attention during the 2015/2016 New Year’s Eve celebrations, there were mass sexual assaults, at least 24 rapes, and numerous thefts in Germany, mainly in Cologne city center. There were similar incidents at the public celebrations in Hamburg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and Bielefeld. For all of Germany, police report that 1,200 women were sexually assaulted and estimate that at least 2,000 refugee men were involved, acting in groups.

Full report at:





Trump wants ME peace ‘compromise’ but admits won’t be easy

May 24, 2017

JERUSALEM/Rome - US President Donald Trump called on Israelis and Palestinians to make compromises for peace Tuesday as he wrapped up a closely watched visit, but offered no specifics on how he would resolve the decades-old conflict.

In a speech toward the end of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump offered a forceful defence of the Jewish state and pledged to protect the country against common enemies, including Iran. But he also touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, again vowing he was “personally committed” to helping the two sides reach a deal.

After weeks earlier flashing his trademark bravado by saying the “ultimate deal” could be easier than “people have thought,” he seemed to acknowledge the complexities that have bedevilled his predecessors.

“Making peace however will not be easy,” Trump told an audience of Israeli politicians and other dignitaries at the Israel Museum.

“We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions. But with determination, compromise and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.” He however offered no specifics, with widespread scepticism over whether meaningful talks are possible for now.

In what may concern peace advocates, he did not specifically mention the two-state solution, long the focus of international efforts and US Middle East diplomacy. The parts of the speech offering a robust defence of Israel drew loud applause, which seemed to energise Trump on the second leg of his first foreign trip since taking office.

After mentioning threats to Israel from Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, he said, “not with Donald J. Trump,” drawing enthusiastic applause. “I like you too,” Trump said when the audience quieted. Trump’s speech, welcomed by Israeli right-wingers, came after he met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day. On Monday, he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and departed for Rome on Tuesday afternoon. Trump also laid a wreath and spoke at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The visit follows an initial leg in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism.

Abbas had sought to convince the unpredictable US president to remain committed to an independent Palestinian state. Trump had arrived in Bethlehem by motorcade, crossing a checkpoint at Israel’s controversial separation wall, and was greeted by Abbas and other dignitaries outside the city’s presidential palace.

Abbas reiterated his call for a two-state solution to the conflict, including a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

“We are ready to open dialogue with our Israeli neighbours to build confidence and create a real opportunity for peace,” he said after talks with Trump.

The US president used the occasion to also condemn the “evil losers” behind a bomb blast at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester that killed 22 people.

Trump vowed not to refer to attackers as “monsters” any longer “because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name.” “I will call them from now on losers because that’s what they are,” he said.

Donald Trump on Tuesday arrived in Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis in what was his first official trip to Europe since becoming US President.

Trump, on a tour that has already taken him to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories, touched down in the Italian capital aboard Air Force One just before 1630 GMT, an AFP staffer travelling with the presidential team said.

The under-fire billionaire is due at the Vatican on Wednesday morning for a meeting with the pope, with whom he has clashed on numerous issues ranging from the plight of migrants to unbridled capitalism and climate change.

They also disagree on issues like the death penalty and the arms trade but do have common ground to explore on the issues of abortion and the persecution of Christians.

After the papal audience, also to be attended by Trump’s wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, the Trump couple are to be given a tour of the Sixtine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.

Bethlehem also holds deep significance as the site where Christians believe Jesus was born and welcomes thousands of pilgrims each year for Christmas. A banner hung in the city said “the city of peace welcomes the man of peace”.

Their talks came with hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17, which Abbas referred to in his remarks after meeting Trump.

On Monday, Palestinians also held a general strike in support of the prisoners.

Clashes broke out near a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah involving several hundred stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, leaving at least one wounded.

Trump initially sparked deep concern among Palestinians when he backed away from the long US commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.

Meeting Netanyahu in Washington in February, he said he would support a single state if it led to peace, delighting Israeli right-wingers who want to see most of the West Bank annexed.

During his election campaign, Trump also advocated breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, alarming Palestinians.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

At the same time, he urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.

The most high-profile moment of Trump’s stay in Jerusalem was his visit to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. He became the first sitting US president to visit the site in the Israeli-annexed east of the city. He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit.

Allowing them to do so could have led to accusations that Washington was implicitly recognising Israel’s unilateral claim of sovereignty over the site, which would break with years of US and international precedent.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most difficult issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, stalled since April 2014.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community and claims the entire city as its capital.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

After Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump heads to the Vatican, and to Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings.



Thousands of Gazans protest Trump visit to occupied territories

May 23, 2017

Thousands of Palestinians have staged a rally in the Gaza Strip to denounce a trip by US President Donald Trump to the occupied territories, while condemning his earlier designation of resistance against the Israeli regime as a form of terrorism.

During the protest on Tuesday, Palestinian fighters posed with an effigy of Trump at their gunpoint while thousands of others chanted slogans against his presence in Palestine.

The protesters also condemned Trump’s inaction on Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails. They also held banners that read, "Resistance is not terrorism," making a reference to Trump’s designation of resistance groups in Gaza as terrorists.

The protest against Trump was organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), whose gunmen moved the effigy of Trump on the back of a truck on the streets in Gaza as people chanted slogans against Washington and Israeli regime.

Fawzi Barhum, the spokesman for the resistance movement Hamas, said on Tuesday that Trump was smearing the reputation of Palestinian "resistance" in favor of the Israeli occupation. The official said Trump’s likening of Hamas with the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group during a summit in Saudi Arabia, which came before his arrival in the Palestinian territories, was "aimed at besmirching the reputation of the Palestinian resistance."

A top Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, also censured Trump's provocative remarks, saying the US president was "aligning himself with the policies of the [Israeli] occupier" regime.

Full report at:



Spokesman Dismisses Media Reports on Stop of Kazakh Uranium Supplies to Iran

May 23, 2017

"We have held long negotiations with Kazakhstan and of course, purchasing 950 tons of uranium from that country has been approved by all members of the Iran and the G5+1 (the US, China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany) joint commission and even the US and Britain," Kamalvandi said on Tuesday.

Voicing regret that Britain has changed its position after the US presidential election, he said that such reports which are released by the lesser-known British media are directed at specified goals.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi announced in April that Tehran is in talks with Kazakhstan to purchase a large amount of yellow cake from that country.

"The negotiations for purchase of 950 tons of yellow cake from Kazakhstan are not yet over and are still underway," Araqchi said.

The British New Europe newspaper claimed that the Iran policy of the new US administration has made it impossible for Kazakhstan to supply uranium to Iran.

Full report at:



Ould Cheikh: Our discussions will focus on avoiding military actions in Hudaydah

23 May 2017

The UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, sent a message to the Yemenis upon arriving to the capital Sanaa on Monday, after elements of the armed Houthi militias faced the convoy of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the UN to Yemen after leaving the airport, eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya.

“I want to send a message to the Yemeni people. We, the United Nations, will remain objective. Our goal is to seek peace. We are not taking sides, whatever is said. We will continue to strive for peace. We hope to cease fire during the month of Ramadan. And get the conflicting parties back to the negotiation table,” Ould Cheikh said in the conference hall.

He also revealed the objectives of his current visit to Yemen, which are three main points. Firstly; to avoid and prevent any military operation in the city of Hudaydah, secondly; considering it a humanitarian visit, in order to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis in various situations, in addition to Cholera epidemic control.

Third; the economic aspect, where the visit aims to discuss the issue of salaries and ways to resolve the related problems, in addition to the need to solve the Central Bank case.

Ould Cheikh arrived to Sanaa as part of a tour he began last week in Riyadh in an attempt to revive the stalled peace talks, since August last year, after Kuwait’s three-month consultations ended with the rejection of the coup to sign the agreement proposed by the UN envoy at the end of negotiations.

A few hours prior to the UN envoy’s arrival to Sanaa, the spokesman of the Houthis, Mohamed Abdel Salam, criticized the UN and described it as helpless, and a failure in fulfilling promises.

Full report at:



Trump should engage in talks with Iran: Kofi Annan

May 24, 2017

Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan urges US President Donald Trump to engage in talks with Iran rather than retaining his current antagonistic stance towards the Islamic Republic.

Trump has adopted an invariably harsh tone when talking about Tehran, calling it the “number one terrorist state” and criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama for being too soft on Iran.

During his recent Middle East tour, the new US president endorsed Saudi Arabia and Israel’s long-drawn-out practice of Iranophobia.

Washington agreed to sell the kingdom USD 110 billion worth of arms to “counter” Iran. The Trump administration has also leveled sanctions against the country over its defensive missile work, which Iran asserts only serves the purpose of deterrence.

“It is important to reach out and talk to Iran,” Annan told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“Iran is part of the solution” to the conflicts in the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq, and “we cannot get away from that fact,” he added.

Iran has been lending military advisory support to the Syrian and Iraqi counterterrorism operations. It has also been trying successfully alongside Russia, another Syria ally, and Turkey, which backs anti-Damascus militants, to bring the warring sides in Syria to the negotiating table.

Annan said what justified an open approach towards Iran was its reaching out to the world by clinching the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

The former UN chief described the nuclear agreement as “good” and welcomed the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a key architect of the deal “as a sign that the Iranian people clearly desire peaceful relations with the outside world.”

Trump has described the agreement, which was negotiated under the Obama administration, as the “worst deal ever” and threatened to “tear it up” during his election campaign late last year.

