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Islamic World News ( 30 Jun 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Film on Hindu-Muslim Unity Wins Top Award at UK Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Poster of the film.

 'A Billion Colour Story' bagged the top prize at the annual London Indian Film Festival (LIFF).

 

Iraq: Death of ISIL Chief Disclosed by Close Aide

End to Israeli Occupation Will Pave Way for ME Peace: UN Chief

Baton Rouge Cop-Killer Left Suicide Note, Islamic Verse, Trail Of Rage

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India

Film on Hindu-Muslim Unity Wins Top Award at UK Festival

NIA to Recommend Closing down Loc Barter Trade with Pakistan Started In 2008

Top LeT terrorist gunned down during encounter in J&K's Anantnag district

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Arab World

Iraq: Death of ISIL Chief Disclosed by Close Aide

11 Gazans Join Islamic State In Sinai In Another Blow to Hamas

Saudi GDP falls for first time since financial crisis as oil output cut

Israeli Army Aircraft Target again Syrian Army Positions in Quneitra

Iraqi PM hails top Shia cleric Ayatollah Sistani’s role in terror fight

Life after liberation: West Point report shows ISIS danger remains in Syria, Iraq

Islamic State withdraws from last area of Aleppo province: Monitor

Destruction of al-Nuri mosque in Mosul is another example of ‘culturecide’

Kurdish-Led SDF to Hand over Al-Tabaqa Airbase in Northeastern Syria to US Forces

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Europe

End to Israeli Occupation Will Pave Way for ME Peace: UN Chief

Muslim 'Superheroes' Bring Cheer To Children On Hospital Wards Across The Region

Germany to pass same-sex marriage law

Russia to Send More Fighter Jets to Syria War

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North America

Baton Rouge Cop-Killer Left Suicide Note, Islamic Verse, Trail Of Rage

US Claims about Possible Chemical Attack in Syria to 'Hide Its Own Defeat'

At least 17 injured in US nightclub shooting

American Muslims denounce Trump travel ban

US court dismisses Yemen drone strike wrongful death suit

U.S. Sends Islamic State Battle Envoy to Ankara as Turkey, U.S. Allies Trade Gunfire in Syria

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Pakistan

Threat Continues To Reside Across the Border in Afghanistan, Pak Army Chief Claims

Security official, three civilians killed in mine blast in Khyber Agency

New reports emerge regarding deadly explosion near German embassy in Kabul

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Mideast

Five Suicide Bombers Attack Lebanese Troops During Raids

Western Attempts to Incite Persian Gulf States 'Could Provoke New World War'

Israeli plane hits Syrian army position in Golan

Minister says Qatar to comply with new US airline security measures

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Africa

Sudan to Remain On U.S. List for State Sponsors of Terrorism: Official

The 28th Anniversary of the National Islamic Front Coup in Sudan

Maiyetti Allah Leaders Embolden Prickly Fulani Herdsmen

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Southeast Asia

Medan Cop Killer Borrows Money from Bank to Join Islamic State Fighters in Syria

Indonesian Muslim leader calls for Starbucks boycott over gay-marriage stance

Man Shot Dead After Knife Attack On Policemen At Jakarta Mosque

Philippines: Navy conducts joint patrol with US against piracy, Islamic State

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South Asia

ISIS Loses 5 Senior Leaders In An Airstrike In North Of Afghanistan

Afghanistan Says Taliban District Chief Killed In Battle

Hekmatyar reacts at Noor, Dostum, and Mohaqiq’s coalition

NATO’s commitment key for 4-year roadmap of Afghan army and air force: MoD

Deadly explosion targets civilian vehicle in East of Afghanistan

Dhaka attack first anniversary: Denial of Islamic terror won't help Sheikh Hasina

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/film-on-hindu-muslim-unity-wins-top-award-at-uk-festival/d/111741

  

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Film on Hindu-Muslim unity wins top award at UK festival

Published Jul 1, 2017

Mumbai: A new film about Hindu-Muslim unity bagged the top prize at the annual London Indian Film Festival (LIFF).

'A Billion Colour Story', produced by Bollywood filmmaker Satish Kaushik and directed by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, won the Audience Award at the festival last evening for what was described as a heart-warming tale.

"It's incredibly special for us that 'A Billion Colour Story' resonates with audiences across countries and continents. It continues to vindicate our faith that people and their hearts are the same across cultures and horizons," the filmmakers said in a statement.

Other special awards presented by the festival, now in its eighth year and backed by the Bagri Foundation, included three Sunmark ICON Awards for South Asian directors who have made a global contribution to cinema Adoor Gopalakrishnan from Kerala, Ashutosh Gowariker from Mumbai and documentary filmmaker Pratibha Parmar from London.

"It is wonderful that the festival continues to lead the debate and not simply reflect the changing shape of Indian cinema; from this year's Indian virtual reality showcases to bringing carefully curated important new talent to the world stage like actress Anjali Patil to showcasing emerging young directors like Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, director of closing night film 'Sexy Durga'," said festival executive and programming director Cary Rajinder Sawhney.

LIFF's annual Satyajit Ray Short Film Award went to the film 'Papa', directed by Siddharth Chauhan.

"I was fighting depression and trying to win over myself in many ways, when I decided to take the challenge of making this film.

I didn't have a single penny and no professional assistance, but with a deep prayer in my heart and with the support of my friends in Shimla, we begged, borrowed and did everything we could, to make this film in the best possible way. It wasn't easy for us, but I guess all the effort was worth it," Chauhan said.

The festival this year coincides with the UK India Year of Culture celebrations in London and plugs into the British Film Institute's (BFI) ongoing 'India on Film' series.

"India has one of the world's richest and most prolific film industries. Throughout 2017, we celebrate the diversity of Indian filmmaking and films about India, from Bollywood to Tollywood (home of Telugu and Bengali cinema) in cinemas and online," said Robin Baker, BFI Head Curator.

deccanchronicle.com/entertainment/bollywood/010717/film-on-hindu-muslim-unity-wins-top-award-at-uk-festival.html

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Iraq: Death of ISIL Chief Disclosed by Close Aide

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources in Nineveh province in Northwestern Iraq reported that a close friend of and an aide to ISIL Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has indirectly confirmed death of the terrorist group's ring leader.

The Arabic-language al-Sumeriyeh news quoted the local sources as saying that Abu Qatibeh, a very close aide and friend to al-Baghdadi, cried and made repeated mistakes while doing a Friday prayers sermon in the town of Tal Afar West of Mosul city.

The sources who requested anonymity said that Baghdadi's death is very likely, adding that Abu Qatibeh started suddenly crying while talking about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The sources said then Abu Qatibeh went silence for a while, and then he read several verses of the holy Quran and made several mistakes in his sermon.

Al-Sumeriyeh went on to say that the Friday Prayers leader did not directly point to the death of al-Baghdadi but the sermon of Abu Qatibeh that has special position in the ISIL terrorist organization can be considered as an early pointing to al-Baghdadi's death.

The sources told al-Sumeriyeh that news about Abu Qatibeh's sermon has spread across Tal Afar.

In relevant move, Abu Al-Bara'a al-Moseli, one of the leaders of the ISIL, confirmed the terrorist group's heavy defeat in Mosul in a sermon in another mosque in Tal Afar.           

The Russian Defense Ministry had reported that al-Baghdadi might be killed as a result of a Russian airstrike South of Raqqa in late May.

The Daesh leader might alongside other leaders of the extremist group and 330 terrorists be killed in the air raid.

"As a result of the Su-35 and Su-34 airstrikes, high-ranking commanders of the terrorist groups who were part of the so-called ISIL (Daesh) military council, as well as about 30 mid-level field commanders and up to 300 militants of their personal security, have been killed," the ministry said in a statement.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri), also known as Abu Dua, was born in 1971 in the city of Samarra in Iraq.

According to media reports, al-Baghdadi was brought up in a religious family. His relatives were famous preachers and specialists of the Arabic language, rhetoric and logic. He received a PhD in Islamic law from the University of Baghdad.

Al-Baghdadi was proclaimed the caliph of Daesh, a "caliphate" created on the territories Daesh managed to seize in Syria and Iraq in late June 2014.

Reports of al-Baghdadi’s death repeatedly appear in the world media. His death was reported in November 2014, April 2015, June, October and December 2016 and January 2017.

According to reports, ISIL members live in fear and anxiety after they heard news about the Syrian army's intensified operations in Deir Ezzur, Hama, Homs and Raqqa and Iraqi Army's advances inside Mosul as well as reports that the terrorist group's leader has been killed in an air raid in Raqqa.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410000316

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End to Israeli occupation will pave way for ME peace: UN chief

July 1st, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: Ending the Israeli occupation is the only way to lay the foundation for an enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, top United Nations officials said on Thursday.

“It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” Secretary General António Guterres said in a message to a forum held at the UN headquarters to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The war resulted in Israel’s occupation of West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Golan Heights of Syria.

In the message, read out by Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, Mr Guterres said: “It is time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, agreements and international law. It is also time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian state, side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.”

The occupation, he noted, has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. “Generations of Palestinians have grown up in crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”

dawn.com/news/1342528/end-to-israeli-occupation-will-pave-way-for-me-peace-un-chief

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Baton Rouge Cop-Killer Left Suicide Note, Islamic Verse, Trail Of Rage

July 01, 2017

The military veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge last summer left behind a suicide note, a prayer from an Islamic holy book and an online trail of his rage against police.

Two days after a white police officer shot and killed a black man in Louisiana’s capital, Gavin Long searched the internet for addresses, phone numbers and other personal information belonging to the two officers involved in the July 5 shooting of Alton Sterling, a prosecutor’s report revealed Friday.

Less than two weeks later, the 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Mo., traveled to Baton Rouge and ambushed law enforcement officers outside a convenience store and car wash near police headquarters.

Armed with a semi-automatic rifle that he legally purchased, Long fatally shot three officers and wounded three others on July 17 before tactical officers killed him, ending a gun battle that lasted nearly 14 minutes that Sunday morning.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said there’s no evidence that Long acted on any information he obtained about the two officers who struggled with Sterling before one of them shot and killed him outside a convenience store. Moore also said there’s no indication that Long had any support from anyone in Baton Rouge or attended any of the nightly protests there after Sterling’s death.

“He believes that protests are worthless and that action needs to be taken, not protests,” Moore said.

Police found a suicide note in Long’s rental car. He wrote that people who knew him would be surprised he was “suspected of committing such horrendous acts of violence” but that he believed he had to inflict harm “upon bad cops as well as good cops in hopes that the good cops (which are the majority) will be able to stand together and enact justice and punishment against bad cops.”

He also left a printout in his car from an Islamic holy book that was mostly in Arabic.

FBI agents and Louisiana State Police investigators traced Long’s movements in the days leading up to the attack. They learned he arrived in Baton Rouge on July 12 and checked in and out of four different hotel rooms during his brief visit.

“We believe that he was ready to die this day,” Moore said.

bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/07/la_cop_killer_left_suicide_note_islamic_verse_trail_of_rage

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India

Film on Hindu-Muslim unity wins top award at UK festival

Published Jul 1, 2017

'A Billion Colour Story' bagged the top prize at the annual London Indian Film Festival (LIFF).

Mumbai: A new film about Hindu-Muslim unity bagged the top prize at the annual London Indian Film Festival (LIFF).

'A Billion Colour Story', produced by Bollywood filmmaker Satish Kaushik and directed by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, won the Audience Award at the festival last evening for what was described as a heart-warming tale.

"It's incredibly special for us that 'A Billion Colour Story' resonates with audiences across countries and continents. It continues to vindicate our faith that people and their hearts are the same across cultures and horizons," the filmmakers said in a statement.

Other special awards presented by the festival, now in its eighth year and backed by the Bagri Foundation, included three Sunmark ICON Awards for South Asian directors who have made a global contribution to cinema Adoor Gopalakrishnan from Kerala, Ashutosh Gowariker from Mumbai and documentary filmmaker Pratibha Parmar from London.

"It is wonderful that the festival continues to lead the debate and not simply reflect the changing shape of Indian cinema; from this year's Indian virtual reality showcases to bringing carefully curated important new talent to the world stage like actress Anjali Patil to showcasing emerging young directors like Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, director of closing night film 'Sexy Durga'," said festival executive and programming director Cary Rajinder Sawhney.

LIFF's annual Satyajit Ray Short Film Award went to the film 'Papa', directed by Siddharth Chauhan.

"I was fighting depression and trying to win over myself in many ways, when I decided to take the challenge of making this film.

I didn't have a single penny and no professional assistance, but with a deep prayer in my heart and with the support of my friends in Shimla, we begged, borrowed and did everything we could, to make this film in the best possible way. It wasn't easy for us, but I guess all the effort was worth it," Chauhan said.

The festival this year coincides with the UK India Year of Culture celebrations in London and plugs into the British Film Institute's (BFI) ongoing 'India on Film' series.

"India has one of the world's richest and most prolific film industries. Throughout 2017, we celebrate the diversity of Indian filmmaking and films about India, from Bollywood to Tollywood (home of Telugu and Bengali cinema) in cinemas and online," said Robin Baker, BFI Head Curator.

deccanchronicle.com/entertainment/bollywood/010717/film-on-hindu-muslim-unity-wins-top-award-at-uk-festival.html

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NIA to recommend closing down LoC barter trade with Pakistan started in 2008

Neeraj Chauhan | TNN | Updated: Jul 1, 2017

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency probe into the barter trade between India and Pakistan at LoC is almost finalised and agency has decided to write to the government recommending closure of the trade, which agency sources said is largely being misused and several traders are involved in funding terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Top NIA sources said that the LoC barter trade of 21 items, which happens from Salamabad and Chakkan Da Bagh trade facilitation centres (TFCs), was started in 2008 as part of confidence building measures (CBMS) but it is not serving the actual purpose.

Instead, there is large scale under-invoicing and over-invoicing of products like California almonds, shawls, pulses etc which is hurting the business of other traders in Jammu and the Kashmir valley and several traders are just the fronts for funding the extremists in the state, said the source.

India had signed an agreement with Pakistan in 2008 to start completely duty free trade of the produce of J&K and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on barter basis from these two TFCs as part of CBMs.

"The trade is proving to be more harmful for India rather than having any confidence building measures. Pakistan is not obeying the agreement and traders on both sides are assisting the mafia and terrorists in waging a war against India. We will strongly recommend that government ends the barter trade. There is no need for it at all unless proper checks and balances are in place," said a senior NIA officer.

Over the past seven months, the anti-terror probe agency has analysed hundred thousand documents related to trade done by 300 registered traders and based on the irregularities, it is preparing a report.

NIA sleuths have already established that the "terror funding" by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed in J&K and the alleged transfer of cross-LoC trade proceeds are "interlinked", as first reported by TOI.

Several traders including former president of LoC Traders' Association Tariq Ahmed Khan, Haji Mohammad Sultan, Zahoor Ahmed Watali, Farooq Baggu and Kamal alias Bittu of Jammu, as well as hawala traders and separatists have been raided and questioned by NIA in last one month.

While at least five traders out of 300 have been found to be associated with Hizbul-Mujahideen, several others have links with separatists and suspects behind sustained stone pelting in the valley.

NIA suspects that crores of crores of rupees has moved in the valley from Pakistan using the LoC trade and through hawala channels, which has been further used to fuel the stone pelting and terrorism.

An FIR filed by the agency last year had clearly stated, "This is in gross violation of the state policy of prohibition on trade in 'third-party origin goods' through this mechanism and information indicated that these funds are being used for fomenting terrorism and separatism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir".

Speaking to TOI, President of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI) Rajesh Gupta said, "It's a CBM but real CBM should have been tourism in the state. We are trying hard to get banking system in the place but Pakistan government cannot be trusted on this as the money coming through other channels can be used by rouge elements. There should be clampdown by the government so that hawala and drugs money doesn't come to India and is used by terrorists/criminals".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nia-to-recommend-closing-down-loc-barter-trade-with-pakistan-started-in-2008/articleshow/59393301.cms

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Top LeT terrorist gunned down during encounter in J&K's Anantnag district

Jul 1, 2017

NEW DELHI: Two terrorists, including a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist, were killed after an hours-long standoff with security forces in Dailgam village in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, security forces launched cordon and search operations in the Brenti-Batpora area, acting on intelligence on the presence of terrorists in the area.

Police sources said after receiving specific information regarding presence of terrorists, including top LeT leader Bashir Lashkari in Dailgam, security forces laid a cordon in the wee hours. While the cordon was being laid, some terrorists believed to be hiding in a house opened fire on the security personnel, who also retaliated in kind.

Read this story in Telugu

On June 16, SHO Feroz Ahmed and five other policemen were killed on the outskirts of Anantnag district. Lashkari is believed to have been involved in the killing of the six policemen and was reportedly one of the ultras trapped in the security forces cordon on Saturday.

A counter-operation was immediately commenced to flush out the holed up terrorists. Police said the terrorists were using human shields at the encounter site. IGP Kashmir Munir Khan said 17 civilians have been rescued from the encounter site. The house the terrorists were hiding in was damaged in heavy blasts, and Lashkari and his fellow operative Azad Dada were killed. Both were local Kashmiri boys.

LeT terrorist Bashir Lashkari was killed in the encounter in Anantnag district. (File photo)

"The encounter is over. Two terrorists have been killed. Bashir Lashkari was involved in martyring of 6 policemen, I congratulate police and security forces for carrying out the encounter," Director General of Police S P Vaid said.

Two civilians - Tahira and Shadab Chopan - also lost their lives in the crossfiring. 44-year-old Tahira was rushed to the district hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries, officials said. Chopan, 21, was allegedly killed in security forces' action against protesters near the encounter site. Four other persons were admitted to hospitals with firearm injuries sustained near the scene of the counter-operation.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/encounter-underway-in-jks-anantnag-district-one-civilian-killed/articleshow/59395577.cms

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Arab World

Iraq: Death of ISIL Chief Disclosed by Close Aide

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local sources in Nineveh province in Northwestern Iraq reported that a close friend of and an aide to ISIL Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has indirectly confirmed death of the terrorist group's ring leader.

The Arabic-language al-Sumeriyeh news quoted the local sources as saying that Abu Qatibeh, a very close aide and friend to al-Baghdadi, cried and made repeated mistakes while doing a Friday prayers sermon in the town of Tal Afar West of Mosul city.

The sources who requested anonymity said that Baghdadi's death is very likely, adding that Abu Qatibeh started suddenly crying while talking about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The sources said then Abu Qatibeh went silence for a while, and then he read several verses of the holy Quran and made several mistakes in his sermon.

Al-Sumeriyeh went on to say that the Friday Prayers leader did not directly point to the death of al-Baghdadi but the sermon of Abu Qatibeh that has special position in the ISIL terrorist organization can be considered as an early pointing to al-Baghdadi's death.

The sources told al-Sumeriyeh that news about Abu Qatibeh's sermon has spread across Tal Afar.

In relevant move, Abu Al-Bara'a al-Moseli, one of the leaders of the ISIL, confirmed the terrorist group's heavy defeat in Mosul in a sermon in another mosque in Tal Afar.           

The Russian Defense Ministry had reported that al-Baghdadi might be killed as a result of a Russian airstrike South of Raqqa in late May.

The Daesh leader might alongside other leaders of the extremist group and 330 terrorists be killed in the air raid.

"As a result of the Su-35 and Su-34 airstrikes, high-ranking commanders of the terrorist groups who were part of the so-called ISIL (Daesh) military council, as well as about 30 mid-level field commanders and up to 300 militants of their personal security, have been killed," the ministry said in a statement.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri), also known as Abu Dua, was born in 1971 in the city of Samarra in Iraq.

According to media reports, al-Baghdadi was brought up in a religious family. His relatives were famous preachers and specialists of the Arabic language, rhetoric and logic. He received a PhD in Islamic law from the University of Baghdad.

Al-Baghdadi was proclaimed the caliph of Daesh, a "caliphate" created on the territories Daesh managed to seize in Syria and Iraq in late June 2014.

Reports of al-Baghdadi’s death repeatedly appear in the world media. His death was reported in November 2014, April 2015, June, October and December 2016 and January 2017.

According to reports, ISIL members live in fear and anxiety after they heard news about the Syrian army's intensified operations in Deir Ezzur, Hama, Homs and Raqqa and Iraqi Army's advances inside Mosul as well as reports that the terrorist group's leader has been killed in an air raid in Raqqa.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410000316

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11 Gazans Join Islamic State In Sinai In Another Blow to Hamas

1 Jul 20171

TEL AVIV — Eleven jihadist residents of the Gaza Strip who swore allegiance to the Islamic State organization succeeded last weekend in joining Wilayat Sinai, the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, a senior jihadist source in Gaza told Breitbart Jerusalem.

All 11 managed to flee the Strip through the tunnels that connect Gaza to Sinai and joined the ranks of IS in Sinai, where the group is fighting a difficult war against Egyptian military forces.

According to the jihadist source, all 11 were jailed in Hamas prisons in the last few months. He stated that they were sentenced to 6-9 months and were all released last week. “Our brothers spent four days out of jail before making their way to the ranks of the mujahedeen in Sinai,” he said.

The Gazan jihadists’ flight from the Strip to Sinai is a blow to Hamas after the organization made a commitment to Egypt in recent weeks to increase enforcement and military presence along the Gaza-Sinai border in order to prevent the movement of jihadists between the two zones.

The commitment from Hamas was declared during a delegation of Hamas officials’ visit to Egypt, led by Hamas’ Gaza politburo chief Yehya Senwar, who met with Egyptian representatives responsible for Palestinian affairs.

Within the framework of the understandings, Hamas deployed 400 security personnel along the border in order to stand by its commitment to Egypt to cut off the movement of jihadists in the border area.

The case of the 11 who crossed the border comes after a similar incident that took place last week, when five Gazans joined the ranks of IS. All five were members of Hamas’ military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and managed to escape under the noses of Hamas security forces who saw them. They crossed the border through tunnels despite being fired on by Hamas security forces.

The jihadist source stated that the escape of the 11 indicates that “the Islamic State organization has many fans among the young people of the Gaza Strip who understand that the war isn’t over the ’67 or ’48 borders and isn’t a war for territory alone, but rather a worldwide war against Islam and the infidels managed to subordinate Hamas to their will and recruit it for the war against Islam while … allowing Hamas to rule in the Gaza Strip. What will Hamas rule give if it is subject to democracy and not the laws of sharia?”

breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/07/01/exclusive-11-gazans-join-islamic-state-sinai-another-blow-hamas/

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Saudi GDP falls for first time since financial crisis as oil output cut

 

Saudi Arabia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) shrank from a year earlier in the first quarter of 2017 for the first time since the global financial crisis, but the private sector strengthened gradually, official data showed on Friday.

GDP, adjusted for inflation, shrank 0.5 per cent year-on-year between January and March, its first fall since 2009. That was almost entirely because of a 2.3pc contraction in the oil sector, as Saudi Arabia cut its crude output under a global deal among producing countries to prop up prices.

The non-oil government sector of the economy shrank 0.1pc, showing Riyadh continued to keep a tight rein on state spending as it tried to cut a big budget deficit caused by low oil prices.

But the non-oil private sector grew 0.9pc, accelerating from a revised 0.5pc in the fourth quarter of last year. It was the fastest private sector expansion since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Private businesses have been hit hard by government austerity measures, including higher domestic energy prices and delays in the government paying its debts to companies. Late last year, however, Riyadh began settling its debts more promptly, boosting the private sector.

The outlook for growth in the rest of this year is murky. In recent weeks Riyadh has eased its austerity drive slightly, restoring financial allowances to public sector employees, and this should help consumption slightly.

Also, the government plans to introduce a 5pc value-added tax at the start of 2018, so there may be a consumption mini-boom in the preceding months as Saudis make big-ticket purchases to avoid the tax.

But some austerity steps are going ahead this year, such as higher residence fees for expatriates, who make up about a third of the population. Also, the oil output deal extends through the end of 2017, so the oil sector will continue to drag on growth.

Despite the deal, the Brent oil price is back around $48 a barrel — not far above its level when Riyadh originally agreed on the deal late last year — which may mean the government has less money to spend on kickstarting economic projects than the private sector has been hoping.

dawn.com/news/1342555/saudi-gdp-falls-for-first-time-since-financial-crisis-as-oil-output-cut

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Israeli Army Aircraft Target again Syrian Army Positions in Quneitra

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Israeli Air Force struck the Syrian Army troops' strongholds in the Southern province of Quneitra for the fourth time in a row.

An Israeli military helicopter targeted two positions of the Syrian Army in areas near the town of Eastern al-Samadaniyeh and another position around the town of al-Ba'ath.

No accurate information has been released on the possible damage to the Syrian army.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language Elam al-Harbi news reported that the terrorists of Al-Nusra Front (also known as Fatah al-Sham Front or the Levant Liberation Board) have intentionally increased their mortar attacks on occupied lands in the Golan Heights to give another pretext to the Israeli forces to target the Syrian Army's strongholds in Quneitra.

Relevant reports said on Thursday that the warplanes, for the third time in the past few days, attacked the Syrian army positions in Quneitra province simultaneous with a massive offensive of the al-Nusra Front.

The Israeli air force targeted the Syrian troops' artillery unit in Eastern Samadaniyeh in the outskirts of Quneitra city.

Reports say artillery fire plays a major role in pushing the terrorists back from the region.

A prominent Syrian military and strategic expert described Israel as an accomplice of the terrorists in Syria, warning that Tel Aviv intends to create a buffer zone in the Arab country.

Yahya Soleiman said that by attacking the Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights, Israel sent this message that it would never leave the terrorist groups and will defend them to the end.

"There are decisive ties between Israel and terrorists to set up a buffer zone in the Golan like Antoine Lahad region in Southern Lebanon - whose creation plot failed - and this time the situation will be repeated in Syria," he added.

"Whatever happens in Syria is in line with meeting Israel's interests, destroying Syria and weakening the powers standing beside Damascus," Soleiman said.

Noting that Tel Aviv was well aware of the positions of the terrorists' missile launch pads and knew that none of them is due to hit Israel, he said the regime is seeking to find a pretext to provoke the militants to target the Syrian army forces and this has several times happened.

"The Israeli side has violated the ceasefire plan and kicked out the UN forces to move freely beside the terrorists. We witness how the Israeli convoys move along the borders and transfer the terrorists from Syria to the occupied territories," Soleiman said.

Stressing that Russia knows the realities in Syria, he said Moscow tried to force the American side to participate in the peace process in Syria but the US led all efforts to failure.

Military sources confirmed on Monday that the Israeli Air Force, for the second time in a row, targeted the Syrian Army troop's strongholds in the Southern province of Quneitra.

The sources said that the terrorist groups' mortar units shelled the Golan Heights at Syria's border with Israel, and the Israeli fighter jets also bombed the Syrian army centers in Quneitra.

The Arabic-language Elam al-Harbi said the mortar units of al-Nusra Front opened fire at Israeli positions in occupied Golan Heights in order to give the needed pretext to the Israeli forces to attack the Syrian army.

Al-Mayadeen news network, meantime, reported that Israeli warplanes targeted a Syrian army vehicle.

Media sources said on Sunday that the Israeli fighter jets attacked the Syrian government forces' tanks and artillery positions South-West of the war-hit country.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410000387

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Iraqi PM hails top Shia cleric Ayatollah Sistani’s role in terror fight

 

The Iraqi premier has thanked top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for his contribution to the fight against Daesh terrorists, saying his 2014 religious decree (fatwa), which mobilized volunteer forces behind army troops on the battlefield, ‘saved’ the Arab state.

In June 2014, shortly after Daesh unleashed its terror campaign in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa calling on all Iraqi citizens to defend their country, presstv.com wrote.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi looks on during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the end of a meeting at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

 “Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defending their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose,” said a Sistani representative in his sermon at Friday prayers in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala at the time.

The fatwa helped Shia fighters, Sunni tribesmen as well as Christian and Yezidi volunteers gather under one umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), commonly known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, to prevent Daesh’s advances.

In the early days of Daesh emergence, Iraqi government forces, who overwhelmed by the terror group’s lightening advances, suffered heavy blows on the battle ground.

However, Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters helped the army regain strength and achieve an upper hand in the fight against Daesh militants.

The Iraqi parliament last year recognized Hashd al-Sha’abi as an official force with similar rights as those of the regular army.

In a statement issued on Friday, Abadi offered his ‘deep thanks’ to Ayatollah Sistani for “his great and continuing support to the heroic fighters.” He also stressed that the Shia cleric’s 2014 call “saved Iraq and paved the way for victory” over Daesh.

Abadi’s remarks came one day after he announced an end to Daesh’s ‘state of falsehood’ following the recapture of Mosul’s landmark Grand al-Nuri Mosque, from where the terror outfit proclaimed its so-called caliphate three years ago.

k Grand al-Nuri Mosque, from where the terror outfit proclaimed its so-called caliphate three years ago.

Separately on Friday, Saqer Ayad, a member of Iraqi Federal Police, told Press TV that fighting was underway in Mosul’s Old City.