Annan added that Washington’s posturing, including labeling Iran the enemy and a purveyor of terrorism, is not going to contribute to the realization of peace in the region in any way.

“What is required is steps which diffuse tensions and divisions, and not steps which deepen divisions,” he said. “And we need to be very careful of what action we take, what we say, because words can soothe, they can calm but they can also provoke and they can also excite.”

Full report at:



Trump 'cozying up' to despots behind Bahrain crackdown: Iran FM

May 23, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the deadly crackdown by Bahraini security forces on protesters was the outcome of US President Donald Trump "cozying up" to despots during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

"First concrete result of POTUS cozying up to despots in Riyadh: Deadly attack on peaceful protesters by emboldened Bahraini regime. Google it," Zarif said on his official Twitter account on Tuesday.

Zarif's twitter came on the same day that Bahraini regime forces stormed into the residence of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority in a northwestern village, arresting everyone inside the house.

Security forces launched a bloody attack on protesters who had convened in al-Fida Square in the village of Diraz. The regime also blocked Internet access in the area.

Bahraini security forces shot and killed at least two demonstrators during the operation. There have been reports of security forces firing birdshot at protesters and teargas into the house of the prominent cleric.

The Bahraini Interior Ministry announced in a statement that security forces had arrested 50 demonstrators in the village but the senior cleric was not among them.

The bloody operations in Diraz are likely to raise tensions in Bahrain days after the US president said Washington's relationship with Manama - long strained over its human rights record - would improve.

The Persian Gulf state is home to the US Navy's 5th fleet.

Bahraini regime's miscalculation

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi also on Tuesday denounced the attack by Bahraini security forces on protesters and the raid on the residence of Sheikh Qassim, saying the move was a "miscalculation" by the Manama regime.

"The Bahraini government complicated the ongoing situation in the country more than before with its attack on the village of Diraz and its raid on the home of senior cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim as well as killing and injuring tens of defenseless and peace-seeking protesters," Qassemi said.

He added that the escalation of suppression and pursuit of sectarian and religious approaches against the Bahraini people would fail to help the settlement of the crisis in the country.

The Iranian spokesperson pointed to Sheikh Qassim's senior religious and political position among Muslims and said the Bahraini government would be held responsible for the possible consequences of any assault against him.

Qassemi urged the Bahraini regime to stop its security and military approach and pursue a political settlement and national talks instead of relying on the support of foreign sides in dealing with the religious and political leaders and the people's legitimate demands.

He also urged Manama to prepare the ground for solving the crisis by having confidence in the country's people.

Diraz is the native village of Sheikh Isa Qassim. It has been the scene of protests since last June, when the authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote “sectarianism” and “violence.” He has denied the allegations.

Full report at:



Yemeni tribal fighters kill US troops in Ma’rib: Report

May 23, 2017

Yemeni tribal fighters have reportedly killed several American troops after they launched a heliborne attack on a village in Yemen’s central province of Ma’rib, a report says.

According to a report by Yemen's Khabar news agency website, at least 30 troops from the US and some Persian Gulf states, were deployed in the rural area of Khathla in the early hours of Tuesday and engaged in a gun battle with fighters from two prominent tribes in the village.

It added that during the ensuing fierce battle at least seven of the invading troops were fatally injured, who had come there with the purported mission of gunning down militants belonging to the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Takfiri terrorist group.

The report, however, added that no militants of the terror group were in the area when three Apache choppers and two military transport aircraft of the US approached the village.

Earlier in the day, Centcom, the US military command in the Middle East, however, told a totally different story, saying the heliborne attack concluded with killing of seven AQAP militants, without mentioning any casualties from the American troops and the presence of soldiers from some Persian Gulf states.

However, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis later said at a press conference that multiple American forces sustained injuries, but added that the wounds they had received were not serious enough to require medical evacuation.

According to Davis, the Tuesday attack was the first US ground assault in Ma’rib and its deepest in the Yemeni territories to purportedly target AQAP militants.

Yemen has been under regular US drone strikes, with Washington claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda elements, while local sources say civilians have been the main victims.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Stop Investigating Koh, Start Finding Him, Group Tells Police

May 24, 2017

PETALING JAYA: An international Christian organisation has called for the police to enhance efforts to secure the release of Pastor Raymond Koh, instead of trying to investigate allegations that he had tried to proselytise to Muslims.

Calling on the police to cease their “baseless investigation”, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Koh had been subject to incidents of harassment and threats that warranted closer attention.

“Pastor Raymond Koh works with all people who are in need. The work of people of faith in such communities must be free from threats of violence and intimidation.

We recognise that the abduction of Pastor Koh follows and is linked to incidents of harassment, intimidation, hate speech, criminal threats and attacks, based on religious grounds, against him and colleagues, that went largely unchecked by the authorities.

“We urge the Malaysian police to halt their baseless investigation against Pastor Koh and instead concentrate on securing his release and holding the criminals who have abducted him to account,” CSW’s East Asia team Leader Benedict Rogers said in a statement on the occasion of the 100-day mark yesterday, since Koh’s abduction.

Koh, 62, was abducted by a group of masked men less than 100 metres from the Police Housing Complex in SS4, Kelana Jaya, on the morning of Feb 13. Video footage later emerged showing what looks like a well-executed plan involving seven vehicles and at least 12 individuals.

The whole incident takes place in less than a minute, with all vehicles, including Koh’s car, seen driven away.

CSW also highlighted how Malaysia’s ranking on the 2017 Annual Report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom is weak due to such incidents of harassment and intimidation against religious minorities being “tolerated by the government”.

“The 2017 Annual Report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom places Malaysia on its Tier 2 list of 12 countries where religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are serious. Malaysia has been designated a Tier 2 country since 2014.”

CSW also took note of how little progress has been made in the investigation into the abduction, let alone the lack of updates on the case, with such concern also echoed by the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok.

Citing statements by Koh’s family, CSW said instead of concentrating on the circumstances behind Pastor Koh’s arrest, the police have instead focused on suspicions that Pastor Koh and the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that he founded, Harapan Komuniti (Hope Community), have been guilty of ‘proselytising’ to the Malay community.

“On April 6, the Malaysian media reported that the police had started investigating Pastor Raymond Koh and alleged unnamed associates for attempting to convert unnamed Muslim teenagers to Christianity in the northern state of Perlis.

“Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar reportedly stated that the investigation would be under Section 298(A) of the Penal Code, which stipulates offences relating to religion under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.”

CSW said the use of Federal Law to investigate proselytisation by invoking Section 298(A) of the Penal Code, an ambiguous cause which bars ‘causing disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will’, is unusual and could lead to more severe punishments being handed to those who are caught proselytising.

Supporting Koh’s work in Malaysia, CSW said he has undertaken social and charity work among marginalised and underprivileged communities, including people living with HIV/AIDS, recovering drug addicts, single mothers and their children.

The organisation, which lists itself as a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice, said Malaysia’s international image has been hurt over the issue of intolerance.

“Malaysia’s much-touted moderate Muslim image has been tarnished in recent times by the rise of restrictions against non-Muslim minorities.



Police Turn To Rizieq’s Family to Persuade Him to Return to Indonesia

May 24, 2017

The Jakarta Police have asked the family of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) firebrand leader Rizieq Shihab to persuade him to return to Indonesia from Saudi Arabia to help in the investigation of a pornography case.

The police want to question Rizieq as a witness in a pornography case in which he and treason suspect Firza Husein allegedly engaged in a steamy WhatsApp conversation.

“We really hope [his family] will talk him into returning home,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Tuesday as reported by

Rizieq has ignored two police summonses for questioning in the case. The police claim he is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His lawyer said Rizieq and his family flew to Saudi Arabia on April 27 on the umrah (minor haj).

Full report at:



North America


What Pope Francis Believes Makes America Great


By Jennifer S. Bryson

Foreign leaders are learning how to best approach meetings with President Trump. “He likes to have wins for America and wins for himself from bilateral meetings," Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States told the New York Times.  What does a win look like for Trump's Wednesday visit to the Vatican?

It's a hard question since the American president and Pope Francis are seemingly the polar opposites in temperament and diverge on any number of political issues. But to help get an idea of what might be a "win" for the president; one just has to look back to the papal visit to the United States two years ago.

Speaking in front of the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia, Francis said, “May this country and each of you be renewed in gratitude for the many blessings and freedoms that you enjoy. And may you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself.”

He praised the strong history of religious freedom in the country, noting how “the Quakers who founded Philadelphia were inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual” and that “this conviction led them to found a colony which would be a haven of religious freedom and tolerance.”

Francis believes religious freedom makes America great. Trump can get a “win” by committing to protect religious freedom for all Americans. That starts by changing course on how his administration treats American who are Muslim.

Where Francis and Trump have diverged is on the treatment of Muslims. Francis’ outreach to Muslims worldwide has been a theme of his papacy. Most notable, Francis washed the feet of Muslims and other non-Christian refugees at Holy Thursday services in 2013 and 2016. “All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, evangelical brothers and sisters — children of the same God,” he said. “We want to live in peace, integrated."

Trump has notably said, “I think Islam hates us” and tried twice to impose a travel ban on visitors to the United States from seven (later limited to six) Muslim-majority countries.

On the first stop of his foreign tour in Saudi Arabia, Trump showed some signs of changing. He moderated his tone, declaring that Islam is 'one of the world's great faiths.' As Catholic writer Charles Camosy noted in Crux, “This new approach is much more in line with Catholic teaching, which utterly rejects the idea that Christians are somehow in a cultural conflict with Muslims.”