“The enemy is taking its last breath. We’ve surrounded the terrorists in Old Mosul from three directions, the west, south and north,” he said.

Another policeman, Aqil Isma’el, announced that al-Zebwani Mosque had been liberated and now the Iraqi forces could advance to Mosul’s al-Faruq neighborhood.

A third unnamed policeman told Press TV, “We are hunting down the enemy. The resistance is very fierce, very violent and there are desperately trying to cause breaches in our defense lives with sniper fire and mortars, but our men are well-experienced in countering the tactics.”

The Iraqi army soldiers and allied volunteer fighters have been leading the Mosul liberation operation since October 2016.

Iraqi authorities expect the battle to end in coming days as remaining Daesh elements are bottled up in a few districts of the Old City.

iran-daily.com/News/195796.html

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Life after liberation: West Point report shows ISIS danger remains in Syria, Iraq

1 Jul, 2017

Life after liberation: West Point report shows ISIS danger remains in Syria, Iraq

Islamic State militants continue to haunt cities in Iraq and Syria officially liberated from their control, while the devastation caused by the fighting poses challenges for restoring basic services, says a new study from the US Military Academy.

Authors Daniel Milton and Muhammad al-Ubaydi from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point looked at 11 cities in Iraq and five in Syria and tallied up the attacks by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants between the day of their liberation and April 2017.

Their analysis reveals a “nuanced security environment” in the liberated cities. Relying solely on IS reports, the authors counted 1,468 separate attacks, resulting in “just under 2,600 deaths, about 8.6 per attack.”

“Cities in Iraq appear to experience more post-liberation violence than do cities in Syria,” the authors concluded. The highest number of attacks per month on average, 130, was recorded on the left bank of Mosul, declared liberated in January 2017. Baiji, a city halfway between Mosul and Baghdad liberated in November 2014, was in second place with 21.

While suicide attacks attract a lot of attention, they account for a very small number of IS operations, the authors noted. More than half the attacks, or 56 percent, are from a distance ? with rockets, mortars or sniper fire. Suicide bombings amount to only 5 percent of operations, with suicide fighters at a mere 2 percent.

The largest number of suicide operations took place in Baiji, followed by the Syrian cities of Shadadi and Manbij, wrote Milton and al-Ubaydi. Most suicide attacks happen shortly after a city’s liberation, then become less frequent in favor of attacks from a distance.

“It is hard to independently verify whether or not what the Islamic State is reporting is an accurate representation of what is actually occurring on the ground,” the authors note, however.

Another problem facing the population liberated from IS is the widespread destruction of their cities and towns.

“Many of the areas discussed in this report remain decimated [sic] due to the combination of Islamic State’s governing tenure and its parting blows, but also due to some of the tactics employed by forces retaking the cities,” Milton and al-Ubaydi wrote.

In Ramadi, liberated in February 2016, a UN survey of the damage found 5,700 damaged buildings, 35 percent of which were completely destroyed. Even the buildings that remained standing were not safe, as mines and improvised explosive devices have continued to claim lives.

Fallujah was liberated in June 2016, yet as of March 2017 the Iraqi city’s mayor was still residing in the Kurdish-dominated city of Erbil, only traveling to Fallujah on certain days for work. Its citizens are “still facing an array of challenges, from destroyed buildings to live Islamic State munitions buried in the rubble to the continuing threat of [IS] attacks,” Milton and al-Ubaydi wrote.

In addition to security and reconstruction challenges, there is the matter of conflict between various regional actors fighting against IS, such as Turkey, the Russian-backed Syrian government, the US-backed government in Iraq, and the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria.

“Simply pushing the Islamic State out of a formal governing position in Iraq and Syria, while an important first step, will not ensure the achievement of these post-liberation tasks and reduce the likelihood that the Islamic State or some other terrorist organization emerges to take advantage of a tenuous peace,” Milton and al-Ubaydi concluded.

rt.com/usa/394864-life-liberation-syria-iraq-isis/

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Islamic State withdraws from last area of Aleppo province: Monitor

AFP | Updated: Jun 30, 2017

BEIRUT: Islamic State militants have withdrawn from the last territory they held in Aleppo province after the Syrian army retook the Ithriya-Rasafa road and areas east of Khanaser, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday.

"IS withdrew from 17 towns and villages and is now effectively outside of Aleppo province after having a presence there for four years," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Regime forces had been advancing on a sliver of southeastern Aleppo province around a key highway linking Hama province to the southwest and Raqa province further east.

Abdel Rahman said regime forces seized control of the road late Thursday night, prompting the remaining IS fighters to flee.

A Syrian military source in rural Aleppo confirmed the withdrawal.

"The military operation is ongoing and Daesh withdrew from the Aleppan countryside towards rural territory in Hama and Raqa," the source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

"The Syrian army is clearing out the last few metres," the source added.

Since early 2015, multi-front offensives against IS have eaten away at territory the group held in Aleppo province.

US-backed Kurdish and allied Arab fighters ousted the jihadists from Kobane on the Turkish border in 2015 and from the key city of Manbij last year.

Rebels backed by Turkey seized the town of Al-Bab in February, and Syrian government troops have steadily chipped away at IS towns in the south of the province.

In neighbouring Raqa province, a US-backed offensive is bearing down on the provincial capital of the same name, which has served as the jihadists' de facto Syrian capital.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/islamic-state-withdraws-from-last-area-of-aleppo-province-monitor/articleshow/59387234.cms

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Destruction of al-Nuri mosque in Mosul is another example of ‘culturecide’

July 1st, 2017

OVER the years, I’ve almost lost count of the priceless treasures of art and antiquity which I’ve seen with my own eyes — and which now lie in pieces. Fourteen years ago, racing across Mosul to see the building where US forces had just shot dead the sons of Saddam Hussein, I glimpsed the “hunchback” minaret of the 12th century al-Nuri mosque looming over the old city, built by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, an Arab hero who united the Arabs against the Crusaders. Gone, my lords and ladies, in just a few seconds, scarcely a week ago. We blamed the militant Islamic State group and it blamed a US air strike.

Back in 2012, I ran past the 12th century minaret of the Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, pounding down the road towards the ancient Citadel as bullets buzzed up the streets. Within a year, the minaret was dust. We blamed the Syrian government for shelling it. The Syrians blamed al-Nusrah/Al Qaeda “terrorists”. All over Aleppo, they felt the ground tremble as the minaret fell.

Many times in the 1980s I walked through the Roman ruins of Palmyra, visited the Temple of Bel, gazed at the triumphal arch and walked on the theatre stage. When I returned in 2016 after the Syrian army had driven IS from the ancient city, the arch had been destroyed with explosives and the temple was reduced to shards of stone, most of them only two or three inches in length. The theatre was undamaged though I noticed the end of a noose looped around a Roman column. This was IS’s place of execution. Then IS returned and recaptured Palmyra and this time they blew up the very centre of the theatre.

After the war broke out in Bosnia, I walked across the shining stones of Sinan’s 16th Ottoman bridge at Mostar. Within months, that which had stood for 427 years collapsed into the Neretva river under a salvo of Croatian artillery shells. It was exactly 3:27pm on Nov 9, 1993. I know the time because I still have the videotape of the destruction.

I used to freeze-frame the tape and press the rewind button and rebuild the bridge, the spray falling back into the river, the old Turkish stones rising mystically upwards to recompose themselves in their magical span above the river. Its loss was mourned by the Bosnian Muslims — whose ancient mosques were crumbling under Serb gunfire — as the absence of the Mosul minaret is mourned by Iraqis.

The Yugoslav novelist Ivo Andric, in The Bridge on the Drina — surely one of the greatest European novels ever written — describes how “men learned from the angels of God how to build bridges, and therefore, after fountains, the greatest blessing is to build a bridge and the greatest sin to interfere with it...” But we are used to “the greatest sin”. “Culturecide” — the destruction of libraries, graveyards, cathedrals, mosques — became a feature of the Bosnian war. In Kosovo in 1999, the Christian Serbs destroyed ancient mosques. Then the Kosovar Muslims destroyed most of the Serb churches in the province. I saw many of them, before and after their immolation.

And “the greatest sin” has, of course, a hundred thousand precedents. Who now remembers the 5th century statues of Buddha in Bamiyan, blasted with explosives for 25 days by the Taliban in 2001 until they were rubble. Who even cares that the Saudis have destroyed many of the ancient sites associated with the Prophet (PBUH) and his family?

And then what of the Second World War, the destruction of the ancient centre of Rotterdam, Coventry Cathedral, the Wren churches of the City of London, the wrecking of renaissance Italy, the levelling of Warsaw, courtesy of the Luftwaffe, the Wehrmacht and the SS. And the RAF’s 1945 destruction of Dresden and the bombing of the Middle Ages basilicas of Germany’s cities. And the mass theft of renaissance art and the sacking of museums across Europe, courtesy of the Nazi party’s “cultural” elite. And then we have the Germans of the First World War to thank for the burning of the 15th century university and library of Louvain and the total demolition of the medieval Cloth Hall at Ypres.

And — yes, this can go on and on — we can still see the ruins of the churches and abbeys which incurred the incendiary fury of Henry VIII and then digress still further and ask why the Romans of the Middle Ages used the Coliseum as a quarry — just as the Ottoman authorities used the Crusader castle of Beirut as a quarry for their port extensions in the early 20th century. And then come the Goths, Ostrogoths and Visigoths, not to mention the early Muslim invaders who themselves even tried to destroy a stone Buddha; I’ve seen its reassembled body in a Dushanbe museum. And when I think of pre-history and Sumer, I can only remember walking through the ancient cities of southern Iraq, dug up and pulverised by tomb robbers after the 2003 Anglo-American invasion, and the statues whose broken limbs I crunched over in the darkness of the looted Baghdad Museum.

We can sometimes reconstruct. The Ypres Cloth Hall was reconstituted exactly as it was. The Old City of Warsaw was rebuilt from old maps and photographs. The UN organised the rebuilding of the bridge at Mostar. The Saudis have paid for the reconstruction of Bosnia’s mosques. Basil Spence designed the new Coventry Cathedral. Warsaw is almost picture-perfect but the new Mostar bridge will take years to look like the weathered old masonry which a 16th century visitor described as “like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies”. The Cloth Hall at Ypres looks magnificent. So is the post-war “medieval” city in Warsaw. I’m not sure if Basil Spence’s new Coventry cathedral works today, either in faith or in art.

But now the problem. If a single human life is more precious than all the planets, why do we weep for the wreckage of Buddhas and Roman cities and churches and mosques and libraries? Of all the “-cides”, surely “culturecide” should be way down our list of priorities. Yet it’s clearly near the top — the UN waffles on about our children’s heritage. But I’ve never heard it better explained than in the words of a Croat woman, Slavenka Drakulic who wrote about this very question only a month after the destruction of the Stari Most bridge by her own Croat army. She recalled seeing a photograph of a middle-aged Bosnian woman “with a long, dark knife cut along her throat” and she asked herself why she felt more pain looking at the image of the destroyed bridge than that of the woman.

And this is what she concluded: “We expect people to die. We count on our own lives to end. The destruction of a monument to civilisation is something else. The bridge, in all its beauty and grace, was built to outlive us; it was an attempt to grasp eternity. Because it was the product of both individual creativity and collective experience, it transcended our individual destiny… You would think that nothing new could happen, that, after the concentration camps and the mass rapes, the ethnic cleansing... there would be no room left for imagination...”

And for Muslims, destiny and eternity are subjects of the Quran, which was first revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) on the 27th day of Ramazan, the “Laylat al-Qadr”, the Night of Power. It is the holiest night in the Muslim calendar. And it was on this night — this year — that the 12th century leaning minaret of Mosul was blasted to the ground.

dawn.com/news/1342369/destruction-of-al-nuri-mosque-in-mosul-is-another-example-of-culturecide

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Kurdish-Led SDF to Hand over Al-Tabaqa Airbase in Northeastern Syria to US Forces

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Russian-language daily reported that the predominately Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are to hand over al-Tabaqa airbase in Western Raqqa to the US forces, adding that Washington intends to oust the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Izvestia quoted SDF sources as saying that they will hand over al-Tabaqa military airport, 60km West of Raqqa city, to the US forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry sources also confirmed the revelation.

Some other Kurdish sources also said that based on negotiations between the US forces and SDF, the al-Tabaqa base will be used by the US army.

Syrian Parliamentarian Saji Tomeh, meantime, said that Washington is paveing its way to launch an offensive on the Syrian army, adding, "We are witnessing reinvigoration of the US military presence in Syria. The US is doing whatever it wants through the assistance of its allied Kurds and in return for seperation from Syria."

Izvestia also quoted Russian sources as saying that in a recent meeting with Moscow representatives, the US officials insisted on regime change, and refused to start any kind of cooperation with Moscow to end Syria's crisis before Assad steps down.

Reports said in mid-June that the Syrian Army troops continued their anti-ISIL operations in Western Raqqa and managed to take control over several villages near the regions that are controlled by the SDF.

The sources were quoted by the Arabic-language al-Watan daily as saying that the army forces that liberated Sefyan oilfield in Western Raqqa, managed to drive ISIL out of the villages of al-Jahlan and al-Hawareh and deployed near defense lines of the SDF fighters in al-Tabaqa city's countryside.

The paper added that the army soldiers also pushed ISIL back from the village of Bu Souseh West of the village of Abu Kheimeh and the village of al-Sarib (Debeh) West of the village of Anbaj in al-Tabaqa's countryside. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410000745

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Europe

End to Israeli occupation will pave way for ME peace: UN chief

July 1st, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: Ending the Israeli occupation is the only way to lay the foundation for an enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, top United Nations officials said on Thursday.

“It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” Secretary General António Guterres said in a message to a forum held at the UN headquarters to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The war resulted in Israel’s occupation of West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Golan Heights of Syria.

In the message, read out by Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, Mr Guterres said: “It is time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, agreements and international law. It is also time to end the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian state, side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.”

The occupation, he noted, has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. “Generations of Palestinians have grown up in crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”

dawn.com/news/1342528/end-to-israeli-occupation-will-pave-way-for-me-peace-un-chief

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Muslim 'superheroes' bring cheer to children on hospital wards across the region

 

MUSLIM superheroes donned capes and costumes to bring a touch of cheer to ill children across the region recently.

Buzz Lightyear, Batman and Spiderman were among the characters who made surprise visits to youngsters on wards at North-East hospitals last week.

The Make a Child Smile campaign sees representatives from the Islamic Diversity Centre deliver gifts to sick children as part of Eid celebrations.

Throughout Ramadan, donations were collected from the community to help IDC cheer up youngsters at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital, the Sunderland Royal Hospital and the Great North Children’s Hospital.

Zaheer Iqbal, who was Buzz Lightyear for the day, said it was wonderful to put a smile on the faces of little ones stuck in hospital beds.

He said: “It’s brilliant for the kids, they are so excited when they see us in our costumes and it’s a nice surprise for them.

“We’ve been doing this for a few years and it is us trying to give something back to the community and cheer up ill children.”

He added: “There is a lot of bad press about Islam and Muslims at the moment so hopefully this kind of thing helps to show that from our point of view, humanity comes first.”

By coincidence, Mr Iqbal met his baby counterpart, Thomas Jude Bradshaw, at James Cook University Hospital, where the nine-month-old was also dressed as Buzz Lightyear.

Thomas’ father Johnathon Bradshaw said: “We were absolutely over the moon with the visit.

“We thought it was great and the nice gesture really helped to lift spirits on the ward.”

thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/teesvalley/15383738.WATCH__Muslim__superheroes__bring_cheer_to_children_on_hospital_wards_across_the_region/

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Germany to pass same-sex marriage law

AFP | Updated: Jun 30, 2017

BERLIN: Germany is expected to legalise same-sex marriage on Friday, joining many other western democracies in granting gay and lesbian couples full rights, including adoption.

The election-year bill is being pushed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's leftist rivals who pounced on a U-turn she made on Monday a manoeuvre that left many of her conservative lawmakers fuming.

Barring any 11th-hour hiccup, the lower house is set to approve the law hours before the Bundestag heads into summer recess.

Gay and lesbian groups cheered the push for marriage equality in Germany where so-called civil unions were legalised in 2001.

"It's a real recognition, so it warms the heart," said French engineer Christophe Tetu, 46, who lives in Berlin with his partner Timo Strobel, 51.

"We're thinking about having a party, getting married and using our new rights to protect our relationship," he told AFP.

Strobel said he too was "overjoyed" the couple would be able to show family and friends "that we are committed to each other, that we will stay together and we will spend our lives together".

If the law passes it would likely take effect before the end of 2017.

Renate Kuenast of the Greens party, which has pushed for decades for LGBT community rights, quipped cheerfully: "I would advise all registry offices in the country to boost staff numbers."

The rapid series of events kicked off with an on-stage interview Merkel gave Monday to women's magazine Brigitte, in which an audience member asked her: "When can I call my boyfriend my husband if I want to marry him?"

Merkel, who long opposed gay marriage with adoption rights citing "the well-being of the children", replied that her thinking had shifted since she met a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children.

She said she favoured a vote at an undefined future time when all lawmakers could follow their conscience rather than a party line.

Many read the surprising comments as a move to deny opposition parties of a strong campaign issue before September 24 elections.

Merkel's coalition allies the Social Democrats (SPD), as well as the Greens, far-left Linke and pro-business Free Democrats have all declared a gay marriage law as a red-line demand and precondition for an alliance.

And on Tuesday, after much buzz on social media, SPD chancellor-candidate Martin Schulz took Merkel at her word and broke coalition ranks to call for an immediate vote -- a move the CDU slammed as a "breach of trust" after four years of joint rule.

Merkel indignantly labelled the political ambush and hasty rush to vote on such a weighty issue "sad and, above all, totally unnecessary"

But her change of stance leaves the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) as the only party to oppose same-sex marriage.

Conservative daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung predicted that, after the vote, "it will be said Angela Merkel has avoided another stumbling block to post-election coalition talks".

"But the CDU will also have lost its right to be called a conservative party and instead now appears willing to throw any conservative values overboard in order to keep up with the times."

Markus Ulrich of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany said Merkel had long argued against gay marriage "in an emotional way and never with real arguments".

"It's very good that she took some time to better understand the reality of same-sex families and couples, in order to get a better picture of the situation.

"We think it's very good and, even if this is happening only because of the electoral campaign, it doesn't matter."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/germany-to-pass-same-sex-marriage-law/articleshow/59381450.cms

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Russia to Send More Fighter Jets to Syria War

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A protocol to reinvigorate the Russian Air Force in Syria was presented to President Vladimir Putin for approval after the recent US threats against the Damascus government.

The Arabic website of the Russian Sputnik news agency reported that the Russian government has submitted the protocol to Putin for endorsement.

The protocol inked between the Syrian and Russian governments on January 18 underlines deployment of a new group of Russian fighter jets in Syria.

The treaty should also be presented and approved in the Duma (State Assembly) and the Federal Assembly after being endorsed by President Putin.

A Syrian fighter jet engaged in operations against the ISIL in Raqqa was downed by the US-led coalition warplane on June 18.

Also, the Spokesperson for the United States administration has accused Syria of preparing to stage a chemical attack in the Arab country, threatening that Washington would make Damascus pay “a heavy price.”

Russia has begun an aerial operation against the terrorists in Syria since September 2015 at Syrian President Bashar Assad's request.

On September 30, 2015 Russian bombers conducted their first strikes against terrorist targets in Syria, hitting ISIL positions near the cities of Homs and Hama.

Although Russia annihilated tens of thousands of terrorists in Syria, the country also suffered military losses.

The Russian military said late 2016 that the county's warplanes have conducted 71,000 airstrikes and killed at least 35,000 terrorists since the start of Russia's anti-terror campaign in Syria.

"Since the start of the operation, Russian jets have conducted 17,800 sorties, launching 71,000 strikes on terrorists' infrastructure, eliminating 725 training camps, 405 plants producing ammunition, 1,500 pieces of terrorists' military equipment, 35,000 militants, including 204 field commanders," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Shoigu also added that the Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed over 700 terrorist training camps in Syria during its campaign.

The Russian General Staff also said April 2017 that an analysis has shown that the Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted four times more airstrikes than the US-led coalition despite having fewer aircraft.

"Comparative analysis of the results of activities by Russian aircraft and the international coalition's aircraft in Syria shows that having far fewer aircraft, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out three times more combat sorties and made four times more missile and bomb strikes," chief of the Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi said.

Rudskoi added that "the number of terrorist units has decreased, which allowed us to withdraw almost half of the aircraft based at the Hmeymim airbase."

In March 2016, the biggest part of Russian air forces left Syria in line with the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin, following successful task fulfillment.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410000810

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North America

Baton Rouge Cop-Killer Left Suicide Note, Islamic Verse, Trail Of Rage

July 01, 2017

The military veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge last summer left behind a suicide note, a prayer from an Islamic holy book and an online trail of his rage against police.

Two days after a white police officer shot and killed a black man in Louisiana’s capital, Gavin Long searched the internet for addresses, phone numbers and other personal information belonging to the two officers involved in the July 5 shooting of Alton Sterling, a prosecutor’s report revealed Friday.

Less than two weeks later, the 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Mo., traveled to Baton Rouge and ambushed law enforcement officers outside a convenience store and car wash near police headquarters.

Armed with a semi-automatic rifle that he legally purchased, Long fatally shot three officers and wounded three others on July 17 before tactical officers killed him, ending a gun battle that lasted nearly 14 minutes that Sunday morning.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said there’s no evidence that Long acted on any information he obtained about the two officers who struggled with Sterling before one of them shot and killed him outside a convenience store. Moore also said there’s no indication that Long had any support from anyone in Baton Rouge or attended any of the nightly protests there after Sterling’s death.

“He believes that protests are worthless and that action needs to be taken, not protests,” Moore said.

Police found a suicide note in Long’s rental car. He wrote that people who knew him would be surprised he was “suspected of committing such horrendous acts of violence” but that he believed he had to inflict harm “upon bad cops as well as good cops in hopes that the good cops (which are the majority) will be able to stand together and enact justice and punishment against bad cops.”

He also left a printout in his car from an Islamic holy book that was mostly in Arabic.

FBI agents and Louisiana State Police investigators traced Long’s movements in the days leading up to the attack. They learned he arrived in Baton Rouge on July 12 and checked in and out of four different hotel rooms during his brief visit.

“We believe that he was ready to die this day,” Moore said.

bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/07/la_cop_killer_left_suicide_note_islamic_verse_trail_of_rage

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US Claims About Possible Chemical Attack in Syria to 'Hide Its Own Defeat' © REUTERS/ Alaa Al-Faqir

01.07.2017

Commenting on the recent claims of the White House that the US allegedly "observed potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime" and a subsequent CNN report on the deployment of the US warships targeting Syria's Shayrat airbase, Syrian politician Ammar al-Asad explained to Sputnik the real reason behind the claims.

Is the US Really Ready for 'Unprecedented Actions' in Syria?

On Monday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer claimed that the United States allegedly "observed potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime." And if President Assad went through with it, he should expect the US to retaliate.

"If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price," Spicer wrote in his statement.

?Later on Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis claimed that "he believes Syria has backed down."

"It appears that they took the warning seriously," Mattis told reporters during a trip to Brussels for a NATO meeting. "They didn't do it."

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, also told Congress that "Trump's warning stopped the Assad regime."

Also on Wednesday, CNN reported that "the US military has ships and aircraft in place to strike Syria if ordered to do so by President Donald Trump, but so far it does not appear as if the Syrian government has made any further moves toward a chemical weapons attack."

US 'Inventing Pretexts to Test Russia's Reaction' in Syria

"For now, Syria's Shayrat airbase remains under constant overhead surveillance by the US for further signs of whether a chemical strike may be in the works," the broadcaster said.

It further reported on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, along with two destroyers and two cruisers being deployed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea for routine patrol positions.

"The destroyers and cruisers could fire Tomahawk missiles without putting pilots in manned aircraft at risk. In addition, dozens of aircraft already in the Middle East for operations against ISIS (Daesh) in Syria and Iraq could be used in a potential strike," the broadcaster said.

Commenting on the above reports, Syrian MP Ammar al-Asad, deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Syrian parliament, the People's Council, told Sputnik Arabic that the new wave of claims about chemical weapons in Syria is needed to distract attention from the "landslide victories of the Syrian army in the Syrian Desert on the border with Iraq and its effective cooperation with the Iraqi People's Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), (Al-Hashd Al-Sha'abi)."

US 'Evidently Preparing New Intervention' in Syria - Moscow

The Syrian MP said that the Syrian and Iraqi forces are currently preparing a joint assault on the positions of Daesh militants at Deir ez-Zor city in eastern Syria. While the US, he said, has been supporting the militants and their ground operations since the very start of their war against Syria.

Ammar al-Asad recalled that the US has already claimed responsibility on President Assad for the chemical incident in Syria's Khan Sheikhoun in April. Damascus rejected the accusations and said militants and their allies were responsible.

This week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out that almost three months later, Russia is still trying to push for an OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons) mission to be sent to Syria's Khan Sheikhoun.

"Until now, the US and its allies have not sent an independent international commission to Khan Sheikhoun for investigation of the incident. Back in April, the Syrian government together with Russia suggested sending the commission to Syria's Shayrat airbase, where the aircraft allegedly took off from to bomb Khan Sheikhoun, for investigation,"  Ammar al-Asad told Sputnik.

"The US is using all types of lies and falsifications in the Syrian crisis. At the same time, Israel is advancing in the south, and Damascus has already made sharp statements to Tel Aviv on it. Israel is now escalating the situation in the Golan Heights and Quneitra Governorate in order to seize these areas out of the Syrian control," he said.

On Friday, Israel Defense Forces tweeted that the Israeli aviation attacked Syrian troops for the fourth time in a week, allegedly in response to a stray projectile that fell on Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

?"Sometimes the US and Israel change roles. Tel Aviv is now supporting terrorists in Quneitra Governorate, However they are losing there as the Syrian army is returning control over strategic positions in these regions," Ammar al-Asad said.

sputniknews.com/middleeast/201707011055138350-us-claims-chemical-attack/

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At least 17 injured in US nightclub shooting

Jul 1, 2017

LITLLE ROCK: Little Rock Police said they are investigating a shooting at an Arkansas nightclub that left at least 17 people injured.

Police said via Twitter that the shooting on early Saturday morning at the Power Lounge appears to have happened following a dispute at a concert. They say all 17 shooting victims are alive and one victim who was previously listed in critical condition is now stable

Police further said they do not "believe this incident was an active shooter or terror related incident."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/at-least-17-injured-in-us-nightclub-shooting/articleshow/59400711.cms

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American Muslims denounce Trump travel ban

01.07.2017

American Muslim leaders Friday decried Donald Trump's rhetoric towards their community and predicted the president's travel ban would eventually be proven unlawful, a day after a weakened version of the measure came into force.

A limited version of Trump's travel ban — temporarily barring refugees and visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — took effect on Thursday, after the US Supreme Court allowed it to be enforced pending a full hearing in October.

The Trump administration says the ban is necessary to keep terrorists out of the country, but immigrant advocates charge that it illegally singles out Muslims — in line with campaign pledges by Trump to bar all Muslims from the country.

Leaders of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which claims to be the largest Muslim advocacy group on the continent, slammed the ban as they gathered for a weekend convention in Chicago.

“His statements and his rhetoric have caused a great amount of harm to the American Muslim community,” said Azhar Azeez, president of the ISNA, which believes the ban will ultimately be proven unconstitutional.

“This country has always been an inclusive nation, a tolerant nation,” Azeez said, “and we as Americans have an obligation to make sure we uphold all these things.” Convention attendee Arishaa Khan said even those who are not directly affected by the ban — because they are not from the six targeted countries — are nevertheless affected by its broader implications.

“This ban has been tumultuous,” the 27-year-old American citizen from Pakistan said, adding that she sees friends and family “posting on Facebook before they go on international flights, asking for lawyers to be on standby.”

Several participants said they had been heartened by the show of support by Americans of many religious denominations, with members of Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish faiths set to attend the three-day convention.

They pointed to the protesters who showed up at US airports, along with lawyers offering pro-bono legal help, as the new ban took effect.

“We had a lot of people come to visit in the mosque ... to show support. And it was very nice,” said Muhammad Abdellatif, who was attending the convention from Houston.

But others pointed to recent incidents of attacks against Muslims as evidence of increased Islamophobia, and accused far-right groups, and the US president himself, of fanning tensions.

“This Ramazan, in particular, was a very difficult one for many in the community,” said Asra Ali, a Chicago-area dentist and convention organiser, referring to the Muslim holiday of fasting which ended last Saturday.

In May, a man who had gone on an anti-Muslim rant fatally stabbed two people who came to the defence of two girls on a train in Portland, Oregon.

And earlier this month, Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old Virginia girl, was beaten to death after she left late-night prayers at a mosque. A 22-year-old man was charged in that attack, which police said was an act of road-rage not a hate crime, but many Muslims remain convinced she was targeted over her faith.