Hopefully, the president’s meeting with Francis further cements his newfound respect for Islam and Muslims.

When Francis came to the United States, he spoke powerfully about what makes America great: religious freedom. That freedom must be respected for all people, including Americans who are Muslim.

One can hope that support for religious freedom, both in the US and in US foreign policy, will serve as a cornerstone for Trump’s “make America great” agenda. And if Trump pledges to uphold authentic religious freedom, namely religious freedom for all, he can find common ground, and even opportunities for collaboration, at the Vatican.

Jennifer S. Bryson, Ph.D., is Director of Operations and Development at the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom in DC and a parishioner in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Bryson has a Ph.D. from Yale in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations." Follw her on twitter @brysonjs



US forces kill seven Qaeda militants in Yemen ground raid

May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON - US forces have carried out a ground raid on an Al-Qaeda compound in Yemen, killing seven militants, the Pentagon said late Monday.

The raid took place in Marib province in the early hours of Tuesday local time and was conducted with the support of Yemeni authorities. “During this operation, US forces killed seven AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) militants through a combination of small arms fire and precision airstrikes,” Centcom, the US military command for the Middle East, said in a statement.

“Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP.”

Yemeni tribal sources said the operation targeted a residential block held by Al-Qaeda fighters in the village of Al-Hathla, in a mountainous district in the southeast of Marib province.

The dead were all members of the same Al-Aadhal tribe, the sources said.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January, the United States has increased attacks against AQAP, which has taken advantage of more than two years of intensifying conflict in Yemen to increase its presence.

That has included an ill-fated raid against AQAP in January that left multiple civilians and a US Navy SEAL dead.

That raid was the first authorized by Trump, who drew criticism after he blamed “the generals” for having “lost” Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. Washington regards AQAP to be the most dangerous branch of the extremist group.

Since 2015, Yemen has been locked in a devastating civil war between Iran-supported Huthi rebels and government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition. America has supported the Saudi-led coalition through weapons sales, air-to-air refueling and some intelligence sharing.

Full report at:



Inside the Secret World of Ex-Muslims

May 23, 2017


In April, a defiant group of self-identified “apostates” convened in downtown Portland, Oregon, to revel in the joys of brew culture, bacon burgers, and atheism. Nine ex-Muslims from several states in the region gathered for a local meeting of the Ex-Muslims of North America.

EXMNA is a nonprofit that provides support to individuals who have left Islam. Some of its members have faced disownership and death threats from family members for renouncing their religion. Chapter gatherings across the United States and Canada are closed-group meetings for safety reasons. Individuals who wish to join the organization go through a screening process to authenticate their identities, explained Sarah Haider, who co-founded EXMNA in 2013. “Unfortunately, it is not paranoia that requires us to be careful,” Haider said. “In the Muslim world, we are openly persecuted and regularly meet grisly ends. In the Western world we are safer, but even here open meetings can be a big risk.” In traditional interpretations of Islam, apostasy — the act of leaving one’s religion — is punishable by death or imprisonment. Across the globe, apostasy from Islam remains a capital offense in 13 Muslim-majority countries. Haider, who immigrated from Pakistan as a child, said that the unique experiences of ex-Muslims often leave them beyond the reach of typical secular or atheist support groups. “We have specific needs in terms of security and privacy,” Haider said. “Some ex-Muslims have more to fear from their local Muslim communities and families than others, so EXMNA provides a space for those who do not feel safe attending any public event.” Sarah Haider is scheduled to speak at Portland State University on May 26. “Yazid” (not his real name), a PSU alumnus, organized the local chapter meeting. He explained that a pub setting was intentional. “It’s actually symbolic,” he said. “A bar represents all the things that were haram [forbidden] to us when we were Muslim.” The vast majority of Muslims view the consumption of alcohol or pork as deeply haram. In Saudi Arabia, where Yazid is from, drinking or producing alcohol is punishable with fines, lashings, and imprisonment. Underneath the laughter and lighthearted chatter of the evening laid a somber reality: Each person, though a freethinker, had a religious identity or family to return to at the end of the night. “Shadi” is a 39-year-old immigrant from Egypt. He became an atheist about a year ago, but his wife only recently found out. “She begs me to pretend to pray in front of the children,” he said with a mournful look. This was the first time he had seen so many ex-Muslims together, as it was for nearly everyone at the event. “Amina” is a 27-year-old graduate student from East Africa. She held on to her boyfriend’s arm while they ate a slice of banana cream pie. “I haven’t told my family about him yet,” she said with an uneasy smile. Amina’s green-eyed American boyfriend spoke with a soft southern drawl. He stands in stark contrast to the type of man her family expects her to marry, she lamented. Across all schools of jurisprudence in both Shiite and Sunni Islam, marriage between a Muslim woman and non-Muslim male is prohibited. Muslim men are permitted to marry non-Muslim women, but their children are traditionally assigned their father’s faith. At the end of the night, Amina pulled up her Facebook profile. Barely recognizable in her old photos, Amina showed how she used to wear a hijab that draped over her torso, a practice she was pressured to adopt at the age of 12. “In so many ways it was me,” she said. “But it also didn’t feel like me. I should have been myself a lot earlier.” “Abdulrahman” is an international student from Pakistan. He is concerned for his young child and explained that social pressure to conform to a religious identity is so intense that his child will not be able to escape indoctrination. “I have to send my kid to the school where they teach bigotry, violence and hate,” he said. “You have to pretend to be religious or you can’t survive.” Abdulrahman wants to encourage creativity and critical thinking for his child but is afraid it will lead to an inquisitive spirit, especially toward religion, which carries many risks in the South Asian country. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a capital offense under the penal code, and dozens of individuals accused of blaspheming have been murdered through mob violence since the ’90s. “It’s hard for a father to deliberately make his own child less creative,” he said. On April 13, Mashal Khan, a Pakistani journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University, was killed on campus by an angry mob of students after he was accused of blasphemy during a debate about Adam and Eve. Graphic video of the murder shared on social media shows a motionless Khan being stomped on and beaten by dozens of furious men shouting “Allahu akbar.” The pressure to believe is so intense that 22-year-old junior software developer “Mahmoud” still goes to Friday prayers with his family. Mahmoud’s father is an immigrant from the West Bank, and his family worships at the Islamic Society of Southwest Washington. “You feel like you’re constantly lying,” he said. Mahmoud used to be extremely devout, even waking up at dawn every day to perform fajr, or morning prayer, but began to have serious doubts after reading the Koran and the hadith — attributed sayings and actions of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.

“Ozan” is a 23-year-old Turkish American with dual nationality. He recalled his youth as a fierce proselytizer — commanding right and forbidding wrong of the Muslims around him. “Any dogmatic belief system becomes a source of problems,” he said. After leaving Islam, he lost his community of friends and family. He moved to Seattle to start a new life. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in the recent Turkish referendum, which gave him sweeping powers, has made Ozan more sure than ever that he won’t return to Turkey.

Full report at:



Milo erupts on Ariana as ‘too stupid,’ too ‘pro-Islam’

By Cheryl K. Chumley

May 23, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos, conservative writer, went on a rant against Ariana Grande on his Facebook account, calling out the pop star for her naive views of Islam.

Much as Grande is hated by conservative America — and rightly so, given her disgusting, elitist 2015 mumbled hatred of the U.S. to her boyfriend, as she licked a donut and put it back on the shop shelf — fact is, maybe this is a bit unfair.

You decide.

Yiannopoulos wrote: “Sadly, Ariana Grande is too stupid to wise up and warn her European fans about the real threats to their freedom and their lives. She will remain ferociously pro-immigrant, pro-Islam and anti-America. Makes you wonder whether they bombed to attack her or in solidarity.”

There are plenty of celebrities with views that are identical, or even more anti-American, pro-open borders, blind-to-Islam than Grande‘s. Could’ve just as easily been a Katy Perry concert — a Madonna concert.

Full report at:



India considering punitive actions against Pakistan: US official

May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON: India is moving towards isolating Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive actions against Islamabad for its alleged support to cross border terrorism, a top American defence intelligence chief has told lawmakers.

"India has sought and continues to move to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive options to raise the cost to Islamabad for its alleged support to cross-border terrorism," Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, director, Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats.

His statement came a day after Indian Army launched "punitive fire assaults" on Pakistani positions across the Line of Control, inflicting some damage.

India, he said, is modernising its military to better posture itself to defend New Delhi's interests in the broader Indian Ocean region and reinforce its diplomatic and economic outreach across Asia.

Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan worsened following several terrorist attacks in India, he said.

"Continued threat of high level terror attacks in India, violence in Kashmir and bilateral diplomatic recriminations will further strain India-Pakistan ties in 2017," he said.

Following a terrorist attack on an Army base in Kashmir last September, New Delhi conducted a highly publicised operation against terrorists across the Line of Control, he added.

"In 2016, Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged some of the heaviest fire in years along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and each expelled a number of the other's diplomats amid growing tension," Stewart said.

He also told lawmakers that in 2017, Islamabad is likely to slowly shift from traditional counterinsurgency operations along Pakistan's western border to more counter-terrorism and paramilitary operations throughout the country, which have had some success in reducing violence from militant, sectarian, terrorist, and separatist groups.

"Anti-Pakistan groups probably will respond to this sustained pressure by focusing their efforts against soft targets," he said.