There was a special prayer planned for Hassanen during the convention.

dawn.com/news/1342561/american-muslims-denounce-trump-travel-ban

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US court dismisses Yemen drone strike wrongful death suit

1 Jul, 2017

A US appeals court has upheld a decision dismissing a lawsuit brought by a Yemeni man whose family was killed by a US drone strike. The plaintiff alleges that his family members were innocent bystanders when they were struck by the missile.

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which consisted of a three-judge panel, came to an agreement with lower courts that stated they, too, did not have the authority to judge government military actions. An August 2012 drone strike in Yemen, which killed, among others, Salem bin Ali Jaber and Waleed bin Ali Jaber, is what this case is based upon.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber is a Yemeni engineer. He and his family sued the US government for the deaths of Salem, his brother-in-law, and Waleed, his nephew. Jaber made the claim that the deadly strike was in violation of the Torture Victim Protection Act and the Alien Tort Statute.

Jaber’s family members were killed by a “signature strike,” which target individuals through information and data obtained from electronic devices such as mobile phones.

In 2015, the families of the two deceased men brought a case against the US government, then-President Barack Obama and other US officials, for “wrongful deaths.”

Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote a rare separate opinion, although she also wrote the decision in the case as the three-judge panel was unanimous.

“Of course this begs the question, if judges will not check this outsized power, then who will?”

The outcome that Jaber and his family wanted for the case was a declaratory judgement, which would make the court admit that the US violated international law governing the use of force when killing his family members with the drone strike.

Court documents from 2015 say the family made the claim that the hellfire missile attack by a US drone, which was deployed in the Yemeni village of Khashamir, which killed their family members, was unlawful.

Yemeni engineer Faisal bin Ali Jaber © Nicholas Kamm / AFP

Judge Brown didn’t hesitate to question some of the US government’s practices in the case.

“Of course this begs the question, if judges will not check this outsized power, then who will?” She continued, “the spread of drones cannot be stopped, but the US can still influence how they are used in the global community - including, someday, seeking recourse should our enemies turn these powerful weapons 180 degrees to target our homeland. The Executive and Congress must establish a clear policy for drone strikes and precise avenues for accountability,” Brown said in her opinion of the case.

Brown also stated that US congressional oversight is a “joke” and that “our democracy is broken.”

The other two judges on the panel did not join in Brown’s separate opinion, Reuters reported.

rt.com/usa/394887-jaber-drone-us/

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U.S. Sends Islamic State Battle Envoy to Ankara as Turkey, U.S. Allies Trade Gunfire in Syria

30 Jun 20173

U.S. special envoy for the coalition against the Islamic State Brett McGurk arrived in Ankara, Turkey, Friday to discuss the ongoing battle for Raqqa. Turkey, which recently called for McGurk’s firing, has increasingly engaged in attacks against the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ).

McGurk announced his arrival on Twitter, noting that his meetings in Turkey will involve discussions on “mutual efforts to defeat ISIS.” The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that McGurk will meet officials at both the Foreign and Defense Ministries in Ankara and update them on the situation on the ground in Syria. McGurk visited the Raqqa area this week to evaluate progress against the Islamic State in the battle to liberate the terrorist group’s “capital.”

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 Brett McGurk ? @brett_mcgurk

Pleased to be in #Ankara today for consults with @NATO ally #Turkey on mutual efforts to defeat #ISIS and ensure it can never return.

8:13 PM - 30 Jun 2017

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The State Department described McGurk’s mission in Syria as a consultation with “local partners” on the ground. In a statement, the agency said McGurk “witnessed first-hand the humanitarian and stabilization assistance that is underway in liberated areas north of Raqqa, and held intensive discussions with local leaders and councils on post-liberation governance issues.”

McGurk reportedly praised the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) – a U.S.-allied multi-ethnic coalition of fighters led by the YPG – and emphasized that “local officials from the area” should control the reconstruction of the city following its liberation. Many local interests have expressed concern that Raqqa is not part of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) and should not fall under Kurdish control after the Islamic State loses it.

In comments to Arabic television, McGurk noted also that the United States has a responsibility to ensure that ISIS terrorists currently in Raqqa do not leave to cause chaos elsewhere in the world. “Our mission is to make sure that no foreign fighters, that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, that they will die here in Syria… If they are in Raqqa, they’re gonna die in Raqqa,” he said this week.

McGurk also posted some photos from his visit on Twitter.

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 Brett McGurk ? @brett_mcgurk

Spent last two days in #Syria with local leaders in #AinIssa & #Tabqa. #ISIS "caliphate" crumbling. More to follow. state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/06/272280.htm#.WVVShYMoPsM.twitter …

3:55 AM - 30 Jun 2017

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The U.S. government described McGurk’s visit as necessary and “routine.” “Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk visits Iraq and Syria often to discuss humanitarian and stabilization assistance, and to coordinate between our military and civilian initiatives, as well as post-liberation governance for areas liberated from ISIS with our partners on the ground,” the State Department told reporters.

In addition to local Arab concerns about YPG participation in the battle for Raqqa, the Turkish government has adamantly opposed any U.S. cooperation with the group.

Turkey considers the YPG a wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist terrorist organization. While the United States has designated the PKK a terrorist group, it considers the YPG a separate entity and the “only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.” In May, the Pentagon announced it would provide heavy weapons to the “Kurdish elements of the SDF” specifically for use in the battle of Raqqa.

Shortly after that statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu issued a demand that America fire Brett McGurk and replace him with an anti-Kurdish diplomat. “Brett McGurk, the USA’s special envoy in the fight against Daesh, is definitely and clearly giving support to the PKK and YPG. It would be beneficial if this person is changed,” Cavusoglu said, adding that McGurk should lose his job because he was appointed by President Barack Obama.

The Turkish military has also continued to target the YPG, particularly in the Afrin region close to the Syrian-Turkish border. “The Kurdish people in Afrin region have suffered a lot under heavy bombardment by Turkey and allied Islamists,” a YPG spokesperson said this week. “We will respond to any Turkish attacks on Rojava-Northern Syria. The Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Islamists will be a main target for our forces in the area.”

SDF officer Naser Haj Mansour told Reuters there was a “big possibility of open, fierce confrontation” with Turkey should they continue to attack, creating the significant threat of a distraction from the fight against the Islamic State that could benefit the jihadists.

The SDF announced Thursday that they had surrounded Raqqa’s city limits and are beginning to prepare for the urban warfare chapter of the right to take back the city. Raqqa remains the last major Islamic State stronghold in the region and largest in the world. Islamic State terrorists are also holding one city in Asia: Marawi, the only officially “Islamic City” in the Philippines.

breitbart.com/national-security/2017/06/30/u-s-islamic-state-battle-envoy-in-raqqa-ankara-to-cool-tensions-between-turkey-and-syrian-kurds/

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Pakistan

Threat continues to reside across the border in Afghanistan, Pak army chief claims

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 01 2017

The Pakistani army chief of staff General Javed Qamar Bajwa has claimed that threats being posed to Pakistan continue to reside across the border in Afghanistan.

Gen. Bajwa made the remarks during a meeting with the tribal elders in Parachinar, days after a deadly explosion ripped through the area, leaving scores of people dead or wounded.

 He said that threat continues to reside across the border in Afghanistan with ISIS gaining strength there.

“We need to remain united, steadfast, prepared and vigilant against this threat which has an agenda of exploiting sectarian fault-line,” he added.

The latest remarks by the Pakistani army chief came as both Kabul and Islamabad accuse each other of remaining reckless to act against the sanctuaries being used on their respective soil for planning attacks.

The Afghan officials have long been insisting that the leadership councils of the Taliban group and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are based in Peshawar, Quetta, and other parts of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

The Afghan officials earlier said that the deadly explosion near the embassy of Germany in Kabul was plotted by the Haqqani network in Pakistan, although the leaders of the network and the Taliban have rejected their role in the devastating attack that killed over one hundred and fifty people.

“Afghan oriented militant groups, including the Taliban and Haqqani Network, retain freedom of action inside Pakistani territory and benefit from support from elements of the Pakistani Government,” Pentagon said in a report last month.

The report further added “Although Pakistani military operations have disrupted some militant sanctuaries, certain extremist groups—such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network—were able to relocate and continue to operate in and from Pakistan. The United States continues to convey to Pakistan at all levels the importance of taking action against all terrorist and extremist groups.”

khaama.com/threat-continues-to-reside-across-the-border-in-afghanistan-pak-army-chief-claims-03047

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Security official, three civilians killed in mine blast in Khyber Agency

 

Four people, including one security official, lost their lives on Saturday in a mine blast in Medan Valley of Khyber Agency.

Sources privy to the information said security forces were on a routine patrolling exercise in Medan Valley when a planted mine went off.

The blast resulted in the death of one security personnel and three civilians passing the area.

The security forces' vehicle was also damaged in the explosion.

Rescue teams and security forces arrived at the scene shortly after reports of the blast, security sources said.

The army had launched Operation Raddul Fasaad in February following a spate of terror attacks in the country, which claimed more than a hundred lives and left hundreds others injured.

The operation seeks to eliminate the "residual/latent threat of terrorism", consolidating the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring the security of Pakistan's borders.

Hundreds of suspected terrorists have reportedly either been killed or arrested in raids carried out by security personnel since the start of the operation.

dawn.com/news/1342564/security-official-three-civilians-killed-in-mine-blast-in-khyber-agency

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New reports emerge regarding deadly explosion near German embassy in Kabul

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 01 2017

New reports have emerged regarding the deadly explosion in capital Kabul which took place close to the embassy of Germany last month.

According to the local media reports citing the German officials, the intelligence authorities of Germany were informed regarding the deadly attack days before it happened.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thomas Schäfer quoted by the German news agency DPA and Deutsche Welle, security agencies received warnings from multiple intelligence sources several months ahead of time.

 Earlier, the public broadcaster RBB and respected news magazine Spiegel reported that Germany intelligence had specific knowledge of an attack targeting the embassy using a tanker truck five months before it happened.

According to the reports, the militants had used around ten tons of explosives for the explosion and the suicide bomber had apparently managed to reach close to the embassy compound using the fake papers.

No group including the Taliban insurgents has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack but the Afghan officials are saying that the Haqqani terrorist network based in Pakistan plotted and carried out the attack although the leader of the network in a voice message said today that the group has no role in the incident.

Over one hundred and fifty people lost their lives in the attack and hundreds more were wounded in the explosion which is considered as one of the deadliest attacks since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001.

khaama.com/new-reports-emerging-regarding-deadly-explosion-near-german-embassy-in-kabul-03046

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Mideast

Five suicide bombers attack Lebanese troops during raids

July 1st, 2017

BEIRUT: Five suicide bombers attacked Lebanese soldiers as they raided two Syrian refugee camps in the Arsal area at the border with Syria on Friday and a sixth militant threw a hand grenade at a patrol, the army said.

The army said seven soldiers were wounded and a girl was killed after one of the suicide bombers blew himself up in the midst of a family of refugees.

The raids were part of a major security sweep by the army in an area that has been a flashpoint for violent spillover from the Syria crisis, and several officials of the militant Islamic State group were among some 350 people detained, a security source said.

The defence minister was quoted as saying the incident showed the importance of tackling the refugee crisis — Lebanon is hosting over 1 million refugees — and vindicated a policy of “pre-emptive strikes” against militant sleeper cells.

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which backs Syrian President Bashar al Assad in his fight against insurgents, said the raids complemented its own fighters’ campaign to stop militants entering Lebanon from Syria.

“What is needed today is to unify efforts more and more to fill all the gaps that terrorists can infiltrate from to protect Lebanon and its people from the big dangers that target it,” the Hezbollah statement said.

There has been frequent fighting between the army and militants dug into the hills around Arsal in a large pocket of territory straddling the border.

A Lebanese army statement said one suicide bomber had detonated his explosive laden belt in front of an army patrol during a manhunt for suspected militants in a refugee camp in the northeastern border town. Three soldiers were wounded.

The army said four other suicide bombers blew themselves up without causing any injuries among soldiers, while another militant threw a grenade at a patrol, wounding four soldiers.

During the raids an explosive device blew up while four other explosive devices were defused, it said.

The UN refugee agency says Lebanon hosts more than 1 million registered Syrian refugees — constituting a quarter of its population.

The government puts the number at 1.5 million. They are scattered across the country in informal tented settlements where many face the risk of arrest due to lack of legal residency that they struggle to obtain.

The Lebanese army has in recent months stepped up raids in the makeshift camps built on the edge of Arsal, where refugees live in squalid conditions.

The manhunt inside the sprawling camps on the border area came after intelligence reports that militants were preparing to stage a series of attacks inside Lebanon.

The camps around the town have long been a haven for militants coming from Syria who have clashed with Lebanese forces conducting security raids searching for suspects hiding among the refugees.

The militants briefly overran the town in 2014 in a battle that killed dozens and marked one of the more serious spillovers of the Syrian conflict in Lebanon.

dawn.com/news/1342529/five-suicide-bombers-attack-lebanese-troops-during-raids

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Western Attempts to Incite Persian Gulf States 'Could Provoke New World War' © AP Photo/ Kamran Jebreili

01.07.2017

Commenting on the recent developments in the Persian Gulf and the remarks of Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa towards Qatar, Turkish security expert Abdullah Agar explained to Sputnik that these are clear attempts of the West to pit the countries in the region against each other, which could provoke a new world war.

On Monday, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa accused Qatar of creating a military escalation in the region, in an apparent reference to Turkey's increased military presence in Doha.

"Bringing in foreign armies and their armored vehicles is the military escalation that Qatar has created,' the Bahraini top diplomat said in his message on Twitter, however without mentioning Turkey.

?On his other messages, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa urged Qatar "to end its political dichotomy" and make its choice.

"There is a contradiction in Qatar’s policy. Either compliance with the regional (GCC) system and its joint and bilateral defense treaties with the major international ally or regional interference," he posted.

Saudi Arabia 'Simply Unable to Open a Military Front Against Qatar'

"Making unilateral alliances with countries outside the regional system and with terrorist organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and others, strikes at the foundations of its commitment with the brothers in the GCC," said another Tweet.

"There is a need to choose between agreements with the brothers and allies on the one hand and the emergency regional interferer on the other. Qatar cannot have both,” Bahrain's Foreign Minister concluded.

Sputnik Turkiye discussed the issue with Abdullah Agar, Turkish expert on security and counterterrorism issues, a former operative of the Turkish special forces, who said that Bahrain is apparently acting on the order of Saudi Arabia, but within the regional plans of the West.

However, due to the Syrian crisis, among others, a new configuration of powers is being formed in the region, which is clearly of anti-Western nature. In such a situation any Western interference might provoke a new world war.