Noting that Pakistan's nuclear stockpile continues to grow, Stewart said the US is concerned that this growth, as well as an evolving doctrine and inherent security issues associated with Pakistan's developing tactical nuclear weapons, presents an enduring risk.

"Islamabad is taking steps to improve its nuclear security and is aware of the extremist threat to its program," Stewart said.

Observing that China has long identified the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity as a "core interest," he said in the South China Sea, China has embarked on a multi-year, whole-of-government approach to securing sovereignty, principally through maritime law enforcement presence and military patrols.

In 2016, China rejected the international arbitration ruling on its excessive South China Sea claims, built infrastructure at its man made outposts on the Spratly Islands, and for the first time, landed civilian aircraft on its airfields at Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef.

"China will be able to use its reclaimed features as persistent civil-military bases, which will enhance its presence and its ability to control the features and nearby maritime space. Beijing recognises the need to defend these outposts and is prepared to respond to any military operations near them," he told the lawmakers.

Stewart said a key component of PLA strategy in a regional contingency is planning for potential US intervention.

The PLA Rocket Force has given priority to developing and deploying regional ballistic and cruise missiles to expand its conventional strike capabilities against US forces and bases throughout the region.

Full report at:





Muslim law board recommends social boycott of those who resort to triple talaq

May 23, 2017

NEW DELHI: From "social boycott" of Muslims who resort to triple talaq to the appointment of an arbitrator to settle marital disputes are some features of the new guidelines issued by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for married couples.

The AIMPLB on Monday told the Supreme Court that it has issued "guidelines for the husband and wife at the time of dispute" which has to be followed, days after the court reserved its verdict on a clutch of pleas challenging triple talaq.

Giving details of the guidelines framed by it,+ the AIMPLB told the apex court that if there are differences between a husband and his wife, they should first try to mutually resolve the issues by keeping in mind the provisions of the Shariat (Islamic law) and try to overlook the mistakes of others.

It said in the second step, if the dispute is not resolved mutually and no desired results are achieved, then there may be a "temporary withdrawal".

"In case of failure of the first two steps, then senior members of both families should try to reconcile or one arbitrator may be appointed from each side for resolution of the differences," the fresh AIMPLB guidelines said.

It said "the Muslim community should boycott such persons socially who have pronounced three divorces (talaq) in one go, so that such incidents may be minimised".

The affidavit of AIMPLB said that only if the dispute still remained unresolved, the husband may pronounce one divorce during the period of purity of his wife and leave his wife till the time her waiting period (iddat) ended.

"If a favourable situation arises during the waiting period, the husband should retain her and then both of them should live as spouses. If the husband does not retain his wife during the waiting period, then the marriage will be automatically dissolved after the lapse of waiting period and both of them will be free and authorised to start a new life," the board said.

It, however, clarified that if the wife is pregnant during the waiting period, then the period will extend till the time of delivery and the husband will have to bear the expenses incurred during waiting period and in case the dower (dowry) has not been paid, then he has to pay it immediately.



Haj panel looks at Malaysian model to end pilgrimage subsidy

May 23, 2017

The government panel reviewing Haj subsidy is closely looking at the Malaysian way of the Islamic pilgrimage.

While the Indian government subsidises a part of the Haj travel, the Malaysian model (Tabunjg Haji) allows people to deposit money over years and when the fund is enough for pilgrimage, the government agency arranges the pilgrimage for the person.

Unlike the Indian model, Malyasian pilgrims fund their own travel. But the catch is that the Malaysian model takes a long time before a person can go to Haj.

The minority affairs ministry constituted a panel in January this year even as the Supreme Court directed the Centre in 2012 to gradually remove the Haj subsidy by 2022.

Earlier, the external affairs ministry had proposed to cut the subsidy by 10% annually after the subsidy jumped to Rs 827 crore in 2008.

Prominent Muslims and organizations have also demanded that the Haj subsidy should be scrapped as it is not strictly compliant with Islamic rules. Some Muslims felt that the subsidy had harmed the community more than benefitting them.

Two years ago, a group of MPs had also visited the Haj office in Malaysia to understand the model.

“The model is otherwise perfect. But the only problem is that in Malaysia, the waiting period is 85 years. Such a long wait list can’t be accepted in India, which has a huge Muslim population,” said Afzal Amanullah, the head of the government appointed panel.

The panel is looking at a formula whereby the waiting period can be reduced to 40 to 50 years.

The panel will be holding a fresh round of public hearing even as many Muslims have publicly sought an end to the subsidy regime.

The quota of Indian pilgrims for Haj this year stands at 1.70 lakh people.

In 2008, then Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan, along with other Muslim MPs, demanded that India to follow the Malaysian model on Tabunjg Haji as it is an “Islamic, Shariat-compliant” way.

India’s top Imam, Ahmed Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid had also urged the PM to amend the Haj rules to allow airlines to compete to carry Indian pilgrims to Jeddah — the base for the pilgrimage.

AIMIM MP Asauddin Owaisi, too, had demanded the end of the subsidy system.

Full report at:



Shooter Tara Sahdev's husband, mother-in-law charged for forcing her to convert to Islam

May 23, 2017

NEW DELHI: The CBI has filed a chargesheet against the husband of national-level shooter Tara Sahdev for allegedly forcing her to convert to Islam.

The police have also slapped dowry and rape charges against Ranjit Singh Kohli alias Raqibul Hasan. The agency named in its chargesheet, Sahdev's mother-in-law Kaushal Rani and the then Registrar (Vigilance) in the Jharkhand High Court, Mushtaque Ahmed, currently under suspension, for alleged criminal conspiracy.

The chargesheet was filed before a special court in Ranchi which has taken cognisance of the charges and posted the next date of hearing for June 1.

In its chargesheet, the CBI has alleged that Kohli, Rani and Ahmed forced Sahdev to get converted to Islam soon after her marriage.

Sahdev got married to Kohli on July 7, 2014. The athlete, 23, had alleged that she was tortured to convert to Islam. She had earlier claimed that Ranjit had concealed his religion before their marriage.

The CBI has charged Ahmed with eve teasing and pressuring Tara's family to get her married to Hasan.

Full report at:



Triple talaq: Muslim law board's affidavit an 'eyewash', says attorney general

May 23, 2017

NEW DELHI: Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on Tuesday termed the All India Muslim Personal Law Board's affidavit in the Supreme Court on its advisory on triple talaq a "mere eyewash" and said it was an attempt to gain "legal sanctity among the community".

The attorney general also questioned the locus of the AIMPLB to issue any advisory against the practice of triple talaq and said it was a "desperate attempt" on its part to divert the attention of the apex court, which has already reserved its verdict on the issue.

In an affidavit filed in the apex court on Monday, the AIMPLB had said that those who resort to triple talaq will face "social boycott" and an advisory will be issued to the 'Qazis' that they should tell the grooms that they will not resort to such a form of divorce.

Rohatgi said the Muslim body, which has admitted in the top court that the practice of triple talaq was "not good", should have enlightened the five-judge constitution bench to declare triple talaq invalid.

"I think this affidavit of AIMPLB is an eyewash. The board has no legal sanctity by itself. It is unclear as to how many people they speak for. They do not have any persuasive authority," said Rohatgi, who assisted the apex court in the triple talaq matter.

The attorney general said it is not clear as to how many Qazis will abide by, agree and understand the advisory issued by the personal law board.

"It is also unclear as to how many Qazis will inform the bridegroom at the time of Nikah not to resort to triple talaq. There is no mechanism to oversee whether the Qazis have advised the bridegroom not to resort to triple talaq and whether the grooms would actually follow the advisory," he said.

"Therefore the whole thing is a desperate attempt to divert the attention of the court. Further if the AIMPLB says that the practice is not good, then they should have enlightened the court to declare triple talaq as invalid," Rohatgi said.

He said "in my humble view, the court should not give any credence to such an affidavit of the board".

Full report at:



Mumbai man arrested in Pakistan: ‘I hope he will come home soon’

by Srinath Rao

May 24, 2017

EVEN AS the mother of the Indian man, who was caught in Pakistan last week for allegedly not possessing the necessary travel documents, hopes he will return home after going missing for more than a decade, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism squad is probing a probable SIMI link to Nabi Ahmed Sheikh. “He left us in 2006 and hasn’t been in touch ever since,” said Shakeela Sheikh, mother of Nabi Ahmed Sheikh, adding, “Now that he has been found there (in Pakistan), I hope he will come home.”

The Maharashtra ATS, which had interrogated Sheikh before he went missing, meanwhile, said it was attempting to establish if the man caught in Pakistan is the same person it had once investigated. Sheikh, who was involved in his family’s embroidery business, went missing in 2006, with the Maharashtra ATS believing that he entered Pakistan through Jammu and Kashmir. According to the ATS, Sheikh was among the several youth who travelled to Pakistan during that period for terror training.The police has been continuously keeping a tab on his family since his disappearance.

Full report at:





Iran Bombs Pakistani Territory as PM Attends Trump Saudi Summit

23 May 2017

State-sponsor of terrorism Iran has fired at least five mortar shells from its territory into Sunni-majority Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan, nearly two weeks after the head of the Shiite Islamic Republic’s military threatened to hit terror “safe havens” in Pakistan in response to a cross-border attack by a Sunni terrorist group.

Pakistan’s Balochistan province predominantly houses the Baloch, also spelled Baluch, a minority group in the region that reportedly faces oppression by Islamabad and Tehran.

“Five mortar shells were fired from the Iranian side between pillars 104 and 106. Luckily, no casualties occurred,” local Commissioner Zafar Kubdani confirmed, according to the Express Tribune.

“All the mortar shells landed in a barren land far away from the population,” notes Asian News International (ANI), citing Samaa TV.

The mortar shells were launched on Sunday as U.S President Donald Trump visited the Middle East for the first time as America’s commander-in-chief, attending a summit hosted by Iran’s rival Saudi Arabia to organize a predominantly Sunni Muslim and Arab coalition against the Islamic Republic.

Sunni-majority Pakistan, Iran’s neighbor, attended the event during which the Shiite powerhouse was singled out for criticism and fomenting terrorism across the Middle East.

arly two weeks after the Sunni terrorist group Jaish ul-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed responsibility for an attack that killed ten Iranian guards along the Shiite country’s border with Pakistan, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri, the chief of Iran’s armed forces, declared: “We expect Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases. … If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are.”

The terrorist group that took responsibility for the assault is fighting for independence in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan, the country’s largest province and home to the Baloch people, a mainly Sunni minority group in the country.

On the Pakistani side of the border lies Balochistan, also home to a Baloch minority and the Sunni-majority country’s largest province.

The U.S. State Department and human rights groups have accused Pakistan of oppressing its Baloch minority.

Human rights groups and other organizations have also accused Iran of committing atrocities against the Baloch people and other Sunnis within its borders.

According to ANI, Iran and Pakistan share an estimated 660-mile long porous border.

“There have been burgeoning incidents of Iranian forces firing mortar shells into Pakistani area. Pakistan also lodged a protest in February and March in this regard. During the past few years, Pakistan has accused Iranian forces of violating its territorial integrity,” reports Daily Pakistan.



Govt plans to draw ‘red lines’ for social media in Pakistan


ISLAMABAD: As the controversy over the crackdown against online anti-army campaigners heats up, the government on Tuesday revealed its plan to draw red lines for the social media service providers for operating in Pakistan.

“There will be no restrictions on social media. But, yes, there will be red lines in accordance with the law and Constitution of the country,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference, after a meeting with a representative delegation of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA).

However, he said nothing illegal was being done and advised critics of the crackdown not to create hurdles or hurl threats. He said the country’s social, moral and cultural values and law and dignity of people, not social media, were under attack. “Those attacking our values will be brought to book,” he warned.

Referring to the posts on social media following the withdrawal of an ISPR tweet rejecting the prime minister’s directive for implementation of recommendations of an inquiry committee formed to probe a Dawn report, he said such posts were unacceptable, particularly at a time when a “war against terror is being waged” to secure the country’s future.

He said action should be taken against individuals belonging to any political party or group, including the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N, if they were found to be behind the malignant campaign.

The minister said 27 identifications and eight individuals had been identified and six of them interrogated so far. He said no arrest had been made yet and nobody had been harassed. The individuals were even allowed to bring their counsel with them.

He said a forensic analysis of computers and mobile phones of those suspected of being behind the campaign would be carried out following which they would be formally charged and arrested.

Replying to a question, Mr Nisar said he would ask the National Assembly speaker to convene a meeting of political parties to seek their views on the proposed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the social media service providers. He said systems of different countries were being examined to follow the best practices with respect to the code of conduct and SOPs for the service providers.

The interior minister said the service providers would be asked to open their offices in Pakistan, which would be facilitated by the government, and help develop some rules of the game with consensus.

He said those using fake identities for unleashing malicious propaganda had no point in claiming that it was freedom of expression. He said the government supported the freedom of expression but it was not at all applicable to those attacking values, decency and the law.

He said one of the proposals discussed during the meeting was linking social media accounts with mobile phone numbers of the users.

He said the meeting agreed to the need for framing a code of conduct for the media on (issues related to) national security and the media representative organisations decided to set up a committee for this purpose. He said the proposed code of conduct would be submitted to the government during a specified period and then would be fine-tuned to give it a final shape.

He said the meeting also decided that senior federal ministers would regularly hold meetings with the media organisations to address ongoing issues and defuse any burning issues.

He said almost all the recommendations of the inquiry committee on the Dawn report had been implemented. Alluding to the recommendation of referring the matter of Dawn to the APNS, he said there was a unanimous view of the media organisations that it should be referred to the CPNE.

About social media, the minister said it was an un-organised concept where anybody could create a fake or real account and write something on the wall having no boundaries. He said the free-for-all system had blatantly been misused in the past.

He also referred to the nonsensical blasphemous material recently circulated on social media and said an effort from the platform of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation was under way to stop it once and for all.

Full report at:



IHC accepts Indian national's request to return home


May 24, 2017

The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday gave permission to Uzma, an Indian national, to return to her home country.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani was hearing petitions filed by Uzma and her husband, Tahir Ali. While the former had requested to be repatriated to India, Ali had asked to be allowed to meet his wife.

The court assured Uzma that she was free to return to India at any point and would be escorted to the Wagah Border with police security.

During the hearing, Justice Mohsin Akhtar asked Uzma if she wished to speak to her husband but she refused.

Earlier this month, Uzma, 22, was reported to have gone 'missing' at the Indian High Commission, a few days after her marriage to Tahir Ali, a resident of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The two had met while the Ali was working as a taxi driver in Malaysia eight months ago and were married in early May.

A few days after their marriage, they had approached the Indian High Commission — reportedly to secure Indian visas — after which Uzma had 'gone missing'.

It emerged later that she had sought refuge in the Indian High Commission and requested to be repatriated back to India.

Full report at:



Balochistan govt claims arrest of 'mastermind' behind high-profile terrorist incidents


May 24, 2017

The Balochistan government on Tuesday claimed to have apprehended the suspected mastermind of several major terror activities in the provincial capital, DawnNews reported.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, while addressing a press conference in Quetta, informed media that two colleagues of the alleged mastermind were also arrested by the security agencies.

The main suspect is the commander of a banned militant group,” he added.

During a video confession, played for journalists at the briefing, the suspect, identified as Saeed Ahmed alias Taqva, claimed that he was trained by Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies.

The suspect confessed to the killing of Barrister Amanullah Achakzai; the principal of a law college, Bilal Anwar Kasi; and the president of the Balochistan Bar Association, among others.

He also confessed to facilitating the Civil Hospital suicide bombing on August 8, 2016, which claimed the lives of more than 70 people, including 54 members of the legal fraternity.

Full report at:



Trump proposes to convert military aid to Pakistan into loans

May 24, 2017

WASHINGTON -  US President Donald Trump has proposed in his annual budget to the Congress plans for converting American grants to Pakistan for the purchase of military hardware into a loan.

The Trump administration’s budget proposal would convert some of the United States’ foreign military grants to loans, part of a larger effort to slash spending on diplomacy, aid and programmes abroad by more than 29 percent, the White House said on Monday.

The cuts to programmes under the State Department are in part meant to fund an increase in military spending.

The White House budget documents showed total defence spending for the 2018 fiscal year at $603 billion, about 3 percent higher than President Barack Obama’s proposed 2018 fiscal year defence budget.

The $603 billion includes funding for nuclear weapons programmes at the Department of Energy and other national defence programmes as well as the Department of Defence.

The Pentagon’s specific defence request is for $574.5 billion, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to fiscal year 2017.

Under President Donald Trump’s proposal, the United States would spend 29.1 percent less on the State Department and “other international programmes” in the 2018 fiscal year compared to 2017, a decrease of $11.5 billion.

That decrease includes a re-shaping of the way some countries receive military aid from the United States. Foreign military financing gives countries loans or grants to buy US military equipment.

The State Department decides which countries are given the financing while the Pentagon executes the decisions. Under the Trump proposal, many current grants would instead be converted to loans.

“We do change a couple of the foreign military programmes from direct grants to loans,” said Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, in a briefing with reporters on Monday. “Our argument was instead of ... giving somebody $100 million, we could give them a smaller number worth of loan guarantees and they could actually buy more stuff.”

Military aid to Israel and Egypt, two close US allies in the Middle East and the biggest recipients of US military assistance, will remain unchanged, Mulvaney said.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposal, said the foreign military grants could affect Pakistan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Ukraine, Colombia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

US military assistance to partners and allies reached $13.5 billion in 2015, or 28 percent of all US foreign aid spending that year, according to the Congressional Research Service. Most grants through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme go to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Congress ultimately controls the government purse strings and may reject some or many of the Trump administration’s proposals. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have criticised the size of the cuts to the State Department and US Agency for International Development.

Mulvaney said that aid to Pakistan would be reduced, though he did not give concrete details.

“(The) State (Department) still has some flexibility to come up with a final plan on that, but I do know that writ large we have proposed to move several countries from a direct grant programme to a loan guarantee programme,” he said.

Todd Harrison, a defence budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the switch from grants to loans for military aid may mean that countries will not be able to afford US military equipment, forcing them to go elsewhere for supplies.

Full report at:





Photo emerges of Manchester Arena Libyan attacker Salman Abedi

24 May 2017

The police have named the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, who killed 22 people and injured dozens more, as 22-year-old Salman Abedi of Libyan origins.

Born in Manchester in 1994, Abedi was the second youngest of four children and his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Qaddafi regime, British media reported. Abedi had two brothers and a sister, who is now 18-years-old.

Unconfirmed reports in Manchester said that the whole family apart from the two elder sons recently returned to Libya.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Monday night carnage, but a top American intelligence official said the claim could not be verified.