"With regards to the remarks of Bahrain's Foreign Minister we should take into account that Bahrain is acting on the order of Saudi Arabia but within the plans of the West to remodel and redraw the Middle East," Abdullah Agar told Sputnik.

"However Turkey's and Iran's stance on the Qatari crisis differs radically from the stance of the thirteen countries which are currently hostile to Qatar. There are evident attempts of the West to pit the countries in the region against each other," he said.

Qatar Could Restore Peace With Neighbors Soon, But 'They Won't Forget Turkey's Take on the Crisis'

The expert further explained that for a long time the western countries have been trying to drag Turkey into the growing regional tensions by presenting it, with the help of the public diplomacy, as a country which is lining up its foreign policy on confessional, faith based basis, regardless the fact that it is counter to the will of the Turkish people and the national mindset of the Turkish Republic.

Turkey, he said, is interested in the solution of the regional problems and this aim is shared by Iran, which apparently can't satisfy the West, which in every way tries to provoke a large-scale protracted conflict in the region.

"Turkish-Iranian rapprochement, which is being facilitated by Russia's efforts, is encouraging the setup of a new configuration of powers in the region amid the ongoing Syrian and Qatari crises. This configuration of powers is becoming more and more anti-Western due to destructive actions and threats of the West," Abdullah Agar finally stated.

sputniknews.com/middleeast/201707011055141043-persian-gulf-west-attempts/

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Israeli plane hits Syrian army position in Golan

July 1st, 2017

JERUSALEM: An Israeli warplane struck a Syrian army post on Friday, the Israeli military said, hours after stray fire from Syria’s civil war hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

“In response to the projectile launched earlier today at Israel from Syria, an Israel Air Force aircraft targeted the Syrian army position that fired the mortar,” the English-language Israeli statement said.

“The errant projectile was a result of internal fighting in Syria.” It was the fourth such exchange in a week as Syrian troops battle rebels, including hardline Islamists, on the other side, leading to occasional stray fire.

There have been no casualties on the Israeli side but the Jewish state also responded to the previous three incidents by striking Syrian government positions.

Rebels recently launched an offensive against government forces in Quneitra on the Syrian side of the armistice line.

Israel has conducted several air strikes in Syria since that country’s civil war erupted in 2011, most of which it has said had been against arms convoys or warehouses of its Lebanese arch-foe Hezbollah.

The Iran-backed movement is a key supporter of the Syrian regime and is fighting alongside government forces.

In April, Israel shot down what it identified only as “a target” over the Golan, hours after Syria accused it of hitting a military position near Damascus airport.

Israel did not confirm or deny the reported Damascus attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he would not tolerate any spillover from the fighting in Syria.

“We will respond to every firing,” he said. “Whoever attacks us, we will attack him. This is our policy and we will continue with it.”

Netanyahu was speaking at the Israeli settlement of Katzrin in the Golan, when a Syrian mortar shell hit further north and the Israeli military retaliated.

“During my speech, shells from the Syrian side landed in our territory and the Israel Defence Forces have already struck back,” he said.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. Around 510 square kilometres of the Golan are under Syrian control.

“Our line is clear,” Netanyahu said in his Hebrew-language speech on Wednesday.

dawn.com/news/1342526/israeli-plane-hits-syrian-army-position-in-golan

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Minister says Qatar to comply with new US airline security measures

July 1st, 2017

Qatar will comply with enhanced security measures for flights to the United States designed to prevent expanding an in-cabin ban on laptops, the country's minister of transport said on Friday.

The measures, which European and US officials said on Wednesday would begin taking effect within three weeks, could require additional time to screen passengers and personal electronic devices for possible explosives.

“We will respect it,” the minister, Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti, said in an interview in Montreal, where he is meeting officials of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). He did not provide specific details.

Al Sulaiti repeated Qatar's request for the ICAO to intervene over Gulf neighbours closing their airspace to state-owned Qatar Airways flights in early June. Qatar has also asked for the ICAO to open international airspace over Gulf waters currently managed by the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, forcing Qatar Airways to fly longer, more expensive routes over Iran. The four countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and have made various demands on Doha. Qatar denies the allegations.

On Friday, top ICAO officials briefed members of the agency's governing council on the safety and efficiency of air traffic in the Middle East region. During the briefing, which was closed to media and the public, members were told that the diplomatic rift did not cause serious safety concerns because aircraft operated by non-Qatar carriers could still fly to Doha, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Nevertheless, while no decision was reached at the briefing, ICAO will still hold future talks to discuss new contingency routes for Qatar Airways, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was confidential.

Representatives of the UAE and Saudi Arabia could not be reached for comment on Friday.

ICAO's 36-state governing council can act to settle the overflights issue presented by Qatar, but such interventions are rare and time-consuming because the specialised United Nations agency usually negotiates disputes diplomatically through consensus.

ICAO cannot impose rules on states, but regulators from its 191-member countries almost always adopt and enforce its international aviation standards.

dawn.com/news/1342556/minister-says-qatar-to-comply-with-new-us-airline-security-measures

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Africa

Sudan to remain on U.S. list for state sponsors of terrorism: official

 

June 30, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – The United States has no plans to remove Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, according to a U.S. official.

The U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that an assessment is underway on Sudan’s compliance with conditions stipulated by the previous administration to permanently lift comprehensive economic sanctions imposed in 1997.

“I don’t want to get ahead of what will be announced, because that we just don’t know yet. We’re not sure what is going to happen with the sanctions,” Nauert said according to a transcript of June 22nd press briefing.

“The State Department is monitoring whether or not Sudan has sustained positive actions that gave rise to the executive order that was put in place earlier this year. So the State Department will make the final determination, but I just can’t get ahead of what that is right now”.

But Nauert stressed that Sudan’s terrorism designation will not change for the time being.

“I can tell you one thing, and that is the designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terror will remain”.

By July 12th, an interagency report is to be submitted to U.S. President Donald Trump which he will use to issue a decision on whether to maintain or to permanently remove economic sanctions on Sudan.

sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62874

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The 28th Anniversary of the National Islamic Front Coup in Sudan

 

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

The Friday, June 30, 2017 marks the 28th anniversary of the military Coup d’état, led by the notorious National Islamic Front (NIF), the global Muslim Brotherhood Movement (MBM) which undermined the democratically elected government in Sudan to litter the land with corruption, genocidal killing, displacement and impoverishment. During their reign Sudan became a rogue and pariah state in the eyes of the world because of the criminal acts practiced by the gang of the ruling regime of the National Congress Party (NCP). At this moment we remember a huge number of revolutionary figures who martyred and went as the victims of the crimes of Omer Hassan Ahmed al- Bashir and the entourage of his regime. We remember and salute the martyrs of the Darfur region, the martyrs of Kordofan, the martyrs of the south of the Sudan and the martyrs of the Manaseer region, martyrs of Gezira and the martyrs of Port Sudan. The Sudanese people will remember the killing of Majdi Mahjoub, pilot Girgis and Doctor Ali Fadul along with the martyrs of Ramadan 28, martyrs of the area Manaseer and Kajbar and the martyrs of the Intifada and the martyrs 19 September 2013.

During these times, we remember prisoners of war and prisoners of conscience who have been languishing in the in the prisons of the ruling regime of the outgoing National Congress Party and we commend and highly value their great signs of steadfastness. We hope Healing for wounded everywhere in the swathes of Sudan.

The National Islamic Front (NIF), as soon as rested assured on the helm, considered the people of Sudan in the Southern Sudan, region of Darfur and the marginalised territories as its prime archenemies and declared Jihad warfare against the civilian Sudanese citizens. They classified Sudanese people according to the concept of either with us or against us. In their quest for empowerment, (NIF) hard-liners adopted a policy of dismissal of government employees allegedly thought potentially disloyal under the pretext of the so-called ’Public Good/Interest’. Thus, hundreds of workers and officials in the Civil Service have been dismissed and replaced by inept unqualified individuals affiliated to the (NIF). The (NIF) Putschists gave the nickname of (Dismissal for Pubic Good) that phenomenologically farcical process.

Furthermore, they portrayed the war against the Southern Sudan, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Army (SPLM/A) Rebels as a Jihad employing the regular Sudan Armed Force (SAF) and the militia Popular Defence Forces (PDF) which they portrayed as Mujahideen. The Majority of the (PDF) were conscripts from amongst high school, college and university students. Regular TV programme calling for jihad against the infidels known as (In the backyards of redemption) accompanied. NIF described their dead as martyrs and described the other dead in southern Sudan war as (Matt Fetaiz), the phrase means that others slain by their army as Rotten Fetid Corpses- according to their own words and phraseology. On the political front, the putschist regime dissolved the parliament, political parties and their representatives, who were members of it and imposed emergency laws all over the Sudan, and seized the banks and they by virtue of a deterrent decreed penalty included lynching for every person who owned hard foreign currencies such as the US dollar, British Pound after the forfeiture and the confiscation of the amount. Moreover, they claimed that they came with what they called as Civilisational Project and Apostolic Orientation for the Islamisation of Sudan and the people of the country. Furthermore, they claimed that they will fight America and Russia which their Torment has approached they have met what hurts them, so to speak! However, hypocrisy is lanyard as the popular saying goes, and very soon the putschists agreed secretly with the US intelligence agency (CIA) to provide intelligence on the movements of Islamic jihadist terrorists that had taken Khartoum as a safe haven refuge.

The putschist entity of (NIF) had committed a heinous crime against their companions in the Sudan Armed Force (SAF), which included non-commissioned officers and officers of more than thirty on the pretext that they were involved in an alleged military coup attempt against them. The Execution of those 28 military officers took place on the Holy Month of Ramadan, which coincided April 23, 1990, in an ugly image representing treachery and betrayal. Thus, began the first step towards dismantling the Sudanese army in favour of the lords of the National Islamic Front (NIF) until the armed forces have become a monopoly; but later replaced by the Janjaweed militias and mercenaries that waged proxy civil wars on behalf of Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir and his entourage against the Sudanese unarmed noncombatant civilian citizens in Darfur where crimes of genocide have been systematically committed, 28 years on today’s date.

Darfur Forced to Take up to Arms

Moreover, when the people of Darfur who have suffered from systematic marginalisation by the successive governments led by the political elites, the majority of whom were descendants from the Northern Region since the Independence of Sudan in January 1956 from British colonialists rule. The then Brigadier Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, virtually the leader of the regime, said publicly that he would not negotiate with anyone who did not carry weapons. Bashir’s statement forced the young men of the Region to take up to arms on February 2003 in quest for the legitimate rights of citizenship which include wealth sharing and power sharing and removal of systematic marginalisation and chronic deprivation which they and their people suffered and rights have been denied for so long. Moreover, they included those grievances in the Black Book imbalance of power and wealth in Sudan written around the end of the year 1999 by intellectuals from the Darfur region, a group led by Martyr Dr Khalil Ibrahim Muhammad, Allah forgive him and bless his soul.

The Janjaweed unleashed to run havoc

When the army and Janjaweed militias of the regime subjected to defeats at the hands of gallant Darfur armed movements rebel forces in all locations and battle fields, the Khartoum government has decided to take revenge on civilians rather than confronting the rebels. It unleashed the Janjaweed militias to wreak havoc and corruption on earth, burning villages and looting the property of citizens and killing women, kids and the elderly. Based on the war crimes perpetrated in the form of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant to apprehend the head of the regime Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. Furthermore, the (ICC) issued arrest warrants of the former Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein and Ahmed Mohamed Haroun, former state minister of interior, and Ali Abdelrahman Kushayb, leader of the Janjaweed militias, all of whom remain fugitives from international justice. Moreover, the NCP regime in order to be capable of carrying out further atrocious crimes against the people of Sudan in Darfur worked relentlessly for getting rid of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). However, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) continued extending the period of the (UNAMID) Force yearly. Accordingly, the UN Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union have considered extending the Mandate of (UNAMID) for 12 months, until 30 June 2017, without modifying its priorities or adjusting its authorised troop and police ceiling. un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2016/510.

NCP regime waging War on Citizens while swathes of Sudan’s land occupied by Foreigners

The (NCP) regime has been waging futile warfare against fellow citizens while swathes of the soil of Sudan remain under the occupation by foreign neighbouring countries. These are the Sudanese territories occupied by the Egyptian army in Halayeb and Shalateen In addition to an area of 600 thousand in Fashaga occupied by Ethiopia. The (NCP) regime behaves, as the popular proverb says, he behaves as a lion on unarmed noncombatant civilian citizens of Sudan in Darfur though just an Ostrich in wars with who attacked and seized a vast swathes of areas of the dear homeland!

Inciting Intertribal Warfare

Furthermore, in the Darfur region, the regime of the NCP sought in addition to the crimes of genocide to fragment the eternal social fabric of the citizens by dividing the region into five states based on the tribal lines. As expected, that led into tribal strife and intertribal warfare. Worse, the regime held a bogus referendum for the revocation of the region so as the word and opinion of the people of Darfur fragmented and divided toward their vital issues. Thus, the NCP regime vehemently opposed to Darfur remaining as one region and opted for dismantling it into warring tribal cantons with fragmentation of the social fabric.

Systematic Government Corruption Widespread

The epidemic of government corruption remained widely spread in the decadence era of the (NIF). They looted the country’s oil and gold revenues to foreign banks under the names of relatives of influential people in the regime of the National Congress Party accounts. Furthermore, the putschists as well as sold the major productive state institutions such as the Gezira irrigated agriculture project, Sudan Airways, Sudan Shipping Lines, Sudan railway corporation and privatisation of education and health services and so on! Moreover, they sold the famous Sudan House in the Knight Bridge neighbourhood in London cheaply to a crony investor of the (NCP) regime as well selling the airstrip of the Sudan Airways (Sudan air) at Heathrow Airport. For the legalisation of corruption, the Islamism regime of the (NCP) decided to urge the religious Sheikhs affiliated to it introducing the so-called (Tahalul), meaning biodegradable decomposition and disintegration, which according to their Religious Fatwa removes “Haram” and make it Halal! Still the worse is on the way. The racist supremacist elements in the regime made the unity in Sudan unattractive to the citizens of Southern Sudan through racism by making them take the option of secession and formation of their own nascent state, South Sudan, in 2011. There are plenty of calamities brought about by the ruling regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) to the disenfranchised people of Sudan, but the space does not accommodate the entire reminder.

The genocidal criminal Omar al-Bashir and his Islamism claiming entourage will remain held responsible for the heinous crimes they perpetrated in the rights of the Sudanese people over the 27 lean years of oppressive putschist regime. Thus, autocracy and reign of terror continued for past 27 years despite the fact that the people of Sudan used in the past staunch advocates of fighting for freedom, October 21, 1964, and April 1985 Revolutions as examples.