Meanwhile British police raided two sites in the northern English city, setting off a controlled explosion in one, and arrested a 23-year-old man in a third location there.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and police said Abedi died in the attack on Manchester Arena - something that went unmentioned in the ISIS claim, which also had discrepancies with the events described by British officials.

British election rolls listed Abedi as living at a modest red brick semi-detached house in a mixed suburb of Manchester where police performed a controlled explosion Tuesday afternoon.



Sudan’s President Accuses Egypt of Supporting Rebels

May 24, 2017

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has accused Egypt of supporting rebels at war with Khartoum, a week ahead of a visit to Cairo by Sudan’s foreign minister that is aimed at easing tensions between the neighboring states.

Egypt and Sudan have been at odds in recent months on a range of issues from disputed land in southern Egypt to trade restrictions and burdensome visa requirements that have threatened bilateral commercial ties.

In a speech to Sudanese armed forces, Bashir said Sudan’s military had seized Egyptian armored vehicles from rebels in the country’s war-torn southern Darfur region.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry denied supporting the rebels.

“Egypt respects the sovereignty of Sudan over its territory and has not and will not interfere for a single day to destabilize Sudan or harm its people,” it said in a statement.

Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been at war with various rebel factions in three southern regions of Sudan for years.

The United States said earlier this year it would lift long-standing economic sanctions if Sudan made progress on ending these conflicts, with an initial review period set to expire in July.

Full report at:



2 UN peacekeepers killed in Mali

May 23, 2017

Two peacekeepers were killed and a third wounded on Tuesday in an ambush in restive northern Mali, the nation's UN mission said.

The troops were patrolling on foot near Aguelhok, which is close to the border with Algeria, when they were attacked, the mission said in a statement.

A military source told AFP that the soldiers belonged to Chad's contingent.

Stationed in Mali since July 2013, MINUSMA has just over 12,000 military and police personnel working on what is considered the UN's most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment.

The attack was the latest in "a wave of violence in the last weeks," MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif was quoted in the statement as saying.

A UN peacekeeper from Liberia was killed and nine others injured early this month in a rocket and mortar attack near Timbuktu.

The attack, like many others in the last weeks, was claimed by a powerful extremist alliance (GSIM), a fusion of three Malian extremist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links.

It is headed by Malian extremist Iyad Ag Ghaly, a former leader of Ansar Dine.

Mali's north came under attack from extremist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012 who hijacked an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising.

Full report at:



Nigeria: Muslim Group Rejects NYSC, Military Camping During Ramadan

23 MAY 2017

By Abdulganiu Alabi

Kaduna — A Muslim group, the Da'awah Co-ordination Council of Nigeria (DCCN), has decried the clash of Ramadan fasting with camping exercise. It warned that failure to shift camping exercise during the fasting period might result to boycotting the exercise or any other national activity, which involves Muslims' participation.

The group, therefore, called on both the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) and Nigerian Army to suspend the upcoming camp drilling exercise during the Ramadan.

It said the exercise would be unbearable for Muslims fasting, considering the harshness of weather in some areas like Sokoto, Maiduguri and Adamawa. In a statement co-signed by its National President, Muhammad Lawal Maidoki and National Secretary-General, Mr. Ahmad M.Y. Jumba, the group said, among others:

"The council finds it imperative to issue this statement due to insensitivity of the government and its agencies on national programmes and activities that concern all Nigerians; a typical example is the 76th Nigerian Army regular recruit intake, zonal screening exercise from May 27 to June 9, 2017 during Ramadan.

"Similarly, the NYSC is holding another orientation camp from May 27 to June 17, 2017. This action will subject the Muslim candidates and corps members to unnecessary hardship and divert the required attention of every Muslim in Ramadan of spiritual attention/dedication.

"Therefore, we call on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to immediately prevail on the Nigerian Army and the NYSC to stop the camps and shift the dates till after Ramadan.

"Failure to do so, may lead to advising Muslim leadership in Nigeria to call on Muslims to boycott the camps and any other national activity of this nature that involves Muslims in Nigeria in Ramadan.

Full report at:



Somalia: 5 killed in suicide bombing in Bossaso

24th May 2017

By Hassan Istiila

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA): At least five people were killed, including two soldiers, when a suicide bomber targeted a military checkpoint in the coastal town of Bossaso, state media reported Tuesday.

The explosion rocked the area near the checkpoint, policeman Mohamed Ali told Anadolu Agency.

Two soldiers were among the dead, he said.

The Daesh terror group claimed responsibly for the attack and boasted that the group carried out its first suicide bombing in Somalia.

Bossaso is no stranger to Daesh terror attacks. Suspected militants attacked a hotel there in February resulting in at least four deaths, including two attackers.

Full report at:



Tensions grow over protester's death in Tunisia

May 23, 2017

Thousands of people on Tuesday attended the funeral of a protester killed a day earlier during clashes in southern Tunisia amid escalating tensions over social and labor issues across the North African country.

Anouar Sakrafi, in his early 20s, died of wounds sustained on Monday, when he was run over by a national guard vehicle during clashes with security forces outside an oil and gas installation.

The Tunisian Health Ministry confirmed that a young protester was killed after a police vehicle "accidentally" ran him over at the site.

The deadly incident took place at El Kamour oil and gas pumping station in Tataouine region, which is located about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of the capital Tunis.

Media reports said on Tuesday that a stream of vehicles headed for his funeral in his home town of Bir Lahmer, which is located 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the city of Tataouine.

Thousands of people chanted slogans such as "With our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, martyr!"

The National Coordination of Social Movements, a group set up to coordinate protests across Tunisia, blamed President Beji Caid Essebsi for Sakrafi's death.

"The head of state is responsible for this death, for what happened in Tataouine and in other regions, especially after his speech" on deploying the army, the group said.

Earlier this month, President Essebsi said the army would protect key economic installations from being disrupted by protests.

Angry demonstrators have been camping outside El Kamour station for nearly a month.

According to the health ministry, at least 50 people were hospitalized on Monday after suffering from broken bones or the effects of tear gas during clashes in the troubled region. Authorities said about 20 members of security forces were wounded in the fierce scuffles.

Fighting also erupted overnight during a protest in Kebili, about 230 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of Tataouine, in support of El Kamour protesters.

Dozens of people also demonstrated on Tuesday morning in the central town of Gafsa.

Two protests were held in the capital Tunis, with demonstrators echoing the rallying cry of Tataouine residents and chanting, "We won't give up!"

National guard spokesman Khalifa Chibani has warned of further escalation of the ongoing social unrest across the country.

"There is incitement on social media... calls for civil disobedience... and even a coup d'etat," local radio Mosaique FM quoted him as saying on Tuesday.

Tunisian Parliament Speaker Mohamed Ennaceur in a special sitting of lawmakers said the country was "passing through a delicate phase."

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s La Presse newspaper has warned that "the anger of the protesters (could) snowball."

Full report at:



South Africa: Are Isis Returnees a Risk for South Africa?

23 MAY 2017

By Raeesah Cassim Cachalia and Albertus Schoeman

With significant progress in the retaking of Mosul - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) last major stronghold in Iraq - and continued losses in Syria, many of ISIS' foreign fighters are returning home.

An estimated 40 000 individuals from 110 countries - including South Africa - travelled to ISIS-held territories to join the group. Countries are understandably concerned over the security implications of their return. The UK, Turkey and Sweden are stepping up efforts to identify returning fighters and to develop adequate responses to the challenge.

What are the implications for South Africa, which saw a number of its citizens leave the country to join ISIS?

When assessing whether returnees pose a security threat to their home countries, it's important to look at the factors that motivated them to join ISIS. An estimated 60 to 100 South Africans left to join the group and more than half had returned by 2016. A study conducted by the Institute for Security Studies at the end of 2016 provided insight into factors that led South Africans to join ISIS. The study assessed the threat of violent extremism to the country.

Factors generally considered conducive to radicalisation in Africa include political and socio-economic marginalisation, government repression and brutality, political and religious suppression and relative deprivation.

But these factors aren't prevalent in the context of South African recruits. These recruits emerged from the South African Muslim community, and were generally from stable socio-economic backgrounds, enjoying all the rights, freedoms and protection that the country's liberal democracy affords.

In contrast to the European context or what is often the case in the United States, Muslims in South Africa are not viewed as an immigrant community but rather as part of South Africa's diverse social make-up. The community has not faced political exclusion and has in fact been politically active, historically. Its role in the struggle against apartheid could be said to have facilitated a greater sense of unity with fellow South Africans and fostered loyalty towards the country.

The research suggests that the appeal of ISIS for many South Africans could be found in associating with the group's utopian vision of belonging and community found in the building of a 'just' state for all Muslims, rather than only in the violence exhibited by the group. For these individuals, ISIS offered the opportunity for self-actualisation and identity through a 'calling' to serve in the creation of the Caliphate, which they see as a historic project.

Respondents to the ISS study also pointed to a sense of solidarity with the suffering of Muslims in countries such as Palestine, Iraq and Syria as a strong factor driving recruitment in South Africa. Such conflicts are often perceived as injustices against Muslims, and for some, ISIS is seen as a force for change or resistance, with the group portraying itself as a defender of justice on behalf of the global Muslim community.

In assessing whether returnees pose a threat to South Africa, it is important to note that although there have been reports of South Africans fighting for ISIS, not all those who travelled to Syria and Iraq joined the group as combatants. Many were women and children not engaged in combat. It is also unlikely that the two 15-year-old girls who attempted to travel to Syria to join the group would have served as fighters; they may have offered support in the creation of the 'state'.

Of those who initially showed interest and travelled to join ISIS, many quickly returned once the realities relating to the group became clear. Of those who remained with ISIS, some have reportedly been killed, leaving very few South Africans still active in the group.

Although there are some sympathisers, ISIS has found little support within the South African community. Muslim authorities have been vocal in their condemnation of ISIS, leaving the group unable to garner support or exert influence in mainstream Muslim organisations. Potential returnees would thus be limited in any efforts to spread ISIS's violent ideology.

However, as seen in the 2016 Nice attack, and the Westminster attack in March this year, even efforts by a lone attacker could have immense consequences.

For this reason, the South African government should prepare for the possible return of ex-combatants, keeping in mind that, in contrast to the earlier group of returnees, these may not be willing returnees who are disillusioned with ISIS.

The incorporation of South Africa's Muslim community into the country's diverse make-up provides them with a stable identity, the means to participate politically and pursue opportunities through economic inclusion. Combined, these factors have made South African Muslims far less susceptible to more radical ideologies. For those who will return, it is vital to re-establish these social bonds to promote reintegration and recommitment to the communities, among other strategies.

Full report at:



South Asia


Myanmar top Buddhist body bans hardline group amid rising Islamophobia

May 23, 2017

Myanmar’s top Buddhist body has banned hardline group Ma Ba Tha, according to a document sent out on Tuesday, a move aimed at curbing the movement’s influence amid rising Islamophobia. Myanmar has been gripped by deepening religious tensions that have repeatedly spilled into violence, partially

attributed to anti-Muslim rhetoric spread by nationalist groups like Ma Ba Tha. The Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, Myanmar’s highest Buddhist authority, sent a letter to government ministries on Tuesday. “People, either as individuals or as a group, cannot take any actions under the name of Ma Ba Tha,” said the letter, which was seen by AFP and carried the signature of several monks including senior figures from Ma Ba Tha.

“Ma Ba Tha signboards across the country are to be taken down completely by July 15 at the latest,” the Sangha

committee added, warning any infractions would be punished under both Buddhist and civil law. But Ottama, a Ma Ba Tha monk in Yangon, said the group still planned to hold its annual meeting this weekend despite the ban. “The most certain thing is that we will hold the Ma Ba Tha conference on the 27 and 28 of this month,” he told AFP.

The Sangha’s sanction comes just weeks after the same committee, which represents the upper echelons of the clergy, banned the country’s most notorious monk Wirathu from preaching for a year. Once dubbed “the face of Buddhist terror,” the Mandalay-based monk has led calls for restrictions on the country’s Muslim minority and frequently spews vitriol online warning of an Islamic takeover.

Religious tensions have soared since a group of Rohingya Muslims attacked police posts in the north of Rakhine state last October, sparking a bloody military crackdown that has drawn widespread international condemnation. Since then nationalists in Yangon have held protests, stopped Islamic religious ceremonies and most recently forced two schools to shut their doors over accusations they were illegally doubling as mosques.

Police have arrested five people this month after a fight broke out in a Muslim neighbourhood of Yangon when dozens of hardliners raided a house believed to be hiding Rohingyas.



Afghan army suffer heavy casualties in Taliban attack in Kandahar

May 23 2017

At least ten Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers lost their lives in an attack by the Taliban insurgents in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense (MoD) General Dawlat Waziri said the attack was launched on Monday night around 11:50 pm local time in Shahwali Kot district.

Gen. Waziri further added that the Taliban insurgents attacked the Achekzai Suzani camp and some check posts located in the area.

He said at least ten Afghan soldiers lost their lives in the attack and nine others were wounded.

According to Gen. Waziri, the Taliban insurgents also sustained casualties in the attack and the dead bodies of at least twelve insurgents were left in the area after the attack.

He also added that several weapons and ammunition were also confiscated by the Afghan security forces.

The security situation in Kandahar had improved during the recent years however the insurgents have increased their attacks in several southern provinces, including Helmand that resulted into the deteriorating security Kandahar.

The Afghan security forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism operations to suppress the insurgency activities of the militant groups who are attempting to expand their insurgency as part of their spring offensive.

Full report at:



ISIS leaders among 10 killed in East of Afghanistan

May 24 2017

At least ten militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group’s offshoot in Afghanistan, ISIS Khurasan, were killed during the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government in a statement said the militants were killed during the Hamza counter-terrorism operations conducted in the vicinity of Achin district.

The statement further added that the militants were targeted in Pekha and Gawdara aras of Achin, leaving ten of them dead including four of their leaders.

The ISIS leaders killed during the operations have been identified as Omari, Omar Shah, Sabit, and Abu Talha, the statement added.

The provincial government in its statement also added that the local residents and the security personnel did not suffer any casualties during the operations.

Nangarhar has been witnessing persistent counter-terrorism operations since last year and currently the Afghan forces are conducting the operations under the name of Hamza operations to eliminate the presence of ISIS-K militants from its restive districts.

Full report at:



Taliban engineer among 3 killed while manufacturing mines in Kandahar

May 23 2017

A Taliban engineer was killed along with two other as they were producing an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

Provincial police spokesman Zia Durrani said the incident took place earlier today in Maiwand district.

Durrani further added that four insurgents were also wounded after the explosives went off prematurely.

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

The Taliban insurgents frequently use IEDs as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials but in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UANAMA) released its latest civilian casualties report last month, covering a period of three months since the start of 2017.

According to the report, the Anti-Government Elements caused 62 per cent of civilian casualties – 1,353 civilian casualties (447 dead and 906 injured), reflecting a five per cent increase compared to the same period in 2016.

Full report at:



Maithripala Sirisena orders stern action against those attacking Muslims in Sri Lanka

May 23, 2017

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the law enforcement agencies to take stern action against those responsible for carrying out the current spate of attacks against Muslims and damaging their places of worship. The Muslim groups had pointed out that since mid-April, over 20 incidents of violence, hate, intimidation and threats have been reported against Muslims and their places of worship. In some cases there have been arson attacks against Muslim-owned businesses in several towns. No arrests of attackers has been made till date.

Sirisena asked Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake to take stern action while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that respective area police must be held accountable for the incidents.

The US and British embassies have issued statements condemning the incidents of violence against the Muslim community by the organisation named BBS (Bodu Bala Sena Forces of Buddhist Power). Its leader the Buddhist Monk, Galagodaatte Gnanasara is accused of issuing public threats on Muslims and verbally abusing Islam faith.

“Any attack on a house of worship is reprehensible. I hope authorities arrest and try the perpetrators soonest,” US Ambassador Atul Keshap tweeted. “Attacks like this deserve condemnation,” James Dauris, the British High Commissioner tweeted.

Gnanasara made a forceful entry to national integration minister Mano Ganesan’s ministry last week and verbally confronted the minister, who is a minority Tamil. Ganesan then raised the issue at this morning’s cabinet meeting following which Sirisena ordered stern action against the accused.

Full report at:



Arab World


Saudi Arabia: Bahrain's security an integral part of Saudi and Gulf security

24 May 2017 T

The security and stability of the Bahrain is an integral part of the security and stability of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, an official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

According to a Saudi Press Agency statement: “The source affirmed the support of Arabia for the measures being taken by Bahrain in order to maintain its security and stability and the safety of its citizens and residents including the latest measures taken by the Bahraini security services in the village of Al-Diraz to maintain security and order and to address all terrorist attempts aimed at destabilizing and damaging them.”

Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior announced late Tuesday the death of five outlaws in al-Diraz village, northwest coast of the Gulf country.

Earlier Tuesday, Bahrain arrested 286 over terrorism charges. Most of the detainees were hiding in the home of Issa Qassim in al-Diraz. Qassim faces expulsion from the kingdom after authorities revoked his citizenship last year for alleged links to Iran and fomenting violence, charges he has denied.



Syria: Countdown Starts for Full Collapse of ISIL in Aleppo Province

May 23, 2017

The sources said that the army forces continued to hit ISIL's defense lines in Maskana plains in Eastern Aleppo and managed to drive the terrorists out of more positions North of the Sugar Factory.

According to reports, Syrian soldiers, backed by the Syrian and Russian fighter jets, launched a wide-scale military operation, pounding ISIL positions in the Sugar Factory and Ra's al-Ein.

Meanwhile, the Syrian and Russian warplanes carried out a number of combat sorties over the terrorists' strongholds in the key town of Maskana, killing scores of ISIL members and destroying their military vehicles.

Army officers said on Monday that government troops continued to hit the positions of the ISIL in the Eastern part of Aleppo, capturing more areas in the course of military operation to liberate Maskana plain.

They added that the Syrian soldiers, backed by heavy artillery and airstrikes, continued to purge ISIL terrorists of Eastern Aleppo and managed to recapture more grounds en-route to the strategic region of Maskana.

After recapturing al-Samlajiyah village, al-Khazim fuel station and Tal Fiddah, the pro-government forces managed to break through ISIL's defense lines and are now in position to enter Maskana plains which has been an ISIL stronghold for nearly two years. A field sources pointed to the rapid advances of the army men in Eastern Aleppo and said that the army units were only 10km away from the strategic town of Maskana.

Full report at:



Qatari Emir: Doha has ‘tensions’ with the Trump administration

24 May 2017

Qatar’s Foreign Minister said early Wednesday that he did not make any statement regarding withdrawal or eviction of five Arab ambassadors from Doha, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported.

His statement comes following earlier reports, attributed to the official Qatar News Agency, which said that Doha has withdrawn its ambassadors from Saudi, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE.