Unlimited support the genocidal criminal Omar al-Bashir from the African Union

Omar al-Bashir and his regime took proxy civil wars of attrition safe haven to protect him from the International Court of Court’s (ICC) grip, which has been pursuing him since 2009. This is in addition to the support he receives from the Dictators Club called the African Union (AU) based in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Most of the members of the forum there are afraid of the spin of the circle upon them and fall under the accountability of the international Tribunal. The majority of the Club Members practised systemic repression and continued committing atrocities against the people of their countries.

Support from Some members in the International Community

The (NCP) regime receives political support provided by some permanent members of the UN Security Council. That support is in lieu of the intersecting interests in the form of intelligence on terrorism by the Islamic Jihadi groups from Egypt, Libya and other neighbouring countries, which take Khartoum as refuge on their belief that the Islamist regime of the National Congress Party would give them protection.

EU –Sudan Agreement to Curb Migration exodus from the Horn of Africa to European shores by rewarding the Génocidaire Omer al-Bashir

It is not so exciting or surprising if we look at what the European Union (EU) recently trying to strike a deal with Khartoum. (EU) planned for reaching an agreement with the ruling regime in Sudan for reducing migrants coming from the Horn of Africa countries to Europe through Libya. Germany is to provide an amount of one hundred million euros to Sudan, in addition to the establishment of camps in Eastern Sudan for refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Somalia. Moreover, there is other additional package of facilities for the training of Sudanese police in Germany to carry out the task of reducing immigration to Europe. They ignored and flouted all the crimes committed by the head of the ruling regime of the NCP, Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir against humanity against the people of Sudan in Darfur, and fugitive from international justice and indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Machiavellian doctrine of end justifies the means continues in operation.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and UNAMID Size and Mandate Change in Darfur

To make bad situation worse, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) decided to reduce the size of the UNAMID Mission in Darfur by 50% and as well as changing its Mandate from Peace and Security keeping to Peace Building Mission on the pretext of cost where US has decided to reduce its financial contribution and/or that insurgence in Darfur has allegedly become thing of the past based on reports by the Sudanese government and some UN report writers! As for the people of Sudan in Darfur, UNAMID Exit or change of its primary mandate would Open Gates for Anarchy, more Lawlessness and hell on earth in Darfur.

We know that The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last time has renewed the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) until Friday the 30th June 2017.

More importantly as well is that the reduction of UNAMID forces leads to the removal of the only international witness to the violations of the ruling regime of the National Congress Party, the genocide criminal in the Darfur region. The people of Sudan in Darfur have always advocated the need to strengthen the UNAMID mission and develop its forces by adding troops from Western countries to take an active role in achieving security. Furthermore, the instability in the Darfur region, the continued armed conflict and the continuing crimes of the cloned Janjaweed militias loyal to the ruling (NCP) regime the rapid support forces (RSF) militia all push for the renewal of the joint peacekeeping a Nazi-UNAMID, despite its weak performance, but its departure or the reduction of its personnel or change of its mandate will compromise security and derail the safe unfettered delivery of relief to the needy. Thus, the only international witness will lose the regime’s crimes against the people. More suffering in Darfur would become inevitable and it will result in cloning the ongoing failure in achieving peace to the war-torn Darfur region.

Removal of the Decades-Long Trade and Financial US Sanctions

The recent security rapprochement between the administration of new US President Donald Trump and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) regime could lead to the lifting of trade and economic sanctions entirely by the first half of July 2017 as decided by former US President Barack Obama at the last moment of the end of his term in office.

The rewarding of the genocidal criminal, the fugitive from the international justice, has become the justice of this era of decadence, where politicians in the international community are running behind interests humanity has become something of the past that has no place in the world of international politics today under the hegemony of the single pole! Thus, the pre-existing interests come before the values preserved in the corridors of the UN building in New York, Manhattan!

Edmund Burke the British-Irish Politician, Author, Orator, Political theorist, and Philosopher has been quoted as saying: (All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent).

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is thussudan.wordpress.com/

sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62881

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Maiyetti Allah Leaders Embolden Prickly Fulani Herdsmen

July 1, 2017

The reactions of the Maiyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to the raging killings by Fulani herdsmen across the nation have been most disgraceful and irresponsible. Just recently in Taraba State, Maiyetti Allah members came out forcefully in Jalingo to protest against a proposed bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock, demanding the stoppage of action on the plan. They even stormed the state’s House of Assembly in Jalingo with arms, threatening everybody. I still can’t understand why anyone should continue to insist that nomadic cattle rearing must continue in this 21st century. Open grazing is an aberration in any modern society and Nigeria should not be an exception. Maiyetti Allah leaders are clearly unperturbed by the rampant killings and destruction of property across the nation as a result of persistent herdsmen and farmers’ clashes. This is obvious from the opposition of the group to state governments that introduced laws curbing open grazing.

I watched the Maiyetti Allah protest in Jalingo on television and I was so depressed. The utterances of the Maiyetti Allah leaders were provocative, disheartening and preposterous. I heard some of them saying that they have a right to roam anywhere with their cattle, settle anywhere and eat anything they liked. Reading the protest speech, the Chairman, Maiyetti Allah, Taraba State Chapter, Sahabi Tukur, said the bill against open grazing was inimical, ill-intended, discriminatory and a misplaced priority, adding that the association rejected the bill in its entirety. He also threatened that there would be breakdown of law and order in Taraba if the bill is passed into law. Tukur added: “Grazing, like any other occupation, is cultural which, in the case of Nigeria and Taraba State in particular, is carried out substantially by the Fulani people. There will be no red meat, no cow in the market and all butchers will boycott market activities for seven days should the House fail to listen to our demand.”

Haba! Why must Maiyetti Allah members continue to threaten everybody? Why must they continue to insist that nomadic cattle rearing should continue in this modern era? What about the rights of the farmers? I knew quite alright that we still have a large number of stone-age people in this country, but I did not know that it was this bad. The rascality of the Maiyetti Allah members must be curbed. The intentions of the Taraba State government are genuine. Governor Darius Ishaku wanted a lasting solution to the mayhem persistently created by the herdsmen. He is not just aiming to stop open rearing and grazing of livestock, Ishaku is also planning to help the herdsmen establish ranches. This will be facilitated by a proposed agency to be known as the Taraba State Livestock and Ranches Administration and Control Agency. Yet, Maiyetti Allah members have declared war on this governor and his bill. This is in spite of the fact that herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in Taraba State had claimed no fewer than 2,000 lives in the last few years. Fighting in Mambilla area of the state between the herdsmen and the Mambila farmers raged for several days last week, with dozens of people killed.

Maiyetti Allah supporters should sheath their swords and attend the impending public hearing on the Taraba Open Grazing Prohibition bill so that they can, together with other stakeholders, clear the grey areas and brainstorm on how to make the proposed law work. I believe that areas the Executive failed to capture in the bill would be addressed in the course of the deliberations. To say that they are totally opposed to the bill limiting cattle rearing to ranches is confrontational, inhuman and an affront to other people. These rampaging herdsmen must be told in very clear language that nomadic cattle rearing is an abnormality in any modern society. Cattle must be reared in ranches. This is the standard in sane societies.

Our law enforcements agents must be very firm in enforcing anti-open grazing laws in states that have passed them. Benue and Ekiti states have done very well in this regard. All other states should do same, accompanied with a very proactive arrangement for ranching. Government at all levels must send a very strong message to herdsmen that we are no longer living in a jungle. This persistent bloodshed by these herdsmen must be cogently stopped.

On the flip side, security agents must dig into the sources of arms of these killer herdsmen. In the last two years, it is common to see them roaming with AK-47 assault rifles. Some highly-placed Nigerians must have supplied these guns. Those responsible must be apprehended and punished according to the laws of our land. I am glad that the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, has joined the clamour for the probe of the source of herdsmen’s arms. The Sultan added: “Real herdsmen do not carry guns. They only move with their cows and sticks. Agreed, there are bad eggs among the Fulani, but those carrying arms and perpetrating heinous killings are not herdsmen. Those carrying arms are criminals and they should be treated as such. The government should therefore probe the sources of these weapons and take appropriate action; they should face the wrath of the law.”

As at press time, some killer herdsmen were hibernating at Ileyo village, Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State. They have destroyed crops and chased farmers away from the village. The kind of weapons they are wielding is frightening. Security agents in the state have failed to protect the hapless farmers of  Ileyo village. The herdsmen allegedly killed one Linus Ogbee who resisted the invasion of his farm. Because of their superior weapon, Ondo State policemen have been hesitant to intervene. Last week, the fear-struck villagers staged a protest along the Igbatoro-Akure Road. For how long must this country continue like this? For how long must herdsmen continue to shed the blood of innocent people because of their cattle? Things have just got to change.

ncy for a new human social pact, a new social pact for work that should reduce working hours for those at the end of their working lives, to create work for the young, who have a right and a duty to work. A society that forces old people to work for too long and forces an entire generation of young people not to work is stupid and short-sighted.” This is food for thought for all of us today.

Water Challenge in Bauchi State

Households in Bauchi State are going through hell due to inadequate public water supply. The last few months have been harrowing, with many areas in the Bauchi metropolis going without water for days. An estimated 95 per cent of the inhabitants of this state lack access to public water supply. The rich dig boreholes while many others who can’t afford this, source for water from so many unhealthy sources. The water crisis in this state has been on for years. Many thought things would change with the emergence of Mohammed Abubakar as governor. Unfortunately, the water crisis moved from bad to worse. Governor Abubakar has in the last two years failed to improve public water in this state. In fact, he has not shown any seriousness about tackling the problem. It is heart-warming that the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu has joined the team putting pressure on Governor Abubakar to decisively tackle the water supply crisis. The Emir, during his Sallah visit to Abubakar last week appealed to him to look into the acute water scarcity encumbering residents of Bauchi metropolis. He noted that the acute water shortage had defied successive administrations in the state. I sincerely hope that this governor will act appropriately. He has less than two years to make an impact. History will not forgive him if he leaves the Bauchi Government House without making any positive impact on water supply in the state.

What’s Governor Obaseki Doing with 246 Assistants?

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo has added 192 special assistants and 54 senior special assistants to the already bloated wage bill of the government. He said these 246 appointees would serve as representatives of the government at the grassroots. Conservatively, Obaseki would spend about N1 billion of taxpayers’ money annually to take care of these absolutely unnecessary appointees. This is just jobs for the boys. I really can’t fathom why this should be taking place in a state with huge pension arrears. Some Edo State departments and agencies also have backlog of unpaid salaries. Why this profligacy, amidst financial challenges? I thought Obaseki would represent something different. I never knew that he would continue in the ways of his godfather, Adams Oshiomhole. At a point, Oshiomhole had almost 1000 assistants. My dear Obaseki, let good projects represent you all over Edo State. Give more people access to public water supply, quality healthcare, quality education in public schools and good roads. This is the only genuine way to ensure that he is represented all over the state.

thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/07/01/maiyetti-allah-leaders-embolden-prickly-fulani-herdsmen/

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Southeast Asia

Medan Cop Killer Borrows Money From Bank to Join Islamic State Fighters in Syriai

 

Jakarta. Syawaluddin Pakpahan, one of two men allegedly involved in the fatal stabbing of a police officer in Medan, North Sumatra, on Sunday (25/06), had once borrowed Rp 20 million ($1500) from a bank to join the war in Syria.

"In 2013, the attacker, whose initials are SP, borrowed Rp 20 million to fly to Syria to join his comrades as a fighter," National Police Spokesman Brig. Gen. Rikwanto said in South Jakarta on Friday (30/06), as quoted by Beritasatu.com.

Rikwanto said Syawaluddin spent a total of six months in Syria. After returning to Indonesia, he recruited three people including Ardial Ramadan, Firmansyah Putra Yudi and Hendri Pratama, aka Boboy, who later became his accomplices.

"They were SP's neighbors and fellow market sellers," he added.

Rikwanto said Firmansyah and Boboy had secretly inspected a security checkpoint in front of the North Sumatra Police Headquarters in Medan before the other suspects launched their brazen knife attack on Sunday.

The officer-on-duty who was killed in the fatal stabbing was identified as Martua Sigalingging.

Ardial was shot dead following the attack, while Syawaluddin was shot in the leg. The other two suspects were nabbed shortly after the attack.

Rikwanto said the police have identified Syawaluddin as a sympathizer of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terror network, believed to be run by Indonesian Islamic State militant Bahrun Naim, who is currently in Syria.

"According to our investigation, Syawaluddin started searching information about radicalism on the internet in 2004. He was radicalized online and eventually went to Syria to join the war," Rikwanto said.

According to the police, the three surviving terror suspects — Syawaluddin, Firmansyah and Boboy — will be detained at the police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, West Java.

jakartaglobe.id/news/medan-police-killer-borrows-money-bank-join-islamic-state-fighters-syria/

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Indonesian Muslim leader calls for Starbucks boycott over gay-marriage stance

1st July 2017

A gay man is whipped in public Aceh in March. AAP / Hotli Simanjuntak

A leader of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation has called for a boycott of Starbucks, saying that the international coffee chain’s pro-gay stand risks ruining the “religious and cultured” core of the Southeast Asian nation.

With the exception of the ultra-conservative Aceh province, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia. But police raids on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have risen in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Anwar Abbas of Muhammadiyah, an organisation that has around 30 million members, said the government should revoke Starbucks’ operating licence, as the company’s support for the LGBT community is “not in line” with the nation’s ideology.

“If Starbucks only does business, then fine. But don’t bring ideology here,” Abbas told Reuters by phone on Saturday.

PT Sari Coffee Indonesia, which holds the licence to run the Starbucks chain, is a legal entity that “always obeys the prevailing regulations and appreciates the cultural values in Indonesia”, an executive at its parent company said.

“We also value the religious background of our customers and employees,” Fetty Kwartati, a director at PT MAP Boga Adiperkasa Tbk, said in a text message.

Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance and pluralism is already under scrutiny after Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic-Chinese Christian, was sentenced in May to two years in prison for blasphemy in a trial that came after mass Islamist-led rallies last year.

Asked why he had taken a stand against Starbucks, Abbas said he was informed in a chat group about a pro-LGBT comment made by the company’s senior executive, Howard Schultz.

Schultz is now chairman of Starbucks after stepping down from his previous role as chief executive.

Forbes reported that when a Starbucks shareholder complained in 2013 that the company had lost customers because of its support for gay marriage, Schultz said it embraces diversity and that “not every decision is an economic decision”.