It was also reported on Tuesday that the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, had said that Doha has “tensions” with the Trump administration, and acknowledged that Iran is an “Islamic power.”

“There is no wisdom in harboring hostility toward Iran,” he said, adding that President Donald Trump is facing legal issues in his home country as claims over his Russia links continue. The Emir made his remarks during a graduation ceremony for new army recruits.

The Emir said Al-Udeid Air Base, which houses both Qatari Air Force and US Air Force, is protecting Doha from some neighboring countries, without mentioning any names. The military base, southwest of Doha, has long been a symbol of US-Qatari alliance.

The Emir also said relations with Israel are “good,” and Hamas is the official representative of Palestinians.

Hamas - either in whole or in part - is regarded as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, US and EU.

‘Unjust campaign’

The Emir also said Qatar is facing an “unjust campaign,” coinciding with Trump’s visit to the region, which ended on Tuesday. The campaign is to link Qatar to “terrorism” and to “smear its efforts to create stability with a known purpose and incentive.”

He added: “We will be after those countries and organizations to protect Qatar’s pioneering role regionally and internationally, and to protect its people’s dignity.”

“We denounce charges that we support terrorism despite our efforts with our brethren and participation in the Coalition against ISIS.”

He said: “The real danger is the behavior of some countries that caused terrorism by adopting an extreme version of Islam that does not represent its real forgiving truth.”

“No one has the right to charge us with terrorism just because they blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist or rejected the resistance movements by Hamas or [Lebanon’s] Hezbollah.”

Full report at:



Bahrain king responsible for any harm on Sheikh Qassim: Amal party

May 23, 2017

Bahrain's Islamic Action Society opposition party says Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, the king of the Persian Gulf's island country, is personally responsible for any harm, whatsoever, inflicted by regime forces on Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shia majority.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the society, also referred to as Amal Party, strongly denounced the Al Khalifah regime for its brutal attack on protesters across the country, particularly in Diraz village, in which security forces "obnoxiously" stormed Sheikh Isa Qassim's house, arresting dozens of people.

"Insulting people and their blood based on unfounded allegations is religiously, socially and politically unacceptable, as attempts to undermine the authority of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and attacking on him after issuing a fallacious court verdict against him is absolutely unacceptable," the statement said.

It came as Bahraini regime forces launched a full-scale attack on Diraz, the hometown of the top Shia cleric, killing at least two protesters and wounding some two dozen others while trying to disperse his supporters with birdshots and tear gas canisters. At least seven people were reported to be critically injured.

According to Bahrain's Interior Ministry, so far 50 people have been arrested in the village during ongoing clashes between regime forces and protesters. Sheikh Qassim's house is already besieged by two military convoys.

The unrest comes amid Bahraini clerics’ call on all people to hold protests across the kingdom in response to a one-year prison term issued against the senior cleric.

On Sunday, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years. It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines. The court ruling sparked widespread demonstrations across the country.

Qassim also faces expulsion from the kingdom after authorities revoked his citizenship last year. His defense lawyers refused to attend hearings, which they saw as an attack on the country's Shia Muslims.

"The regime's bet on foreign regimes to protect it, especially the US and UK, is a losing bet because these regimes are just looking for their interests and have come to the region only to collect money," Amal's statement said.

Zia al-Bahrani, a top leader of Bahrain's opposition February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition, said the Al Khalifah regime, emboldened by US President Donald Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, was aided by troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan to launch an offensive on Diraz.

Separately, the former head of the Bahraini Forum for Human Rights, Youssef Rabih, said regime forces had encircled Sheikh Qassim's house with barbed wire fences, practically putting him in a compulsory stay at his residence.

He added that Manama had ventured to impose those measures with a green light it had received from Washington during the so-called Arabic Islamic American Summit held over the weekend in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Full report at:



Syria: Hundreds of Militants Receive Gov't Amnesty in Western Damascus

May 23, 2017

The sources said that 2,640 gunmen that had endorsed the peace agreement with the Syrian Army in line with a reconciliation plan in the regions of al-Zabadani, Madhaya and Baqin received government amnesty and returned to normal life.

Damascus Governor General Bashr al-Saban announced on Sunday that a sum of 2,650 gunmen and their family members left Barzeh district for other militant held regions.

Full report at:



Tens of Terrorists Killed, Injured in Heavy Clashes between Rival Groups in Northern Syria

May 23, 2017

The sources said that terrorists of al-Shamiyeh Front stormed the positions of Faylaq al-Sham and managed to take control of the villages of Kafr Qan, Baraqideh and Sheikh Reeh in Northern Aleppo.

The clashes between the two rival groups broke out over the affiliation of Faylaq al-Sham to the Nouralddeen Zinki movement, and led to 50 casualties on both sides. 

Local sources reported on Monday that simultaneous with intensifying clashes among rival terrorist groups in Northwestern Syria tens of Ahrar al-Sham militants, including a field commander, were killed in a suicide attack on one of their command posts in Idlib.

The sources said that tens of terrorists were killed in a suicide attack on Ahrar al-Sham's command post in Tal (hill) al-Touqan region in Eastern Idlib near Abu al-Dhuhour airport that is under Ahrar's control.

The sources added that Mahrous Abu Ahmad, who was in charge of appointing Ahrar al-Sham's commanders, was among the killed terrorists in the attack.

In the meantime, websites affiliated to terrorist groups reported that almost 200 militants were present in and outside the command post of Ahrar al-Sham during the suicide attack.

The sources said that one of the raiders detonated himself inside Ahrar al-Sham's command post, while another one reached outside the command post on his bomb-laden motorbike and detonated it.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Downs ISIL Drones in Lattakia

May 23, 2017

The sources said that three explosive-laden drones of the terrorists groups were shot down by the heavy fire of the coastal brigade forces in Jabal (mount) Zahi.

Last week, a Syrian army convoy was hit by US airstrikes in Eastern Homs, while in early April, the US warships launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat Air Base in Homs.

In September, a US airstrike killed over 100 Syrian soldiers in Deir Ezzur.

In relevant developments in the province in early April, the Syrian army forces blew up 2 explosive-laden drones flown by the terrorist groups over government-controlled regions in Northern Lattakia.

Full report at:



Syrian Soldiers Make Fresh Gains against ISIL in Eastern Aleppo

May 23, 2017

The army units drove ISIL out of the village of al-Ajouziyeh (second farm) East of Tal (hill) Fazeh, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Military sources in Eastern Aleppo confirmed earlier today that tens of regions, villages and towns have been liberated in a fresh round of the Syrian Army operation that has also inflicted major losses on ISIL terrorists.

The sources said that after a several-week halt and after the liberation of approximately 200 towns and villages in Eastern Aleppo in the previous round of the army operation in Eastern Aleppo, the pro-government forces' fresh operation has thus far been successful started to spread.

They added that the army has driven ISIL out of a number of villages, farms, towns and regions, killing a large number of terrorists and destroying their military vehicles. 

Another military source also said that the army has managed to recapture tens of towns and villages as they started their operation to oust ISIL from Eastern Aleppo.

He added that, in the course of the military operation, pro-government forces have killed nearly 200 ISIL militants and destroyed at least 30 armored vehicles.

"Libation of Jarah airbase was a heavy blow to the ISIL," the source said, adding, "Arrival of hundreds of fresh army forces in Aleppo has accelerated toe domino of ISIL's collapse in the province."

Full report at:



Russian Forces Deploy near Syria's Border with Jordan

May 23, 2017

The sources said that a Russian Mountain Operation Brigade battalion has arrived in the Southern provinces of Dara'a and Sweida.

The sources further added that the Russian battalion is duty bound to fortify the Syrian Army positons in the region and seal the country's border overlooking Jordan where the Syrian forces have recently gained the upper hand. 

A military source confirmed on Sunday that a group of Russian paratroopers and special forces arrived in the Southern province of Sweida, after the US-led coalition fighter jets targeted heavily a military convoy of the Syrian pro-government forces near the town of al-Tanf at the border with Iraq.

The source told AMN that the Russian military personnel arrived in the region to advise the Syrian government troops in Southern Syria, while also helping to deter any potential response from the US and Jordanian forces that carved a niche in Sweida and Homs provinces.

According to some media activists, the Russian forces were planning to build a base along the Sweida province’s border with Jordan.

Other media reports suggested that they were allegedly meant to engage the enemy forces and help the government troops capture the Iraqi border-crossing.

Lebanese Army General Charles Abi Nader, an expert in military strategy in the Middle East, told TASS on Saturday that the United States carried out a direct military intervention in Syria to prevent the establishment of the Syrian army’s control over the border with Iraq.

"There is no other explanation of the strike delivered by the US Air Force on the Syrian forces and units supporting them," the general said, TASS reported.

He added that the border area in Eastern Syria, where the army units are carrying out offensive now, has major strategic importance.

"There is the only border crossing there, through which one can get to Baghdad now, taking into consideration that the Rutbah-Ramadi road has been cleared of terrorists of the ISIL," the expert said.

"The goal of the US is evident - to prevent the restoration of transport links between Syria and Iraq and also Iran, which is the ally of Damascus," he stressed.

The expert noted that a similar intervention of the US Air Force occurred in September 2016 in the outskirts of Deir Ezzur. Then, the ISIL militants used the airstrike of the US aviation to seize a defensive position on the Jebel-Sarda mountain near a military airfield, which serves as a major basis of the government forces.

Full report at:




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