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company,” Schultz was reported as saying at that time.

A video of the comment was also posted on YouTube.

Starbucks customer Annisa Meidiana, who is a Muslim, said she would not stop buying coffee there because of the call for the boycott.

“Islam condemns LGBT. It’s a sin,” the 22-year-old university student said outside Jakarta. “But it doesn’t matter to me. For me, being an LGBT is a human right.”

thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2017/07/01/muslim-leader-calls-starbucks-boycott-gay-marriage-stance/

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Man Shot Dead After Knife Attack On Policemen At Jakarta Mosque

01/07/2017  

By Azeman Ariffin JAKARTA, July 1 (Bernama) -- A man was shot dead when he attacked two policemen with a knife after prayers at Faletehan Mosque, located near the police headquarters, South Jakarta, last night.

This was the latest incident in a series of violent attacks against members of the Indonesian police force of late.

The local media quoted Metro Jaya police chief, M.Iriawan as saying that the two policemen were injured on their cheeks in the knife attack by the unknown man.

According to him, the man had shouted "taghut" (you've crossed the line) and tried to stab one of the policemen on the neck who had extended his hand for the 'salam' (traditional greeting) but the knife hit his cheek, injuring him.

"The man then attacked another policeman, also injuring his face. In the commotion, the man tried to flee and policemen from the headquarters, realising the attack, gave chase and fired warning shots.

The man, however, ignored the police order to surrender and the pursuing policemen fired shots, killing the man at the scene,? said Iriawan.

The two injured policemen, identified as Dede Suhatmi and Syaiful, were rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment and were reported to be in stable condition, he added.

On the morning of Aidilfitri last Sunday, Martua Sigalinging, a policeman on duty at the security post of the Medan police headquarters was fatally stabbed by a man who at the same time was making the call to prayer.

The man, believed to be involved in Daesh activities was, however, shot dead by other policemen at the scene.

Prior to that incident, three policeman controlling traffic flow at the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta were killed in a suicide bomb explosion on May 24.

Police arrested several individuals in the Bandung area, West Java to assist in the investigation into the incident.

-- BERNAMA

bernama.com/bernama/v8/wn/newsworld.php?id=1368835

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Philippines: Navy conducts joint patrol with US against piracy, Islamic State

1st July 2017

US naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan June 18, 2017. Source: Reuters/Toru Hanai

THE UNITED STATES and Philippine navies held a joint naval patrol on Saturday in dangerous southern Philippine waters, amid rising international concern about Islamist militancy and piracy in the region.

US Navy littoral combat ship USS Coronado joined a Philippine Navy frigate, BRP Alcaraz, in patrolling the Sulu Sea where numerous pirate attacks on commercial shipping have been made since 2015.

“Our at-sea operations with the Philippine Navy demonstrate our commitment to the alliance and deter piracy and illegal activities,” US Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson said in a statement issued by the US embassy in Manila.

There are international fears fighters sympathetic to Islamic State will cross maritime borders between Malaysia and Indonesia to join Muslim rebels who seized Marawi City in the southern Philippines five weeks ago.

About 300 militants, 82 security forces and 44 civilians have been killed in the fighting.

The naval patrols were held at the invitation of the Philippine government, the US embassy said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte does not allow joint patrols with the United States in the disputed South China Sea to avoid damaging its relations with China, which claims the sea as its own.

But he welcomes cooperation in the south due to increased militant activity. Two weeks ago, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines held joint naval patrols in southern waters. – Reuters

asiancorrespondent.com/2017/07/philippines-navy-conducts-joint-patrol-us-piracy-islamic-state/#4Fo59ey2VyWoeGDg.99

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South Asia

ISIS loses 5 senior leaders in an airstrike in North of Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 01 2017

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group has lost five senior leaders in an airstrike in northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan.

The local security officials are saying that the airstrike was carried out by the foreign forces based in Afghanistan on Friday.

Provincial security chief Abdul Hafiz Khashi said ten ISIS loyalists were killed in total during the airstrike.

He said the main commander of the terror group for Jawzjan province Mullah Abdul Ahad who was famous as Hezbullah was among those killed.

Khashi further added that the other ISIS leaders killed in the airstrike have been identified as Mohibulllah, the commander of the terrorist group for Sardara village of Darzab, Mahboobullah, the commander of the terror group for Batu village of Darzab, Sadruddin, the commander in charge of the logistics of the terror group, and Faiz Malang, another commander of the terror group.

According to Khashi, the airstrike was carried out late on Friday in the vicinity of Maryazi area of Qosh Tapa district.

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

khaama.com/isis-loses-5-senior-leaders-in-an-airstrike-in-north-of-afghanistan-03049

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Afghanistan says Taliban district chief killed in battle

AP | Jul 1, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan: Afghanistan's Interior Ministry says a Taliban shadow district chief was killed in fighting with security forces in eastern Wardak province.

According to a statement released on Saturday, Mullah Bashir, the Taliban-appointed governor of the Nirkh district, was killed and two militants were wounded late Friday night.

In a separate statement, the ministry said at least 13 militants, including five Islamic State fighters, were killed after Afghan warplanes targeted their hideouts in eastern Paktika, northern Sar-e Pul and Jawzjan provinces.

The attacks were carried out overnight, destroying some of the militants' weapons and vehicles.

The Taliban hasn't commented on the fighting.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghanistan-says-taliban-district-chief-killed-in-battle/articleshow/59399101.cms

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Hekmatyar reacts at Noor, Dostum, and Mohaqiq’s coalition

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 01 2017

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin in his reaction regarding the formation of the new coalition has said that his party will support any move or step that strengthens the current system.

However, he has warned that his party together with the support of the people will stand against any such moves and steps to be taken to weaken the government and system.

Hekmatyar made the remarks in a statement released by his party after a new coalition was formed between Jamiat-e-Islami led by Salahuddin Rabbani and Ata Mohammad Noor, Junbish Millie led by First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Wahdat Islami led by deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq.

The statement further added that all political parties and movements should join hands and unite their force to support the government and take the country out of the ongoing crisis.

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami his statement also urged the political parties and movements to refrain from any such provocative acts that could take the country into further crisis and repeat the bitter experiences of the past and the devastating war that ruined the country.

According to Hekmatyar, certain elements are still attempting to spark war and violence in the country on the instructions of their foreign supporters and for their own interests.

The new coalition between the three political parties announced their establishment on Friday, days after meetings were organized in the country and on the sidelines of the engagement ceremony of Gen. Dostum’s son in Turkey.

In their first statement after the formation of the coalition, its members called on President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to prevent from extrajudicial steps and respect the constitution of the country and the authorities of the ministers and directors of the government institutions.

khaama.com/hekmatyar-reacts-at-noor-dostum-and-mohaqiqs-coalition-03048

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NATO’s commitment key for 4-year roadmap of Afghan army and air force: MoD

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 01 2017

The Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan welcomed the renewed commitment by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and called it vital for the realization of the four year roadmap for the development of the Afghan army and air forces.

The Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri told reporters in Kabul “Ministry of Defense (MoD) appreciated NATO’s continued support to Afghanistan and training ANDSF. During the NATO’s Defense Ministers meeting on 29 June, 2017, 39 NATO member and allied countries reinstated their continued support to ANSDF to ensure security in the country.”

Gen. Waziri further added “NATO’s commitment to continue its support to Afghanistan and our security forces is very important to implementing MoD’s four years security roadmap.”

“Based on this roadmap, the ANDCOP and border police forces will be merged with MoD” Said MG Waziri. He continued that based on this plan, the size of the Afghan Commando Forces will be doubled and upgraded to a Corp level,” he added.

He also said that the Afghan Air forces will be equipped and reinforced. He stressed that we need NATO’s help to train and equip the ANDF in order to implement this roadmap, and NATO’s recent commitment to send some thousands of new troops to Afghanistan will help us in this regard.

Tariq Shah Bahrami, Acting Ministry of Defense also participated at the NATO’s Defense Ministers Meeting.

khaama.com/natos-commitment-key-for-4-year-roadmap-of-afghan-army-and-air-force-mod-03052

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Deadly explosion targets civilian vehicle in East of Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Jul 01 2017

A deadly explosion ripped through a civilian vehicle in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, leaving at least twelve people dead or wounded.

According to the local government officials, the incident took place late on Friday in the vicinity of Achin district.

The provincial government media office in a statement confirmed that the seven people were killed and five others were wounded in the incident.

The statement further added the incident took place in Bandar Dara area of Achin after a pick up vehicle struck an Improvised Explosive Device planted on a roadside.

The local officials are blaming the ISIS terrorist group fighters for planting the IED.

However, the anti-government armed militants 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 late in April, 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.

The UN mission also added it recorded a 12 per cent increase in civilian casualties caused by pressure-plate improvised explosive devices – 218 civilian casualties (86 dead and 132 injured).

khaama.com/deadly-explosion-targets-civilian-vehicle-in-east-of-afghanistan-03050

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Now militants have no strength to carry out attacks like one on Holey Artisan cafe, says CTTC chief Monirul Islam

Jul, 01 2017

Monirul Islam, the chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit said that now militants have no strength to carry out attacks like the one on Holey Artisan cafe as they have got their backbones broken during anti-militant drives across the country, reports New Age on June 30. He said “They may try to get reorganized again but we’ll hunt down the absconding militants, too. So far, eight militants who were involved in planning and coordination in the attack have already been killed in different places across the country during anti-militant operations in the last one year.” About financing in the Gulshan cafe attack, Monirul said, “It seems that attack on the Holey Artisan Gulshan Cafe was a low-cost terrorism attack. It might cost Tk 8-9 lakh. They (militants) collected the money from their own sources. There was no need to collect money from foreign sources.”

satp.org/satporgtp/detailed_news.asp?date1=7/1/2017&id=11#11

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Dhaka attack first anniversary: Denial of Islamic terror won't help Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh

Jul, 01 2017

Today (1 July) Dhaka commemorates one year of the lethal Islamic State-inspired terror strike which rocked Bangladesh when the terrorists took several hostages in Holy Artisan Bakery in a posh residential area of Dhaka and eventually killed 22 captives including two cops before being slain by the anti-terror force.

It's been one year since the ghastly incident but Bangladesh continues to smoulder under Islamic terror threats as there have been sporadic terror strikes at various places signalling the reality that the hostile forces are still active and they are likely to hit at an opportune time, the moment guard is lowered.

Security experts analysing the 1 July attack assessed that it was IS sponsored as there were hallmarks of typical IS modus operandi.

However, prime minister Sheikh Hasina maintained that it was the handiwork of the homegrown terrorists. Her denial of any IS complicity is possibly because she felt that Bangladesh should not be seen as a country caving

into any IS ideology or radicalisation.

But such a well-crafted and precise operation could not have been launched without any influence and involvement of the IS. Also, subsequently, it was known that messages to target installations in Bangladesh had emanated from the IS headquarters and they were in Bangla just before terror struck.

Further, the terrorists involved in the 1 July strike, were all from well to do homes, were in their 20's, educated in convents and expensive institutions and highly indoctrinated as part of the IS pursuits. Sadly, their parents were oblivious of their indoctrination despite the fact that the IS recruits were not seen by the family for several months and some of them were in Syria and Iraq either fighting with the IS cadres or camping in the theatre of IS activities. Also, they were professionally apt to deal with the hostage situation and ready to die for a 'cause' which is thought to be deeply indoctrinated by the IS propaganda.

Coincidentally, within days of this incident, the Islamic terrorists had the gumption and audacity to strike (7 July) again and that too at an Eid congregation in a neighbouring district. It shows the IS resolve and the fact that despite the decisive neutralising action by the counter-terror forces, the terrorists were not deterred at all.

It also underlines the fact that the intelligence agencies were caught off guard in the second attempt too by the terrorists.

Interestingly, 2016 saw as many as six deadly attacks in Bangladesh and even in 2017, according to one survey, there were occurrences of eight (upto 11 May) devastating attacks. Statistics speak all though 1 July attack was the most lethal sending out shockwaves in the country about the chilling presence of terrorists whether home grown or otherwise.

Bangladesh has had a long history of terror even before IS or Al Qaeda were born. Indian high commissioner to Dhaka, Samar Sen, was shot at inside the chancery premises by the Islamic ultras way back in 1979.

The country was only eight-year-old then and relations with India were thought to be good if not at its best.

Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh was inherited from Pakistan and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) was a collaborator with pro-Pakistani forces to target Indian facilities which was also part of a greater blueprint to impair Indo- Bangladesh relations. Thus the spiralling rise in fundamentalism, with the monetary support from middle eastern

countries and Pakistan, bred terror and led to formation of several perilous terror outfits.

Today, Jamaat-ul-Mujahdeen Bangladesh (JMB) is a force to reckon with posing serious security challenge to the country as this 29-year-old terror organisation has strong links with Pakistan.

Intelligence officials of Bangladesh reckon that JMB maintains close links with undercover operatives working in the Pakistani High Commission, Dhaka and there had been many instances when Pakistan staffers were declared persona non grata for their undesirable activities. JMB is well trained in handling of sophisticated weapons

including bomb making as amply demonstrated in a series of explosions carried out by JMB particularly in

2005. It also enjoys support from the JeI (now banned) which is also affiliated with some Arab nations and Pakistan. Importantly, it was nourished with the state patronage of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which is openly pro-Pakistan, anti-Hasina and anti-India.

To illustrate the argument further, it's most pertinent to point out that Hasina providentially escaped a deadly grenade attack on 21 August, 2004 at a public rally which killed many. In a startling disclosure to a court hearing few years ago, the then chief of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) stated that attempt on Hasina's life was very much in the knowledge of the then prime minister Khaleda Zia (now in opposition). Attempt to eliminate her political adversary with grenades is a sad reflection of the political statecraft practised in a democratic set up, where a prime minister is stooping that low. Perhaps they follow the dictum that in love and war, all is fair.

Judging by the 2004 incident, Hasina, though in power, continues to be vulnerable specially when Islamic forces like Hefazat-e-Islam, JMB and other affiliates including external hostile entities are waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc with Hasina as the prime target. It clearly calls for an abundant caution.

The first anniversary of the Dhaka attack, therefore, merits a fresh evaluation of Bangladesh and Hasina's security lest it loses focus and proves costly, also in terms of country's ties with India.

The writer is a security analyst, served in Bangladesh for more than three years and has been following developments in Bangladesh. He is also the Senior Fellow with the India Police Foundation.

firstpost.com/world/dhaka-attack-first-anniversary-denial-of-islamic-terror-wont-help-sheikh-hasina-bangladesh-3764709.html

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/film-on-hindu-muslim-unity-wins-top-award-at-uk-festival/d/111741

 

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